At the end of Sunday afternoon, New York Yankees‘ manager Joe Girardi breathed a sigh of relief. His team, decimated by injuries even before the start of spring training, finally was able to finish the job with a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Big House in the Bronx.
The Yankees have had a tough week both on the field and off. It started with an ESPN report that someone connected to all-star second baseman Robinson Cano had direct involvement with the anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis. It continued with losing two of three in the Yankees’ personal house of horrors, Tropicana Field in Tampa, and concluded with losing both starting pitcher Ivan Nova (elbow inflammation) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (broken right hand) to the disabled list.
To make matters worse, one of the Yankees top farm prospects, outfielder Mason Williams, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol Friday night.
Perhaps Girardi relaxed too soon, as minutes after Sunday’s game the Yankees announced that third baseman Kevin Youkilis is scheduled for an MRI on his ailing back, sending yet another Yankee to the medical report. Despite all the injuries of the past week, and throughout the season, this group of unknown Bombers has continued to play a solid brand of baseball.
Also, production from castoffs such as Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, while Cano continues with his scorching-hot bat at the plate.
A starting rotation that started out inconsistent, has rounded into shape, highlighted by C.C. Sabathia‘s 8-inning gem against Toronto to open the weekend series. The Yankees, trailing by as much as four full games earlier in the week have pulled into a three-way tie atop the highly competitive American League East with both the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox.
Backup catcher Chris Stewart now assumes starting duties as Cervelli recovers from surgery that will keep him out between six-to-eight weeks, with a minor league rehab assignment which would stretch into the all-star break.
So far the Yankees have found ways to win regardless of who has played or how the lineup card reads. Girardi will get shocked when he has the names of Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera, and Derek Jeter available upon their return from various injuries.
Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman wasn’t as active in free agency with the big names on the market and he has done a superb job of plugging holes where he felt the biggest needs were. Once the stars return, it will be as if he made four blockbuster trades. If most, if not all of these sluggers can return and contribute close to the levels they have in the past, the Yankees could very well run away with the division during the last month of the season.
With the the Detroit Tigers being the class of the American League now, later in the season the team could face stiff competition from the Yankees, who are seeking revenge in the postseason for last year’s embarrassing four game sweep last October. Whatever Cashman and Girardi are doing to smokescreen the rest of the league, it needs to get kept up until the disabled list is empty.