Yankees’ Josh Donaldson repays Aaron Boone’s trust with home run

OAKLAND, Calif. — For the first time since Thursday, Josh Donaldson saw his name back in the Yankees lineup on Tuesday.

But just how long of a leash the scuffling veteran will have remains one of the Yankees’ most pressing questions as they near the halfway point of the season.

Donaldson returned from a three-game benching with a bang, belting a solo home run in his second at-bat before striking out looking in his final two trips to the plate in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Athletics at Oakland Coliseum.

“For the better part since I’ve been back, I’ve felt pretty good at the plate,” Donaldson said. “I had a few-day stretch last week where I felt a little bit off. I was able to put some work in. Overall I’ve felt pretty good with the approach.”

Donaldson’s 423-foot blast off right-hander Paul Blackburn, the only source of offense for the Yankees all night, was his seventh home run but only his ninth hit. He finished the night hitting .132 with a .641 OPS in 22 games.

Josh Donaldson watches his solo home run leave the yard during the fifth inning of the Yankees' loss.
Josh Donaldson watches his solo home run leave the yard during the fifth inning of the Yankees’ loss.
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“He’s got a lot of confidence because he’s capable of that right there,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully it is something that kind of jumpstarts him this week a little bit. But we all gotta pull our weight and get it going a little more offensively.”

Before the game, Boone insisted the 37-year-old Donaldson would play “a lot” despite holding him out of the entire series against the Rangers over the weekend.

“I do want to give him some runway here to get it going,” Boone said.

The “runway” comment was the same verbiage that general manager Brian Cashman used last week, saying he wanted Donaldson to “get some runway here where he gets consistent at-bats … and be in a better position to judge.” Left unsaid was how long the runway might be before the Yankees could decide to cut bait with Donaldson, who is making $21 million this season and has a $6 million mutual option for 2024.

For now, Boone said he was hoping that Donaldson could “get it going traction-wise.”

“Hopefully he can go out and do what I think he’s capable of,” Boone said. “I feel like there’s a lot of life in the bat still. There’s a lot of bat speed, there’s power, there’s the defense at third base. So the biggest thing I want him to do is just to continue to work and be settled and go out there and throw up good [at-bats]. If he’s doing that and winning pitches and having good ABs, the results will follow.”

Boone also downplayed the long meeting he had with Donaldson on Sunday morning before he sat for a third straight game.

“I’ve seen things like, ‘We cleared the air’ — it wasn’t anything like that,” Boone said. “We had talked at length a couple days leading up to that. Honestly, that was one that just kind of spilled into my press conference timing. With obviously having not played, I understand how it could have looked.

“But it was really just us talking a lot of baseball, even talking baseball stories and things like that. We’ve talked through a lot of different things, but that’s always ongoing as well. Just looking forward to him going out and playing and hopefully giving us what I know he’s capable of.”

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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