Rizzo to miss 2 months with arm fracture; prospect Rice called up

June 18th, 2024

The Yankees will be without for about two months after the veteran first baseman fractured his right forearm on a seventh-inning collision in New York’s 9-3 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday evening at Fenway Park.

But Rizzo said he expects to return this season.

Rizzo, who will not need surgery, told reporters before Tuesday's series opener against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium that he won't take part in baseball activities for at least four to five weeks. His timetable for a return to game action is about eight weeks, per the Yankees, who placed Rizzo on the 10-day injured list Tuesday.

"It's not ideal," Rizzo said. "But it's [about] how you look at it, right? This is part of [baseball]. The team's in a great position. Obviously there's nothing better than playing baseball; that's what we love to do. But now it's just about focusing on getting better and coming back and helping."

The Yankees called up catcher/first baseman , their No. 12 prospect, for reps at first base in place of Rizzo. Rice has been surging at the plate since a recent promotion from Double-A Somerset to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, tallying 14 hits in 42 at-bats (.333) with three homers and 10 RBIs at Triple-A.

"His name has been bantered about between the front office and the coaching staff quite a bit, even before he got moved up to Triple-A," Yankees bench coach Brad Ausmus said Tuesday. "When you watch him take an at-bat, it looks like a big league at-bat. That's hard to quantify, but when you've been around big league hitters for long periods of time, you watch a guy hit and you can tell that that's a big league at-bat."

Rice was in the Yankees' starting lineup on Tuesday to make his MLB debut, playing first base and batting sixth.

"Of course there's gonna be a little nerves, but they're good nerves, right?" Rice said before his first big league game. "I know it's coming from excitement, and I'm ready to go."

Rizzo suffered his injury while reaching base on an error charged to first baseman Dominic Smith in the series finale in Boston. Rizzo slammed into Red Sox pitcher Brennan Bernardino, then tumbled beyond the bag. Rizzo appeared in immediate discomfort, remaining down for several moments before leaving for a pinch-runner, .

“When he didn’t get up right away, I could tell he was in some pain,” manager Aaron Boone said after the game.

At first, Rizzo thought he had injured his wrist, but the fracture turned out to be in his elbow area.

"I just tried to avoid contact and fell and hit my arm," Rizzo said. "I grabbed my wrist right away -- normally I don't grab stuff. But originally I thought it was my wrist, and didn't really have much pain up in my elbow. But as the adrenaline wore off, that's when it started throbbing more and more."

The results of a fluoroscope taken at Fenway Park were negative, but Rizzo received further imaging on Monday in New York, which revealed the fracture.

“You don’t see that [pain] from Rizz,” said captain . “Usually he leads Major League Baseball in hit by pitches, so he’s good with dealing with pain. He’s tough.”

It has been a rough 12 months for Rizzo, whose 2023 season was derailed by a collision with the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. at Yankee Stadium last May. Rizzo’s offensive production plummeted markedly after that event, and he would eventually be placed on the injured list with post-concussion syndrome.

Though Rizzo has said multiple times that he is beyond any concussion-related issues, his numbers have dipped each month this year. Including a hitless showing on Sunday, Rizzo is just 5-for-48 (.104) in June, with one double, one homer and three RBIs.

"I did feel close," Rizzo said. "This is a setback. But this team is a special group. I'll be along for the ride, I just won't be playing right now."

This is Rizzo's first time dealing with a broken bone, he said Tuesday. His elbow is still swollen and painful, and his day-to-day treatment involves making sure he straightens his elbow and going through range-of-motion exercises. As the fracture heals, he needs to avoid bearing weight on the area.

If he stays on schedule, Rizzo would resume baseball activities just after the All-Star break. His return to the Yankees would be in mid-August.

"It's a huge loss," Ausmus said. "It's a huge loss from a clubhouse perspective as much as it is on the field. This is a guy who is as much a part of the character of this team as anyone. I'm hoping he's around quite a bit, because we still need him in the clubhouse even though we can't have him on the field."