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Yankees’ Gary Sanchez to be out at least four weeks

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez rests a

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez rests a bat on his shoulder during batting practice in spring training on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Joe Girardi announced after Monday’s game that Gary Sanchez will be out a minimum of four weeks. “About what I thought,” Girardi said.

But that wasn’t the case Saturday against the Orioles when Sanchez left the game with what the Yankees initially said was a strained right biceps.

“It kind of scared me when he held his arm and they asked him to raise it and try to make a muscle and he couldn’t do it,” Girardi said. “And then [Sunday] when he was able to do that, that made me more optimistic.”

Sanchez was evaluated Monday by team physician Christopher Ahmad. His diagnosis: a strain of the brachialis muscle, located behind the biceps.

Sanchez said he’s felt improvement in the arm each day. “Basically 10 days no baseball activity,” he said through his translator. “After that we’ll follow up with the rehab and all that stuff. We’ll see how it goes . . . I feel better than when it happened. So, it could be less, but who knows, we’ll see.’’

Sanchez was off to a slow start, 3-for-20 with one homer and two RBIs, but the Yankees are losing a bat that opposing pitchers flat-out fear. “It’s a big bat in your lineup that you’re going to miss, but it gives the other two a chance to step up,” Girardi said, referring to Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka. “But it’s a big bat, there’s no doubt about it.”

Said Sanchez, who hit 20 homers in 53 games in 2016: “The expectation for myself stays the same. The injury happened and you’ve got to go through that. My expectation for the kind of season that I want to have is still the same.’’

Montgomery wins fifth

Girardi said lefthander Jordan Montgomery, who thrust himself into the fifth-starter competition with a standout spring training, will start Wednesday. The Yankees weren’t going to need a fifth starter until April 16, but after Masahiro Tanaka taxed himself in his final two innings Saturday — 25 pitches in the fourth inning and 35 in the fifth — and CC Sabathia threw 98 pitches Sunday, Girardi said he wanted to give both some extra time. Luis Severino will pitch Thursday, Tanaka on Friday and Sabathia on Saturday.

Extra bases

Greg Bird was given a second straight day off because of flu-like symptoms . . . Higashioka, a seventh-round draft pick in 2008, made his big-league debut as a defensive replacement for Romine . . . The victory was the 900th of Girardi’s managerial career . . . .The first-pitch temperature of 76 degrees made Monday the warmest home opener since 1960 (78 degrees). The first-pitch temperature for last season’s home opener against the Astros was 36 degrees.

With Steven Marcus

New York Sports