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Banged-up Yankees get infielder Jon Berti from Marlins in 3-team trade sending Rortvedt to Rays

HOUSTON (AP) — Jon Berti could be at third base for the banged-up Yankees in their opener against Houston on Thursday after New York acquired the infielder as part of a three-team trade with Miami and Tampa Bay.

New York sent catcher Ben Rortvedt to the Tampa Bay Rays and minor league outfielder Juan Cruz to the Marlins, while outfielder Shane Sasaki moved from the Rays to Miami.

The 34-year-old Berti could fill in at third base while DJ LeMahieu is on the injured list because of a bone bruise in his right foot. The former batting champion has been sidelined since fouling a ball off his foot on March 16 and is to undergo more testing Friday. In addition, the Yankees said on March 9 that infielder Oswald Peraza wouldn't throw for six to eight weeks because of a strained right shoulder.

“Obviously with DJ being down, he very much figures in at the third base mix,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said during a Zoom news conference on Wednesday. “Hopefully once we’re whole, serves as a guy that can play all over the infield, even play some outfield — quality hitter bat to ball, can steal a base.”

Boone said he wanted to wait until Berti arrived in Houston to determine whether he starts against the Astros and said Gleyber Torres likely will lead off. Oswaldo Cabrera is his other third base option.

The Yankees are coming off an 82-80 season, their poorest since 1992. The Yankees' .227 batting average was 29th among the 30 teams.

“I’m hoping that the offense is more in line with what we expect it to be," Boone said. “Tomorrow we get to go find out how good we think we are.”

Boone is entering the final season of his contract.

“All my energy and all my focus is trying to help us play my part in helping us be the best possible team we can be, and our goal is to be a world champion," Boone said. “So I don’t know if I look at it as this has to happen for me to save this job.”

Berti hit .294 with seven homers, 33 RBIs and 16 stolen bases last year, down from a major league-high 41 steals in 2022. He batted .229 with one homer and six RBIs in spring training, striking out 12 times in 35 at-bats. Berti has a $3,625,000 salary and is eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.

Rortvedt, a 26-year-old left-handed hitter, was out of options and behind Jose Trevino and rookie Austin Wells in the Yankees' catching plans. Trevino will start Thursday.

Acquired from Minnesota in a March 2022 trade along with third baseman Josh Donaldson, Rortvedt missed much of 2022 because a strained right oblique muscle and was limited to 48 minor league games that season. He had surgery during spring training last year to repair an aneurysm of the posterior artery near his left shoulder, delaying his minor league season debut until April 21. Rortvedt joined the Yankees on May 20 and hit .118 with two homers and four RBIs in 32 games.

Rortvedt could split time with right-handed-hitting René Pinto.

“In theory it kind of complements our catching situation and really our overall lineup, being a lefty hitter. We got a couple of lefties down," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He’s coming from a really good organization. He’ll transition over here really well. ... We don’t mess with too many guys that we don’t think are good defensively. And we do think highly of him defensively.”

Cash said infielder/outfielder Austin Shelton will be on the opening-day roster, putting the 26-year-old in position to make his big league debut.

Cruz, 18, signed with New York in 2022 for a $75,000 bonus. He hit .294 with 10 homers, 47 RBIs, nine steals and a .907 OPS last year for the Florida Complex League Yankees.

Sasaki, 23, was taken by Tampa Bay in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft with the 99th pick. A native of Hawaii, Sasaki hit .299 with seven homers, 39 RBIs and 16 stolen bases last year for Class A Bowling Green and the Florida Complex League Rays.

Juan Soto heads into his Yankees debut after going 5 for his last 28 (.179) in spring training with no RBIs.

Infielder Jorbit Vivas was to be examined by an ophthalmologist in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday and additional specialists on Friday after sustaining a left orbital fracture before Monday's exhibition game against the New York Mets.

Outfielder Oscar González has been discharged from a Mexico City hospital after sustaining a right orbital fracture in Monday's exhibition at Diablos Rojos. González also is to see an ophthalmologist Thursday and could return to Tampa this weekend, Boone said.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb