CHICAGO — It’s so close that Aaron Boone can wait. After nearly three months hoping for some of his biggest stars to come back from injury, the Yankees manager is just excited that slugger Giancarlo Stanton is so close to making his return.
But he can wait the extra few days for Stanton, who who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Saturday night, to finish up his three-game stint with the Railriders.
“Trying to be pretty disciplined with the plan, making sure, because now, we feel the fact he feels good is a good thing,” Boone said before Saturday night’s game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. “Now it’s just building him up and the back-to-back rigors, how the body responds to that and obviously coming back from soft-tissue issues we’re making sure he’s running a lot and getting his defensive work in. Tonight, he’s playing in left field.
“No real temptation (to bring him back sooner), knowing, especially, that it’s around the corner now.”
The Yankees are hopeful Stanton will be activated off the injured list as soon as Tuesday. They are also very well aware that his rehab could go wrong, again. He began his IL stint with a left biceps strain on April 1, four games into the season. He was then being treated for a strained left shoulder. As he was finally getting ready to ramp up and return, before a minor league rehab game he strained his left calf.
Aaron Judge, who went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the same minor league game Saturday, is further away, but is expected back before the Yankees leave for London on June 27. He will play in the outfield on Sunday, another step forward in his comeback from a left oblique strain
A DAY DOWN
Gio Urshela, who has committed errors in his last two starts, was not in the lineup on Saturday. The third baseman allowed a ball to get under his glove, which led to a White Sox run in the Yankees 10-2 loss Friday night.
Boone said it’s just part of what will be a normal rotation of days off for his infielders, which was the plan when they signed DJ LeMahieu as a super utility player this winter.
“Think it’s going to work itself out pretty well. Like tomorrow we’ll have Didi (Gregorius) down and some other guys will be in there. At some point, I want to give DJ a day, we’ve gone pretty hard with him,” Boone said. “You just want to balance as well as you can and have a feel for who could use a day and stuff and hopefully they are all able to keep each other fresh.”
Urshela, however, has also hit a skid at the plate in June. With pitchers adapting to throw him more breaking stuff, Urshela, who was an offensive surprise early this year replacing the injured Miguel Andujar, has hit just .179 in June after hitting .338 though April and May. During the Yankees’ 11-game slump, Urshela is hitting .171/.244/.371.
Also apparent in that 11-game slide, the Yankees have not played clean baseball. They committed two errors in Friday night’s loss, something that Boone said they will address.
“Good news is we have really good players at all those spots really capable of playing well,’ Boone said. “It’s just continuing to lean into their work, though they can’t obviously today being wet, so we’re not getting out there. Games like that are going to happen from time to time, but it’s just making sure we’re prepared best we can from time to time and put our best foot forward.”
Chad Green was terrific as the Yankees “opener,” Saturday night. The right hander, who has been the opener five times this season, pitched two strong innings, striking out six of the seven batters he faced. He has struck out 12 and allowed two hits over his last five innings pitched as an opener and owns a 0.99 ERA over his last seven outings since May 27.
Nestor Cortes Jr. followed with five solid outings, running out gas in the eighth inning to end up charged with two runs on six hits. He recorded a career-high seven strikeouts and earned his first big league win.
While the Yankees are 5-0 in Green’s “opener” games, Boone clearly sees it simply as a stopgap to get the Yankees through this injury plague.