What was set to be a crowded position battle this spring, just opened up with the injuries to Tyler Austin and Mason Williams.
Williams was a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, although he impressed in his short stints with the Yankees in 2015 and 2016. He will be out for two weeks due to inflammation in his left patella tendon.
Tyler Austin’s injury comes as the bigger of the two. Austin suffered a small break in his left foot. He suffered the break after fouling a ball off of his foot in a batting practice session. Austin was competing for playing time at both first base and right field. With the Chris Carter signing and a healthy Greg Bird, Austin was really looking to make his impact in right field rather than first base.
Now, he will be in a walking boot for three weeks and is shut down for the next six weeks.
This injury to Austin narrows the competition for the starting spot in right field. On Opening Day, the lineup card will read “Aaron”, but will it be followed by “Judge” or “Hicks”? Judge and Hicks are seemingly both locks for the Opening Day roster.
It also makes things at first base less complicated for Greg Bird and Chris Carter. While the Carter signing made Austin’s chances of making the roster much more difficult, his depth at these two positions was going to fuel these camp battles further. Carter’s signing is much more valuable at this point because the Yankees having more depth allows them to withstand injuries to certain players.
The Yankees will not miss a beat with Austin’s injury, but it is a tough blow to the Baby Bomber who will now, in all likelihood, start the season at Triple-A. Austin’s first stint in the Bronx was short, but successful. He made his presence felt early with a home run in his first Major League at-bat, going back-to-back with Judge, also in his first Major League at-bat. This was the first time in baseball history that two teammates hit their first career home runs in the first at-bats in the same game.
In 31 games he hit .241 with five homers and 12 RBIs. His most impressive work came in crunch time as all of his home runs either tied the game or put the Yankees ahead. He is pretty much guaranteed to be on the Major League roster at some point this season, but after this tough news, it will be a longer road for Austin to get back to Yankees and receive substantial playing time.