Once upon a time, Yankees fans would have taken a trade like this: Getting back Luke Voit from his sports hernia — an injury that had sidelined him since July 31 — in exchange for Gio Urshela, who on Friday was placed on the 10-day injured list himself.
Of course, Urshela no longer is the mostly anonymous player whom the Yankees acquired for cash considerations last season, so in reality, Friday’s news was bittersweet. Voit, who said he feels no pain, will have to be cautious with the injury down the stretch and said surgery still has not been ruled out. Urshela, who suffered a left groin strain, will not be available to return until Sept. 8 against the Red Sox. DJ LeMahieu will play third in his stead.
“I feel like it’s a wait-and-see thing,” Voit — who had two hits in the Yankees’ 8-2 loss to the A’s and reported no discomfort after the game — said of his injury and the possibility of offseason surgery. “Obviously, we’ve got to see how September and October go, but I guess we’ll see at the end of the season. That’s something we’ll definitely look at for sure.”
Urshela was injured in Wednesday’s game against the Mariners and was placed on the IL retroactive to Thursday, though both he and Aaron Boone are confident that the injury isn’t too serious. Urshela just acquired enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title and likely will lose that designation after this IL stint. (A batter needs 3.1 plate appearances per scheduled game to qualify.)
Going into Friday night’s game, Urshela’s .331 average trailed only LeMahieu (.335), the AL leader, and Houston’s Michael Brantley. Urshela is the 29th Yankee to go on the IL this season, an MLB single season record.
“It’s getting better,” Urshela said. “I don’t want to force it or anything … I would rather [lose] the next couple days than more than that.”
Voit, who entered Friday hitting .278 with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs, said his injury will require maintenance and could mean more rest days in the next two months. In four rehab games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he was 8-for-17 with two homers and two walks. Boone said he’ll communicate regularly with him to make sure they aren’t putting unnecessary strain on the hernia.
“Communication,” Boone answered when asked about the key to managing Voit. “[And] picking spots where I think there’s a day he would benefit from, but those will be the things that we kind of communicate on a daily basis. We’ll obviously check in with the strength and the training staff about where he is and what he’s able to do and how he’s bouncing back every day, but certainly we feel good with where he’s at right now.”
He said the Yankees were particularly encouraged by the fact that Voit didn’t miss a step in his rehab assignment. They’re fairly hopeful that they can manage the injury until the offseason, especially with September call-ups ready to join the roster.
“We started to feel optimistic about that when he really started ramping it up and to hear him talk about how he’s feeling, bouncing back and everything, I was encouraged,” Boone said. “And then to go out and play, get a number of at-bats and get some positive results as well — we’re excited to get him back now that he’s in a good place.”
Added Voit: “I feel like rest is more of a priority for this kind of injury anyway. I felt like I got what I needed. I feel like I’m in game shape again. It was nice to get those, I guess, 19 at-bats [during the rehab assignment]. I felt good and the defense is good and it’s just about maintaining.”
Notes & quotes: Giancarlo Stanton (knee) could face live pitching in Tampa as soon as next week, Boone said. He took batting practice and performed defensive drills Friday … Dellin Betances threw in Tampa on Friday and will return to New York to throw a side session Monday … Aaron Hicks (elbow) said he’ll begin a throwing program on Monday. He has run and shagged fly balls . . . The Yankees will hold a Hall of Fame celebration honoring Mike Mussina on Sunday. The ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. and gates will open at 11 a.m., a half- hour earlier than usual.