James Paxton’s forearm flexor strain is just one of the handful of injuries that Yankees are dealing with, as other key pieces like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu and Zack Britton also find themselves on the Injured List.
And while the news for Paxton could have been much worse, with a UCL injury and potential Tommy John surgery as the worst-case scenario, the lefty said that all of the injuries on the Yankees and around the game have a clear correlation – a lack of sufficient time to build up during spring training.
“I think it’s pretty simple, you know, a short spring training. We didn’t get enough time, going at a lower speed, to kind of build up,” Paxton said on Saturday. “Now you’re seeing a few weeks into the season guys are not fresh anymore. It’s just the tiredness is building up. We don’t have that base that we normally have.
“I think if there was more time to build, we would have had more time to build arm strength, everything.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone expressed similar concern earlier on Saturday.
“I think [ramping up too quickly] is a contributing factor, no question. It’s a unique year in so many ways and when the body does things that are not exactly what you train for then that can cause some issues,” Boone said. “We’re hoping in most of these cases they’re more towards the minor side. Hopefully that remains the case and we can get through the bit of adversity we were dealt with this week.”
Paxton’s injury came to light as he warmed up for his fifth inning of work on Thursday against the Rays. After initially thinking the tightness would pass, things began to feel worse and worse as the inning went along.
But Paxton we ultimately relieved that the MRI of his forearm and elbow didn’t show anything more serious.
“At first when it happened, I was thinking like ‘This can’t be happening.’ I was thinking ‘Oh, it’s just a little tight and I’ll work it out as the inning goes on,’ but then it just continued to get tighter and tighter,” Paxton said.
“I think, considering the circumstances, I got very lucky with the injury that I do have. I was glad that it wasn’t anything with the UCL. The UCL is good to go, it’s perfectly healthy, so that’s great news. So, it should be a short-term thing.”
The left-hander said his goal is to be able to return to the rotation before the regular season concludes, and he’s hopeful he can get a couple of starts under his belt before the postseason.
The Yankees overcame a plethora of injuries last season to make their way to the ALCS, and Paxton knows that this year’s group is as resilient as ever, with the team’s sights still set at taking home the franchise’s 28th World Series title.
“Same mentality (as last season),” said Paxton. “We’re a very deep team. I think that we can handle this and kind of hold the helm until the postseason comes around. We should start getting guys back. We’ll be ready to compete.”