Yankees’ veteran infielder takes big step toward return

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees, dj lemahieu
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ offense has been on a tear recently, and it’s about to get even stronger with the return of DJ LeMahieu, who has just begun a rehab assignment after recovering from a foot injury.

Yankees’ Infield Boost with DJ LeMahieu’s Return

LeMahieu, aged 35, injured his right foot by fouling a ball off it during spring training. Initially, he attempted to return two weeks ago but had to leave after just one at-bat due to discomfort. The Yankees then sent him back to New York for further imaging, which thankfully indicated that he just needed a bit more recovery time.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Oct 1, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) hits a single against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Encouraging Signs from Rehab

This past Friday, DJ LeMahieu played his first successful rehab game with Double-A Somerset, going 1-for-2 at the plate. He also spent three innings in the infield, demonstrating significant progress in his recovery. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone confirmed that LeMahieu’s rehab went well, and he anticipates that another week of rehab games will prepare him for a much-awaited return to the major league lineup.

Last season, LeMahieu posted a batting line of .243/.327/.390, with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs. His strikeout rate stood at 22.2%, paired with a 10.7% walk rate and a weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 101.

Notably, his performance improved significantly after the All-Star break, achieving a .273 batting average and a .377 on-base percentage, including eight home runs and 17 RBIs. Despite his ability to hit consistently and make solid contact, the Yankees have currently positioned Anthony Volpe at the lead-off spot in his absence.

While some advocate for LeMahieu to reclaim his top-order position upon his return, Volpe’s recent form suggests he will likely retain his spot with little contest. The upcoming games will determine how the Yankees integrate LeMahieu back into their lineup, considering the dynamic changes and current momentum.

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