NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees slugger Luke Voit isn’t ready to step aside at first base when three-time All-Star Anthony Rizzo comes off the COVID-19 injured list.
“I deserve to play just as much as he does,” Voit said after driving in the decisive runs in both ends of a doubleheader sweep against the rival Red Sox on Tuesday.
The reigning big league home run leader has been hampered this season by a partially torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery in spring training and a strain in his right oblique.
Voit was on the injured list when the Yankees acquired Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs on July 29, and his performance — a .241 average with three homers in 29 games — while healthy at the time wasn’t good enough to dissuade general manager Brian Cashman from seeking an upgrade.
Voit was activated Aug. 8, the same day Rizzo was sidelined after contracting the coronavirus. Voit has taken advantage of the playing time by homering twice in the past three days, including a solo shot in the second inning of a 2-0 win against Boston on Tuesday night. He also had a go-ahead two-run single in the first game, a 5-3 New York win.
The sweep propelled the Yankees percentage points ahead of the Red Sox for an AL wild-card spot, their first time in playoff position since May 30.
Rizzo is expected back in the next couple of days.
The 30-year-old Voit listed off his credentials after the game, insisting manager Aaron Boone find a way to keep him in the lineup.
“I finally feel like I’m hitting my stride after getting a week’s worth of games under me,” Voit said. “You know, I was Top 10 MVP (voting) last year and I’ve been a great player for this organization for the last three years. I’m not going down, I want to play.
“I led the league in home runs last year and I feel really good again. Obviously the injury bug is the reason (Rizzo is) here, because of me, but obviously I hope Booney can do whatever he can to get me some consistent at-bats.”
Asked about divvying up their playing time, Boone said, “We’re day by day, man.”
“You start thinking how you envision it going in this game, and it’ll change on a dime,” Boone added. “The bottom line is he’s in a good spot, he’s a good player, and we’re going to need everyone.”
Getting both Voit and Rizzo in the lineup would require bumping Giancarlo Stanton out of the designated hitter spot. Stanton — who hit his 19th homer Tuesday while starting in right field — was limited to DH duty for much of this season after injuries sidelined him for most of the 2019 and ’20 seasons.
He returned to the outfield for the first time in late July, and an alignment that puts Stanton in right, Joey Gallo in left and Aaron Judge in center could be New York’s best bet to get all its big boppers in play. It’s part of why Stanton has been so eager to get back out there.
“That’s where me being in the outfield comes into play,” he said.