Luke Voit said the other night he still deserves to be the Yankees’ leading man at first base even after the acquisition of Anthony Rizzo.
Perhaps manager Aaron Boone misheard Voit? Because on Thursday night against the Twins, Voit was the Yankees’ leadoff man for the third time this season. But he wasn’t at first base.
Voit was the designated hitter after not playing at all on Wednesday as Rizzo returned from a stint on the COVID-19 list.
Boone said he had no problem with Voit’s impassioned plea for more playing time, which was made in the aftermath of Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep of the Red Sox.
Boone heard Voit’s words . . . and still had him on the bench for Wednesday’s series finale against Boston.
There’s no question who runs the Yankees. It’s not the players.
That doesn’t mean Boone isn’t interested in keeping Voit’s powerful bat in the lineup when possible. Hence the maneuverings to get him back in there on Thursday.
The top five in the lineup looked like this: Voit, Rizzo, Aaron Judge in center, Joey Gallo in left, Giancarlo Stanton in right.
"It’s the goal-line package," Voit told YES Network before the game. "That’s what we’re calling it with all the big boys up top. It’ll be pretty fun . . . You know what? A lot of power up there."
Obviously, Stanton coming out of outfield mothballs and being allowed to roam the green grass a few times a week gives Boone options he didn’t have when the oft-injured slugger was limited to DH duty.
The other way to slip Voit into the lineup was to give DJ LeMahieu a day off. Rougned Odor started at second and hit sixth.
After the trades for Rizzo and Gallo and the return to health of Voit and Gary Sanchez, you can forgive Yankees fans for daydreaming about a pretty imposing lineup down the stretch and for a potential AL wild-card game (which based on the standings going into Thursday would have the Yankees hosting the A’s).
Let’s put LeMahieu in his familiar leadoff spot and slot in Sanchez, who got the day off on Thursday as he continues to build up after his bout with COVID.
If Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres come back from their injuries – Urshela is much closer to returning than Torres – than the entire lineup 1-9 would look like this:
LeMahieu, Rizzo, Judge, Gallo, Stanton, Voit, Sanchez, Torres, Urshela.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Two of Thursday’s bottom three were Andrew Velazquez and Tyler Wade. Or, as Yankees fans know them, the kid from the Bronx who is living his dream, and someone who inhabits the body of Tyler Wade but all of a sudden hits like Wade Boggs or Rod Carew.
The Yankees would not have gone into Thursday on a six-game winning streak without the contributions of Velazquez and Wade. Nobody woulda thunk that when the Yankees were 10½ games behind the Red Sox on July 6.
Velazquez has brought speed and spunk and terrific defense. So, too, has Wade, who was batting .426 (12-for-26) in his last eight games with at least one at-bat.
Velazquez is enjoying a storybook ride from Triple-A afterthought to Bronx hero. With his family attending the home games, Velazquez drove in four runs in the last two wins against Boston after having a total of three RBIs in his first 68 big-league games.
And it was Velazquez who ended Wednesday’s victory with a stupendous play at shortstop. With the tying run in the batter’s box, he ranged far to his right on a grounder in the hole and slid to grab it behind a diving Odor, who was playing third. Velazquez bounced up and bounced a throw to first to nip Kevin Plawecki for the final out.
Rizzo made the difficult pick on Velazquez’s throw. It’s unlikely Voit could have made the same play.
But Boone doesn’t have to worry about that since he found a spot for Voit as the DH and atop his lineup. At least for one night.