Yankees manager Aaron Boone gets pacemaker, takes leave

Sports

FILE – This is a Feb. 24, 2021, photo showing Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees baseball team. The New York Yankees announced Wednesday, March 3, 2021, that manager Aaron Boone is taking an immediate medical leave of absence to receive a pacemaker. (Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via AP, Pool)

NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees manager Aaron Boone took a leave of absence from the team to get a pacemaker and intends to return to work in a few days.

New York said the procedure took place Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and went as expected. Boone remained hospitalized overnight.

“It sounds like it’s going to be a short-term thing,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “I do applaud him for being very open and honest and sharing about the circumstances that he’s going through right now.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition, a 4-1 win over Toronto in Tampa.

“I was told that he’s recovering well, that everything went as planned,” Mendoza said.

The 41-year-old Mendoza was a minor leaguer mostly with San Francisco and the Yankees from 1997-09 and is starting his 13th season working for the Yankees.

Mendoza joined the major league staff as quality control and infield coach under Boone in 2018 and succeeded Josh Bard as bench coach for 2020.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good group of coaches here and really good personnel that are going to continue to get these guys ready to play the regular season.”

Boone, 47, is entering his fourth season as Yankees manager. Cashman said Boone told him a few days ago he intended to have the pacemaker inserted whenever the surgery could be scheduled.

Boone said in a statement the medical team is “confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life. I look forward to getting back to work in the next several days.”

New York started the exhibition season Sunday, and Boone informed the Yankees staff from the hospital during Wednesday’s daily staff Zoom call that he was having the procedure later in the day. Mendoza said Boone was smiling and joking during the call.

Boone recorded a video that was given to players during a second Zoom after Mendoza and third base coach Phil Nevin spoke.

“He just wanted them to continue to get our work in, continue to do (things) the right way, the same way we’ve been doing here, and that made all of us feel a lot better,” Mendoza said.

Brett Gardner, the Yankees’ senior player, said the video helped comfort players. Gardner said Boone had mentioned a few days ago when passing in a hallway that he was feeling tired.

“I think it was a shock to most of us,” Gardner said. “I think his first concern was making sure that we would continue to go about our business the right way with him being gone and, obviously, to kind of ease our minds that we weren’t too overly concerned about him and this procedure.”

Cashman said Boone could return to the team in two to three days.

“As many of you know, I underwent open-heart surgery in 2009, and I wanted everyone to understand where I’m at regarding the procedure that’s taking place today,” Boone said in his statement. “Over the last six to eight weeks I’ve had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath. As a result, I underwent a series of tests and examinations in New York prior to the beginning of spring training, including multiple visits with a team of heart specialists. While the heart checkup came back normal, there were indications of a low heart rate which, after further consultations with doctors in Tampa, necessitates a pacemaker.”

Boone said “my faith is strong, and my spirits are high. I’m in a great frame of mind.”

“During my short-term absence, I have complete trust that our coaches, staff and players will continue their training and preparation at the same level as we’ve had and without any interruption,” he said.

Boone was a third baseman and first baseman in the major leagues from 1997-2009. He was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 shortly before getting traded to the Yankees. Later that year, his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York.

Boone is a third-generation major leaguer whose grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues and whose nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

A broadcaster for ESPN from 2010-17, Boone succeeded Joe Girardi as New York manager ahead of the 2018 season. He has led the Yankees to a 236-148 record.

“I am confident that Boonie’s in a good place, he’s in great hands and he’ll be back before we know it,” Cashman said. “And I’d say a newer version of himself. And the previous version was good enough, but obviously he’ll be in a better health situation.”

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