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New York Yankees place Aaron Hicks on DL, ponder outfield moves

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TORONTO — After two games, the New York Yankees‘ once-crowded outfield became suddenly thin when the team was forced to place center fielder Aaron Hicks on the 10-day disabled list Friday.

The move had first-year manager Aaron Boone juggling his defense earlier into the new season than he anticipated.

All that juggling could lead to a short-term lineup that includes Aaron Judge playing center field and Giancarlo Stanton playing left. Both have predominantly played right field at the major league level.

“Stanton in left field is a possibility, and right field,” Boone said before the team’s 4-2 win over the Blue Jays. “I think we might see him in both places the next two days.”

For Friday’s game, Judge remained the starting right fielder with Stanton serving as the designated hitter.

If all goes according to the Yankees’ now stepped-up plans regarding injured outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique), by the end of next week, he could rejoin the team, putting an end at this stage to any outfield movement involving Stanton and Judge.

Ellsbury, who went on the 10-day DL retroactive to Monday, will be available at the earliest next Thursday when the Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles. He’s currently still at the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, appearing in minor league games as he attempts to work his way to about 55 spring training at-bats.

General manager Brian Cashman said he likely wouldn’t get those full 55 at this stage, given the lack of outfield depth.

“We’re not in a perfect world,” Cashman said. “So this will necessitate us taking him when he’s physically ready, but maybe not totally finished off.”

The hope is that Hicks would return from his right intercostal muscle strain (the muscle is part of the rib cage) a week from Sunday. An MRI revealed he had a Grade 1 strain, the lowest classification of such an injury. The switch-hitting outfielder also said pain wasn’t an issue for him with this injury, unlike a similar oblique problem that cost him much of last season.

Hicks now will take three days off before resuming baseball activity with the goal of getting back in the lineup seven days after that.

His injury forced the Yankees to recall outfielder Billy McKinney from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. McKinney torched his way through big league spring training, tying for the team lead with five home runs and 13 RBIs.

McKinney wasted no time getting into the big club’s batting order in this latest stint. He made his major league debut Friday night, batting seventh and playing left field, as Brett Gardner moved over to center. McKinney went 1-for-4 with a single in his first at-bat.

Gardner is the root of the Yankees’ thinking when it comes to possibly getting Judge some time in center field as Hicks heals.

“As I’ve told [Gardner], as I think I’ve told you guys, especially early, I don’t want to run him into the ground. I don’t want to wear him out,” Boone said to reporters. “We’re obviously in a situation of need right now. But we still have to look at it through that lens. I’ve got to protect him.”

At the start of spring training, it seemed the Yankees might have too many outfielders. But after Clint Frazier suffered a concussion in an early-spring training game at the end of February and Ellsbury sustained the oblique injury around the same time, that backlog took a couple of big hits.

If the Yankees get in truly dire straits, second baseman Tyler Wade also could get time in the outfield. Boone said that he will start getting practice work there, after spending all spring focusing on winning an infield job.

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Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber pulled from game after poor defensive play

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CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber was pulled from Sunday night’s game after playing a double into a triple off the bat of Minnesota Twins centerfielder Jack Cave.

“I think the guy shouldn’t have gotten to third base there,” a repentant Schwarber said after the Twins 4-0 win. “It put Yu [Darvish] in a tough spot. … I put him in a bad spot there. I put the team in a bad spot there. Have to learn from it and move on.”

Cave led off the top of the second inning and hit a ball off the left field wall which Schwarber said he ‘over pursued.’ Cave kept running as the Cubs veteran slowly tracked down the ball, which bounced back in front of him. His throw to third was late and Cave eventually scored on a Max Kepler ground out.

Schwarber didn’t come out to play the field the next inning. Cameron Maybin took his place in the lineup.

“It’s not the ideal way to learn from it but I think I can take a lot of different punches,” Schwarber said. “I pride myself in being a team guy and a guy who’s going to play 120% every play.”

Cubs’ manager David Ross wouldn’t elaborate on the matter preferring to keep it ‘in-house,’ but teammate Ian Happ spoke highly of Schwarber after he was pulled, praising him for staying in the dugout to cheer on his teammates for the rest of the game.

“He’s a wonderful teammate,” Happ said. “Someone that nobody ever questions his work or the attitude he comes into the game with. I can speak for everyone in the clubhouse when I say that.”

Like many Cubs, Schwarber has struggled at the plate this season. He’s hitting .192 with a .308 on-base percentage but he never thought to hang his head after being taken out of the game.

“I’m not going to be that guy that’s going to be selfish and just sit there and feel bad for himself,” he said. “There’s still a game going on It’s bigger than me.”

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San Diego Padres back in playoffs for first time in 14 years

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres are returning to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years after beating the Seattle Mariners 7-4 Sunday with a three-run rally in the 11th inning that included a go-ahead double by newcomer Mitch Moreland.

The clincher came in the finale of a series that was moved from Seattle because of poor air quality due to wildfires, so the Mariners were considered the home team and batted last. After closer Trevor Rosenthal (1-0), another newcomer, struck out Phillip Ervin for the final out, the Padres had a brief but joyous celebration in the infield. Then they gathered near the dugouts to get playoff caps and T-shirts.

Although Petco Park was devoid of spectators, a handful of fans watched from a rooftop bar just beyond left-center field and several others watched from balconies on an office building high above right field.

The loss by Seattle also locked up an American League playoff berth for the New York Yankees.

Each team scored in the 10th inning and the Padres started the 11th with Manny Machado on second base. Moreland, obtained in a trade with Boston on Aug. 30, lifted an opposite-field fly down the left-field line off Casey Sadler(1-1) and it dropped just in front of Tim Lopes. Machado, who held up halfway to third, hustled around and scored for a 5-4 lead.

The Padres added on with Jurickson Profar’s RBI single and an error by second baseman Dylan Moore.

The Padres last reached the playoffs in 2006, when they won the NL West for the second straight season and were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals for the second consecutive year.

It’s been so long since the Padres played in the postseason that two members of that team, closer Trevor Hoffman and catcher Mike Piazza, are in the Hall of Fame. One of that team’s outfielders, Dave Roberts, is in his fifth season managing the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

San Diego took a 3-1 lead on a 430-foot, three-run homer by Wil Myers, their longest-tenured player, into the shrubs in front of the batter’s eye in straightaway center field.

The Mariners tied it when Moore, who struck out three times against starter Dinelson Lamet, hit a two-run homer to left off Emilio Pagan in the eighth.

Lamet held Seattle to one run and two hits while striking out 10 and walking two in six innings.

Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a go-ahead single in the 10th before J.P. Crawford hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

The Padres drew three walks in the first four innings from starter Justin Dunn, who also hit a batter with a pitch. San Diego stole three bases as well, but failed to score.

The Padres finally broke through in the sixth. Eric Hosmer drew a one-out walk and Moreland hit a ground-rule double with two outs before Myers homered on a 2-2 pitch to put the Padres ahead 3-1. It was his 14th.

Myers knew it was gone, and center fielder Kyle Lewis retreated to the warning track before turning and watching the ball sail well over his head.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper exits game with lower back stiffness

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Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper exited Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays with lower back stiffness after he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.

Harper took a slow walk in the dugout toward the clubhouse and signaled to manager Joe Girardi he was done for the day.

Girardi said Harper will get treatment and Harper’s status for Monday’s game is unknown.

Harper has 11 homers and 28 RBIs for the Phillies, who are trying to hang on over the final week and secure their first playoff berth since 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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