NEW YORK — Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks the rule preventing runners from bowling over catchers has led to injuries like the one sustained by top New York prospect Gleyber Torres, who will miss the rest of the season because of a torn elbow ligament.
A 20-year-old infielder, Torres was hurt Saturday on a slide into home plate for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Buffalo. New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek will operate Wednesday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in Torres’ non-throwing left arm.
“It just seems like players are forgetting how to slide today,” Girardi said Tuesday. “I think slides have become a lot more creative at home plate because catchers don’t block the plate, and now I’m starting to rethink the rule, thinking the baserunners are the ones really at risk here because you see more guys slide in headfirst than ever before.”
Baseball adopted the anti-collision rule ahead of the 2014 season. Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout, the AL MVP, tore a thumb ligament during a headfirst slide into second base on May 28. Yankees rookie star Aaron Judge has slid headfirst into the plate this year.
“They see a corner of the bag. They think can manipulate their body to score the run,” Girardi said. “And every time I see a guy slide headfirst, I cringe, just because you worry about the hands, you worry about the shoulders.”
Girardi doesn’t expect many players to suddenly change and slide feet first.
“The only thing that would work is if baseball came out and said headfirst was illegal,” he said, “because you’re asking someone to take the competitiveness out of them that helped them to get to that point, and that’s not going to happen.”
Torres is expected to be ready for spring training. Acquired from the Cubs last July in the trade that sent closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago, Torres began the season at Double-A Trenton and hit .273 with five homers and 18 RBIs before he was promoted. He joined Scranton on May 23 and batted .309 with two homers and 16 RBIs. He was selected the top player of last year’s Arizona Fall League.
“To me, it’s a tiny setback,” Girardi said. “He’s going to miss 300 at-bats, or whatever it is. But to me it’s not a huge setback. It’s frustrating for him and all of us because you wanted to see him play and continue to develop. But in the whole scope of his career, I don’t think it’s going to be really that big.”
In other injury news:
– Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, out since a concussion on May 24, is to take batting practice Wednesday.
– First baseman Greg Bird, who hasn’t played for the Yankees since May 1 because of a bruised right ankle, was to be examined by a doctor Tuesday. Bird’s minor league rehab assignment was cut short after he went 3-for-21 at Triple-A from June 1 to 14.
– Left-hander CC Sabathia is progressing after straining his left hamstring during a start last Tuesday. Girardi said the Yankees will have a better idea by the end of this week on a possible return date.
– Right-hander Adam Warren, who hasn’t pitched since June 13 because of right shoulder inflammation, is to play catch on Friday.