Giancarlo Stanton planned to play this season leaner with the hope less weight on a large frame would help him avoid the injuries that limited him to 18 regular season games and five in the postseason last year.
Then he suffered a calf strain at the beginning of spring training, but that didn’t deter the Yankees’ DH from shedding weight.
“That was my plan without a pause,’’ Stanton said prior to Sunday night’s 9-7 win over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium where he went 0-for-2 with two walks and scored a run.
Stanton will be 31 in November, so he isn’t considered a candidate for the “The older a player gets the lighter he should be’’ chorus. Yet, after self-examination he is leaner.
“I had a lot of time to think last year and just wanted to cover my bases,’’ said Stanton, who was on the injured list from April 1 to June 18 with a strained right biceps and went back on the shelf on June 26 with a sprained right knee that kept him out until Sept. 18. “Try to figure out what the best way for me to stay on the field and progress. Thought this was a good time to get closer to my younger years, the weight of my younger years.’’
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Stanton said he shed 20 pounds and the early results have been very good since he was hitting .288 (8-for-23) with two homers, six RBIs and a 1.160 OPS in seven games entering Sunday night’s game.
According to Aaron Boone, Aroldis Chapman could throw a bullpen session Monday.
“We will see where he is at [Sunday],’’ Boone said of his left-handed closer who is on the COVID-19 IL but back with the Yankees following two negative tests. “He is doing great, everything has gone well. He has thrown back-to-back days and the hope is he will get back on the mound [Monday].’’
Gerrit Cole starts Monday night against the Phillies and will be followed by James Montgomery and Masahiro Tanaka in the following two games.
James Paxton vanished after three innings Sunday night and the Yankees needed a three-run eighth inning to beat the Red Sox, 9-7.
However, Mike King, Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton worked six innings after Paxton left and gave up two runs, three hits and fanned seven. Britton ended the game with a perfect ninth and is 3-for-3 in save chances filling in for Chapman.
A very solid outing in a pitchers’ major league debut doesn’t guarantee stardom, but Nick Nelson’s three shutout relief innings in Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium reaffirmed what Boone saw in the right-hander during spring training 2.0.
“Late in summer camp he really got my attention with one of his live [batting practices] where I was able to stand behind [the mound] and it was the best I had seen him throw. He followed it up in one of the sim games where he threw well again,’’ Boone said of the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder who was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of Gulf Coast State College. “He kind of pushed himself into the conversation. Obviously we went to him early in the season bringing him up. It took him a while to get his first game action but he delivered in a big way. I look forward to him being able to get back out there again.’’
After Paxton didn’t get out of the second inning on July 25 against the Nationals in Washington, Boone used his bullpen for seven frames and needed reinforcements from the alternate training site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Outfielder Clint Frazier and reliever Ben Heller were shipped out and right-hander Brooks Kriske and Nelson elevated to the big leagues. Kriske worked a scoreless inning last Wednesday against the Orioles in a 9-3 win and Nelson was the winner Saturday night.
In the first two games of the season, the Yankees went 3-for-17 (.176) with runners in scoring position but entered Sunday night’s action with 10 hits in the previous 29 at-bats (.345). They upped that to .371 (13-for-35) by going 3-for-6 against the Red Sox.