Before dealing with a number of different injuries this season, first baseman Luke Voit burst onto the scene out of nowhere to become a mainstay in the Yankees’ lineup over the course of the past three years.
However, Voit endured three separate trips to the injured list in 2021. That led general manager Brian Cashman to trade for All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo at the deadline.
But since then, Rizzo landed on the COVID-19 injured list and Voit came back raking, which he feels has earned himself a starting spot.
“I finally feel like I’m hitting my stride after getting a week’s worth of games under me,’’ said Voit following his big role in the Yankees’ doubleheader sweep of the Red Sox on Tuesday. “I’ve been a great player for this organization for the last three years. I’m not going down. I want to play, and I deserve to play just as much as [Rizzo] does. … I hope [Boone] can find me some consistent at-bats.”
These were strong words from Voit, who is clearly aware of the situation of Rizzo displacing him at first base, after getting activated on Wednesday.
Although Rizzo will re-assume the full-time role at first base, Voit’s scorching hot bat is valuable and could find time elsewhere at DH.
This means Giancarlo Stanton will be forced to play the outfield, which makes sense at first glance, despite his struggles to stay healthy during his tenure in pinstripes. But Stanton has played in the corner outfield spots in three out of the Yankees’ last six games and says it has gone “better than I thought.”
The expectation is that he will be there more often now that Rizzo and Voit are both back with the Yankees.
Regardless, Voit has earned himself playing time, slashing .315/.413/.500 in his last 15 games, to go along with three home runs and 13 RBI. He also had a go-ahead hit in each of the Yankees’ two games in their doubleheader sweep of Boston.
And let’s not forget, Voit led MLB with 22 homers in the COVID-shortened 60-game campaign in 2020 to finish 10th in the AL MVP voting. The 30-year-old is definitely no slouch with the bat, and in a time where the Yankees are fighting to hang onto a Wild Card spot in the AL with 41 games left to go in the regular season, they will need their best hitters in the lineup every day. That includes Voit.
While manager Aaron Boone thinks Voit is in a good spot and agreed that they are going to need everyone to contribute down this pivotal stretch in the year, he had a conversation with him regarding his comments from the other day.
“Luke and I have talked," Boone said. “The bottom line is, hopefully we continue to get guys back and remain healthy. Luke is gonna play a big role on this team moving forward.”
According to Boone, his conversation with Voit was a positive one and they were able to come to a mutual understanding.
“Good. We’re ready to roll," Boone said. "Luke is totally on board with that and knows he’s gonna be a big part of this.”
After acquiring Rizzo from the Cubs, the Yankees were close to trading Voit, who was on the IL for the third time this year with knee inflammation.
Rizzo got off to a hot start at the plate with the Bronx Bombers, and with Voit’s activation looming, the Yankees almost had to make a tough decision, with Voit having a minor league option remaining.
But with Rizzo landing on the COVID-IL, Voit saved his roster spot on the Yankees by catching fire offensively, and it has now given the team a reason to keep him in the everyday lineup moving forward.
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