When Spring Training began in February, the Yankees had a peculiar issue: there were too many outfielders and not enough roster spots. However, the outfield situation cleared itself due to multiple injuries over the last few weeks.
Over the course of the spring, Clint Frazier suffered a concussion and Jacoby Ellsbury was sidelined with an oblique strain. With depth in the minors, it appeared the Yankees would survive without Ellsbury until the first homestand of the season.
But more injuries occurred and suddenly the overwhelming outfield depth was no more.
On Friday afternoon, the Yankees placed Aaron Hicks on the 10-day disabled list with an intercostal muscle strain. Hicks claimed there wasn’t a specific play that caused the injury. The team promptly called up outfielder Billy McKinney from Scranton after an impressive spring, but McKinney didn’t stay healthy for long.
During Saturday’s loss against the Toronto Blue Jays, McKinney violently collided into the scoreboard and was removed from the game. The Yankees later diagnosed McKinney with a shoulder sprain.
With McKinney’s injury, the Yankees no longer have a true fourth outfielder on the 40-man roster. Ellsbury isn’t eligible to come off the DL until April 5th, and Brian Cashman currently isn’t in a position to say Ellsbury will be ready by then. In the meantime, the Yankees plan to use Tyler Wade as the fourth outfielder, but can the Yankees realistically function with only three true outfielders on the roster?
The Yankees once had an issue with having too many outfielders. There was even a time Brett Gardner not having as much playing time due to Ellsbury or Hicks was a topic of conversation. Now, Gardner along with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are forced to stay healthy.
If they can’t, then the Yankees could have a bigger issue on their hands.