Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu is still not fully recovered from his bruised right foot and will start the season on the injured list, per general manager Brian Cashman.

The two-time batting champion suffered what manager Aaron Boone called a “pretty significant bone bruise” last week. This is the same foot on which LeMahieu injured his toe in 2022 and saw his production crater. Struggles carried over into 2023 and he didn’t look himself again until after the All-Star Break. DJ LeMahieu hit .273 with an .809 OPS in the second-half compared to .220 with a .643 before the Break.

LeMahieu was batting just .222 with an awful .535 in spring training this year, but was visibly more comfortable at the plate. He hit to the opposite field effortlessly and made plenty of hard contact. His swings looked clean, even a year older at 35.

The Yankees will likely roll out switch-hitting super utility player Oswaldo Cabrera at third base while LeMahieu recovers. Cabrera only hit .213 with a pair of homers in spring training, but hit .363 in his last five games. Both his pitch recognition and swing mechanics have noticeably improved.

Regardless, the Yankees simply cannot afford to take more risks with DJ LeMahieu’s health. MLB getting rid of juiced balls already has his contract looking like Mark Teixeira Lite and to top it all off, LeMahieu now has 10/5 rights. This means the Yankees cannot trade him without his express approval. Three years and $45 million remain on his contract.

This bad news does have a silver lining. DJ LeMahieu, though not playing in games, is still participating in baseball activities. He isn’t stuck in indefinite rest and recovery.

We’ve all seen the kind of hitter and overall player DJ LeMahieu can be when he’s healthy. The Yankees have too much riding on the season to take any unnecessary risks with him.

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.