A crunch is coming. Giancarlo Stanton was heading to Durham North Carolina on Thursday to join the Triple-A Scranton Railriders. The Yankees slugger is finally through his injury issues and ramping up to possibly resume his 2019 season on Tuesday, Aaron Boone said.
“We’ll see if he gets through the weekend all right, if he does, he’ll probably play all three games, so I don’t know if we’d activate him Monday,” Boone said before Thursday night’s series opener against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. “He’ll probably have to have an off day, but maybe Tuesday.”
Behind Stanton, but definitely on the same track now, is Aaron Judge, who could be joining the Triple-A team this weekend. Judge began facing live pitching Thursday and his stint in Triple-A will be longer, Boone said.
“There is a chance he could play there this weekend,” Boone said of Judge.
Interestingly, with Kendrys Morales heading onto the injured list with a strained left calf before Thursday night’s game, the Yankees recalled another outfielder. Mike Tauchman was back and in the lineup Thursday playing right field.
“We just feel like he's been playing well down there. The versatility he gives us, where we are this weekend with some of the matchups, just like what he provides on both sides of the ball for us,” Boone said to the decision to add another outfielder to the roster.
A rival team’s talent evaluator had another take on the move with an eye toward next month’s trade deadline. Bringing up Tauchman, who was hitting .296 with a homer and 12 RBI in 22 games with Triple-A, can keep Clint Frazier’s bat in the lineup, and keep showcasing Frazier without risking his trade value any further by playing him the outfield. That seems even more likely Thursday night with the Yankees sending J.A. Happ, and his tendency to give up fly balls, to the mound.
“They’re trying to hide the kid in plain sight,” the executive said of Frazier. “Keep showing the bat by DH-ing him as long as they can.”
Frazier, rated the worst defensive outfielder in baseball, has had his issues this season. He compounded those issues with a melt down in the media after, further damaging his trade value.
“But the bat plays,” the scout said. “There is no doubt he can hit at this level, but you can’t hide him on that roster for long.”
That’s because to keep Stanton and his bat in the lineup and off the IL, Boone uses him in the DH as much as possible. Judge too will need days to “rest,” as the DH and so will catcher Gary Sanchez.
“He’ll definitely probably DH as much as anyone, especially when we get him and Aaron back. We’ll try and use that spot creatively, to get guys in the lineup or get days off. (Stanton) will occupy that spot at least a fair amount,” Boone admitted.
Frazier’s playing time could be severely limited as soon as Stanton, followed by Judge get back. It’s unlikely they would make room for the 24-year-old as a backup when they brought in the lefty-hitting Brett Gardner specifically for that role.
Even with Stanton’s injury history this season, Boone can sense it’s getting close.
Stanton started out on the IL April 1 with a left biceps strain. Mysteriously, he was then seeing a shoulder specialist in Southern California and revealed he was dealing with a strained left shoulder. In his last attempt to ramp up for a return, Stanton strained his left calf.
But Boone believes this time things are going to come together, especially after Stanton is coming off hitting two homers in a high Class-A rehab game on Wednesday night.