Yankees Notebook: Matt Carpenter back at the top of the lineup vs. Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah

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TORONTO — Last weekend, Aaron Boone joked about how he is able to put Matt Carpenter on a shelf and then take him “out for a spin” once a week. The veteran infielder has proven to be an invaluable bench player for the Yankees so far this season. His ability to stay sharp and effective in limited and sporadic playing time has been impressive.

“When he got to us, after being home for several days, and right away coming in and having impactful at-bats. And then sitting over there again and getting a start and having impactful at-bats regardless of results which have obviously been great,” Boone said. “I mean, it’s just you look at what the quality of the at-bats has been there and he’s in a really good place. I think he’s come in here and immediately fit in with the group and really enjoys being here and has kept himself ready and prepared. Being around as much as he has some of the things he’s worked on in the winter. He just knows how to be ready to go.”

So Saturday, facing the Blue Jays tough right-hander Alek Manoah, Boone had Carpenter leading off a lineup that was stocked with their left-handed hitters.

“Why not? He’s a lefty bat, [controls the zone], obviously swinging great,” Boone said of the choice to lead him off. “Yeah, I just felt like that was the right thing.”

It’s also where Carpenter has hit most of his career. For the former St. Louis Cardinal, it was his 762nd career start leading off.

He’s been effective wherever the Yankees have hit him, or whenever they’ve decided to use him. In 11 games this season, Carpenter has eight hits and six of them are for home runs. He’s driven in 13 runs.

Having a left-handed power option off the bench has helped Boone a lot.

“Huge. And the quality obviously gives us a little more diversity. Again, you’re going up against a guy like Manoah to be able to get another high-end lefty just gives you a good chance,” Boone said.

The Yankees signed Carpenter on May 26 partly because Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton were on the injured list and they needed another bat.

CHAPMAN IN TAMPA

Closer Aroldis Chapman, who is on the injured list with an Achilles issue, was scheduled to throw a live batting practice Saturday at the Yankees’ player development complex in Tampa.

“I think he’ll throw another live [session], assuming everything goes well today, over the next couple of days. Probably Tuesday while we’re down there,” Boone said, referring to the next stop on this six-game road trip when the Yankees play the Rays in St. Petersburg.

Chapman has been on the IL since May 24 and has been working on his delivery as much as rehabbing during this time. He worked with pitching coach Matt Blake on getting some over-rotation out of his delivery last week.

The 34-year-old has lost velocity on all his pitches, including his fastball which now sits around 97 mph. The exit velocity off his pitches has gone up as has the launch angle. Hitters are slugging .418 against him, a jump from .359 last season. He has the lowest K% since 2015 at 22.7% and he’s carrying the highest ERA (3.86) of his career.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have found Clay Holmes to be a very reliable closer in Chapman’s absence. He has converted all 11 of his chances and has not let a team score on him since April 8.

GUEST APPEARANCE

Zack Britton, who had elbow reconstruction surgery in October, is “doing well,” and will join the team to continue parts of his rehab next week in Tampa.

“Zack is throwing bullpens, he’ll throw a bullpen with us in Tampa. Whether it’ll be at the [player development] complex or possibly Tropicana and then he’ll fly back to New York with us. That is the plan,” Boone said. “After that he’ll actually start like a ‘deload’ for like 10 days. But he’s doing really well.”

Britton, who is a free agent after this season, will cut down his throwing and let the arm rest, Boone explained. The lefty is still on track for a possible late-season return.