Yankees still waiting on injured prospect Austin Wells

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — An important spring for Austin Wells has yet to get off the ground.

The Yankees catching prospect participated in workouts on the first day of camp, but has been sidelined since by a bruised rib.

He was getting closer to ramping back up recently before feeling something again as he was getting worked on on the trainer’s table, according to Aaron Boone.

The setback forced Wells to undergo another MRI exam on Tuesday, the results of which were not immediately available.

Wells’ injury comes at an unfortunate time, during a spring where there are catching reps to be had.

That is especially the case with Kyle Higashioka leaving soon for the WBC and third-string catcher Ben Rortvedt expected to miss most of camp after undergoing a shoulder procedure.

Wells, rated by Baseball America as the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect and the No. 94 prospect overall, finished last season at Double-A Somerset.

Yankees catching prospect Austin Wells
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Across three levels last year, he hit .277 with 20 home runs and a .897 OPS in 92 games while missing about a month midseason to another injury.

There have been some questions about Wells’ future behind the plate — and whether a position change might be in store — but Boone said he was likely not going to see time elsewhere this spring.

“The big thing with Austin is we feel like he’s made a lot of strides defensively, catching, that there’s a lot of people that believe he can play that position long term and at this level,” Boone said. “Obviously we love his bat. We’ll see, but first things first is getting this injury behind him and hopefully be able to get into some games here in the next couple weeks.”

Gerrit Cole is in line to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday against the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field, though Boone said the Yankees could ultimately opt to have him throw another live batting practice session that day instead.

The Yankees turned back the clock — not that far — to the days of no pitch timers on Tuesday because they were not installed at the stadium.

The Rays’ normal spring training home is in Port Charlotte, Fla, but their complex sustained damage from Hurricane Ian last September, forcing them elsewhere this spring.

Tuesday was the only game the Rays played at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex — formerly the spring home of the Braves — where they held their first two weeks of camp, before they have the rest of their home games this spring at Tropicana Field.

Even without the clock, the 12-0 game finished in 2:30.

“I think it speaks more to how quickly these guys have already adjusted to it,” Boone said, also noting that a majority of the roster the Yankees brought had played under the pitch clock in the minors last season.