Anthony Rizzo, Aroldis Chapman return in New York Yankees' win

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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Anthony Rizzo returned to the New York Yankees' lineup after a bout with COVID-19, and closer Aroldis Chapmanalso was activated prior to Wednesday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox.

Rizzo, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on July 29, started at first base and batted second in the Yankees' 5-2 win. He went 1-for-4 with two RBIs and combined with substitute shortstop Andrew Velazquezon a terrific defensive play for the dramatic final out.

"This is the time of year when you want to be in there," Rizzo said.

The three-time All-Star had been sidelined since Aug. 8 after testing positive for the coronavirus.

"Excited obviously to have him back,'' manager Aaron Boone said before the game. "I think that's the one thing we'll probably have to watch is the stamina part of things.''

Chapman had been on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. Boone said the left-hander would move right back into the closer role but pulled him with two outs and two on in the ninth inning.Lucas Luetgegot the final out for the save.

Boone also said pregame that he talked to first baseman Luke Voit, who on Tuesday said he was not ready to cede playing time when Rizzo returned.

"I was top-10 MVP last year and I've been a great player for this organization for the last three years," Voit said Tuesday. "I'm not going down. I want to play. Obviously, I know it will be tough with Rizzo, but I deserve to play just as much as he does. I led the league in home runs last year. I feel really good again."

Voit did not play Wednesday.

Boone said he foresees plenty of chances for Voit to play a significant role, adding that Voit is completely on board.

"This is all about us as a team right now,'' Boone said. "Let it play out.''

Voit was on the injured list when Rizzo made his debut with the Yankees on July 30. Rizzo got off to a fast start with his new team, hitting .281 with three homers and six RBIs in his first nine games for New York. Voit was reinstated Aug. 8 -- the day after Rizzo tested positive -- and has been productive at the plate since.

After scuffling throughout the first half, New York has climbed into playoff position for the first time since May 30 despite a rash of COVID-19 cases this year.

Rizzo became the latest key player to return from the COVID-19 injured list in recent days, following ace Gerrit Cole, catcher Gary Sanchez and lefty starter Jordan Montgomery.

The outbreak occurred after New York got back from playing six games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins in Florida.

Since the All-Star break, outfielder Aaron Judge, third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Kyle Higashioka also have tested positive, along with relievers Wandy Peralta, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clay Holmes. All of them are back except Holmes, although Urshela returned to the IL on Aug. 3 with a left hamstring strain.

To make room on the roster for Rizzo and Chapman, the Yankees optioned outfielder Jonathan Davis and right-hander Nick Nelson to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Also, outfielder Trey Amburgey was reinstated from the 10-day injured list and returned as a replacement player to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Amburgey had been on a minor league rehab assignment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.