The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for April, 2011

Swisher trying to stay calm and let the hits come04.28.11

To some extent, everyone knows Nick Swisher. The guy wears his personality for everyone to see. It’s easy to tell when he’s happy — which is most of the time — and it’s easy to tell when he’s frustrated.

Lately, at the plate, he’s been frustrated.

“Maybe I’m handling it in the wrong way,” he said. “But I think the past couple of days I’ve really, really been in that cage trying to get that feel back.”

Swisher is hitting .208 with only two extra-base hits, neither of which is a home run. He’s walked once and struck out seven times in the past four games. When he starts trying to force himself to break out of something like this, “that’s when I suck,” he said.

“This past week, that homer’s really, really been in the back of my mind,” Swisher said. “And I think I’ve tried really hard and a lot harder to try to make that happen. Obviously that’s not working. I’ve got to go back to that mindset of just trying to get base hits, and then the next thing you know, you start getting a little more extension and the home runs come. A lot more games left to play, man.”

It’s easy for an athlete to tell himself to relax, and it’s even easier for an outsider to tell him to relax, but players start pressing when they get off to a slow start. It happens. Swisher seems to have been pressing the past week or so.

The past two days, he’s been on the field with Kevin Long for early batting practice. Yesterday, even though there was a left-handed starter going against the Yankees, he was working on his left-handed swing because that’s given him the most trouble (he’s actually hitting .458 right-handed). If you listen to the audio below, you’ll notice that Swisher doesn’t sound like a guy who’s still tense. He sounds more like a guy who’s working and waiting to break out of it.

Swisher said he’s talked to his father and Long quite a bit in the past few days.

“They both said it’s one swing away,” he said. “And then the next thing, everything kind of clicks in.”

Here’s Swisher.

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Associated Press photo

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All jokes aside, Colon’s back04.28.11

The first time Robinson Cano ever faced Bartolo Colon was in the 2005 division series. It was Cano’s first postseason at-bat, and he ripped a three-run double to left. Cano said he’s never brought it up with the least likely member of the Yankees rotation, but it sounds like he wouldn’t hesitate if the time was right.

“He’s a good guy,” Cano said. “He’s the kind of guy you can joke around (with). Even the other day, he told me when he was pitching, like, ‘When I’m pitching you can talk to me and make some jokes because I’m not the kind of guy that (likes to) be so serious.’”

With a guy like Colon, it’s hard for most of the New York media — myself included — to gauge a personality. Although it’s possible to have short conversations with him in English, all of his interviews are done through a translator. Thing is, he seems to be always laughing during those interviews. He was smiling through questions about his weight this spring, and he’s laughed through multiple questions about how shocking it is to see him pitching this well again.

“You can see,” Cano said. “If you watch, he’s always laughing in the dugout, talking to the guys. Always with two outs, you never see him sitting down, he’s always talking to somebody.”

It was obvious from a short conversation with Cano last night that Colon is a likable man. Cano said Colon takes nothing for granted, and when Cano arrives at the park early every day, Colon is already there.

More than a year removed from his last big league appearances, it’s stunning to see Colon pitching so well through this first month of the season. Shocking, that is, to outsiders who didn’t see him this winter.

“I saw him pitching in the Dominican and it was really good,” Cano said. “He came over to spring training, pitched the same way. He’s throwing a lot of strikes… We all know, back in the day the kind of guy he was with the Angels. He was their No. 1 guy, won the Cy Young. That’s life. You’re going to have some ups and downs, and it’s a good thing to see a guy like him battling, and come up and pitch the way he’s pitching right now.”

Here’s Cano, talking a lot about Colon’s personality and what’s been like to see him succeed at this stage of his career.

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Postgame notes: The next step for Hughes04.27.11

Here’s Joe Girardi explaining the Phil Hughes situation.

“One of the tests they did with Phil showed — and we’re not saying he has it and we’re not saying he doesn’t — a real low-level risk of thoracic outlet syndrome, which is basically a circulatory problem… We’re sending him to a specialist in St. Louis to either rule it out or rule that he does have it.”

Hughes will see Dr. Robert William Thompson. Girardi wasn’t sure exactly when that exam will occur.

