NEW YORK (AP) — Gary Sánchez was as startled as anybody by the news announced Friday.
The Yankees catcher has a strained left calf and became the 12th New York player on the injured list, a day after a precautionary MRI revealed the injury.
Right-handed reliever Dellin Betances, another member of that achy dozen, returned to New York on Friday to visit a doctor after his simulated game Thursday did not go well. Betances is dealing with a right shoulder issue.
Sánchez said through a translator that he was “surprised” by the MRI result, believing the tightness he felt in his calf this week wouldn’t require him to miss more time. He was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday at Houston and struck out as a pinch-hitter. He said he felt fine after that game.
He had the MRI during a day off Thursday, and the Yankees decided the strain was severe enough to warrant placing him on the 10-day IL, retroactive to Thursday. Sánchez hopes to return when he’s eligible. Manager Aaron Boone said Sánchez didn’t want to go on the IL, but the team convinced him to take the cautious route early in the season.
“It’s frustrating because you want to play,” Sánchez said. “You want to play all the time.”
Sánchez will take five days off from baseball activities. New York hopes he’ll only need five or so days after that to build back up.
“Hopefully it’s something that’s a pretty short stint,” Boone said.
More than half the Yankees starting lineup is hurt. Sánchez joined outfielders Giancarlo Stanton (strained left biceps) and Aaron Hicks (left lower back strain), shortstop Didi Gregorius (recovering from Tommy John surgery last October), third baseman Miguel Andújar (torn labrum in right shoulder) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (strained left calf) on the IL.
The ailing Yankees were swept over three games by the Astros this week, falling to 5-7 a year after winning 100 games.
“It’s our reality right now,” Boone said. “The bottom line is, we feel like, unlike any other team maybe, we’re equipped to be able to still have success through this.”
New York will get left-hander CC Sabathia off the IL on Saturday. Sabathia is set to make his first start since having an angioplasty and right knee surgery during the offseason.
The 38-year-old Sabathia had been rehabbing with Class A Tampa. He returned to New York on Wednesday, and his message to the clubhouse was simple.
“Keep playing,” he said. “It’s a long season. It’s April, so we’ll get our guys back, but right now we just got to keep going out and playing hard with the guys that we have in here. We have capable guys that can step up and do the job.”
Andújar threw lightly Friday and also took swings off a tee. He’s attempting to avoid surgery for a small labrum tear in his right shoulder. Boone said the biggest concern is the throwing, and it’s still too soon to determine if the third baseman can rehab rather than have a season-ending operation.
Boone also said Stanton and Hicks are recovering well, although neither is nearing an immediate return.
New York recalled catcher Kyle Higashioka from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before Friday’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox.
The Yankees injured list also includes pitchers Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery and Ben Heller, and oft-injured outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who last played in 2017.
New York is more than halfway to its 2018 total of 20 players who had disabled list stints.
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