MINNEAPOLIS — Zack Britton had a rough line in his rehab appearance with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night, but Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the left-hander’s comeback from elbow surgery during training is still going smoothly.
“He felt good [Tuesday],’’ Boone said Wednesday before the Yankees’ 9-6 victory over the Twins at Target Field. “He feels good [Wednesday].”
Britton is on schedule to pitch in another rehab game with SWB on Thursday. If he feels OK after that outing, the Yankees will decide the next course of action.
Boone watched video of Britton’s outing Tuesday, in which he allowed four runs on three hits and a walk, while getting just one batter out. The manager said it wasn’t as bad as the line looked.
“I thought he looked OK,’’ Boone said. “[The ball] was coming out pretty well. I think he was trying a few different things. In a rehab [game], you might throw pitches you wouldn’t at a particular time. His stuff is good and he’s bouncing back well.”
If that remains the case, it’s conceivable Britton could rejoin the Yankees’ bullpen at some point following Thursday’s appearance.
The Yankees’ bullpen has been excellent even in the absence of Britton, as well as Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson, who also have had IL stints.
Despite Gary Sanchez’s recent turnaround at the plate, Boone said he didn’t consider using him to catch with Gerrit Cole pitching Wednesday.
“Not really,’’ Boone said. “[Kyle] Higashioka will take his turns through the course of the rotation and I felt this was still the right time to do that.”
Higashioka has been Cole’s personal catcher since the latter part of last season.
Giancarlo Stanton’s inability to play the outfield also makes it more difficult to use Sanchez — or anyone else — as the designated hitter. The Yankees won’t be able to use Stanton over the weekend in Philadelphia, since there won’t be a DH, and they have so far not been willing to risk having Stanton play defense — especially after his recent IL stint due to a strained left quad.
The moves paid off. Stanton homered twice and the struggling Higashioka had a pair of hits.
Brett Gardner had his first three-hit game of the season Wednesday. The center fielder hit an RBI double to left-center in the second, added a single through the right side of the infield in the third and had another double to left-center to lead off the top of the eighth.
Gardner had entered the game just 4-for-32 with two extra-base hits, six walks and 12 strikeouts in his previous 14 games. He has three RBIs in his past six games after driving in just three runs in his first 45 games of the season.
Gio Urshela extended his hitting streak to eight games. … The Yankees tied their season-high, with 15 hits.
Despite more excellent run production, the Yankees still had another lackluster night with runners in scoring position, going just 1-for-8. But when a team hits four homers, as the Yankees did, it doesn’t matter. The Yankees also matched a season-low with four strikeouts. The previous time they had just four came on April 14 against the Blue Jays. They didn’t whiff Wednesday until pinch-hitters Chris Gittens and Clint Frazier struck out in the eighth inning.