TORONTO -- Didi Gregorius lapped most estimates for his return from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, though if the Yankees shortstop had his way, he would have been back on the field even sooner.
Gregorius was activated from the 60-day injury list and is expected to be in the lineup on Friday as the Yankees open a three-game series against the Indians at Progressive Field. The opener can be seen live on MLB.TV, and it’s also the MLB Network Showcase Game. The Yankees will send Domingo German to the hill opposite Indians rookie Zach Plesac, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Infielder Thairo Estrada was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Troy Tulowitzki was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
"I don't think I have to tell you guys what a good player he is," manager Aaron Boone said. "I think you guys have seen over the last few years what he's meant to our club in so many ways. To get a player like him back is exciting."
Gregorius sustained the injury in Game 2 of last year's American League Division Series at Fenway Park making a relay throw home on an Ian Kinsler double. Though Gregorius said he immediately knew surgery would be necessary, he refused to leave the game and played in the next two contests as well.
He had surgery on Oct. 17, with Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek performing the procedure. When Gregorius was asked how he got through the rest of the playoff series after the injury, he shrugged, saying that there was no way he would miss the team's most important games of the year.
"He's just low maintenance, blue collar, likes to play," Boone said. "He isn't consumed with himself at all. He's just like, 'Yeah, I'm ready to play.' And he's been saying that since Spring Training. Now that it's reality that he's here, I know how hard he's worked. It's exciting for him and all his teammates."
To accommodate Gregorius' return, Boone has outlined a scenario where Gregorius would play two of three days at shortstop, with Gleyber Torres filling in there in addition to his second-base duties. Torres and third baseman Gio Urshela would both rest twice a week, allowing DJ LeMahieu to pick up starts. LeMahieu could also spell first baseman Luke Voit.
Taking a break
Torres was out of the Yankees' lineup on Thursday due to left shoulder soreness, and Boone indicated that Torres may sit for Friday's series opener in Cleveland as well.
"He's been playing a lot," Boone said. "He's a little beat up, a little sore in the shoulders the last couple of days. He's available, he'll be a guy off the bench, but I wanted to give him today and possibly could even give him tomorrow as well."
Aaron Judge resumed on-field batting practice on Thursday at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., though the slugger told The Associated Press that he is not focusing on a timeframe for returning to the lineup.
"I'm taking it day to day," Judge said. "The minute I start thinking about when I'm going to come back, when I'm going to do that, then my hopes might either go up or down if I get pushed back or something like that. So I'm just focused on getting better every day."
Judge strained his left oblique muscle on April 20. He is now pain-free, and Boone said on Wednesday that it is possible Judge could be back in time for the June 29-30 series against the Red Sox in London.
"Now it's just going through the protocols so I can finally get out there," Judge said. "They haven't been needing me the past couple weeks, so I'm going to take my time and make sure I get healthy and get ready so I can help them down the road."
This date in Yankees history
June 6, 1944: As the Liberation of Europe began, 19-year-old Yankees Minor League catcher Yogi Berra was among those present for the Allied invasion, manning a missile boat off the Normandy coast.