Yankees finally make lineup change fans have been begging for after Volpe double play

It was time for a change.
Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees
Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees / Luke Hales/GettyImages
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On Wednesday night, with the game in the balance, a runner on first, nobody out, and the home plate umpire suitably angered by Reds closer Alexis Diaz, Yankees leadoff man Anthony Volpe faced a 1-0 count. He received a breaker below the zone, tapping the baseball towards the one place he shouldn't: a waiting infielder, ready to turn two. It was a familiar sight for Yankees fans, but this particular double play might've been the most egregious recent example of an endemic problem. With a closer on the ropes in what felt like a must-win game, the Yanks' leadoff hitter got swing happy and bailed him out.

For now, that was the final straw leading to a long-awaited lineup change on Thursday afternoon.

The bottom of the first inning of the Yankees' series finale with the Cincinnati Reds will commence with Ben Rice taking his hacks. Rice's at-bats, at first blush after his callup, were packed with professionalism, but precious little power. In recent days, the line drive singles have become doubles, while the patience has maintained. If it wasn't going to be Juan Soto leading off -- and it wasn't -- it had to be Rice.

Volpe moves down to sixth in the order.

Yankees shift Ben Rice to leadoff, move Anthony Volpe to sixth

Nothing is likely to be "solved" immediately. It might work out in a week, or Rice might struggle in the newfound spotlight. Volpe might continue to struggle, no matter where in the order he's placed. But the Yankees had to try something, as their prize shortstop prospect's offense hasn't matched his defense in months. Worst of all, he'd lost all semblance of his approach. He hasn't homered since May 16. His OBP in his past 30 games is just .229, compared with an average of .212. If he's not hitting a single, he's not reaching base these days.

If the Yankees want to see what they have in Rice ahead of the trade deadline, leading him off is a great way to suss out more details about his maturity. So is playing him against left-handed pitching, but we'll get there when we get there.

Thursday afternoon represents the first time in a year and a half that Volpe's backsliding has had repercussions. Let's see if that teaching moment helps, too.

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