David Robertson Gives Yankees Their First Scare

Reliever's foot sprain could become a pain in the Yankees neck

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Mar 9, 2012  |  Updated 11:16 AM EDT
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A flight of stairs might hand the Yankees their first loss of the season.

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There's a long history of unusual injuries in baseball.

Former Yankee Glenallen Hill once cut his foot while in the midst of a nightmare about spiders, eardrums have been punctured by Q-Tips and Rays pitcher David Price has hurt his neck three different times while toweling off after a shower. When Clint Barmes played for the Rockies, he once screwed up his back after falling on the stairs while carrying deer meat.

A lot of those injuries have made people laugh, but there's a pretty good chance that no one with the Yankees finds that last one all that humorous anymore. David Robertson lost his own battle with stairs this week and is in a walking boot while awaiting the results of tests on what's being called a sprained foot for now.

Things didn't look so serious when initial X-rays were negative, but an MRI didn't clear up concerns and Robertson had a few more tests to figure out just what's wrong. Everyone with the Yankees should have their fingers crossed about the results.

The big scare is that he suffered an injury to the Lisfranc tendon in the middle of his right foot, something that has caused several players to miss significant amounts of time. It's Robertson's plant foot, which means that any injury would limit his ability to drive off the mound and deliver pitches with the requisite force to do the job.  

It would be wrong to call Robertson an underrated part of the Yankees' success the past three seasons because there's always plenty of attention paid to the bullpen, but he's certainly not the first name that comes to mind when people list the most important Yankees. He was just that last year, though, when his steady work in the eighth inning gave the Yankees late-inning security beyond that provided by Mariano Rivera.

Rafael Soriano was supposed to provide that, but his first year in the Bronx was marked by injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness. He never seemed comfortable after moving out of the closer role he'd held with Tampa in 2010 and the Yankees would need to rely on him if Robertson is going to miss any time with this injury.

They would also have to consider making Freddy Garcia the fifth starter and using Phil Hughes as a late-inning reliever in the event of a Robertson absence. While Cory Wade was effective in a low-leverage role last season, Hughes has pitched big innings in relief before and there's an argument to make that it is the best use of his skills.

So there are a lot of implications to the news about Robertson's foot. None of them are big enough that there should be serious worry about the Yankees' chances this season, but they'll force the team to juggle things should it wind up being bad news.

That might not be the worst thing in the world. Facing a little adversity in March and April is better than having to do it when the stakes are high and it might wind up making the team a bit more versatile.

At the very least, it should make everyone associated with the team realize that walking down the stairs is not something to be taken lightly.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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