SEATTLE — Anthony Rizzo’s head is OK. The first baseman’s neck, however, was “stiff” on Monday, Aaron Boone said, the reason he wasn’t in that night’s lineup against the Mariners.
“Should be fine,” Boone said before the game. “Just something we didn’t want to mess with too much. Head-wise is fine but he [had] a stiff neck today. So he’ll get treatment. I would expect him to be available probably on some level tonight off the bench.”
During a successful pickoff play in the sixth inning Sunday, Rizzo took an inadvertent hip to the head from Fernando Tatis Jr., was left woozy and was forced to leave the game. Rizzo passed concussion protocols, but the collision, perhaps combined with the long flight to Seattle, resulted in the neck stiffness.
“He passed everything yesterday,” Boone said. “So just being cautious with him.”
Rizzo entered Monday hitting .304 with 11 homers and an .881 OPS in 53 games.
Why Isiah at short?
Anthony Volpe had a scheduled day off Monday, so Isiah Kiner-Falefa started at shortstop for the first time this season.
Boone had planned to play Rizzo on Monday, but his neck issue meant that DJ LeMahieu had to move across the diamond to first. Rather than have Kiner-Falefa, last year’s primary starter at shortstop, play third --- where he won an American League Gold Glove while with the Rangers in 2020 — the Yankees put him at short and had Oswaldo Cabrera at third.
Though Cabrera is a natural shortstop, he likely will be the odd man out once third baseman Josh Donaldson returns from the injured list, which could occur during this six-game road trip.
Cabrera’s demotion would leave the versatile Kiner-Falefa, who already has played all three outfield spots and third base this season — as well as pitching an inning — as the only backup shortstop option on the roster.
“Izzy’s going to have to play some short at some point,” Boone said. “He’s played everywhere else, seemingly.”