“I think any time you talk about circulation problems, there’s some concern,” Girardi said. “This is different than what Coney had (David Cone famously had an aneurysm). These are different type of things, but there’s always a concern.”

Hughes was still at the stadium after the game, but he didn’t meet with the media. No kidding, there’s a solid chance he was watching the Lightning game and didn’t want to walk away from a close playoff game. Frankly, he’s said enough about the subject in the past few days, and I doubt he could tell us much anyway unless he’s gotten his medical degree during this time on the disabled list.

The Mayo Clinic website specifically names “sports-related activities” as a possible cause of thoracic outlet syndrome and says it is often treated with rehab.

Treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome usually involves physical therapy and pain relief measures. Most people improve with these conservative approaches. In some cases, however, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Here’s Girardi.

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• The star of the night was obviously Bartolo Colon. He’s the guy filling in for Hughes, and he’s been terrific. “I feel really good that I’m helping the team because in spring training (Girardi) told me if anything happens, you’re going to be the man for a job in the rotation,” Colon said.

• Colon had not pitching eight innings since September 22, 2007 with the Angels. “I can’t remember seeing him like that since he was in Cleveland or with the Angles,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “His ball was moving great. But I feel proud of him, especially knowing all the arm issues that he has gone through. Buehrle was good tonight, but Colon was better.”

• According to Elias, more than half of Colon’s strikes have been called this season (14 of 26).

• Yankees starters have held opponents to one earned run or less in each of their last four games, good for a 0.95 ERA during that stretch. Each starter has pitched well the last time through the rotation.

• Mark Teixeira hurt his right shoulder making a diving play in the third inning yesterday. It didn’t really both him until he work up this morning, felt better at game time, and it started bothering him again after the top of the eighth. That’s why Eric Chavez pinch hit. Girardi said there are no tests scheduled. “He’s just sore,” Girardi said.

• Mariano Rivera bounced back from blown saves in his previous two outings to get his eighth save of the season. According to the Yankees it’s the fifth time in his career that he’s had eight saves before April 30 (he’s never had more than eight).

• Rivera has the save or win in each of the Yankees nine home wins.

• Robinson Cano has homered in back-to-back games and four of his last five at Yankee Stadium. He is 6-for-14 with two home runs in his career against Buehrle.

• Cano seemed to have fallen into a small rut before these past few days brought him out of it. “I was jumping instead of staying back and doing my regular swing,” he said. He and Kevin Long did their familiar net drill before today’s game.

• Francisco Cervelli was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight. He’s scheduled to catch again tomorrow.

• If you missed it in the game post, a Yankees ticket representative accidentally sent a mass email containing the name, address, email address, phone number and seat number of several thousand season ticket accounts. No birthdays, social security numbers or credit card information was sent. The employee essentially attached the wrong document to an email. The Yankees have sent a letter to ticket holders explaining the situation.

“A mistake was made and we’re being as transparent as we possibly can,” a spokesperson said. “We’ve already taken steps to assure this cannot and will not happen again.”

Associated Press photos

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Hughes and Teixeira updates04.27.11

Phil Hughes is going to see a specialist in St. Louis. One of his tests showed that the might have a circulatory problem. Nothing is certain — still — but he might have this problem, so he’s seeing another doctor.

Mark Teixeira has a sore shoulder. He felt it after diving yesterday and felt it again tonight. That’s why he was pulled from the game.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 357 Comments →

Colon does it again04.27.11

Bartolo Colon continues to exceed all expectations, and tonight he pitched well enough to make up for a lineup that continues to struggle. An early three-run lead was enough as Colon pitched eight scoreless innings and carried the Yankees to a 3-1 win against the White Sox. Robinson Cano’s first-inning home run drove in all three Yankees runs. They had only three hits after the first, but it didn’t matter because Colon gave the Yankees another masterful start, serving as his own bridge to closer Mariano Rivera, who pitched a scoreless ninth to end his own streak of back-to-back blown saves.

