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Yankees better off with injured Andujar than Machado

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Would it soothe your rage to know that Manny Machado took a .222/.263/.222 slash line, with four singles in 18 at-bats, into Tuesday night’s game between his Padres and the Diamondbacks at PETCO Park?

Not so much? OK.

Well, then, there’s this: Even with third baseman Miguel Andujar suffering a potentially season-ending injury before the season reached April, the Yankees will be better off in the long term having allowed the third baseman Machado to move to Ron Burgundy’s hometown.

“You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself,” the young Andujar said through an interpreter Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, in his first comments since learning he (slightly) tore the labrum in his right shoulder, and while he spoke these words in response to a question about seeking a second opinion, the wisdom also applies to those Yankees enthusiasts wishing — now more than ever — the team had wooed the four-time All-Star Machado to The Bronx rather than place their chips on Andujar following a stellar rookie campaign.

For if the worst-case scenario emerges here, if two weeks of rest and physical therapy don’t keep Andujar away from surgery that would sideline him until 2020, we’re still talking about a one-year headache. And you don’t fix that with 10 years’ worth of ill-fitting aspirin.

This goes down as a freak injury, an ailment incurred by an aggressive act of diving back to third base in Sunday’s loss to the Orioles, suffered by a player who had established a pattern of durability first in the minor leagues and then in the majors last year. A player whose conduct in the face of adversity Monday made you believe all the more that he’s the sort of guy you want as a franchise pillar.

“I’m optimistic, because my shoulder is strong,” Andujar said, and he appeared as relaxed as someone listening to enjoyable music in a car’s passenger seat. “… The probability of me working through this and getting back on the field [is] there.”

Hey, maybe he’ll beat the odds and all will be well. Every time Masahiro Tanaka takes the mound for the Yankees, as he did Tuesday night against the Tigers, he reminds us not to jump to conclusions; remember all the folks who urged Tanaka to undergo Tommy John surgery nearly five years ago when the news broke of the torn UCL in his right elbow?

If Andujar doesn’t, though, if he goes under the knife and focuses on next year, then he’s worth giving another chance next spring. Especially with the high-quality DJ LeMahieu, set to get most of the reps at the hot corner in Andujar’s absence, signed through next season (and, for what it’s worth, off to a very nice start in pinstripes). And with shortstop Didi Gregorius progressing well from Tommy John surgery and very interested in sticking around for the long term.

At one juncture during this past, wacky offseason, I advocated the Yankees sign Machado if they could keep the total commitment under $200 million, and that looked to be somewhat feasible based on what we knew of Machado’s market. However, to the credit of Machado and his agent, Dan Lozano, they hung in there (and hung out there) long enough to secure the $300 million deal over the next decade from the Pads. And the Yankees would have been crazy to match that given the questions about Machado’s personality that came into focus last October.

If anything, this early-season Yankees injury epidemic, with Stanton joining Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury on the injured list, reaffirms my belief the Yankees should have gone hard after Bryce Harper, who is thriving with the Phillies.

To yearn for Machado now, though? Nah. Not a good use of anger or agonizing. Better to keep your fingers crossed on Andujar and, if that gets you nowhere, root for the less-injured guys to return and still make this a special, Machado-free campaign.

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