According to manager Aaron Boone, the center fielder is “dealing with a little bit of a hip thing” that popped up recently while Ellsbury worked through his recovery from an oblique issue that stalled his spring training. Boone wasn’t exactly sure which hip when he addressed reporters Tuesday afternoon ahead of the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, which had been postponed Monday.
“He’s kind of been shut down here for a couple days,” Boone said. “There’s no games down in the minor leagues right now for a couple days. Hopefully we can get that out of there and kind of roll from there.”
Ellsbury hurt his oblique near the start of spring training and has only been back to playing in games at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Florida, for about a week.
General manager Brian Cashman said last week that the goal was for Ellsbury to have a full spring training before he returned to the major league club. That meant making about 55 at-bats in minor league games in Tampa.
Ellsbury was placed last week on the 10-day DL, retroactive to March 26. It means he had been eligible to be activated this Thursday. Cashman previously said he wouldn’t rush Ellsbury’s return, but with a spate of injuries to the Yankees’ outfield, they might forgo his full 55 at-bats as long as he is physically healthy.
The Yankees are hopeful about a pair of other injured outfielders. Center fielder Aaron Hicks, who went on the 10-day DL last Friday with a muscle strain near his rib cage, was planning on hitting Tuesday as he eases back into baseball activity.
“He is planning on hitting [Tuesday] and continues to feel good,” Boone said. “So we’re optimistic that it’s going to be on the short end of things. That’s good news. We probably have to see how he does and then we’ll progress from there.”
Hicks could return to the team by Monday at the earliest. The Yankees are scheduled to be off that day before visiting the rival Boston Red Sox for a three-game series.
Boone also said outfielder Clint Frazier (concussion) is progressing and will soon appear in minor league games. He hasn’t played in a game since late February, when he hit his head on an outfield fence while catching a fly ball.
“He’s running the bases, he’s tracking high-velocity [pitches]. He’s doing all the things and he continues to build momentum,” Boone said. “Hopefully getting into game action is very close.”
Angels to bring in at least 7 candidates for GM position
The Los Angeles Angels have interviewed or will interview at least seven executives for their open general manager role.
Sources told ESPN the list includes Athletics assistant general manager/director of player personnel Billy Owens, Padres senior advisor/director of player personnel Logan White, Nationals special assistant to the general manager Dan Jennings, Cubs senior VP for player personnel Jason McLeod, former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and two Diamondbacks executives with the title senior vice president and assistant GM: Amiel Sawdaye and Jared Porter.
This list is notable because all of the candidates have backgrounds in scouting more so than administration. Most of these candidates are seen as more traditional (leaning more toward scouting in player evaluation) than progressive (leaning more toward analytics). Going back to the early Athletics clubs run by Billy Beane as portrayed in “Moneyball” and to the more recent Astros clubs run by Jeff Luhnow, baseball has been trending toward executives with a more analytical, increasingly corporate approaches, rather than executives with a background in scouting.
In 2013 and 2014, Hill was the Marlins’ president of baseball operations while Jennings was the general manager, before Jennings moved into the dugout as interim manager. Hill left the Marlins earlier this month when his contract expired; he spent 18 years with the club in various roles. Three candidates are from the Theo Epstein tree: Porter and McLeod (Red Sox and Cubs) and Sawdaye (Red Sox). Owens and White are both longtime top scouts with input across multiple departments at the highest levels.
The Angels’ interview process is still in the first phase, held at least in part over video conference. The Angels’ GM job came open when Billy Eppler was fired last month after the club finished 26-34.
Chicago White Sox’s Tony La Russa announcement uses AJ Hinch’s signature
CHICAGO — A glitch in a graphic file that was emailed to some fans announcing the Chicago White Sox‘s hiring of new manager Tony La Russa on Thursday contained a signature of AJ Hinch on a picture of La Russa.
The mistake was due to multiple variations of the graphic being prepared for various candidates, according to a team source, although Hinch was never interviewed.
The file ended up in the finished product that was emailed on Thursday as part of the La Russa announcement.
— Gabe (@GabeNotDave) October 29, 2020
Hinch, a rumored candidate for the job, was likely on an initial list of candidates that got folded into the graphic-making process.
Sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney on Thursday night that the Detroit Tigers have made progress in finalizing a deal with Hinch to be their next manager, although the agreement is not finalized.
The White Sox later tweeted a corrected version of the picture with La Russa’s signature on it.
New York Yankees to exercise option on Zach Britton, reports say
NEW YORK — The Yankees plan to exercise two option years on reliever Zack Britton worth $27 million and to decline options on outfielder Brett Gardner and pitcher J.A. Happ, according to multiple reports.
Gardner and Happ would become eligible for free agency. Gardner would get a $2.5 million buyout rather than a $10 million salary. Happ’s deal did not have a buyout.
Britton, a 32-year-old left-hander, was 1-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 20 appearances, getting eight saves and filling the closer role when Aroldis Chapman was sidelined by COVID-19 from the start of the shortened season until Aug. 17.
His deal calls for salaries of $13 million next year and $14 million in 2022. In addition to the team’s two-year option, Britton’s contract included a $13 million player option for 2021.
Gardner, 37, has been with the Yankees since 2008 and is their last player from the 2009 World Series champions. He hit .223 with five homers and 15 RBIs in the shortened season, down from .251 with career highs of 28 homers and 74 RBIs in 2019. The Yankees agreed to a deal with a $2 million signing bonus and an $8 million salary for 2020, which became $2,962,963 in prorated pay.
He lost playing time in 2020 to Clint Frazier, who hit .267 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.
Happ, a left-hander who turned 38 on Oct. 19, was acquired from Toronto in July 2018, went 7-0 in 11 starts and was rewarded with a $34 million, two-year contract. He went 12-8 in 2019 and struggled at the start of this season, prompting the Yankees to skip his turn.
He got stronger as the season went on and finished with a 2-2 record and 3.47 ERA in nine starts. His $17 million option originally would have become guaranteed with 27 starts or 165 innings, but the threshold was reduced to 10 starts with the shortened season and he fell one short.
Happ gave up two-run homers to Mike Zunino in the second inning and Manuel Margot in the third of the 7-5 loss to Tampa Bay in Division Series Game 2, Happ said he would have been more comfortable starting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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