The first injury concerns of 2014 crept in with the news that first baseman Mark Teixeira was expected to miss the first week of spring training games after his wrist surgery in 2013. For everyone who knows that wrist injuries linger for a long time and cause problems well after they are supposed to be healed, this was concerning news. The Yankees' roster was completely decimated by injuries in 2013 and they can't afford to go down that path again.
Teixeira himself did nothing to put those worries in the background in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Barbarisi. The wrist tightness Teixeira feels even months after the surgery is something he expects to last until at least June and maybe even all season. After eight months of healing the pain is gone, but who knows what impact that tightness will have on Teixeira's swing? Both David Ortiz and Jose Bautista suffered the same injury to the ECU tendon that Teixeira did, and both of them suffered through diminished power numbers upon their return. Bautista did manage to hit 28 home runs in the season following surgery on his ECU tendon, but he was still not the power hitter he'd been in previous seasons.
An injured Teixeira might be better than anything the Yankees can put on the field in his place, but the first baseman had already exhibited signs of breaking down. He was far from the hitter the Yankees signed him as before the 2009 season even before the injury to Teixeira's wrist. The backup plan at first base is basically non-existent. Kelly Johnson? Johnson playing first would leave third base for someone like Eduardo Nunez with Brian Roberts slotting in as the every day second baseman. That is a disaster scenario.
Injuries threw everything about the Yankees' 2013 season out of whack, but that was supposed to be finished. These concerns popping up before pitchers and catchers even report is concerning. Are we really in for another year of setback after setback? Teixeira is only one piece of the puzzle, but don't forget that Derek Jeter is going to attempt to play shortstop on his nearly 40-year-old ankle that is held together by metal, CC Sabathia is learning how to overcome to loss of his velocity, Hiroki Kuroda is another year older, Masahiro Tanaka is a rookie, Roberts is made out of fine china, and that isn't even where the question marks end. For all the improvements, there are still a lot of questions. It might be a while before we know the answer. Everything breaking the right way could end in a magical season, but it could also go terribly, terribly wrong in a hurry with the amount of uncertainty this team has as constructed.