Stanton is hitting .290 with one home run and seven RBIs. The 29-year-old, in his second season with the Yankees, had been working out at the team's minor league complex in Tampa, Florida. "I may build him up a little bit, so he could play a handful of innings and I might pull him," manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday before the AL East-leading Yankees opened their final homestand of the regular season. "He's racked up a lot of at-bats. He's done all his defensive work. He's really been bouncing back well the next day, feeling like his knee is where it needs to be. He's been doing his baserunning and all his agility and conditioning. And the amount of at-bats that he's been able to rack up I think has him feeling good."
Brett Gardner made his 85th start in center field, shifted from left because of injuries to Aaron Hicks. After hurting his back during spring training batting practice on May 1, Hicks didn't play his first game until May 18. Then he strained the flexor near his right elbow while making a throw on Aug. 3 and does not know whether he will need Tommy John surgery. Hicks is in Tampa.
"He is in the early stages of a throwing program," Boone said. "Where that takes him and us we'll just have to see." Mike Tauchman made 55 starts, but sustained a season-ending left calf strain on Sept. 8, the Yankees' 30th player on the injured list. Cameron Maybin made his 35th start in left on Tuesday. Clint Frazier would leave the Yankees defensively vulnerable in tight postseason games, making Stanton and Maybin the best options.
An injury to Edwin Encarnación complicates planning. The power-hitting first baseman and designated hitter strained his left oblique during a doubleheader at Detroit last Thursday. While he is pain free, he likely will not swing a bat this week.
"We're optimistic but still a little bit of time yet," Boone said. Catcher Gary Sánchez, who strained his left groin during a failed stolen base in that doubleheader, remains in the treatment phase of his recovery.
"Again, optimistic that by the end of the season he'll be good to go, but it probably will be close, too," Boone said. Left-hander J.A. Happ had a cortisone shot Friday to treat biceps tendinitis in his pitching arm and anticipates making his scheduled start for Thursday's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.
"It's helped a little bit, for sure," Happ said. Ace starter Luis Severino made his season debut Tuesday night after recovering from a strained lat muscle sustained while warming up for his first spring training start. New York activated him from the 60-day injured list and designated infielder Breyvic Valera for assignment.
Reliever Dellin Betances (lat strain) and left-hander Jordan Montgomery (Tommy John surgery) made their season debuts Sunday, but the Yankees said Tuesday that Betances partially tore his left Achilles tendon hopping off the mound at the end of his outing.
Right-hander Domingo Germán (18-4) could follow CC Sabathia to the mound in Wednesday's game. Germán has thrown 140 2/3 innings, 55 more than his previous high, and has pitched just once since Sept. 6 — a four-inning relief stint — as the Yankees limit his use.
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