Thursday, March 19, 2015

Yankees' Ellsbury suffers "mild" oblique strain; club not overly concerned

After a relatively quiet few weeks of Spring Training, the New York Yankees have had a couple of injuries pop up in the last few days, most notably a “mild” oblique strain for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury will be out at least seven days with no baseball activity according to multiple reports.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi couldn’t use the word “mild” enough when describing Ellsbury’s situation following Wednesday’s clobbering of the Atlanta Braves. Girardi is correct in suggesting it is best to take it slow at this time of the year and Ellsbury will have over one week to get back into the swing of things before the regular season occurs.

"Six, seven days we'll give him off and see where he's at, Girardi said according to Paul Casella of "I'm not really concerned about it, because it's really mild. This is the time of year we can protect him a little bit, don't have to rush him back."

But, here’s the tricky thing; oblique strains linger at times. And for a baseball player, the constant movement of the area will cause discomfort if not fully healed, and could get worse. While it does not look like this will affect Ellsbury’s ability to be reading for Opening Day, it is certainly something to watch.

The Yankees played Jose Pirela in left field, moving Brett Gardner to center, for Wednesday’s game. If Ellsbury regresses, forcing a stint on the disabled list, Pirela’s chances of making the team become greater.

Related to Pirela’s opportunity to break camp, is the status of utility infielder Brendan Ryan who has not played much of any baseball this spring. Ryan’s status is unclear, but if he is not ready for Opening Day, Pirela is a virtual lock to make the team.

On the pitching front, Chris Capuano’s quad injury will keep him sidelined for an undetermined part of April and the Yankees will make a decision between Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley and Bryan Mitchell as his replacement.

It would seem that Warren and Rogers are front-runners for the job, but any bullpen injury circumstances could necessitate changes in the club’s thinking. Rogers starts Thursday and Warren Friday. With just over two weeks to go, each pitcher will get a few starts in before Girardi has to make a decision.

Of a slightly lesser note, Jose De Paula is heading for an MRI of his shoulder according to reports due to lingering shoulder soreness. De Paula is on the 40-man roster but was expected to begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Finally, on the good side of the injury news, Masahiro Tanaka was fantastic in his second start of the spring tossing 3.2 innings of scoreless ball in Wednesday’s victory. Tanaka struck out three batters and allowed two hits while inducing plenty of ground balls. The impressive performance, without any symptoms of soreness in the pitching elbow, means all is well with the Yankees’ ace.

Photo of Jacoby Ellsbury courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.