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The Yankees willingly playing with a shortened bench is not a smart strategy

The Yankees' continued reluctance to place players on the disabled list does more harm than good.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Ellsbury felt something in his hip rounding third base against the Red Sox on Friday night and hasn't been able to play since. Mark Teixeira is experiencing neck spasms and is considered day-to-day. Having one of these things happen might not be a big deal, but both of them happening at the same time has left the Yankees with an extremely short bench. There is really no one to blame but themselves.

It seems like a bit of a habit that the Yankees try at all costs to avoid placing their players on the disabled list. Sometimes it makes sense, but it definitely comes at a price. With two players unavailable, only Ronald Torreyes and Austin Romine are available off the bench. In last night's close game, not having enough viable bench options could have been the difference between victory and defeat. It wasn't, thankfully, but that doesn't make playing with fire any better.

Last we heard, Ellsbury had just started to do light jogging in the field again. Maybe he gets into a game this weekend, but it doesn't really look likely at the current pace of his recovery. That's already a week with him on the shelf. Without the benefit of the disabled list for injuries that take more than a couple days to heal, it's possible that players push themselves to get back on the field sooner than they should. That just causes more problems down the line.

It would be a different story if we hadn't seen this tactic by the Yankees plenty of times over the last few years. Notably, Russell Martin and Nick Swisher both had fairly long-lasting injuries that kept them benched for a considerable amount of time without being placed on the disabled list. It makes sense that the team wouldn't just go around putting everyone on there who has an ache or pain, but a player not playing for a week is doing more harm than good to the overall team by just taking up space on the bench without being available.

The Yankees are an older team, and it seems like that is definitely showing up more in 2016 than it did last year with little injuries here and there. Players like Ellsbury, who seem to end up with a nagging injury more regularly than most, would be better suited for a two-week rest than just lingering around. Having to play with a 24 or 23-man roster limits options in a close game. It would be different if an injured player was available in some capacity, like they could serve as a pinch runner but just weren't ready to hit. As it is, though, Ellsbury in particular has no use to the team right now.

Joe Girardi is tasked with giving the Yankees the best chance to succeed day in and day out. Playing with a shortened bench for an extended period of time is not doing that. I'm sure that players feel like they can avoid the disabled list because they will be healed any day now, but it is the job of the team to tell them that it's better if they don't have to play shorthanded.