After exiting Friday night's loss to the Red Sox with back spasms, Gary Sánchez is out of the lineup on Saturday afternoon.
With backup catcher Kyle Higashioka still on the COVID-19 injured list, Rob Brantly got the start in Sánchez's place behind the plate. Brantly came in for Sánchez in the sixth inning on Friday night at Fenway Park as well.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Friday night—after the 6-2 loss to the Red Sox—that Sánchez could potentially be available on Saturday. Considering the catcher didn't get a good night's sleep, still feeling "locked up" in his back the following morning, the skipper made the call to give him a day to rest and recuperate.
"Doing a little bit better today," Boone said Saturday afternoon. "He's been getting a lot of treatment today, going to move around now in the weight room as well. Hopefully we'll get him to where he's back in play for us tomorrow."
With those improvements and all the treatment he's been getting, Sánchez would be available on Saturday in an emergency situation, Boone said.
Sánchez has been hot and cold since the All-Star break, hitting .235 (4-for-17) with two home runs in six games. He now has 17 big flies on the year, batting .219 (54-for-247) with an .800 OPS over 75 games played.
Avoiding a serious injury here is a huge break for the Bombers considering how many other position players they've been missing due to the club's recent COVID-19 outbreak and a slew of more traditional injuries.
As for Higashioka, Boone expects the catcher (as well as All-Star right fielder Aaron Judge) to rejoin the team on Sunday, traveling with the team to Tampa. Depending on how their workout on Monday goes, taking advantage of an off day to get some work in, Higashioka and Judge should be available at some point during the three-game set against the Rays.
Brantly was called up from Triple-A when Higashioka went down with a positive COVID test. The veteran is hitting .091 (1-for-11) entering play on Saturday. That one hit—a double at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday—was his first in the big leagues since 2017.
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