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 soon be back from the injured list.
Josh Donaldson is in line to begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Thursday and Giancarlo Stanton may be on a similar schedule.
Both sluggers took early batting practice before the Yankees’ 9-6 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night in The Bronx. Donaldson is on the mend from a right hamstring strain and Stanton has been out with a strained left hamstring.
Manager Aaron Boone said Donaldson would “probably” begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, with another game Friday, a day off Saturday and potentially a final game Sunday before an assessment is made on whether the third baseman ready to rejoin the team.
Boone said Donaldson could “possibly” be back in time for the series at Seattle, which begins Tuesday, but it would “more likely” be when the Yankees visit the Dodgers later that week, because of the amount of time he has been out.
Donaldson has been out since he left the game on April 5, and his comeback was delayed by a thumb injury last week.
Boone said Donaldson would be an everyday player upon his return, which means the Yankees will have to do some maneuvering in their infield.
Stanton is due to get his hamstring scanned Thursday to see how well it’s healing. If that goes as expected, he could also begin a rehab assignment at some point this weekend. Stanton said he felt “good” after taking batting practice, running the bases and doing drills in the outfield.
Boone said he intends to use Stanton in the outfield when he returns. He’d 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 April 15, has four homers in 13 games this season, and Donaldson has one homer in just five games.
Donaldson’s return would figure to most impact 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 has struck out at an alarming 27 percent clip, nearly twice his career average of 14.9 percent.
“He’s expanded [the zone] when he’s been behind in the count,’’ Boone said of LeMahieu’s spike in strikeouts. “It’s ebbs and flows. He’s expanded more than usual on two-strike breaking balls out of the zone.”
But Boone still had LeMahieu hitting cleanup Wednesday, when he went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
“He’s had a little stretch where he hasn’t gotten a lot of hits this week,’’ Boone said. “With DJ, that can change in a heartbeat. He got off some really good swings [Tuesday] night,” Boone said.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa started in left field Wednesday for the third time in five games since Aaron Hicks was designated for assignment and hit a two-run home run.
Six of Kiner-Falefa’s last seven starts have come in left and he has homered three times in that stretch.
Kyle Higashioka struck out in his two plate appearances Wednesday and is now 2-for-20 with nine strikeouts in his last nine games.
He was replaced by pinch-hitter Willie Calhoun in the seventh.
Higashioka also allowed a passed ball.
He has become the primary catcher with Jose Trevino on the IL.
With two homers Wednesday, Gleyber Torres has hit 20 in 74 games against Baltimore, his most versus any opponent.
Judge matched a season high with three walks. … Tommy Kahnle (biceps) also could begin a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A.
— Additional reporting by Andrew Crane