Associated Press photo

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Game 21: Yankees vs. White Sox04.27.11

YANKEES (12-8)
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Andruw Jones LF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF

RHP Bartolo Colon (1-1, 3.50)
Colon vs. White Sox

WHITE SOX (10-14)
Juan Pierre LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Omar Vizquel 3B

LHP Mark Buehrle (1-2, 5.40)
Buehrle vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: There’s a chance of mid-game rain, but so far it’s a pretty nice night here at Yankee Stadium. Wind blowing from right to left.

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

NOT HITTING: Seven hits in the past two games is the Yankees lowest two-game total since September of 2000 when they had five hits on 9-17 and followed with one hit on 9-18. The last time the Yankees had three straight games of four-or-fewer hits was 1982, and those three games were on the road. Last time they did so at home was way back in 1970.

NEED A WIN TONIGHT: If the Yankees don’t win tonight’s game, they’ll assure themselves of their first series lost against an AL Central team since May of last year, a streak of 10 straight series without a loss (9-0-1)… The Yankees also have yet to lose a home series this year.

TWO IN A ROW: The Yankees have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

SOMETHING TO WATCH FOR: A lot of pregame chatter after batting practice about the number of breaking balls the Yankees have seen lately. Kevin Long said 31 of the last 32 pitches Gavin Floyd threw last night were offspeed. Could be something teams are trying to do to fight the home runs the Yankees have been hitting.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Ozzie Guillen has already been ejected. Half of the press box was busy writing early stories — myself included — and didn’t even realize he was arguing until after he’d been tossed. He didn’t even stick around long enough to see his pitcher throw one pitch. Amazing. His first ejection of the year.

UPDATE, 7:25 p.m.: There’s Robinson Cano’s sixth home run of the season. It’s a two-out, three-run shot for a quick 3-0 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 7:53 p.m.: Check it out, the top of my head is on TV!

Also, the Yankees have responded to the accidentally leaked season-ticket holder information. The Yankees are sending — or have sent — letters to season ticket holders who had information accidently passed along by a Yankees employee. They assure that no birth dates, social security numbers or credit card information was leaked. According to the letter:

“Immediately upon learning of the accidental attachment of the internal spreadsheet remedial measures were undertaken so as to assure that a similar incident could not happen again. The Yankees deeply regret this incident, and any inconvenience that it might cause.”

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Five scoreless from Colon. That’s a low-risk signing that’s paying off huge through this first month.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 579 Comments →

Pregame notes: The wait continues for Hughes04.27.11

Phil Hughes went through several hours of additional tests today, including a contrast dye MRI. He apparently had some blood work as well. The Yankees might have something to announce after they talk to Dr. Ahmad, but he won’t be here until later and no one seems certain of anything right now.

I’m not a medical expert — clearly — and I can’t really read into the additional tests. We know these tests were scheduled even before yesterday’s first round of medical examinations. Getting the dye MRI could be a sign that yesterday’s tests raised a red flag, or it could be an indication that they showed nothing and the Yankees decided to dig deeper. Blood work could be a follow-up to yesterday’s vascular tests, or it could be one more thing to rule out.

One thing I keep thinking about is this:

I feel perfectly healthy, but I’m fairly certain that if I were examined this thoroughly a doctor would find something wrong with me. And I haven’t put my shoulder and elbow through extensive training and throwing for the past three months. If the doctors find only minor inflammation or something like that, I’ll be ready to declare Phil Hughes the most healthy individual in professional baseball.

To his credit, Hughes is taking all of this uncertainty as well as could possibly be expected.

“He’s so calm in everything that he does,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m sure deep down inside he wants to know what’s going on and if there’s anything going on, and he’s probably trying to be patient. But it can’t be easy.”

• Most of the pregame manager session was about Rafael Soriano and his adjustment to a new city and a new role. From the outside, it’s pretty hard to quantify that adjustment. The game should be the same, but Soriano admitted last night that he’s had some trouble adjusting, and Girardi said he could relate because he struggled in his first month or so playing for the Yankees. “It’s the expectation going into every season,” Girardi said. “It’s a different feel here than other places.”

• Girardi once again said he has no plans of bumping Soriano out of the eighth inning role (though he’s probably not available tonight). “I believe this guy is too talented for this to continue,” Girardi said.

