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Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro give Yankees punch up middle

The New York Yankees' Starlin Castro watches his

The New York Yankees' Starlin Castro watches his solo home run against the Seattle Mariners in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in Seattle. Castro also homered in the second inning. Credit: AP / Ted S. Warren

SEATTLE — When the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius two offseasons ago and Starlin Castro one offseason later, they did so with the thought of solidifying their up-the-middle defense with two young, athletic players.

They thought each had offensive potential but the kind of power each has displayed this season?

In a best-case scenario, perhaps, but certainly not something the Yankees were counting on.

Yet, entering Tuesday night there was Gregorius and Castro sharing the team lead with 17 homers.

Castro homered twice in Monday night’s 7-5 loss.

“It’s really nice,” Joe Girardi said. “When you think about it, we might get 40 home runs from the middle of our infield this year, I think it’s very realistic. And that’s really encouraging. And they’re both 26 years old. They’re still really young players. That power’s probably going to develop even more.”

Entering the season, Gregorius’ season-high in homers was the nine he hit last season; Castro’s high was the 14 he hit twice with the Cubs, in 2012 and 2014.

“Yeah,” Castro said of whether his power surge this season has been a surprise. “Because the most home runs I’ve hit is 14. I feel pretty good, I feel pretty strong at the plate. I’m going to try and continue to swing like I am right now.”

Swarzak to DL; Heller up

Tuesday the Yankees put righthander Anthony Swarzak, who allowed a go-head three-run homer Monday night, on the DL with right rotator cuff inflammation and recalled righthander Ben Heller from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Heller, one of the four minor leaguers the Yankees received from the Indians in the Andrew Miller deal, had a 1.42 ERA in six appearances with Scranton. The 25-year-old struck out seven in 6 1⁄3 innings.

Days of rest

LF Brett Gardner was given the day off, replaced by Aaron Hicks, as was 3B Chase Headley, replaced by Ronald Torreyes. Both will be back in the lineup Wednesday afternoon, Girardi said. Girardi said he planned to rest CF Jacoby Ellsbury Wednesday.

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