BOSTON — The Yankees entered Sunday knowing they would be without one half of the left side of their starting infield for at least the start of the postseason, then came within inches of likely losing the other half.
But a day after making a miraculous catch before flying full-speed into the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium, Gio Urshela remained on track to start Tuesday’s American League wild-card game against the Red Sox. The shortstop was still “a little stiff” on Monday, according to manager Aaron Boone, but besides a bruised thigh and a cut on his lower leg, he came out of it relatively unscathed and lucky that it wasn’t much worse.
“I think he’s going to be good,” Boone said Monday at Fenway Park. “I think if there was a game today, he’d be playing. Again, I think we got incredibly fortunate in that situation. Because as you know, it really scared me watching him launch in there from my angle. So he might be a little stiff or whatever, but I don’t think it will have much impact.”
Urshela’s Jeter-esque catch — sprinting 126 feet from his spot in the shift to make the final out of the sixth inning and staying in the game before being lifted in the ninth of a wild-card clinching game — was one that may live on in Yankees lore if they make a run this October. But in the immediate aftermath, Boone had a much more pressing concern.
“I was expecting to go over into a car accident and the Jaws of Life being out or something, seriously,” Boone said. “I was really, really nervous.”
The Yankees weren’t as fortunate on the injury front with DJ LeMahieu, who went on the injured list Sunday with a sports hernia and will not be available until at least the ALCS if the team advances that far.
It leaves a void at third base that Boone said the Yankees would fill by mixing and matching based on matchups. Rougned Odor handled those duties Sunday and likely will again on Tuesday, even with a 2-for-14 career line against Tuesday’s starter, Nathan Eovaldi. Despite playing sparingly over the final month of the season, Odor delivered a leadoff single in the ninth inning Sunday to spark the Yankees’ game-winning rally against the Rays.
Odor, whose lefty bat hit 15 home runs this season to go with a .202 average, has been better defensively at third base of late after never having played there in his big league career before this season.
Boone’s other options, especially if Urshela isn’t 100 percent on Tuesday, would be inserting Andrew Velazquez or Tyler Wade at shortstop and moving Urshela back to third. But the Yankees value Wade as a pinch runner, and Velazquez, despite his strong glove, does not offer much of a threat at the plate.