Injuries (and age) have been the dominant factor in most discussions surrounding the New York Yankees so far this season. Injuries and their now 1-3 start after this afternoon’s 8-3 loss at the Detroit Tigers. The team has been beaten up on the mound (a collective 6.43 ERA on the season to date) and hasn’t swung the bat well (.225/.306/.364) through the season’s first four games. It’s far too small of a sample size to draw any legitimate conclusions from, but things could be looking up with some positive news on the injury front this afternoon.
Leading off, the team had ample reason for concern after Hiroki Kuroda was forced to exit Wednesday’s game early after taking a line drive off his pitching hand. Shane Victorino lined one back up the middle in the 2nd inning. Kuroda acted instinctively and tried to make a play on the ball, only to have it ricochet off his hand and into center field. He’d remain in the game for a few more batters before ultimately coming out once his control seemed to abandon him. The initial diagnosis was just a simple bruised finger, but still there were concerns that more damage had been done.
Kuroda threw a bullpen session earlier today and appears to have been cleared to make his next scheduled start, Monday against the Cleveland Indians, according to Andy McCullough of The Newark Star Ledger.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Nunez appears to be ok after a scary moment during today’s game. During the 4th inning he took a pitch off his right arm, collapsed on the ground, and was noticeably in a great deal of pain. He’d leave the game, replaced by Jayson Nix, but X-rays came back negative. Nunez is considered day-to-day after fearing he’d broken his arm on the play, according to Chris Vannini of MLB.com. Nunez is already in the lineup to cover for another injured Yankee, Derek Jeter, so there is little wiggle room for him to go down with a significant concern.
Finally, there’s a positive report on right-hander Phil Hughes as he’ll be activated from the DL in time to start tomorrow’s game, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. He’s been sidelined since late February with a bulging disk in his lower back. Hughes had been scheduled to make a second rehab start Saturday, with the team’s Triple-A affiliate, but instead will rejoin the rotation ahead of schedule thanks to the current need on the active roster. With Kuroda forced out of Wednesday’s game early and then with Ivan Nova unable to get through five innings of work today, the team’s bullpen is already being worked hard. With Hughes returning, the team can shift Saturday’s probably starter, David Phelps, back into a long reliever role.
New York will need to avoid any setbacks with their remaining injured players and the rest of the roster will have to find a way to stay healthy if this team is going to compete this season. They’ve been hit hard already, considering the payroll they have on the DL, but it’s still early enough in the season for things to turn around.