The Yankees are tied atop the AL East, showing everyone that good teams are not made on paper. If that were true, the long list of Yankees’ injuries would certainly put them at a distinct disadvantage. Instead, the attitude of “next man up” has prevailed in the Bombers’ locker room.
Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have missed the entire season while Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and Andy Pettitte have all missed significant time. Players like first baseman Lyle Overbay, outfielder Vernon Wells and pitcher Vidal Nuno have had to pick up the slack, among others.
What the Yankees have done so far this season is nothing short of miraculous. They are 11 games over .500 (30-19) and, perhaps more impressively, 15-10 away from the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. This tells you how they have won games with a balanced approach, rather than solely through power.
The Yanks should begin to get some of these injured players back in short order starting with third baseman Kevin Youkilis and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Teixeira has been playing in extended spring training games the past few days and Youkilis should be heading out on a rehab assignment sometime this week.
Though questions regarding the team’s mojo have been raised, these additions should do nothing but help the Yanks. Players like David Adams, who has been manning the hot corner, should have much of the pressure on him alleviated by the return of Youkilis to the lineup.
The key question is, without the returns of these veteran players, how much longer can the replacements continue to man the fort? There have already been signs of slippage as the team has gone 3-3 in its last 6 games against their division rivals the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles.
Catcher Austin Romine, who has played a significant role in the catching duties since Francisco Cervelli went down, is batting an abysmal .108 with only 2 RBIs. Jayson Nix has struggled at shortstop, but there is no end in sight as Derek Jeter may be the furthest away from returning.
Despite all of these issues, the team has flourished on the whole this season. If they can continue getting clutch hitting from unlikely candidates and solid starting pitching, this will signal success for the rest of the year and (perhaps) a playoff berth.
The Bombers begin a split four game set this week with the Mets with the first two games at Citi Field and the second two at Yankee Stadium. They finish up their rivalry week with a three game set against the reborn Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.