NEW YORK — Yankees manager Aaron Boone initially had Brett Gardner starting in left field and batting ninth in Sunday’s lineup against the Rockies at Yankee Stadium.
Not long after, Gardner was scratched out in favor of Mike Tauchman.
Gardner was dealing with left knee soreness, Boone said, and the Yankees didn’t want to push him too hard. Boone said the 35-year-old would undergo treatment and would likely be available to play Sunday.
Boone called it a “wear and tear” injury for Gardner, who had played in 92 of the Yankees’ 97 games this season.
“Knee was barking a little bit today,” Boone said. “I felt like it was best to have him down today, especially in this weather. Obviously, in this weather, being mindful of it, too. But look at him — see how he does with treatment and stuff — but look at him as probably an available player (Sunday).”
Gardner wasn’t in the Yankees’ clubhouse when reporters were there before the game.
If Gardner needs to miss several days, it’s likely the Yankees will turn to Tauchman.
Outfielder Cameron Maybin (left calf strain) is expected to play rehab games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this week and could return to the active roster soon.
Gardner has played much better — and has played a much bigger role — than many expected. After taking a one-year, $7.5-million deal to stay with the team in the offseason, he’s hit .243 with 15 home runs and a .785 OPS, which would be a full-season career-best. He’s also stolen eight bases.
Staying healthy has been huge for Gardner, who has played role covering for other injured Yankees.
Gardner has played 49 games in center field, mostly thanks to a lower back injury that held Aaron Hicks out for the first month of the season. He’s also played 45 games in left field with Giancarlo Stanton (various injuries) spending most of the season on the injured list.
Brendan Kuty may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.