Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu a ‘long shot’ for Opening Day with Anthony Rizzo nearing return


MEXICO CITY — Aaron Boone sounded confident that Anthony Rizzo will be in the Yankees’ lineup on Opening Day on Thursday in Houston, but less so on DJ LeMahieu.

The veteran corner infielders are dealing with injuries in the final days of camp, with Rizzo sidelined since Friday with a tight lat and LeMahieu hobbled by a significant bone bruise on his right foot after fouling a ball off it on March 16.

Rizzo could potentially play in the Yankees’ Grapefruit League finale Monday in Tampa, Boone said Sunday, but LeMahieu is further away from game action, even after progressing to taking outdoor batting practice Sunday.

“DJ’s still not there,” Boone said before the Yankees faced Diablos Rojos del Mexico at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú. “Did some more things today, but still pretty sore dealing with it.

“He’s probably a little more of a long shot for Opening Day, but we’ll see. As days go off the calendar, it just depends how he improves each and every day.”

Asked if an injured list stint was possible for LeMahieu, Boone said it “could be, but I don’t know.”

“If it’s only a couple of days [he would miss], then maybe not,” Boone said. “Obviously don’t have to make that decision for a few more days still.”

If an IL stint is necessary, the Yankees could backdate it three days and potentially have LeMahieu back in time for their home opener on April 5. In that case, Oswaldo Cabrera would likely serve as the Yankees’ starting third baseman for Opening Day on Thursday against the Astros.

“These next three-four days will tell us a lot,” Boone said.

The prognosis on Rizzo was better for the Yankees.

“I expect [Rizzo] to be ready to go Opening Day,” Boone said.

Marcus Stroman was sharp in his final spring tuneup, tossing six scoreless innings against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla. The right-hander struck out five and scattered four hits and two walks while building his pitch count up to 85.

“I felt like my mechanics were the best they’ve been all spring, so that’s honestly what I’m happiest with,” Stroman said. “I felt the most comfortable on the rubber with my fluidity. Felt like I was getting to the same positions. I felt most consistent today out of all my outings.”

Stroman, who is scheduled to start the third game of the season on Saturday against the Astros, said he has had a “great” spring in his introduction to the Yankees.

“I feel very settled,” he said. “When I’m calm and fluid, I’m usually pretty dangerous on the mound.”

The Yankees optioned relievers Ron Marinaccio and Nick Ramirez and starter Cody Poteet to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and reassigned Will Warren to minor league camp.

That essentially leaves right-handers Clayton Beeter, Nick Burdi and Dennis Santana vying for the final two bullpen spots.

— Additional reporting by Joel Sherman in Bradenton, Fla.


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