Thinking back to Opening Day, what would have been harder to believe about where the Yankees would stand on April 27 – that they’d have a 9-13 record or that injuries wouldn’t be decimating the lineup?
Given the length of the Yankees injury list over the last few seasons, the fact that the 2021 season has so far been a relatively healthy one is one (maybe the only one not named Gerrit Cole?) positive takeaway of this year’s team.
But there are still a few pieces on the IL who are expected to play key roles this year:
Voit reported to the alternative site in Scranton this week and began outside activity minus hitting for the first time since his surgery in late March. And in a very-Luke Voit move, he opted for short sleeves despite a windy 39-degree day per RailRiders beat reporter Conor Foley:
The Feels Like temperature in Moosic is 39 degrees. It’s windy, too. Most of the Alt-Yankees are in sweatshirts and hats and even some gloves.
Aaron Boone reinforced last week that the first baseman’s rehab is going as planned and that a return to the Bronx could be a “couple weeks out.” Barring any setbacks, it’s reasonable to assume that Voit will be back in the lineup by the middle of next month.
Britton is scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time since surgery this weekend when the Yankees return home from Baltimore. It’s a meaningful next step in his rehab and will likely follow soon after with a trip to Scranton to get innings under his belt.
By all organizational accounts, Britton could be back in the bullpen by Memorial Day weekend. The Yankees haven’t missed him – yet – but with the overreliance on the bullpen in April and presumably continued trend in May, a fresh arm will be a welcomed and likely necessary addition by that point.
Remember him? Once a cornerstone of the future and now an afterthought, Andujar was activated off the IL this week and optioned to Scranton. He had just 15 at bats this spring before being sidelined by a nerve issue and will essentially need to start his season preparation from square one.
The good news for the Yankees: they really don’t need him right now so there’s no pressure to rush his return.
The bad news for Andujar: the Yankees don’t really need him right now, and won’t without a string of injuries.
Like Britton, Schmidt is scheduled to throw off a mound in the Bronx this weekend for the first time since being shut down shortly after camp opened. Given the state of the Yankees bullpen vs. the rotation, it seems likely that the team will want him built up for a starter’s role like it envisioned coming into the season.
That will mean more minor league innings and a slower build-up process, but with a growing injury history for the young righty, the team is going to be overly cautious in bringing him along.
A realistic best-case scenario would be that Schmidt is healthy and effective enough to plug in to the big-league rotation during the second half of the season when needed.