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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/11/18

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Walker taking reps at 3B; Gardner is the team’s leader; Gardner aging well; Fowler will make his YSIII debut; Comparisons to ‘98 are hard to avoid; McKinney starts rehab

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

New York Daily News | Justin Tasch: Neil Walker has primarily played first base for the Yankees this year, even though he was mainly signed to play second. With Greg Bird on the mend and Gleyber Torres entrenched as the second baseman, if Neil Walker wants to be valuable to the Yankees, his versatility will be key. For a while, it wouldn’t have been crazy to think the Yankees would cut ties with Walker. Since he’s been hitting well of late, they might want to keep him around. As such, he’s been taking grounders and working at third base.

NJ.com | Ed Lucas: Ever since Derek Jeter retired, many have always had fun wondering who the next Yankee captain may be. While no one has been named (nor is there a need for one), the leaders in the clubhouse are very clear. It all starts with Brett Gardner, the longest tenured Yankee. He’s the only current player who played in the old Yankee Stadium. Gardner mentors the younger players in his own way, but it’s definitely clear that everyone in the clubhouse looks up to him.

Beyond the Box Score | Merritt Rohlfing: Another reason for the Yankees to look up to Gardner has been how he’s aged. He’s the type of player that one would assume would age poorly, but he’s 34 and will turn 35 in August and really hasn’t shown signs of decline. He’s been a streaky hitter, but his defense still makes him valuable when he’s going through a slump. He’s aged far better than anyone could have predicted. It’ll be interesting to see what his future with the Yankees holds as he’s a free agent after the year.

MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: Dustin Fowler will finally get to play at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Unfortunately, it’ll be for the opposing team, but as Greg noted the other day, it’s just good to see him back in the majors. After a devastating injury in Guaranteed Rate Field (still a dumb name) ended his season last year before his first MLB at-bat, Fowler finally gets his chance in the majors with the Athletics, who are visiting this weekend.

New York Daily News | John Harper: Even after a tough loss last night, the Yankees have won 17 of their last 19 games. Through an especially tough stretch against the Angels, Astros, Cleveland Baseball Team, and Red Sox, the Yankees went 11-2. Even last night, they didn’t go down quietly and had a four-run rally in the seventh to tie the game. This team is special, no one can deny it. The ‘98 Yankees have become an example of Yankee greatness, but the way this team is playing lately, the comparisons to ‘98 are hard to avoid.

CBS Sports: There really isn’t much to this, but in addition to Greg Bird, Billy McKinney started his rehab assignment with the Tampa Tarpons yesterday. There’s no word on how long his rehab will last, but since there’s no pressing need (or room) for him at the major league level right now, once he’s back to 100%, he’ll likely join the Triple-A RailRiders.