NEW YORK -- Although Giancarlo Stanton has been playing through left hamstring tightness since the start of the Yankees' four-game series in Boston last weekend, it has not been reflected in his at-bats.
In the Yankees' 5-3 win over the Rangers on Saturday afternoon, Stanton went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored from the designated hitter spot, launching his 29th homer in the first inning and the fourth in his past five games. Prior to the contest, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the stiffness in Stanton's hamstring had not changed in the past week.
"He's, frankly, been moving well," Boone said. "He does a good job of playing very much under control. I think it's about a week where it's been a little bit of tightness."
In a time where the Yankees are already short-staffed in the outfield with Aaron Judge on the disabled list and Clint Frazier recovering from post-concussion migraines, Stanton has made just four starts in right through 11 games in August. He has served as the designated hitter in the other seven. Stanton said he will continue to DH for "a little bit" so that he can keep building up his hamstring.
"The one good thing is he's been able to maintain this and play through it," Boone said. "I feel like we've had some really good, honest dialogue back and forth, kind of checking every day and every night after the game with him. So maybe in a perfect world, we'd be able to grab him a day here, but we also feel like putting him out there -- we wouldn't put him out there if we didn't feel good that he was OK to go."
"It's good," Stanton said. "The training staff has been helping me out a lot and just making sure I'm ready to produce still."
Stanton said that when he gets base hits, he makes sure he's "under control" when running the bases to make sure to not aggravate the hamstring. When asked if he thought he leg was hindering his at-bat quality, he simply said, "That's for you guys to decide."
Because the Yankees want to be careful not to lose yet another starter to the disabled list, Shane Robinson has picked up a lot of the workload in the outfield, making his eighth start of the month on Saturday and going 0-for-2 with a walk. Although the majority of his appearances have been in right, Boone said he is comfortable playing Robinson in all three outfield positions, which prompted his decision to start Robinson in center while Aaron Hicks gets the day off Saturday, leaving Brett Gardner in left field.
"It's one of those we kind of flipped back and forth on a little bit," Boone said of putting Gardner in center or left. "Just left field here being such a premium, and obviously him playing it so well and Robinson's a really good defender kind of at all three spots. So we just felt like left field in our park, in a lot of ways, kind of on-par with importance with center, so we just left it that way."
With Robinson moving to center, Neil Walker was called on to make his first career start outside of the infield to play right field on Saturday, and he recorded an RBI single. Walker had made two prior appearances in right, working two innings on July 28 and one frame on Aug. 1.
"He's been getting a little bit of work over there," Boone said. "Obviously, we threw him in a game last week out there out of necessity. But just in a situation where we're at a need right now. We need to be able to move some guys around. He's been very open to it. He's gotten some work out there, so hopefully he'll go out there and represent us well."
Walker was unavailable to play in Friday's loss to Texas due to a sore neck and an illness, both of which he said were resolved prior to Saturday's game.
"It's all muscular. It's something that just needed to loosen up, I just couldn't get it there last night. It's better this morning," Walker said of his neck. "I don't know what was going on [with my illness]. It wasn't a real good day yesterday from the time I woke up from to the time that we absorbed the 'L.' But, it's a new day today. I am feeling better."
Sanchez could return soon
Gary Sanchez is expected to be back with the Yankees on Sunday after a brief stint at the team's player-development complex in Tampa, Fla., to rehab his strained right groin. Although the backstop will be back in New York, Boone is not sure when Sanchez will be ready to get back into game action.
"I guess we're always thinking [when he'll be ready to go]," Boone said. "I think when he gets here, I think we really start ramping up things as far as getting out and running on the field, hitting on the field, really starting to dive into his catching stuff, and he's getting close to that point now. But I think when he gets here, that really gets ramped up."
This date in Yankees history
Aug. 11, 1980: Reggie Jackson hit his 400th career home run off the White Sox Britt Burns in the fourth inning of a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium.