New York Yankees' Anthony Rizzo misses start vs. Los Angeles Angels, enters late as defensive replacement

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo was out of the starting lineup in Wednesday night's 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels because of lower-back tightness.

Rizzo entered the game as a defensive replacement at first base in the bottom of the eighth after Tim Locastro pinch ran for DJ LeMahieu, who started at first.

Rizzo missed four games in early July while dealing with a lower-back issue and was also a late scratch from the starting lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 5, going on to miss five games.

"He's dealing with the back stuff still," manager Aaron Boone said before Wednesday's game. "Obviously, he's got good results the last couple of days, but it's definitely been something that's weighing him down a little bit. I feel like I have to give him a day here. But it's weighing him down."

When Rizzo dealt with similar discomfort earlier in the year, he described it as a type of lower-back spasm that has been a recurring issue in his career. Rizzo has avoided the injured list, but he has missed nine games with lower-back issues since July 5.

Boone said that he didn't expect the injury would keep Rizzo out for an extended period, but did not discount needing a few more days off during the Yankees' upcoming three-game weekend series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays.

"It's something that's just kind of wearing him down," Boone said. "He just can't move like he'd like. He's dealing with some pain in there. He's not able to do the level of exercises that he usually does to be able to prepare himself to play every day. So we'll see. ... [But] it's not going to be an IL situation."

Rizzo has struggled in August, batting .208 with 26 strikeouts in 21 games, but he had been hot at the plate as of late, homering in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday to reach the 30-homer mark for the first time since 2017 with the Chicago Cubs.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon, who left Tuesday night's game after only two innings due to a right forearm contusion after being hit by a line drive, is scheduled to play catch on Thursday, an off-day before the Yankees start the series against their AL East rival Rays.

Boone said he feels "encouraged" by Taillon's progress.

"There's still a little bit of swelling in there," Boone said. "[Taillon] felt better than expected, so we'll see how the next couple of days go, and hopefully he'll be in position to make his next start. But we'll know more in the next day and a half."

Starter Nestor Cortes Jr., who is on the IL with a low-level Grade 2 groin strain, threw for the first time off a mound on Wednesday at Angel Stadium. If Cortes bounces back well after the Yankees' off-day, he will throw live batting practice during their series in Tampa before going on a rehab assignment.

Cortes would be eligible to come off the IL during the Yankees' seven-game homestand, which starts Monday against the Minnesota Twins.

Starter Luis Severino, who was placed on the 60-day IL due to a right lat strain, is slated to throw his first rehab game on Friday with the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees' Double-A affiliate. Severino would be eligible to come off the injured list in mid-September.