Donaldson, Stanton could return to Yankees’ lineup soon
Not that the Yankees’ lineup seems to need it right now, but a pair of veteran hitters could return from the injured list soon.
Josh Donaldson is in line to begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Thursday and Giancarlo Stanton could be on a similar schedule.
The two sluggers took early batting practice before the Yankees’ 9-6 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night in the Bronx. Donaldson is recovering from a strained right hamstring and Stanton is out with a strained left hamstring.
Manager Aaron Boone said Donaldson will “probably” begin his rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with another game Friday, a day off Saturday and possibly one final game Sunday pending an evaluation. Before going to what the third baseman is. Ready to rejoin the team.
Boone said Donaldson could “potentially” be back in time for the series at Seattle, which begins Tuesday, but it would be “more likely” when the Yankees meet the Dodgers later that weekend, as he Time is out.
Donaldson has been out since leaving the game on April 5, and a thumb injury delayed his return last week.
Boone said Donaldson will be an everyday player upon his return, which means the Yankees will have to do some maneuvering in their infield.
Stanton is scheduled to have a scan on his hamstring on Thursday to see how well it’s healing. If that goes as expected, he could also begin a rehab assignment sometime this weekend. Stanton said he felt “good” after taking batting practice, running the bases and practicing in the outfield.
Boone said he intends to use Stanton in the outfield when he returns. He will be limited to playing right field at home, and the Yankees could use Aaron Judge or Greg Allen in center field to spell Harrison Bader.
Stanton, who suffered his injury on April 15, has four homers in 13 games this season, and Donaldson has one homer in just five games.
Donaldson’s return will have the biggest impact on DJ LeMahieu, who has been the primary third baseman in his absence. LeMahieu has slumped of late, and is in a 3-for-26 funk with eight strikeouts.
On the season, he also struck out at an alarming 27 percent clip, nearly double his career average of 14.9 percent.
“He has expanded [the zone] When he got behind in the count,” Boone said of LeMahieu’s surge in strikeouts. “It’s flowing. He has extended more than usual on two-strike breaking balls out of the zone.
But Boone still hit LeMahieu cleanup Wednesday, when he went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
“He’s had a little bit of a stretch where he hasn’t gotten a lot of hits this week,” Boone said. “With a DJ, it can change in a heartbeat. He had some really nice swings off [Tuesday] night,” Boone said.
Isaiah Kiner-Falefa made his third start in five games in left field Wednesday since Aaron Hicks was designated for assignment and hit a two-run home run.
Six of Kinner-Flefa’s last seven starts have come in left field and he has homered three times in that field.
Kyle Higashioka had a strikeout in his two plate appearances on Wednesday and is now 2 for 20 with nine strikeouts in his last nine games.
He was replaced in the seventh by pitch-hitter Willie Calhoun.
Higashioka also allowed a passed ball.
He has become the primary catcher on the IL alongside Jose Trevino.
With two homers on Wednesday, Gleyber Torres has 20 in 74 games against Baltimore, his most against any opponent.
Judge matched a season high with three walks. … Tommy Kahnle (biceps) could make a rehab start Thursday at Triple-A.
– Additional reporting by Andrew Crane