LeMahieu has sports hernia, will need offseason surgery

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New York Yankees' DJ LeMahieu connects for a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

NEW YORK – DJ LeMahieu has a sports hernia that will require offseason surgery, but the New York Yankees' leadoff hitter will attempt to play through the injury in October.

The major league batting champion last year, LeMahieu was out of the starting lineup again Saturday in a critical game against Tampa Bay. A win would clinch a playoff spot for the Yankees, who held a one-game lead over Boston for the top AL wild card.

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Even with a defeat, New York could punch its postseason ticket with losses by Toronto and Seattle later in the day.

LeMahieu exited Thursday night's victory in Toronto, received a cortisone injection Friday and was unavailable for the Yankees' 4-3 loss to the Rays. The team had been calling the injury right hip and groin soreness, but after LeMahieu was examined by doctors Friday, manager Aaron Boone said Saturday morning the Gold Glove infielder “essentially has a sports hernia" that he'll need to take care of after the season.

Boone said he was unsure if LeMahieu could be available off the bench in an emergency Saturday, but the club hopes he can play in the scheduled regular-season finale Sunday.

“There’s been days where it’s better,” Boone said, “and he can manage it."

"There’s certain times where he just can’t press through.”

LeMahieu also missed a big game last weekend in Boston because of the injury. The three-time All-Star and two-time batting champion was hitting .268 with 10 homers, 57 RBIs and a .711 OPS this season. He shifted recently from second base to third when the Yankees moved error-prone Gleyber Torres from shortstop to second.

The 33-year-old LeMahieu, a three-time Gold Glove winner with Colorado, finished fourth in AL MVP voting in 2019 and third last year. He batted .364 during the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season and then signed a $90 million, six-year contract to remain with the Yankees.

“He's about as tough as they come,” Boone said. “Hopefully the cortisone injection is something that gives him a little bit of relief.”

With LeMahieu ailing, the Yankees recalled infielder Andrew Velazquez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned reliever Albert Abreu to their top farm club. Velazquez was set to start at shortstop Saturday, with Gio Urshela back at third base, his natural position.

Boone also said first baseman Luke Voit probably will be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks with left knee inflammation. Voit, placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday, could potentially return later in October if the Yankees advance deep enough in the postseason.

Voit led the majors with 22 home runs during last year’s 60-game season, but he had knee surgery in March and has been hampered by injuries this year. He was mostly supplanted at first base when New York acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs in late July.

Boone also said right-hander Jameson Taillon (right ankle) threw a “really good” bullpen Friday and remains a candidate to start Sunday.


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