Yankees expect star closer Chapman back next weekend

The first-place New York Yankees are going to get reinforcements pretty soon.

Injured closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to start a brief rehab assignment early next week with the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder. Chapman believes he’ll only need one appearance before rejoining the MLB squad.

It’s not set in stone, however, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Chapman would be evaluated after his first rehab stint, according to the New York Daily News’ Daniel Popper.

“Everything so far has been positive. So we feel good about where he’s at,” Girardi said. “(We want to make sure he) feels good and that he’s throwing strikes. That’s the bottom line with him. You don’t have to stretch him out, so he doesn’t need a lot of pitches.”

Chapman has apparently been able to reach his customary 100-mph velocity without pain or discomfort. And as good as Dellin Betances has been in his stead since May 12, Chapman’s presence would reintroduce a deadly 1-2 punch at the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen.

New York already has the third-best bullpen ERA in baseball at 2.94, and Chapman could be ready to bolster it when the team visits the Oakland Athletics for a four-game series next weekend.

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