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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 8/6/21

Star crossed first basemen; midseason prospect lists feature Baby Bombers; Aaron Hicks opens up; late leads slippery across baseball

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: Anthony Rizzo is the toast of New York — and will be featured in this post in a moment — after his first week with the Yankees saw him post an OPS north of 1.300. Meanwhile, the guy who led MLB in home runs just last year has struggled with injury all season, and even though Luke Voit homered on Wednesday night in a rehab start, it’s hard to see a role for him on the major league club. The Yankees will have to make a decision on him soon, whether that’s a creative MLB lineup or optioning him to Triple-A, but if Voit is healthy, we’ve seen that he can hit with the best. | Mark Feinsand: Hey, Anthony Rizzo! The reason why the Yankees have such a tough decision to make on Voit is because Rizzo has been everything the team could want, becoming the first player to drive in a run in his first six Yankee games Wednesday night against the Orioles. Add that to his stabilizing presence at first base and much-needed lefty bat, and it’s hard to argue that he shouldn’t be given every start down the stretch.

ESPN | Kiley McDaniel: Kiley’s the latest to release an update to his 2021 top prospects list. This article is paywalled, unfortunately, but we can tell you that shortstop prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Pereza find themselves in the top 50, while Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells are in a group of about 20 honorable mentions. The small nugget we’ll drop is that McDaniel praised the Yankees’ scouting department in particular on Volpe, whose talent is now shining beyond what many expected from the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Aaron Hicks has been a lightning rod among Yankee fans for some time, bouncing between extremely effective on the field, literally powerless at the plate, and the injured list. He finally spoke up about his wrist sheath injury, the surgery that’s keeping him on the shelf all season, revealing that’s he’s played through various degrees of this injury for three years.

FanGraphs | Chet Gutwein: If one thing is keeping the Yankees out of the playoffs, it’s been the heartbreaking blown wins late in games from the bullpen. If it’s any comfort (it might not be!), it seems as though leads are being blown more and more across baseball in 2021.

The Sporting News | Joe Rivera: Those who have been tracking Team USA in Olympics will be pleased to learn that they’re moving on to the gold-medal game against Japan on Saturday. The Americans beat South Korea in the semifinal, 7-2, thanks in part to former Yankees Todd Frazier and Tyler Austin, who combined for three hits, a walk, and a pair of RBI.

Lastly, this probably won’t be news to any diehard Yankees fan at this point, but Gary Sánchez tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday and was replaced on the roster by Triple-A backup Rob Brantly.

In other transactions, reliever Wandy Peralta came off the COVID-IL, returning to the ‘pen for the first time since the All-Star break. He warmed up at one point last night but did not get into the game, which is probably good since apparently he’ll be leading a bullpen game and starting tonight.

Additionally, Aaron Boone said that first baseman Chris Gittens (sprained ankle) and outfielder Trey Amburgey (strained hamstring) should begin rehab assignments “imminently,” though given that the MLB roster has made significant improvements, it seems likely that they will spend the bulk of their time back in Triple-A.