Ben Rortvedt recovering and progressing after aneurysm
TAMPA — Ben Rortvedt has seen the jokes.
The Yankees catcher is not big on social media these days, but he’s aware that a portion of fans playfully question his existence online. They do so because injuries have prevented the 25-year-old from seeing too much action since the Yankees acquired him, Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa last March in the trade that sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to the Twins.
“It is pretty funny,” Rortvedt, in the flesh, said Wednesday at the Yankees’ spring training complex. “I haven’t been in front of people for spring training and stuff. So it’s kind of funny, but at the same time, I would love to get out there and show everyone.”
Rortvedt chuckled at the notion that he’s not real, but his most recent injury was no laughing matter.
Early on in camp, a glove-side finger injury sidelined him. Rortvedt expressed little concern at first, but then the finger took on a shade of blue.
“Catching-wise, your hand’s always pretty sore,” he explained. “So it’s something I never really thought was a problem until the discoloration.”
It turned out that an aneurysm of the posterior artery, near Rortvedt’s left shoulder, caused a circulation issue in his finger, and he underwent surgery on Feb. 22. Had Rortvedt continued to dismiss the finger, or had he not received a diagnosis when he did, he said amputation could have been in the cards, though he deferred to doctors.
“It’s disappointing,” Rortvedt said of missing time, “but it’s also something that I’m glad that we got out of the way early. I’m glad that it’s something that we found because that could have ended up being an actual real problem down the road health-wise.
“It wasn’t going to fix itself at any point.”
Rortvedt added that the aneurysm wasn’t necessarily a result of receiving, but catching big league heat amplified the problem with his finger, as it wasn’t getting any blood flow. Now, however, he’s back to throwing – Wednesday marked his third day of doing so since the surgery – and he hopes to start swinging and catching again in the next week or so.
“He’s doing really well,” Aaron Boone said Tuesday, though the manager wasn’t sure exactly when Rortvedt will resume full-fledged baseball activities.
The aneurysm was not the backstop’s first injury with the Yankees. Rortvedt actually joined the club with an existing oblique injury last spring, and he also underwent left knee surgery for a meniscus clean-up in May.
Rortvedt has yet to suit up for the Bombers, but he appeared in 39 games for the Twins in 2021, and he mostly played at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2022 after joining the Yankees organization. A glove-first catcher, he slashed .221/.307/.396 with six home runs and 20 RBI over 42 games for the RailRiders.
He also played in 12 Dominican Winter League games during the offseason, though he hit just .114.
Rortvedt is currently the only catcher on the Yankees’ 40-man roster besides major league locks Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka, a fact that he is aware of. He arrived at camp early to get extra work in, but the aneurysm erased those gains and robbed him of a chance to impress coaches in games this spring.
Still, he’s thankful to have avoided a graver situation, and he’s looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as he can.
“I just hope to pick up where I left off before this surgery happened,” he said. “Hopefully this missed time isn’t a lot of missed time and I can pick up where I left off and just get healthy and get some at-bats and have a good season. And then I’ll be ready when it’s needed.”