Spring training games are officially underway, but Carlos Beltran is not expected to make his spring debut until Friday. In his first year as a Yankee, Beltran missed time due to bone spurs in his elbow, which ultimately prevented him from throwing the ball at all. Instead of having surgery mid-season, he opted for cortisone injections and rest, which likely contributed to him having one of the worst seasons of his career. Beltran had surgery to remove the bone spurs soon after the regular season ended, and spent the offseason rehabbing. The Yankees want to ease Beltran back into more strenuous baseball activities, which follows the cautious approach that they seem to be taking with all of their players who are rehabbing injuries. After last season's injuries, this is the approach that they should be taking.
The Yankees' starting pitchers are also getting the "slow and steady" spring training treatment. Masahiro Tanaka, clearly the ace of the pitching staff when healthy, suffered a partial tear in his UCL last season. Instead of undergoing surgery, Tanaka opted for platelet-rich plasma therapy and rehab. He returned from the disabled list in time to make two starts before the season ended, but the Yankees are monitoring his elbow closely. Tanaka is taking his time to work up to throwing with his full strength and all of his pitches. On Monday he threw his first live batting practice, and he could make his spring training debut next week.
CC Sabathia is yet another player returning from injury, and the Yankees are also taking his spring training very slowly. His knee condition is degenerative, which means that it won't go away, but CC opted to have PRP injections as opposed to surgery, like Tanaka. He spent the offseason rehabbing, and we now know that CC is going to be pitching in a knee brace all season, which he said is part of his maintenance program. He threw a bullpen on Monday, and Joe Girardi has said that he will face live batters for the first time later this week.
Ivan Nova's rehab is the only one that has no definitive end point at the moment. After undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, Nova also indicated that he really has no interest in hearing any timeframes for his progression. He reportedly doesn't want to push himself too hard, or move too quickly through the rehab process if he knows when the end date is supposed to be. Just between us, GM Brian Cashman has said that the earliest Nova is expected to return is June. So far, Nova has thrown a couple of bullpen sessions, but there's no word on when he will face live batters.
It sounds like the Yankees are being extra diligent about trying to avoid injuries this season, as they've even been talking about having a sixth starter make occasional starts to give everyone some extra rest. Since it's spring training, there's really no better time for players to take their time through their rehabilitation programs. The goal should just be to have Beltran, Sabathia and Tanaka ready by Opening Day, and it sounds like they will be. Hopefully some of this extra caution will result in less injuries occurring later in the season.