In the midst of a rough stretch both offensively and overall, the Yankees rolled out another lineup Monday without two of their most important bats — without any assurance that either player’s injury will be fully cured in the short term.
DJ LeMahieu missed his second straight game with what imaging on Monday revealed as inflammation in his big toe while Giancarlo Stanton missed a 20th straight game with Achilles tendinitis. Stanton did go through a full pregame workout on Monday for the first time since landing on the injured list, but indicated he would still need one or two more days of that — followed by bouncing back well the next day — before going on a rehab assignment.
In the meantime, the Yankees arrived home and lost a 10th game in their last 12 tries with a 4-0 loss to the Rays on Monday in the opener of a key nine-game homestand against the Rays, Blue Jays and Mets.
“Very annoying,” Stanton said of staying patient as the Yankees endure the rough patch. “It’s annoying not playing in general. But you gotta be smart also. That trumps everything.”
That is the approach the Yankees also seem to be taking with LeMahieu. The infielder was 1-for his last-18 before sitting out Sunday’s loss to the Red Sox with a sore right big toe. While Monday’s tests did not reveal anything more damaging than inflammation, he remains in a holding pattern to see if a mix of treatment and orthotics can get him feeling right.
“It’s a little tricky,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s just going to be getting treatments, hopefully get the right orthotics going and hopefully create a little bit of relief for him. The last few days, swinging bothers him when he rotates on that back foot.”
When healthy, LeMahieu serves as a key cog atop the Yankees lineup. But in the interim, the Yankees will be forced to play shorthanded with only a three-man bench.
Asked about putting LeMahieu on the IL to give him time to heal and open a roster spot for a healthy position player, Boone said the team would “revisit that every single day.”
“Yeah, there’s talk of that, but this is something that not necessarily the treatment of it is, ‘Go stay away for 10 days, two weeks, four weeks,’ ” Boone said. “That doesn’t necessarily guarantee it being where you want it to be. So it might be something we just have to manage. That’s what we’ll try to aggressively treat here and get it to where it’s tolerable for him to work through. But we’ll revisit that [IL decision] every day.”
As for Stanton, the slugger said the past few days of ramp-up have gone well, but he was still getting his feet underneath him after having not played since July 23. On Monday, he stood in on the bullpen sessions of Frankie Montas and Domingo German to help get his timing back, took balls in right field and hit in the indoor cage as the Yankees continue to build up his workload to see how he responds to it.
Stanton’s injury was initially thought to be minor, but even if he starts a rehab assignment this week — he said he was hoping for the fewest rehab games possible — it will have almost certainly sidelined him for at least a month. And it may be something he has to monitor for the rest of the season.
“Definitely gotta keep an eye on it,” Stanton said. “Don’t want to rush it back and have to worry about it every night postgame.”
Boone said Stanton’s timeline for a return wasn’t affected by whether he returned as strictly a DH or a part-time outfielder as well, as he was before the injury.
“He’s been bouncing back really well over the last week,” Boone said. “But now it’s, let’s get to a level of volume of work and see how he responds to that. Hopefully we’re getting close to being in a good spot.”