Yankees Opening Day Roster Won’t Feature 5 Key Players


The New York Yankees’ roster on Opening Day won’t be what the organization had envisioned for the start of the 2023 MLB season. With a few weeks left in spring training, five key Yankees players are already headed for the injured list.

The Yankees’ injuries started with pitcher Frankie Montas, who underwent shoulder surgery before New York ever played a spring training game. Relievers Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino will join Montas on the injured list to start the 2023 campaign, along with starting pitcher Carlos Rodon. Center fielder Harrison Bader is the first member of the Yankees’ everyday lineup to get hurt, suffering an oblique strain that will likely put him on the IL.

All five players were acquired by the Yankees at the trade deadline or in free agency.

The injuries to Rodon and Bader are the biggest blows dealt to the Yankees’ roster. Rodon was New York’s one significant addition in free agency. The left-hander signed a six-year, $162 million contract to be the team’s No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole. Bader is headed for his first full season in the Big Apple after being the Yankees’ best player in the 2022 MLB playoffs.

Rodon could miss at least a month with a forearm strain. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told reporters Rodon would be back in the rotation in April in “a perfect world.” In a realistic scenario, Rodon won’t make his regular-season debut until May. The Yankees want to be cautious with Rodon and make sure that his injury doesn’t get more serious.

Bader has a chance to be kept off the IL, but all signs are pointing to him landing on the injured list. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Bader will be out of action for “some time. Bader suffered the injury exactly three weeks away from Opening Day.

The Bader injury makes the Yankees’ hole in left field even more glaring. New York has been planning to move Aaron Judge to left field and Giancarlo Stanton from the DH spot to right field for a portion of their games. With Bader out, much-maligned outfielder Aaron Hicks will likely get more playing time.

The injuries to Rodon and Montas give the Yankees little margin for error in the rotation. Montas’ surgery will keep him sidelined for most of the regular season, if not the entire year. One more injury to a starting pitcher could force the Yankees to seriously consider their trade options.

Nestor Cortes started the season with a hamstring injury that isn’t expected to keep him from pitching in early April. Luis Severino has been plagued by injuries in four straight seasons. Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German are expected to start the season in the backend of the rotation.

Montas was one of the worst pitchers in baseball after being traded to the Yankees. The right-hander posted a 6.35 ERA in eight starts. Montas has since admitted that he was hurt when the Oakland Athletics sent him to the Bronx.

The Yankees are hopeful that Kahnle can return from biceps tendinitis in April. Trivino could be out until at least May because of a mild elbow ligament sprain.

Injuries have largely kept Kahnle off the mound since 2020 when he was in his first stint with the Yankees. The reliever gave up four runs in 12.2 innings with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Trivino had a 1.66 ERA in 25 appearances for New York last season.

Expectations are, once again, high for the Yankees. New York was defeated by the Houston Astros in the ALCS last year for the third time in six seasons.

Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox
Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox
Getty Images | Jonathan Daniel

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