How does Gardner going to the DL affect the Yankees?
On Tuesday night, everything was going right for Brett Gardner. He already had a double to drive in a run and a walk so far and helped the team tie the game to give the other team members the chance to get the lead for the ball club. He was in the outfield, watching CC Sabathia pitch into a small jam. CC only needed 1 more out and the Twins only needed one hitter to try to sneak a base hit past the Yankees to get the runs home. Josh Willingham thought that he could be that guy. With the swing of the bat, Willingham lofted a sinking liner to left field. Gardner was on his horses heading towards the ball. He ran faster and faster before getting off his feet, catching the ball and rolling on his side, his face scrunched up with discomfort. He got up, started shaking off his arm and headed towards the dugout before completing his 2 for 2 night with 2 doubles and 2 walks.
After the game, Gardner told reporters it was nothing to worry about. He banged up his wrist and was worried about it for the moment, but as the game went on, the wrist felt better and better. Gardner thought that he had gotten away with something there; he thought wrong.
The next day, he headed towards the batting cages to take his normal BP
swings. He felt great hitting the balls out towards the outfield grass, taking in the smell of Yankee Stadium. He decides to take a break from swinging the bat and decides to return later before the game to take some more practice swings. At around 6:30pm, Gardner went back to take his swings, but as time went on, something felt–off. Gardner had soreness in his shoulder and went to tell Joe Girardi who eventually scratched him out of the lineup. While the game went on, Girardi had Gardner go to the doctor to get an MRI done. The result was a bruised shoulder and a muscle strain. After the 6-5 loss to the Twins, Girardi revealed that Gardner was going to the DL with a muscle strain which resulted in a big blow to the Yankees. The Yankees recalled Cody Eppley (a player that they claimed off of waivers from the Texas Rangers) to give depth in the bullpen.
With Brett Gardner heading towards the DL, the Yankees are now relying on their outfield bench (Ibanez & Jones) to take Gardner’s space while Gardner is gone. Jones and Ibanez aren’t the best candidates to play left field since they are already in their mid to late 30′s and don’t have the versatility to play LF anymore. Girardi also said that the Yankees were willing to use Eduardo Nunez in LF as well to give Nunez more options on where to play the field when a player needs a day off. LF would be a test for Nunez to see if he can play while Gardner is away (and not commit an E-7 every day).
In 2011, Brett Gardner saved 22 runs for the Yankees due to his range and speed in the outfield overall saving 35 runs in his career. The 22 defensive runs tied Austin Jackson who plays center field for the Detroit Tigers. Both players ended up taking home the Fielding Bible Award for their efforts in the outfield. Gardner also had 7 assists in 2011 and already had 1 assist to begin the 2012 campaign.
To put it this way; the Yankees on the bench aren’t Brett Gardner. They aren’t as fast as he is and sometimes don’t read the ball very well off of a players bat. Andruw Jones only had 1 assist for the Yankees in 2011 while with the Phillies, Raul Ibanez had 5 assists but is heading into a regression coming into the season.
Long story short, the Yankees bats are going to need to pick it up and score a lot of runs because the other teams in the league see Brett Gardner not being in LF as a weakness since they consider him a threat. Well, I guess it’s a good thing that Curtis Granderson is a fast center fielder, isn’t it? Get well soon Gardy.