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Yankees’ offense feeling Juan Soto’s absence after losses to Dodgers: ‘It is a big part’

The Yankees had the best offense in baseball entering their highly-anticipated series against the Dodgers. Now two games in, the rankings haven’t changed much.

However, New York’s lineup certainly feels different without Juan Soto, who is nursing left forearm inflammation. The 25-year-old, who played in all 162 games with the Padres last season, watched from the dugout as Los Angeles secured a series win with victories on Friday and Saturday.

The Yankees scored four runs in those games, and one came via the ghost runner in Friday’s 11-inning affair. The team has also gone 1-15 with runners in scoring position while leaving 19 runners on in the first two games of the series.

While a two-game sample may not seem like much to base a hypothesis — let alone a conclusion — on, Soto’s peers acknowledged feeling his absence.

“It is a big part,” Alex Verdugo, who has been batting second in Soto’s place, said after Saturday’s 11-3 loss. “Not gonna say it’s not. But at the end of the day, we’ve had our opportunities with him out of the lineup to win, and we just haven’t cashed in.”

Verdugo made sure to credit the Dodgers’ top-five pitching staff, which surrendered two homers to Aaron Judge on Saturday. However, Gleyber Torres agreed that Soto’s production — lethally paired with Judge’s all season — has been missed.

“He’s a huge part of the team, for sure,” the second baseman, fresh off another error, said Saturday.

It’s been interesting to see the Yankees’ offense sputter without Soto the last few days, as the right fielder is an impending free agent who could command a record-setting salary.

As good as Soto has been statistically — he’s hitting .318/.424/.603 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI — he also brings some intangibles to the lineup.

“It’s just a presence,” Verdugo said. “Obviously, being able to work at-bats. It’s a good way to kind of see all the guy’s pitches early on. And then obviously what Soto does, he drives the ball everywhere. So it’s a big bat out for us right now. But at the end of the day, we always know when one guy’s down, the next guy’s gotta step up.”

Fortunately for the Yankees, Soto is expected to avoid a stint on the injured list.

On Saturday, Aaron Boone said that the Yankees were leaning toward giving Soto a “couple days” of rest, which means he likely won’t play in Sunday’s series finale against the Dodgers. However, Boone also said that Soto will “probably” swing a bat on Sunday after ramping up a bit on Saturday.

“I know today he felt really good,” Boone said. “Noticeably better in his eye, but it was also important that [Friday] he not do much of anything baseball to try and get this to calm down. Sounded like he felt a lot better today. Went through kind of his normal prep stuff that went pretty well. So we’ll see what we have tomorrow.”


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