Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees could be without a key piece of their lineup to start the season, all because of a poorly timed injury.

Manager Aaron Boone reported Monday that infielder DJ LeMahieu has a “pretty significant bone bruise” and may not be ready for Opening Day. Worse luck, it’s the same right foot that prematurely ended LeMaheiu’s 2022 season, though that was more of a toe injury. The two-time batting champ fouled a ball off of the foot against

LeMahieu was batting .222 in spring training, but seeing the ball well and making good contact on his best swings. All signs pointed him to being the Yankees’ leadoff man in Houston on March 29. Barring a miracle, that’s not happening. And given LeMahieu’s recent 10/5 rights and the three years, $45 million left on his deal, he will not be rushed back.

This means starting the season on the injured list and penciling in someone else at third base, but who? Switch-hitting utility man Oswaldo Cabrera is an option, but he hasn’t hit too well in spring training. It won’t be former top prospect Oswald Peraza, who’s currently resting a balky shoulder.

Given the lack of infield options, general manager Brian Cashman could always add one via the free agent market. Veteran Josh Harrison didn’t make the Cincinnati Reds roster and is an option, or maybe the veteran executive recalls Jorbit Vivas from his sudden assignment to the minors.

The good news for the Yankees is that the lineup is built to succeed without LeMahieu. The rest of the lineup is still performing well. In terms of his absence, it could be anything from two weeks to two months. The Yankees won’t take any chances, given his contract.

For now, though it’s wait and see. Bone bruises take time to heal and the Yankees will give their veteran infielder plenty of it. If the team is lucky, maybe he’ll be back by late April.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.