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MLB: Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius needs Tommy John surgery

MLB: Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius needs Tommy John surgery
New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius injured himself making a throw in Boston during the AL Division Series. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Yankees star shortstop Didi Gregorius needs Tommy John surgery on his right elbow after injuring himself making a throw in Boston during the AL Division Series, and there's no telling exactly when he'll be able to play again.

General manager Brian Cashman said Friday that Gregorius will be out “until sometime next summer.” Cashman said the team will have a better idea about his return after surgery, which hasn't yet been scheduled.

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The surprise announcement at Yankee Stadium led to immediate speculation the team might eventually make a big move to fill the void — pursuit of All-Star infielder and free agent-to-be Manny Machado, now in the NL playoffs with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In the meantime, second baseman Gleyber Torres is the Yankees' top internal solution at shortstop, Cashman said.

“The best option is Didi,” Cashman said. “We'll wait on him.”

The 28-year-old Gregorius is the anchor of the Yankees' infield, popular with his teammates and a fan favorite.

Gregorius broke his own club record for home runs by a shortstop by hitting 27 this year. He batted .268 with 86 RBIs. He is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.

“We are optimistic he'll play a lot of the season with us,” manager Aaron Boone said.

The Tommy John surgery to replace an elbow ligament is much more common for pitchers than position players. Minnesota third baseman Miguel Sano missed the 2014 season as a top-rated minor league prospect, made his debut in the majors the next year and was an All-Star in 2017.

The Yankees said Gregorius was hurt last week making a throw from left field after a ball bounced off the Green Monster against the Red Sox — there was such a play in Game 2. Cashman said Gregorius reported a problem with his elbow after getting hurt.

Gregorius played the rest of the series, finishing 3 for 14 (.214) as the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in four games. Cashman said he grew more concerned after seeing Gregorius bounce two throws to first base in Game 4 Tuesday night — “un-Didi-like,” Cashman said.

An MRI on Thursday revealed the tear. Cashman said the Yankees were aware Gregorius had a partial tear in the same elbow when they got him from Arizona in a three-team in December 2014.

“You never get a clean bill of health,” Cashman said. “It's the norm that players have underlying issues that may declare themselves, or not.”

The throw last week “was the finishing off of something that was a sleeping giant,” he said.

Gregorius tore cartilage in his right wrist making a head-first slide home against Baltimore on Sept. 22 and missed time. Gregorius returned late in the season and started in the AL wild-card win over Oakland. Cashman said he had no reason to think the slide contributed to Gregorius' elbow trouble.

Diamondbacks to switch from grass to artificial surface

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The Arizona Diamondbacks are switching from natural grass to an artificial surface in time for the 2019 season.

Team president Derrick Hall says the “state-of-art” synthetic grass will be better for players. He also says it will enhance the fan experience because the roof of Chase Field won't have to be open during the day before night games. That will allow for cooler conditions throughout the day in the ballpark.

Hall says the challenges of maintaining a grass field in the desert environment are well documented and the team has looked at artificial surfaces for many years. The Diamondbacks have played on natural grass since the team's inception in 1998.

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