Because of the need to open a spot on the 25-man roster with the return of Aaron Judge set for Friday, uncertainty loomed around the Yankees' clubhouse and specifically outfielder Cameron Maybin during the past week.
After Thursday night's 10-6 victory over the Astros at Yankee Stadium, Maybin wound up receiving confirmation that he still is a Yankee by hearing nothing.
Maybin said he wasn’t called in for a meeting or anything to indicate he no longer would be a part of the team.
“Nothing I can do or worry about except for playing baseball,” said Maybin, who went 1-for-3 with a two-run double Thursday. “Things will shake out as they shake out, and I’m OK with it.”
The Yankees ended up optioning lefthanded reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to open space for Judge. The Yankees will carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players for the time being.
Maybin has proved indispensable since the Yankees acquired the 32-year-old outfielder from the Indians for cash April 25. He could not be optioned to the minors, and if he had been designated for assignment, the Yankees ran the risk of losing him for the remainder of the season.
Maybin has played especially well the last week, hitting four home runs and driving in six runs in the last six games. He has five home runs and 26 runs scored in 41 games with a .308/.386/.496 slash line.
Cortes relieved opener Chad Green in the third inning and threw 57 pitches in three innings Thursday, surrendering two runs, three hits and a walk. He recorded his second win of the year.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Cortes said of his demotion. “We have the roster crunch. Just keeping on my craft, staying sharp and hopefully I’ll be back.”
The 24-year-old reliever has pitched to a 4.09 ERA with six walks and 23 strikeouts in 22 innings in seven appearances this year. He said he wasn’t totally caught off guard when he found out he had been optioned to the minors.
“There’s always that doubt where you are putting scenarios in your head,” Cortes said. “But I mean, it’s OK.”
Manager Aaron Boone wouldn’t make a definitive ruling before or immediately after Thursday's game on the move that would be made to activate Judge, but Boone said Maybin has played “great.” Judge is expected to return Friday for the first time since straining his left oblique April 20.
Maybin fell hard on his elbow in the outfield after misjudging a fly ball with two outs in the ninth inning, but he said after the game he felt fine.
“I’m all right. They don’t make them like they used to,” he joked.