Carlos Rodon injury shock screws up Yankees rotation

Carlos Rodon is pitching during a spring training session for the New York Yankees.

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Carlos Rodon, who was signed by the Yankees for $162 million in the winter, will start the 2023 season on the injured list because of a strained muscle in his left forearm, which is a big setback to the Yankees’ starting rotation.

The Yankees had a quiet spring until Thursday when general manager Brian Cashman revealed that his best left-handed pitcher would start the season on the injured list. He also said that Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahnle, both relievers, would join Rodon on the injured list, which compound the Yankees’ injury issues.

Carlos Rodon arrived in the Bronx amid a big hope for a championship push by the Yankees and became the team’s No. 2 starter. However, according to Cashman, the starter had an MRI on Wednesday and this showed a mild strain of a superficial forearm muscle called the left brachioradialis. This is a similar injury to one Carlos Rodon had last year when he was with the Giants.

Cashman said, “In a perfect world, Rodon could make his Yankees debut in April.”

“The finding was something, but not significant or serious,” Cashman said. “Obviously, trying to pitch through stuff is not a good thing, especially this time of year. If this was in-season — pennant race, late in the game — he’s still probably up and running. He had this last May with the Giants, and he didn’t miss any time with it.”

Cashman also claimed that Carlos Rodon had to avoid pitching for seven to ten days, which “will push him back into April” and all imaging showed that the left-handed pitcher’s ulnar collateral ligament was intact. Carlos Rodon underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019.

Carlos Rodon starts his first spring training game for the Yankees on Feb 05, 2023.

Carlos Rodon had an MRI on Wednesday because he hurt himself while throwing sliders in his Grapefruit League debut against the Braves in North Port. He gave up five runs over two and a half innings and was clocked between 91 and 94 mph. During that game, manager Aaron Boone told him not to try to make speed up.

The strain reportedly prevents the bending of the forearm at the elbow but the ulnar collateral ligament is unaffected. Carlos Rodon reportedly told Cashman that he pitched through a similar problem last May with the Giants. He will not throw for 10 days, starting on Thursday.

Carlos Rodon was optimistic about the injury, especially since it happened in the spring.

“[Last year] it popped up early in May, the first time I ever felt it in my forearm, the top of my forearm,” Rodon said. “Worked with some people, did some treatments, luckily. I woke up, it was my fifth day getting ready to pitch … and I felt nothing.

“Arms can be so finicky, so you never know what route it’s going to take. In May I felt fine. I didn’t miss a start. It’s just kind of early to throw through things right now. … Like, if it’s Oct. 5 or it’s the ALDS, I’m taking the ball and going to pitch.”

Carlos Rodon said, “I hoped it would go pretty quickly” when asked about a possible time frame for the return.

“But some of these things take time, as you know,” he said. “I hope it goes quickly, but I’ve had injuries before and you never know what will happen in the future.”

Carlos Rodon at Yankee Stadium during his formal introduction ceremony.
Scott Salem/ Instagram

Carlos Rodon had trouble with his speed in his first spring game against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. He gave up five runs on six hits, two of which were home runs. Cashman said that Rodon’s first pitch speed of “91-94 mph” was not unusual, but that the Yankees did not see any red flags at that time.

“But now when you package it all together and the recovery wasn’t there and now the image shows a mild strain, it all adds up to maybe that’s why that day didn’t go as well,” Cashman said.

Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino are also going to start on the injured list. Cashman said that Trivino’s time away from the team is likely to be longer than that of Kahnle and Carlos Rodon. Boone later said that outfielder Harrison Bader has been sent for tests because of pain in his left oblique.

Since he had been dealing with biceps tendinitis, Kahnle’s announcement did not come as a surprise. The right-handed pitcher is expected to start throwing again next week and be back sometime in April. The news about Trivino was worse. He has “a mild elbow ligament sprain,” which Cashman said will keep the right-handed pitcher out until at least May.

Cashman knows that Carlos Rodon long history of injuries is a big risk. In 2019 and 2020, he only played in 11 games because he was coming back from Tommy John surgery. In 2017 and 2018, he missed a lot of time because he was recovering from left shoulder surgery.

But Carlos Rodon seemed to put those worries to rest by making 55 starts for the White Sox and Giants over the past two years and going 27-13 with a 2.67 ERA.

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