Have you ever seen that sign that says "maximum capacity is…" before entering a room? At this rate, the Yankees need to put up one of those signs in their rehab room.
In the 1993 film The Program, James Caan portrays a hard-nosed college football coach. In one scene, Caan asks his running back, played by Omar Epps, "Are you injured?" He goes on to say, "If you’re injured, I can’t let you go back in, but if you are hurt than you can play.”
CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are injured.
Both Yankee pitchers are the most recent victims of the disabled list. They are not alone in that undesirable distinction. As the ballclub appears to be limping into the All-Star break, scheduled for July 7-10 in Kansas City, the timing couldn't be better.
The first sign of injury setbacks occurred back in late March, when the team had to indefinitely shut down the highly-touted stud Michael Pineda, who they traded away Jesus Montero for. Possibly due in part to Pineda showing up to camp out of shape, the pitcher suffered a torn labrum and now fans won't be seeing his heralded right arm until 2013.
April didn't lack news either. Just two weeks into the young season, the team learned of Brett Gardner's elbow soreness. Unfortunately, the elbow has undergone setbacks and complications that have lingered to the point where Yankee fans shouldn't expect to see him until after the All-Star break.
The team knew they'd be losing his great ability to manufacture runs, but nobody accounted for how much the club would suffer from not having his speed out in left field. Guys like Ibanez, Nix, Wise and Andruw Jones have been exposed in left as they take turns patrolling the corner outfield spot.
In May, the team suffered a huge knockout punch when they were blindsided by Mariano Rivera's torn ACL, a result of shagging fly balls in pregame warm-ups. Losing your closer is hard to deal with, but when your closer happens to be the best ever, that one hurts.
Since May, the team has leaned on Robertson and Soriano to do their best impersonations of the Yankee closer.
It has certainly been a turbulent season for the Bombers, and their American League East-leading 46-30 record is a little deceptive. Despite the fact that they lead the majors in home runs, they are barely batting above .200 as a collective unit with runners in scoring position.
I am not one for statistics, but this is a glaring discrepancy and although it might prevail in the summer months, the Yankees know that this is not a recipe that they can carry into October.
To the club's credit, most teams in the league couldn't withstand the injuries and setbacks that the Yankees have encountered this season. For them to be 16 games above .500 and hold a four-game lead over first place is an incredible testament to their depth.
Looking into my crystal ball, Gardner's return to the lineup should relieve some of the pressure on the sluggers to hit home runs. Add the fact that Sabathia is only expected to miss a couple starts, and Pettitte should come back a few weeks after Sabathia, and it could be a very interesting second half.
A lot of pieces are going to have to come together for the team to be at their fullest possible strength as September draws near. Fans should be optimistic, because if there's anything that New York fans know, it's that the hottest team entering the playoffs is usually the most dangerous.
Maybe Joe Girardi can take a page out of Tom Coughlin's book about grinding through a season, overcoming injuries and playing your best ball late.
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