When the Yankees found out back in 2018 that their star shortstop Didi Gregorius was going to need Tommy John surgery, nobody really knew when exactly he was expected to return. Recovery time from this procedure for position players is normally around six to eight months, so the team expected him to return around the All-Star break. However, to the surprise of most, Gregorius has shown no signs of pain and the Yankees have already said they can expect him to return as early as June.
In fact, Gregorius has already begun his extended spring training! Didi has been insistent on his good health throughout the spring, but until he came closer to his return, nobody really knew what to believe.
Hank Steinbrenner was on hand in Tampa on Monday to watch Didi Gregorius play shortstop in an extended spring training game. In his first game action of this season Gregorius had five plate appearances, two hits and a walk. He handled three ground balls and made a throwing error.— George A. King III (@GeorgeAKingIII) May 20, 2019
Not only is he playing baseball again, but in his first game, he tallied two hits in five at-bats. So it seems as if Gregorius is healthy and well amidst the final stages of his recovery. If he doesn’t experience any setbacks we could see the Yankee fan favorite back sooner than later.
The return of Didi means the Yankees will be getting their starting shortstop back, but it also means whoever has been playing at shortstop, for the time being, will be playing elsewhere or not at all upon his return.
Gleyber Torres has been getting most of the starts at shortstop during Gregorius’ absence. In all likelihood, he will slide over to second and DJ LeMahieu will move over to third. Those two players have been two of the Yankees’ best and most consistent performers thus far and need to be in the lineup every day.
Most fans will most likely ask, “Well what about Gio Urshela?” It’s certainly a fair question given that he has also performed exceptionally well so far and much better than most people expected. That may be, however, what holds Urshela back in the long run. He has never played a full season due to his past performance and hasn’t been known for his great hitting ability. His outbreak this year has been a surprise to most, but whatever change he has made is clearly working.
Since Miguel Andujar is out for the season after having shoulder surgery, Urshela should stay up with the team for the remainder of the season, especially with the tremendous defense he brings. But we may see several different designated hitters in the future. With Didi back and the recent addition of switch-hitting Kendrys Morales, the designated hitters should consist of Morales, Urshela and LeMahieu. It will most likely be Urshela and LeMahieu rotating in and out of the DH spot and the field once or twice a week. Morales will probably only DH when the matchup favors him.
Now, something you must keep in mind is that Giancarlo Stanton just began his rehab assignment yesterday and in all likelihood will return before Gregorius. It doesn't seem like he has missed a step either.
Here is another angle of Giancarlo Stanton’s home run that he just hit: pic.twitter.com/xPYAozw4Ws— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) May 20, 2019
This will toss a whole new wrench into the Yankees’ lineup and DH situation. For the most part, Stanton will probably play in the field, especially with Judge out. But players we have just started to get used to like Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier will most likely be fighting for the last roster spot.
With Didi Gregorius' return seemingly on track, Troy Tulowitzki recently approached the Yankees and said he's willing to play other positions. Tulo took grounders at SS & 3B today.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 20, 2019
A player some of you may have forgotten about is Troy Tulowitzki. Telling the Yankees he is willing to play more positions can’t hurt his situation, but there hasn’t been much news surrounding his recovery from a calf injury. If and when he comes back there may not actually be a spot for him on the 25-man roster. If the Yankees determine they’d rather have him than Morales, they could cut him loose because LeMahieu can back up Luke Voit at first if need be.
The Yankees will have a lot of good problems over the next month or so and all that means is the roster will look pretty different. This team should be better than ever once all the reinforcements arrive.