KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Juan Soto was back in the New York Yankees’ lineup and went 1 for 3 with a walk as the designated hitter in a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night after missing a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers because of left forearm inflammation.

Soto was in the No. 2 slot and slumping Anthony Rizzo was left out of the lineup for a second straight game. Soto singled and scored on Alex Verdugo’s single in a two-run first inning.

“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 San Diego, 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.

Boone said the team’s 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.

Aaron Judge, who started the Yankees’ first 67 games, was given a night off in the opener of a four-game set against the Royals. The Yankees captain is batting .305 with a major league-leading 24 homers, 59 RBIs and a big league-leading 1.139 OPS.

“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 the consecutive nights off. “We’re going to circle up each night.”

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

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