More adversity for Yankees: DJ LeMahieu out with stomach virus
Asked about the adversity the Yankees have faced this season with injuries and COVID-19 outbreaks, Aaron Boone said: "It’s been real. It’s been real adversity."
A few hours later – and less than an hour before Tuesday’s series opener against the Phillies – the Yankees announced that DJ LeMahieu had been scratched from an already makeshift lineup because of a stomach virus.
A rapid COVID test was negative, the Yankees added. Six Yankees are on the COVID injured list because of the team’s second outbreak of the season.
LeMahieu had been scheduled to play first base. Instead, third-string catcher Rob Brantly made his first career appearance at the position against Phillies righthander Aaron Nola.
Brantly is on the roster because No. 2 catcher Kyle Higashioka is on the COVID IL. Boone chose Brantly over true first baseman Chris Gittens, who went into the night with a .107 batting average.
Nola was activated for the game off the Phillies’ COVID IL as manager Joe Girardi’s club is dealing with an outbreak of its own. Four players were placed on the COVID IL on July 11. Nola is the first one back.
Just before Tuesday’s game, the Phillies added two relievers (Bailey Falter and JD Hammer) to their COVID IL.
Also, the skies above Yankee Stadium were hazy at game time as smoke from the wildfires 3,000 miles away on the West Coast created an unhealthy air quality situation in New York City.
Adversity. And much more than just the regular baseball kind.
"But it's something we talked about a lot," Boone said. "That it's inevitable in this game, and it's certainly been inevitable in these last two years, with what we've been dealing with as a country, as a nation, as a world, with the pandemic and things. So you’ve got to be able to handle it. You’ve got to be able to make adjustments and have a number of different people imperative that they step up and it's a great opportunity for people to do that."
One young player who got an opportunity on Tuesday is top Yankees prospect Estevan Florial, who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and inserted into the lineup as the centerfielder and No. 8 hitter.
The Yankees, who have been righthanded-heavy all season, had five lefthanded batters and one switch hitter in the lineup against Nola.
Florial, 23, has been called up on three other occasions over the past two seasons, but had only appeared in two games. He went 1-for-3 on Aug 28, 2020, and 1-for-3 this May 27.
"I’m not going to lie to you: Nobody comes up here and you want to go back there again," Florial said. "You want to play in the big leagues. You want to stay the longest you can up here. It’s frustrating because nobody wants to go to Triple-A, to the minor leagues."
This time, with six Yankees outfielders on the shelf, Florial might get an extended look.
The Yankees had resisted calling up Florial even through all their earlier injuries. Finally, on Tuesday, Trey Amburgey was placed on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain and the call went for the lefthanded-batting Florial, who was hitting .214 with 12 HRs with 68 strikeouts in 240 plate appearances combined for Scranton and Double-A Somerset.
"Always good to see Flo," Boone said. "He's one of those guys that lights up the room. I think we've all seen his talent and what he's capable of. Hopefully, he can kind of take advantage of this opportunity and give us a little bit of a spark, too. We certainly know what he's capable of and hopefully he can go out there and hold it down for us."
"He's a guy capable of -- I don't care who you throw out there -- but he's capable of doing a lot of different things on a baseball field, from power to speed, getting on base, things like that. So I'm hoping that we can give it a little shot of that here in the short term and hopefully you can take it and run with it a little bit."
Florial drove in his first big-league run with a grounder to first in the third inning. Greg Allen led off the inning with a triple off the rightfield wall.