Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton took a huge step toward his return to The Bronx, beginning his minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Somerset on Saturday.
For the beleaguered Yankees, his comeback can’t happen soon enough.
Their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays marked the Yankees’ 15th loss in their last 18 games — and their 17th in 25 contests since Stanton’s most recent appearance, July 23, before he went down with a left Achilles injury.
Exactly four weeks later, Stanton commenced his rehab assignment as a designated hitter for the Somerset Patriots at the Bowie Baysox, Baltimore’s Double-A affiliate. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the first game of his rehab assignment, batting second and starting as the designated hitter for the Somerset Patriots.
“Hopefully he’ll get through [Saturday night], bounce back [Sunday], be in a good spot physically,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully he gets some action on the bases as far as going first to third or whatever it may be, just moving around like that. And we’ll see how it comes out of [Saturday] and hopefully [Sunday].”
If Stanton and his Achilles comes out of it unscathed, he’ll face rehabbing starter Luis Severino in a live batting practice on Tuesday. Severino is currently on the injured list working his way back from a low grade right lat strain, and will provide Stanton with a test of major league-quality.
“He knows himself really well. He’ll be honest with us as far as how he’s recovering from those things,” Boone said. “And then hopefully we’ll get him in a position to face Sevy on Tuesday, and then hopefully be in a position to take the next step.”
Ostensibly, that next step would be a return from the IL — which couldn’t come at a better time for the Bombers.
The Yankees have been shut out five times this month and have gone 3-14 with a minus-22 run differential since the trade deadline. But getting Stanton back would be bigger than any deal the team could have made.
After finishing their series with the Blue Jays and rival Mets (on Monday and Tuesday), the Yankees will begin a daunting 10-game road trip looming. Stanton slated to hit on Tuesday — the finale of their series against the Mets at the Stadium — there is a chance he could make his return when they open on the road Thursday in Oakland.
Whether that’s Thursday, Friday or some other game, it’ll initially be as a designated hitter, just as in his rehab appearance Saturday. He’ll build up to playing the field, as he did when he came back from a calf strain last year.
“He’ll continue with that pregame work, moving around in the outfield. I think he’ll let us know and his body will let us know when we’re ready to make that step,” Boone said. “It is something that I want to get to at some point, but allow his body to tell us when that time is.”
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