Kyle Higashioka swinging hot bat for inconsistent Yankees

DENVER — At a time when the Yankees have been starving for offense, Kyle Higashioka has been one of their more productive hitters, earning him more playing time in the process. 

Higashioka started a third straight game behind the plate on Saturday, catching Clarke Schmidt for the first time since May 31. 

Manager Aaron Boone said Jose Trevino, who had caught each of Schmidt’s last six starts, was OK physically and will catch Gerrit Cole on Sunday in the series finale against the Rockies. 

While the Yankees like both catchers’ defense, Higashioka has been more productive at the plate, especially of late, hitting .308 with a .800 OPS over his last 26 games. 

“Higgy’s been swinging the bat pretty well for an extended period now,” Boone said. “They both are so good behind the plate. But I do like the way Higgy’s been swinging the bat. He’s been one of those guys that I feel like has hit a lot of balls hard for outs.

“He hasn’t had a lot of good luck on his side, but has still been getting some decent results.” 

Kyla Higashioka is not worried about the Yankees' playoff potential.
Kyla Higashioka is not worried about the Yankees’ playoff potential.

Trevino, meanwhile, entered Saturday hitting .211 with a .570 OPS on the season. 

“He’s been a little banged up, playing through some things,” Boone said. “It’s probably contributed some to his offense being quite what we saw in the first several months of last year.” 

Aaron Judge took batting practice on the field for a second straight day, continuing to make progress in his rehab from a torn ligament in his right big toe. 

“He did more stuff today moving around and running,” Boone said. “It went well.” 

Aaron Judge, pictured during a July 3 game, took batting practice Friday at Coors Field.
Aaron Judge, pictured during a July 3 game, took batting practice Friday at Coors Field.
Charles Wenzelberg

Jake Bauers (rotator cuff contusion) will not come off the injured list on Sunday when he’s first eligible, but he should not be out much longer.

Boone said the outfielder is getting “really close.” 

“I think he feels like he’s ready to go now,” Boone said. “So he’ll really ramp up baseball activities the next couple days and then we’ll be close to either sending him out [on a rehab assignment] or doing what we have to do.” 

Jonathan Loaisiga (elbow surgery) is getting close to facing live hitters, according to Boone.

The right-hander could return to the bullpen at some point in August if everything continues to go as planned. 

The Yankees expect Frankie Montas (shoulder surgery) to join them in Anaheim during their next series, against the Angels.

The rehabbing right-hander is scheduled to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who is based in Los Angeles and performed Montas’ arthroscopic surgery in February. 

Yankees starter Frankie Montas has begun a throwing program.
Yankees starter Frankie Montas started a throwing program at the end of May.
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Boone, who said the appointment was a follow-up, added Montas has not yet advanced to throwing off the mound.

Montas “had a couple days where he wasn’t throwing,” Boone said, but he has since resumed playing catch after he started his throwing program on May 30. 

The Yankees signed veteran infielder Jake Lamb to a minor league contract on Friday and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He made his organizational debut with the RailRiders on Friday night, starting at first base and going 1-for-4 with a double. 

The left-handed hitting Lamb, 32, started this season with the Angels, batting .216 with a .612 OPS in 18 games before he was designated for assignment and released on July 1.

In 34 games with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, Lamb hit .317 with a .945 OPS.