Opening Day in jeopardy for Stanton (calf strain)

February 26th, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees absorbed another injury to one of their star players on Wednesday, as outfielder/designated hitter is considered questionable for Opening Day after being diagnosed with a Grade 1 right calf strain.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Stanton sustained the injury while performing defensive drills at the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex on Tuesday. Boone believes Stanton will be “up against it a little bit” in terms of time to be ready for the March 26 season opener against the Orioles.

“It's disappointing, because you want to get guys going and built up,” Boone said. “But it's just a little bump in the road and we're equipped to handle it.”

Examined by Dr. Daniel Murphy in Tampa, Stanton’s MRI results were announced about 24 hours after the Yankees revealed that right-hander will miss all of the 2020 season, and likely part of '21, due to Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

It is the latest installment in a litany of injuries for the 30-year-old Stanton, who has also dealt with left biceps, left shoulder, left calf, right knee and right quadriceps issues since the beginning of 2019.

“It was a concern yesterday, and I don't think he thought it was that big a deal -- just a little soreness,” Boone said. “He came in this morning and felt better, but we sent him just to be safe after Dr. Murphy examined him. [The MRI] showed the strain, so it's going to be a couple of weeks.”

After playing in 158 games during his first Yankees season in 2018, Stanton was limited to 18 regular-season games in '19, batting .288/.403/.492 with three homers and 13 RBIs. He appeared in five postseason games but sustained a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros.

Boone said that he believes Stanton will be able to return as an impact force in the lineup, despite having missed so much time of late.

“G is pretty good at knowing himself and preparing, making sure he's good at replicating reps with his work behind the scenes and what he does in the cage and stuff,” Boone said. “He's pretty diligent at that. Last year, for as much time as he did miss, he garnered a lot of at-bats down here [in Florida] between the different times during the season. I feel like from a hitting standpoint, he saw a lot of reps last year for it being in a way a lost season.”

Stanton’s injury could open the door for outfielder to make the Opening Day roster, joining a mix that projects to feature in left field, in center field and in right field. Judge’s spring debut has been delayed by right shoulder soreness, but Boone said that Judge could play in Grapefruit League games sometime next week.

“I know that with the timing of [Stanton’s injury] around Sevy and what he went through last year, it starts to build this thing,” Boone said. “But hopefully this is just a small bump that doesn't swallow much.”