Josh Donaldson injury update: Yankees third baseman expected to begin rehab games Thursday
Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson is likely to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, according to what manager Aaron Boone told reporters (including The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner) ahead of New York’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. Depending on how things go, Donaldson could then be in line to rejoin the big-league club ahead of a six-game west-coast road trip that begins on May 29 and features series against the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Donaldson, 37, has not appeared since April 5 because of a hamstring strain. In five games before going on the shelf, he hit .125/.176/.313 (32 OPS+) with one home run in 17 plate appearances. Donaldson disappointed last season, his first with the Yankees, by posting just a 94 OPS+ — his lowest mark since he broke out in 2013.
The Yankees originally acquired Donaldson last spring as part of a five-player trade with the Minnesota Twins. In that deal, the Yankees received Donaldson, utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catcher Ben Rortvedt. The Twins, for their part, netted backstop Gary Sánchez and infielder Gio Urshela. Neither Sánchez nor Urshela remain in the Twins organization.
During Donaldson’s absence, the Yankees have primarily deployed DJ LeMahieu at the hot corner. LeMahieu has been a league-average hitter, batting .250/.320/.406 (100 OPS+) with five home runs in 178 plate appearances. New York has also given five starts at third base apiece to the aforementioned Kiner-Falefa and youngsters Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza.
The Yankees entered Wednesday with a 30-20 record, good for third place in the American League East. New York’s plus-32 run differential is also the third best in the division, and is just eight runs back of the second-place Baltimore Orioles.