HOUSTON -- These “Next Man Up” Yankees withstood a historic barrage of injuries during their march into the American League Championship Series, calling upon Giancarlo Stanton’s services for only 18 regular-season games. That theme is continuing into the postseason.
Stanton was absent from the lineup for Sunday night’s Game 2 -- a 3-2 loss to the Astros in 11 innings -- due to a right quadriceps strain. The Yankees are hopeful that Stanton can return later in the series.
“We’re hoping that it's something that with today and [Monday’s] off-day, he would be back in play for Game 3,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We'll just kind of see how these next 48 hours unfold. He would be available tonight to hit or go in in an emergency situation.”
Boone said that Stanton sustained the injury while running out an infield hit in the second inning of New York’s 7-0 Game 1 victory. He remained in the game, slugging a sixth-inning homer off starter Zack Greinke, but he was removed for defense in the eighth inning. Stanton had an MRI on Sunday morning that revealed the strain, which Boone characterized as minor.
“Hopefully the off-day helps and it declares itself a little bit more, then we'll know,” Boone said. “We want him to take at least a day, two days. He'll hit and get ready in case we need something just to see how it is, but we won't put him through rigorous testing today.”
Asked if Stanton could serve as a designated hitter for the rest of the postseason, Boone shook his head, saying that he did not believe that would be realistic with the Yankees’ roster construction. Edwin Encarnación has started five times this postseason at DH, including ALCS Game 2.
Cameron Maybin drew the start to play left field in Stanton’s absence, batting eighth. Boone said that he also considered starting Aaron Hicks, who has not played in a big league game since Aug. 3 due to a right flexor strain. Hicks pinch-hit for Maybin in the 10th inning and remained in the game in center field.
“It was a close decision for me,” Boone said. “I didn't really want to take [Brett Gardner] out of center for Hicks' first game back and throw him in there to [Justin] Verlander. I like the Gardy-Maybin center-left here, but Aaron certainly is in play. Depending on what goes on with G, this would certainly open the door for him moving forward.”
Stanton, 29, had slashed .300/.467/.600 over the Yankees’ first four games of the postseason.
“We were really liking what we're seeing since he's come back with his at-bats,” Boone said. “He's a game-changer. But we also feel great about what we have with Hicks being back in the fold and what Cameron has been for us all year. We have guys that go in there and not only fill a void, but go in and produce. I have total confidence that it will be fine.”