TAMPA — In some ways, Jacoby Ellsbury is doing the Yankees a favor.
Now, instead of taking him on the roster, they can take someone they really need — like an extra pitcher, for instance.
In what comes as no surprise given his past in pinstripes, Ellsbury, who has been sidelined for much of the spring due to an oblique injury, is expected to start the 2018 season on the disabled list.
“I mean, it’s going to be too hard to get him into enough games and get him enough at-bats,” Aaron Boone said. “I don’t think we’ve totally closed the door on that, but I would say it’s looking very unlikely.”
Giancarlo Stanton feeling comfortable in left field and clubhouse
Ellsbury was supposed to get some simulated at-bats against CC Sabathia on Monday in Tampa before finally getting a couple ABs back in a spring game on Tuesday in Lakeland.
But those plans were scrapped since Ellsbury was still experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“It’s just a bummer,” Boone said, though Yankees fans may disagree. “Hopefully he can knock this bug out in 24 hours. At least we feel like he’s totally healed up from his injury, so he should be ready to get going once he gets rid of this bug.”
Ellsbury, 34, still has three years and $68 million left on his deal, and already he’s lost his starting job in center to Aaron Hicks. The Bombers tried to trade him, but despite their willingness to eat a portion of his remaining deal, they found no takers.
Boone said the Yankees won’t necessarily take another outfielder on their 25-man roster. They already have everyday regulars in Brett Gardner, Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and the versatile Tyler Wade is capable of playing there should the team find itself in a bind.
“I’ll let you guys speculate,” Boone replied when asked who the guy could be.
In truth, despite a bullpen full of power arms, the Bombers could actually use a long man. Chad Green and Adam Warren are capable of going multiple innings, but they aren’t the type of guys you want to bring in over the first three frames early in the regular season if a starter struggles out of the gate.
Boone mentioned four candidates: Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, Domingo German and Luis Cessa.
German could be the best swingman of that group — and he’s posted a 2.84 ERA this spring over five games (two starts).
Still, it’s possible the Yankees could want both German and Cessa taking regular turns in the minors in case of injury to the likes of veterans CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray or Masahiro Tanaka, which could open a spot for Holder or Heller.
Regardless, the Bombers have plenty of options.
A three-man bench featuring three of Wade, Neil Walker, Ronald Torreyes and Austin Romine seems like enough for now. Tyler Austin and Billy McKinney are candidates if the Yankees decided to take an extra bench guy.
So Ellsbury’s absence doesn’t really seem like a big deal. And who knows, maybe he’ll become a factor later in the season.
That is, if he can ever get on the field.
Yanks roster with Ellsbury on DL
Position players (12): Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Brandon Drury, Aaron Hicks, Neil Walker, Tyler Wade, Austin Romine, Ronald Torreyes
Pitchers (12): Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve
25th Man: Domingo German, Luis Cessa, Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, Tyler Austin, Billy McKinney
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