TAMPA, Fla. — Major league home run champion Luke Voit needs knee surgery to repair a partial meniscus tear, an injury that opened a New York Yankees roster spot for Jay Bruce on Saturday as a converted first baseman.
Voit will not have any baseball activities for three weeks after the operation, manager Aaron Boone said. Voit is expected back in May.
“Let’s have the surgery, see how the early days are and then we will be able to evaluate,” Boone said.
The injury to Voit, hit 22 homers in the pandemic-shortened season, played a role in the decision to add Bruce, who attended spring training with a minor league contract. Bruce has played 1,510 major league games in the outfield and 54 at first base, including two last season.
“It was part of the equation,” Boone said. “So, Jay is with us. I expect him to play a lot and a lot of first base for us. Excited to see what he can do for us.”
Bruce gets a contract paying $1.35 million while in the major leagues and $150,000 should he be assigned to the minors.
“I was waiting on the Yankees to let me know,” said Bruce, who was informed about the decision early Saturday morning. “Clearly this is where I wanted to be. This is why I signed here. I'm extremely excited.”
Bruce entered Saturday with a .194 average, two homers and three RBIs in 31 at-bats during spring training.
Boone said outfielder Michael Tauchman, who is out of minor league options, is set to be an extra outfielder.
Bruce is a rare left-handed bat on the heavily right-handed Yankees. In their projected batting order, switch-hitting centre fielder Aaron Hicks is joined by eight right-handed hitters. Left-handed-hitting outfielder Brett Gardner, projected as a reserve behind Clint Frazier, also figures to get significant playing time.
Bruce hit .198 with six homers and 14 RBIs for Philadelphia in 96 at-bats during the pandemic-shortened season. He is a three-time All-Star with a .245 average, 318 home runs and 948 RBIs during 13 big league seasons with Cincinnati (2008-15), the New York Mets (2016-18), Cleveland (2018), Seattle (2019) and the Phillies.
New York released infielder Derek Dietrich and injured catcher Robinson Chirinos from minor league contracts. Releasing them does not preclude the Yankees from re-signing them.
Right-hander Clarke Schmidt was placed on the 60-day injured list with a right elbow strain, opening a spot for Bruce on the 40-man roster.
Notes: LHP Justin Wilson, who injured his left shoulder in Monday's game against Philadelphia, resumed throwing on Saturday. Wilson threw at 90 feet on level ground and said it hasn't been determined if he will start the season on the injured list. ... RHP Clarke Schmidt (right elbow strain) was placed on the 60-day IL.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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Mark Didtler, The Associated Press