josh donaldson yankees
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have been slowly getting healthier. As that’s happened, manager Aaron Boone has watched his club get hot. New York is off on Monday after a 6-1 road trip, pushing them to 14-5 over the past 19 games. Third baseman Josh Donaldson was close to returning from the injured list himself but then experienced a setback.

What Bryan Hoch (and others) have reported is most likely true. But are the Yankees quietly slow-playing Donaldson’s rehab because they don’t want him back on the active roster? Apparently, that’s what the veteran thinks.

Many Yankees fans were excited over the weekend because outfielder Aaron Hicks was finally designated for assignment. It felt way too late, but at least general manager Brian Cashman admitted it was a failed experiment. With that news, some weren’t satisfied and were looking for me.

You know, like seeing Donaldson officially packing his bags, too:

Simply watching the Yankees cut Donaldson loose despite owing him $20-plus million has always appeared to be a non-starter. But from what season-ticket holder David Rifkin recently said, it sounds like New York is content to just let him sit on the Injured List instead:

Rifkin doubled down on this statement by saying the following:

If you’re wondering what the “Welcome Home Dinner” is, it’s the same event that started a war between Michael Kay and John Sterling. So, this little event was quite… eventful, you could say.

Of course, this is not a reporter saying this — it’s a fan. So, we have to take it with a grain of salt. If this is really the case, though, I’d have to imagine that no Yankees fan would be upset by it. Donaldson appeared in five games before getting sidelined last month, and it wasn’t good. He hit .125/.176/.313 with one home run and one RBI in 17 plate appearances.

This latest setback in Donaldson’s journey back to the active roster is his second since starting to ramp things back up. He also reportedly suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain during his first try at completing a rehab assignment.

Let’s say this is exactly what Cashman and the Yankees are doing. We know they tried to trade him over the winter to clear some salary, but it didn’t work. Why would they stash him on the injured list instead of cutting him loose? It feels unnecessary, and another way for Cashman to avoid admitting defeat (especially if Donaldson went elsewhere and started performing).

Once again, we don’t know how true or false this rumor is, but it’s now worth monitoring. We’ll have to see how long it takes Donaldson to recover from his latest setback and when he ultimately gets back in the lineup. If that happens.

You can reach Matt Musico at You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.