NEW YORK -- It was not the catcher-miming, Aaron Boone says, that earned him the one-game suspension that he received on Sunday from Major League Baseball. Instead it was the contact he made with home-plate umpire Nic Lentz on Friday night, after his ejection from an eventual 7-5 win over the Tigers, that led to the discipline that will sideline him for Sunday's series finale.
The on-field theatrics and the ejection came after Lentz called a 1-1 pitch from Jordan Zimmermann to Gleyber Torres a strike. The first-year skipper continued his protest outside the dugout after he was tossed, squatting behind home plate to demonstrate his displeasure with Lentz's calls. The animated nature of Boone's third career ejection was what made the highlight reels and replays, but it was the slight contact his cap made with Lentz's during their heated exchanges before and after that caught the attention of MLB chief operating officer Joe Torre. No part of the manager's body made contact with Lentz, though Boone went nose-to-nose with the umpire while stating his case.
After reviewing the incident, Torre ruled that the contact, slight as it was, violated the league's policy.
Bench coach Josh Bard will manage the Yankees on Sunday in place of Boone, who was also fined an undisclosed amount by MLB. The first-year skipper said that Torre delivered the news in person on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.
"I accept it," Boone said. "Obviously, I got a little too close for comfort there, so that's part of the deal.
"I was arguing, I got kicked out of the game, I reacted how I reacted. Unfortunately, I got a little too close, and I do regret that. I always want to be in control of my emotions, to a degree. But sometimes you also have to state your claim and defend certain things that are important. I definitely shouldn't have nicked his cap.
"Next time I'll flip the cap around backwards and let it rip," he joked. "Hopefully I'll be better, learning from this, and learn to control my emotions in a better way."
Didi nearing return
A day after general manager Brian Cashman indicated that shortstop Didi Gregorius could return by next weekend's series in Seattle, Gregorius took another tangible step toward turning that forecast into reality. He participated in a full on-field workout for the second straight day, prompting Boone to say, "He's probably starting to knock on the door of getting back."
One of the Yankees' steadiest contributors this season, Gregorius was hitting .270/.333/.482 with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs in 118 games. He's been on the DL with a bruised left heel since Aug. 19.
"He's getting close, and today was a really important day," Boone said. "The workload was really ratcheted up yesterday, and today was a barometer for how he'd bounce back. He came in ready to work and ready to get back there on the field."
Prior to Sunday's game, the Yankees added bullpen depth by recalling right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga from Double-A Trenton. The 23-year-old Loaisiga, the Yankees' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four big league starts earlier this season. He went a combined 6-1 with a 2.89 ERA over 14 starts spread over three levels in the Minors this year.
Loaisiga gives the Yankees 31 players on their active roster, and 11 relievers.
• After hinting at the possibility for more than a week, Boone gave Giancarlo Stanton a routine off-day on Sunday. It marked the first time Stanton, who has been playing through a minor hamstring injury for more than a month, mostly at designated hitter, was absent from the lineup since May 28. Stanton hit .291/.364/.545 with 22 home runs over that stretch, which spanned 85 straight games.
• While a familiar face was out of the lineup, a new face slotted in. Adeiny Hechavarria made his first start in pinstripes on Sunday, batting eighth and playing shortstop in Gregorius' place. The veteran was acquired from the Pirates to provide infield depth on Friday.