By Dan Martin
This was hardly the lineup the Yankees expected for their home opener, but due to injury and illness, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird were sidelined Monday against the Rays.
Sanchez will miss at least four weeks after he was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of the right brachialis, the muscle behind the biceps, manager Joe Girardi said after an 8-1 victory over Tampa.
The catcher was examined Monday by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad after getting treatment at Yankee Stadium. Sanchez is on the 10-day DL with the injury suffered Saturday in Baltimore.
Sanchez, who was off to a 3-for-20 start with one home run, said this was the first time he had suffered the injury to his biceps area.
Earlier, the franchise pillar had sounded a hopeful note about his absence and declared he was feeling “more flexible.”
“Every day I’m feeling a little bit better,” Sanchez said Monday morning through a translator. “That’s what you hope for.
“I can raise my arm and move it around. It’s more flexible now. … But as you know, I’m on the DL, so I have to wait the 10 days. I’ve got to take it easy with the days and see how it goes.”
Bird is dealing with a sore right ankle since fouling a ball off the ankle during spring training, but he was sidelined again because of a stomach bug.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt the ankle [to have another day off], but for me, it was more the illness than anything,” Girardi said. “With the way that Bird felt [Sunday] and how sick he was, I just thought it would probably be in his best interest probably to have another day. He had not eaten all day [Sunday]. You worry about dehydration and physically how strong he is.”
With the absence of Sanchez and Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury was back in his familiar No. 2 spot in the lineup. Austin Romine got the start at catcher and Chris Carter at first base against Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb.