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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for April, 2011

Pregame notes: Cervelli feels “new again”04.29.11

A baseball clubhouse is a much happier place with Francisco Cervelli is in it. Gustavo Molina seems like a perfectly nice guy, and he did a nice job in his limited role this month, but Cervelli showed up with hugs for every player and clubhouse attendant in sight.

“I’m new again,” he said. “Just, I’m excited to be here, that’s it. When you get here you don’t feel anything.”

Joe Girardi said he plans to have Cervelli behind the plate on Sunday. That’s a day game after a late-afternoon game, and that matches Cervelli with Ivan Nova instead of A.J. Burnett, who pitches tomorrow. Cervelli and Burnett have worked together in the past, and Girardi said he wouldn’t be opposed to putting those two together again if the schedule begins to fall that way.

“You wait and see how days fall,” Girardi said “But they’ve worked well together and it’s something that I might keep.”

As for Cervelli, he worked extra hard this offseason in anticipation of a fight for the backup catcher role. He wound up winning it with only five spring at-bats, the same number as Kyle Higashioka. Clearly the Yankees are comforted by Cervelli’s experience and familiarity.

Cervelli said the worst part of these past few weeks — nearly two months, really — has been all the time spent on his couch. “I think I’m too hyper,” he said. The sitting around drove him crazy, but he said he used that time to watch video. He watched some catching videos, but he mostly watched video of his pitchers, and he tried to watch every Yankees game.

“When I get to spring training I never feel comfortable, like I’ve got my spot on the team or something like that,” he said. “I always want to play like a rookie, and my whole career I have to fight for everything. I don’t think there’s a time to be comfortable and sit on the couch and think you’ve got something. Right now, it’s the same thing. I’m going to be ready because a lot of things can happen.”

Here’s Cervelli.

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• To make room on the roster, Molina was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

• Brett Gardner is a career .444/.545/.889 against Ricky Romero, and Girardi said Gardner’s success against the Blue Jays starter was the most significant factor in the decision to keep Jorge Posada on the bench today. “Gardy’s had some success off of Ricky Romero and swung the bat well last night,” Girardi said. “We want to keep him going.”

• Girardi didn’t mention it, but Posada is a career .200/.200/.267 hitter against Romero. Then again, Jones has just one hit in nine at-bats against Romero.

• The Yankees are in a stretch of 32 games in 33 days, and Girardi indicated that this won’t be the last time Posada is replaced at designated hitter. He specifically mentioned Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher as players who might get a DH day to stay fresh.

• Mark Teixeira said his shoulder is still a little sore, but nothing like it was yesterday or the day before. “I think I strained the front part of it,” he said. “When you strain something like that, the whole shoulder just locks down. That’s why it was so stiff and tough to swing at all. It’s feeling a lot better.” Teixeira said he never had any tests. “No reason to,” he said.

• If there’s a ball that requires him to dive tonight, Teixeira said he won’t hesitate. “I throw my body around a lot,” he said. “I weigh 225 pounds. Sometimes when you land on hard dirt or on bases or run into walls or whatever it may be, sometimes you get bruised up. But I’m not going to change the way I play.”

• I still haven’t seen Phil Hughes since the announcement that he’s going to see a vascular specialist in St. Louis, but Girardi said Hughes is the same as ever. “He’s good,” Girardi said. “He’s basically going to go to St. Louis on Monday and he’s just waiting to have his test. I’m sure he’s wondering what’s exactly going on. As I said, Phil is a pretty calm guy and his personality to me doesn’t seem to be a lot different.”

• The usual stuff about tonight’s starter Freddy Garcia: “I’ve said all along, Freddy just knows how to compete and that’s what he goes out and does,” Girardi said. “He finds a way to get it done. He’s clever. He’s able to read swings and has an idea of exactly what he wants to do.”

• By the way, it’s stunning just how much stuff a catcher brings with him to the ballpark. While Cervelli was moving into his locker, people just kept carrying in bags and boxes full of bats and gear and equipment. There was stuff everywhere.

Rajai Davis CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
David Cooper DH
J.P. Arencibia C
John McDonald 2B

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 526 Comments →

Cervelli on the bench, Teixeira in the lineup04.29.11

Francisco Cervelli has arrived.

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Andruw Jones DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 142 Comments →

Pitching matchups vs. Blue Jays04.29.11

RHP Freddy Garcia (1-0, 0.69)
LHP Ricky Romero (1-3, 3.00)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

RHP A.J. Burnett (3-1, 3.52)
RHP Kyle Drabek (2-0, 3.30)
4:05 p.m., YES Network

RHP Ivan Nova (1-2, 5.82)
RHP Jesse Litsch (2-1, 3.86)
1:05 p.m. YES Network / TBS

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 168 Comments →

Robertson: “I couldn’t recognize anything”04.29.11

Four months ago, I was back home in Missouri, spending New Years Eve weekend with some friends in St. Louis. There were sirens blaring and a voice on the radio was talking about tornado warnings in the area. Apparently a tornado had been spotted on the ground just outside the city.

