KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With Didi Gregorius mired in a 1-for-45 slide, Aaron Boone decided to give the shortstop a breather Saturday night.
“I do think it’s good for him to get a little bit of a break,” Boone said.
Boone said he wanted to stack his lineup with righthanded hitters against Royals lefthander Danny Duffy, but Gregorius has had plenty of success in recent years against lefties, so that wasn’t the overriding factor.
“I just felt like it was probably a good day to have him be down and just take a breath,” Boone said.
After picking up two hits in his first two at-bats on May 3, Gregorius was batting .343, but the 1-for-45 slump since then has dropped him to .248. His 1.156 OPS at the end of April has fallen to .858, but Boone said he has seen signs that Gregorius is on the verge of breaking out.
“In this 1-for-whatever, I can see six, eight, 10 balls [he hit hard],” Boone said. “Two balls [Friday night] that, frankly, he hit pretty well. To me, it’s about him just getting into a real strong hitting position each and every time he does go to fire. I think it will be around the corner.”
Boone said this stretch is not unusual.
“Major League Baseball is a grind,” he said. “Even for guys that are great players, like Didi, there’s going to be bumps along the road. So I think just to hit the pause button for a day hopefully is a chance for him to take a breath and then be ready to start impacting again when he gets back in there.”
Torres a shortstop option
Rookie Gleyber Torres started at second base Saturday night, but he came up through the minors primarily as a shortstop, and Boone said that although he settled on Ronald Torreyes to play short in place of Gregorius on Saturday, he considered giving Torres the nod. In the minors last season, the Yankees had Torres play second, third and short.
“Gleyber, since he’s come up, we’ve really had him focus on second, and he’s been such an impact guy over there,” Boone said. “That doesn’t mean at some point you won’t see Gleyber mix in at shortstop, because that is his natural spot and he’s very capable there, but for today I decided let’s keep him at second.”
Long road back
Clint Frazier, who missed most of spring training and the start of the regular season while recovering from a concussion, made his 2018 debut with the Yankees Saturday night at DH. Before the game, Frazier, 23, said he had more excitement about this start than his big-league debut last year in Houston.
“This year I feel like I earned the promotion,” Frazier said. “Last year there were some injuries for me to get called up. This year I had the performance in the minor leagues I thought was deserving of a call-up whenever the time came. I feel like I earned this one.”
With the Royals throwing lefthander Eric Skoglund on Sunday, the righthanded-hitting Frazier could start in the field, Boone said.
Bird, McKinney on the move
Boone said Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) and Billy McKinney (left shoulder sprain), currently rehabbing with Double-A Trenton and in the Thunder’s lineup Saturday night, will join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Pawtucket on Sunday.
“They’ll be with Scranton going forward,” Boone said. “For how long, we haven’t really decided yet.”
Speaking specifically of Bird, Boone said: “He’s doing well. At-bats have been good, homered [Friday night]. He’s getting close.”
Kahnle close, too
Boone said Tommy Kahnle, on the DL since April 16 with right shoulder tendinitis, was scheduled to throw Sunday and that the reliever could rejoin the Yankeesduring the upcoming series in Arlington against the Rangers, which starts Monday.