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Around the Empire - Yankees news: 5/26/19

Paxton return accelerating; Didi begins rehab in Single-A Tampa; Yankees following 2018 Red Sox model against low-tier teams; Voit returns to where things began in KC

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports | Bryan Hoch: Following an extended spring game, manager Aaron Boone now believes that James Paxton could return by the next homestand, assuming no further unforeseen complications. Paxton initially described feeling the injury in his knee after pitching, but claimed that if it wasn’t bothering him when he woke up the following day then he would be good to move forward. Apparently that is the case, and the Yankees are soon to be one pitcher deeper in their rotation. | Brendan Kuty: Didi Gregorius began his rehab today, continuing a positive trend on recent injury updates. Gregorius has progressed in the optimal timeline that the Yankees laid out when the shortstop underwent surgery in the offseason, and Boone mentioned that “there is a good chance” that Gregorius doesn’t take the full 20 days to rehab.

NY Post | Kevin Kernan: Last season the Red Sox managed to run away with the division, fending off another 100-win team in the Yankees. A large part of that was due to the Red Sox’ dominance of teams that were clearly inferior, like the Orioles, who went 3-16 against Boston. This year, New York has been the team to put away the bottom-feeders, going 10-2 against Baltimore so far. Teams may complain that the Yankees haven’t faced enough competition yet, but recent evidence has shown that these games matter just as much as games against the Sox or Astros do.

NY Post | Dan Martin: Luke Voit began his major league career with the Cardinals, but the Royals have an interesting tie to the Missouri native as well. The Royals were the first team to draft Voit, after giving him a workout out of high school, but Voit opted for college ball instead. Still, Kauffman Stadium was the first place that Voit got to practice on a major league field, and returning for the first time after establishing himself as a regular in a lineup was a big moment for the slugging first baseman.