MINNEAPOLIS – Didi Gregorius put up a fight, as the shortstop always does when Aaron Boone gives him a day off.
The latest came Monday night as Gregorius was on the bench when the Yankees kicked off a three-game series against the Twins. Gregorius entered as a pinch runner in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 8-6 loss.
Boone informed Gregorius about the day off on Sunday night.
“He wasn’t real happy with me,” Boone said before Monday night’s game with a smile. “Probably still isn’t [happy]. But I have no issue with that. That’s Didi, Didi wants to play, so I understand that. And obviously he’s a great player, so I don’t think he’s too happy about it right now, but he could still play an important role for us tonight in a big spot, and then he’ll probably be in there the rest of the week.”
Boone said Gregorius, whose average is down to .252 and on-base percentage at .276, was going to get a day off at some point this week. As will Gleyber Torres, who started Monday at shortstop, and perhaps DJ LeMahieu, too.
“Just looking at the lay of the week and how it kind of rolls out,” Boone said of what went into his decision. “Just seemed like [Monday was] the one to do it. You’ll see Gleyber or DJ possibly down one of these next few games as well and just trying, as best I can, to keep everyone fresh and moving and active and trying to coincide it with the different matchups.”
Sunday night the Yankees optioned lefthander Stephen Tarpley back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled RHP Jonathan Holder. It had mostly been a struggle in the big leagues this season for Holder, who had a 6.31 ERA in 31 games before he was sent down June 25. In seven games with Scranton, the 26-year-old Holder had a 3.48 ERA, striking out 14 and walking two in 10 1/3 innings. Over his last four appearances with Scranton, Holder allowed a combined one run in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts.
“He’s pitched pretty well for the most part,” Boone said. “Feel like he’s not all the way back to where we and he want him to be, but throwing the ball well and definitely put himself in position to get this call back.”
Holder, who had a 3.14 ERA in 60 games last season for the Yankees out of the bullpen, said his resurgence in Scranton was the result of better fastball command.
Holder pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout on Monday night.
Gary Sanchez is in a prolonged slump, 7-for-63 (.111) in his previous 16 games with one homer, six RBIs and 22 strikeouts.
“I’m convinced he’s healthy,” Boone said before Monday’s game. “I do feel like he’s getting his ‘A’ swing off a lot but when he gets a pitch that when he’s going good he puts in play with authority, he’s fouling that pitch off. And maybe he’s expanding the strike zone a little bit more than usual right now. I’ve talked to him about just focus on having a good at-bat and not chasing a result because you’ll drive yourself crazy if you do that.”