“You usually don’t win many of those,” Manager Aaron Boone said, “but they just continued to battle.”
While the Yankees successfully used their deep pockets and savvy to overcome an M.L.B. record of 30 different players landing on the injured list in the 162-game regular season last year, they have faced more of a challenge over the current 60-game season. Eight players were on the injured list as of Sunday, with relief pitcher Zack Britton and the backup catcher Kyle Higashioka expected to return this week.
Infielder D.J. LeMahieu, the Yankees’ best all-around player last season, returned on Saturday after missing 10 games with a sprained left thumb. But other important Yankees — infielder Gleyber Torres, starter James Paxton and outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — will need more time.
Judge’s injury, in particular, has proved troublesome for the Yankees, who revamped their health and performance staff in January. Although he begged not to go on the injured list this month, Judge did, and he missed nine games with a strained right calf. He lasted only six innings in his first game back, on Wednesday, before exiting with renewed calf discomfort. He was again placed on the I.L. on Friday with what Cashman called a lesser strain of the same calf.
Even though Cashman said three doctors had agreed on Judge’s original recovery time, it was considered a “failed rehab” because the outfielder was again dealing with the same injury. As a result, Cashman said Judge might need double the recovery time, or up to four weeks.
It probably didn’t help that Judge, with the minor league season canceled this year, could not test his calf in the minors before returning to the major leagues. But that is a reality faced by all teams in this pandemic-affected season.
The Yankees have been particularly affected by an inconsistent schedule over the past few weeks. Hitters and pitchers have said it has been difficult to get into any sort of rhythm. They had an unexpected five-day break because of coronavirus-related postponements and a rainout. Then came the weekend cramming, which strained their pitching staff. When Chapman lost on Friday night, it was his first appearance in 11 days.