NEW YORK – DJ LeMahieu has joined star sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list, challenging the Yankees to continue calling upon their “Next Man Up” playbook from last season.
“DJ can't be replaced,” said left-hander James Paxton. “He's awesome out there -- great hitter, great in the field. He's one of our best players. That being said, we're very deep. I hope that it's just something short.”
Lauded as the Yankees’ most valuable player last season, LeMahieu is batting an AL-best .411 (30-for-73) through 19 games, second in the Majors behind the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon (.446).
The injury is believed to be similar to one that cost LeMahieu about two weeks with the Rockies in May 2018. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the club is seeking a second opinion from a hand specialist who treated LeMahieu at that time.
“It's just a sprain. It's not broken,” Boone said. “In some ways, we’re a little bit relieved after kind of fearing for the worst last night. We won't really have anything definitive probably until [Monday].”
LeMahieu’s injury figures to spell increased playing time at second base for Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade.
“Missing a guy like that MVP is something that's going to hurt,” said Judge, “but I know we’ve got a lot of guys that are waiting to fill that role and step up for the time being until he comes back. He's going to be missed, but I know DJ can't wait to get back out there.”
LeMahieu winced in discomfort after swinging at a fourth-inning pitch from Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi. Boone and head athletic trainer Tim Lentych spoke to LeMahieu, who expressed a desire to remain in the game.
After LeMahieu grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice, he took his position at second base, prompting Boone to return to the infield as LeMahieu’s teammates huddled around.
“I was just trying to get a better handle on where he was at with it, to get a sense of what he was feeling and what he was going through,” Boone said.
After the top of the fifth inning, LeMahieu was led to the clubhouse and Boone nodded to Wade, who took the field for the sixth inning. X-rays taken at Yankee Stadium were negative, and LeMahieu was sent for further imaging at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Though the Yankees reached the one-third mark of their season with a division-best 14-6 record, this week has felt like a flashback to last season, when the Yankees set Major League records by having 30 players serve 39 stints on the injured list.
Judge landed on the 10-day IL on Friday with a strained right calf, joining Stanton, who is expected to be sidelined for about three to four weeks with a left hamstring strain.
“We’ll absorb it,” Boone said. “Any time you lose guys of that caliber, it's not a good thing and a difficult thing. But as always, the expectations in that room never change.”