Brett Gardner already solving upcoming Yankees dilemma

Monday was the second of three straight games in which the Yankees were scheduled to face a lefty starter, and there is the possibility of the Red Sox throwing more lefties in a four-game series that opens Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

However, Aaron Boone doesn’t sound like Brett Gardner is going to take a seat.

“We have a lot of lefties this week and he will be in there quite a bit,’’ Boone said of Gardner, who hit a two-run homer off Padres lefty Matt Strahm in the second inning of Monday’s 5-2 win at Yankee Stadium. It was Gardner’s first homer off a lefty since Aug. 10, 2018.

The Royals’ lefty Danny Duffy started Sunday, Strahm worked Monday and lefty Eric Lauer goes Tuesday.

Gardner entered Monday’s game hitting .152 (5-for-33) without a homer and a .200 on-base percentage against lefties.

When the season started the plan was for Gardner to play left field against right-handed pitchers but center fielder Aaron Hicks never made it out of spring training and three games into the season Giancarlo Stanton landed on the injured list and hasn’t been seen since.

So Gardner took over in center and moved to left when Hicks returned. A recent hot streak of 14-for-30 (.467) has hiked the average to .240 which isn’t great but was at .197 on May 18.

“He is the heartbeat of our club and certainly one of our leaders and one of our voices. He has a been a really good player for a long time and remains that way,” Boone said. “He is tough and brings it every day.’’

If Tuesday’s bullpen session goes well there is a chance CC Sabathia will be available to the Yankees to face the Red Sox on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia went to the IL last Wednesday and believed at the time his right knee was going to need to be drained. However, a cortisone shot and a lubrication treatment were good enough that that didn’t need to happen.

“He could possibly be in play Sunday to end the homestand,’’ Boone said of the 38-year-old left-hander who is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in eight starts.

With James Paxton and Luis Severino on the IL the Yankees used Chad Green to start games Saturday and Monday and were down to three healthy starters in Domingo German, J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka.

As for other injury news, Dellin Betances threw his first bullpen session Monday since being shut down and getting a cortisone shot. Betances threw 20 pitches and said they were all fastballs.

“It felt good. Right now the next thing is a bullpen on Thursday,’’ said Betances, who expects to throw some breaking balls.

Betances doesn’t know how long it will take for him to come off the IL where he has been since the season started with an impingement in his right shoulder.

“It depends how the arm is. I don’t think I will need much. Once [the arm] is at full strength it will be quick,’’ Betances said.

Like Betances, Severino hasn’t appeared in a big-league game this season due to an inflamed right rotator cuff problem that surfaced in spring training.

His recovery from that was slowed by a strained lat muscle. It is likely that Severino will play catch Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward [to throwing]. Playing catch, 60 feet I think,’’ Severino said Monday when he also explained he hasn’t undergone any new MRIs. “Last time I felt [something] was 20-something days. “I feel very good. Right now, I feel happy.

“My shoulder feels good. I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t know how quick [I can come back].”

According to Boone, Didi Gregorius will continue his minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Tuesday night.

The Yankees had an eight-game streak of scoring at least six runs halted in Monday’s 5-2 win over the Padres. That was tied for the longest such streak in 63 seasons.

— Additional reporting by Ken Davidoff

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