Giancarlo Stanton is finally back from the injured list, but first-place Yankees don't need him to be a savior

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are closer to having their A-lineup than at any other point this season. One week after activating Didi Gregorius -- and one day after adding Edwin Encarnacion -- the Yankees will welcome Giancarlo Stanton back to the lineup Tuesday night. He's been out since straining in his biceps in the third game of the season.

"It's been a long time. Feels longer than it has been for me," Stanton said Tuesday afternoon. "Excited to be here. The boys have been fun to watch while I've been gone. It's going to be good to file in and battle with them."

Stanton's biceps injury led to a shoulder problem that required a cortisone shot, then, early in his minor league rehab assignment, he took a pitch to the knee and managed to strain his calf while he favored the knee. Every time he got built up, there was a setback.

"It was very frustrating," he said. "Not ideal for sure. I'm just glad that's over with and I can look forward."

The Yankees, despite all their injuries, go into Tuesday's game with the Rays (GameTracker) in first place in the AL East with a 44-27 record and a plus-75 run differential. They've scored more runs (382) this year than they did through 71 games last year (377), when Stanton and Aaron Judge were healthy. The offense has a different feel this year. Consider:


Runs per GameHomers per GameAVG with RISP

2018

5.25 (2nd in MLB)

1.65 (1st in MLB)

.253 (13th in MLB)

2019

5.38 (5th in MLB)

1.59 (4th in MLB)

.282 (2nd in MLB)

The Yankees are hitting roughly the same number of home runs as last season -- the difference is one homer every 16 games or so -- and they've improved tremendously with runners in scoring position. DJ LeMahieu, with his MLB-leading .467 batting average in those situations, leads the way. They've scored runs despite (slightly) fewer homers. Now more homers have arrived.

"Great at-bats, making it tough on these pitchers," Stanton said about the offense during his absence. "... That always helps. Still here to perform and help give an extra boost as well, but it also helps seeing them play so well."

Manager Aaron Boone added: "We have a lot of dynamic players and hitters, and certainly Giancarlo is one of those. Hopefully the length we have in the lineup makes it difficult on the opposing team and opposing pitcher ... The more we can grind out at-bats against teams and hopefully that pays dividends for us."

As the injuries mounted earlier this year, it appeared the Yankees would have to find a way to survive for a few weeks. Instead, they've thrived, and now they're closer to full health. Gregorius is back, Stanton is back, Judge is coming back soon. And they've added Encarnacion. No one has to be the savior. Everyone is just another cog in the machine.

Case in point: Stanton is batting fifth in Tuesday's lineup. He hasn't started a game below cleanup since May 2017. Encarnacion is batting sixth. He hasn't started a game that far down the lineup since 2014.

"It's a good lineup," Boone said with a smile. "Excited to have those kind of players and weapons. Hopefully they can get settled in here early and get comfortable, and off we go."

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories