Monday, March 18, 2013

2013 Season Preview: What We Know & What We Don't Know (The Infield)

("Hey, old guys!"  Courtesy of J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday)

The Yankee infield has been the nerve center of the team for the last 4-5 years now.  Whether you were talking money, production, or name recognition, it was hard to argue that any group of players on the roster carried more weight than the Teixeira-Cano-Jeter-Rodriguez foursome.  In 2011 that started to change, as A-Rod really started to break down, Jeter continued to battle his age-related decline, and Teix had his third straight year of regressed offensive performance.  Things got worse last year when Teix and A-Rod both had more problems with injuries and further decline, and the positive of Jeter rebounding was negated to some degree by the season-ending broken ankle that many believe will hinder him in 2013.

This group carries most of its weight in the salary and name recognition categories only these days, and that could pose a serious problem to the Yankees' contention and payroll plans for the near future.  So as we're left to wonder what A-Rod has left in the tank and how much Teix's power will suffer as a result of his wrist injury, let's dive in and start figuring out what we do and don't know about this group.

Spring Training Midpoint Winners And Losers

(Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

It's been two weeks since my initial "Winners & Losers" post and a lot has changed since then.  Every starting pitcher slated to be in the rotation or in competition for a rotation spot has pitched at least one spring outing, every position player physically able to plat right now has gotten into at least a few games, and there are a few new faces in the locker room to make up for the guys who've been reassigned.  It's not exactly the true midpoint of spring camp, that would have been last week, but with just two weeks left before the games start to count and a much smaller pool of players to evaluate, this seems like the perfect time to see whose stock is rising and whose is falling.

Teix's Wrist Injury Could Keep Him Out Longer

(Courtesy of the AP)

Mark Teixeira returned to camp yesterday morning and plans to remain with the team through the rest of Spring Training.  He is wearing a brace on his injured wrist and has still yet to be cleared to begin one-handed swinging exercises, but that's not the big news that came from yesterday's appearance.

The big news is that the diagnosis of his injury has changed.  What was first called a strained ECU tendon in his right wrist is now being called a tear of the tendon sheath.  When meeting with the media yesterday, Teix reiterated that the tendon itself is fine and not the problem, but the source of the injury now shifting to the tendon sheath could end up being worse news for him and the Yankees.  This is the exact same injury that Jose Bautista suffered last year and ended up with him having season-ending surgery when his attempts to come back quickly resulted in re-aggravation of the injury.

Teix and the Yankees have stated that there are no plans to rush Teix back and they are still planning on going the no-surgery recovery route.  That typically results in a 70% chance of full recovery, but the key is making sure that enough time is allowed for that full recovery to take place.  Teix is still on an 8-10 week timetable and May is being looked at as the earliest he could return, with early June now looking more likely.  Bad news for Teix and the team in the short term, but if it ends in a full recovery it will be worth it.