Josh Donaldson’s Yankees career seems to be over with calf injury


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During a media briefing in Los Angeles on Monday, Yankees’ third baseman Josh Donaldson revealed that he might be facing a season-ending injury. The injury was confirmed by an MRI, which indicated a high-grade strain to his right calf. As this is the last year of Josh Donaldson and the Yankees unlikely to re-sign him, it may turn out to end his career in pinstripes.

During Saturday’s 6-3 victory against the Rockies in Colorado, Donaldson suffered an injury while attempting to run out a ground ball during the seventh inning. It was evident that he was in considerable pain as he hobbled off the field. Prior to this incident, he had been enduring discomfort in the muscle for some time. As a result, the Yankees opted to place Josh Donaldson as the designated hitter for the last two games before the All-Star break and the first two games after the break. Earlier in the season, from April 8 to June 1, he was sidelined on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Speaking with reporters ahead of Monday’s match against the Los Angeles Angels, Josh Donaldson stated that he hasn’t been provided with any specific timeline for his potential comeback. He expressed uncertainty about the possibility of returning this season and admitted that he’s unsure if there’s a chance for him to make it back on the field.

Josh Donaldson’s calf injury

The 37-year-old player suffered a calf strain while running out a grounder during the seventh inning at Colorado. Consequently, Josh Donaldson was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday to facilitate his recovery.

Josh Donaldson explained that after being assessed by two doctors, they identified the injury as a Grade 2-plus right calf strain, with the potential of it being a Grade 3 strain, which indicates a severe level of strain that could be classified as a tear.

'Yankees Josh Donaldson suffered a calf injury in seventh innings on July 15, 2023, against the Rockies at Coors Field."

According to a report by Gary Phillips from the New York Daily News, the 37-year-old revealed that he experienced a tear in his right calf, which was referred to as a Grade 2-plus by one doctor and considered a Grade 3 by another.

In response to the question about his potential return this season, Josh Donaldson simply stated, “I’m not sure.”

Josh Donaldson mentioned that they were reaching a juncture in the season where it was getting later in the year, and they had limited games and time remaining. Despite this situation, he expressed his mindset of maintaining a positive outlook. He emphasized his focus on making incremental improvements day by day.

In 2018, Josh Donaldson experienced a tear in his left calf, resulting in an absence of nearly three and a half months.

However, he mentioned that the tear in 2018 was significantly larger than the current one, based on the information he has received. Additionally, in 2017, Josh Donaldson had to sit out for over a month due to a right calf strain, and in 2020, he faced another right calf strain, which kept him sidelined for nearly a month.

In June, the third baseman revealed to The Athletic that he had not made a final decision about whether he would continue playing or retire after his contract expires at the end of this season.

Who should replace Josh Donaldson

The Yankees are set to utilize top prospect Oswald Peraza, who primarily plays as a shortstop, along with DJ LeMahieu and Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the position vacated by Josh Donaldson. Peraza was called up on Sunday in Colorado to fill his spot on the roster. Regarded as the Yankees’ top prospect, the 22-year-old has been highly praised since Anthony Volpe took over the starting job during spring training. The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked Peraza as the 76th-best prospect in MLB leading into the 2023 season, highlighting his exceptional skills as a shortstop with strong defensive abilities and impressive speed. Moreover, Law mentioned that Peraza possesses enough power to potentially serve as a starting player in the big leagues at present, and he is regarded as having a notably high floor in terms of potential.

LeMahieu has demonstrated excellent defensive skills in the position. However, his offensive performance has been lackluster, with a batting average of just .231 and a .664 OPS. Despite his assurance that the right toe injury that affected his performance last year is not a concern, his average exit velocities have decreased each month this season. On the other hand, Kiner-Falefa is a solid defensive player at third base, but he falls short in offensive prowess with a below-average OPS+ of 86. The Yankees have preferred deploying him in a utility role due to his versatility.

A possibly sour ending

By the conclusion of the first half of the season, Josh Donaldson had become the primary target of booing from Yankees fans, a situation reminiscent of the reaction when the team designated Aaron Hicks for assignment in mid-May. It was a rapid decline for the three-time All-Star and 2016 American League MVP. The Yankees had acquired Josh Donaldson, along with the substantial financial commitment of around $50 million, in a multi-player trade with the Twins during the start of spring training in 2022, but unfortunately, he failed to meet expectations. Last year, Josh Donaldson’s performance was underwhelming, with a batting average of just .222, 15 home runs, 62 RBIs, and a .682 OPS in 132 games, despite being a strong defensive player.

Yankees' Josh Donaldson ducks away from a pitch by Orioles' Jordan Lyles on May 18, 2022, in Baltimore.

During May of the previous season, MLB suspended Josh Donaldson for one game following an incident where he referred to White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson as “Jackie,” alluding to Jackie Robinson, during a game.

This year, Josh Donaldson’s performance has been disappointing, as he recorded a meager .142 batting average with 10 home runs and 15 RBIs in 106 at-bats, along with a low OPS+ of 78. The trade that brought him to the Yankees also included Kiner-Falefa, who has underperformed, and catcher Ben Rortvedt, who has only participated in five major-league games. Some critics view this trade, orchestrated by general manager Brian Cashman, as one of the worst during his tenure.

The player, who has been named an All-Star three times, suffered from a strained right hamstring that led to his placement on the injured list from April 5 until June 2. Josh Donaldson, who earned the AL MVP title in 2015 while with Toronto, is currently batting at a mere .142 with 15 RBIs. It’s noteworthy that out of his 15 hits, an impressive ten of them were home runs.

In March 2022, the Yankees made a significant move by adding Josh Donaldson to their roster through a trade with Minnesota. As part of the deal, they also acquired shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and backup catcher Ben Rortvedt in exchange for catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Gio Urshela. During the previous season, Donaldson’s performance resulted in a .222 batting average, 15 home runs, and 62 RBIs.

In the last year of his four-year contract with Minnesota, Josh Donaldson is earning a salary of $21 million out of a total $92 million deal. This contract also features a mutual option for the 2024 season, valued at $24 million, with a $6 million buyout if the team decides not to exercise the option.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Josh Donaldson’s Yankees career seems to be over with calf injury

  1. I hate to see anybody get hurt but if the yankees are too timid (stupid) to release him then fate had to intervene. I hope he heals quickly and retires. He had a great career but it is time to go.

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