Yankees reflect on injuries from 2023 and improved offseason work

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the chaos of last season, the one constant for the New York Yankees was the injury bug, which struck time and time again until the very end of the season. From losing 60% of their projected rotation before Opening Day to watching their star prospect tear his UCL during an incredible start to his career, the team couldn’t catch a break. Aaron Judge crashing into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium was arguably the nail in the coffin for the Yankees last season, who went from a playoff team to falling out of the Wild Card picture entirely.

Gerrit Cole and Brian Cashman had some thoughts about the offseason work the team put in alongside the injuries they suffered last season, and they gave some interesting quotes about how this winter compared to their last.

Some injuries, I think, were probably brought on by maybe not being in the best position to start.

– Brian Cashman

The bluntness of the long-time GM this winter has been apparent, and it seems that the organization is fueled to put an ugly season behind them and finally win the World Series with this core.

Improved Focus in the Offseason Could Help Yankees Avoid Injury

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Aug 6, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) walks off the field with medical staff and manager Aaron Boone (17) after an injury during the third inning against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the Yankees want to achieve their goal of winning the World Series, then they’ll need to avoid the injured list as much as possible, especially in regards to their heavy hitters. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Rodon, and Nestor Cortes were All-Stars in 2022, but all of them would spend time on the IL throughout the season. While Judge’s injury was a freak accident, the other three have been working diligently in the winter to be better-conditioned for the 2024 season, as they’ll all look to prove their worth in the Bronx.

Conversations about the offseason work that these players have done have been more prominent this winter than in recent years, and the reasons for it stem from the improved focus and intensity. There’s a bad taste in the mouthes of a lot of these players, and despite what people think, professional athletes take a great deal of pride in their performance and their careers. Nobody is more driven to steady this ship than the Yankees themselves, and one of the most influential players on the team made it clear that the injuries are not tolerable.

There were injuries that were outside the normal realm of injuries that impacted us…with that said, we get injured too much as a group. We need to improve.

– Gerrit Cole
MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Aug 25, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) gives a thumbs up against the Tampa Bay Rays at the end of the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Judge is the captain of the New York Yankees, but Gerrit Cole is as close to a co-captain as it gets without an official title, and his words hold a lot of weight in that locker room. He’s already won a Cy Young, he’s pitched in all kinds of playoff games, and he’s on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer, but the one thing missing in his resume is a World Series ring. The same can be said for a myriad of players on the team, including the aforementioned Aaron Judge who has a residence in Tampa and reported to Florida early this year.

Plenty of players have been working in their Spring Training facilities over the winter, and that’s given the Yankees a better understanding of where their players are physically as Spring Training draws closer.

I do feel like we have a better handle on where guys are physically, probably more so than any other year…a lot of people being down here all winter long or varying times this winter.

– Aaron Boone
MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Oct 1, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) talks with reporters prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

While he isn’t down there right now, Giancarlo Stanton has looked noticeably slimmer in social media posts, and there’s been dialogue from Aaron Boone regarding a desire to get him more nimble for 2024. It’s not as if the former MVP was ever in bad shape, but perhaps the extra muscle has created more injuries at times, and there might be a better body composition for him to remain effective and on the field long-term. His role on the team is less secure than it’s ever been, as Jasson Dominguez is quickly recovering from a devastating UCL tear and could usurp the star DH if he struggles.

These quotes about drive and focus will be put to the test in 2024, and if the Yankees want to avoid another season like last year, then they’ll need their offseason work to translate on the field and win at the highest level possible.

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