Didi Gregorius

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Block: Didi Gregorius 'No Clue' On Return, Yankees Need Others To Equal His Production

Benjamin Block
February 06, 2019 - 11:48 am

Despite Aaron Judge tantalizing Yankees fans over Super Bowl weekend with comments to TMZ suggesting that he’d love to play with free agent stud Bryce Harper, New York’s biggest wait-and-see scenario revolves around Didi Gregorius.

And with a less than ideal update on his rehab since undergoing Tommy John surgery last October, Gregorius ushered in a sobering reminder on Tuesday.

“I have no clue yet,” Gregorius said stoically when asked what the timeline was for his return.

In town to be honored at the annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, which benefits AHRC New York City, Gregorius added, “Hopefully next week I start doing some throwing exercises.”

Manager Aaron Boone — also on hand and also being honored — confirmed that Gregorius has been cleared to throw upon his return to Tampa on Wednesday, but also reverberated much of his shortstop’s frustration.

“Didi had his checkup Monday and everything’s going well, going according to plan, but we’re going to listen to the injury. So whether that’s a couple more months — when it is, it will be,” said a carefully worded Boone.

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When encouraged to announce a return date or window, Gregorius cracked, “April!” to an enclave of media nervously laughing. But reading the room and understanding the gravity of his injury, Gregorius added, “We all know that’s not going to happen, but that’s what I want to do.”

In spite of how painstakingly deliberate the rehab process for Tommy John surgery has proven to be, Gregorius shot down any inkling or possibility that he could return to the Bronx earlier should he contribute only as a hitter.

“Hit? No, not at all,” he said with a slight chuckle. “I think I want to be back completely. I don’t want to go out there and something happens. I just want to make sure everything is alright before I go out there,” said Gregorius. 

Silver lining: the soon to be 29-year-old Gregorius appeared confident and in good spirits, even showing off some style worthy of Walt Clyde Frazier’s consideration. Wearing a two button sky blue suit, over a rosé colored dress shirt, sans a necktie, with tan suede Chelsea boots to complete the look, Gregorius assured inquisitive minds that he is committed to completing his rehab.

When Gregorius returns to the Yankees complex in Florida on Wednesday to resume his rehab, which is soon to include throwing activities, he should be buoyed when he sees the familiar faces of notable teammates Gleyber Torres, Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez, all of whom have reported early to spring training this year.

One baby Bomber that hasn’t begun spring training yet is Miguel Andujar, but that’s only because the 2018 rookie phenom was also being honored Tuesday alongside Gregorius and Boone.

Andujar has likely received more collateral damage from Gregorius’s injury than anybody else. For one thing, Gregorius’s injury only perpetuated rumors that Manny Machado was Bronx-bound, which subsequently fueled talk of trading Andujar or having him move to first base.

To that, Andujar said through his interpreter, “That’s stuff that’s always been in the background and I try to leave it there, and try to stay positive and focus on my work rather than what will happen. But I will say that I am very happy to still be here.”

On the acquisitions of infielders Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu, Andujar remarked, “Everything that I’ve seen and heard of them, they seem like great players and great teammates, so I’m really looking forward to them helping the team and adding to what we already have in the infield.”

And perhaps addressing the elephant in the room, Andujar confirmed that he has been hard at work on agility and coordination drills with an emphasis on improving his first step in the field. Having committed 15 errors last year (2nd most behind Torres’ 17), Andujar acknowledged that the organization asked him to focus on his play at third base this offseason and throughout spring training.

Andujar has also echoed what Gregorius, Judge and many others have said about the potential of signing Machado — that he’d welcome him and how he’d only make the team better. Yet, it hasn’t altered his approach to 2019. Andujar said that he hasn’t worked out at first base this offseason and said he plans to start at third base on opening day.

Banking on Tulowitzki, Gregorius’s primary replacement at shortstop, staying healthy after having surgery on bone spurs in both heels and missing all of 2018 and more than half of 2017, Boone is optimistic that the Yankees won’t feel too much of the effects of Gregorius’s absence.

“It allows us to really have a 10, 11-man rotation for nine spots, so it keeps people playing regularly, but also keeps guys fresh, hopefully more healthy over the long haul, and having a guy or two on the bench every night that’s a really good player.”

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While preaching flexibility for 2019, Boone acknowledged that when assessing this, or any other team, “You always know you’re going to need more than 25 guys.”

So the question then becomes, how many guys will it take to equal Gregorius’s production while he’s gone?