Giancarlo Stanton stretches in the outfield during warmups before Game...

Giancarlo Stanton stretches in the outfield during warmups before Game 3 of ALCS against the Astros at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Though acknowledging if this was the regular season, Giancarlo Stanton’s right quad strain “probably” would land the outfielder on the injured list, Aaron Boone said he remained “optimistic” he could still be a factor in this ALCS.

“Better,” Boone said of Stanton before Tuesday afternoon’s Game 3 against the Astros. “I spoke to him this morning when he got here. Kind of made the decision overnight that regardless he wasn’t going to be in the lineup today. Do think he’s feeling better. We’ll see how he moves around a little bit [pregame]. We view him probably off the bench [as a pinch-hitting option] if we need to.”

Stanton did some outfield work in left several hours before first-pitch Tuesday and appeared to be moving gingerly, booting a couple of ground shots hit at him as he reached down for them.

“Not the best but I’m able to hit,” Stanton told reporters as he came off the field. “Time is not on my side right now.”

Brett Gardner started in left for Game 3 and Aaron Hicks, activated for this series after missing the last two months of the regular season and the  Division Series vs. Minnesota, started in center and went 0-for-2 with two walks.

Boone said part of the club’s hesitation in removing Stanton from the roster — a move subject to MLB’s approval, as any in-series roster move is in October — is that he would be ineligible for the next round, meaning the World Series. Luke Voit and Tyler Wade would be among the prime candidates to replace Stanton should the Yankees go that route.

“Those are all things that we have to consider,” Boone said of losing Stanton for the World Series as well by making the roster move. “He wants to play. But we've also had some real conversations [with him] where, ‘you’ve got to be honest with where you're at.’ I mean, there is an injury in there, so you know, just as best we can, understanding that obviously there's a ton at stake and he wants to be a part of that. And understanding we’ve got a really good team around him. But, yeah, he wants it pretty bad.”

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