Today is May 15. April 1 was 45 days ago. April 1 was the day Giancarlo Stanton went on the injured list with a biceps strain. Somehow between April 1 and now, Stanton developed a mysterious shoulder injury, a rather serious injury since it’s now kept him out of the lineup for over a month, and no one seems to know what it is or when he’ll return.
Stanton told reporters he hurt himself swinging at a 3-1 pitch during his third at-bat on March 31. He winced and wiggled his arm after the swing, but thought it might be a cramp so he remained in the game. The following day, he said he hoped for a “speedy” recovery.
“I don’t like it at all,” Stanton said on April 1. “I just worked for six weeks to get here, plus the offseason. I’d much rather this would have popped in spring training, but it’s where we’re at. I don’t have to start from scratch when I come back, but I’ve just got to build everything up and make sure everything is ready to go when I’m back.”
Yet another injured Yankee at the time, and yet another injured Yankee, who initially thought he would be out for the minimal injured list time of 10 days and wouldn’t have to build completely back up.
“In the middle of the game, you’ve got your adrenaline pumping,” Stanton said. “You want to stay out there. Once you’ve settled down and get undressed and showered, that’s when your gauges are a little better. Things start tightening up if they’re not right.”
At the time, the Yankees were without Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius in the lineup. Stanton would also be joined by Miguel Andujar on the injured list that day, and four of the nine regular everyday players would be missing after three games.
“Especially how last year went, a bunch of us were down,” Stanton said. “We didn’t really have our full squad the whole year. All that goes into it, especially where we’re at now. It’s unfortunate right now. I guess it’s better to be in the beginning than the end of the year.”
Aaron Boone said Stanton would be completely shut down for 10 days before beginning to work his way back.
“Hopefully we get him back at some point this month,” Boone said.
Just like the situation with Hicks, Aaron Boone was fooled into thinking the injury would be nothing more than a minor thing. On April 2, Jon Heyman reported the “Yankees are hopeful Stanton can be back in three weeks.”
On April 9, it was reported Stanton might hit off a tee the following day (April 10) or the day after that (April 11).
Five days later, on April 14, Stanton said his rehab for his left biceps strain is “on track,” but was unsure of when he would return, while also saying he stills feels the strain “a little bit.” He took swings the day before (April 13) for the second time since suffering the injury though had yet to swing at 100 percent. Asked if he would need a rehab game, he said he wouldn’t.
“At this point, I wouldn’t need one,” Stanton said. “But if I’m out three or four weeks, I probably should.”
The Yankees were in Anaheim on April 22 in the middle of a nine-game, 10-day West Coast trip when they announced Stanton was now dealing with a shoulder issue and would see a specialist in Southern California. He would receive a cortisone shot in his shoulder that day. The biceps injury had healed and now there was a shoulder injury to deal with.
“He’s had some shoulder stuff in the past,” Boone said in Anaheim. “I don’t know if it’s a little bit of a result of that. We figured now while he’s down coming from this, let’s just make sure we treat this the best we can so it doesn’t become a lingering issue if we can help it.”
Stanton had a shoulder injury with the Marlins back in 2013, but that was six years ago. For Boone to hint it could be related to that and then say he doesn’t want this to be a lingering issue, wouldn’t a six-year-old shoulder injury popping up be the exact definition of a “lingering issue”?
“He has had some residual stuff with his shoulder,” Boone said. “He got a shot, here a couple of days ago. So he is in Day 2 or 3 of not swinging.”
Stanton would remain in Southern California to work with a rehab specialist, while the team went on to San Francisco for a three-game weekend series. Stanton would then rejoin the team in Arizona the following week.
“We’ve got to let the shot settle, and that’s probably another day or two of no swinging,” Boone said. “Then he should be able to ramp up pretty quick and start swinging when we get to Arizona.”
On May 6, five days after the team had left Arizona, Stanton spoke to the media for the first time since the shoulder issue was reported and gave the vaguest of answers in regards to the mysterious injury.
