TAMPA — The Yankees were dealt their first real curveball of spring training Thursday with Brian Cashman announcing three injuries — and Aaron Boone later adding a potential fourth — that will throw a wrench into the roster the team planned on bringing north.
While the shortstop and, to a lesser extent, left field competitions are still up for grabs, the Yankees’ pitching plans have been altered by injuries to Carlos Rodon (mild forearm muscle strain), Tommy Kahnle (biceps tendinitis) and Lou Trivino (mild elbow ligament sprain).
Rodon and Kahnle will be on the IL until at least some time in April, and the Yankees hope Trivino can return by May.
Harrison Bader, meanwhile, was sent for testing Thursday on his left oblique, which could threaten his availability for Opening Day.
With that information, and spring training now more than halfway over, it’s time to take another stab at which 26 players will break camp with the team in Roster Projection 2.0:
Rotation (5): Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes, Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt
The Yankees gutted much of their upper-minors starting pitching depth through trades last season, which left Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt as their only backups with any kind of major league service time. Now, after injuries to Frankie Montas and Rodon, German and Schmidt are trending toward starting the season in the rotation instead of battling for the fifth starter spot.
The problem with that is the Yankees’ starting pitching depth falls off after German and Schmidt, so they can ill-afford another injury to their rotation.
Otherwise, they may have to call on the likes of Deivi Garcia, Jhony Brito or Randy Vasquez.
The Yankees are slow-playing Cortes after he entered camp with a hamstring strain, but he finally may get into a game by the end of next week after throwing one more live batting practice session.
Bullpen (8): Clay Holmes, Michael King, Wandy Peralta, Jonathan Loaisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Albert Abreu, Greg Weissert, Jimmy Cordero
The relief corps is still in a solid spot despite the injuries to Kahnle and Trivino.
King has rebounded well from suffering a broken elbow last July, Marinaccio made a strong debut Thursday after missing the end of last season due to a shin injury and Holmes appears to have put last season’s back and shoulder injuries behind him.
Abreu initially was a candidate to make the bullpen largely because he is out of minor league options, but he has looked impressive early in camp. So has Weissert, whose nasty stuff has drawn rave reviews from teammates, including Cole and Aaron Judge.
The last spot could remain a battle for the rest of camp, but the hard-throwing Cordero seems like a decent bet, especially because the Yankees already added him to the 40-man roster this offseason. He has thrown four scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play after a perfect frame Thursday. His sinker also jumped to averaging 98 mph against the Red Sox.
Left-hander Matt Krook, who was also added to the 40-man roster this winter, could be another consideration as a second lefty behind Peralta who also could provide some length.
Ian Hamilton, meanwhile, has opened plenty of eyes as a non-roster invite who has been sharp and impressed coaches with his slider-changeup hybrid.
Catchers (2): Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka
This position has taken a beating this spring from a depth perspective, but fortunately for the Yankees, their two major leaguers have been spared from injuries.
Behind them, Ben Rortvedt (shoulder surgery for an aneurysm), Austin Wells (fractured rib) and Josh Breaux (elbow soreness) are all currently sidelined by injuries. That means the Yankees can hardly afford any health issues for Trevino and Higashioka.
Infield (6): Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza, Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Gleyber Torres
It still feels as if a trade could be coming for someone in this group by the end of camp if everyone stays healthy.
The Yankees might have their hand forced with the way Anthony Volpe has been making a charge with a strong start to Grapefruit League play. Cashman and Boone have insisted Volpe has a legit chance to win the shortstop job out of camp, but his lack of Triple-A experience (22 games) could end up delaying that move. This projection has him on the outside looking in.
Peraza may still have the slight edge because of his strong cameo at the end of last season while Kiner-Falefa looms as a trade candidate — or as a $6 million utilityman.
LeMahieu is off to an encouraging start after having his season ended prematurely last year because of a fractured bone in his foot.
Outfield (4): Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Rafael Ortega
Bader was listed in this section until about 4 p.m. Thursday, when Boone revealed Bader had experienced oblique discomfort stemming from a swing in Wednesday’s game.
The Yankees said they would have more information Friday, but oblique injuries can linger, so this projection has him starting the season on the IL.
For now, we’ll go with Rafael Ortega being the beneficiary of Bader’s injury. The former Cubs outfielder, who has played center field twice in the past three games, provides a left-handed bat that has shown some power early in camp.
He is not on the 40-man roster, but the Yankees can open a few spots by putting at least three players on the 60-day injured list.
Estevan Florial also is a candidate to make the team as a fill-in for Bader, especially because he is out of minor league options. But Florial may have run out of chances in a Yankees uniform. His swing-and-miss issues overshadow his intriguing tools.
Utility (1): Oswaldo Cabrera
One of the bright spots for the Yankees in camp has been the play of Cabrera, who recently added center field to his repertoire, one of seven different positions — the only exceptions are catcher and pitcher — he has shown he can handle.
Injured list (7): Rodon, Montas, Kahnle, Trivino, Bader, Luis Gil, Scott Effross
An ‘honor’ for Gleyber
After playing in his last game for the Yankees on Sunday before leaving for the World Baseball Classic, Gleyber Torres was almost giddy while describing what it meant to him to be playing for Venezuela.
“Really excited,” he said. “Happy, first of all, because it’s an honor to represent my country. It’s a huge opportunity for myself and also all the players going to represent Venezuela to put on a really good show, and maybe we can get this trophy for our country. Especially [because] our country is huge baseball fans. We know already they really love the WBC.
“If we won, it would be amazing.”
Torres was also confident the WBC experience would help him start the regular season ahead of where he otherwise might be.
“Playing in the WBC, you play 100 percent,” he said. “It’s like you [turn] the switch really fast. For sure, timing-wise, hitting and defensively, it’s really good for me. I know it helped me a lot and those games will be like postseason games every day. That is the energy I really need to start the season.”
Effross’ long game
Effross hit an important benchmark in his rehab from October Tommy John surgery when he began a throwing program on Monday.
The reliever still has a long road back, and it will get tougher from a mental perspective when the Yankees head north and he is no longer around the team on a daily basis.
But Effross said he is trying to appreciate the smaller victories along the way, and starting to play catch was certainly one of those.