NEW YORK -- The Yankees got a key piece of their lineup back Friday, reinstating Luke Voit from the injured list after a 28-game absence.
Voit suffered a core muscle injury on July 30, interrupting what has been a career season for the 28-year-old. He went 2-for-4 in the Yankees' 8-2 loss on Friday night and now owns a .280/.393/.493 slash line with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs -- both career highs -- in 95 games in 2019, continuing the stellar run that began shortly after the Yankees acquired him in a trade with the Cardinals before last summer’s Trade Deadline.
“Had a couple good rehab games and I feel like I'm ready to go,” Voit said. “I feel like rest was more of a priority for this kind of injury. I feel like I got what I needed, I’m in game shape again. It was nice to get those 19 at-bats. I felt good, the defense was good, so it's just about maintaining it. I feel like I’m back to normal.”
Voit played four games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 8-for-17 (.471) with two doubles, two home runs and four RBIs. He got to face some pitchers with big-league experience, giving him the confidence that he was ready to return and make an impact with the first-place Yankees.
“Overall, I feel like I got everything I needed to get where I felt game [ready] for every opportunity that presents itself,” Voit said.
Voit was one of four players from the everyday lineup on the IL, as the Yankees continue to wait for Aaron Hicks, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton to recover from their respective injuries. Voit took the place of Gio Urshela on the roster, as the third baseman landed on the 10-day IL with a right groin injury. (More on that later)
Voit could still require surgery in the offseason, though he plans to take a wait-and-see approach through September and October before addressing that possibility.
Both Voit and manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that the first baseman might require an extra day off here or there down the stretch, though with rosters expanding on Sunday, that shouldn’t be an issue.
“Picking spots where I think there's a day he could benefit from, those will be the things that we communicate on a daily basis,” Boone said. “Checking in with the strength and training staff of where he is and what he's able to do and how he's bouncing back. I certainly feel good about where he's at right now.”
“It will be a total feel thing,” Voit said. “Sometimes I'll maybe need an extra off-day, but right now I feel good. I felt good playing with the guys down in Scranton.”
Just as the Yankees got Voit back from his injury, they swapped him out with Urshela, who left Wednesday’s game in Seattle after experiencing tightness in his groin.
“It's getting better,” Urshela said. “I don't want to force it or anything. I would rather rest a couple days than a month and a half.”
Urshela became the 29th player placed on the IL by the Yankees this season, establishing a new Major League record.
“It's been one of the storylines of our season; losing guys and getting guys back,” Boone said. “It's just something that we've dealt with. The guys have done a great job in handling it, and to a man, those guys have really contributed in large ways across the board. We are probably a little too used to it, but it's something that everyone doesn't flinch at and know we can go out and get it done.”
Urshela, who underwent an MRI which showed swelling in the groin, believes he’ll be ready to return after his 10 days are up, a scenario Boone echoed.
“Sunday in Boston would be the first day he's eligible and I'm looking at it like that's a real possibility,” Boone said. “It feels like something that's probably a few days, but with an off-day yesterday, an off-day coming, and just the time of year it is, he's a little banged up anyway, it's probably the best thing for him and for us to do this now and make sure it doesn't become a lingering issue.”
D.J. LeMahieu is expected to see the bulk of playing time at third base during Urshela’s absence.
Urshela is hitting .331 this season, though he entered Friday five at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title. His 10-day hiatus will likely cost him any shot at getting enough at-bats to qualify for the AL-lead, which is currently held by LeMahieu at .335. Urshela insisted he wasn’t bothered by that.
“It's more [important] to win games,” Urshela said. “I’m trying to get ready, get back into the game and try to always keep my mind right.”
Hicks (right flexor strain) was examined by team doctor Christopher Ahmad prior to Friday's game, getting a positive report as he was cleared to begin a throwing program in the coming days.
Hicks said he would likely begin throwing on Monday, followed by some hitting a couple of days later. The outfielder, on the IL since Aug. 4, shagged flies for the first time on Friday, also doing some running on the field.
Stanton was on the field Friday afternoon, doing arc runs and defensive drills, though he won’t face live pitching until next week at the earliest, when he could head to Tampa to continue his rehab from a right knee sprain.
Stanton has appeared in only nine games this season, going 9-for-31 (.290) with one home run and seven RBIs. Boone believes it’s “realistic” that the former NL MVP could make an impact on the Yankees lineup when he returns, but the manager is cautious about setting any expectations for the rehabbing slugger.
“The bottom line is he's dealt with a couple significant injuries this year that have obviously interrupted his season at the beginning and then when he came back,” Boone said. “I felt like both times he was in a really good place to impact us, and the handful of at-bats that we were seeing early in the season and then when he did come back were strong, so I think there's reason to believe that that's possible he could get back to that point. But let's allow him to heal and get better and see where he's at in the coming weeks and make those evaluations.”
Dellin Betances will throw to hitters in Tampa on Saturday, but with Hurricane Dorian potentially moving toward Florida, the reliever will fly to New York after his session to continue his rehab. Betances is scheduled to throw a side session in the Bronx on Monday, after which the Yankees will determine his next step.
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.