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(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)
Very often in sports, commentators or writers like to say that something "couldn't have come at a better time" to help a struggling team. In the Yankees' case, this first scheduled off-day of the year really could not have come at a better time after last night's injury casualties. If the Yankees had to play a game tonight, it's doubtful they'd have enough healthy bodies to fill out the starting infield.
They were already short-handed heading into the game last night when it was revealed that Derek Jeter has a tight right quad and Joe was keeping him out of the lineup to steal a few more days of rest. Once the game started, we found out that Brian Roberts was out not to get a simple day of rest, but because his lower back was bothering him and he went for a precautionary MRI earlier in the day. We also found out that Francisco Cervelli still can't escape his crappy injury luck when he appeared to seriously pull his hamstring trying to beat out a play at first base in the 4th. With no available bench players from that point on, the Yanks survived 2 more scares when Yangervis Solarte looked like he tweaked his groin running to first a few innings later and Brian McCann took a pitch off his right hand in the 8th. They both stayed in to finish the game, mainly because they didn't have a choice, and I'm sure they'll both be joining the rest of their infield brethren in the training room today.
The Yankees need this day off today not only to give their infield a day to recover, but also to figure out what they're going to do if more guys have to hit the DL. Based on how he reacted and how severely he was limping off the field, I don't think there's any way Cervelli isn't heading there for a significant amount of time. That will get Austin Romine back up to The Bronx to back up McCann, but what about everybody else? What if Roberts' back is the start of a bigger problem like it was for Youkilis last year? What if Jeter's quad still isn't ready to go tomorrow? What if Solarte's groin tightens up on him today before the Cubs get to town? What then? There isn't another single healthy infielder anywhere on the 40-man roster. If moves have to be made, guys are either going to have to move to the 60-day DL or be DFA'd (looking at you, Nik Turley).
This is the part where I mention Stephen Drew's name again and that's exactly what I'm going to do. If the Yanks had signed Drew, they would at least be able to piece together a starting infield on Tuesday with Drew and Anna on the left side and Johnson and Solarte/Romine/Beltran on the right side. But they didn't, and even if they did he wouldn't be ready to play in a game tomorrow so whatever. The Yankees can't afford to play Carlos Beltran at first base regularly for the next week. They need to do something. Maybe Russ Canzler or Scott Sizemore get called up today. Maybe both of them do. Shane Greene has been rotting away in the bullpen since coming up. As shorthanded as that group is, the infield is even worse.
Whatever happens today, at least the Yankees have today to figure it out. They dodged a few injury bullets in the first week of the season and got clipped by a few last night. They need the off-day today to assess the damage, see who can go on Tuesday and who can't, and make their DL and call-up decisions to reinforce the roster. As long as Solarte and Jeter are able to play tomorrow night, the Yanks will be able to put a competent starting infield out there. If they can't, it'll be time for Cash and Joe to get creative again.