The competition for center field ended prematurely this afternoon, as Curtis Granderson fractured his forearm after being hit by the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ in the first inning of the game. The Yankees announced that Grandy is expected to miss approximately ten weeks while recovering from the injury, putting his estimated return date sometime around May. With Granderson's absence, Brett Gardner will almost assuredly be the Yankees' starting center fielder to start the season, and perhaps for the entirety of the 2013 season.
Replacing Granderson's offensive production will not be easy with any of options presently on the roster. The team could decide to go with the unexciting tandem of Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz, or dip into their minor league stash to give someone like Zoilo Almonte or Ronnier Mustelier a chance to make the team as a starter. If you wanted to take the safe bet, we all know how the Yankees favor veteran presence over rookie potential.
If something like this was going to happen, it's probably best to do it earlier in the season than later, but it's still a blow to an offense that had plenty of question marks already surrounding it. The home run power that was already going to be lacking from a year ago just took a big hit, and is unlikely to see a similar boost from anyone the Yankees could come up with outside of a trade. The Cubs may very well be rejoicing at this news as a chance to finally unload Alfonso Soriano for something decent in return.