The Yankees won 103 games a season ago, but in some ways their success was overshadowed by the absurd number of injuries they suffered. Unfortunately for the colossus in the Bronx, the run-up to the 2020 season hasn't brought measurably improved fortunes.
To recap, lefty James Paxton is sidelined until at least May after undergoing back surgery. Tommy John surgery has put right-hander Luis Severino out for all of 2020, and outfielders Giancarlo Stanton (calf) and Aaron Judge (rib) are in doubt for Opening Day. As well, outfielder Aaron Hicks is still out after having Tommy John surgery last October.
Slugging catcher Gary Sanchez has been added the ledger. Over the weekend, it was revealed the Yankees backstop was dealing with back soreness. Then on Tuesday, Sanchez missed his scheduled batting practice due to a fever, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. The Yankees later announced Sanchez has been diagnosed with the flu and will be away from the team the next few days.
"He'll be re-evaluated on Friday. He'll be kind of away from us for the next couple of days. We'll see where he's at at that point," manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, Tuesday afternoon.
Importantly, the Yankees say Sanchez was not tested for the coronavirus. Because coronavirus testing kits are in limited supply, patients are first tested for the flu, and if that comes back negative, they go for additional testing. Since Sanchez tested positive for the flu, he was not tested for coronavirus.
Sanchez has a bit of an injury history. Over the last three seasons, he has made five trips to the IL, and in 2019 he was limited by calf and groin problems. He's never played more than 122 games in a season at the big-league level. Now with the additional, unrelated issue of a fever, Sanchez's return to game action will likely be pushed back by a few days.
Over his career, Sanchez has slugged .518 and averaged 46 home runs per 162 games played. Needless to say, that kind of power production from the most essential defensive position makes Sanchez a highly valuable contributor. As such, the Yankees badly need him to stay generally healthy in 2020.
MLB and other major North American sports leagues closed locker rooms to the media this week to prevent the spread of coronavirus. MLB currently has no plans to delay the start of the season or play games without fans in the seats to help contain the outbreak.