The New York Yankees swept the AL East rival Red Sox in a doubleheader Tuesday and moved into postseason position for the first time since May 29. On Wednesday, they will welcome back Anthony Rizzo and Aroldis Chapman. Rizzo is returning from the COVID-19 list and Chapman is returning from a minor elbow issue. The Yankees announced both players have been activated.
"All this feels a lot better than expected," Rizzo said after taking batting practice and working out on the field Tuesday. "(Having COVID) sucked ... Achy and tired. I'd just get up and try to move around and get tired and everything hurts."
Rizzo's return means Luke Voit, who drove in three runs in Tuesday's doubleheader and led baseball with 22 home runs last year, is a man without a defined role. Injuries have limited Voit to 39 games this year (he was on the injured list at the time of the Rizzo trade), and because he and Rizzo are first base-only players, getting them both into the lineup will take some creativity.
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"I was top 10 MVP last year and I've been a great player for this organization for the last three years," Voit said Tuesday. "I'm not going down (to Triple-A). I want to play. Obviously, I know it will be tough with Rizzo, but I deserve to play just as much as he does. I led the league in home runs last year. I feel really good again."
After being relegated to DH duty earlier this season, Giancarlo Stanton has started in the outfield eight times in the last 19 games. The Yankees could put Rizzo at first, Voit at DH, Stanton in right field, Aaron Judge in center, and Joey Gallo in left. Judge has played nine games in center this season, and Gallo has experience at the position as well.
"Luke and I have talked," manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, Wednesday afternoon. "... Bottom line is, Luke is going to play a big role for this team moving forward."
As for Chapman, the longtime closer hit the injured list two weeks ago, after struggling through much of the previous two months. He owns a 3.63 ERA in 39 2/3 innings this season overall, and has an 8.10 ERA in 16 2/3 innings dating back to June 10.
Rizzo, 32, went 9 for 32 (.281) with three home runs in nine games with the Yankees before landing on the COVID list. The Yankees acquired Rizzo in a three-player trade with the Cubs at the July 30 deadline.
To make room for Rizzo and Chapman on the roster, the Yankees optioned outfielder Jonathan Davis and righty Brody Koerner to Triple-A.