Yankees’ starting first baseman dodges serious injury

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics, anthony rizzo
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have delivered impressive performances in their last two games against the Oakland Athletics, scoring 10 or more runs in each.

As the team basks in the momentum, they prepare for their upcoming series against another team experiencing struggles, the St. Louis Cardinals. The support from the Yankees’ offense, especially their high-profile veterans, is a promising sign for their production moving forward.

Injury Scare for Anthony Rizzo

However, a scare gripped the Yankees when their starting first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, was struck by a pitch on Thursday. In response to the incident, Manager Aaron Boone removed Rizzo from the game. The decision to send Rizzo for X-rays was taken as a precaution to rule out any fractures.

Fortunately, the team breathed a sigh of relief when the X-rays returned negative. Boone has stated that Rizzo will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. However, Rizzo is likely to take Friday off, which would likely result in DJ LeMahieu stepping in at first base and Josh Donaldson at third base.

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Rizzo: A Valuable Player for the Yankees

Rizzo has distinguished himself as one of the Yankees’ top players this season, even at the age of 33. Following his two-year, $40 million extension with a 2025 club option, Rizzo solidified his place in New York. This was an effortless decision for him, especially after the extension of Aaron Judge, one of Rizzo’s closest friends on the team.

This season, Rizzo is boasting a batting average of .269 with a .357 OBP. His record also includes 11 homers, 37 RBIs, a 21.9% strikeout rate, an 8.8% walk rate, and a 123 wRC+. Although Rizzo may not match his career-high home run count of 32 from 2022, he is still delivering a strong season, consistently getting on base and fortifying the Yankees’ offense.

Rizzo’s Defensive Prowess

Defensively, “The Italian Stallion” maintains a .993 fielding percentage at first base across 623.2 innings, incurring just four errors. Remarkably, he has recorded three defensive runs saved and five outs above average, demonstrating his best performance in these categories since 2017.

Despite a recurring back injury that has demanded significant care over the past seasons, Rizzo remains one of the healthiest and most positively influential players on the Yankees’ roster. A day of rest could help alleviate any swelling resulting from the hit-by-pitch (HBP). Given Rizzo’s crucial role in the Yankees’ offense, they can’t afford to lose him.