One of the big questions going into Spring Training for the New York Yankees was who would play center field. The two players vying for the spot were Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner. Things may have just gotten a little easier for the Yankees and a lot harder on Granderson. Granderson was hit by a pitch, in the first inning of the game Sunday, by Toronto Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.
The ball looked to hit Granderson’s hand and it seemed he was only taken out of the game for precautionary reasons; he looked to shrug off the injury, when he reached the bench, no trainers immediately ran up to him to check the injury out. After an inning, the swelling started to get worse and the team doctors took Granderson to get precautionary x-rays; the x-rays did not come back good for either Granderson or the Yankees.
Granderson, according to the Yankees game telecast, has a fractured right forearm and will not be MLB ready to play again until May.
This is not the way the Yankees wanted to start Spring Training, having another injury; the other being to starting pitcher Phil Hughes. Hughes is out for a week with a back injury that occurred during a practice drill running to cover first base.
The fear going into the Yankees season was the teams’ ability to stay healthy. Having two starters already go down, less than a week into Spring Training, has those fears becoming a reality, and many already counting the Yankees out.
Granderson needed this time, not only in the battle with Gardner for center field, but also to work on his batting. Last season, Granderson had one of his worst seasons in the majors, striking out a career high 195 times. His batting average was low, as he only hit .232; Granderson was a home run or strike-out guy all season, there was no grey area with him. He needed Spring Training as much as any Yankee starter and now he will not be ready to play for the team for over two months. This is a very big blow to a Yankees team, but as Granderson said in a tweet “It’s just a little bump in the road. It’s not the end of everything.”
Some may want to jump on the Yankees grave and end their season two games into Spring Training, but it is not the end of the world. Does this hurt? Absolutely, but this is why young guys are invited to camp. Ronnier Mustelier, who came into the game to pinch run for Granderson got himself a hit. Also, for those ready to count the Yankees out, before the severity of the injury was known, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was already talking about how much the 28-year old Mustelier could help the Yankees. Girardi talked about his great arm and how highly the organization regards Mustelier.
Mustelier doesn’t have any real MLB experience, and he may not be the guy, but this is the time for other players to step up and earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. This could also be a time the Yankees go out and get a free-agent cut by another team. Before the world counts the Yankees out, prior to the season even starting, there is a long way to go and Granderson will be back this season.
So Yankee fans and Yankee haters, take a deep breath. This is not the end of the world, it is just a set back. It’s not one anyone would want to face, but it does not mean the Yankees are now all of a sudden on their way to last place.
Nik Swartz is the Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @Sweetnesz13