The New York Yankees will be without their starting shortstop Didi Gregorius for an extended period of time.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that Gregorius will definitely miss Opening Day and will probably be sidelined for about six weeks. Gregorius has a strained muscle in his right shoulder. He will begin the 2017 season on the disabled list.
The injury occurred while Gregorius was playing second base for Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. On Monday, he left the team and flew back to Tampa, the Yankees’ spring training home. Team Netherlands went on to lose to Team Puerto Rico 4-3 that night in the World Baseball Classic semifinals in Los Angeles.
Gregorius had an initial MRI done on his right shoulder before leaving for Tampa. This showed that he had a hematoma of the subcapsular muscle in his shoulder. He had a second MRI on Tuesday back at Yankees camp that confirmed the injury.
Ever since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade following the 2014 season, Gregorius has been a productive player for the Yankees. As the guy who was tasked with taking over for Derek Jeter following his retirement, Gregorius certainly had big shoes to fill. He had a decent first season with the Yankees, batting .265 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs. Gregorius had an even better season in 2016, as he hit .276 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs. He was one of the best hitters in the Yankees’ lineup last season.
The Yankees will now have to explore other options at shortstop for the beginning of this season. As of right now, the most likely candidate to fill in for Gregorius is 24-year-old utility infielder Ronald Torreyes. In 155 at-bats last year, Torreyes batted .258. The Yankees also have former New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, who is signed to a minor league contract. Another option for the team would be to move second baseman Starlin Castro back over to shortstop, the position that he primarily played while with the Chicago Cubs. If that were to happen, Rob Refsnyder would probably take over at second base. The Yankees are reportedly not interested in trading for another shortstop at this time. Considering that they do have enough options to play the position until Gregorius returns, a trade would not really make that much sense.
It is unfortunate for the Yankees that Gregorius got hurt while playing in the World Baseball Classic. MLB teams know that their players might get hurt while participating in this tournament, but there is nothing that they can do to stop them from playing in it. Players have the right to represent their home country if they want to.
For now, the Yankees will have to get by without Gregorius. It appears as though Cashman thinks that his team has enough options within the organization to temporarily take his place. We will see who he and manager Joe Girardi decide on to be the Yankees Opening Day shortstop.