NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees star shortstop Didi Gregorius needs Tommy John surgery on his right elbow after injuring himself making a throw in Boston during the AL Division Series, and there’s no telling exactly when he’ll be able to play again.
General manager Brian Cashman said Friday that Gregorius will be out “until sometime next summer.” Cashman said the team will have a better idea about his return after surgery, which hasn’t yet been scheduled.
The surprise announcement at Yankee Stadium led to immediate speculation the team might eventually make a big move to fill the void — pursuit of All-Star infielder and free agent-to-be Manny Machado, now in the NL playoffs with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the meantime, second baseman Gleyber Torres is the Yankees’ top internal solution at shortstop, Cashman said.
“The best option is Didi,” Cashman said. “We’ll wait on him.”
The 28-year-old Gregorius is the anchor of the Yankees’ infield, popular with his teammates and a fan favorite.
Gregorius broke his own club record for home runs by a shortstop by hitting 27 this year. He batted .268 with 86 RBIs. He is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.
“We are optimistic he’ll play a lot of the season with us,” manager Aaron Boone said.
The Tommy John surgery to replace an elbow ligament is much more common for pitchers than position players. Minnesota third baseman Miguel Sano missed the 2014 season as a top-rated minor league prospect, made his debut in the majors the next year and was an All-Star in 2017.
The Yankees said Gregorius was hurt last week making a throw from left field after a ball bounced off the Green Monster against the Red Sox — there was such a play in Game 2. Cashman said Gregorius reported a problem with his elbow after getting hurt.
Gregorius played the rest of the series, finishing 3 for 14 (.214) as the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in four games. Cashman said he grew more concerned after seeing Gregorius bounce two throws to first base in Game 4 Tuesday night — “un-Didi-like,” Cashman said.
An MRI on Thursday revealed the tear. Cashman said the Yankees were aware Gregorius had a partial tear in the same elbow when they got him from Arizona in a three-team in December 2014.
“You never get a clean bill of health,” Cashman said. “It’s the norm that players have underlying issues that may declare themselves, or not.”
The throw last week “was the finishing off of something that was a sleeping giant,” he said.
Gregorius tore cartilage in his right wrist making a head-first slide home against Baltimore on Sept. 22 and missed time. Gregorius returned late in the season and started in the AL wild-card win over Oakland. Cashman said he had no reason to think the slide contributed to Gregorius’ elbow trouble.
Boone and Cashman had previously been scheduled to speak Friday at Yankee Stadium to wrap up the season. In other news:
—Pitcher CC Sabathia had cleanup surgery on his right knee earlier in the day. He’s had surgery on the same knee in the past, and been slowed by trouble there in the past. The 38-year-old lefty was 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts this year, but struggled in Game 4 of the playoffs. Sabathia is expected to be fine for the start of spring training. He’s eligible for free agency, and Cashman said the Yankees haven’t held their organizational meetings to map out the future.
—Pitcher Sonny Gray appears on his way out of the Bronx. An All-Star with Oakland in 2015, he’s just 15-16 with a 4.51 ERA since the A’s traded him to New York on July 31, 2017. The Yankees tried changing catchers to help Gray, but the 28-year-old righty still lost his spot in the rotation.
“Probably best to try this somewhere else,” Cashman said. “Someone, if they trade for him, is going to get the player we wanted. It just hasn’t worked out here.”
—Boone said the team would work with pitcher Luis Severino to help him avoid tipping pitches. The problem, the manager said, will “pop up from time to time.” A two-time All-Star, the 24-year-old righty went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA, but was hit hard by Boston in Game 3.
—Boone, in his first season as a manager, and Cashman said they saw a lot to like in a club that went 100-62. But seeing the rival Red Sox clinch the AL East at Yankee Stadium and then watching them the ALDS in the Bronx left a sour taste. “Hate losing. Hate losing to those guys,” Cashman said.