The Yankees without DJ LeMahieu aren’t just worse, they are noticeably inept in some respects. Specifically, LeMahieu offers the team a fantastic lead-off hitter. With Andrew Benintendi signing with the Chicago White Sox this off-season, the Bombers don’t have any alternatives at the ready.
LeMahieu primarily serves as the Yankees’ leadoff man, enjoying solid numbers last season, hitting .256 with a .3580 OBP, 93 eight, 38 RBIs, 56 walks, and 58 strikeouts. Unless manager Aaron Boone is willing to move Aaron Judge up to the top spot in the batting order, there is no other option to supplement a potential loss of DJ. However, recent reports have indicated he is trending in the right direction to be 100% for Opening Day in late March.
According to Dan Martin of the New York Post, Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson is seeing everything he needs from DJ LeMahieu for a 100% Opening Day.
“He looks healthy, whether it’s in the weight room or on defense or hitting. He’s pushing it with everything, and he’s able to do it. If you didn’t know how last year ended, you wouldn’t think anything of it, but we all saw that.’’
DJ LeMahieu has been putting in the work for the Yankees:
DJ has been working diligently down in Tampa for the past few weeks, if not months rehabilitating. The toe injury was undoubtedly a scare since some believed he might require surgery to fix the issue. Nonetheless, LeMahieu took the more natural route, putting in the work to rehabilitate and make sure he was prepared for the 2023 season.
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Defensively, DJ insisted that the toe injury didn’t impact his quality, but in the batter’s box, he wasn’t able to put weight on his back foot, which dragged numbers down significantly after a strong start.
“He’s able to take his swing,’’ Lawson said. “Sometimes when he came out there for batting practice [while he was injured], he’d have to come off his back side and couldn’t really rotate into the ball. That affected how he impacted the ball and swung through it. Now he’s able to do everything he needs to do, whether [the pitch] is inside, outside, up or down. It looks like there was never a problem.”
Despite the injury, LeMahieu still managed to play in 125 games last season, but he was forced to miss the entire postseason when the Yankees needed him most. Losing to the Houston Astros once again certainly hurt, but the Yankees weren’t at full strength, and some fail to recognize that when considering the lack of offensive additions the team has made this off-season.
Getting the star utility man back to full strength is exactly what the Yankees needed to jumpstart their campaign, especially with several youngsters competing for starting roles.
Boone may have to live with early struggles from Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, and even Anthony Volpe, but the long-term results should make it all worthwhile. Aside from his value as an all-around talent, having a veteran presence like DJ in the infield and the batting order is precisely what this team needs.