The Yankees keep getting good news on the injury front. Harrison Bader, Luis Severino, Scott Effross, and Zack Britton were all activated from stints on the 15-day injured list in the last couple of weeks, and now, it will be DJ LeMahieu’s turn.
The versatile infielder has returned to the active roster in time for this weekend’s home series against the Baltimore Orioles; he’ll bat fifth and play third base tonight. LeMahieu had been dealing with lingering toe inflammation, an ailment that sapped his power and sent him to the IL in early September.
Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees made the following roster moves:— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) September 30, 2022
•Reinstated INF DJ LeMahieu (#26) from the 10-day injured list.
•Optioned OF Tim Locastro to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
As noted in the announcement, outfielder Tim Locastro was demoted to make room for LeMahieu. Locastro had mostly been used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, but the team has also used prospect Oswald Peraza as a frequent pinch-runner and occasional fill-in for Isiah Kiner-Falefa at shortstop. So it seems that they value Peraza’s potential more than Locastro’s spot, even with only a few natural outfielders at their disposal.
There were rumors that LeMahieu could have been activated earlier in the week, but the Yanks preferred to play it safe with their $90 million player.It’s unlikely that LeMahieu is 100 percent healthy at this point, but as Erin noted, the Yankees want him to get at least a few plate appearances in the remaining regular season games with the playoffs in mind.
Although LeMahieu improved on his lackluster 2021, this year has been very up-and-down for the former batting champion. He got off to a great start and hit .279/.383/.403 with a 132 wRC+ in the first half, but his numbers have looked a lot less shiny since he began battling this toe injury. He doubled twice on August 7th in St. Louis and never got another extra-base hit over the next month, batting a dismal .145/.191/.145 — that’s a -5 wRC+. Yikes. Overall, he’s hitting .262/.358/.381 with 74 runs, 12 home runs, 46 RBI, a .740 OPS, and a 117 wRC+.
Having a player of LeMahieu’s potential and postseason experience, however, should be seen as positive news. He will have a handful of games to show he is healthy enough to help in October. If his bat still appears sluggish, then his defensive versatility will at least come in handy.