BOSTON -- While the bullpen has been an unexpected issue for the Yankees, their stretch of 19 losses in 26 games entering play on Saturday also coincided with the losses of their Nos. 2, 4 and 5 hitters, as Aaron Hicks, Matthew Holliday and Starlin Castro all landed on the disabled list.
That group is nearly whole again, as Holliday returned to the lineup in Friday's 5-4 loss to the Red Sox, while Castro was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, returning from a right hamstring strain. The injury kept Castro, one of five Yankees All-Stars, out of the Midsummer Classic.
"It's tough, being on the bench and watching," Castro said. "We've been struggling. I know we've had a lot of guys get hurt, but I think now we're all together. We're just missing Hicks. I think we'll keep playing hard, continue to do what we did in the first two months and just go from there."
New York optioned infielder-outfielder Tyler Wade to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a corresponding move on Saturday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that filling out a lineup card that features both Castro and Holliday is a welcome change.
"It's definitely better. I think it's a deeper lineup," Girardi said. "Obviously our two-hitter [Hicks] is still a ways away, but it's a deeper lineup. You add power, you add guys that are used to professional at-bats, at-bats in big situations. I think it's definitely helpful."
The DL stint may have had a positive effect for Castro, who had a cortisone injection in his right wrist in late June to treat an injury he played with for several weeks. He played two Minor League rehab games with Double-A Trenton, going 2-for-7 with a double.
"I think my body got rest. I feel pretty fresh right now," Castro said. "We still have the whole second half. I'll just continue doing what I've been doing and continue to play hard."
• Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that closer Albertin Chapman is having trouble with his fastball command, the biggest reason why the left-hander struggled in Friday's loss to the Red Sox. Rothschild said that Chapman's arm speed may be off slightly from where it was prior to his DL stint from May 14-June 18.
• Tyler Clippard has been bumped from the seventh-inning relief role, with Girardi saying that he plans to give more opportunities to Chad Green and Adam Warren. Since June 1, Clippard is 1-3 with an 11.68 ERA and three blown saves in 14 appearances.
• Hicks (strained right oblique) could resume mild baseball activities when the Yankees return from their 11-game road trip to Boston, Minneapolis and Seattle. Hicks last played on June 25 vs. Texas, and he is not traveling with the club.