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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Manny Banuelos knew that eventually, his journey would end with him wearing a Yankees uniform in the big leagues. It just took a lot longer for it to happen. In 2008, Banuelos was signed out of his native Mexico and was considered one of the brightest up-and-coming arms in the Yankees organization. Along with Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances, he was one of the “Killer Bs,” who were going to be the future of the franchise.
Now, as a 31-year-old reliever who has been through injuries and disappointments, Banuelos finally made it.
“It’s huge, it’s huge for me. Everybody knows the story I started here. And a lot of people are telling me that it’s supposed to happen like 10 years ago, but I was late, you know? Never give up,” Banuelos said. “I said yesterday, this is my dream pitch in the big leagues, but with the Yankees and hopefully today’s the day. I can’t wait to be out there and do my best to help the team win.”
Banuelos was activated by the Yankees before Thursday’s series opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field to be in their bullpen because of injuries. Pitching coach Matt Blake said after hearing so much about Banuelos, who was traded from the Yankees to the Braves in 2015, he was surprised he never got to the big leagues with the Yankees.
“It’s a nice story,” Blake said, “but it’s also not just that. He’s absolutely earned his way here.”
In 30 2/3 innings pitched in Triple-A this season, Banuelos has struck out 30 and allowed just eight earned runs.
Banuelos made his big league debut in 2015 with the Braves and made 16 big league appearances with the White Sox. Injuries got in his way and the Killer Bs ended up being just Betances.
“Back then I was very young. And it was very special, because we did a lot of stuff. And everybody was talking about the killer bees. And it was fun,” Banuelos said. “But like I’m saying I was very young. It is just memories now.”
Banuelos is wearing No. 68, the number that Betances last wore with the Yankees, with Betances’ blessing.
DJ LeMahieu tried hitting in the cage before Thursday’s game, but said that just told him that his left wrist wasn’t ready to be back in the lineup yet. The infielder had a cortisone shot in his wrist on Tuesday and had hoped to be able to play in this series.
Thursday afternoon, he was still waiting to see what the next step was. He is still wondering how he hurt himself.
“I don’t know. I know that we had the doubleheader and then I just picked up a bat the next day and it didn’t feel good,” LeMahieu said. “It’s supposed to be 24 to 48 hours, it’s not quite 48 hours yet, so I don’t know.”
Aaron Boone said they would discuss a possible stint on the injured list for LeMahieu after Thursday night’s game.
Britton and German update
Zack Britton is expected to throw his first bullpen session since elbow reconstruction surgery on Tuesday, Aaron Boone said. The Yankees manager said he absolutely expects Britton to be back this season.
The lefty reliever was in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game. He has been recovering from left elbow reconstruction surgery in Tampa.
In other injury news, Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who has been rehabbing from a shoulder issue since spring training, has been facing live hitters in batting practice and is “close,” to getting a rehab assignment.
With the Yankees bullpen losing Aroldis Chapman (Achilles), Chad Green (Tommy John) and Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder), German could possibly be a reinforcement when he is ready.
Doing their part
The Yankees and Rays used their social media channels in coordination during Thursday’s game to give facts about gun violence in America as a reaction to the tragic mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y. The Rays also made a $50,000 donation to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Rays reliever Brooks Raley is from Uvalde and went to Robb Elementary School where 19 students and two teachers were murdered by an 18-year old this week.