There’s a chance the yankees are going to be a man short when tonight’s game starts. The team went out for batting practice without Brandon Laird, who’s flight into Tampa was apparently delayed.
It’s probably no coincidence that Francisco Cervelli was taking extra ground balls. If something were to happen to an infielder, looks like Cervelli would go to third and Eduardo Nunez would fill at either second or short. When Laird gets here, he’ll add some theoretical flexibility — he played first, third and the outfield corners in the minors — but Girardi said he’s planning to use Laird strictly at third base.
As for Ramiro Pena, he had a stomach ache this morning. It ended with Gene Monahan taking Pena to have his appendix removed. Bad timing: Today is Pena’s birthday.
“This morning I got a call from Geno that he was headed over to the hospital,” Girardi said. “Geno wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but (Pena) was having bad stomach pains. Unfortunately, on his birthday he had his appendix removed. It will be a birthday I’m sure he’ll never forget.”
• Rafael Soriano and Eric Chavez are both scheduled to play in tomorrow’s High-A Tampa game. It will be the first rehab game for each of them. “You just kind of keep your fingers cross that everything goes well for both of them tomorrow,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said Soriano will need three rehab appearances at the very minimum.
• Girardi doesn’t have a clear timetable for Chavez. He wasn’t even sure whether Chavez would DH or play the field tomorrow. “He’s been out for a while so I think he’s going to need some at-bats,” Girardi said. The question is how long can he go in those first couple of games. If he was out a shorter period of time, it would probably be easier to build him up, but need him to be able to play nine innings when he gets here, so that could take some time.”
• Even with Laird available at third, Girardi made it clear that Eduardo Nunez is still his regular third baseman while Alex Rodriguez is on the disabled list. “Right now I’m going to stick with Nuney,” Girardi said. “To me Nuney’s earned that and has played well for us, and I’m going to stick with that.”
• Here’s Girardi’s scouting report on Tampa’s rookie starter Alex Cobb: “A young man that has a good fastball that runs a lot. He’s got a good split and a good curveball, and he’s got the ability to throw his offspeed over when he’s behind in the count. It’s a young man that also looks like he fields his position and holds runners pretty well.”
• The Rays played a 16-inning game last night against the Red Sox. Could be good timing for the Yankees to play a team that’s a little worn out. “I don’t know if there’s ever a good time to catch a team,” Girardi said. “Obviously they had a long night last night. We’ve been through that, but we’ve been through that and bounced back pretty well.”
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist RF
Evan Longoria 3B
Casey Kotchman 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Sean Rodriguez 2B
Justin Ruggiano LF
Robinson Chirinos C
Elliott Johnson SS
Associated Press photo