ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees continue to take body blows. Saturday afternoon they had to put Andrew Benintendi on the injured list with what they are calling right wrist inflammation. The left fielder, who left Friday night’s game after feeling something pop during a third-inning swing, was one of the few Yankees hitters who was consistently hitting through their offensive drought and second-half skid.
“Right now it’s wrist inflammation. We got to get some more tests and more imaging and more opinions to kind of really narrow down exactly what it is,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Saturday night’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. ”I think there’s still some questions out there.”
The biggest question obviously is if Benintendi, who was wearing an air cast in the clubhouse before the game, will play again this season. He was brought in at the trade deadline specifically because his lefty bat fit so nicely with the Yankees’ big sluggers and he would set them up well for the playoffs. With 24 games remaining in the regular season, Boone wasn’t sure there would be time for him to get back.
“There could be,” Boone said. “Again, we don’t know we have and I was literally just kind of getting briefed on it. So it’s tough to know.”
And now, the Yankees, who have lost five of their last eight game, and are 8-12 over their last 20, have to figure out a patchwork plan to cover their outfield. Giancarlo Stanton, who is 3-for-26 since coming off the injured list with an Achilles issue, has not been able to return to playing in the field. While Boone and Stanton are optimistic that he will be back in the outfield this season, Boone said he didn’t think he would have him in there during the homestand next week.
For Saturday night, Boone had Aaron Hicks in left field, Oswaldo Cabrera in right and Aaron Judge in center field.
“We’ll just mix and match and hopefully create an opportunity for someone that kind of kicks the door in,” Boone said.
Hicks has struggled to find any consistency this season at the plate and lost his starting center field job when the Yankees acquired Benintendi from the Royals.
The Yankees called up Estevan Florial before Saturday’s game. The 24-year-old prospect is hitting .290/.372/.500 with 15 home runs in Triple-A this season. He has had 50 big league plate appearances over the last three seasons hitting .186/.300/.302 with a .602 OPS.
They also have Tim Locastro, who has been mostly used defensively and as a pinch runner. Locastro is hitting .176/.243/.353 with a .596 OPS in 28 games with the Yankees this season.
Boone said there is also a possibility that Cabrera will get a chance in left field.
“It’s possible,” Boone said. “I wasn’t sure I’d use him in right at first and we ripped that band-aid off pretty quick and he’s done a really nice job out there, so…”
The Yankees, whose offense has been wildly inconsistent, will have a harder time finding a replacement for Benintendi. They are already without Matt Carpenter, who is still in a walking boot and using a scooter to get around after fracturing his foot last month. They are without Anthony Rizzo this weekend and likely into next week after he had an epidural for nagging back pain. DJ LeMahieu is trying to play through ongoing pain in his right big toe and Josh Donaldson is having the worst season of his career. And Gleyber Torres has disappeared in the second half.
Since the Yankees acquired him from the Royals at the trade deadline, Benintendi is hitting .246/.323/.395 with a .718 OPS, two home runs, nine doubles and a triple.
“He’s obviously an important guy in our lineup right now, especially as we struggle as much as we are right now offensively,” Boone said. “Benny has been hitting the ball really well. And so we hope for the best for him.”