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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 9/24/19

Sanchez aims for ALDS return; Encarnacion recovery finally creates logjam; Didi struggling with consistency; Gardner and Judge enjoying home run race

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN | Marly Rivera: Gary Sanchez continues to make progress in his recovery from a strained groin, but the Yankees are playing it cautious with their star catcher. Aaron Boone wouldn’t commit to a timeline for Sanchez’s return, but said that he is getting more confident that he will be back by the playoffs, with a slight possibility of returning in the season finale against Texas. Sanchez is a crucial piece of the puzzle for the Yankees and has already had a couple injury scares, so no need to rush here. | Randy Miller: The other bat returning for the Yankees is Edwin Encarnacion, and the good news is that it looks like Encarnacion will be back in time to play in the final road trip of the regular season. Encarnacion’s return does mean that Boone will face some decisions with starting time, in a rare twist on the season’s narrative. Boone will have to find time to split between Encarnacion as well as Luke Voit and Gio Urshela, who are both going through slumps at the moment.

New York Post | Dan Martin: On a more individual note, Didi Gregorius has been struggling at several stretches since debuting midway through the season. Gregorius’ timing has been off at the plate this year, a byproduct of not getting a healthy offseason or spring training, but he has remained the steadfast presence at shortstop. Didi hasn’t been awful by any stretch of the imagination, but he hasn’t been able to get on a streak and he’s running out of time to find one.

New York Post | Dan Martin and Ken Davidoff: Time is almost out for another facet of this season: the inexplicable home run race between Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Gardner leads Judge by one bomb entering the final five games of the season, and both players are enjoying the friendly competition as a source of motivation.