Yankees are getting swept up in an injury vortex


Common sense tells you there is no relationship to any of this, ache to pain to strain to train. This isn’t the flu, you know? There is no correlation, no connection, between Aaron Judge’s wrist and Didi Gregorius’ heel and Aroldis Chapman’s knee.

You can’t catch a contusion from a teammate.

It just does seem that way, sometimes. It seems that even as the Yankees climb ever higher over .500, even as they inch their way back into the Red Sox’s stratosphere, even as they find ways to win games like Tuesday night’s 12-inning, 2-1 marathon over the Marlins … well, there always seems to be someone limping off the field.

This time it was Chapman, the fire-balling closer, who walked the first Marlin he faced leading off the bottom of the 12th, threw ball one to the next, couldn’t elevate that fastball higher than 96 mph.

And then pointed with his glove to the first-base dugout.

Out popped Aaron Boone, the Yankees manager. Out popped Steve Donohue, the trainer. Out popped Marlon Abreu, Chapman’s translator. A quorum of Yankees infielders joined, assembled on the pitcher’s mound at Marlins Park, everyone looking quite solemn, Chapman rolling his eyes, shaking his head, slumping his shoulder and handing he ball to Boone.

Chapman has been bothered by a cranky left knee for weeks. Suddenly it seems a little more than simply “bothersome.”

“Worrisome,” was the adjective Chapman selected.

Yankees’ win in 12 spoiled as Chapman exits with knee injury
It is that, especially when you add it to the list of Yankees casualties that have begun to pile up, a virtual auxiliary team in civvies relegated to cheering on the one in the uniforms. Aaron Judge and CC Sabathia are with the team here. Gregorius is back in New York. Gary Sanchez is fixing to start playing rehab games Thursday.

That’s a lot of talent off the field.

The fact the Yankees still have enough talent on the field to hold off the Quadruple-A likes of the Marlins means there is little reason to panic. Twice the Marlins looked primed to steal this one, in the ninth and in the 11th, getting the winning man on third with nobody out.

Twice the Yankees Houdini-ed their way free, first Chad Green, then A.J. Cole, and when Miguel Andujar contributed his daily delivery of a huge offensive moment, stroking a sac fly to score Kyle Higashioka in the top of the 12th, it seemed a fully feel-good day was at hand. The Sox had already lost. Someone was going to have to lose the Mariners-Astros game.

All good.

Until it wasn’t. Until Chapman couldn’t ignite his left arm, then felt the left knee go in a way it hadn’t quite gone yet this year. The good news, of course, is that the pain wasn’t in the arm. The likely news is that, whatever the results of the MRI exam he’ll take Wednesday reveal, he’s likely to be the latest Yankees to go on an unwanted vacation.

“I’m concerned because virtually every other time he felt something in his knee he was able to work through it,” Boone said. “For him to call attention to it like he did … that tells you about the level of pain this time around.”Oh, and another thing?

David Robertson wasn’t available Tuesday night, his shoulder feeling a little too tender after having a catch before the game. Boone said he wasn’t too worried about that, but then it’s getting to the point Boone needs one of his coaches to arrange and color-code his level of concern for half the roster.

“It’s not easy for us right now,” Boone said, genuine enough that it is easy to forget his team has won four games in a row and sits 33 games over .500 and has resumed its gaudy pace, projecting now to 103 wins. The bullpen was already a strength; that depth may be called upon more than ever if Chapman has to sit for a few weeks, but it is there.

But so seems to be a haunting question: Who’s next? What’s next? Aaron Hicks sure looked like the ball that hit him as part of the 12th-inning rally didn’t exactly tickle (though he shrugged it off and declared himself fine). Logic tells you these things aren’t contagious.

But, then, when have logic and baseball ever been compatible bedfellows?