All-Out Style Helps And Hurts Yankees' Heathcott





NEW YORK—Rookie righthander Ivan Nova won 16 games this season, while heralded rookie catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine made their big league debuts in September. Rookie Eduardo Nunez filled in admirably when injuries thinned the Yankees' veteran infield.

Meanwhile, down on the farm, one of the organization's crown jewels was recovering from a second shoulder surgery in two years.

Center fielder Slade Heathcott had surgery in 2010 to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder. Late this season the 21-year-old had another procedure done in the same area of his left shoulder.

"This was more to clean up the first one," farm director Mark Newman said.

Doctors have told the Yankees their 2009 first-round pick isn't facing a long-term concern. Still, they did not guarantee that Heathcott will be ready for spring training.

"Right now, we will assess in January to see where we are at," Newman said. "I think he will be ready, but it's hard to say. We have never had an outfielder who couldn't play after that (surgery)."

The Yankees shut down Heathcott after he reached high Class A Tampa for one game on June 29. Doctors initially prescribed rest and exercise, though he eventually went under the knife. Prior to the promotion, he batted .271/.342/.419 with four homers and 11 doubles in 210 at-bats for low Class A Charleston.

Heathcott reported to Tampa in September to begin a rehab program.

A former high school football player in Texarkana, Texas, Heathcott gives his all on the baseball field, but it has come with a cost. He had knee surgery as a senior to repair a torn ACL, and he has added two shoulder surgeries in his brief pro career. Heathcott also ran afoul of the South Atlantic League while playing for Charleston in mid-May, receiving a five-game suspension and a fine for his role in instigating a bench-clearing brawl with Greenville.

"He can run and hit and plays with a reckless abandon that is vicious," Newman said. "He is really aggressive."

YANKEE DOODLES

• The Yankees invited top prospects to Tampa for a minicamp in early October. On hand were outfielder Mason Williams, third baseman Dante Bichette Jr., shortstop Cito Culver and catcher Gary Sanchez.

• Sanchez had completely healed from a broken pinky finger on his glove hand that he sustained while blocking a ball at Charleston.