ALCS Notes: Britton, Chapman, Hicks, Taxi Squad, Sabathia

The Yankees continued to dominate the Minnesota Twins in the postseason, taking the American League Division Series from the team looking to “slay the dragon” in the words of team president Dave St. Peter. After a relatively stress-less three-game series that saw the Bombers outscore the Twins 23 to 7, the Yankees await the winner of the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays.

There are a few notes to clean up as the champagne dries in the visitors clubhouse at Target Field:

Britton Will Be on ALCS Roster

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Zack Britton left with athletic trainer Steve Donohue two batters into the eighth inning of Monday’s clincher after wincing in pain on a groundball back to the mound that ended the seventh inning. The lefty stayed on to allow a solo home run and a ground out, but was removed with the trainers.

“This game was too important for me to be out there not 100 percent,” Britton said of his removal. “It shouldn’t be anything that bothers me moving forward.”

That much was confirmed by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, who cited a source with knowledge of the Yankees thinking in confirming Britton will be ready to go:

Chapman Hit With Bottle on Pitching Hand in Celebration

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The Yankees managed to dodge another injury bullet, this time with Aroldis Chapman. Fresh off his five-out save, the Yankee closer was hit on his pitching hand with a bottle during the Yankees champagne celebration in the Twins visiting clubhouse.

The southpaw was seen with his hand heavily bandaged, though the pitcher and manager indicated they did not believe it would impact his availability going forward.

“I saw [Chapman] walk by,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “He gave me a fist bump with that wrap on his wrist. I’m like, ‘What’s that?’ But they were all going out on the field [to take a team photo] and he had a huge smile on his face. I had no idea what that was, but I fist-bumped it.”

Chapman took to Instagram to confirm he won’t be hampered by the injury:

Hicks “Very Much a Consideration” to Return in ALCS

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When we last saw Aaron Hicks on Aug. 3, the whispers surrounding the center-fielder’s elbow injury were discouraging to say the least. He was expected to miss many weeks and possibly have to face the dreaded Tommy John surgery. There were numerous setbacks and it was clear the Yankees were planning to mount their postseason run with Hicks on the sideline.

However, word got out that Hicks was taking live batting practice in Tampa. Next, he told the Associated Press seemingly out of nowhere Tuesday that he was “definitely ready to go out there and play.” He returned to New York on Wednesday and took indoor batting practice at Yankee Stadium.

“That’s really what I’m getting ready for, is to get back and play in the playoffs,” Hicks said from Tampa. “Get back to playing baseball.”

It’s unclear what role Hicks would play, if any, should he be added to the ALCS roster. It’s possible they could have him take over the defensive replacement role for late innings defense that Cameron Maybin has played so far in the postseason. Or, he could replace Tyler Wade on the roster.

Seven Players Comprise Taxi Squad in Tampa

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The Yankees have seven players keeping themselves in game shape at the team’s complex in Tampa should there be any unexpected injuries through the course of the postseason.

They include infielders Thairo Estrada and Mike Ford, outfielder Clint Frazier and pitchers Cory Gearrin, David Hale, Jordan Montgomery and Stephen Tarpley. Meanwhile, injured Yankees Miguel Andújar and Greg Bird are rehabbing their respective shoulder and foot injuries at the facility as well.

“I think all of us are ready to help if called upon,” Frazier said, according to the Associated Press. “It’s obviously a situation that you’d rather be there, but if we’re called upon I think anyone of us is ready to go up there and contribute.”

It’s interesting to note that the Yankees do not have Kyle Higashioka with the squad in Tampa, which would indicate he’s been traveling with the team.

Sabathia Throws Bullpen, Cleared for Possible ALCS Roster Spot

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Another player who is now in contention for one of the 25 spots for the ALCS is veteran lefty CC Sabathia. The 39-year-old lefty was left off the ALDS roster because of shoulder soreness but appears to be back in a position to contribute out of the bullpen.

“I think there is a couple different roles he could fill. Multi-inning might be a little aggressive, but a one-off where he’s facing a left-handed hitter, I could certainly see him in a lane where he’s facing three or four hitters, possibly an inning plus, something like that. I think the biggest thing is trying to evaluate where he is. For example, [Thursday], seeing how he bounces back from a pretty aggressive bullpen where guys stood in against him and he was making all his pitches at full speed and everything. Do we think he can pitch in a game and legitimately bounce back and be an option the next day if he were to face a hitter or something like that?”

Aaron Boone, via New York Post‘s George A. King III

Sabathia made one relief appearance Sep. 24 against Tampa Bay, throwing a scoreless fourth inning and recording two strikeouts. He didn’t bounce-back well from that outing, however, and did not pitch in the Yankees final regular season series against the Texas Rangers.

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