Zack Britton made his return from a strained hamstring on Tuesday and pitched a perfect eighth in the Yankees’ 5-3 win over the Rays at the Stadium.
“It’s been 10-12 days since I’d been in a game,’’ said Britton, who had last pitched Aug. 19. “It was good to get out there in a close game and preserve that for [Aroldis Chapman] and get the win. It was a good first time out.”
The Yankees also got more catching depth with Kyle Higashioka back from an oblique injury. He went 0-for-3.
Though there still is no timetable for when Aaron Judge (calf) or Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) might be back, Gleyber Torres could be just days away.
It won’t be a moment too soon for a Yankees team that is relying on Tyler Wade — and potentially Thairo Estrada — to fill in at shortstop in Torres’ absence.
Aaron Boone said Torres could be heading to the team’s alternate site in Scranton in the next few days to play some simulated games and get at-bats.
“Shortly after he’ll be in play for us,’’ Boone said prior to Tuesday’s game. “I think it’s around the corner.”
Getting Torres back in the lineup would no doubt help, but he was having a rough season even before the injury, struggling both at the plate and in his transition back to shortstop.
Without him, though, the Yankees turned to Jordy Mercer on Monday before the team designated the veteran infielder for assignment Tuesday.
Right-hander Miguel Yajure, who made his MLB debut on Monday and tossed three scoreless innings, was optioned to the alternate site. The moves were necessitated because of the return of Britton and Higashioka.
The moves leave the Yankees with three catchers, as Erik Kratz remained on the roster.
Kratz caught Deivi Garcia’s first MLB start on Sunday and guided the right-hander through six impressive innings. The two had been batterymates in the minors with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and with the 21-year-old in line to make another start in Friday’s doubleheader in Baltimore, having Kratz behind the plate again figures to help.
It also bears watching how it impacts Gary Sanchez, who has been mired in a brutal slump and was hitless on Tuesday. He served as the DH after taking a foul ball off his right hand while behind the plate in Monday’s loss.
“With [Higashioka] back and the luxury of having three catchers on the roster, we can be aggressive,’’ Boone said. “While we have guys down [on the IL], we can use the DH spot to get Gary off his feet a couple times a week.”
Asked how long they might keep three catchers, Boone said: “I don’t know. If this year has taught us anything, it’s things change every day.”
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