MLB: Boosted by return of DJ LeMahieu, Yankees to close series with Angels

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DJ LeMahieu has seen his name at the top of the lineup card — either batting leadoff or in the No. 2 hole — more than 1,000 times in his career.

Now, in uniform again with the New York Yankees after a foot injury cost him the first 55 games of the season, the 35-year-old veteran is just glad to be back, and where he hits doesn’t matter.

LeMahieu likely will be in the lineup Thursday night batting ninth and playing third base for the New York Yankees when they wrap up a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.

The Yankees and Angels have split the first two games of the series, and LeMahieu is 1-for-6 with a run.

He returns to a team that has the best record in the American League, with budding star Anthony Volpe entrenched in the leadoff spot. And LeMahieu doesn’t want to upset the chemistry.

“I wouldn’t change a whole lot with our offense right now,” he said before his season debut on Tuesday. “But I’m looking forward to it. I’m just looking forward to being part of the lineup. I’ll lurk down there in the bottom of the order.”

LeMahieu missed the first two months of the season because of a non-displaced fracture in his right foot, suffered March 16 during a spring training game when he fouled a ball off his foot.

It ruined his efforts to find the LeMahieu of old, or at least something similar, considering he has a .292 career batting average and is a two-time batting champion.

He hit just .243 in 136 games last season, the lowest average of his career. So LeMahieu did something about it, spending nearly the entire winter working out at the Yankees’ player development facility in Tampa, Fla. He felt confident going into spring training, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone was considering having him bat leadoff, with Juan Soto, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hitting directly behind him.

It didn’t work out that way, but LeMahieu still hopes to benefit from what he worked on over the winter.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Boone said of LeMahieu’s return. “I just know how much he’s wanted to get back in there and be with these guys and be a part of this. He is already such a big part of it, but I know that getting him back in the lineup and the length he can add to our lineup is great.”

Carlos Rodon (6-2, 2.95 ERA) will make his 12th start of the season for New York on Thursday. Against the Angels, the left-hander has a career mark of 2-4 with a 5.34 ERA and 32 strikeouts in six starts.

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (2-7, 5.60), who will start for the Angels on Thursday, has started 11 games this season and will look for a far better result than his outing, on Friday against the Cleveland Guardians.

Sandoval gave up eight runs in 3 2/3 innings, allowing three home runs among the six hits overall. He also walked four in a 10-4 loss.

“Too much of the strike zone,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “Just couldn’t get the ball where he wanted to get it. I thought at some point, he would straighten it out, but it just didn’t happen.”

Sandoval is 2-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees.

–Field Level Media

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