ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Prior to Friday night, Matt Carpenter had not homered in a major league game since April 30, 2021, when he was with the Cardinals.
But in just his second game since signing with the Yankees, the 36-year-old went deep in a 2-0 win over Tampa Bay.
Carpenter hit base twice in each of his first two games with the Yankees, providing some production from a roster that has been plagued by injuries.
He was released by Rangers after a stint with their Triple-A affiliate, after two difficult seasons with St. Louis, where he played for 11 years.
“Any time you go from your living room to the best team in baseball, that’s pretty good,” Carpenter said.
The homer, a solo right shot in the top of the fourth, was the result of a swing overhaul Carpenter undertook after last year.
“It was good,” Carpenter said. “I worked hard in the offseason to try to fix [my swing]. I spent two months playing Triple-A and the hard work is paying off.
Even when the Yankees roster recovers, manager Aaron Boone said Carpenter will “potentially” retain a role.
Boone said the Yankees were keeping tabs on Carpenter throughout the first part of the season.
“Potentially we think he still has a lot to offer on the left side of the plate,” Boone said. “We are intrigued by what he can do.”
DJ LeMahieu did not play again, but Boone said he would have been able to pinch if necessary.
And Aaron Hicks, who was sidelined for a second straight night with a strained right hamstring, was also feeling better and could return on Saturday.
” I came here [Friday] ready to play,” said Hicks, who felt a tight hamstring during Wednesday’s game in the Bronx. “But playing on grass [at Tropicana Field] is not a comfortable feeling, especially if you are not used to it.
With Hicks still sidelined, Aaron Judge started in center field for a second straight game, which isn’t ideal considering the turf Hicks referenced. Boone said he intended to have the judge serve as the designated hitter on Saturday or Sunday.
LeMahieu’s left wrist discomfort has “significantly improved” since before the opener of that four-game series on Thursday, when a move to the injured list seemed entirely possible.
The Yankees’ IL already includes Giancarlo Stanton (ankle inflammation), who was at Yankee Stadium on Friday “hitting light and feeling good,” according to Boone.
“I think we avoided a situation there,” Boone said. “We have been encouraged by the last two days.”
Boone added that it was “possible” that Stanton only missed the minimum 10 games.
Zack Britton isn’t the only veteran reliever the Yankees hope to get back at some point in the second half of the season.
Pitching coach Matt Blake said right-hander Jimmy Cordero, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, could join the bullpen sometime next month.
“He’ll be in the mix here soon,” Blake said of the 30-year-old. “He looks good, throwing in the mid-90s with that sinker. He’s close to a rehab assignment.
Cordero underwent elbow surgery in March 2021. He was most recently effective in 2019, when he posted a 0.97 WHIP in 36 innings in 30 appearances for the White Sox. He pitched poorly in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, with a 1.58 WHIP and 6.08 ERA in 26 ²/₃ innings for the White Sox, then headed for Tommy John surgery after a bad spring in 2021.
Britton is expected to kick off his first bullpen session after last year’s elbow surgery on Tuesday and could return to the bullpen in August. And while Domingo German (back) is being built as a starter, he could be another option out of the bullpen by July, if needed.
Chad Green has been transferred to IL for 60 days, with Tommy John surgery scheduled for next week.