The management and health of the older Yankees figure to be an ongoing theme this season. Several have experienced minor problems in this last week, costing them a game or more, including Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez.
Andy Pettitte is the latest to experience an issue, having left Wednesday’s 7-5 win over the Orioles after five innings with stiffness that was diagnosed through an MRI as mild inflammation of his left elbow. He had stiffness while warming up as well.
“He probably could’ve stayed in the game,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “We didn’t want to do that. He wanted to stay in. But the expression on his face kind of told us the story.” Pettitte had stiffness in his left forearm while warming up for his previous start, too.
It’s all part of the cost of having aging stars. The Yankees obviously weren’t hot to re-sign two other popular but aging stars, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.
It’s up to Girardi to figure out when to give the older folks time off or an extra day between starts.
“I think we’re going to have to manage it,” Girardi said. “Part of what you have to manage is the competitive spirit in them. You have to determine whether it’s just soreness or injury, and does soreness turn into injury. Those are things you have to determine as a manager. It’s usually harder when a guy has mileage. When a guy has mileage, they’ve probably pitched through aches and pains or played through aches and pains.”
Girardi feels Rivera will be available Friday night in Boston. Rivera, who hasn’t pitched in five straight games since experiencing tightness in his left side, thought he could have gone Wednesday. With Posada, Girardi will see how he feels on Friday. He has missed two straight with his mildly strained right calf.
The Yankees’ starting pitching, depth, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, and often the bottom of the order (like Brett Gardner at. 346 with 13 steals) have helped them overcome slow starts by Mark Teixeira, Nick Johnson and A-Rod as well as a few injuries. Between those things and all the road swings, 19-8 looks pretty good right now.
Curtis Granderson isn’t one of the older guys, but, of course, he’s on the DL with that groin he strained on Saturday, perhaps for a month. He is reporting progress, though. The center fielder said he will not make the coming seven-game road trip and just come to Yankee Stadium for treatment. He’s still not sure of the timetable for his comeback.
“I honestly don’t know in terms of (re-starting) baseball activity,” Granderson said. “I know for sure 15 days and we’ll see how everything goes after that. But I’m a lot better from Saturday.”
The Yankees are going to play their lone regular-season series in Detroit starting Monday. Granderson had been looking forward to going back to face his old team. Several family members and friends were supposed to come.
“Maybe we’ll run into them in October,” Granderson said. …
The Yankees took a moment before the game to recognize the passing of Ernie Harwell, the former broadcaster for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and mostly the Tigers. He passed away on Tuesday at age 92.
“Nice and very intelligent and a voice that demands attention,” said Granderson, who met a then-retired Harwell a few times while playing for the Tigers from 2004-09. “Not only just Detroit (is sad), but the whole state of Michigan. It’s amazing the amount of comments that people say about this is a Michigan icon, not just a Detroit icon.” …
The Yankees are taking the train Thursday to Boston. “Guys like it,” Girardi said. “We basically get a whole train to ourselves.” …
The Yankees aren’t feeling pressure to speed up their games with the Red Sox after the criticism ump Joe West leveled the last time they played. “We’re there to win games, not get finished in two and a half hours,” Girardi said. …
Good sign: Nick Johnson went 3 for 3 with two walks. It was the first time he’d reached base five times since April 20, 2006, when he was with the Nationals. He lifted his average to 171. Bad sign: David Robertson couldn’t close, giving up two solo shots in the ninth before getting pulled. His ERA is up to 14.21 in nine appearances. He said it’s not really mechanical, that he’s just missing on pitches. “I’m looking to turn it around,” Robertson said. …
The Yankees have won four straight, seven of eight and 12 of 17. They are 12-4 vs. righty starters. They are 9-3 vs. the AL East, including 5-1 vs. Baltimore. They are 10-2 at home, their best start since going 11-1 in 1999. And they have won eight of their first nine series for just the fourth time in franchise history.