TORONTO — Aaron Boone caught himself.
Asked before Monday night’s game against the Blue Jays if he expects DJ LeMahieu back before the end of the regular season on Oct. 5, the manager said: “I don’t know.”
But Boone quickly added: “I feel like he’s going to come back, yes, in some way, shape or form. And then we’re going to see what we’ve got.”
LeMahieu, on the injured list since Sept. 8 with right big toe inflammation, has seen gradual improvement, but the progress has been far slower than he and the Yankees had hoped.
Over the weekend, he began increasing the intensity of his baseball activities — which included running the bases and hitting in the cage on the field — which continued before Monday night’s game at Rogers Centre.
“He’s going to do a little more here these next couple of days,” Boone said. “He’ll be hitting early tomorrow [Tuesday] and probably testing it more intensely. So we’ll see. Again, that’ll be in the hands of the medical team and DJ about when that day is we work him back in. But I know the plan is to up the intensity here these next couple of days.”
Speaking Friday after a pregame workout at the Stadium, LeMahieu said the toe still was “painful,” which he has said probably won’t completely disappear. It’s a matter of being able to manage it, especially while hitting.
“If I can’t get my swing off, then I’m kind of useless,” he said.
He added: “I’m staying as ready as I can without being stupid. And I don’t think at this point it’s really going to go away. I think it’s just [trying to] stay ready. I let them know how I feel, and I’ll be ready to go whenever the day is.”
The red eye
The Yankees flew to Toronto after Sunday night’s rain-shortened victory over the Red Sox — the game was officially called just before 11 p.m. — and did not arrive at their hotel until about 4 a.m. Monday.