Weekend recap: Gleyber Torres, James Paxton, & Luis Avilán join Yankees extensive IL as DJ LeMahieu starts batting

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Aug 18, 2020; Bronx, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Michael Perez (7) is tagged out at second base by New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres (25) trying to stretch a single into a double during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

What started as optimistic ‘next man up’ baseball to combat a few injuries has quickly turned into a series of urgent, next man down roster moves as three more New York Yankees were placed on the IL in recent days.

Shortstop Gleyber Torres was diagnosed with a grade one strain in his left hamstring while starter James Paxton suffered a grade one left forearm flexor strain, the team announced. Reliever Luis Avilan is also sidelined due to left shoulder inflammation.

Manager Aaron Boone told reporters on Saturday that he expects Torres to miss between 2-to-3 weeks, while the shortstop said he is hoping to swing a bat in about a week after a walking and running workout on Sunday.

Boone also said that alternate-site-bound Miguel Andujar, “could certainly figure into the conversation,” as a temporary replacement.

As far as handling the recent whirlwind of bullpen changes, manager Aaron Boone said “we’ll just kind of figure it out…we have a lot of people that can give us innings,” specifically mentioning young relievers Michael King, Nick Nelson, Jonathan Loáisiga, and potential alternate site call-ups that could be used strategically in the Yankees’ upcoming two-game series against the Braves.

“Those guys are definitely in consideration,” he said after the Yankees also dealt the right-handed David Hale to Philadelphia for fellow righty Addison Russ on Friday.

Boone noted that Paxton will be be in a “no-throw” mode for two weeks, expressing optimism that the lefty’s UCL is reportedly intact and doesn’t require Tommy John surgery.

“I think considering the circumstances I got very lucky…it should be a short term thing,” Paxton said, adding that he anticipates being able to put in a few more starts before playoff time.

Aug 2, 2020; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton (65) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Paxton also alluded as to why not just the Yankees, but many MLB players, have succumbed to the injury bug in 2020.

“We didn’t get enough time going at a lower speed to kind of build up,” he said about the rushed “spring training” that came in the summer weeks ahead of the 60-game season.

“The tiredness is building up. We don’t have that base we normally have,” he added.

Boone reiterated Paxton’s sentiment saying “the uniqueness of the season is a contributor without question” for the team’s slew of injuries. 

If there is one positive to take away from the Yankees’ IL situation, it is that many players are expected to have short stints and return at full force within the upcoming games.

Pitcher Zack Britton, who went down a left hamstring strain covering first base on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, said his situation is “not anything too serious,” adding that he was throwing on Friday and is on track to amp up conditioning and get back to on-mound throwing shortly.

Britton told that the clubhouse is taking the situation in stride, saying “we have a good group of guys that can fill in and do a good job until everyone is ready to get back.”

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who’s also expected to be out of the lineup for two to three weeks with a left thumb sprain resumed batting activity off a tee on Saturday during team workouts in lieu of the delayed Subway Series, Boone said.

Boone also indicated that outfielder Aaron Judge, who faced live at-bats Sunday against J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery is expected to return to the lineup in Atlanta this week coming off his ten day, right calf injury.

Anticipating potential doubleheader make-up games with the Mets next weekend, the Yankees skipper said that Gerrit Cole will likely get the start against the Braves on Tuesday and Masahiro Tanaka will go for Wednesday.

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