NEW YORK — Yankees closer David Robertson is headed to the disabled list because of a strained groin just three appearances into his role as Mariano Rivera’s replacement.
Robertson felt discomfort Sunday five or six pitches into the ninth inning of a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, his second save in three outings this season.
“It’s really disappointing,” Robertson said Monday after New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 in its home opener. “I would’ve loved to have been out there pitching the ninth today, especially on Opening Day here.”
Instead, Robertson had an MRI that revealed a Grade 1 strain, and setup man Shawn Kelley earned his first career save. Kelly pitched a perfect ninth that ended with him catching a toss from first baseman Kelly Johnson and keeping the game ball.
“Exciting,” said Kelley, who learned Sunday night he might fill in for Robertson.
Robertson doesn’t expect his absence to last longer than the required 15 days.
“Anytime I sit for a handful of days I feel good as gold,” Robertson said. “I think it will be rest a little while, play catch and get a bullpen and get right back in there.”
Robertson made a smooth transition to closer after Rivera retired at the end of last season with a major league-record 652 saves. An All-Star setup man, Robertson was only 8-for-18 in save chances during six seasons before taking over the role.
He’s allowed one hit in three scoreless innings this year.
The Yankees’ bullpen was impressive without him Monday.
Adam Warren pitched the eighth and retired three straight after a leadoff walk, striking out All-Stars Adam Jones and Chris Davis to end the inning.
“We’re going to try to step up and fill that void for a brief period of time,” Warren said.
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