My friend Ben and I were driving to lunch.

If you grow up with tornados, you get used to them. Storms come and go, weather reports issue tornado watches and warnings, and you deal with it. You seek shelter if you need it — I can remember twice rushing for a basement — but if you’re not believed to be in the path of the tornado, you can pretty much go about your day. It’s a big, windy storm.

What happened in Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday was beyond anything anyone gets used to. I’ve been around tornados, I’ve seen tornado damage, but I can’t wrap my head around a tornado this size, staying on the ground this long, tearing through the middle of a town. Reports say well over 200 have died.

“We get small tornados all the time,” Yankees reliever Dave Robertson said. “Trees blown down, things like that, but never anything this bad. This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Robertson grew up just outside Tuscaloosa, just a few miles from the devastation. His family still lives there, and after repeated attempts to reach his parents on Wednesdsay night, Robertson finally got in touch with his brother who told him everyone was fine. His best friend’s house was OK, despite being pretty close to the path of destruction. Robertson said he doesn’t know of anyone he knows being killed, but he’s worried he’ll hear about one eventually.

He’s instantly familiar with 15th street in Tuscaloosa, but he couldn’t recognize it when he saw footage on the news.

“It’s happened before,” Robertson said. “We had one in ’98 that was massive and only killed – I say only – but it killed nine people. You could see the trail it left when it went through the woods and stuff. This one, it hit the town. There’s businesses and houses all around there. It’s really sad because I haven’t been down there to see it so I don’t know how bad the damage is. I just know I couldn’t recognize anything when I was watching the videos.”

Associated Press photo of Tuscaloosa

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 404 Comments →

Postgame notes: Swisher trying to catch Gardner04.29.11

There seemed to be an agreement between the manager and the right fielder that Nick Swisher began really pressing in the last week or so. Joe Girardi said the weekend games in Baltimore triggered some frustration because Swisher had hit the ball well but had nothing to show for it. Swisher pointed to the Baltimore series as well, but for a different reason.

“I think they really started eating at me, especially when Gardy started going deep,” Swisher said.

Swisher and Brett Gardner have one of those friendships. They’re constantly joking with one another, and when they can, they give one another a hard time. Even with Swisher frustrated by his numbers, Gardner wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Gardner went deep once this weekend in Baltimore. Then he hit another home run at home. He hit his third home run of the season tonight, jump starting that six-run fifth inning.

“Nothing in particular,” Gardner said. “Just maybe a little thing like asking him how many home runs he has this year… By no means is me giving him a hard time going to put him down in the dumps, you guys know him well enough to know that.”

Tonight, Swisher told Gardner that he’s starting to catch up.

Said Swisher: “I think that home run’s always in the back of my mind. Tonight, just to get a couple of knocks, that little 16-hopper through the left side, that definitely makes me smile a little bit. Just trying to get something to keep rolling, and hopefully it just keeps rolling through the rest of the season.”

Said Gardner: “(Home runs are) not really my game, so I’m not really worrying about it too much. If that happens, then I’m happy. For me, my swing, I’m much more comfortable with the ball I hit in the seventh inning, the double to left-center. That’s my game and that’s where I need to stay.”

Here’s Swisher.

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And here’s Gardner.

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• CC Sabathia became the fifth straight Yankees starter to allow one earned run or less. He pitched seven innings without an earned run. All three White Sox runs came after an error in the seventh. After going winless in four starts, Sabathia has now won his past two.

• With some help from Alex Rodriguez — who made a nice throw to the plate — Sabathia stranded four runners in the first two inning. “You can look at that and possibly say that’s the difference in the ballgame,” Joe Girardi said. “Those first two innings, he strands a lot of runners, they have second and third with nobody out and the heart of their order coming up. I think he’s able to do that because he doesn’t think about what happened in the past. He’s able to focus on what he needs to do to the next hitter; he’s able to relax on the mound. He doesn’t get flustered and just makes pitches.”

• The bottom of the fifth took 32 minutes. “I was just pretty much down in the cage,” Sabathia said. “I got a little bit of extra heat put on my shoulder and elbow. Just make sure I keep a sweat. Whether that’s throwing balls in the cage or hoping on the bike, whatever you’ve got to do to just keep sweating.”

