NEW YORK -- Off to their best 20-game start since 2010, the Yankees believe their lineup is now even more formidable with the return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to Friday's series opener against the Orioles.Gregorius is making his season debut after
NEW YORK -- Off to their best 20-game start since 2010, the Yankees believe their lineup is now even more formidable with the return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to Friday's series opener against the Orioles.
Gregorius is making his season debut after playing five Minor League rehab games for Class A Advanced Tampa, where he was 8-for-18 (.444) with two runs, a double, a homer, two RBIs, a walk and a stolen base, with multiple hits in four of the five games.
"It's always good to be back," Gregorius said. "I'm glad to be back with all these guys. It's something awesome. I saw what they've been doing, so now that I'm here, I've got to keep the pace up with them and start the season on a good note."
In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees designated infielder Pete Kozma for assignment. Kozma was 1-for-9 (.111) in 11 games, and he made the Opening Day roster after Gregorius, 27, strained his right shoulder in a March 18 exhibition while playing for the Netherlands' World Baseball Classic squad.
Gregorius' return has bumped Ronald Torreyes back to the utility role that the Yanks initially envisioned for him. Girardi said that he told Torreyes to resume taking balls at second base, third and shortstop, as well as in left and right field.
"I've looked forward to the day that Didi was to come back," Girardi said. "Things aren't changing a whole lot. Torreyes now will become what he's designed to be. You go into National League ballparks, there's a lot of different things that can happen, so [he needs to] be prepared."
Girardi said that the Yankees wouldn't have enjoyed their early-season success without Torreyes, who has 13 RBIs, but the manager feels the order is better with Gregorius in it.
"We haven't forgotten the year that Didi had last year, and I think it's good to have him back," Girardi said.
Gregorius batted .276/.304/.447 in 153 games for New York last season, setting career highs in hits (155), doubles (32), home runs (20), RBIs (70) and extra-base hits (54).
Gregorius said that he watched a few of the big league club's games while rehabbing in Tampa, Fla., and he wasn't surprised by their hot start.
"These guys are good," Gregorius said. "Everybody saw what the team did last year in the second half, so we'll try to keep the same momentum going. That's what we wanted, to keep it going."
• Gary Sanchez is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez has been on the 10-day DL since April 8 with a right biceps strain, and he has been taking indoor batting practice while throwing at distances of 120 feet.
Sanchez will catch and serve as a designated hitter during his time with the Yanks' top farm club.
"I wouldn't think [the rehab assignment] would be too many days," Girardi said. "He has been out 3 1/2 weeks by the time he goes on rehab. You're going to want to get him some at-bats, but it shouldn't be too long."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.