BALTIMORE -- The Yankees believe they will be closer to full strength in about a week's time, as manager Aaron Boone said that he is "optimistic" Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius will return in time for a West Coast road trip that opens on Sept. 3 in Oakland.
Sanchez went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on Saturday in his first Minor League rehab game for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, reporting no issues with his right groin strain. Sanchez is expected to join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for Monday's game at Lehigh Valley, and Boone indicated that the catcher will spend most of the week with the Yanks' top farm affiliate.
"He's going to rack up some at-bats and some significant rehab time," Boone said. "Hopefully that gets him ready just from the ability to bounce back, the timing at the plate, the whole bit. We're making sure he's got some good playing time under his belt."
Gregorius is scheduled to be seen by a Yankees team physician on Monday in New York and has said his bruised left heel is "way better than it's supposed to be."
"With Didi, he's doing really well," Boone said. "It seems like he's on a good track going forward. He'll get evaluated tomorrow, he'll see the doctor again and then hopefully he can start ramping up some things early next week. I think that's certainly possible."
Sanchez initially strained his groin in late June, at which time the Yankees estimated he would need three to four weeks of recovery time. He returned to the lineup on July 20 against the Mets but aggravated the injury four days later against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
"He'll be ready physically, with all that we've put him through here to prepare him for this, all the work we're giving him," Boone said. "We're giving him a good amount of rehab games to make sure he's right and hits the ground running. I think his conditioning right now is as good as it's been all year, so I feel like, physically, he's in a really good place."
Sanchez was a force in the Yankees' lineup last year, batting .278/.345/.531 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs in 122 games, but 2018 has been a markedly different campaign. Though Sanchez has batted .188/.283/.416 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs in 66 games, Boone indicated that Sanchez's return will push Austin Romine back to a reserve role.
"Ro will play, whether that's one time through a rotation, two times, that's something that's fluid," Boone said. "But Gary will be our catcher."
One month after being hit by a pitch from the Royals' Jakob Junis, Aaron Judge (fractured right wrist) remains in a holding pattern. Boone said the slugger has not been able to resume swinging a bat. The initial timetable provided by the team following Judge's July 26 injury was that he could return to the lineup in as little as three weeks.
"Same stuff. Again, just waiting for that pain to get out," Boone said. "Once that fracture is healed, let him go."
Since Judge landed on the disabled list, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar and Aaron Hicks have shouldered a sizable portion of the offensive load. That trio has combined to hit .293 with 64 runs, 18 doubles, 23 homers and 67 RBIs over the 28 team games.
This date in Yankees history
Aug. 26, 1960: The Yankees hit five homers in a 7-6 victory over the Indians, including Yogi Berra's second homer of the game, a deciding shot in the bottom of the 11th inning. Elston Howard, Mickey Mantle and Moose Skowron hit the other blasts.