• The first nine Yankees reached base without making an out in the fifth inning. It was the first time the Yankees did that since 2002, according to Elias.

• Gardner and Swisher combined for five hits, six runs and two walks. “It’s just great to be making contact,” Gardner said. “For a little while I wasn’t even really making contact. I felt good at the plate today. That’s the best I’ve felt maybe even since the start of spring training. It’s all about maintaining consistency.”

• The Yankees actually had a 2-0 lead before they had a hit. Edwin Jackson walked four straight batters and allowed a sacrifice fly in the third inning to put the Yankees in front. “They just put some good at-bats on Jackson,” Girardi said. “Made him work and saw a lot of pitches.”

• Alex Rodriguez had his 859th RBI as a Yankee, passing Paul O’Neill for sole possession of 13th place on the franchise list.

• Two more hits for Robinson Cano. He has a hit in 16 of his past 17 game and 19 of 22 this season.

• In what might have been his final rehab start, Francisco Cervelli played all of tonight’s Triple-A game at catcher. He went 0-for-4 with a walk. On a related note, Gustavo Molina had his first hit as a Yankee.

• Eduardo Nunez had his first two hits of the season. He also made two errors, which could have a lot to do with a lot of time on the bench this first month. “I have confidence in myself,” Nunez said. “And I have to work on my defense.”

• Not a good minor league start for Kevin Millwood, who allowed six runs through two innings. He can opt out of his minor league contract on Sunday.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 75 Comments →

Yankees offense comes to life04.28.11

The Yankees corner outfielders have struggled this season, but not tonight. Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner each homered and scored three times as the Yankees cruised to a 12-3 win in the finale of their series against the White Sox. After scoring just five runs in their previous three games, the Yankees scored six runs in the fifth inning alone. That fifth took 32 minutes as the Yankees batted around before making an out. CC Sabathia got his second win of the season, pitching seven innings without an earned run. Eduardo Nunez and Gustavo Molina each had their first hits of the year.

Associated Press photo of Swisher

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 45 Comments →

Game 22: Yankees vs. White Sox04.28.11

YANKEES (13-8)
Curtis Granderson CF
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Eric Chavez 1B
Russell Martin C
Jorge Posada DH
Brett Gardner LF
Eduardo Nunez SS

LHP CC Sabathia (1-1, 2.73)
Sabathia vs. White Sox

WHITE SOX (10-15)
Brent Lillibridge LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
Ramon Castro C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Brent Morel 3B

RHP Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.88)
Jackson vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: For now it looks like things have cleared up enough to play, but it could be iffy all night. It rained off-and-on much of the afternoon.

UMPIRES: HP Gerry Davis, 1B Sam Holbrook, 2B Greg Gibson, 3B Todd Tichenor

HOME SWEET HOME: The Yankees have not lost a home series this season. They’ll need a win tonight to keep that streak alive.

AND NOW IT’S CC’S TURN: In the past four games, the Yankees starters (Garcia, Burnett, Nova, Colon) have each held their opponent to one earned run or less for a combined ERA of 0.95 through 28.1 innings. The Yankees had a stretch of four straight starters giving up one earned or less last year, and it involved an entirely different group of starters (Pettitte, Hughes, Vazquez, Sabathia).

HITTING A WALL (OR NOT HITTING AT ALL): The Yankees have been held to six or fewer hits in three straight games, matching their longest such streak since the start of the 1993 season. They’ve had a streak like this 16 times in that span.

UPDATE, 7:48 p.m.: Three scoreless from Sabathia. He got in a little trouble in the first and second innings, but he’s escaped every jam.

UPDATE, 8:05 p.m.: Four straight walks gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the third. Robinson Cano followed with a sac fly and now it’s 2-0. Pretty good at-bats leading to those walks, but still, Ozzie Guillen isn’t known to hide his displeasure and I cant imagine he’s very pleased.

UPDATE, 8:13 p.m.: Kevin Millwood’s night is finished in Charlotte: Two innings, seven hits, six earned. Yikes.

UPDATE, 8:39 p.m.: The Yankees already had a 2-0 lead when Brett Gardner broke up the no-hitter with a solo home run to right, this third of the year. Eduardo Nunez followed with a double and Curtis Granderson tripled, and now it’s 4-0 Yankees in the fifth.

UPDATE, 9:01 p.m.: Gardner led off this inning with a home run. Now he’s hitting with the bases loaded, and the Yankees still haven’t made an out.

UPDATE, 9:07 p.m.: A six-run sixth has given the Yankees an 8-0 lead. The Yankees batted around before making an out.

UPDATE, 9:39 p.m.: Two mistakes by Chavez at first base tonight.

