NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees had their Sunday brightened by Masahiro Tanaka, who came to the ballpark and seemed well a day after being hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive.
They’re hoping Yankee Stadium’s lights will do the same this week.
Encouraged by Tanaka’s progress after Saturday’s scare, the Yankees are planning to hold intrasquad night games Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx as they prepare for the July 23 start of a 60-game regular season condensed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 7 p.m. scrimmages will both air on YES Network, giving fans at least a couple of live looks at the defending AL East champions this summer. Left-hander J.A. Happ is expected to start against young righty Clarke Schmidt on Monday, and new ace Gerrit Cole — signed to a $324 million, nine-year free agent deal last winter — is set to pitch Tuesday.
New York has also been working to schedule exhibition games in the next 2 1/2 weeks with other clubs, possibly the Mets, but nothing has been formalized.
“We’re putting a premium on live reps as much as we can,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Sunday’s second day of summer camp certainly went smoother than the first. The opener carried a somber feel after Stanton’s comebacker drilled Tanaka in the right side of his head in the third at-bat of the session.
Left-hander James Paxton said Sunday that Stanton’s shot was measured at 112 mph.
Tanaka was released from the hospital Saturday night after a CT scan came back negative, and he is in concussion protocol. Boone is cautiously optimistic Tanaka could be ready by opening day.
“I think all the signs are pointing that he really dodged a bullet there,” Boone said.
All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman and catcher Gary Sánchez took the field Sunday after missing Saturday’s workout. They arrived in New York a day later than teammates due to travel issues and had to wait for results from intake virus testing.
Chapman threw a bullpen, and Sánchez took live at-bats against Paxton, who looked sharp in his first simulated game of this camp.
Paxton is ramping up following back surgery in February that would have cost him much of the season if not for the delay.
The big left-hander walked Sánchez to start, then struck out Miguel Andújar, Tyler Wade and Sánchez successively. It was an encouraging sign for a club already without starter Luis Severino for the year due to Tommy John surgery and now facing questions about Tanaka’s availability.
“I had no problem with the back,” Paxton said. “Everything felt really good.”
Chapman and Sánchez weren’t the only stars back in the Bronx for this odd attempt at a 2020 season.
Two birds of prey watched batting practice from the upper decks — one of them perhaps the same red-tailed hawk that perched around Yankee Stadium last year.
Last season’s raptor became a fan favorite, sitting on the foul poles during games. That predator once crashed into the protective netting along the first base line shortly before a game while hunting a pigeon.