ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Matt Carpenter was inserted to the New York Yankees’ lineup as the designated hitter after agreeing to a one-year contract on Thursday, a week after he was released from the Texas Rangers’ minor league system.
Carpenter entered the lineup for a series opener at Tampa Bay when center fielder Aaron Hicks was scratched shortly before game time with hamstring tightness. Aaron Judge was moved from DH to center.
“It happened fast and now I’m here and I couldn’t be more excited about it,” Carpenter said after meeting with manager Aaron Boone at Tropicana Field.
“We just had a quick conversation about it but my response to him is that’s I’m excited to put a uniform on and be part of the best team in baseball right now,” Carpenter said. “I’m just fired up to be here. I’m going to hit the ground running.”
Injury-hit New York also selected the contract of 31-year-old left-hander Manny Bañuelos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bañuelos was in the Yankees’ minor league system from 2008 to 2014 but never made it up to the big league club during that time.
Carpenter, 36, gets a contract paying a $1 million salary while in the major leagues and $200,000 while in the minors. A three-time All-Star with the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit .275 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 21 games for Round Rock of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Carpenter spent the previous 11 seasons with the Cardinals, batting .262 with 155 homers and 576 RBIs. He hit .169 last year with three homers and 21 RBIs in 207 at-bats.
He played 19 games at first this year, one at third and two at designated hitter.
DJ LeMahieu, who has shared time at third base with Josh Donaldson while also playing first and second, missed the final two games of a series against Baltimore because of a sore left wrist and was not in Thursday night’s starting lineup.
Donaldson remained in New York with a cough and felt better after intravenous fluids, according to Boone. Donaldson remains negative for COVID-19.
Boone said he could use Carpenter at first base, third, right and perhaps second.
“He’s someone who’s been on our radar the last couple of months,” Boone said. “We’ve been eyeing him for a while as a left-handed bat off the bench. … Just a professional guy from the left side, and we feel he can help us.”
Bañuelos gets an $800,000 salary while in the major leagues and $150,000 while in the minors. He was assigned No. 68, the number that used to be worn with the Yankees by old pal Dellin Betances.
He pitched in the major leagues for Atlanta in 2015 and the Chicago White Sox in 2019, going 4-8 with a 6.31 ERA in 14 starts and seven relief appearances. Bañuelos is 0-2 with a 2.35 ERA in five starts and two relief appearances for Scranton, striking out 30 and walking 12 in 30⅔ innings.
Bañuelos, a member of Mexico’s pitching staff at last year’s Olympics, split the 2021 season between the Fubon Guardians in Taiwan and Mexico’s Sultanes de Monterrey.
“He was great to be around this spring and he’s pitched really well,” Boone said. “He put himself on our map this spring with his performance and he’s carried that into the season.”
New York assigned catcher Rob Brantly outright to the RailRiders. The Yankees opened spots on the active 26-man roster by optioning left-hander JP Sears and outfielder Estevan Florial to Scranton after Wednesday’s 2-0 win.