Yankees’ Kluber out at least two months, Voit also to IL

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NEW YORK — Yankees right-hander Corey Kluber is expected to miss at least two months after hurting his pitching shoulder, and first baseman Luke Voit is also headed to the injured list with a right oblique strain.

New York manager Aaron Boone announced the diagnoses Wednesday shortly after the Yankees’ scheduled game against the Toronto Blue Jays was postponed due to a forecast of poor weather. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday.

Kluber was pulled after three innings Tuesday against Toronto in his first outing following a no-hitter last week. An MRI on his shoulder Wednesday revealed a subscapularis strain, which will keep Kluber from throwing for at least four weeks, followed by at least four weeks of rehabilitation.

The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner is being sent for a second MRI with dyeing, a more invasive exam to ensure there’s no other damage.

Kluber was coming off a 101-pitch effort against the Rangers for the 35-year-old’s first no-hitter. It was a milestone high for a former ace recently beset by injury – his 2019 season with Cleveland ended that May 1 when he was hit on the forearm by a comebacker, and his debut for Texas in 2020 lasted just one inning before he tore a muscle in his right shoulder on July 26.

Boone doesn’t believe the no-hitter caused Kluber’s injury. Kluber said Tuesday he felt some tightness in the shoulder warming up for Wednesday’s game, but it’s unclear what caused the injury.

Kluber dropped to 4-3 with a 3.04 ERA.

Deivi Garcia and Michael King are the chief candidates to fill his rotation spot. Garcia, currently with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was already scheduled to rejoin the big league team and make a spot start this weekend against Detroit as New York plans 13 games in 13 days.

“We’ll have to pick up the slack for him, obviously,” Boone said.

New York entered Wednesday 28-20, one game behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays and a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox.

Voit’s diagnosis was even more of a shocker. Boone said the slugger began to feel discomfort in his side Saturday that worsened Tuesday, prompting an MRI that revealed a Grade 2 strain.

Voit, who led the majors with 22 home runs last season, is hitting .182 with one homer in 12 games after missing the start of the season following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee during spring training.

“To have a setback here that’s going to land him on the IL, he’s very frustrated with that,” Boone said. “But hopefully it’s not going to keep him down too long.”

DJ LeMahieu and Mike Ford are expected to fill in for Voit at first base. Miguel Andujar could also see time there.

New York is hoping to get slugger Giancarlo Stanton back from the injured list with a quadriceps injury this week. Stanton ran on the field Tuesday and Wednesday, and Boone said he’s eyeing a Friday return, although he didn’t rule out Stanton as an option for Thursday.

The Yankees are also without outfielder Aaron Hicks, who was scheduled to have left wrist surgery Wednesday that could keep him out the rest of the season.

LeMahieu returned to the team Wednesday after going on the paternity list Tuesday for the birth of his first child. He was slated to play first base.

New York announced the postponement of Wednesday’s game in the Bronx about two hours before the slated first pitch. The opener of Thursday’s twinbill will be at 4:05 p.m., and the nightcap will start roughly 30 minutes after the final out of the first game but no earlier than 7:05 p.m.

Toronto right-hander Alek Manoah had been set to make his major league debut against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who was already scheduled to pitch on five days of rest. German has a seven-inning scoreless streak.

The Yankees plan to start German in the early game and left-hander Jordan Montgomery in the nightcap Thursday. Manoah will pitch the opener for Toronto and Robbie Ray the second game.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky over the Bronx when the postponement was announced, although the forecast projected thunderstorms to begin right around the 7:05 p.m. start time.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.