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Didi Gregorius (Matt Bufano)

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Didi Gregorius edges closer to MLB return

MOOSIC — Didi Gregorius played in his third rehab game on Saturday with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He played all nine innings at shortstop and went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the RailRiders 7-4 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

After receiving just three at-bats in his first three days with Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Gregorius has been to the plate nine times between Friday and Saturday.

“The reps are extremely important,” RailRiders manager Jay Bell said. “The eyes are really, really important. The more reps he sees, the stronger the muscles in the eyes get, which allows him to track the ball a little bit better.”

Didi Gregorius has been making improvements defensively and offensively on his way back from surgery. (Matt Bufano)

With two strikes and a runner in scoring position, Gregorius lined a single into center field and advanced to second on an error. It marked his first hit with the RailRiders, as he did not tally one through his first 11 at-bats, and added insurance to Scranton Wilkes-Barre’s three-run lead in the seventh.

“He knows exactly how to handle it. It’s him trying to figure out how to get his timing back,” Bell said. “He’s extremely controlled mentally and emotionally and he handles himself extremely well. His heartbeat is extremely slow when he’s out on the field.”

Gregorius will stay with the RailRiders for four more days to get reps. Bell continues to see improvements, both offensively and defensively.

“It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “He’s put together a few really good at-bats. Hasn’t had many results, but his swing is actually there. It’s a pretty significant layoff. Get those quick twitch muscles to start working. Get the eyes to start focusing a little bit better.”

Didi Gregorius will be the designated hitter on Sunday for Scranton and might rejoin the Yankees in Ohio. (Matt Bufano)

Gregorius should return to the Yankees by Friday in Cleveland. He will be the designated hitter on Sunday and travel with the RailRiders to Buffalo to begin the week. The plan is to rest on Monday, then have Gregorius play Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, he will travel and meet the team in Ohio and be ready for Friday. Bell said if the weather hinders Didi’s playing time, that plan could change.

“I like what I’ve seen so far,” he said. “Defensively he looks wonderful and he’s done some pretty productive things…He’s fun to watch out there.”

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