Anthony Rizzo took another step closer to returning from the COVID-19 injured list Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Rizzo took grounders on the field before the Yankees’ doubleheader against the Red Sox and took batting practice on the field between games.
“All this feels a lot better than expected,’’ Rizzo said.
He declined to put a date on when he expects to be back in the lineup. He said he wants to see how he recovers from Tuesday’s work, since it was the first time he felt well enough for baseball activities.
Whenever Rizzo does return, he’ll slide back into first base, but Luke Voit — who has had a mostly miserable season — was key to the Yankees winning both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader over the Red Sox in The Bronx. He hit a go-ahead single in the 5-3 win in the opener and a go-ahead homer in the nightcap, a 2-0 Yankees win.
Voit made it clear he expects playing time, even when Rizzo is healthy.
“I finally feel like I’m hitting my stride after getting a week’s worth of games under me,’’ Voit said. “I’ve been a great player for this organization for the last three years. I’m not going down. I want to play and I deserve to play just as much as he does. I feel really good again. The injury bug is the reason he’s here, because of me. … I hope [manager Aaron Boone] can find me some consistent at-bats.”
Voit pointed to his top-10 finish in the AL MVP voting a year ago, when he led the majors with 22 homers.
“The bottom line is he’s in a good spot,” Boone said of Voit, who has nine RBIs in his past nine games. “He’s a good player and we’re gonna need everyone.’’
One way for it to happen is for Giancarlo Stanton to play the outfield, which he did again Tuesday’s nightcap.
Stanton said the transition back to the outfield “has gone better than I thought.”
“The team is in a better spot, in my opinion, if I’m out there, with our offensive flexibility,’’ said Stanton, noting that opens the DH spot for Voit or Rizzo.
Rizzo said he was “knocked out for a solid six, seven days” by the virus before being able to go for walks and to stretch the previous few days. Rizzo also said he still needs to see pitches before he can return.
Boone said he expects Rizzo in the lineup “soon,” perhaps in the next few days if he responds to the “uptick in workload.”
Rizzo said it was “tough” to miss time so soon after arriving in a trade from the Cubs and getting off to an excellent start with the Yankees.
His symptoms began, Rizzo said, when he felt tired following the Yankees’ Aug. 7 win over the Mariners in The Bronx.
A cancer survivor, Rizzo has not been vaccinated.
Overall, he said “everything hurt” when he had the virus.
“I’m grateful it wasn’t worse and I was able to ride the storm and weather it,’’ Rizzo said.