• Sounds like Francisco Cervelli could be here soon, maybe by the weekend. He caught last night, then was the DH for a day game this afternoon. He’ll catch again tomorrow. “He might not even need to catch back-to-back at this point,” Girardi said.

• Nick Swisher’s slow start has been somewhat overshadowed by Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Jorge Posada, but Swisher’s hitting just .217 with two extra-base hits and no home runs. “As I would tell Swish, they’re going to come,” Girardi said. “His home runs are going to come, and if you try to do it, that’s where you’re gong to get in trouble.”

• For whatever it’s worth, Girardi said he thought Swisher hit the ball well this weekend in Baltimore but didn’t have anything to show for it.

• One other Swisher note: Girardi acknowledged that Swisher’s struck out quite a bit lately (six times in three games). “But we’ve had a lot of guys do that,” Girardi said.

• Girardi on Bartolo Colon: “You really just kind of want him to continue to make pitches like he’s been making.”

• One random note from the clubhouse: Robinson Cano’s Gold Glove award was sitting on the floor of his locker today. Just sitting there. How fun would it be to have a Gold Glove award sitting on the floor of your cubicle at work?

Juan Pierre LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Omar Vizquel 3B

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 484 Comments →

Regular vs. lefty lineup04.27.11

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

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 76 Comments →

Granderson greeting fans today04.27.11

Curtis Granderson will be greeting fans in the Yankees Museum at Yankee Stadium before tonight’s game.

If you’re going to the game and want to meet the center fielder, get there in plenty of time because he won’t be around for long. Granderson will be greeting fans from 5:30 to 5:45 p.m.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 129 Comments →

All-star voting begins04.27.11

Fan all-star game voting began yesterday. The Yankees, as always, have plenty of players who will surely be in the mix.

First base: No doubt Mark Teixeira will be in the mix, but it’s a typically crowded field. Paul Konerko is second in the league in RBI, and obviously Miguel Cabrera is going to get a lot of support in Detroit. Adrian Gonzalez has just one home run so far, but he’ll clearly get a lot of votes from the Boston crowd.

Second base: This is probably Robinson Cano’s spot to lose. Howie Kendrick is off to a good start out in Anaheim and Brian Roberts has actually hit for a little bit of power in Baltimore, but the starting second base nod could be another Yankees vs. Red Sox fight between Cano and Dustin Pedroia.

Shortstop: No matter what the statistics say, Derek Jeter will remain a favorite to be the American League’s starting shortstop. Elvis Andrus has made a name for himself in Texas, but Jeter is easily the biggest name on the ballot. Jed Lowrie is hitting for Boston, but Marco Scutaro is the Red Sox shortstop on the ballot.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez is off to a terrific start. Adrian Beltre has more home runs and RBIs, but Rodriguez is having a better all-around month of April. Evan Longoria being on the disabled list probably helps Rodriguez’s chances of being voted in.

Catcher: Russell Martin’s popularity in New York is soaring. His numbers and the Yankees fan base could be enough to put him in contention, but Joe Mauer is pretty tough to beat even with sub-par stats. Right now, Martin deserves it, but Mauer’s the biggest name at the position.

Designated hitter: Jorge Posada has the home runs, but that’s probably not enough to get him a starting job in the all-star game. David Ortiz will no doubt be a popular choice, but so far the most deserving choices might be Johnny Damon, Travis Hafner and Michael Young, players with the lowest of expectations not so long ago.

Outfield: Nick Swisher won the final ballot last year, but the Yankees with the best shot so far this season is Curtis Granderson. Of course, as always, the outfield position is full of viable choices. As always, Ichiro will generate a ton of votes, so will Carl Crawford (even with his bad start). Jose Bautista might get a bunch as well if he keeps hitting home runs. The feel-good choice this year might be Grady Sizemore, who’s come back from the disabled list on fire through his first few games.

Some details of the voting process from an MLB press release:

More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which will have 23 home dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks. Also starting today, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times exclusively at and all 30 Club web sites… Every Major League Club will have begun its in-stadium balloting no later than Monday, May 10th.

Associated Press photos

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