ST. PETERSBURG — Isaiah Kiner-Falefa was not in the lineup again on Monday night. The Yankees shortstop missed Sunday’s game with left hamstring soreness.
“He’s pretty encouraged about how he feels today. He’s gonna come out, he’ll take ground balls during BP and we’ll see about his availability tonight if I keep him for an emergency, so I don’t think it’s anything that’s gonna be long term,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Monday night’s series opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field. “I made up the lineup last night and was keeping him out of it.
“But we’re at least encouraged by how he’s doing today, but we’ll see.”
Kiner-Falefa looked to be moving fine as he took ground balls before the game. He indicated that he had a similar “feeling” in his hamstring during the 2020 season and was fine after resting for one day.
It only became apparent that Kiner-Falefa was not available Sunday when Boone was making pinch-hitting moves to try and come back from a one-run deficit in the ninth inning and he did not pinch run Kiner-Falefa for Giancarlo Stanton.
The Yankees used Marwin Gonzalez at shortstop for the second straight start Monday night. The versatile veteran homered on Sunday to give the Yankees their first home run from the shortstop position. He’s able to play every infield position and the outfield.
“It’s been huge. I mean, he’s just given us so much flexibility and seems to do something to help you win a game the times he’s in there,” Boone said of Gonzalez. “He’s played really well at shortstop and it starts there. [He’s] done really well in the outfield. He’s come up with some big hits for us at times. Just kind of that Swiss army knife where he does a lot of things, obviously a switch-hitter, so he’s been really valuable for us.”
Kiner-Falefa has hit .273/.320/.325 with 11 doubles and 18 RBI. He’s been a solid shortstop who makes some tremendously big plays and has had some struggles with the routine. Gleyber Torres has thrived offensively and defensively since they moved him out of the shortstop role to play second base last September. Not wanting to mess with that, Boone used Gonzalez at short Sunday.
Gonzalez is hitting .243/.305/.351 with a home run and five RBI in 82 plate appearances over 35 games this season.
EYES ON THE PEN
The Yankees will have a chance to watch Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman throw on Tuesday. They watched Domingo German throw a bullpen Monday and are getting ready to start his rehab assignment clock on Wednesday.
Chapman, who has been on the injured list with an Achilles issue, will throw to live hitters for the first time at the player development complex in Tampa. He will likely do that a few more times and then need a rehab assignment in the minor leagues, Boone said.
Britton will throw a bullpen for Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake. The lefty is coming back from October elbow reconstruction surgery. Britton is on track for a late-season return, but will rejoin the Yankees and return to New York for the next home stand to work with the big league trainers and pitching coaches.
German, who began the season on the IL with right shoulder impingement syndrome, will start for the Tampa Tarpons on Wednesday night. The right-hander’s rehab clock will start then, meaning he has 30 days to be activated — barring a setback.
Jonathan Loaisiga, on the IL since last month with right shoulder inflammation, threw on flat ground before Monday’s game. He threw at 105 feet, Blake said.
“Lo will probably throw a bullpen when we get back to New York,” Boone said. “One of those first couple of days so he’s doing really well. So yeah, guys are moving in a good direction.”
Source: Berkshire mont