At last, some clarity on potential timetables for two significant Yankees cogs.
Before Saturday’s 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Rays, Aaron Boone said it is anticipated that Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton will be on the field Monday.
Gregorius, who started the season on the injured list while recovering from Tommy John surgery, is slated to play in an extended spring training game in Tampa.
“That puts a smile on my face,” Boone said.
Stanton, on the IL since April 1 with a left biceps strain and left shoulder issue that required a cortisone shot three weeks ago, is expected to start a rehab assignment the same day with high Class A Tampa.
“Stanton’s been getting live [at-bats] these last couple of days,” Boone said. “He actually got hit yesterday on the knee so we were wanting to see how he came in today. [He was] OK, nothing serious. He’s going to get more live ABs today with the hopes that he will start a rehab assignment on Monday potentially.”
Boone does not think Stanton will need the equivalent of a full spring training — six or seven weeks — to get ready. “I think it’ll be shorter than that,” he said.
As for Gregorius, his clock won’t start until he’s transferred from extended spring training games to an official rehab assignment with a minor-league team.
Could the shortstop be back at some point in June?
“If everything goes well,'' Boone said, "I think that’s fair.”
Paxton closing in
If all goes well with his scheduled bullpen session Sunday, James Paxton could come off the IL during the Yankees' road trip that starts Monday in Baltimore and continues Friday in Kansas City. Paxton, out with left knee inflammation, threw a simulated game in the bullpen Friday afternoon and did PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice).
“I’d like to get on the mound on Sunday and not feel anything,” Paxton said. “It’s been getting less and less every time I throw. Still felt it a little bit yesterday, but I woke this morning feeling pretty good, so that’s a really good sign. So I’ll throw another bullpen tomorrow and hopefully I don’t feel anything and we can keep it going and get going here.”
Paxton said his focus in the bullpen Sunday will be “throwing the fastball inside to righties.”
“If I can do that without pain tomorrow, that’ll be the test,” he said.
Clint Frazier essentially was carrying the Yankees' offense when he went to the IL April 23 with a sprained left ankle, but it hasn’t been the same since he returned May 6. Frazier pinch hit for Brett Gardner in the seventh inning Saturday and finished 0-for-2. He is hitting .162 (6-for-37) with 12 strikeouts in 11 games since he was activated. Frazier was hitting .324 with a .975 OPS when he got hurt.
“I still feel like, even though he hasn’t been walking much, he’s doing an OK job of controlling the strike zone and getting into some deep counts,” Boone said. “And then on occasion hasn’t won that 3-2 count or just, when he’s getting his pitch where he was doing damage there for that couple of weeks, [now] he’s missing that pitch.”
After Saturday’s game, Boone said Chad Green will start Sunday, kicking off what will be a bullpen game for the Yankees. The Yankees utilized the strategy — most used in 2018 by the Rays — one time last season. It was Sept. 24 at Tropicana Field against the Rays, a 4-1 victory in which Jonathan Holder opened and was followed to the mound by seven relievers.
Green struck out the side last Sunday against the Rays in his first appearance since being recalled from the minors, then allowed two runs against Tampa Bay on Friday night in his second outing.