Zack Britton returned to the Yankees’ bullpen on Thursday, but they lost another left-handed reliever when Wandy Peralta was placed on the 15-day injured list with left thoracic spine tightness, a back issue.
Britton, 34, has been out since last season after undergoing UCL surgery and made it clear he felt he was set to rejoin the bullpen when he arrived in The Bronx on Wednesday and said he was “ready to pitch.”
The veteran reliever said he spoke with general manager Brian Cashman on Wednesday about his role. The Yankees, however, wanted to see what their bullpen needs were, which meant there was a possibility that Britton would not make his 2022 debut until Sunday.
That may have changed, however, when Peralta was placed on the IL.
Manager Aaron Boone said Peralta has dealt with some back issues over the last month. He has been kept down since he last pitched on Sunday in Milwaukee, where he gave up three runs without retiring a batter.
The Yankees are hopeful Peralta will be back in time for their final series of the regular season, at Texas.
Britton, who did not pitch Thursday in the Yankees’ 5-4, 10-inning win over the Red Sox, is in the final year of his deal with the Yankees and is aiming to show he can pitch for them in the playoffs.
“I want to get my performance back where I want it to be,’’ Britton said. “It was a progression to get back to the big leagues. Now it’s about sharpening up so I can be an asset in the postseason. Time will tell if that makes sense.”
Boone said: “With 14 games left, it’s important to get him up here and in there against major league competition to see where we’re at.”
Britton pitched effectively and said he had no issues during his minor league rehab assignment, during which he appeared in eight games.
“I think there’s an unknown and we won’t know until I do it, but my arm felt great,’’ Britton said. “I’m not worried, but I don’t know. … If I get enough innings to be myself, time will tell.’’
To make room for Britton on the 40-man roster, Miguel Andujar was designated for assignment, potentially bringing an end to his time with the Yankees.
Andrew Bentinendi, on the IL after surgery to repair a fracture of the hook of the hamate bone in his right wrist, still hopes to make it back in time for the playoffs, but has all but ruled out returning before the end of the regular season.
“That’s the plan,’’ Benintendi said of being available for the playoffs. “Days-wise, I think it’s safe to say the regular season is out.
DJ LeMahieu (inflamed right toe) did infield work and took regular batting practice Thursday. Boone had expressed hope LeMahieu could return during the current homestand, which ends Sunday.
With the win Thursday, the Yankees clinched a playoff spot, making Boone the first manager in MLB history to make the postseason in his first five seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Clarke Schmidt gave up two homers in the seventh inning and has allowed three home runs, and six runs overall, in his last two outings, covering 3 ¹/₃ innings.
Boone said Schmidt “struggled” and has to execute better against left-handed hitters.
Aroldis Chapman’s control problems resurfaced when he walked two of the three batters he faced in the eighth inning. He has walked seven batters in his last five appearances. … Giancarlo Stanton has two homers in his last three games and had another three-hit game.