WASHINGTON — By the time the New York Yankees open a three-game series at the Kansas City Royals on Friday, rookie manager Aaron Boone's club will be coming off a stretch of playing a grand total of five innings across four days, thanks to a combination of rain and scheduled breaks.
That's not quite the way the grind of Major League Baseball usually works.
"We'll be fine. We have guys out right now, throwing bullpens. Guys are in the cage down there, hitting," Boone said Wednesday after wet weather wiped out what was supposed to be a makeshift semi-doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, with the games shifted to June 18. "It's not perfect, but in the end, a couple days here, hopefully, we can take advantage of, from a rest standpoint, allow us to reset our 'pen a bit. We'll just look at it as a good chance to rest some of our guys."
The Yankees-Nationals interleague series originally was supposed to have one game Tuesday, the other Wednesday. But the opener was suspended because of rain with the score 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning Tuesday night. That was supposed to resume Wednesday, followed by the originally scheduled second game, which would have featured two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on the mound for Washington against New York's CC Sabathia.
But rain fell overnight and much of the day Wednesday, resulting in the postponement until next month.
Asked tongue-in-check whether he was upset about not seeing Scherzer out there Wednesday, Boone smiled widely and replied: "You always like facing the best." Then he paused a beat and continued: "Especially when I don't have to hit them."
New York had a similar experience at Detroit last month, when a Saturday game was rained out and rescheduled as part of a Sunday doubleheader that was washed out and rescheduled as a twin-bill on June 4.
Both the Yankees and Nationals were off Monday. They had that short outing Tuesday. They were told about 70 minutes before Wednesday's scheduled first pitch they were off again. And they already were slated to be off Thursday.
"You've got to deal with it," Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "It would be worse if we had just (been) sitting around here all day and then they (postpone) it. But we get good notice and then go get a little workout in."
Washington will push its rotation back a day, so Scherzer now will start Friday in the opener of a home set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by Tanner Roark and Stephen Strasburg. The Yankees also will stick with Sabathia next, now opening the series at the Royals, followed by Luis Severino on Saturday, and Sonny Gray moving from Friday to Sunday.
The teams are both off Thursday, but Boone said his understanding was that there wouldn't be games that day at Nationals Park because the Yankees' travel plans were already set and Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman's multiple sclerosis charity event is scheduled at the team's stadium that day.
"I was just told, kind of definitely, yesterday that Thursday was not an option," Boone said.
June 18 had been a free day for both the Yankees and Nationals. Washington is coming off a weekend series in Toronto and begins a three-game series with Baltimore at home on Tuesday. New York is coming off a weekend series at home against Tampa Bay and begins a three-game set at home against Seattle on Tuesday.
Stanton's 1,000th hit was not exactly the sort of thing one might expect from the big slugger: A blooper to shallow right in the fifth inning Tuesday. This is a guy, after all, with 277 career homers, including 59 last season, when he was the NL MVP for the Marlins. "You see my first hit ever? Think it might have been harder than that one," Stanton said with a smile Wednesday. "So I'm fine with it." Yep, his first hit was an infield single on a chopper to second base.
Boone said Yankees OF Clint Frazier will stick around for the time being, perhaps with an eye to facing left-handed pitching in Kansas City. "That will be something we monitor day to day. That will be a fluid situation," Boone said. "We won't have him here, just regularly sitting." Frazier was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday. "I'm just here to get at-bats right now. I just want to get an opportunity," Frazier said. "I didn't want to go back down without at least getting one at-bat to try to push for a spot."