UPDATE, 9:53 p.m.: Nick Swisher can finally sleep easy tonight. His first home run of the season has given the Yankees a 12-3 lead in the seventh.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 755 Comments →

Pregame notes: “We’re hoping it’s not the case”04.28.11

Brian Cashman said it was a “slight positive in that particular testing” that led the Yankees to believe Phil Hughes might have thoracic outlet syndrome. Cashman referenced the show House, and said this is one step to “peel the onion” and find out what’s wrong. If Monday’s visit to St. Louis tells the Yankees that Hughes does not have TOS, then they’ll try to find what’s next.

“This is what we’re focused on at this point,” Cashman said. “We’re hoping it’s not the case. I’ll hope until we hear otherwise that it’s not the case. If it is, it will be taken care of. If it isn’t, we’ll take a sigh of relief and say, ‘Well, that’s good.’”

Dr. Robert William Thompson is being asked to specifically say yes or no to thoracic outlet syndrome. He’s not necessarily being asked to check for anything else. Cashman said he hasn’t looked too far into the recovery for the condition, but he believes a positive diagnosis would be season-ending for Hughes.

“I think it be a long-term thing,” Cashman said. “I’ve heard typically that’s what it is, that a surgery would be involved and I’d suspect it would be the season… It’s not something where it’s, ‘Take some aspirin and shut it down for a week.’”

If Hughes is lost for the year, Cashman said that changes nothing about his current pursuit of additional pitching.

“There’s no starting pitcher to go find,” Cashman said. “Everything we have to deal with is right here in front of us. After the June draft is when you have a chance to go get stuff.”

Here’s Cashman addressing a huge group of reporters in the Yankees clubhouse.

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• The tarp came off the field about 15 minutes ago. The sky has cleared considerably and it’s starting to feel like the game might actually start on time.

• Cashman on Mark Teixeira’s right shoulder injury: “Right now, my medical team doesn’t seem to be overly alarmed so I won’t be.”

• Joe Girardi said he could, in theory, use Teixeira in the field, but he doesn’t plan to do so. In fact, he hinted that Teixeira might get more than one game off. “The best thing to me is to rest him a couple of days and try to get him healthy,” Girardi said.

• Derek Jeter is getting a regular day off. The Yankees decided on Monday that today would be Jeter’s day to rest. Girardi said Jeter might get another day off during the upcoming road trip. “In the long run I guess it’s beneficial,” Jeter said. “But I always like to play.”

• Jeter’s replacement, Eduardo Nunez, jammed his thumb on his glove hand. He had his left hand lightly wrapped this afternoon, but he said it’s no problem. “I’m good,” Nunez said.

• Girardi on hitting Robinson Cano third: “I think you could hit Robbie anywhere in the order that you want. With him swinging the bat so well, you try to get him as many at-bats as you can.”

• Girardi on using Eric Chavez at first: “I got comfortable with him at first base during spring training, just watching him play the position and feeling like that he could handle it and have no issues with it.”

• Kevin Millwood is starting for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight. It will be his final start before his out kicks in on Sunday. Cashman would not comment on his reports about how Millwood has been pitching. “We’ll inform Kevin what our intentions are,” Cashman said. “If we choose not to bring him, he’ll have a decision whether he wants to opt out or not. If we choose to bring him, we’ll bring him.”

• Dave Robertson grew up just a few miles from the tornado destruction in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He said he couldn’t even recognize some of the places that have been shown on television in the past 24 hours or so, and these are places he used to drive by every day. That said, all of his family is OK, and his best friend’s house survived, despite a tornado ripping through his street. As someone who grew up in a tornado-heavy area, I can tell you this stuff is terrifying. Robertson seemed shaken but clearly relieved that he’s so far heard nothing but good news about the people he knows.

Brent Lillibridge LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
Ramon Castro C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Brent Morel 3B

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 37 Comments →

Hughes seeing specialist Monday04.28.11

Phil Hughes will see the specialist in St. Louis on Monday. Brian Cashman said there’s really no new information, the Yankees just have to wait for a yes or no diagnosis on TOS.

As for Mark Teixeira, he’s day-to-day with his sore right shoulder. Joe Girardi said he could play defense and might be able to hit if necessary, but it sounds like the Yankees won’t use him. Cashman said he’s not worried this will be a longterm problem.

“You could put him out there,” Girardi said, “but it’s sore.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 433 Comments →

Teixeira and Jeter out of the lineup04.28.11

It’s been raining off and on all afternoon. The tarp is on the field. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are out of the lineup.

Curtis Granderson CF
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Eric Chavez 1B
Russell Martin C
Jorge Posada DH
Brett Gardner LF
Eduardo Nunez SS

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 26 Comments →

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