PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — After battling core muscle injuries last year when he was limited to 118 games and underwent multiple MRI exams, a visit to a Philadelphia specialist has provided Luke Voit with a concrete reason why his body bothered him during the season and resulted in postseason surgery.
“He told me I tore everything down there,’’ said Voit, who had two injured list stints.
The first was in July when he suffered an abdominal strain in London against the Red Sox. He went back on the shelf later that month and stayed there until late August with a sports hernia. Voit was active but did not play in the ALDS against the Twins and was left off the ALCS roster versus the Astros.
Voit had a bloop single in three at-bats in Sunday’s 9-7 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.
Voit, who hit 21 homers and drove in 62 runs a year ago, said he hasn’t felt this good in a long time, that he is far more athletic and has dropped five to 10 pounds.
He didn’t give Gerrit Cole a fight for the No. 45 that Voit wore the previous two seasons, but he didn’t reveal what the pitcher gave him for the swap. Voit switched to No. 59 to honor his brother, John, who wore it while playing football for West Point. John Voit is currently an Army Ranger at Fort Drum in upstate New York preparing to go overseas, according to Luke.
Aaron Boone still doesn’t have an exact date for Aaron Judge’s spring training debut in a game, but there are steps to be taken before the right fielder gets into the lineup.
First comes taking flips, working in the cage, followed by hitting outside.
“We will take it slow because of the calendar,’’ Boone said of it being late February.
In Boone’s mind, Estevan Florial’s medical history the past two years doesn’t mean the center fielder’s glow has dimmed.
“The injuries have been frustrating for him and cut into his development, no question,’’ Boone said of Florial, who went 0-for-3 Sunday. “What hasn’t been lost is he is still a special talent, still a very young man. Still feel he has a chance to be an impact player at the big-league level. It is important for him to go out and have that clean season where he [gets 400] at-bats, stays healthy and the development starts happening. It keeps getting interrupted.’’
Health hasn’t been the 22-year-old Florial’s calling card the past two seasons. He was limited to 84 games two years ago after undergoing hamate bone surgery. Last spring training he ran into the wall in center field and came away with a non-displaced fracture of the right wrist. Florial didn’t return to the field until June 3 and participated in 75 games for Single-A Tampa.
“Everything we have seen … in both spring trainings, you see the dynamic player he is capable of being,’’ Boone said.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left-handed hitter is above average defensively, but the strikeouts (484 in 1,507 minor league at-bats with 412 hits) have to decline. Last season, he whiffed 98 times and collected 65 hits. In five minor league seasons, Florial is a .273 hitter with 42 homers, 213 RBIs and a .700 OPS.
Clarke Schmidt — who several Yankees voices believe will be a solid big-league starter, possibly as soon as next year — worked a scoreless inning. The Yankees’ No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, who missed all of that season due to Tommy John surgery, allowed one hit and a walk in his first ever big-league spring training appearance.
Three Yankee relievers who don’t figure in the big-league plans gave up five earned runs in 2 ²/₃ innings late the game. David Hale, who started seven big-league games last season, was victimized for three runs and four hits in the second inning.