The Yankees' bullpen depth was issued another blow on Saturday when it was revealed that Branden Pinder has a partially torn UCL. He is said to be making a decision on whether or not he will have Tommy John surgery, which seems likely at this point.
After previously losing Nick Rumbelow to Tommy John and Bryan Mitchell being out for four months with a toe injury, the Scranton Shuttle that was to be so important in keeping the big league bullpen fresh is carrying fewer potential passengers. It makes the success of guys like Johnny Barbato and Kirby Yates feel that much more important. The team still has depth, but it certainly isn't where they thought it might be heading into the season.
Jacob Lindgren has also been placed on the disabled list at High-A Tampa after struggling in the early going. Lindgren, of course, already had surgery on his arm last season and figured to play a role in the big league bullpen this season. Whether or not this latest incident is a continuation of his previous recovery efforts or something new that has popped up remains to be seen.
The extent of Aaron Hicks' injury, suffered Friday night while diving for a ball in the outfield, is not yet known. No tests were expected for Hicks as of last night, but he woke up with soreness in the shoulder today that caused the Yankees to send him for an MRI.
Girardi: Aaron Hicks has traumatic bursitis of left shoulder. Received cortisone shot, no activity for 4-5 days. DL is possible.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 23, 2016
Hicks has been slotted into the starting lineup regularly so far this season while Joe Girardi sits one of Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury. His offense hasn't quite gotten going just yet, but he has shown his value with the glove repeatedly. It wouldn't be the end of the world if he needed a short time to heal up, but a long-term injury would leave the team without a strong defensive replacement for the likes of Carlos Beltran in the outfield.
A player who might have been considered to fill Hicks' spot if he needed to go on the disabled list would be Slade Heathcott, but he is already on the disabled list at Triple-A. He was hit on the hand in a game on April 20th and though it was initially ruled a contusion, they decided to play it safe. It's unfortunate that Heathcott just can't seem to stay healthy long enough to get a real shot at the big league level.
Should Hicks need to miss any considerable amount of time, the Yankees might instead turn to Ben Gamel to fill the spot. He's the Triple-A outfielder with the most experience who could slide into the role of fifth outfielder if necessary. Both Heathcott and Mason Williams performed well in their big league time last season, but neither one is healthy in order to try to duplicate those results at this point.