Yankees Notebook: Gary Sanchez out of the lineup vs. Red Sox, Giancarlo Stanton could finally make his return to the outfield
BOSTON — Gary Sanchez was not in the lineup Saturday after leaving Friday night’s game with back spasms. The Yankees catcher was on the field before Saturday’s game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park playing catch and running. Aaron Boone was hopeful he could be back in the lineup on Sunday.
“He’s doing a little bit better today,” the Yankees manager said, “he’s been getting a lot of treatment. We’ll get him to move around now in the weight room as well. And hopefully get him to where he’s back in play for us tomorrow. So a little bit of improvement, but still didn’t get a real good night’s sleep. It was pretty locked up still this morning, but he’s had a lot of good treatment and I would say doing better.”
Sanchez was working out on the field Saturday afternoon under the watchful eye of Eric Cressey, the Yankees’ director of player health and performance.
With Sanchez banged up and Kyle Higashioka on the COVID-19 injured list, Rob Brantly, who struggled behind the plate in Thursday’s disastrous 10th inning, was starting at catcher. Rougned Odor or Tyler Wade would be the emergency catcher if anything happened to Brantly. Higashioka and Aaron Judge are expected to rejoin the Yankees traveling party on Sunday to head to Tampa with the team. Boone said that they will have cardiac testing and then workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex on Monday. They could be activated off the COVID-19 IL during the three-game series with the Rays in St. Petersburg.
The Yankees depth at catcher is limited with most of their prospects at that position in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
Giancarlo Stanton may be in the outfield on Sunday. The Yankees were planning to get him back in the field at some point this season, especially with the Bombers heading into a National League park in Miami next weekend.
“Well, let’s get through today and see what we’re looking at for tomorrow. But yeah, that’s the way I’m leaning right now,” Boone said.
Stanton has not played in the field since the 2019 playoffs. The Yankees have relegated him to the designated hitter role exclusively for the last season and a half because of injury issues. He missed all but 18 games of the 2019 season with arm and leg issues. He missed half of last year’s 60-game season with a leg injury. Stanton was an effective major league outfielder before the injury concerns.
If Stanton plays the field, that opens up the DH spot for the first time in a while, which would be a good thing for Boone to be able to rotate his sluggers through during the course of the season. For example, to keep Sanchez’s bat in the lineup on a day he is “banged up,” like Friday night or when Judge returns to get him off his feet.
But the Yankees have talked about this since spring training and it has yet to come to fruition because of injuries or other roster issues.
“We just gotta get through the game. And we’ve had a lot of stuff happen as a team with us the last week or two and so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself with plans,” Boone said. “But he is an option for tomorrow.”
Boone said it is possible that third baseman Gio Urshela, who returned to the team after quarantining with COVID-19 on Friday, could be activated and in the lineup again on Sunday.
“Possibly. He took live hacks against [Luis Severino],” Boone said. “So that was good. And we’ll just see how he is at the end of the day today and hopefully be in a position to make that decision.”
Urshela said Friday he was surprised that he had tested positive for COVID-19 when he returned from the All-Star Break, because not only is he vaccinated, but he had it during the offseason. This time his symptoms were comparable to a common cold.
SEVERINO STEPS UP
Luis Severino threw 38 pitches to live hitters Saturday morning over two simulated innings. It is another step forward in his return from a groin injury that delayed his rehab from March 2020 Tommy John surgery.
“I thought it was really good again,” Boone said, “thought he threw the ball well [and he] felt really good.”
Boone said they will see how he feels over the next few days and then decide on another bullpen session or a rehab game.
“We’ll just make that call as these next couple days unfold and see how he responds and bounces back.”
KLUBER ON TRACK
Corey Kluber, who threw off a mound Friday, the first time since May, recovered well from that, Boone said.
“He felt good. Felt how he would hope to feel after throwing,” Boone said. “So that’s encouraging. He’ll be in line for another bullpen. I’m not sure which day.”
Kluber said he did not have a timeline for his return, but the team is hopeful he will return by September.