NEW YORK -- As the Yankees continue to wait for Aaron Judge to return from what was initially expected to be a three-week absence, Brian Cashman has resolved to underpromise and overperform on the injury front, which is why the general manager said Saturday that there is no guarantee that Albertin Chapman will return this season.
Informed of Cashman's update, Dellin Betances laughed. Having just recorded the last three outs in the Yankees' 2-1 victory over the Tigers, picking up his second save of the year, Betances did not sound like someone who was shielding fantasies about filling the closer's role for long.
"I'm not Cashman, but I know Chapman is coming back," Betances said. "Chapman is a monster, man. You can't keep that guy out. From talking to him, he's starting to feel better. I just know that he's one of a kind. He'll fight through anything."
Chapman was not available to comment Saturday, but he has been working out at Yankee Stadium since an ongoing bout of left knee tendinitis forced him to the disabled list Aug. 22. Chapman has received two platelet-rich plasma injections intended to speed healing in the knee, which he has been managing largely without complaint since May.
"Until we see him out there doing what he's done in the past like he's capable of doing it, it's probably best for me to be cautious on [Chapman's return]," Cashman said. "The timeline is tougher because the season is now only a month left to go. We're hopeful, but I can't tell you with any level of confidence one way or the other."
Cashman said Chapman's troublesome knee was part of the reason the Yankees acquired left-hander Zach Britton from the Orioles in late July. In Chapman's absence, manager Aaron Boone has been mixing and matching the closer's role between Betances, Britton and Player Page for David Robertson.
Even if Chapman does return, Cashman said he is unsure if he will recapture his All-Star form. Chapman was 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 50 appearances, logging 31 saves and finishing 42 games. In 47 innings, he walked 27 and struck out 84.
"Will he still feel it? Will it rear its ugly head?" Cashman said. "I don't know. We're going to find out one way or the other. I know he's tough. He pitched through this for a lot of the year and until the Miami trip it really wasn't bothering him. Not that we felt it was behind him, but it reared its ugly head in Miami and put us in the position that we are now.
"Fingers are crossed that we get him back and put everybody else where we want them to be. But we also are thankful that we have players that are more than capable of doing the job, regardless. I think we are better equipped than most to handle losing your closer for a period of time, if not the entire time."