Yankees Notebook: Chris Gittens could get the call up to play first

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DETROIT — Power-hitting Chris Gittens should get his major league shot soon. The 27-year-old who is crushing it at Triple-A is “very much” on the Yankees radar. Gittens is a true first baseman who is slashing .268/.464/.634 with a 1.098 OPS. He’s hit four home runs and three doubles in 41 at-bats with Scranton this season.

“He’s very much on the radar. And we’re following,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We know he’s swinging the bat really well to start the season,  which follows up what he’s done really the last couple of seasons. [He] had a strong spring training with us, so he’s very much on our radar.”

And he should be with the Yankees getting little offensive production from the position. With Luke Voit making his second trip to the injured list, this time with a strained oblique, the Yankees are not getting much offense from first base. They are last in the majors in average (.175), second to last in slugging (.242) and 27th in OPS (.551).

Sunday, in the series finale against the Tigers at Comerica Park, Boone gave Miguel Andujar, who went 1-for-4, his second career start there.

But he did not seem committed to that going forward.

“Obviously, with the lefty going today, I wanted to get a lot of righties in there and create an opportunity for him to get in there. So we’ll just see. It’s definitely fluid for us right now, and just kind of played some matchups. There’s opportunities out there for people to take advantage of, but we’ll see how it unfolds.”

Andujar is looking to stick somewhere after losing his everyday third base job to Gio Urshela in 2019 when he missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. In 2018, however, Andujar was the American League Rookie of the Year runner up, slashing .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs. Since the shoulder injury, Andujar has not been able to replicate those numbers. He went into Sunday’s game hitting .224/.224/.241 with just one extra-base hit, a double.

Gittens is not on the 40-man roster, but that could be easily taken care of by moving Corey Kluber — who is expected to miss at least eight weeks — to the 60-day DL.

Boone said they may have a clearer picture of Kluber’s injury and prognosis this week. Initially diagnosed with a strained muscle, Kluber has had more imaging on the shoulder and has sought out second and third opinions.

“We should have a good idea hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday, about what exactly we think we’re dealing with and what the steps forward are from there,” Boone said.

SEVERINO CLOSER TO GAME ACTION

Luis Severino, who is expected back from Tommy John surgery within the next two months, could be starting his minor league rehab assignment as early as the end of next week, Boone said.

“Basically, he’s on a six day rotation right now. He threw a side the other day and I think he has three (simulated innings) and then I think his next one could be in a game scenario,” Boone said.

THE PROBLEM IN CENTER

Tyler Wade got his first career big league start in center field Sunday. With the Yankees’ lack of depth being tested by injuries this season, Boone put him out there to give Brett Gardner his first day off since May 7.

“He’s certainly someone that I feel comfortable putting anywhere on the field defensively,” Boone said. “Obviously can’t run Gardy out there every single day. Hopefully he can provide a little bit of a spark for us at the bottom and then run around and do his thing on defense.”

The Yankees center field situation got thrown into the fire this month when Aaron Hicks suffered a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist and needed surgery. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. That came after the Yankees had dealt Mike Tauchman to the Giants for Wandy Peralta, leaving the 37-year-old Gardner as the only true center fielder on the roster.

Wade, valued for his speed and defense, does have center field experience. He has played there in five games in the big leagues — but no starts. In the minors, Wade has played 21 games in center.

Wade is a defensive stopgap off the bench for the Yankees, who is hitting .281/.324/.344  in 34 plate appearances this season. The 26-year-old is a career .198/.279/.305 hitter over parts of five seasons in the big leagues.

The only other true center fielder the Yankees have on their 40-man roster is Estevan Florial, who the Yankees demoted back to Scranton after he went 1-for-4 with a double in Thursday night’s win over the Blue Jays.

Florial, 23, is a left-handed bat with potential power. His hit on Thursday was an opposite-field double off the wall. He has speed. Florial has also been a streaky hitter throughout his career with a high strikeout rate. In 75 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Florial has already struck out 22 times.

Boone had also talked about using Clint Frazier in center at some point this season.

The Yankees are last in the majors in OPS (.578), batting average (.190) and slugging  percentage (.302) at the center field position.

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