New York Yankees Need to Shut Down Brett Gardner for the Rest of 2012

Doug RushSenior Analyst IJuly 18, 2012

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  Outfielder Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases against the Houston Astros during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 17, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Yankees have been waiting for Brett Gardner to come off the disabled list since the middle of April.

The team thought they might get him back by the end of July, but with his latest setback in rehab from an injured elbow, the Yankees have decided to shut Gardner down again.

According to Brendan Prunty of the Newark Star Ledger, there's a good chance that Gardner might miss the rest of the 2012 season.

This is the third time Gardner has been shut down by the team after playing in rehab games or simulated games in order to get back into playing shape for the Yankees.

The latest being on Sunday afternoon when Gardner played in a simulated game and felt soreness in his elbow, which lead the team to their decision to stop Gardner from further baseball activity.

Gardner has seen Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, who is the famous sports surgeon known for Tommy John surgery performed on athletes, among other medical procedures.

Andrews didn't find anything wrong with Gardner then, and doctors still are puzzled as to what could be wrong with Gardner.

Before things get worse, the Yankees should just declare Gardner out for the rest of the 2012 season and figure out this injury.

They don't need him doing any further damage than what has been done. If surgery is in fact needed to fix his elbow, then it's better to get it done now rather than later, when Gardner could miss even more time on the field.

This season, Gardner has played in a total of nine games for the Yankees. His injury came about on April 17 against the Minnesota Twins when he went to dive for a ball in the outfield.

Gardner thought he would be fine to play the next day, but was scratched out of the lineup and hasn't been seen on the team since then.

Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have combined to play most of the games in left field for the Yankees, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman was worried about running the two veterans out in the outfield too much, causing them to wear down.

Cashman thought he would get Gardner back before the end of the month, which has caused him not to pursue a trade for an outfielder. If Gardner isn't coming back this season, it might change Cashman's plans for the trade deadline.

The Yankees should just shut down their starting left fielder and figure out what is wrong with him now, and if it requires surgery, have it now before further damage is done.

The Yankees would have loved to have gotten Gardner back, but there's no point in rushing him back now. After all, the team owns the best record in baseball right now.

Gardner is a big part of the Yankees' future and they need to get this taken care of before it gets any worse than it already has.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.