Boone: 'No plans' to move Donaldson from 3B in ALCS

Bader a candidate to hit leadoff in Game 3; Yankees' pitching plans for remainder of series

October 22nd, 2022

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have no plans to dislodge Josh Donaldson from third base during this American League Championship Series, manager Aaron Boone said on Friday.

Donaldson’s performance has been a focal point early in the ALCS, as the veteran has struck out in five of six at-bats against Houston pitching. He certainly hasn’t been alone in struggling to make contact; the Yankees have fanned 30 times across the first two games, both Houston victories.

“As we struggle for offense, period, it’s interesting that everyone jumps on him,” Boone said. “He’s gotten on at a 40 percent clip in the postseason so far, for all his struggles. We need him. We need him to do something big within this series. We need to get that rolling.”

Including the five-game AL Division Series against the Guardians, Donaldson is hitting .227/.393/.273 (5-for-22) with a run scored, a double, six walks and 11 strikeouts, slotted either fifth or sixth in the order. He hit .222/.308/.374 in 132 games during the regular season, with 28 doubles, 15 homers and 62 RBIs.

“Different teams have pitched him differently all year,” Boone said. “At times he’s struggled [with] where you’re trying to cover a couple of different speeds, so you’re a little in-between with your timing. That’s probably been the biggest thing from a consistency standpoint that he’s struggled with. But he’s also gotten a lot of big hits for us. We’ve got to continue to trust that he’s got a chance to change the game for us and really produce one of those heavy at-bats.”

Boone’s other choices at third base for this series would be Oswaldo Cabrera or Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

“We know we’re up against a great pitching staff, top to bottom,” Boone said. “We’ve got to find ways to score runs, and that comes in the ability to get on base, get big hits and when we get that mistake, really sticking it. So no, no plans there [to move Donaldson].”

Top of the order

Harrison Bader hit leadoff in Thursday’s ALCS Game 2, an assignment that the outfielder said he was unaware of until he was asked about hitting leadoff (and the roof at Minute Maid Park being open) by TBS’ Lauren Shehadi in a pregame interview.

“I’m learning about both of those right now,” Bader told Shehadi. “I came in and I was locked in on something else, just getting ready for my game.”

Asked to explain the apparent miscommunication, Boone said: “We send out the lineup ahead of time. Some guys are vigilant at making sure. Some guys come in and it’s play ball and look to see where you’re at later. That’s just an individual thing sometimes.”

Bader could lead off again in Saturday’s Game 3, Boone said.

“It’s definitely something I’m considering as we try to find a way to score some runs,” Boone said. “Obviously he’s putting together good at-bats. That’s something that I’m probably leaning that way.”

Short story

Boone said that he was not ready to commit to Oswald Peraza as his Game 3 shortstop, one day after the rookie made several sharp plays but went hitless in the Bombers’ loss at Houston. Boone has said it will be a daily decision to choose between Peraza and Kiner-Falefa at shortstop.

“I haven’t decided how I’m going to go in that direction yet,” Boone said.

Looking ahead

With Gerrit Cole set to start Game 3 and Nestor Cortes in line for Game 4, Boone said that he would give the ball to Jameson Taillon in a potential Game 5.

“That’s where I’m at right now,” Boone said. “It’s hard to envision going any other way.”