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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/24/23

Rodón rejoins team, plays catch at Yankee Stadium; Squirrel invades field; Bullpen stepping up amid adversity; Looking back at the rise and fall of Hicks; Rortvedt announces that he is a real person.

New York Yankees Pitcher Carlos Rodon Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

New York Daily News | Gary Phillips: After spending the last few months down in Tampa, Carlos Rodón has rejoined the Yankees in New York as he continues to recover from a balky back. The latest news on that front is good news, as the lefty played catch and made throws up to 120 feet at Yankee Stadium yesterday. His back is feeling better as well. While Rodón’s still at least a month away from a true return, as he must face throw bullpens and face live hitters before even beginning a rehab assignment, it’s heartening to see him back with the team and performing baseball activities.

Also on the recovery front, Tommy Kahnle is set to pitch for Triple-A Scranton on Thursday in his third rehab appearance. He says he feels ready now, but the Yankees want him to have at least two more before he returns to the big club since the biceps injury kept him out of spring training.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Due to either injuries or ineffectiveness, the Yankees rotation has often put stress on the bullpen in 2023. But the relief unit has been able to shoulder the load thus far, with numerous players, both high-profile and lower-profile, stepping up to fill in the gaps. Aaron Boone gave his relievers a lot of credit, stating “I try to put them in positions where they can be successful, but ultimately it comes down to them going out there and executing.” This past road trip, five different relievers converted five different save opportunities, perhaps best exemplifying this unit’s ability to find a way to get the job done, whoever happens to be available.

FanGraphs | Jay Jaffe: For those looking for another reaction to the Aaron Hicks DFA, here’s a comprehensive treatise on Hicks’ tenure, and fall, in New York. Jaffe notes that while the Yankees have probably made the right move in simply eating the money still due to Hicks, simply cutting the veteran doesn’t solve the holes remaining on the roster. The amalgamation of Oswaldo Cabrera/Isiah Kiner-Falefa/Jake Bauers in left doesn’t seem likely to hold up for too long, and though the Yankees will get injury reinforcements in the form of Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson, neither will do all that much to boost the club’s production in left. | Kevin Manahan: After spending his first year in the Yankee organization hardly playing due to a variety of injuries, Ben Rortvedt eventually became a meme. Fans frequently joked online that the catcher, acquired as part of the Josh Donaldson trade last March, wasn’t real, what with how often he seemed to disappear. But at last, Rortvedt made his Yankee debut over the weekend, and showed out with two hits against the Reds. He also was a good sport about the jokes regarding his lack of existence, saying “I know it’s a joke, and it’s pretty funny, but I’m just excited to be here and to play ball.”

Also, Andrew covered this last night, but Gerrit Cole notched his 2,000th career strikeout. He’s the third-fastest pitcher in MLB history to reach that plateau and 88th overall.

Lastly, in easily the biggest news from yesterday, a squirrel surprised fans at the Stadium yesterday, scurrying atop the outfield wall. The little guy elicited a number of amusing reactions from the Bronx faithful.