Yankees' DJ LeMahieu runs the bases while scoring from first...

Yankees' DJ LeMahieu runs the bases while scoring from first base on a double by Aaron Judge during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Baltimore.  Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – What a difference a few hours makes.

On Thursday afternoon, DJ LeMahieu was downcast as the pain in his left wrist seemed to not be improving following a cortisone shot on Tuesday. A trip to the injured list seemed in LeMahieu’s immediate future.

But after the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the Rays, LeMahieu said he was very much encouraged that the shot had finally worked its magic.

“I don’t want to get too excited, but it’s definitely felt better as the day’s gone on,” he said. “I think that cortisone finally just took.”  

Said manager Aaron Boone: “Sounds like he’s doing a lot better – literally in the last two hours.”

Earlier, LeMahieu said he spent four hours in the trainer’s room at Tropicana Field. He said the possibility of a stint on the Yankees’ crowded injured list “crossed my mind.”

LeMahieu said he doesn’t know how he hurt his wrist, just that it started aching on Sunday.

The news was also hopeful for centerfielder Aaron Hicks, who was scratched just before game time with right hamstring tightness.

It turned out Hicks even being in the original lineup was somewhat aspirational by Boone, who knew on Wednesday that Hicks was ailing. After going through pregame workouts, Hicks was pulled, but he said he might play on Friday night.

“I definitely feel like I’ll be able to be in there,” Hicks said. “That’s what I’m planning on.”

Former St. Louis Cardinals All-Star infielder Matt Carpenter – who the Yankees signed on Thursday afternoon, flew to Tampa from Dallas, and who arrived in the visiting clubhouse two hours before game time – was inserted into the lineup in the eighth spot as the DH and went 0-for-2 with a walk and hit by pitch. Carpenter scored the game’s first run in the sixth after the HBP.

Carpenter, 36, was a three-time All-Star with St. Louis, but he hit .169 in 2021. Carpenter recently opted out of a contract with Texas’ Triple-A club after hitting .275 with six home runs in 21 games.

In just the last week, the Yankees have lost the following players to injury or illness: pitchers Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Gil, and  position players Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Higashioka, Joey Gallo, LeMahieu and Hicks. Higashioka and Gallo have returned from the COVID-19 list, but Donaldson remains on it. Higashioka was the only available bench player on Thursday.

Extra bases

 Manny Banuelos, the one-time top Yankees prospect who signed with the team when he was 17, finally made it into a Yankees uniform at age 31 as he was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre . . . Veteran righthander Shane Greene, who started his career with the Yankees in 2014, signed a minor-league contract. The 33-year-old will report to Scranton.

Gun violence No. 1 topic

The Yankees and Rays used their social media platforms on Thursday not to post about the game, but to talk about gun violence.

On Twitter, the Yankees posted: “In lieu of game coverage and in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Rays, we will be using our channels to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence. The devastating events that have taken place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable.”

The Rays held a moment of silence before the game to honor victims of gun violence.

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