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Pagnato: Andujar Should Elect Surgery



The injury bug has severely stricken the New York Yankees, who still sit just 0.5 games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. In this unfortunate situation, this Yankees team and its “next man up” mantra have been truly fun to watch. Players such as Giovany Urshella, Luke Voit, and Domingo German have carried the load in Aaron Judge and company’s absence, making New York lovable underdogs once again.

Unfortunately, 2018 Rookie of the Year runner up Miguel Andujar has been bitten by the injury bug, and in a bad way. The opening day starting third basemen underwent a second MRI on his right shoulder earlier this week and the results revealed the same thing as the first, a tear in his labrum.

Since the 24-year old initially went on the Injured List, he has played the field sparingly and is marred in a 3-for-24 slump over nine games. To make matters worse, Andujar walked just once and did not record an extra base hit while striking out nine times.

Per manager Aaron Boone, “(The Yankees) feel like even though he’s passed everything and the strength tests has been good and rehabbed him properly, we do feel like the injury is certainly a contributing factor to some of the struggles.”

Last season Andujar slashed .297/.328/.527 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI’s. This seasons numbers are a far cry from that at .128/.143/.128 slash line with zero homers and a lone RBI.

If there is good news, and there isn’t much, Boone continued to tell the media on Tuesday afternoon that “the rest of the shoulder is still good and stable.” Meaning the partially torn right labrum is the only issue. The bad news is the tear can only get bigger, resulting in further shoulder damage and loss of strength. Which is why the native of the Dominican Republic must get this fixed, now.

As a patient who has actually had personal experience in tearing their labrum in a throwing shoulder while playing baseball, there is not much to be optimistic about. There is simply nothing a physical therapist, strength coach, trainer or doctor can do to actually fix the issue outside of surgery.

Should surgery be elected in the near future, the road to recovery would indefinitely sideline Andujar for the remainder of the 2019 season and most likely some of next year.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the shoulder labrum is a thick piece of tissue attached to the rim of the shoulder socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place.

The labrum essentially has two functions. The first is to deepen the socket so that the ball stays in place, with the second being that it is acting as an attachment of other structures or tissues around the joint. For example, the ligaments that help hold the joint together attach to the labrum in certain key locations such as the rotator cuff, biceps, etc.

Per Hopkins Medicine, “The recovery depends upon many factors, such as where the tear was located, how severe it was and how good the surgical repair was. It is believed that it takes at least four to six weeks for the labrum to reattach itself to the rim of the bone, and probably another four to six weeks to get strong. Once the labrum has healed to the rim of the bone, it should see stress very gradually so that it can gather strength.”

From research and personal experience, if Andjuar decides to go the route of rehab for a second straight month, it will not fix the issue and he will battle this until he has the surgery. Again, all rehab will do is strengthen the muscles in his right shoulder that surround the tear. Muscles that are already strong and healthy.

In conclusion, delaying the inevitable any further is the wrong thing to do for a host of reasons. Andujar and the Yankees medical staff valiantly tried to see if he could rehab and work his way back into the starting lineup. But as the results have shown, this did not work and he simply cannot perform anywhere near his capabilities with the injury.

Further putting off the surgery will not only potentially cause further damage to the second year player’s shoulder, but keeps the team in a bind by him not performing and occupying a 25-man roster spot.

The Yankees cannot force the baby bomber to have surgery, but it seems like that was the recommendation this time around as Andujar was told to talk about his options with his family. While surgery isn’t the only option, in this case, it is the best one.



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