Yankees slugger forced to leave in first inning after pitch strikes left hand
TORONTO -- The Yankees have managed to stay in the postseason chase despite numerous injuries to star players this season, with one of their constants being the presence of second baseman Robinson Cano.
Losing Cano for any considerable length of time would be a devastating blow to their chances. They appeared to be in jeopardy early on Tuesday as Cano was hit on his left hand by a 90-mph J.A. Happ fastball in the first inning of New York's 7-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees received word late in the game that Cano's X-rays were negative. He was diagnosed with a left hand contusion and is considered day to day, though he will probably not play until Friday against the Orioles.
"I was [scared] right away -- I was hurt," Cano said. "I was pretty concerned. [First-base coach] Mick [Kelleher] asked me at first base if I thought it was broken; it was close to the bone. Maybe it missed the bone by an inch. Thank God it was nothing worse."
It had the warning signs of something much more significant, and the Yankees are no strangers to similar injuries in a season that has been littered with them.
An errant Happ pitch fractured Curtis Granderson's right forearm in the Yankees' first exhibition game, on Feb. 26. Last week, infielder Jayson Nix fractured his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Toronto's R.A. Dickey ; Nix is expected to miss the rest of the season.
"You're extremely relieved," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, [Cano] is day to day, and I don't know what we have tomorrow. But the fact that there's no break is a good sign. We haven't had a lot of luck on our side when it comes to X-rays, so we got some tonight."
Cano doubled over in pain and, in an uncharacteristic display, smashed his helmet several times into the turf after the plunking. After a lengthy discussion with head athletic trainer Steve Donohue, Cano talked the Yankees into letting him stay in the game.
"I just said, 'Let me run the bases and see,'" Cano said. "Then it started swelling, and I didn't want to take any chances."
Cano wasn't on the basepaths long anyway, as Alfonso Soriano crushed a three-run homer to left field on Happ's next pitch. Cano then gathered his bats and belongings, heading for the visitors' clubhouse with Donohue.
"It was a lot of pain," Cano said. "The doctor checked me in the other clubhouse -- the X-ray was negative -- but they wanted to make sure, and we went to the hospital. I was a little concerned, so I wanted to get a better test so we could know what was going on. Thank God everything was negative. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
An American League All-Star this year for the fifth time in his career, Cano is hitting .305 with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs in 131 games. He was replaced by Eduardo Nunez at second base for the bottom of the first inning.
Nunez also suffered an injury later in the game, catching a spike in a seam of the artificial turf and tweaking his right knee. He collapsed to the ground and said that he initially feared a serious injury.
"I was sore -- I'm still sore," Nunez said. "The doctor said my ligament was fine -- nothing broken -- but I turned my knee."
Nunez said that Derek Jeter ribbed him after the injury, saying, "Are you kidding?"
"I think I'm relieved; we're all very relieved," Alex Rodriguez said. "It's been a crazy year. I've never seen more guys go down, and then Nuney goes down for the count. I've never seen that before."
With Nunez's availability for Wednesday night's series finale in question, the Yankees may need to be creative with how they handle second base. Mark Reynolds made just his third career appearance at second base in the ninth inning, shifting from first base.
A shortstop in college and in the Minors, Reynolds said that he would be prepared to play second base if needed.
"I'm comfortable there," Reynolds said. "I came up [at second], played in the [Arizona] Fall League there, played a lot in the Minor Leagues there. Whatever they need, I'll be ready to go."