ANAHEIM — The Yankees hope dropping Anthony Rizzo down in the lineup will help him get back his swing back on track. Monday night, Rizzo was hitting sixth, a spot in the lineup he has not been in since 2011.
“I’ll do anything to help us hit first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth. Just want to help anywhere,” Rizzo said.
The 33-year-old is hitting .223/.337/.480 with an .817 OPS and 28 homers this season, though 22 of those homers came in the first half of the season. That was when Rizzo hit .224/.344/.498 with an .842 OPS. In the second half he is hitting .219/.317/.429 with a .745 OPS and six homers.
“Right now, obviously, I’m not hitting them the way I’d like to be. There’s some bad ones but there’s just gotta keep grinding,” Rizzo said. “I’ve got to compete and just work through going up there knowing I can compete and get that good-feeling swing back.”
Rizzo has been dealing with back issues since right before the All-Star break. He missed four games in July and five in August. Since coming back from his second stint of missed games, Rizzo’s hitting .200/.273/.300 with a .573 OPS and a home run.
“The guy’s got 28 homers and is wildly productive,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said when asked about Rizzo’s struggles this year. “He’s just not hitting for a high average. I felt like you know before it went down and missed the five games because of the back, felt like right before that he was really starting to catch fire again. And then it’s just been slow to get rolling, kind of battling through.”
NEXT UP NESTOR
Nestor Cortes, who was placed on the injured list Thursday with a strained left groin, is hoping to get on the mound for the first time on Wednesday and throw a side session.
“If that goes well then he could potentially throw a live (batting practice) at the complex at Tampa on Saturday,” Boone said. “And if that were to go, well, then you’d get slotted back into the rotation on the homestand.”
Phil Nevin was appointed interim manager of the Angels shortly after Anaheim left the Bronx. So Aaron Boone has not had the chance to see in person and manage against his close friend and the Yankees’ former third base coach, yet. Monday night will be the first time they go head-to-head — and it will be a little strange.
“It’s always good to see Phil,” the Yankees manager said Sunday. “Hopefully we can make it tough on them. They are coming off obviously a really good series in Toronto. So it will be good to see him, but hopefully hopefully we can make it tough.
“We can shake hands a little bit I think.”
Nevin was Boone’s third base coach from his hiring in 2018 until his contract was not renewed after last season along with hitting coaches Marcus Thames and PJ Pilittere and first base coach Reggie Willits.
Boone and Nevin have been friends much longer and it was a blow.
“It hurt, honestly,” Boone told reporters in October after he signed a contract extension with the Yankees. “Those are people that I love and care about a lot. But at the same time it’s also the nature of the business. There are tough decisions that have to be made. That’s a reality we have to face every year, some years they hit you a little harder…my relationships with those guys remain strong and I know they’ll land on their feet wherever the road ends up next in their baseball life, but the relationship I have with those guys will last forever.”
Nevin was hired by the Angels to be their third base coach and when Joe Maddon was fired June 7 — five days after they were in the Bronx — he took over as interim manager.
MORE BULLPEN MANEUVERS
After Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the A’s, the Yankees optioned right-hander Luke Bard back to Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees needed to make room on the 26-man roster to activate Clay Holmes off the injured list.
Bard pitched a scoreless inning Sunday. Greg Weissert, the rookie who was the other candidate to be optioned, pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three on Sunday. It was a dramatic rebound from his major league debut on Thursday where he hit two batters with his first two pitches and had a balk in between. He recorded one out in that game and was responsible for three runs.
Boone admitted that Weissert’s performance on Sunday factored into the decision.
“We felt like Weissert was right now,” Boone said.
The Yankees also placed Marwin Gonzalez on the paternity list and recalled Tim Locastro from Triple-A Scranton.