If all goes well, the Yankees will have difficult decisions to make about playing time in the postseason, with multiple options at positions such as first base, third base and designated hitter.
No such difficulty exists in centerfield, where Brett Gardner is the only healthy player for that position.
On Sunday, Gardner hit his career-best 27th home run, a three-run shot in the first inning of the Yankees’ 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Aaron Boone said on Sunday that he does not expect Aaron Hicks to be a factor in the postseason. Hicks has been out since Aug. 4 with a flexor strain in his right elbow.
“I don’t know if there’s enough time or anything to get back at any point in the playoffs,” Boone said. “I wouldn’t expect that.”
Hicks is in Tampa, Florida, working on a throwing program. The 29-year-old has six years left on a $70 million contract extension he signed in February. He has appeared in just 59 games this season because of various injuries.
Gardner has been an iron man this season. Sunday was his 136th game, third most on the team behind Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu (140 each).
Gardner hit his home run moments after Aaron Judge hit his 26th. The two — one a slugger and one not — are having a friendly home run competition.
“He might be trying to keep up with me,” Gardner joked.
Cameron Maybin is the backup centerfielder, but he has played just two games at the position this season. Maybin, who started in right, has been dealing with a sore left wrist.
Torres missed his second straight game after tweaking his hamstring on Friday but should return to the lineup on Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
Boone said the earliest he would expect Edwin Encarnacion (oblique strain) in the lineup is Wednesday at Tampa Bay. Boone said he remains hopeful that Gary Sanchez (groin strain) will be able to play in the final regular-season series at Texas. Judge was the DH for the third straight game after landing hard on his right shoulder trying to make a catch on Wednesday.
If everyone is healthy, it will create a nice problem for Boone going into the Yankees’ postseason opener on Oct. 4.
“Sure,” he said. “Hopefully you have difficult decisions on a nightly basis.”
Judge has 14 home runs in 111 at-bats in his last 29 games. Gardner has nine homers in 71 at-bats in his last 18 games. His 27 homers and 72 RBIs are career highs by six in each category . . . LeMahieu tied his career high of 192 hits and extended his career highs to 26 homers and 99 RBIs — 11 more home runs and 33 more RBIs than his previous bests, even though he played his home games at Coors Field. He also has scored a career-high 108 runs . . . The Yankees are 54-20 against the AL East . . . Yankees pitchers struck out 15 for the second straight day.