The MRI machine didn’t bring much good news for the Yankees on Tuesday.
Although Alex Rodriguez said it could have been worse, his test revealed a mild strain of his left calf. He wasn’t able to play last night, and as Brian reported last night, he’s expected to miss at least a few more games.
Although Andy Pettitte seemed to be working toward a rehab start, his MRI showed a strain of his left groin that will keep him out until September.
So the Yankees will have to continue with their back-up plans for a little longer. These are the alternatives.
Right now it’s Ramiro Pena’s job. He doesn’t hit much, but his glove is outstanding and he’s actually had a knack for producing when given the opportunity. The Yankees have been willing to stick with him all season, and I’m not sure there’s reason to believe they would change course because of an injury that’s only supposed to cost Rodriguez a few days. But there are some options.
Brandon Laird: One of the season’s breakout prospects, Laird jumped to Triple-A at the beginning of August. He was in big league camp this spring, and he needs to be added to the 40-man this winter to be protected him from the Rule 5.
Kevin Russo: Already on the 40-man. Left a good reputation in New York. Hitting .284 this month in Triple-A.
Eduardo Nunez: On the 40-man without good Triple-A numbers all year. He’s primarily a shortstop, but the Yankees have given him starts at third base to increase his versatility.
Jorge Vazquez: Has 13 home runs in 57 Triple-A games. He’s also walked just seven times and hasn’t played third base since July 5.
Greg Dobbs: Or any other major league third baseman who’s been designated for assignment. That includes guys like Craig Counsell, Edwin Encarnacion and Geoff Blum. Brian Cashman said he doesn’t expect to make a move — and in this case I believe him — but there are some options out there.
For now it’s Dustin Moseley’s spot, and he’s pitched pretty well despite that bad inning in Kansas City. He’s 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA as a spot starter. Last time he pitched at Yankee Stadium he beat the Red Sox and got a standing ovation. But the Yankees have plenty of alternatives who could get a shot between now and Pettitte’s return.
Ivan Nova: Having a terrific season as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s ace, Nova is 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He went 5-0 in July and has a 2.41 ERA in his past 10 starts. He’s on the exact same schedule as Moseley, and last time out he allowed one hit through seven innings. Pitched well in limited big league duty earlier this season.
Alfredo Aceves: Joe Girardi previously said the Yankees only wanted to get Aceves stretched out to around 40 pitches, but he also said the return of Aceves could be based on need. With a couple more rehab starts, they could get him stretched out as a starter.
Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre: The two long relievers in the Yankees bullpen could be moved into the rotation if necessary. Seems more likely that the Yankees would stick with Moseley, but Gaudin and Mitre have pitched pretty well in their bullpen roles and both were trusted with starts late last season.
David Phelps: With Jason Hirsh on the disabled list, Phelps is probably the second-best Triple-A starter right now, but it’s hard to imagine any minor leaguer getting the call ahead of Nova.