DJ LeMahieu heads to IL, jeopardizing Yankees’ playoff hopes

NEW YORK – After a morning training session, the Yankees made a “tough decision” to put DJ LeMahieu on the injured list ahead of Sunday’s critical game No.162.

Manager Aaron Boone said the club came to the difficult choice about three hours before their game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees’ magical number for netting a wildcard spot still at one.

LeMahieu is struggling with a sports hernia which is expected to require surgery at some point after the season.

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“He’s willing to do anything, if we would have wanted him to go there,” Boone said. “But in the end, he’s just too compromised to be able to play at a level close to what you would expect from a DJ.

New York Yankees DJ LeMahieu misses the take on Boston Red Sox Kyle Schwarber's pop foul during the seventh inning of a baseball game on Sunday, September 26, 2021, in Boston.  (AP Photo / Michael Dwyer)

“And at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s fair to him,” Boone said, adding that “we’ll see how next week goes” if LeMahieu could be available to play beyond the Division Series.

LeMahieu would not be eligible to play before the AL Championship Series if the Yankees qualified.

On Sunday, Boone chose to start Rougned Odor at third base with Gio Urshela at shortstop and second goal Gleyber Torres again replacing LeMahieu at the front row.

LeMahieu has been suffering from the effects of a sports hernia for several weeks. He hasn’t played since being taken out of Thursday’s game in Toronto after three appearances at bat.

To replace LeMahieu on the roster, the Yankees have recalled rookie right-hander Luis Gil to bolster a field that will be relied on heavily after Sunday starter Jameson Taillon, who is expected to play a few innings in Game 162.

If the Yankees win, they will land a spot in the AL wildcard game. That game would take place in Boston on Tuesday if the Red Sox won their Sunday game in Washington.

LeMahieu warmed up on Sunday morning and ran onto the field, did some fieldwork and limited batting cage drills before the Yankees made the decision to put him on the 10-day IL.

LeMahieu had been given a cortisone injection on Friday, which the Yankees were hoping would get him ready for Sunday and regardless of the craziness of the playoff scenario.

LeMahieu could receive another hit in the next few days, in case he could return at some point in October.

In LeMahieu’s absence, Boone will mingle and team up with lefties Odor and Tyler Wade as a replacement for the infielder, as well as shortstop Andrew Velazquez.

But there is no substitute for LeMahieu, even in a year down from his previous standards.

“(He is) one of the hearts and souls of our team and a great player,” said Boone. “He means so much to our team between the lines and the kind of person he is.”

According to the manager, LeMahieu agreed to do whatever was in the best interests of the club, including switching to IL.

“After watching him, talking with him, it was clear that was the right way to go,” Boone said.

Pete Caldera is the Yankees Beat Writer for For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, transactions and more, please register today and download our app.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @pcaldera

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