The Bronx never looked so good to the returning Yankees as it did Monday afternoon. Not this season, anyway.
Among the first sights was Corey Kluber on the main stadium mound, socks high, effortlessly rifling pitches to a few batters, the next major stride toward what could be a late August return from his shoulder strain.
Shortly afterward, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo took their first batting practice in pinstriped pants. It went as expected, with the lefty duo peppering the short-porch seats and denting the second deck on occasion.
Look a little more closely and you could see Giancarlo Stanton shagging fly balls in rightfield, and this time he wasn’t doing it merely for exercise. Stanton started at the position Monday night, with Aaron Judge moved to DH, as Aaron Boone chose to play him in the outfield for the third time in four games.
All positive signs for the Yankees, along with their opponent: the lowly Orioles, whose .356 winning percentage (37-67) was the second-worst in the majors, with the Diamondbacks (.311) residing at rock bottom.
What a difference a week makes. The previous Monday, the Yankees were reeling from a series of humiliating “gut punches” — Boone’s favorite expression — after dropping three of four at Fenway Park. But they recovered to win five of the next six, including a rare sweep (half-credit because it’s the Marlins). Along the way, Brian Cashman snagged Rizzo, Gallo and Monday…