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Tyler Austin To Miss Majority Of Spring Training With Injury
- Updated: February 18, 2017
On Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters that 1B Tyler Austin injured his left foot by fouling a ball off it during batting practice. With the injury, Austin will be out of action for six weeks. This means that Austin will miss all but two weeks of Spring Training. For back-to-back seasons, the Yankees will head into Spring Training with a young first baseman injured.
Obviously, this has serious implications on the first base position battle that was expected to happen between Austin and Greg Bird. With Austin missing the majority of Spring Training, Greg Bird will likely be the Opening Day starting first baseman. Now, Chris Carter will definitely be assuming the role of the second first basemen on the roster, if that had been in doubt anyway.
Tyler Austin made his MLB debut last August after the Yankees sold at the trade deadline. In his first plate appearances, Austin hit his first career home run, going back-to-back with fellow young gun Aaron Judge. From that hot start, Austin hit .241/.300/.458 in only 90 plate appearances. A small sample size, Austin looked to have the potential for (at the very least) platooning with Greg Bird at 1B. Austin also could have added more RF depth to a team that has a lot of uncertainty in that position.
Last season in the minors, Austin batted an impressive .294/.392/.524 with 17 HRs and 78 RBIs. The bulk of those numbers came in 57 games in AAA. In AAA alone, Austin belted 13 of his 17 HRs and slashed .323/.415/.637. Those numbers demonstrate that Austin has the potential to put up solid statistics as an everyday player. However, Austin struck out an alarming rate in his small amount of plate appearances. He had 36 strikeouts in only 90 plate appearances. While it is not as high as Aaron Judge’s 50% strikeout rate, 40% is still high. In the minors, Austin struck out at a rate about 23% rate.
Whenever Tyler Austin becomes healthy, he will get some Spring Training time to get ready for the season. For Austin, his season will likely begin in the minors once again. Though it is a setback, having an injury place him there might be better for his confidence rather than being sent down after losing out to Bird and Carter. Depending on how the season goes, Austin can be called back up to the MLB roster. If the Yankees are out of contention by August, Austin could see starts in place of Chris Carter (who might be traded by that point).
The Austin injury does not affect the roster too much. Perhaps this means that Ji-Man Choi has a better chance of making the roster. If Austin had a chance of starting the year in the minors either way, then his injury has a varying effect on the team. Hopefully, Austin returns from the injury strongly and can prove himself at the MLB level.