Giancarlo Stanton making strides, but not ready to return from left quad strain despite being eligible to come off IL

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Giancarlo Stanton is close, but not off the injured list yet. The slugger who went on the injured list with a left quad strain and was eligible to come off Tuesday, instead continued his rehab.

“He’s getting ready to do a pretty heavy day today as far as he’s running bases, hitting and doing everything. He had a really good day Sunday, but hasn’t really run the bases yet,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So he’s getting close.”

Stanton could be activated before the end of this three-game series with the Blue Jays at Yankees Stadium, Boone said.

“Possibly,” Boone added.”But we’re just getting through these final couple of days of final back to playing (stuff) speed and stuff like that. So (running the bases) will be a part of that. Making sure we’re fully past this.”

The Yankees are exceptionally careful with Stanton after his recent injury history. Stanton missed all but 19 regular season games in 2019 with a myriad of injuries and then over half of 2020′s coronavirus pandemic-abbreviated 60-game season with another.

OH BABY, BABY

DJ LeMahieu was not in the lineup Tuesday night as his wife Jordan was giving birth to their first child. That meant Luke Voit was leading off for the second time this season — but Voit’s time there could be limited. Voit’s wife Tori is going to deliver their first child this week.

“It’s really exciting. We actually almost had it on Sunday. We had like a little emergency thing or went to the hospital Sunday morning. But it was all good. We didn’t have it, so the plan is to have it Friday morning or induce Friday morning,” Voit said. “So it’s super exciting. I still don’t know if it’s a boy or girl, which makes my anticipation even crazier. I can’t wait to meet my son or daughter.”

Voit said that there is a chance his wife would go into labor before Friday, but right now the plan is to have the child on Friday, meaning he would miss the three-game trip to Detroit.

The Yankees placed LeMahieu on the paternity list right before Tuesday night’s game, but made no corresponding move. That allows them to bring up a player the next two days if they want.

Voit went 1-for-4.

BRITTON CLOSE

Zack Britton, who had his rehab pushed back last week with soreness, will throw another bullpen on Wednesday and then is in line to begin his minor league rehab stint on Saturday, if all goes well.

Boone said the left-handed set-up man who had surgery to remove a bone chip in his elbow in mid-March will pitch with Double-A Somerset.

“If everything goes well, that bullpen he’ll start on Saturday with Somerset his rehab,” Boone said.

The Yankees planned to have him make about five rehab appearances in the minors before he returns to the big league club.

“We’re thinking about 10 to 12 days from Saturday. We’ll see I mean he’ll pitch Saturday and and probably have two days off pitch again,” Boone said. “Then he’ll have two days off and pitch again. Then go every other day, and then be potentially in the mix for us.”

To ease him back in at the big league level, the Yankees are not thinking of using him in back-to-back situations right away.

FRAZIER IN CENTER

With Aaron Hicks having surgery that could knock him out for the rest of the season, the Yankees have had to lean heavily on Brett Gardner at center field. He’s the only experienced and true center fielder on the roster.

But, Boone said he will give Clint Frazier a chance in center to get Gardner a rest. Frazier is all for it.

“I’m excited,” Frazier said. “Obviously I haven’t played there. I don’t think I’ve played in the big leagues in center field since 2018 against the Mariners. I felt like I handled it pretty well there. I’m gonna have to go out there and continue to get reps,  but centerfield for me as a position I still think to this day is the most played position in my career down in the minor leagues, and obviously the lower levels before that.

“I’m excited and obviously Gardy, he’s gonna need to get a day off here pretty soon.”

Frazier went 2-for-4 Tuesday night with a double. He’s had multiple hits in three of his last five games.

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