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Giancarlo Stanton returns, giving the Yankees relief after a long absence

Few players have represented the Yankees injury-plagued season of 2019 quite like the slug Giancarlo Stanton. Before Wednesday, he had played in just nine games due to a litany of physical ailments: a left biceps load; a balky left shoulder; a strained calf; and, most recently, an extruded posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

But for the first time since June 25, Yankees manager Aaron Boone wrote Stanton's name in the team lineup – hitting fifth and starting left field in Wednesday night's 3- 2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. A win would have clinched the first American League East title since 201

2 for the Yankees, who still had a chance to claim the division on Wednesday if the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a later game.

Stanton's return came at a critical time. With one and a half weeks left in the regular season, he will finally have the opportunity to face major league pitching in preparation for the playoffs, which the Yankees will likely begin in the American League division rounds on October 4.

And with Mike Tauchman ready for the season, Aaron Hicks is unlikely to return this year and Cameron Maybin plays with a sore wrist, the Yankees outfield desperately needs Stanton, a four-time All-Star and winner of a Most Valuable Player Award.

"Our urgency to get G back has never changed," Boone said over the weekend.

As the minor league season ended earlier this month, Stanton, 29, has continued his rehabilitation at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, in recent weeks, facing minor league pitchers in instructional. He flew to New York on Tuesday and managed to get off the injured list after meeting with Boone and the team's training staff.

Boone planned to facilitate Stanton back to major league action. He went 1 for 3, including a standup double in his first at-bat, and played six innings on the field on Wednesday. He was expected to play the entire game on Thursday as the designated hitter.

In Tampa, Stanton was able to do all his agility, defense and baserunning work without any obvious killer problems in his knee, Boone said. Stanton initially injured his knee that slipped into third base during a game on June 25.

When healthy, Stanton can be one of the best power players in baseball. The Yankees acquired him and the rest of his 13-year, $ 325 million contract after hitting 59 homers during his National League M.V.P. campaign with the Miami Marlins 2017.

Wednesday's game was the last home game of the regular season for C.C. Sabathia's career. He is retiring after this season, his 19th in the majors, 11 of which were spent with the Yankees. Sabathia allowed two runs over two and two thirds innings and received a standing ovation as he left the game. He leaned his cap on his family and fans in the stands, and one by one on the field, his teammates hugged him.

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