Slumping Yankees move rookie Ben Rice to No. 4 spot in lineup

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The struggling New York Yankees have moved rookie Ben Rice into the cleanup spot as part of a lineup shake-up for Wednesday night’s game at Tampa Bay.

The Yankees entered the game with a majors-worst 5-16 record since June 15. New York, still in an AL wild-card spot, had the best record at 50-22 through June 14.

Rice is just the sixth player in team history to have at least five homers in his first 19 games. The first baseman homered in Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Rays after becoming the first Yankees rookie to go deep three times in a game on Saturday against Boston.

“Just shaking it up a little bit,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s obviously been stringing together a lot of really good at-bats.”

Alex Verdugo replaced Rice as the leadoff hitter. Juan Soto and Aaron Judge remained second and third, respectively.

“I think his process is strong right now,” Boone said of Rice. “He’s obviously in a very good place. Hopefully provide a little presence in the middle of the order.”

NOTES: Boone confirmed that the Yankees signed left-handed reliever Tim Mayza to a minor league deal. He was released by Toronto on July 5 after going 0-1 with an 8.03 ERA in 35 games this season.

“It’s been a tough year for him, obviously, this year,” Boone said. “He’s been a guy that’s performed really well in the AL East. So, it’s more of a low risk, see what we have and see if at some point he can contribute.”

In seven big-league seasons, Mayza is 20-8 with a 3.87 ERA over 352 games.



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