Harrison Bader’s return delayed amid confidence concerns, Yankees expect Tuesday comeback

Harrison Bader of the New York Yankees at his rehab game for Somerset Patriots on June 16, 2023.
Somerset Patriots

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The Yankees’ center fielder Harrison Bader reconsidered his decision to return from the injured list early due to his hamstring strain. Yankees manager Aaron Boone hinted at a potential lack of confidence as the cause for the centerfielder’s delayed return.

Harrison Bader participated in a rehab game with Double-A Somerset on Wednesday, and the original plan was for him to be cleared and return on Friday for the Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

By Friday afternoon, it seemed strange that the Yankees had not made any announcements regarding roster changes. It was expected that Harrison Bader would be activated while infielder/outfielder Oswaldo Cabrera would be sent down to Triple-A. The swap may still happen, but it is now expected to take place early next week instead.

Why does Harrison Bader seek a delayed return?

To everyone’s surprise, Harrison Bader approached the Yankees and requested to play two more rehab games with Somerset. He wanted to ensure he was fully prepared to sprint at full speed while chasing down balls in center field and running the bases.

After hearing Harrison Bader’s request, the Yankees agreed with his decision. They decided that the centerfielder would participate in a game with Somerset on Friday night – if the weather allowed – and another game on Saturday.

Manager Aaron Boone mentioned that the previous rehab game went well. He further explained that Harrison Bader wanted to play another game or two. Boone agreed with the decision, acknowledging the importance of having the confidence to make diving plays at full speed or score from second base with the game on the line. Boone emphasized that Harrison Bader relies heavily on his legs and wants to ensure he is fully prepared for such situations.

“I think just in Harrison’s mind, and we agree wholeheartedly, he’d like to get another game or two and having that feeling, especially for a guy like him who relies on his legs so much, to be able to go make that diving play in the gap at full speed or score from second with the game on the line with a base-hit to left.”

Boone further commented on the importance of having confidence in one’s abilities, particularly when recovering from a hamstring injury. He emphasized the significance of mental readiness and how it can positively impact a player’s performance on the field.

Will it benefit the Yankees?

If Harrison Bader manages to complete this weekend with a sense of increased confidence, he will benefit from Monday’s day off to rest and recover before returning on Tuesday. This is when the Yankees will start a series at their home stadium against the Mariners.

Playing in two more minor-league games could also be beneficial for Harrison Bader in terms of improving his offensive performance. In the game on Wednesday, he didn’t have any hits and struck out twice while playing center field for seven innings.

If the game in Somerset on Friday was affected by rain, Boone indicated that there was a chance Harrison Bader would take part in Double-A games over the weekend. Moreover, there remained the possibility of he being activated and returning from the injured list on Sunday.

The weather forecast predicts rain on Saturday, which means the Yankees and Red Sox game is likely to be canceled. As a result, a day-night doubleheader has been scheduled for Sunday at Fenway Park to make up for the missed game.

According to Boone, he anticipates Harrison Bader’s return on Tuesday. He also mentioned possibly adjusting the schedule and moving the return date earlier.

“I would expect (returning) Tuesday,” Boone said. “We’ll see about moving that up. But right now we’re probably planning on playing (Friday and Saturday).”

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