Yankees send DJ LeMahieu to disabled list with ‘concern’ and fingers crossed


NEW YORK – Not too long ago, DJ LeMahieu was known in the baseball world as The Machine, a nickname that extended to the Yankees clubhouse, where his teammates marveled at the half-man , half-automaton that could hit lines at will without ever – already – cracking a smile.

LeMahieu was so good, so incredibly consistent that fellow hitters regularly asked him what his secret was. Time and time again, LeMahieu shrugged, unable to find the words that could capture his incredible focus and discipline.

Nothing fooled LeMahieu. No fastball could overpower him. Nothing fazed him from 60 feet, six inches. The Yankees signed The Machine to a six-year, $90 million contract after 2020, believing they had the winning lottery ticket.


But it didn’t quite work out, as both sides would agree. LeMahieu’s average has dropped 96 points in 2021 with a similar struggle in 2022. The problem, at least this season, has been an inflamed second right toe that has so far resisted doctors’ attempts to treat it.

Despite injections, braces and physiotherapy, LeMahieu remains a shell of himself in 2020. Finally, after weeks of searching for an answer, the Yankees placed LeMahieu on injured reserve with one fundamental prescription: rest. complete.

“It just didn’t work well enough,” director Aaron Boone said of alternative therapies, before sounding the alarm bells.

“I’m concerned about that, obviously, because we’ve been dealing with it for a few weeks,” he said. “It’s an issue that’s really kept DJ from getting out of his swing…it’s something that’s kept him from spinning where he can’t drive the ball.”

LeMahieu’s struggles are reflected in his .262 average – 35 points below his career mark – and general lack of power. The Machine hasn’t had an extra hit since Aug. 8, coinciding with the Yankees’ offense demise.

The lack of series production, driven in part by LeMahieu’s regression, resulted in a disastrous downfall. The Yankees lost 18 of 28 games in August, saw their slugging percentage slip to .353 (27th in the majors) and a tighter run in the East.

It’s a nice way of saying the Bombers were on some historic tank work ahead of this week’s four-game winning streak. The slump has eased (for now), but the collateral damage lingers: that 15.5 game lead is all but gone and a fight to the finish will be likely.

Luckily for Boone, he has Aaron Judge, who has been a machine in his own right. Despite the growing attention on his pursuit of the American League single-season home run record, Judge entered Thursday night’s game on a long ball tear that sounded like a Terminator.

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Judge has had four outbursts in the last five games, taking his tally to 55. He’s on course to overtake Roger Maris’ 61 by the middle of the month and finish with 66 at the end of the season.

Boone resigned himself to the uphill struggle to fend off the Rays. But it’s a comfort to the manager and everyone else at the club that not only is the judge able to deliver the attack, but he’s outright taking advantage of it.

“I’ve always said Aaron was equipped for this,” Boone said. “Aaron’s goal is to be a great teammate and win a championship. Nothing else seems to bother him.

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Bob Klapisch can be reached at [email protected].


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