The Yankees are turning to their youth for a jolt of energy. And based on their most recent performances, they hope it’s the spark needed to return to their winning ways.
The Yankees recalled outfielder Estevan Florial and reliever Ron Marinaccio and promoted infielder Oswaldo Cabrera for his major-league debut before Wednesday’s matchup with the Rays.
After entering Wednesday as losers of 11 of 13 games, averaging just three runs, the Yankees are in dire need of a change. They have lost six of the last seven over that stretch, averaging 1.3 runs and hitting .154 (35-for-228) during that run.
Although the Yankees have been without Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Matt Carpenter during much of that stretch, manager Aaron Boone doesn’t see Wednesday’s call-ups as just a Band-Aid for the team’s current situation. He views the young players as potential key pieces from here on out.
“I expect them to play and they’ll be in the mix,” Boone said. “And we’ll just see moving forward with matchups on a given day, but I would expect them to play a good amount.”
Cabrera started at third base and batted sixth with Florial starting in centerfield and hitting eighth Wednesday.
The Yankees optioned Miguel Andujar and Tim Locastro to Triple-A and placed Clay Holmes on the injured list with a back injury. Andujar went 4-for-18 (.222) with no extra-base hits and eight strikeouts over five games since being recalled to the Yankees August 9.
Tuesday evening was already special for Cabrera before stepping foot back in the clubhouse. The Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, erased a nine-run deficit in their 10-9 victory Tuesday with Cabrera hitting the winning two-run home run in the eighth inning. Shortly after entering the clubhouse, he and Florial were told they were promoted to the Yankees.
“When they told me yesterday,” Cabrera said, “that was a perfect moment.”
Cabrera, 23, said he can’t put into words what it means to him to play in the majors. He said he’s been working toward this moment in Triple-A but wasn’t sure if it would come this year.
“I was working hard,” Cabrera said. “I didn’t think about the call and when it was the time. I was just working hard every day waiting for the moment.”
Cabrera, a switch hitter signed by the Yankees in 2015 out of Venezuela, hit .262 with eight home runs, 29 RBIs, 29 runs scored and 10 stolen bases over 47 games in Triple-A this year. He had 29 home runs over 118 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
One of his most attractive attributes is the ability to play nearly any position. He’s a natural infielder but played some outfield this year and said he feels comfortable there as well.
“He’s someone we’re really excited about,” Boone said. “We’ve always kind of loved his makeup and really like what he brings to the table as a switch hitter. [He] impacts the ball and really is a good infielder wherever you put him.”
Marinaccio has been a strong reliever for the Yankees all season, pitching to a 2.03 ERA over 26 2/3 innings as a rookie. He was optioned to Triple-A because of roster constraints after acquiring Frankie Montas.
This is Florial’s fourth time since 2020 with the Yankees, including 12 plate appearances in four games this season. Florial said he’s worked with coaches on improving his hitting and the results have shown throughout the majority of the year. The 24-year-old outfielder is coming off a strong July in which he hit seven of his 14 home runs in Triple-A. He hasn’t hit a homer since July 31, but Boone said he isn’t concerned about that. Florial also provides great speed and defense, adding 32 stolen bases.
“We feel like that’s the ebb and flow of a season,” Boone said. “He’s put together a really strong campaign. He’s put himself in position to earn this opportunity.”
Florial said he doesn’t feel any additional pressure to perform because of the Yankees’ offensive struggles. He just wants to contribute in any way needed.
“We have a great ballclub here,” Florial said. “Without me, they’d still be great. I just come here to contribute, to help any way I can.”
Boone doesn’t want the young players feeling they need to do too much during this rough Yankees stretch. His message to them is simple.
“Now it’s just go play ball,” Boone said. “No one is counting on them being the revelation that turns us around. Just go be a part of this team. Sure we want a spark and get things going offensively, but they are here because they’ve earned their way here and we feel like moving forward, they give us a couple good pieces that can help us win ball games.”