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Yankees get closer Aroldis Chapman back, but Tommy Kahnle goes on IL

Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Yankees looks on

Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Yankees looks on against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Friday, July 31, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The same day the Yankees welcomed back one of their bullpen stalwarts, they held their breath regarding another of those arms.

Tommy Kahnle, who started experiencing right forearm tightness Tuesday night during the team’s workout at Camden Yards, was headed for the injured list with what officially was termed a “right ulnar collateral ligament injury.” After Friday night’s game, Aaron Boone said Kahnle probably will need Tommy John surgery. He characterized it as “a significant injury that needs to be taken care of.”

Boone said Kahnle had an MRI earlier in the day. “Certainly a concern when we shut him down from throwing,” he said Friday afternoon.

Boone also confirmed that closer Aroldis Chapman, sidelined a few days into Spring Training II after testing positive for COVID-19, has been cleared to return.

Kahnle appeared in one game this season, Sunday in Washington. He allowed a hit and a walk but struck out three in a scoreless eighth inning.

Boone said although Kahnle felt it Tuesday night, he tried to throw in the bullpen Wednesday. “When he went out to throw, he shut down his throwing,” he said. 

Waldman kills it

Suzyn Waldman, a highly successful Broadway performer for 15 years before becoming a trailblazer for women in the sports reporting and broadcasting industry, performed the national anthem Friday night. It was the fulfillment of a conversation between Waldman and Gerrit Cole, who once mentioned to her that if he ever became a Yankee, he wanted her to sing the anthem before a game. Cole could be seen smiling in admiration while Waldman sang, and most of the roster tipped their caps toward the radio booth when she finished.

In the dark

As of Friday, the Yankees still were scheduled to play the Phillies four times next week — Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx and Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia — but Boone said he knows not to assume anything.

“I don’t know anything for certain yet,” he said. “I know there’s some optimism there, but it’s too early to know one way or the other.”

The Yankees were supposed to play the Phillies four times this week, but the exploding cases of COVID on the Marlins and the fallout from that caused those games to be postponed. Two new cases on the Phillies caused their series this weekend against the Blue Jays to be postponed.

Better to be safe ...

Masahiro Tanaka, who suffered a concussion July 4 when Giancarlo Stanton hit him in the head with a 112-mph line drive, will make his season debut Saturday. The righthander “likely” will do so, he said, with a special protective insert in his cap, designed to significantly soften the blow if another line drive were to hit him in the protected area.

“It was actually the trainers who recommended [it],” Tanaka said through his interpreter. “I did try it on [in a simulated game this week] and it actually turned out that it didn’t bother me at all. You kind of forget that that’s even in there. So that’s when I thought this may work. And it gives me a peace of mind, obviously, and actually will protect me in a sense, too.”

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