Just when things finally seemed to be moving forward for Alfredo Aceves, the Yankees reliever once again felt pain in his lower back and had to shutdown a bullpen session today in Tampa.
“Ace is going back to New York to be evaluated,” Joe Girardi said. “He had a little setback today. How bad it is, I really won’t know until he sees Dr. Ahmad. From what I understand, he started his bullpen and wasn’t able to finish it.”
The Yankees have been unable to find anyone to fill the role that Aceves filled so well last year. They thought Chan Ho Park might be that guy, but he’s given up too many home runs and has struggled when going more than one inning. Sergio Mitre is also on the disabled list, Chad Guadin has been used more as a mopup long reliever, and Dustin Moseley has pitched only once.
In what could be a related move — strictly speculation — the Triple-A Yankees have unexpectedly moved Romulo Sanchez to the bullpen, possibly to prepare him for a bullpen role in New York. It seems hardly a coincidence that the move came this suddenly, on the day Aceves was shut down.
Girardi didn’t say surgery was the next step for Aceves, but he didn’t seem to be shooting down the idea either.
“They’re going to have to look at every alternative that we have to see what’s the quickest way to get him right,” Girardi said. “Those are discussions that we’ll probably have in the next couple of days.”
• On Jorge Posada, who hurt his left ring finger on a foul tip yesterday: “He’s an emergency player for us,” Girardi said. “I said I’m going to give you a day, and he didn’t argue with me. So that tells me that he’s pretty sore.”
• Girardi said it will be a game-time decision whether Posada’s available as a pinch hitter, but he expects to use him only if something happens to Francisco Cervelli. “I think we’ll know in the next 24 to 48 hours if we need to do something, if he can physically play through this or we need to add a third catcher,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of Posada, Girardi said the decision to use Brett Gardner as his lead-off hitter had to do with splitting up the lefties in his lineup — he wanted Swisher between Cano and Granderson — and indicated Gardner would probably be dropped when Posada returns from a sore finger. “This is probably more until Posada is (back), but we’ll look at it, obviously,” Girardi said.
• That said, Colin Curtis is a left-handed hitter. Wouldn’t the best way to split the lefties have been leaving Derek Jeter in the lead-off spot and batting Gardner second?
• Sergio Mitre was scheduled to pitch two innings for High-A Tampa today, but the game was rained out. Girardi said weather might lead the Yankees to change Mitre’s rehab assignment.
• Technically, it was Mark Feinsand who broke the news to Andy Pettitte that he had been added to the all-star roster, but Pettitte was not at all surprised. He basically knew he was at least taking CC Sabathia’s place, and he had been given the heads up that he would be the next guy in if Clay Buchholz went on the DL. “It’s awesome,” he said. “I’m excited to go, excited to be voted by my peers for my first half, and (excited) that I don’t have to wait until Sunday to maybe be named.”
• Girardi will likely have to replace tomorrow’s Oakland starter Trevor Cahill on the all-star roster, but he said he won’t necessarily replace him with another A’s player. “I think what you’ll do is you’ll look at the most deserving player,” Girardi said. In other words, sorry A’s fans, your guy won’t be playing next Tuesday.
• Nick Swisher seems legitimately pumped about trying to win this last spot on the all-star team. The dude is excited. This seems like the right time to use the word “dude” on the blog. Am I right?
• Asked if Swisher’s spot on the ballot could be a distraction, Girardi kind of laughed. “As long as he’s not texting mlb.com during the game, it shouldn’t be a distraction,” he said.
UPDATE, 9:22 p.m.: Oakland lineup
Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Jack Cust DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Gabe Gross LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Cliff Pennington SS
RHP Ben Sheets
Associated Press photos of Aceves and Posada