Yankees’ 3rd baseman DJ LeMahieu makes season debut batting 9th

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — DJ LeMahieu made his season debut for the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.

Albeit in a spot in the batting order he hasn’t seen in awhile.

LeMahieu batted ninth and went 0 for 3 with a walk in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. After drawing a walk in the fifth inning, he did score on Austin Wells’ double to give New York a 3-2 lead it couldn’t hold.

“I thought he had four good at-bats. No hits to show for and the walk, but four good at-bats,” manager Aaron Boone said.

With leadoff hitter Anthony Volpe on the longest hitting streak by a Yankees’ batter in 12 years, manager Aaron Boone decided to have LeMahieu at the bottom of the lineup.

It was the first time since March 31, 2019, at Baltimore, that LeMahieu batted ninth. Which was just fine to him.

“I wouldn’t change a whole lot with our offense right now,” LeMahieu said after being activated off the 60-day injured list. “I’m looking forward to it and lurking down there in the bottom of the order. I came up hitting in the eight and nine hole. I haven’t hit there in awhile but it’s not too foreign.”

The 35-year-old third baseman missed the Yankees’ first 55 games due to a non-displaced fracture of his right foot. LeMahieu suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off his foot during a spring training game on March 16.

Even without the two-time batting champion, the Yankees had the AL’s best record at 37-18.

Boone said he talked to LeMahieu for a couple days about not batting in his traditional leadoff spot. The reason is Volpe has a 20-game hitting streak, the longest by a Yankee since Robinson Canó’s 23-game run in 2012.

“He’s just excited to get back and play with this group. It is a testament to who he is,” Boone said about LeMahieu. “This is a guy who already has had an amazing career with the Yankees and the unselfishness to completely not make it about him wasn’t surprising.”

LeMahieu came into Tuesday’s game with a .312 batting average in the 29 games he batted ninth during his major league career.

LeMahieu returns to a Yankees’ offense that lead the majors in home runs (82), on-base percentage (.334) and OPS (.771) along with being third with a .257 batting average.

“I feel good. The last couple weeks I have been able to ramp up with baseball stuff,” he said. “I would have rather been playing, but obviously it has been a special start to the season so looking forward to being a part of it.”

Boone said he plans on LeMahieu being in the lineup for all three games of the Angels’ series and Friday’s series opener in San Francisco before giving him a couple days off.

LeMahieu won the AL batting title during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with a .364 average, but has hit just .258 in the last three seasons. He batted a career-low .243 last season.

Despite that, Boone is happy to have someone with LeMahieu’s versatility back in the lineup.

“It’s just a consistent quality at bat, an elite defender. Defensive versatility too, to be able to play a few positions along the infield,” Boone said. “With the way the guys are swinging the bat as a group, it’s a chance to really make it a long lineup.”

To make room for LeMahieu, infielder Kevin Smith elected free agency instead of being optioned back to the minors.


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