Double boost for Yankees’ lineup as Anthony Rizzo, Harrison Bader return

Anthony Rizzo returns to Yankees' lineup

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MILWAUKEE, Wisc., — Anthony Rizzo is starting Sunday’s game while Harrison Bader is likely to return for Tuesday’s home game against the Pirates. The Yankees’ lineup is to get a double-star boost as the Major League enters its last few weeks.

Injuries have played havoc on the Yankees’ lineup. The team has to bring forth the backup as 15 of its stars were out at a time. But with playoffs nearing, many of them are ready to return.

On Friday, Aaron Boone used a patchwork lineup in Milwaukee. The Brewers win 7-6 after recovering from a five-run deficit. Marwin Gonzalez started his eighth straight game at first base because Boone has no other good options with Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu injured. Oswaldo Cabrera has been working out there in pre-game, but it’s a new position for him.

By Sunday, there might be a better option for Boone, since Rizzo is expected to come back and start the last game of the series against the Brewers.

After the off day next Monday, Harrison Bader should be able to come off the disabled list and play his first game for New York on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium against the Pirates. This would be a big boost for the Yankees’ lineup.

Rizzo hasn’t played since September 1 because of back problems and migraines. On Friday, he hit against Scott Effross in rehab in a live bullpen session at American Family Field, and he felt and looked good.

According to Boone:

“I think what I’m excited about is how good he feels, Boone said of Rizzo. He’s been grinding with that back since before he went on the IL, the better part of three or four weeks. This (time off) seems to, in his mind, have done the trick.”

The Yankees plan to give Bader the starting centerfield job, move Aaron Judge back to right field from center, and put Cabrera in left field as soon as he’s ready. This is another new job. Cabrera has been starting in the right field most of the time since the last week of August. Before being called up from Triple-A on August 17, he had never played there. He has done well at right, so the Yankees hope he will do the same at left.

Aaron Hicks will continue to play left field for the Yankees until Andrew Benintendi comes back from his recent wrist surgery if he comes back. Hicks will start in left field for the games on Wednesday in Boston and Friday in Milwaukee.

Benintendi might not be able to return to the Yankees’ lineup again before the regular season ends on October 5. The same goes for infielder/outfielder Matt Carpenter, whose broken left foot on August 8 hasn’t healed as quickly as the Yankees would have liked.

Bader arrived in New York after a deadline trade on August 2, but the 2021 Gold Glove winner has been out of action since late June because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Manager Boone is eager to see the 2021’s best defender coming back soon.

Bader played in four rehab games with Double-A Somerset this week, two in center field and two as the designated hitter. He hit 6-for-14 with a home run and four runs batted in. Bader was supposed to take a day off on Friday, play center for Somerset on Saturday and Sunday, and then may return to the Yankees’ lineup on Tuesday.

An elated manager said:

“He’s one of the best defensive centerfielders in the league. That’s what we’re looking forward to getting. He’s got pop, too. I think we’re adding a significant player to our lineup.”

Boone is looking for even more from Rizzo, who is hitting .215 with 30 home runs and 71 RBI in 117 games. He is finally feeling 100% healthy after chronic back pain and headaches. He was out from 9 games in the last two months following tightness in his lower back. He then missed the Yankees’ lineup for the first 13 games in September (counting Friday) because of more back issues and then migraines.

Can Rizzo and Bader boost the Yankees’ lineup and lead the team to the AL pennant?

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