Juan Soto [600x600]
Juan Soto [600x600] (Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP Photo)

USWNT avenges Mexico loss in Olympic tuneup

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Juan Soto was back in the New York Yankees' lineup as the designated hitter against the Kansas City Royals on Monday night after missing a three-game series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend because of left forearm inflammation.

Aaron Judge, who started the Yankees' first 67 games, was given a night off in the opener of the four-game set.

Soto was in the No. 2 slot and slumping Anthony Rizzo was left out of the lineup for the second straight game. Soto had a single in his first at-bat and later scored, part of a two-run Yankees second inning. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk in the 4-2 Yankees win. 

It was the 15th start of Soto's career at DH and the first instance this season. 

"I did all my treatment early today and I went to the cages making sure everything went fine and it did," Soto said. "I've been seeing a lot of improvement. Definitely, it's not going to go away that quick."

Soto is batting .318 with 17 home runs, 53 RBIs and a 1.024 OPS. The 25-year-old outfielder, acquired in December from the San Diego Padres, can become a free agent after the World Series.

A scan Friday did not reveal any problems with his elbow, the Yankees said.

"We've just kind of been basing it on how he was coming in each day, where the improvements are, how he's feeling -- so hopefully, this will kind of get him in and get him back in the outfield, hopefully, in this series," manager Aaron Boone said before the game.

Boone said the overnight arrival after a Sunday night game in the Bronx against the Dodgers factored in the decision not to start Soto in the outfield.

"I want to make sure he gets out and playing again, full throwing, and just kind of a way of easing him in," Boone said.

Judge, the Yankees' captain, is batting .305 with an MLB-leading 24 homers, 59 RBIs and a big-league-leading 1.139 OPS. He was named American League Player of the Week earlier Monday. 

"Obviously, he's playing out of this world," Boone said, "but having played every day, getting to this time of year, you're a little bit beat up too, so I think it's important to give him -- especially getting in at 3 in the morning -- this was kind of one I had marked down."

Rizzo, in a 1-for-29 slide this month, is hitting .224 with seven homers and 25 RBIs. Boone said the two days off were to provide a mental break in addition to time to work on hitting mechanics.

"Something I was kind of leaning toward going into yesterday," Boone said of Rizzo's consecutive nights off. "We're going to circle up each night."

Boone said Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole will make a third minor league injury rehabilitation start on Friday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.