By Norm Elrod
(CBS New York/CBS Local) — The first weekend of baseball is in the books, and, unsurprisingly, everything seems a little topsy-turvy. That’s to be expected in the very early stages of a 162-game MLB season. Every American League division favorite found itself in the cellar come Monday, but it wouldn’t last. The New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros all won yesterday. And no one seriously thinks the Baltimore Orioles, who took two of three from the Bronx Bombers to start the season, will outpace the Boston Red Sox and Yankees in the coming months.
The Yankees, however, have bigger concerns than a slow start, like the injury bug making its way through their clubhouse.
Christian Yelich and Paul Goldschmidt both started the season on absolute fire, even if they will almost certainly cool off. And the Bryce Harper-Philadelphia love affair will have many more ups and downs in the months and years ahead.
This season’s first Baseball Report looks at the Yankees’ injury issues, the power surge in the Cardinals-Brewers series and Bryce Harper’s young relationship with Phillies fans.
Yankees Injuries Piling Up
The Yankees injury list has been steadily growing since the start of Spring Training and even before. Didi Gregorius, Ben Heller and Jordan Montgomery have all been recovering from Tommy John surgery since before Spring Training and will be out until after the all-star break. Jacoby Ellsbury (foot) and Aaron Hicks (back) should return in the coming weeks. But ace Luis Severino, who missed much of March with a sore rotator cuff, probably won’t play in April either.
Now Giancarlo Stanton has been added to the 10-day injured list with a bicep strain. The outfielder and DH, who mustered two hits in his first eight at-bats of the season, becomes the eighth Yankee on the injured list. And joining him is third baseman Miguel Andujar — the ninth — who has a torn labrum and could face season-ending surgery. But even they won’t be the last this week.
CC Sabathia, who was suspended five games to start the season for hitting Rays Jesus Sucre with a pitch last September, will soon move over to the injured list as well. The pitcher is still recovering from off-season knee and heart surgery.
Heating Up Early
Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich, the reigning National League MVP after hitting .326 with 36 HRs and 110 RBIs, picked up where he left off. The outfielder hit four home runs in his first four games of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s the sixth player in MLB history to accomplish the feat. Another dinger Monday night would have set an MLB record. But it wasn’t to be. Yelich went 1-5 against the Cincinnati Reds, without a HR. But his ninth-inning double turned into the go-ahead run that gave the Brewers the win.
The Cardinals’ new first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hit four long balls of his own in the same series. Three of them came Friday night against three different pitchers in the Cardinals 9-5 win, one night after his hit-less debut. The display of power was not surprising, as Goldschmidt hit 33 home runs last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, will batting .290. He didn’t add to his total Monday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 0-4.
Bryce Harper Gets Going
Harper’s debut for the Philadelphia Phillies faithful wasn’t among his best showings. The six-time All-Star and 2015 NL MVP went 0-3 at the plate, striking out twice and grounding out to first. Boos could be heard from the fickle Philly fans after the second strike out. Harper turned it around on Saturday, when his first home run — a solo shot to right — sailed 465 feet, and led to hometown chants of ‘MVP!’ He added another Sunday, as the Phillies completed their sweep of the Atlanta Braves.
Philadelphia heads to Washington Tuesday for a pair of games against the Nationals, Harper’s former team.