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Notes: LeMahieu's return expected this week

@BryanHoch
July 16, 2020

NEW YORK -- The Yankees expect to have DJ LeMahieu in uniform for Summer Camp workouts this week, though it is uncertain if the infielder will be ready to be activated for the Opening Day roster. LeMahieu tested positive for COVID-19 prior to Summer Camp and was said to be

NEW YORK -- The Yankees expect to have DJ LeMahieu in uniform for Summer Camp workouts this week, though it is uncertain if the infielder will be ready to be activated for the Opening Day roster.

LeMahieu tested positive for COVID-19 prior to Summer Camp and was said to be recovering at his home in Michigan. According to Yankees first baseman Luke Voit, LeMahieu was seen in the clubhouse on Wednesday, but he was not at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

“I know guys are super excited to have him back,” Voit said. “It was good seeing him around [Wednesday]. I'm glad he's back; just in the nick of time, and I know he's going to be ready. He's a guy who studies the game and is always making sure that he's prepared. ‘The Machine’ is finally back.”

In order to be activated following a positive test, players must have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa has also recovered from the coronavirus and is traveling to join the team, according to his social media account.

“When you see them in uniform, then we’ll be ready to talk about it,” manager Aaron Boone said.

Like LeMahieu, Cessa tested positive prior to reporting for Summer Camp, though no set date has been announced for his activation.

“I think we want to see him in person, play catch, see what that looks like and see how he responds,” pitching coach Matt Blake said of Cessa. “It’ll give us a better bearing of how he's been able to keep his body in shape during this period.”

Left-hander Aroldis Chapman is expected to begin the season on the COVID-19 injured list. The club announced that Chapman had tested positive for the coronavirus on July 11. If LeMahieu is not ready, the candidates to start at second base include Matt Duffy, Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade.

Ramping up
Masahiro Tanaka tossed about 30 pitches in the Yankee Stadium bullpen on Thursday, marking the right-hander’s first time on the mound since he sustained a concussion on July 4.

“It was a much higher intensity than we initially expected coming in, which was really encouraging,” Blake said. “He was right around 88-91 [mph] in the bullpen, and I think it was good to see him be able to step on it and show all his pitches. He was very crisp for his first bullpen. We feel really good about where he's at.”

Tanaka is scheduled to toss again in the bullpen on Sunday, after which he could be cleared to face hitters. With continued progress, it is possible that Tanaka’s season debut could come in the Yankees’ home opener against the Phillies on July 29.

“The home opener would be a spot where we need a fifth starter,” Blake said. “We’re waiting to see how Masa responds over the next couple of days. We’ve kind of put that in conversation. Being able to carry 30 players and 15, 16 pitchers would give us a little more flexibility to not have to build him up before we bring him in.”

Pump up the volume
Tommy Kahnle is usually the loudest person in the Yankees’ clubhouse, so it comes as little surprise that the hyperactive right-hander is in favor of adding artificial crowd noise for games at Yankee Stadium. Thus far, the Bombers have played their intrasquad games in relative silence, though that could change soon.

“[The] crowd noise when you're playing, it gives you a big adrenaline boost,” Kahnle said. “To hear that while you're trying to focus on the catcher or maybe a hitter trying to focus on the pitcher, I think it will give a better situation than just being out there with no sound. You could hear people talking; it's probably distracting, to be honest. I think it's a good idea to maybe do that.”

Left-hander Zack Britton and catcher Kyle Higashioka are among the other Yankees who have said they are in favor of piping in noise or music for regular season games.

Numbers game
The Yankees are continuing to discuss how many pitchers they plan to carry on the 30-man roster to open the regular season, according to Blake, who said that those meetings are continuing with Boone, bench coach Carlos Mendoza and bullpen coach Mike Harkey.

“I'd imagine we'd err somewhere in the 15-16-17 [pitchers] range, depending on Masa and Cessa,” Blake said. “There’s a couple of moving parts involved in that, but we’re getting closer.”

Roster moves
The Yankees reassigned right-handers Domingo Acevedo, Daniel Álvarez, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Adonis Rosa and Alexander Vizcaíno and catcher Max McDowell to their alternate site on Thursday.

Up next
The Yankees will play their final intrasquad game of Summer Camp on Friday at Yankee Stadium, with right-hander Gerrit Cole expected to throw about 85 pitches in his final tune-up prior to Opening Day. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET, and the YES Network will air coverage beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.