June 18, 2024

New York — The Yankees dodged a season-altering setback Friday when tests on slugger Juan Soto’s left forearm and elbow found only irritation and no structural damage.

Manager Aaron Boone stated that Soto will escape the injured list and is “day-to-day.” He did not participate in Friday night’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Boone described the test results as “good news.” Soto described them as a “relief.”

“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Soto said following New York’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers after 11 innings. “I was just trying to figure out what was going on in my elbow, and we were discussing what it was going to be like and how it was going to turn out. And thank God, it came our way.

Before Friday’s game, Boone stated Soto could come off the bench. And, when the game stayed scoreless in the late innings, Soto appeared to be a pinch-hitter. Soto took the dugout’s top step while wearing batting gloves and holding a bat. He seemed ready for a chance.

However, he never entered the game. He didn’t even take a swing in preparation. According to Boone, Soto was not available to play in any situation.

Boone smiled as he was asked if Soto was a decoy.

“He was just, I think, feeling the moment there a little bit,” Boone stated.

Soto missed his first game of the season after starting in right field in all 64 of the Yankees’ previous games.

“I’m trying to do my best,” Soto, 25, added. “It’s difficult to observe the game from the bench, and I dislike it. So I do my best to be out there. “I try to help the team.”


Why there's optimism around Yankees' Juan Soto's injury, according to NY  host - nj.com


Soto left Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Twins during a 56-minute rain delay due to what the Yankees described as “forearm tightness.” Soto later stated that he had been experiencing difficulty for more than a week, but it had no effect on his ability to throw a baseball or swing a bat.

Boone stated that Soto will not require an injection, only medication to alleviate the irritation. The manager said he didn’t know whether Soto would return to the lineup once he was symptom-free or if he would play through the discomfort. Soto stated that he believes that pinpointing the problem will alleviate his agony.

“I don’t think I have to be grinding through it the whole year if we do the right thing and we do it the right way,” Soto stated. “If we didn’t know what was going on in my elbow, we might have been grinding for the entire year. But now that we know what it is, we can treat it and do the appropriate thing to obtain it going. I think I’ll be fine.”

Boone suggested Soto may play designated hitter when he returns, which he hasn’t done this season. When exactly is unclear. Soto stated that his return to the lineup is contingent on how he feels when he reports to the ballpark.

Soto’s durability and production have led to an MVP-caliber season in his first year with the Yankees and final year before free agency. The four-time All-Star is slashing.318/.424/603 with 17 home runs, 46 walks and 48 strikeouts. He began Friday tied with teammate Aaron Judge for fWAR (4.1), while leading the American League in hitting average and on-base percentage.

Losing Soto for an extended period of time would have been devastating for an offense that has contributed to MLB’s best record behind him and Judge, another major AL MVP candidate. For the Yankees, Soto’s exit on Thursday brought back thoughts of Jasson Dominguez’s scenario in September, when he reported right elbow tightness before an MRI revealed a damaged ulnar collateral ligament that necessitated season-ending Tommy John surgery.

On Friday, the team dodged the worst-case scenario with Soto.

“There was a little unknown, but all you can do is say a prayer and hope for the best and we got the best news we could today,” Judge stated. “He’s an important element of this team. We’ve been saying this all year.”

Also on Friday, Boone announced that right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his second rehab start for Double-A Somerset this Sunday. Cole, who was sidelined since mid-March due to nerve irritation and swelling in his right elbow, had his first rehab start for Somerset on Tuesday, allowing two singles and no runs in 3⅓ innings.

Boone said earlier this week that Cole would likely make at least two more minor league rehab starts, one of which would be on Sunday, putting him on target to return to New York’s rotation in mid- to late June.

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