Giancarlo Stanton’s slow start at the plate — just two games, it should be pointed out for perspective — had nothing to do with the Yankees’ designated hitter being left out of Sunday’s lineup.
"Just wanted to get a lefty in there," Aaron Boone said of a lineup that included the lefty-swinging Brett Gardner getting his first start of the season in leftfield (Clint Frazier started in right and Aaron Judge was the DH). "I’m not going to play ‘G’ five days in a row was kind of what I told him, so I figured this was the best day to do that. Nothing more than that."
The Yankees will play host to the Orioles for three games starting Monday before having their first off day of the season on Thursday. Stanton is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts through two games.
Boone said there is nothing physically wrong with Stanton; it’s more a case of taking it slow with a player who has had various injuries limit him. After appearing in 158 games in 2018, his first season in pinstripes, Stanton played in a combined 41 games the last two seasons.
"That’s just the early going and trying to build these guys up smartly and safely [and] wanting to get certain guys in the lineup, too," Boone said. "Just trying to be a little strategic about that. So I would expect [Stanton] to be in there the next three days and then as we go out on the road trip, try and pick some spots here where I can get our guys that are obviously going to be playing every day, trying to strategically get them a day [off] to continue to build them up properly . . . Want to be mindful of that here in this first month as we get rolling."
Night and day
Jordan Montgomery, the healthiest he’s been since his rookie season of 2017 and coming off a spring training in which rival scouts consistently praised him perhaps more than any other Yankees pitcher, will make his season debut Monday night against the Orioles.
The 28-year-old lefthander, who went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 2017 before getting sidetracked a year later when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery, said he’s a superior pitcher than he was in ’17.
"Confidence, stuff, I feel I’m a tick better in every criteria than I was in 2017," Montgomery said. "So that’s what makes me excited."
Aroldis Chapman was available out of the bullpen Sunday after missing the first two games as a result of the two-game suspension he was given last September for throwing a pitch near the head of the Rays’ Mike Brosseau.
Don’t call me Shirley
Mike King became the first Yankee to throw at least six scoreless innings in relief while allowing one hit or fewer since Bob Shirley allowed no hits — though with two walks — in six innings in Detroit Sept. 21, 1986.