TAMPA, Fla. — A blue spiral notebook with the Yankees’ interlocking “NY” on the cover rested on Brian Cashman’s lap as the general manager sat in the home dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday morning, recording each detailed line within the a new injury issue that will change the opening day selection.
Most notably, southpaw Carlos Rodón, who introduced himself as the club’s No. 2 starter after signing a six-year, $162 million contract last winter, has been diagnosed with a mild left elbow strain and will continue the season. start with the injured list, Cashman said.
“I can go out and perform, but am I performing at my best and how long will I last all season if I continue down this path?” Rodon said. “I’m not here to pitch until the All-Star break. I’m here to pitch well into October and whenever this team needs me. If it’s October 5 or the ALDS, I’ll take the ball. I want to pitch.”
Rodón underwent an MRI on Wednesday after experiencing discomfort throwing sliders during his Grapefruit League debut, in which he allowed five runs over two innings against the Braves in North Port, Florida, and was clocked between 91-94 mph . During that performance, manager Aaron Boone warned Rodón not to create speed.
“I’m glad he said something,” Cashman said. “This could have been much worse. Trying to push through [injuries] is not a good thing, especially at this time of year. If this was clearly in the season, a pennant race, late in the game, he’s probably still working.
Cashman said Rodón’s trunk is the brachioradialis and the ulnar collateral ligament is not a problem. Rodón told Cashman that he went through a similar problem with the Giants last May; he will not throw for 10 days, starting on Thursday.
Right-handers Tommy Kahnle (right biceps tendinitis) and Lou Trivino (slight right elbow ligament sprain) will also start the season on the injured list. Trivino’s absence is expected to last longer than Kahnle and Rodón’s, Cashman said.
“In a perfect world,” Cashman said, Rodón could make his Yankees debut sometime in April. An All-Star for the past two seasons, Rodón was 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts in 2022.
“I hope this passes pretty quickly,” Rodón said. “I can’t put a number on this. I definitely feel better than after I pitched against Atlanta. But as you know, some of these things take time.”
At the time of signing, Cashman acknowledged the risk of Rodón’s long injury history. He played in just 11 games from 2019-20 as he returned from Tommy John surgery, and missed a lot of time from 2017-18 as he recovered from left shoulder surgery.
However, Rodón seemed to allay those concerns by making 55 starts over the past two seasons, going 27-13 with a 2.67 ERA for the White Sox and Giants.
The Yankees are now two starting pitchers behind, and right-hander Frankie Montas (right shoulder inflammation) is not expected to return until the All-Star break following arthroscopic surgery in February.
Right-handers Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt, who were thought to be competing for the final rotation, plan to both open the season as starters.
“It’s part of business when you’re dealing with pitching,” Cashman said. “You’re just thankful you’re not losing anyone permanently, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”