Juan Soto injury: Yankees star day-to-day with forearm inflammation, could return this weekend vs. Dodgers

NEW YORK — New York Yankees slugger Juan Soto is day-to-day with left forearm inflammation, the Yankees announced Friday. Soto left Thursday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins with forearm discomfort and tests Friday revealed the inflammation. He has no structural damage in his elbow and did not require an injection.

“Good news,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about Soto’s injury. “Obviously, waiting on those results — I think grand scheme of things, we got some good news. Just inflammation in there. We’ll start some medicine and right now treat him as day-to-day.”

Soto is not in Friday’s lineup — it is the first game this season he has not started — but Boone did not rule him out playing at some point this weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers, possibly as soon as Friday night, presumably as a pinch-hitter.

“It could be the whole series, we’ll see,” Boone said when asked how long he expects Soto to be sidelined. “He may even be an option late in the game. Who knows? We’ll see where we’re at in a few hours.”

The Yankees removed Soto from Thursday’s game following a 56-minute rain delay because they did not want him to ramp back up and risk making the discomfort worse. Soto said he’s been playing with this forearm issue for about a week, and that it did not happen on a specific play. He woke up one more with discomfort and has been managing it since.

The inflammation has not hurt Soto’s performance. In his last nine games he is 11 for 29 (.379) with two triples, three home runs, and more walks (10) than strikeouts (nine). Soto owns a .318/.424/.603 batting line with 17 home runs in his first season with the Yankees. He has been as good as ever and is a super early candidate for AL MVP.

With Soto sidelined, the Yankees will slide Aaron Judge over from center field to right, and install two-time Gold Glover Trent Grisham in center. Grisham hit a two-run home run Thursday but otherwise has not hit much in 2023. He will catch the ball though, and the Yankees have enough offense to carry a glove-first center fielder at the bottom of the lineup.

“We’re way better,” Boone said when asked how the Yankees can weather the storm without Soto after Judge’s toe injury sank their season a year ago. “We weren’t a very good offense last year. A lot of that had to do with guys being out hurt. We had three or four guys big time guys missing. We were kind of a shell of what we’ve been this year. We’ve got a much deeper, versatile group this year. That’s why we’ve been a much better offense. Obviously, Juan’s a big factor.”

Soto has been one of the most durable players in baseball in recent years. He played all 162 games last season and averaged 154 games in his last four 162-game seasons. Soto and Judge are on pace to be one of the most valuable duo of teammates in baseball history. Needless to say, losing Soto for an extended stretch would have been a serious blow to the Yankees. 

New York enters Friday’s series opener with the Dodgers with MLB’s best record (45-19) and run differential (plus-118).

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