Yankees still waiting for Giancarlo Stanton to warm up

TORONTO – Giancarlo Stanton has made a habit of getting hot in the playoffs. The Yankees have to hope he can do it again this year.

The designated hitter struck out four on Tuesday in a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays and is 1-for-17 with 11 strikeouts in his last four games.

More alarmingly, after leading in three-pointers on August 25, in his first game back after a stint on the injured list with left Achilles tendonitis that began in late July, Stanton has mostly been a mess. He entered Tuesday 13-for-87 (.149), with one brace, four home runs, 11 RBIs, 11 walks and 35 strikeouts to go along with an OPS of just .544 in 24 games.

The notoriously streaky Stanton is running out of time to prepare for the playoffs.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Stanton’s downfall that the team will « continue to pull through. »

Giancarlo Stanton
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Po

« We’re just trying to find that right stretch, that right time to get to where we saw it overnight, » Boone said. “When he locks him up, he gets as good and dangerous as he can get. I hope he can get there. »

Stanton, as Boone noted, had “lightning flashes,” including a winning grand slam in the Bronx on Sept. 20 and a three-hit game two nights later, but he hits .059 over his last four. matches.

“He had some big hits [and] some big home runs for us,” Boone said. “But for the most part it has been a struggle to get back to that point. We’ll keep working on it and hope it clicks here soon.

And his foot and ankle were « a factor, » according to Boone.

« But I also feel like it’s not something that should stop him from finding it and still being a wrecking ball once it’s gone, » Boone said. “I think he was quite disciplined and patient about it and was clear about when he was ready to come back. I think he realizes he has to do it when it’s not perfect. He works hard to get there. »

Now that the Yankees won the AL East on Tuesday, Boone said he will be looking to get players days off.

« Now we’re going to start being strategic, » Boone said.

When asked before the game if Aaron Judge, still one short of Roger Maris’ AL record 61 homers, would rest Wednesday in Toronto before the Yankees are off Thursday, Boone replied, « We’ll see. »

The judge hasn’t missed a game since Aug. 3, and Boone bristled with questions about the slugger’s workload before the game.

« You’re really pushing for a day off for the judge, » Boone said. « You’re generally mad at me for putting it down. »

Boone also noted that he wants Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman to work harder before the end of the regular season, which would likely determine their readiness for the playoffs.

Kyle Higashioka started behind the plate on Tuesday for just the fourth time since Sept. 18 and had three hits, two runs and a flyout to deep right field.

« I just want them both to keep going, » Boone said of receivers Higashioka and Jose Trevino. « [Trevino] took a lot of hits, fouls and the like. He’s fine, but I wanted to make sure I preserve him. [Higashioka’s] played well when he had his chances too.

Higashioka has had a tough year offensively, but is 6 for 13 with a brace, three runs and four RBIs in his last four starts.

Harrison Bader was out of the lineup Tuesday for the second time in five games. Boone said the Yankees were cautious about playing him three days in a row on artificial turf at Rogers Center after Bader recently returned from plantar fasciitis.

Bader came on as a defensive replacement for Oswaldo Cabrera in the seventh.

« It’s part of his return [plan] » Boone said of the center fielder the Yankees got from the Cardinals in exchange for left-hander Jordan Montgomery. « He did really well. »

When asked if extra days off would be something the Yankees would consider for Bader in the playoffs, Boone replied, « I don’t anticipate that. »

« The way he’s responded so far has been good, » Boone said. « I watch [Tuesday] as a kind of last. Obviously, we will listen to him and if something happens, we will pay attention.


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