NEW YORK -- Gary Sánchez pushed back when the Yankees first suggested placing him on the 10-day injured list with a left calf strain, and as the catcher continues to run on the field at Yankee Stadium, there is confidence that he will be able to return when eligible on Sunday against the Royals.
"It’s up to them," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "It’s a decision that they make. If they activate me on Sunday, I’ll be ready.”
Sanchez is scheduled to resume on-field batting practice prior to Thursday's game, as will outfielder Aaron Hicks, who is coming back from lower back discomfort. Sanchez has also been receiving pitches from a machine in the batting cage, testing his ability to squat and move behind the plate.
"So far, it's gone smoothly and well," manager Aaron Boone said. "We feel like he's getting real close."
Though Sanchez initially tried to avoid being placed on the injured list, he said that he has been adhering to the Yankees' protocol.
“I follow their program, and it’s basically doing what they tell me to do," Sanchez said. "Whatever they set for me, that’s what I follow and I do. They are the ones that have the control, so I’m just following the steps that they have in front of me.”
Luis Severino and the Yankees may not agree about when his right lat strain initially occurred, but on this, they see eye to eye: Severino will be cleared to resume throwing five weeks from the date of his most recent MRI, which would set the target date for May 14.
From there, it could be another two months before Severino is ready to pitch in big league games.
"It just wasn't progressing," Severino said. "It was real slow. I knew something was going on, because if it was inflammation, that goes quickly. So I knew it was something else, and they flew me here and did another test. Now we know what's wrong."
The Yankees believe that Severino's lat strain occurred at some point after March 5, when he was scratched from a Spring Training start. An MRI taken then showed inflammation, but the April 8 MRI revealed the lat strain.
"Some injuries are a little more gray and tougher to diagnose," Boone said. "The bottom line is, we feel like we know what he has, where it's at. We're hopefully taking all the right steps to get him back as soon as possible and as healthy as possible."
Though Boone said that he has considered using DJ LeMahieu as a leadoff hitter more regularly, the Yankees appear to be proceeding with LeMahieu only hitting in the top spot against lefties. Brett Gardner is continuing to see reps as the leadoff batter against right-handers, including on Wednesday against Nathan Eovaldi.
"I'm trying to space guys out as best we can," Boone said. "I certainly like [LeMahieu] in situations where he's going to come up in big spots with some traffic. I like when he's up. As I've stated from the get-go, he's a guy that you could very easily see hitting in every spot in the order, depending on our personnel and roster at the time."
LeMahieu, who ranked fifth in the American League with a .377 batting average and a .433 on-base percentage entering Wednesday, batted fifth against Eovaldi.
"He's a really good hitter," Boone said. "Obviously, a guy that uses the entire field and has the ability to make really good contact. He doesn't really chase, so he uses the strike zone really well. He's been a guy throughout his career that knows where the barrel of his bat is and has the ability to put it on the ball. That kind of plays anywhere."
This date in Yankees history
April 17, 1951: Mickey Mantle makes his Major League debut in a 5-0 win over the Red Sox, going 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning RBI single off Bill Wight. The game also marks Bob Sheppard's debut as the Yankee Stadium public address announcer.