Yankees prospect Thairo Estrada is recovering from a gunshot wound to his right hip sustained during an attempted robbery in late January, and while Opening Day is in doubt, manager Aaron Boone said that the infielder is expected to be able to play the bulk of his season.
The 21-year-old Estrada said that he was in his hometown of Bejuma, Venezuela, when two teenage boys approached him at a restaurant counter, demanding cash or a cell phone. After saying that he was carrying neither, Estrada had his pockets searched and heard a loud bang.
"In the moment, you can't really believe that something like that is happening to you. I was getting ready for Spring Training and all of a sudden you realize that you have been shot."
Estrada is New York's 16th-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The Venezuelan infielder has spent the last five seasons in the Yankees' organization. He hit .301/.353/.392 with six home runs and 48 RBIs through 122 games with Double-A Trenton in 2017, and had been listed as a candidate to grab one of the team's infield vacancies.
"We're just really thankful that he's OK. I've been touching base with him every day. Emotionally and mentally, he's doing well. I think he's in a good spot moving forward and he's one of those infielders that we're really excited about. Nothing changes this year for him."
There was no struggle between Estrada and the attempted robbers, whom Estrada said he did not recognize. Estrada was with his wife, who was unharmed, and he initially did not realize that he had been shot. He sought medical attention after discovering a small wound.
"Right after it happened, I didn't have any feeling. I was walking around fine. I went to the hospital, they did some tests and that's when they noticed there was a bullet inside. They did an operation and I was in the hospital for a few days."
The bullet remains lodged in Estrada's hip, and he said there are no further procedures scheduled to remove it. He has been doing upper-body workouts in camp and should progress to riding a stationary bicycle next week, saying that he is happy with his recuperation so far.
"I don't think it's going to affect me at all. I feel good. I don't think it will be a problem."
Venezuela has been plagued by turmoil in recent years, with a climate of political unrest accompanying a significant spike in crime. Food and medical attention have also grown scarce.
"The situation there is not very good, not very safe. As baseball players, it makes you think about [not] even going back anymore."