NEW YORK -- When Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner made a diving catch to end the top of the third inning during Tuesday's 8-3 win over the Twins at Yankee Stadium, robbing Josh Willingham of an RBI hit, he didn't know it would land him on the disabled list.
But when Gardner couldn't swing the bat before Wednesday's game, a 6-5 loss, reality set in. The outfielder saved CC Sabathia a much bigger inning than the two runs he had already surrendered, but he cost himself at least 15 days. Gardner has a bone bruise in the right elbow and an accompanying muscle strain.
"It takes a lot for me to take myself out of a game, but there's no way I could've played [Wednesday] night," Gardner said prior to Thursday's game, the finale of four-game series. "The bottom line is that I have to rest it and it's got to get better. I've got to let it heal, whether it takes five days or two or three weeks -- however long it takes."
The shame of it is that Gardner was off to a super-hot start to the season, batting .321. He is arguably the Yankees' best corner outfielder and showed it on that particular play. With a runner on first base and two outs, Willingham's shot sliced away from Gardner, toward the left-field line. When Gardner dove to grab it and hit the ground, he flexed his wrist beneath him, causing the injury.
"My elbow didn't hit the ground -- my wrist bent up under me," Gardner said. "As a reaction as my wrist was rolling up under me, I bent my elbow in a weird way kind of quick and just strained it. It was a freak injury. I can't really explain why it happened and how it happened, and why it started hurting when it did."
Gardner finished the game and didn't begin feeling pain in his elbow until he took batting practice on Wednesday night. He was penciled into the starting lineup, set to play left field, but he was a late scratch, replaced by Andruw Jones.
"I took a pretty good BP, but my elbow was bothering me really bad," Gardner said. "I knew obviously something was wrong, so I talked to the doctor after BP. It felt like there was some inflammation in my elbow from bending it funny making that catch, and I made it worse taking BP. Right before the game, I went down to get loose and I really couldn't swing. Sure enough, the MRI showed the bone bruise and strain in a little muscle. Basically, all I can do for it is rest."