NEW YORK — No sooner do the injury-ravaged Yankees finally get a player back than two more go down.
On the same day New York activated center fielder Aaron Hicks for the first time this season, third baseman Miguel Andújar and right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga were placed on the 10-day injured list.
The moves Monday left the Yankees with 13 players on the IL. They’ve put 17 on the list for 18 total stints this year — Andújar now twice because of a small labrum tear in his right shoulder. Loaisiga, the rotation replacement for injured James Paxton, has a strained rotator cuff and will be shut down for four weeks.
Despite all the missing firepower, New York (24-16) has received outstanding contributions from several unheralded fill-ins and began the day just a half-game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the AL East.
Runner-up for 2018 AL Rookie of the Year, Andújar initially was sidelined from April 1 to May 3. He is 3 for 34 since returning and is batting .128 overall (6 for 47) without an extra-base hit.
“Even though he’s passed everything and the strength test has been good and (we) rehabbed him properly, (we) do feel like the injury is certainly a contributing factor to some of the struggles,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Andújar has been trying to avoid surgery.
“We’ll see. He’s got a couple opinions going into this and both were not surgery suggested,” Boone said. “So, I think we’ll look at this again as far as re-imaging, re-evaluating. So I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily off the table, but I wouldn’t say even more so that it’s on now. It’s just, we’ve got to get a better handle on this and then probably just get him built up in the best way possible, if we can move forward with that.”
Boone said Loaisiga mentioned his shoulder issue Sunday and had an MRI on Monday. He was placed on the IL retroactive to Friday.
The 24-year-old Loaisiga is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance. He gave up four runs over four innings in a loss to Seattle last week.
“Hopefully, we avoid something serious,” Boone said. “Lo’s an important part of what we’re doing in there. He’s had some important outings for us. So, it’s a blow to us but one that we definitely feel like we can absorb and hopefully get him the right treatment and have him get back in the fold at some point this season.”
Right-hander Luis Cessa was tabbed to make his 20th major league start and first this season in Loaisiga’s place Monday night against last-place Baltimore. New York had only two position players available on the bench — including backup catcher Austin Romine.
To replenish their pitching staff, the Yankees recalled right-hander Chance Adams and lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The team opened a spot for Hicks by optioning outfielder Mike Tauchman to the RailRiders following Sunday’s victory at Tampa Bay.
Hicks was in the lineup leading off and playing center field after being sidelined since straining his back March 1 in spring training.
“I feel like he’s one of the most underrated players in the game,” Boone said. “So to get him back, we’re obviously very excited.”
The 29-year-old switch-hitter, who needed two cortisone shots to get healthy, agreed to a $70 million, seven-year contract in February. He went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a homer for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, leaving him 3 for 18 in five minor league rehab games.
“It feels good to finally be back with the team and playing again,” Hicks said.
He said he was told he has a chronic back issue.
“I have a core exercise that I have to do every day now. It’s kind of one of those things that I have to maintain to get the results and make my body feel the way I want it to,” Hicks said. “When I do my core exercises, my back feels good. So that’s kind of what I’m going with and I’m running with it.”
Paxton, sidelined since May 4 with left knee inflammation, was scheduled to play long toss and throw on flat ground Monday. If that goes well, it would lead to a bullpen and the Yankees hope Paxton could return to the rotation before too long.
Because of a day off Thursday, they might not need to fill his spot again until May 21 in Baltimore. Adams could be a possibility, if Paxton himself isn’t ready by then.
“You could see a lot of different options in that role,” Boone said. “I mean, we could go an opener on a day. Hopefully, Pax is back pretty quick. We feel like he’s moving in the right direction, but we’ll just kind of see. That could truly be something that’s very fluid as far as what the day or two days leading up to that spot, how we play it out.”