“Just give it some extra time,” Stanton said. “The biceps blowing out, the whole arm had to get strength to build with each other. Just give it more time.”
Stanton had clearly been informed of the Yankees’ new media strategy of not giving any sense of a target return date after the debacle that began last July with Aaron Judge’s wrist injury and continued this season with various missed timetables and missed diagnosis.
“I don’t know,” Stanton said in reference to a timetable for his return. “Start swinging again and then go from there.”
Clearly annoyed with the questions, Stanton continued to be vague.
“Just going to ramp it up and see how it goes,” Stanton said. “So there’s no major update for you guys.”
The same “ramp it up” Boone spoked about 11 days earlier? When asked another time in a different way to try to pull an answer from him, Stanton didn’t budge.
“No major update for you guys,” Stanton said. “Hit tomorrow, then go from there.”
Stanton did begin to hit, and on May 11, Boone offered an update.
“Reports are it went pretty well yesterday,” Boone said. “He hit a fair amount.”
This Monday, on May 13, Stanton took live at-bats for the first time and was going to do the same on Tuesday. He’s at the Yankees’ Player Development complex in Tampa hitting off live pitching and performing defensive drills. Brian Cashman said Stanton was “progressing” while Boone gave the weirdest injury update of all time to MLB.com.
“Just not quite right,” Boone said regarding Stanton’s shoulder. “I don’t know the exact diagnosis of it. He’s through the biceps injury, but there has just been that lingering shoulder stuff that he’s trying to get knocked out. Basically, it’s just coming back from that now and ramping up.”
Another “ramping up” reference! Boone continued and said there’s no tear in his shoulder though that doesn’t mean there isn’t one given the Yankees’ diagnosis of their players this season.
“No, it’s just … whatever,” Boone said. “I mean, guys have different stuff going on with their … and he’s got … I don’t know what exactly is going on in there other than it’s obviously not exactly right or else he would have been back a bit ago.”
A “whatever”? Is that the official diagnosis for the left shoulder injury of a player owed $270 million, who originally went on the injured list with a biceps issue?
“Moving in the right direction,” Boone continued. “I think he had like nine at-bats yesterday and more of the same today, doing hsi defensive work and running. So I feel like hopefully he’s moving to really start to get some at-bats and we can start thinking about getting him back.”
Pressed for a more detailed answer, Boone was asked if this whole situation was unusual.
“Right, and he doesn’t have a perfect shoulder by any means,” Boone said. “He’s dealt with varying degreees of just a dead period or some soreness in there and whatnot. As far as a diagnosis of what exactly it is, I don’t have it for you.”
The manager of the New York Yankees has been without his highest-paid player for exactly a month and a half at this point and hasn’t been informed of the player’s injury? An injury which popped up despite the player already being on the injured list for a different injury, and the different injury originally had a timetable of an April return.
This Boone update came a day after the Yankees put Miguel Andujar back on the injured list for the labrum tear they said he was ready to play with earlier this month, and now he made need surgery on it. Boone was hesitant to give any real insight or information into the injury and certainly wasn’t going to offer a timetable after saying back on April 1 he thought Stanton could be back sometime in April. It’s understandable given how Boone and the Yankees completely botched Aaron Judge’s wrist injury timetable last season, botched Hicks’s spring training injury this season, were uninformed about Luis Severino’s lat problem, sat Gary Sanchez for a leg issue and then let him enter a game only to them put him on the injured list and let Clint Frazier play the remaining three innings of a game before putting him on the injured list. The Yankees might never offer a timetable on a player again following this season’s embarrassment.
No one knows when Stanton will actually be back. He’s played in three of the team’s 40 games, and has yet to play in a rehab game, which he originally said he wouldn’t need way back on April 14.
This whole situation is confusing, but when it comes to the 2019 Yankees, it’s certainly not surprising.
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