As injuries continue to mount, when can we start pointing fingers at the new S&C team?

Look, I get it.  Injuries happen.  There’s no way around that.  But the total shitstorm we are currently experiencing AGAIN has the feel of something much, much worse than just some early Spring Training getting-the-kinks-worked-out nonsense.  The Yankees are once again falling apart in front of us and it's not even March.  I am absolutely worried right now.

Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports

At the outset of camp, we found out starter James Paxton would miss three-to-four months after undergoing back surgery to remove a cyst on his spine.  That sucked, but really nothing that could have been done about that.  I’m a firm believer that surgery should be the last resort in any scenario, and so I’m not as mad as some other fans that the Yankees didn’t send him to the operating table right at the end of last season.  Paxton allegedly saw doctors all offseason but they weren't able to identify the exact source of the pain until last month.  Before the cyst was discovered, the doctor’s recommendation was to treat it non-surgically and it would be fine come the start of the follow season.  But the pain kept coming back, and unfortunately, as Paxton ramped up his offseason program in recent weeks, the injury got worse, the cyst was found via a CT scan, and the Yankees decided to bite the bullet. Whatever.

The real gut check was Luis Severino needing Tommy John Surgery.  To me, this is where the Yankees’ medical staff really screwed the pooch.  Severino had multiple offseason MRIs, but none of them were the die contrast test that he was given this week that detected a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.  Was the UCL torn all Winter or did he only recently injure it in early Spring Training? We’ll really never know.  In either scenario his 2020 season would be lost.

What we do know however, is that if it was injured all Winter, giving him the die contrast MRI in December would have sent him to get TJS two months prior, and in all likelihood, gotten him back for the start of the 2021 season.  If he just tore it this week, you chalk it up to more terrible luck, cry into your cereal for the rest of the week, and then move on.

Aaron Judge has been dealing with a sore shoulder as well, but I'll hold my breath on that until we get further update.  The outlook on him seems to be generally positive and he's expected to finally get into a Spring Training game within the next week or so. In an interview with YES Network's Meredith Marakovits last Saturday afternoon, he didn't seem all that concerned about his shoulder.

What I’m most mad about, however, is this latest update regarding Giancarlo Stanton.  After a lost 2019 to multiple injuries, I had really high hopes that the new strength and conditioning team, led by Eric Cressey, could work with Stanton to keep him healthier this season.  Apparently, I was grossly mistaken.  Not two full weeks into Spring Training and Stanton has already injured his right calf after missing time last season with a similar injury to his left calf.  He will be shut down for a few weeks and is not expected to be ready for the start of the season.

At this point Stanton might start giving off Jacoby Ellsbury vibes and I don’t blame you if you feel that way, but I’m honestly pointing the finger here at Cressey and his team.  Isn’t this the exact reason the Yankees overhauled their S&C team this past offseason, to prevent nagging injuries like these to key players?  There’s nothing you can do about actual injuries like a torn UCL, a cyst on your goddamn spine or damage to your knee when you slammed on it with your full body weight sliding into third.  Stuff like that sucks, but it happens. There’s no way to prevent those things.

What can be prevented is the simple endurance and conditioning injuries that come from properly preparing your body before taking the field.  Look, I’m not medical expert so I’m not going to pretend like I know how to fix this problem, but wouldn’t proper stretching and things of that nature go a long way to preventing minor muscle injuries like these?  Isn’t this why Cressey was brought on board?  Shouldn’t the Yankees have reevaluated all of their players’ offseason programs after sending thirty players to the IL last season?

This just screams old hat to me and I’m really starting to lose any confidence I had in this team undoing all the problems in the S&C department they experienced last season.  Until some form of progress is shown, I’m really not looking forward to any more Spring Training baseball because it can only hurt me.  Just get me to Opening Day. Like yesterday.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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