CLEVELAND — Struggling designated hitter Matt Holliday probably is headed back to the disabled list, Joe Girardi said after Saturday night’s game.
Girardi said the 37-year-old, who is 11-for-81 since coming off the DL on July 13, “tweaked” his left lower back during an at-bat Friday night.
“We’ll have to make an evaluation on the severity of it,” he said before the game. “Again, he’s had it before, and low-back guys are low-back patients the rest of their life. We’ll see where he’s at.”
Holliday was having a pretty good season — he had a .270/.377/.507 slash line, 13 homers and 45 RBIs — before being scratched from the lineup June 17 in Oakland with symptoms of the viral infection that eventually put him on the DL on June 25.
“I think he’s been in between the fastball and the breaking ball, the speeds,” Girardi said. “He just seems a little bit off. You look at the first half he had, he was really important . . . I don’t think he’s lost it in a month, I just think he’s off. He was unhealthy for a little bit and it seemed to kind of mess him up, and we haven’t been able to get him back on track.”
Gary Sanchez, whose defense Girardi criticized after Friday night’s game, took Holliday’s spot at DH. The manager said that won’t necessarily always be the case.
“There’s different ways you could go,” Girardi said. “We have four outfielders . . . We’ll look at it as we move forward.”
Romine behind dish
Austin Romine caught Jordan Montgomery on Saturday night, but not as a punitive measure toward Sanchez. Romine caught 12 of Montgomery’s first 20 starts, with Sanchez catching five (Kyle Higashioka caught three).
“Romy’s really familiar with what he does,” Girardi said. “And we’ve also got a day game tomorrow.’’
Girardi said that at the moment, Sanchez is not in danger of losing his starting job.
“We’ll address that if we have to, but our goal is to get him better,” Girardi said. “It’s our responsibility to help him and we will do that . . . Right now, he’s still our catcher.”
Girardi dismissed the thought that Sanchez, 24, might not be in the same shape as a year ago.
“I think he’s a little bit stronger, he added some muscle weight,” Girardi said. “But I think he’s in the same physical shape, he’s just a little bit bigger. It’s not unusual for a kid who’s 23 to get a little stronger when he’s 24.”
Entering Saturday, Yankees relievers had an MLB-best 2.02 ERA in 22 games since the All-Star break. They’ve collectively struck out 107 and walked 25 in 80 1⁄3 innings.