Yankees Notebook: Josh Donaldson’s future up in the air following high-grade calf strain

18 July 2023

ANAHEIM — Josh Donaldson’s MRI results are in, and they’re not encouraging for the 37-year-old third baseman.

“It’s a pretty high strain, which means that there’s a tear,” Donaldson said of a right calf injury that landed him on the 10-day injured list over the weekend. “They said it’s not very big. But I don’t know the timetable or anything like that. It’s kind of just everybody responds a little bit differently is [what] they kind of told me.”

Donaldson, speaking before the Yankees’ series-opener in Anaheim on Monday, said that team doctors diagnosed him with a Grade 2-plus strain, while a second opinion determined he has a Grade 3 strain. He said he was still feeling “pretty sore.”

Donaldson said his calf has been bothering him for the last week or so, but he felt he could play through it. However, he aggravated the injury during the Yankees’ Saturday win over the Rockies after hitting a weak groundball to shortstop during the seventh inning. Donaldson hobbled down the first base line and began to hop on his left leg as he approached the bag before lightly jogging back to the Yankees’ dugout.

Donaldson has suffered calf injuries in the past, including a larger tear on his left side in 2018. He hasn’t dealt with a high-grade diagnosis on his right calf before.

Donaldson, who also hurt his hamstring earlier this season, has played in just 33 games this year. He is hitting .142 with a .659 OPS. While the former MVP has 10 home runs, he’s only totaled 15 hits and just as many RBI.

“I felt like I kept hitting balls at people, but I actually felt good for the better part of the year at the plate,” Donaldson said. “With the hamstring, obviously with injuries, we all become frustrated with that. Nobody wants to be injured. Everybody wants to be available for their team. So it is frustrating to have to go through that, but at the end of the day, I just try to stay as positive as I can.”

Donaldson’s latest injury has put his future in question. He said, “I don’t know” when asked if he has a shot to play again this year, and he talked about hopefully giving himself an opportunity to play in 2024.

“We’re getting to the point of the season to where it’s later in the year and running out of games and, really, time,” Donaldson said of playing again in 2023. “But for me, my mindset, I try to stay as positive as I can with it and take it to where I’m trying to make small improvements day to day.”

Donaldson has a $16 million mutual option with a $6 million buyout, payable only if declined by the Yankees, for next season, per Cot’s Contracts. The Yankees will almost certainly decline the mutual option after two disappointing seasons in the Bronx.


Nestor Cortes (rotator cuff strain) threw 35 pitches during a two-part live batting practice session on Monday, per Aaron Boone. Cortes will “probably” start a rehab assignment on Saturday, though the manager wasn’t sure where yet.

Aaron Judge (right big toe) stood in the box against Cortes but was only tracking pitches. The plan was for him to take regular BP, which he did in Colorado over the weekend. Judge did more running on Monday as well.


Judge isn’t the only Yankees outfielder on the mend.

After some time in Tampa, Greg Allen (hip flexor) will have his rehab assignment transferred to Scranton, where he will play Tuesday, per Boone.

Jake Bauers (rotator cuff contusion) is going to Scranton as well to work out for a few days before getting in game action. Willie Calhoun (quad) will do the same at Somerset.

The three are getting split up because they all play the outfield.


The Yankees announced Monday that they have signed their top two draft picks, George Lombard Jr. and Kyle Carr.

Lombard Jr., a shortstop, went to Gulliver Prep School (Fla.) and was picked 26th overall. He had previously committed to play at Vanderbilt, just like Anthony Volpe had before inking with the Yankees. Carr, meanwhile, is a left-handed pitcher out of Palomar College (Calif.).


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