Teixeira's injury could give Majors opportunity for some Minor League veteransA trip to the DL for the first baseman would create roster crunch for Yankees
The Yankees got some good news about first baseman Mark Teixeira Sunday, as an MRI found only inflammation in his right wrist and he was given a cortisone shot by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.
However, after manager Joe Girardi said that Teixeira would likely miss a couple of games and then be re-evaluated in the middle of the week, he also said that he wouldn't rule out a return to the disabled list for the Gold Glover - and on Monday, GM Brian Cashman said in a conference call that he was leaning towards doing just that.
Should that become reality, the Yankees may be in even more of a roster crunch than they have been at any point this season, if only because of where they stand at the Minor League level; as of Monday, the Yankees have just two healthy position players on the 40-man roster and both, Ramon Flores and Zoilo Almonte, are outfielders - so, to call up an infielder, the Yankees would have to clear a roster spot. And, complicating things even further, Ronnier Mustelier, who is hitting .280 in Scranton and could have given the Yankees a righty bat to serve as a backup at all four corners, went on the DL himself on Monday, and even with that deactivation backdated he must be inactive until at least Saturday.
Clearing a roster spot is something they could do easily enough; for example, because injury recalls supercede the usual 10-day waiting period after a player is optioned to Triple-A, the Yankees could disable Teixeira and recall Adam Warren, then designate Chris Bootcheck for assignment to clear a roster spot for someone else. But then, that said, who fills that spot? Based on what's going on in Scranton, Trenton, and beyond, here are five names who could become the next man in pinstripes if Teixeira does indeed go to the DL.
A true first baseman, Johnson has MLB experience and has also played some limited innings at third base and in left field over his career. However, Johnson may have two negatives working against him: he's a lefty bat, and as of Monday he was hitting only .218 with eight homers and 32 RBI - a down season in the same International League where he posted a .267-28-85 line last year and was named MVP with a .303-30-95 line in 2010.
Gonzalez was 3-for-9 earlier this season with the Yankees, and while he's played solely shortstop at SWB and has only seven games of MLB experience at first base, bringing him back would give the Yankees another righty bat who can fill in behind Adams, Jayson Nix, Reid Brignac, and even Robinson Cano, allowing any or all of the former three to shift around the infield as needed.
Astute fans may remember Ibarra from Spring Training, where he hit .368 in 16 games while manning three different positions despite taking time off to play in the WBC. Ibarra was just promoted to Triple-A for the first time earlier this month, but as of Monday, he was hitting .293 overall between Trenton and Scranton and does have all of those reps at three different positions.
Like Gonzalez, if Ibarra were to be the one called up, he could fill in at second, third or short where needed, giving the Yankees options if and when they go to a secondary first baseman other than Overbay.
Maruszak is 26, has been in the system since 2008, and is hitting .246 with one homer and 18 RBI in his first season at Triple-A, so you may not consider him a "prospect" per se - but, he's coming off his best career season (.276-16-59 at Trenton last season), has played six positions this season (all but center field and catcher - where he did play four games in 2011), and is, perhaps most importantly, a righty bat.
Originally and currently a shortstop by trade, Maruszak has become a true utility man, and first and third base are the two other positions he had the most career starts at - so, given all the options, he may be the one who best fits what the Yankees need.
Last but not least, replacing Mustelier on this list is the man who will replace him Scranton: 35-year-old Randy Ruiz, a Bronx-born 15-year veteran who signed with the Yankees on Monday out of the Mexican League. Fans may remember Ruiz, who has spent almost all of his career in the Minors or overseas, from a brief stint in Toronto in 2010 - where he hit .313 with 10 homers in 33 games - and the even more astute may remember him posting a .283-28-90 line in 117 games for the Trenton Thunder in 2006.
Ruiz hit .373 with six homers in 37 games in the Mexican League this spring, and while he will be assigned to Scranton for now, that may be a quick stop; he's a righty bat with first base experience, is a veteran that has been around long enough to know how to handle a part-time, temporary role, and, because he was just signed, would likely find his way back through waivers to be stashed in Triple-A as insurance in a few weeks as well.