Anthony Rizzo was scratched before Friday night’s game in St. Louis with lower back tightness.

He was in the initial starting lineup against the Cardinals.

It’s the second time in a month the first baseman has dealt with the issue, as he was knocked out of the lineup in Pittsburgh and it led to Rizzo missing four games, in what he said was a back spasm issue he dealt with nearly every year.

He recently homered in four straight games and is second on the Yankees with 27 homers, trailing only Aaron Judge.

Anthony Rizzo was scratched Friday against the Cardinals.
Anthony Rizzo was scratched Friday against the Cardinals.
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After Judge’s first half for the record books, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he has seen opposing teams pitch the slugger differently.

How Judge handles that will play a part in the success he and the Yankee offense has down the stretch.

Judge entered the game against the Cardinals on Friday night in St. Louis with seven walks in his previous four games, as he tries to be patient at the plate while teams try not to get beat by him.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge

“He does get pitched around some,’’ Boone said. “We’ve seen that more lately, teams blatantly pitching around him. He’s done a really good job of having quality at-bats.”

And as Boone noted: “Eventually, they’ve got to pitch to guys. We’ve got a pretty formidable lineup.”

Frankie Montas is set to join the Yankees on Saturday in advance of his debut with the team on Sunday. The right-hander is on the bereavement list after the death of his mother-in-law. Boone said Montas was able to throw a bullpen session at his home in Arizona, so he’ll be ready to go.

Boone said he spoke with the rehabbing Zack Britton after the lefty reliever threw live batting practice on Thursday.

“He’s real excited,’’ Boone said of Britton, who has been out since undergoing elbow surgery last year. “His sinker looked good. I think the biggest thing is the next day, he felt really good.”

Britton is scheduled to throw a bullpen session this weekend before another live batting practice in the middle of next week.

The Yankees continue to hold off on putting a timeline on his return.

“[The rehab] has gone well every step of the way,’’ Boone said. “He’s been really encouraged… But we don’t want to put some kind of expectation. We’ll see if and when he becomes a factor for us.”

The Yankees claimed right-hander Luke Bard, who was designated for assignment by the Rays on Tuesday. He was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’ll serve as bullpen depth.

The bullpen was a focus at the trade deadline for the Yankees, who picked up Lou Trivino from the Athletics and Scott Effross from the Cubs to help offset the loss of Chad Green and Michael King to elbow surgery.

Bard, 31, pitched sparingly for Tampa Bay, but was effective.

In eight relief appearances, Bard allowed three earned runs in 14 innings, with a WHIP of 1.00.

Luke Bard
Luke Bard
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The Rays jettisoned Bard to open a roster spot for Garrett Cleavinger, the left-hander they acquired at the deadline.

He spent the first three years of his career with the Angels.

Right-hander Carlos Espinal, who was called up from SWB on Tuesday following the moves made at the trade deadline, was outrighted on Friday and sent back to Triple-A.

Derek Dietrich, a veteran infielder playing at SWB, was suspended without pay for 50 games by MLB for testing positive for a banned stimulant. Dietrich last appeared in the majors in 2020 with the Rangers.

In 220 plate appearances this season split between SWB and Double-A Somerset, the 33-year-old has an .850 OPS.

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