Yankees’ Oscar Gonzalez suffers orbital fracture after fouling pitch off face in scary scene


MEXICO CITY — A lively atmosphere at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú went quiet in the second inning Monday night when Oscar Gonzalez fouled a pitch off his face and suffered what was eventually diagnosed as a right orbital fracture.

The Yankees outfielder immediately fell to the ground in pain with Diablos Rojos catcher Jose Briceño waving to the visiting dugout.

Boone and two trainers rushed out to tend to Gonzalez, who eventually sat up and later walked under his own power to a cart that took him off the field.

Gonzalez was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation, with preliminary tests showing the orbital fracture.

The Yankees said he would stay in the hospital overnight for observation and rest, with follow-up imaging planned for Tuesday.

A Double-A trainer was set to stay with Gonzalez in Mexico City while the team flew to Houston.

“That’s scary,” Boone said. “Hope and pray for the best. I understand he’s getting outstanding care. One thing checking with [trainer Alfonso Malaguti] when he was giving me the report after the game, just asking about the care. He was confident that [Gonzalez] was getting excellent care. Trust in he’s in good hands here and hope for a speedy recovery. But obviously a tough way to end his spring.”

Oscar Gonzalez fouled a pitch off his face during the Yankees’ game Monday. Getty Images

Boone said that Malaguti “seemed to rule out a concussion” before Gonzalez underwent X-rays and a CT-scan.

Gonzalez, who was reassigned to minor league camp earlier in the day, could head to Triple-A once he is healthy.

In 16 games this spring, the former Guardian hit .333 with a .945 OPS.

“I told him before the game, [he’s] a guy that I feel like can absolutely help us,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s a better player and grown as a player even this spring since when I’ve seen him in the past.”

Oscar Gonzalez was carted off the field during the Yankees’ game Monday in Mexico City. Getty Images

The Yankees’ initial 26-man roster is nearly complete, though the club is leaving the door open for external additions ahead of Thursday’s Opening Day.

As the team flew to Houston on Monday night — part of it from Tampa and part from Mexico City — it did so with right-handers Clayton Beeter and Nick Burdi having won the internal competition for the final two bullpen spots.

Second baseman/left fielder Jahmai Jones and third catcher Ben Rortvedt were tentatively filling the final two bench spots, though there is likely a move coming before Thursday to add a backup shortstop, perhaps using Rortvedt (who is out of minor league options) to do so.

“We’ll see what the days bring,” Boone said Monday.

For both the bullpen and bench, the Yankees are expected to explore outside options in the coming days as players get cut from rosters or opt out of deals elsewhere.

“We’re working through all that now,” general manager Brian Cashman said Monday afternoon regarding the final bench spots. “There’s always a potential trade or designations, opt-outs, that type of stuff. We’re evaluating the field there. We got some days.

“We’ll probably go into Houston, we’ll have conversations with some guys saying, ‘You’ve beaten people out internally, you’ll be joining us in Houston, but no guarantee you’re officially on the team until we exhaust making sure there aren’t better options outside.’ ”

Burdi has impressed team officials since the start of camp with his high-level stuff.

Injuries have been his bugaboo, including two Tommy John surgeries and a procedure for thoracic outlet syndrome, but he dropped his arm slot over the offseason, which has led to better recovery this spring.

Beeter is built up as a starter, but Boone said he could see him providing length out of the bullpen or pitching in a leverage situation.

“I really found I could trust my stuff with a lot more confidence,” Beeter, acquired from the Dodgers for Joey Gallo, said of his first big-league camp.

Clayton Beeter won a spot in the Yankees’ bullpen for Opening Day. Charles Wenzelberg

The Yankees made the roster decisions clearer on Monday by reassigning infielders Kevin Smith and Jose Rojas, infielder/catcher Luis Torrens, outfielders Gonzalez and Greg Allen and relievers Dennis Santana and Yerry De Los Santos to minor league camp.

Boone said he expects Santana, who has a July 1 opt-out, to make an impact on the big-league team this season.

Anthony Rizzo returned to the lineup for Monday’s Grapefruit League finale in Tampa after sitting out three days with a tight lat.

Boone said he came through the game feeling good.

Infield prospect Jorbit Vivas was a late scratch from Monday’s game in Tampa after suffering a facial contusion during pregame workouts.

Vivas was given a concussion test that was negative, the team said, but he was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Top prospect Spencer Jones on Monday was named the winner of the James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the Yankees’ most outstanding rookie in spring training.

The 22-year-old center fielder, who is expected to start the season at Double-A, hit .444 with a 1.305 OPS in 13 games this spring.

Additional reporting by Joel Sherman in Tampa


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