Yankees’ Josh Donaldson repays Aaron Boone’s confidence with a home run

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — For the first time since Thursday, Josh Donaldson saw his name again in the Yankees lineup on Tuesday.

But how long the scrimmaging veteran will last remains one of the Yankees’ most pressing questions as they approach the halfway point of the season.

Donaldson came back from three games with a hit, hitting a solo home run on his second before striking out on his final two runs to the plate in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Athletics at Oakland Coliseum.

“For the best part since I came back, I felt really good on the plate,” Donaldson said. “I went through a period of stretching for a few days last week where I felt a little off. I’ve managed to do some work. Overall, I felt very good with this approach.”

Donaldson’s 423-foot blast off right-hander Paul Blackburn, the Yankees’ only source of offense all night, was his seventh home run, but it was his ninth. He finished the night hitting . 132 with a . 641 OPS in 22 games.

“He has a lot of confidence because he can,” said manager Aaron Boone. “Hopefully, something like that will be a little motivating this week. But we all have to pick up the weight and make it a little bit more offensive.”

Before the game, Boone insisted the 37-year-old Donaldson would play “a lot” despite being sidelined for the entire series against the Rangers over the weekend.

“I want to give him some runway here to get him started,” Boone said.

The “runway” comment was the same rhetoric General Manager Brian Cashman used last week, saying he wanted Donaldson to “get some runway here where he gets consistent at bats…and be in a better position to umpire.” Donaldson left out how long it might take before the Yankees decide to cut the bait with Donaldson, who earns $21 million this season and has a mutual option of $6 million for 2024.

For now, Boone said he hoped Donaldson could “get him to act wisely.”

“Hopefully he can go out and do what I think he’s capable of,” Boone said. “I feel like there is a lot of still life in the bat. There’s a lot of bat speed, there’s power, and there’s defense at third base. So the most important thing I want him to do is for him to keep going and settle down and get out there and puke really good [at-bats]. If he does that and wins stadiums and has a good father, results will follow.”

Boone also downplayed the lengthy meeting he had with Donaldson on Sunday morning before his third straight game.

“I’ve seen things like, ‘We cleaned up the air’ — it wasn’t anything like that,” Boone said. “We spoke at length two days before that. Honestly, that was kind of a stretch on the timing of my press conference. Obviously I didn’t play, I understand what it could have looked like.

“But we were talking a lot about baseball, even talking about baseball stories and things like that. We’ve talked through a lot of different things, but that’s always been the case, too. I’m just looking forward to him getting out and playing and hopefully he can give us what I know he’s capable of.”

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