NEW YORK — The New York Yankees’ campaign will likely end Oct. 1 following their final game of the regular season. The likelihood that their playoff chances have already evaporated is strong.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo learned that his season ended Tuesday.
“He is going to be shut down for the year,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
Rizzo has been on the injured list since Aug. 3 when he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Doctors believe Rizzo suffered a concussion when the San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. crashed into him trying to return to first base on May 28 in the Bronx.
Tatis’ hip jarred Rizzo’s head/neck/shoulder region. The 34-year-old didn’t finish the game and took off three games as he recovered. But he wasn’t the same player when he returned. In 46 games after the collision, Rizzo hit just .172 with one home run, nine RBIs and a .496 OPS. Before the incident, Rizzo among the best-performing first basemen in the game, hitting .304 with 11 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .880 OPS in 53 games.
Rizzo hoped to return this season despite the diagnosis. In mid-August, he said he was “feeling better on a day-to-day” basis and that the “fogginess” he was experiencing had lifted.
But recently, Rizzo met again with doctors, who put him through tests and told him they saw progress but wouldn’t clear him to return to play. Boone said that Rizzo would likely have another checkup in a couple weeks. He added that Rizzo didn’t fight the Yankees’ decision.
“I think he’s in a good place,” Boone said, adding that he was working out in the Yankees’ weight room with Rizzo earlier in the day and that he was “getting after it.”
The manager said he hoped that Rizzo would be able to return to the impactful lefty hitter he’d been throughout his 13-year MLB career. He’s due to make $17 million next season with a $6-million buyout of his 2025 team option. Rizzo is a career .263 hitter and he’s just five homers shy of 300. He’s been an All-Star three times and he’s won four Gold Gloves.
“He’s been kind of a model of consistency in what’s been a really good career,” Boone said. “So I think the fact that we can trace it is obviously got everyone’s attention, and initially is alarming. But, also, there probably is a reason here now that you weren’t the player you’ve been really your entire career. I think the things that he’s doing, and the tools that we now have that I think help guys that have been through something like this, should put him on good footing moving forward.”
Does Boone regret that doctors weren’t able to diagnose Rizzo more quickly?
“I think you always have regret if something doesn’t get diagnosed right away,” he said. “Yeah, you always want everything to be — but that’s not the reality sometimes. I think all the right things and right steps are happening. You can’t go back. But, sure, you would have like to have been able to know right away what he was dealing with.”
(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)