In an odd turn of events last night, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, suffered a torn ACL while shagging balls in the outfield during the batting practice session prior to the matchup with the Kansas City Royals. Catching fly balls has been part of Rivera’s daily routine throughout his career and ironically enough, it may be the cause of the end of the future hall of famers career.
This is just more devastating news for Yankee nation, as the club has already had to deal with an onslaught of injuries on top of other problems, barely over one month into the season. Prior to last night, New York’s depth chart looked bleak, with Brett Gardner, and Nick Swisher on the bench, as well as Eric Chavez who was removed from the game the night before due to whiplash and concussion symptoms.
The latest Yankee affliction in Rivera, comes as an extremely significant blow to the already depleted pitching staff. Starter, Michael Pineda suffered a season ending shoulder injury before the first pitch of 2012 was even thrown. As did reliever, Joba Chamberlain, who broke his ankle in a non-baseball related incident. Due to the struggles of the starters, pitchers have also been shuffled around. David Phelps made his first start on the mound last night, replacing Freddy Garcia, who was moved to the bullpen after an awful start to the season. Phelps debuted with a below-average outing, going just four innings, but holding the Royals to six hits and two runs. The question still remains though, of whether Phelps has secured that starting spot for the remainder of the year.
Amidst a three-game losing streak, the Yankees have also had to battle with a major slump at the plate. With the exception of Derek Jeter, who has teetered back and forth with a .400 batting average, and Curtis Granderson who is the team’s home run leader, currently on a 23-game hitting streak, the rest of the Bronx Bombers have been silent for the most part. Runners are being stranded on base and the big hits have been few and far between, especially when needed most, which has left the organization puzzled up to this point.
With all of the adversity already facing the club, losing their All-Star, Hall of Fame closer, who holds the record for most career saves, was the last thing any fan, player, or coach wanted to hear. Earlier than expected, this news will leave the Yankees with no choice but to begin exploring other options for a reliable closer for the rest of the season. Talks already surround Rafael Soriano and Dvid Robertson, who are said to be in the running for the job. Soriano has more experience as a closer, however Robertson has had dominating performances on the mound for the Yanks and is said to be a better fit. No matter who is given the opportunity, they undoubtedly have enormous shoes to fill behind Rivera, and need to live up to the high standards he’s set in the Bronx.
Despite the tragic event that took place last night, and may have possibly ended the career of the greatest closer ever to grace the baseball field, life must go on without him in the Yankee clubhouse. He will be greatly missed, but with well over 100 games remaining on the schedule, the Yankees have to start answering a lot of other questions to get back on the winning track and en route to the franchise’s 28th World Series Championship.