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Didi Gregorius' defensive gem leaves Yankees shaking their heads

Didi Gregorius of the Yankees throws the runner

Didi Gregorius of the Yankees throws the runner out during the first inning against the Texas Rangers during a game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Steven Ryan

CC Sabathia called it “one of the better plays I’ve ever seen at shortstop.” That stood out, given that he is in his 18th big-league season.  

The play that had Sabathia and those in the Yankees’ dugout shaking their heads occurred with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Delino DeShields sent a sharp grounder to short, where Gregorius made a sliding, backhanded stop on his knees deep in the hole, then fired across, without looking at the bag, to get the speedy centerfielder.

Aaron Boone said that when he saw Gregorius hit the ground with DeShields running, his initial reaction was "no, you can’t go to the ground. And then he pulls it off.”

Gregorius made several other highlight-reel plays in the field and also had two hits, including his 21st homer of the season, a two-out, two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth.

Sabathia said Gregorius, who took over for Derek Jeter for the 2015 season, has been “the No. 1 key” in the Yankees’ rebuild effort.

“Taking over for who he took over for and being able to have three 20-homer seasons in a row [2016-18], just incredible,” Sabathia said. “If he hadn’t come in and done what [he has] the last three or four years, we’d still be talking about Jete and how we need leadership and all that stuff. But he’s erased that.”

Managing Stanton

Sunday made it five straight games in which Giancarlo Stanton, who has been dealing with tightness in his left hamstring, started at DH. He hit his 30th homer, a solo shot in the first inning, and has five home runs and nine RBIs in the last six games.

“I kind of feel like we almost could use him now. We’re just playing it conservatively,” Boone said. “Obviously, he’s not somebody we can really afford to lose or want to lose. Trying to be as smart as we can while riding him hard.”

Stanton went 2-for-4 Sunday, giving him 15 homers, 40 RBIs and a .388 OBP in his last 51 games.

Sanchez on the move

Gary Sanchez (right groin strain), who spent the last week rehabbing in Tampa, was scheduled to fly to New York on Sunday night. Boone said the catcher is likely to put in “a full day” of work Monday, which should include hitting indoors, running in the outfield and various catching drills. Sanchez’s timeframe of a return in late August or early September remains unchanged.

New York Sports