The injury bug has already bitten the Yankees quite a few times in the early goings of 2023. They lost each of Harrison Bader, Carlos Rodón, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, Tommy Kahnle, and Lou Trivino in spring training, and although they came close, they couldn’t escape the first seven days of the regular season without one more ailment.
Josh Donaldson flew out to lead off the second inning of a dreary Wednesday afternoon matchup with the Phillies in the Bronx, and he came up limping on his way to first base. If you weren’t tuning in, YES Network has provided the video:
Josh Donaldson has been removed from today's Yankees game. pic.twitter.com/1XRLq7Fx9L— YES Network (@YESNetwork) April 5, 2023
When the Yankees finished batting and took the field for the top of the third inning, they did so without Donaldson. Isiah Kiner-Falefa came off the bench and took over at the hot corner since normal alternate third baseman DJ LeMahieu was already starting at second with Gleyber Torres at DH.
The Yankees later announced that Donaldson left the game with “right hamstring tightness.” That can happen to anyone, and at 37, Donaldson isn’t exactly a spring chicken in baseball terms, either. The team said that he’ll be evaluated again tomorrow to determine next steps.
If this is an IL situation, then it might open the door for Anthony Volpe’s fellow shortstop prospect Oswald Peraza to return to the majors after all. He impressed during his 18-game cup of coffee with a .306/.404/.429 last September but narrowly lost the spring training competition at shortstop to Volpe, the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect. He’s a superior defender at short to Volpe and could also potentially handle third as well, though he has yet to see any regular season time there — only shortstop and a little bit of second.
The less-fun alternative is that the Yankees just run out a standard defense of LeMahieu at third, Volpe at shortstop, Torres at second, and Anthony Rizzo at first without needing to super-sub LeMahieu in every other day since Donaldson would be out. If that’s the case, then the team might decide that Kiner-Falefa and Oswaldo Cabrera are enough of a general utility backup tandem and Peraza might not actually start enough that they’d rather keep him in Triple-A, choosing to replace Donaldson’s roster spot with a different player. The catch is that Peraza is the only other position player on the 40-man roster above Double-A, so someone else would need to be added. So it may end up being Peraza by default.
That replacement could be a pitcher too, as they still need a starting pitcher for April 12th against Cleveland. Jhony Brito might come back from his Triple-A Scranton sojourn since Donaldson’s injury would create an option loophole for an early return. If they wanted to wait until then to recall Brito, then reliever Greg Weissert might be another possibility in the interim.
Regardless of what the Yankees decide to do, we’ll update you as needed.