The New York Yankees' fading playoff hopes were dealt another blow on Sunday when second baseman Starlin Castro was diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, Bryan Hoch of MLB reported. While a Grade 1 strain is the least severe, it still may require a two-week recovery, so the injury may have ended Castro's first season in pinstripes.
Castro, 26, pulled up lame between first and second base on a double during the fifth inning of Saturday's game versus the Boston Red Sox. After a brief discussion with Yankees trainers, Castro was pulled from the game and replaced by infielder Ronald Torreyes.
After the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Castro "felt a pop" in his hamstring and expressed concern about Castro's status moving forward. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury also left the game after slamming his right knee into the outfield wall on a slide in the seventh inning. Luckily, Ellsbury's injury was less severe, diagnosed as a bone bruise and he's currently listed as day-to-day.
.@Yankees' Starlin Castro, Jacoby Ellsbury out for series finale vs. @RedSox and maybe more https://t.co/TQFD2126Qd pic.twitter.com/5J3p2xBQe0"It's not what you want and hopefully they're not too severe and we're not without them for a while, "Girardi said after Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox. "I'm pretty worried about Castro and that hamstring, the way he pulled up. Hopefully, Jake's is just a bruise and a couple days off will help him."
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) September 18, 2016
As Hoch noted, both players returned to New York to undergo MRIs at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. They were examined by head team physician Christopher Ahmad. Castro and Ellsbury will remain in New York until Tuesday when they join the team in Tampa Bay.
Following Sunday night's series finale against Boston, the Yankees have just 12 games left this season. Considering Castro's injury and how little time he has to recover and return, his season for all intents and purposes is over.
"It's hard to say. It really just depends on how quickly he heals," Girardi said of Castro playing again in 2016. "Hopefully it's not too long. Hopefully it's not more than a week, but still I think that's probably pushing it. But you're hoping that he heals quick."
Injuries to #StarlinCastro and #JacobyEllsbury could end Yankees' late playoff push https://t.co/5aYERmeKoI pic.twitter.com/6YHxD8SmFjIn his first year with the Yankees, Castro was enjoying a career rejuvenation of sorts. In 146 games, he owns a slash line of.273/.304/.439 and has swatted a career-high 21 HRs -- more than any other player on the roster. He's also the Yankees' leader in hits (153), total bases (246) and RBIs (69).
— Zesty Yankees News (@zesty_yankees) September 18, 2016
As noted by Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, since August 1, Castro was hitting .312 with a .873 OPS. Also, in that time, Castro hit 10 HRs with 29 RBIs.
"It's not what you want," Girardi said. "He's been swinging the bat extremely well, driving in runs, hitting home runs. He's been playing good at second base, but it's reality. Sometimes you play all these days in a row, things can pop up."
The Yankees called up infielder Donovan Solano on Sunday and he's expected to split time at the keystone with Ronald Torreyes. Solano, 28, hit a splendid.319/.349/.436 with seven home runs and 67 runs batted in for the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders. He was inserted as the seventh hitter in the Yankees' lineup on Wednesday night.
Entering Sunday, the Yankees were 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners all ahead of them. Without Castro's bat, those playoff dreams are now farther out of reach.
[Featured Image by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]