BY CHUCK KING
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has a bruised right shoulder, ending his time at the World Baseball Classic and leaving his status for opening day in doubt.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t put on a timetable on a return, only saying, “He’s going to be sidelined for a bit.” The Yankees start the regular season April 2 at Tampa Bay.
It is not certain how or when Gregorius got hurt while helping the Netherlands reach the semifinals of the WBC. He hit .348, driving in eight runs and scoring five in the tournament.
Gregorius had an MRI in Los Angeles on Sunday. He was returning to the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa and will be re-evaluated by team doctors.
Girardi said the doctor who initially examined Gregorius was “really encouraged by his strength.”
Gregorius is among a handful of major league players to leave their WBC team because of injuries.
Miami third baseman Martin Prado strained his hamstring while playing for Venezuela and returned to the Marlins over the weekend. All-Star catcher Salvador Perez of the Royals injured his knee in a home plate collision and also left the Venezuelan team.
Girardi is among the managers who worry that players going too hard in the WBC can leave them at an increased risk of injury.
“The intensity level goes up quicker than what they are used to,” Girardi said. “That’s always a concern of ours.”
The Yankees have backup shortstops Ronald Torreyes and Ruben Tejada in camp, along with utilityman Tyler Wade and top prospect Gleyber Torres.
The 27-year-old Gregorius hit .276 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs last season. The 20 homers more than doubled his career high in a single season.
“We saw the strides he took last year offensively, and defensively what he did — that’s a big loss,” Girardi said.
Specifically, Girardi said Gregorius has a hematoma of the subscapularis, which is a shoulder muscle important to such motions as throwing a baseball.
“He said he felt better yesterday than he did the day before, but again you have to rule everything out,” Girardi said.
Formerly with the Mets, Tejada signed with the Yankees as a free agent in the offseason after hitting a combined .167 last year with St. Louis and San Francisco. A .252 career hitter, he’s cooled off recently following a good start to Grapefruit League play.
The Yankees claimed Torreyes off waivers from the Angels prior to the 2016 season. He started 11 games at shortstop last year for the Yankees and hit .258 overall in 155 at-bats. Torreyes had a hit, drove in a run and scored one Monday against the Nationals.
Wade is a career .267 hitter in the minors who’s shown limited power, reaching as high as Double-A Trenton. This spring he’s batting .333.
“Tyler Wade has played really well and he’s played everywhere,” Girardi said.
Torres, 20, has never played above high Class A in the minors, but the Venezuelan has been doing well in the Grapefruit League this spring, hitting .444 with two homers in 27 at-bats.
“Torres has obviously been very impressive,” Girardi said. “I’ll look at anybody.”
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