ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo will miss a pivotal three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend after getting an epidural shot for lingering lower back pain.
DJ LeMahieu started Friday night in place of Rizzo, who got the injection a day earlier in California. The Yankees completed a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
New York also lost outfielder Andrew Benintendi with a right wrist injury in the third inning of Friday night’s game. He was hurt on a swing, and afterward shook his right hand and wrist and immediately walked toward the Yankees’ third-base side dugout.
The left fielder will have X-rays.
Rizzo will rehab Saturday and Sunday in New York and possibly resume baseball activities Monday. Manager Aaron Boone hasn’t ruled out the slugger returning Tuesday.
“Really optimistic that this is going do the trick and be what helps him moving forward,” Boone said before the series opener with the Rays. “This is something that should give him a lot of relief the rest of the way this season.”
The 33-year-old Rizzo has hit 30 home runs this season. He’s batting .225 with 71 RBIs.
New York, which once held a 15 1/2-game lead in the AL East, started Friday six up on the Rays.
LeMahieu, meanwhile, has been bothered by a toe injury.
Three injured starting pitchers are making progress.
Righty Jameson Taillon, hit on the right forearm by a batted ball Tuesday, felt fine after throwing the past two days and expects to make his next scheduled start early next week.
“Still need to throw a bullpen (Saturday) but as far as I am concerned I should be on schedule,” Taillon said. “The swelling has gone a lot, still a little bruised but it feels good.”
Right-hander Luis Severino, out since July 14 with a right lat strain, allowed one hit and struck out three over two scoreless innings for Single-A Tampa this week. Left-hander Nester Cortes, out with a strained left groin, is scheduled to face hitters Saturday at the Yankees minor league complex in nearby Tampa, Fla.
Center fielder Harrison Bader, who hasn’t played with New York since being acquired from St. Louis for lefty Jordan Montgomery at the trade deadline due to right foot plantar fasciitis, is working out in New York.
Boone said Bader’s running progression is continuing and he is doing baseball activities.
“The big test for him will be over the next week, the final running progression,” Boone said. “He’s doing really well.”
Reliever Aroldis Chapman, on the IL due to a leg infection from a tattoo, is playing catch.
Yankees SS prospect Oswald Peraza, recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Thursday when rosters were expanded, could make his first major league start Saturday.
“I mean, you’re short for words when you hear that you’re finally going into the big leagues,” Peraza said through an interpreter. “You might have an opportunity to play short for the Yankees. I am short for words to explain how I felt in the moment, thinking about the path, all the different levels to get here playing the sport since I have been a little kid. So yeah, very exciting.”
Boone said when Peraza plays is a fluid situation and added that Isiah Kiner-Falefa remains the starting shortstop.
Peraza may also get playing time at second.