Boone repeated the same two words, later saying that he had been planning on inserting the slugger into his lineup as the Yankees attempt to extend their season and force a flight to Houston. Stanton is batting cleanup and serving as the designated hitter in Friday’s Game 5.
“It’s big, if I can contribute,” Stanton said. “I’m not here to just be out there. That’s the most frustrating part of these past couple of days. If I can be out there and contribute, that’s what we need, and we need it now.”
Stanton sustained a right quadriceps strain in the second inning of ALCS Game 1 on Saturday, resulting in him sitting out the next three games. Stanton tested the quad on the basepaths prior to Game 4, with Boone estimating that Stanton was running at about 60 percent capability.
“There’s no percentages,” Stanton said. “We don’t have time for that. It’s a must-win. I’m there to make an impact. That’s all I can do.”
With Stanton back in the lineup, Boone elected to bench Edwin Encarnación, who is 1-for-15 with a double in the ALCS.
“I debated over a few different options and considered having [Encarnación] in there today in the field [at first base],” Boone said. “There were a few different scenarios I was considering, but I felt like this is the one for today that I settled on. It doesn't mean he won't be back in there [for a potential Game 6].”
Giving ‘em Heller
The 28-year-old Heller posted a 1.23 ERA in six September appearances after returning from Tommy John surgery, and he had been tossing at the Yanks’ complex in Tampa, Fla.
“We talked through a few people, monitoring what's going on down there,” Boone said. “We feel like Ben threw the ball well with us in September, but we’re also watching him down there and getting reports. He's been throwing the ball pretty well, so we debated on a few things but settled on Ben. I’m excited he's here.”
Boone said that all pitchers should be available for Game 5, with the exception of Masahiro Tanaka and potentially Luis Severino, who is otherwise lined up to pitch Game 7 on Sunday night if the Yankees get that far.
“I think that's just something we'll talk through,” Boone said. “I don't necessarily anticipate having him available tonight. It’s something that could evolve over the next several hours.”
This date in Yankees history
Oct. 18, 1977: Reggie Jackson became “Mr. October,” slugging three homers on three consecutive pitches as the Yankees defeated the Dodgers, 8-4, in the deciding Game 6 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.