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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/18/19

Yankees zeroing in on Paxton return date, could use opener; Teammates willed Voit out of slump; One Yankee among 5 most indispensable players in AL East; NYY wanted to sign Kendrys Morales years ago; One Yank named 1⁄4 season All-Star starter.

Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton suffered an MCL injury on May 3rd, but the southpaw is nearing a return to action.
Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton suffered an MCL injury on May 3rd, but the southpaw is nearing a return to action.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports | James Kratch: The Yankees are zeroing in on a date for James Paxton to return to action. After suffering an MCL injury on May 3rd, the southpaw threw his first bullpen on Tuesday, played catch Wednesday, and got through his second bullpen on Friday with no issues.

“It went well today. He warmed up, then sat down, then got up and pitched an inning, sat down and then warmed back up, just to get the up-down thing going,” Boone said before Friday night’s game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. “It was another positive step. The next thing will be how he comes in tomorrow. He would throw potentially another side (session) Sunday, and if that goes well, there’s a chance we’ll possibly insert him somewhere on the road trip.”

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: Since Paxton will not be activated until the next road trip at the earliest, the Yankees could deploy the opener strategy against the Rays on Sunday.

“It kind of depends on these next couple days, how it goes. It could be just a full bullpen day,” Boone said. “It will depend on who we use here the next couple of days, but it will probably be something along those lines on Sunday.” | Brendan Kuty: Yankees first baseman Luke Voit gives his teammates credit for willing him out of his recent slump. Voit had been hitless in 22 at-bats before breaking out in a 3-1 win over the Orioles during the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

“A lot of the guys picked me up,” Voit said. “They were like, ‘Keep going. Keep going. It’ll come around.’ And finally — it felt good to hit something hard, kind of open the game up a little for us. I credit my teammates for believing in me and having confidence.” | Dawn Klemish: Klemish names Luke Voit in her piece titled, “The 5 most indispensable players in the AL East.” She credits Voit for carrying the Yankees’ offense for awhile amidst all the injuries. J.D. Martinez, Blake Snell, Marcus Stroman, and Mychal Givens also made her list.

New York Post | George A. King III: King reports that the Yankees wanted to sign Kendrys Morales many years ago. The club was very interested in signing the switch-hitting slugger in December of 2004 as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic after he defected from Cuba. Money got in the way, though, as the Angels offered Morales a lot more.

“We had interest. We thought he would hit home runs at Yankee Stadium,” said Mark Newman, the former head of the Yankees minor league system. “I don’t remember what it was, but it was big,” Newman said of the Angels’ offer that Morales accepted. | Will Leitch: Finally, named the starters of their quarter-season All-Star team. Catcher Gary Sanchez was the only Yankees player to garner the honor.