First at-bat. First pitch. That’s all it took for Curtis Granderson to be put out of commission until some time in May. Granderson suffered a fractured right forearm when the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ hit him with a fastball that was up and in. I guess Toronto isn’t content just to add a whole mess of new talent. They need to start physically taking out the competition, too.
Now the Yankees not only have to worry about where they will find those 100 plus home runs they lost when Nick Swisher and Russell Martin shuffled off to Cleveland and Pittsburgh respectively, but also the production of one of their better power hitters. Curtis Granderson slugged 43 home runs and drove in 106 runs last season.
The Yankees do have some promising young outfielders like Austin Tyler, Zolio Almonte and Mason Williams, who may not be quite ready for prime time. They also have some rent-a-wreck veterans like Juan Rivera (remember him?) and Matt Diaz who are both vying for the fourth outfielder spot. For the quick fix, I’d love to see them let one of the kids play for the next couple of months if only to see what one of these youngsters has to offer.
The Yankees should be able to tread water until Curtis Granderson returns to the line up. It’s early enough in the season where they can make up any ground they may lose. The real concern is whether or not this is an omen of things to come.
The Yankees, as we are constantly reminded, are an old team. In Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera they have two key (and older) players returning after rehabbing significant injuries. Will Mo and Jeter get back to top form? Will the team lose even more veterans to injury down the road? There could be more question marks than usual for the Bombers as the season progresses.
As issues arise this season, such as Curtis Granderson’s injury, the Yankees may be forced to get more creative thanks to a desire to get under the luxury tax and the loss of some of their better run producers. So, perhaps they’ll rely more on the legs of Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki and play more small ball to win games. Hey, everyone criticized them for relying too much on the long ball last season. Perhaps they will get younger and bring up a prospect or two. Perhaps they’ll become more defensive minded like they plan to do with the catcher position.
Or perhaps, like last year, they’ll find a way to overcome a barrage of injuries and win 95 games en route to capturing the American League East division title.