Giancarlo Stanton’s calf strain was just the latest twist in the Yankees’ injury nightmare as the slugger is expected to be out through Opening Day next month.
While he joins the likes of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks on the shelf, Stanton’s absence is just another reminder of the Yankees’ embarrassment of riches.
The depth accrued by general manager Brian Cashman was very much the reason why the Yankees won 103 games last year despite an onslaught of injuries that saw 30 players head to the injured list.
And it will likely be the reason why they’ll remain as favorites to at least win the AL East regardless of health issues.
Stanton’s injury, of course, continues the frustration of his career in pinstripes. Coming over from the Bronx after winning the 2017 NL MVP with the Miami Marlins behind a 59-home-run campaign, Stanton played in just 18 games last year following a 2018 season that saw him fall out of favor with Yankees fans despite 38 home runs and 100 RBI.
But his looming absence does provide the Yankees to give Miguel Andujar proper playing time.
In preparation for the 2020 season, the 24-year-old’s role with the Yankees was unknown within the current depth chart.
Defensive concerns at third base saw Gio Urshela nab the starting job behind his breakout 2019 while Andujar recovered from surgery.
To get his bat in the lineup, that meant experimenting with him in either left field or first base — the latter position a hypothetical chance should Luke Voit and Mike Ford fail to secure the job during spring training.
Andujar started Wednesday’s spring training game in left field in anticipation of a defensive move.
His bat is perceived as too valuable to leave out of a loaded Yankees lineup after his huge rookie season two years ago. Andujar slashed .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs, 97 RBI, and 47 doubles that tied an MLB rookie record.
With Stanton out, Andujar becomes the prime choice at DH to avoid any sort of defensive woes while Mike Tauchman or even Clint Frazier can split time in left.