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Yankees call up outfielder Trey Amburgey, activate Zack Britton

Amburgey and Britton will fill the roster spots of Nestor Cortes and Wandy Peralta, who went to the COVID-19 IL.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ second half begins tonight with a pivotal four-game series against the Red Sox. If they have any hope of fully returning to the American League playoff picture, they need to get going in a hurry because a 46-43 record won’t cut it.

Perhaps seeking a shot in the arm, the Yankees are calling up one of their top Triple-A performers: outfielder Trey Amburgey. It’s part of a series of moves involving relievers who can’t pitch right now, but still, it’s the conclusion of a remarkable ascent for the righty hitter, who was a 13th-round draft pick back in 2015. He slowly made his way through the minors, jumping up a different level every season until batting .274/.329/.494 with 22 homers in 134 games for Triple-A Scranton in 2019.

Once the minor leagues returned in May of this year after the cancelled 2020, Amburgey caught fire. The 26-year-old has hit .312/.379/.582 with 7 homers in 38 games, good for a 149 wRC+, the seventh-best mark among all Triple-A East players with at least 150 plate appearances. In fact, he homered just last night:

Another highlight for Amburgey has been his on-base streak, one that actually began in 2019. From the very end of that season until July 11th of this year, he reached base in an impressive 42 consecutive games — not bad at all.

Joining Amburgey and back with the big-league team is setup man Zack Britton, who is a sight sore eyes. After spring surgery to remove bone chips, the lefty only made it into five games before landing back on the injured list with a hamstring injury. The good news is that it wasn’t a bad one and that Britton only missed a few weeks.

The bad news is that the Yankees are now down three arms because of COVID-19 protocols. Jonathan Loaisiga was sent to the COVID-19 IL after last Friday’s game in Houston, and now, swingman Nestor Cortes and reliever Wandy Peralta are joining him there.

Manager Aaron Boone said last weekend that Loaisiga was “feeling good,” so hopefully, that’s still the case and that it’s true for these two pitchers as well. The Yankees are over 85-percent vaccinated and first-base coach Phil Nevin has talked about how that helped him during his early-season bout with COVID. We will keep you updated with any word from the team. Cortes had been making starts in the Yankees’ rotation, so they’ll have to line up these four game against Boston without him.

Back on the topic of Amburgey though, is he likely to be a huge difference-maker on the 2021 Yankees? No, that seems like a long shot. However, the outfield desperately needs a boost with Brett Gardner still showing his age and both Clint Frazier and Miguel Andújar on the injured list. If Amburgey can come up and catch lightning in a bottle for a few weeks while the Yankees peruse the trade market, then sign me up.

If nothing else, at least the Yankees made old friend Erik Kratz happy. The former backup catcher is a big Amburgey fan, and given how long he worked to make it to the majors, it has to be a satisfying moment.