Yankees' lineup for DJ LeMahieu's return is a bold Aaron Boone call (that could pay off)

Or, you know, whoever makes the lineups.
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

With DJ LeMahieu finally poised to return from the foot injury (caused by, what else, an errant foul ball) that knocked him out for the season's first two months and had already paused one rehab stint, Aaron Boone emphatically answered the question that loomed darkest: yes, Anthony Volpe would remain in the leadoff spot, despite what Aaron Judge had asked for prior to the season.

Jon Berti's high-grade calf strain answered another tough question for Boone. While LeMahieu might theoretically take playing time away from Gleyber Torres, it's far more likely that Oswaldo Cabrera/Anthony Rizzo on rest days are the only folks who are affected. The infield jogjam isn't quite as jammed as it used to be.

Only one question remained. If Volpe leads off and LeMahieu becomes the de facto starter at third ... where does he hit? How could the Yankees both incorporate one of their best contact bats (fingers crossed) and not mess with success if he stalls, 2022 style?

According to Boone, the Yankees have found their first attempt at a solution by placing LeMahieu somewhere he hasn't appeared since 2019, his first season with the team: the bottom of the order.

Yankees Lineup for DJ LeMahieu's return: Anthony Volpe, LeMahieu hit back-to-back

It's not quite leadoff, but it is second leadoff!

After a rusty season-and-a-half packed with more ground balls than anyone asked for, LeMahieu finally began to look like his old dependable self in the second half of 2023, OPSing .809 and hitting .273 as the Yankees' season spiraled. The main issue with expecting that level of production, of course, is that LeMahieu has since been afflicted with a similar ailment to the one that sent him spiraling the first time.

This time around, his non-displaced foot fracture came on the same right foot that he injured late in the 2022 season. LeMahieu avoided surgery in that previous instance but, like Aaron Judge, will presumably have to "monitor" his troublesome toe for the remainder of his career. It took The Machine a half-season to get accustomed to his previous problems. Will the adjustment period be even longer this time around?

If he's going to start, the nine-hole is a good spot for the experiment to begin.