Confident Anthony Rizzo assures fans as Yankees hold breath over his lat muscle

Yankees' first baseman Anthony Rizzo is at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL, in March 2023.

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First baseman Anthony Rizzo was scratched from Friday’s lineup due to left lat tightness. The news sent shivers down the spines of fans, with Opening Day rapidly approaching. A wave of anxiety rippled through Steinbrenner Field just before the much-anticipated Subway Series South opener, as the New York Yankees were hit with an unexpected injury scare.

However, later in the day, Anthony Rizzo himself emerged to offer some reassuring words. He expressed confidence in his ability to be ready for the season opener, highlighting the importance of taking a cautious approach to prevent a minor issue from escalating into something more serious.

“Honestly, it’s just being smart,” Anthony Rizzo as his teammates beat the Mets 5-3, “Fully confident that I’ll be there on Opening Day. As far as playing-wise, maybe Sunday, hopefully Monday. But if not, at this point, I’ll be ready to go. It won’t be an issue for Opening Day, that’s for sure.” 

While the timing of the injury undoubtedly caused a stir among the Yankees faithful, Anthony Rizzo’s words provided a much-needed dose of calm for fans eager to see their team at full strength when the highly anticipated regular season kicks off.

Yankees' hitting coach James Rowson is with Anthony Rizzo in Tampa, Florida, on March 4, 2024.
Charles Wenzelberg / NYP

Anthony Rizzo’s late scratch raises concerns

A late curveball was thrown at the New York Yankees’ infield plans just 15 minutes before their exhibition game, as Anthony Rizzo, slated to bat cleanup, informed manager Aaron Boone of lingering discomfort in his lat muscle.

Anthony Rizzo, wary of aggravating the injury, explained his decision to err on the side of caution. “I don’t want to risk it turning into something more serious,” he said, drawing from past experiences with similar lat issues. “Sometimes resting for six to eight days is necessary, while other times it clears up in just a day or two. Playing through it in the past hasn’t always been the best approach.”

This setback comes on the heels of a particularly impressive spring training campaign for Anthony Rizzo. Having missed the entire 2023 season due to lingering post-concussion symptoms, he’s bounced back in a resounding manner. In 14 exhibition games, Anthony Rizzo has compiled a stellar .412 batting average (14-for-34) with three doubles, two home runs, and nine RBI. Leading all Yankees with a minimum of 25 Grapefruit League at-bats, Anthony Rizzo boasts an impressive 1.188 OPS.

While the late scratch is undoubtedly concerning, manager Boone remains optimistic about Anthony Rizzo’s condition. He labeled the situation as a “day-to-day” scenario and expressed minimal concern, stating, “We’ll monitor his progress closely.” With the highly anticipated Opening Day clash on the horizon, the Yankees will be hoping Anthony Rizzo’s lat tightness resolves quickly, allowing him to build on his strong spring performance and be ready for the pivotal season opener.

Anthony Rizzo is at the Yankees' spring training camp in Tampa in February 2024.

Anthony Rizzo scare for Yankees struggling with LeMahieu injury

The New York Yankees are navigating a delicate balancing act with their infield depth as the highly anticipated season opener looms on the horizon this Thursday.

Veteran infielder DJ LeMahieu, a vital cog in the machine at 35 years of age, is slated to be the team’s primary third baseman and leadoff hitter, while also serving as a reliable backup to Anthony Rizzo at the first base position. However, LeMahieu’s recent recovery from a bone bruise presents a question mark regarding his availability for the crucial Opening Day clash.

Given the limited depth at first base, the Yankees are likely to solidify a roster spot for the young and talented infielder Oswaldo Cabrera. Cabrera’s versatility, including the ability to play first base, makes him a valuable asset to the team’s infield contingent.

But a wrinkle in the infield picture emerged during Friday’s exhibition game when primary catcher Luis Torrens displayed his defensive prowess at first base while filling in for the sidelined Anthony Rizzo. This move hinted at manager Aaron Boone’s exploration of carrying three catchers on the Opening Day roster, although a final decision on this front remains unmade.

Further complicating the situation is the case of Ben Rortvedt, a catcher without remaining minor league options. The Yankees might consider trading Rortvedt to free up valuable roster space. Additionally, they could pursue acquiring another versatile infielder with defensive flexibility before Thursday’s season opener.

Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo, projected to bat cleanup, is battling his own minor setback. He first experienced discomfort in his lat muscle on Thursday, and the tightness persisted during pre-game activities on Friday. Despite this, Anthony Rizzo remains optimistic about his condition and his ability to be ready for the pivotal Opening Day matchup.

The Yankees are closely monitoring the health of LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo, while strategically evaluating their infield options to ensure they have a well-rounded and healthy squad ready to take the field for the highly anticipated first game of the regular season on Thursday.

Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo share a lighter moment at Yankees 2024 spring training.

LeMahieu makes progress, Judge tests new position

With the highly anticipated season opener against the formidable Houston Astros just six days away, the pressure is mounting for the New York Yankees to finalize their spring training preparations and depart Florida with a healthy roster.

However, the path to achieving a fully fit roster has been fraught with obstacles. The team has been grappling with setbacks from several key players, including ace Gerrit Cole’s elbow irritation, Aaron Judge’s lingering core soreness, and now, DJ LeMahieu’s bone bruise sustained after fouling a ball off his foot.

LeMahieu’s status for the crucial Opening Day clash remains shrouded in uncertainty. He, along with fellow injured infielder Anthony Rizzo, will remain in Tampa to continue their respective recovery processes instead of traveling with the team for their exhibition games in Mexico City.

There are glimmers of hope on the horizon, however. Despite the injury, LeMahieu participated in defensive drills and took swings in the batting cage earlier on Friday, suggesting some progress in his recovery. The Yankees will be closely monitoring his progress as they determine his availability for the highly anticipated first game of the regular season.

DJ LeMahieu offered a glimmer of hope for New York Yankees fans with a simple “Feeling better” as he headed for further evaluation regarding his availability for the highly anticipated Opening Day clash. While his increased activity on the field is an encouraging sign, manager Aaron Boone cautioned that LeMahieu still requires more time before rejoining the active lineup.

In other injury news, Aaron Judge made his second exhibition start since battling persistent core discomfort. This outing also marked his first appearance in left field this spring, although he went hitless in three at-bats. Neither Judge nor slugger Juan Soto will be traveling with the team to Mexico City for their upcoming exhibition games. Boone explained that Soto will remain behind to work on his swing and ensure he’s fully prepared for the season opener.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo also provided an update on his status, stating, “Perhaps Sunday, ideally Monday,” when discussing a potential return to exhibition games. “But if not, at this stage, I’m prepared. It won’t be an issue for Opening Day, certainly.” Rizzo’s comments suggest he’s nearing a return to game action and should be ready for the crucial first game of the regular season.

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