Yankees diagnose ‘frustrating’ injury for Austin Wells

TAMPA — Austin Wells has been dealt a tough break.

The Yankees catching prospect underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday that revealed a fracture of his 12th rib, he said Wednesday, which may keep him out for the rest of spring training.

Fractured ribs normally mean a six-to-eight-week recovery, Wells said, which would sideline him into the regular season.

“It’s definitely a frustrating thing to happen,” Wells said Wednesday morning. “Everything happens for a reason, so I’m trying to be positive. Just being around this clubhouse and being here is a cool opportunity. Just trying to take in everything I can. There’s still a lot to learn, even if I’m not in the daily grind of everything with them.”

Austin Wells during 2022 spring training
Austin Wells during 2022 spring training
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Wells arrived at major league camp healthy but felt something on the first day of workouts, which was initially diagnosed as a bruised rib.

The Yankees thought he was close to ramping back up in recent days before he felt more discomfort, which led to the latest imaging.

It remains a mystery what caused the injury to Wells, who finished last season at Double-A Somerset.

“Just a freak thing,” he said. “I all of a sudden was like, ‘That doesn’t feel very good.’ Then over time, it got better, got worse, got better, got worse. I think just all the moving around, trying to get back into it, and then after two weeks of it, not really getting better, we wanted to get more imaging done. So this time it showed up. 

“Who knows, it could have happened within the last two weeks. It could have happened a little bit and then it came to fruition towards the end. It’ll probably be 7-10 days of nothing and then slowly start activities.”

Austin Wells is dealing with a broken rib
Austin Wells is dealing with a broken rib
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The timing of the injury is brutal for Wells, who could have seen plenty of Grapefruit League action with Kyle Higashioka leaving soon for the WBC and third-string catcher Ben Rortvedt also sidelined for a month by a shoulder procedure.

When healthy, Wells is known for his bat. In 92 games last season, he hit .277 with 20 home runs and a .897 OPS.