Yankees’ Juan Soto dodges injury bullet

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Just minutes before the start of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees announced a significant change to their lineup, scratching starting outfielder Juan Soto.

Impact of Soto’s Absence Felt in Loss to Blue Jays

The absence of Soto proved to be a massive blow to the Yankees, who ultimately lost the game 9–3. This loss highlighted ongoing issues with the team’s pitching, with starter Nestor Cortes surrendering seven hits and three earned runs over just 4.1 innings. The situation worsened when relief pitcher Phil Bickford allowed five earned runs in only 0.2 innings, underscoring the pitfalls of the Yankees’ strategy to pick up budget-friendly arms.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, nestor cortes
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Soto’s Injury Concerns

The decision to pull Soto from the lineup followed an incident on Friday night when he sustained a right-hand injury while diving into home plate. Although he continued playing and even hit a home run shortly afterward, by Saturday afternoon, he was evidently in pain. The Yankees opted for a cautious approach, sending the 25-year-old superstar for x-ray imaging to assess the severity of his injury.

The Yankees Need Soto in the Lineup

Soto is in the midst of a contract year and is delivering an outstanding performance. He is currently batting .302/.434/.570 with 20 homers and 60 RBIs, maintaining a 16.4% strikeout rate and an 18.9% walk rate, contributing to a 185 wRC+. Manager Aaron Boone mentioned that Soto is likely to miss Sunday’s game as well and might undergo further testing on Monday in New York City, though plans were still tentative.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Temporary Adjustments and Ongoing Challenges

Following the injury, Soto woke up with swelling in his hand, indicative of possible inflammation and bruising, which will sideline him for a few days. During his absence, Trent Gresham is expected to see increased playtime in the outfield. However, Gresham has been struggling at the plate, batting just .145, which adds another layer of challenge for the Yankees as they strive to kickstart their offense without one of their key players.

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