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Yankees trying to cope with injuries

Teixeira's strained wrist will be biggest test of team's depth
03/06/2013 2:36 PM ET
By Jon Lane

A strained wrist ended Mark Teixeira's hopes of playing in the World Baseball Classic.(AP)
An alarming amount of injuries have piled up on the New York Yankees with just under four weeks until Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The epidemic has been so strange that reliever David Robertson woke up with discomfort in his shoulder thanks to an apparent bad night of sleep. I

Robertson refused to cite it as sore, especially an injury, and told reporters he expects to pitch in Thursday's game. However, manager Joe Girardi said during Wednesday's YES telecast that he will give Robertson another day of rest.

"It's not a soreness," Robertson said. "Have you ever slept on your side and woke up and your shoulder didn't feel right? That's basically what it felt like. … If it's the regular season, I'm pitching right through it. I wouldn't even think twice about it. I've pitched on worse days.

"I probably had eight or nine (warmup pitches) down, fastballs to either side of the plate like I usually do in my warmup. Then (bullpen coach Mike Harkey) was like, don't risk it or anything like that. I came in, put an ice bag on. Doc checked me out, which, I knew there was nothing wrong. Come back today ready to play catch and see how it feels today."

Chalk it up to age or plain bad luck, depending on your point of view, but the Yankees have absorbed injuries like a prize fighter taking punches against the ropes. Prospect David Adams was felled by a back injury before Spring Training even began. Kevin Youkilis missed about a week with a sore oblique. Phil Hughes suffered a bulging disc in his back during fielding drills. Granderson was hit by a pitch and broke his forearm in his first at-bat of the Grapefruit season. Boone Logan has a sore elbow and has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit game.

Another prospect, Slade Heathcott, sprained his thumb colliding with Ronnier Mustelier in the outfield. A third, Adonis Garcia, broke his wrist. Even general manager Brian Cashman isn't unscathed. Cashman fractured his fibula and dislocated his right ankle on Monday skydiving for the Wounded Warrior project.

Still reeling from the onslaught of injuries, Cashman and the Yankees learned on Tuesday that Mark Teixeira strained his right wrist taking swings off a batting tee. Teixeira was forced to drop out of playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, is shut down for at least the next 10 days and the fickle nature of wrist injuries has his status for Opening Day in question.

"I'm concerned about it, to be honest," Cashman said. "This could be something where, even if it plays out as not serious, it could play out longer than anybody would want."

Photos: Yankees' growing injury list

On top of everything, the Yankees are already missing Alex Rodriguez, rehabbing from hip surgery, and are still waiting for Derek Jeter, recovering from ankle surgery in October, to appear in a game. The good news is that Mariano Rivera is scheduled to pitch on Saturday, his first game since suffering a torn ACL last May, but beyond that, the Yankees' depth is about to be severely tested.

Already a man down in the outfield, the Yankees have been looking at non-roster invitees Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz, along with prospects Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte and Mustelier, as replacements for Granderson. Teixeira's absence, however, may force Girardi to consider Rivera at first base or to shift Youkilis to the right side of the infield, which in turn creates a hole at third. Another non-roster invitee, Dan Johnson, is an option at first.

"We have a number of guys who have played there," Girardi said of first base. "Juan Rivera has played there; Dan Johnson has played there; Youkilis has played there and you could put someone else at third."

Besides Teixeira's Gold Glove-caliber defense, the Yankees will also feel the void in their lineup. In addition losing Granderson's 43 home runs from a year ago until May, Teixeira hit 30-plus home runs from 2009-11 before slugging 24 last season. Determined to compensate with speed and small ball, the Yankees are enduring a new test well before the 2013 season, one of endurance.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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