Brian Heyman here for Chad for these next five games here at Yankee Stadium. Joe Girardi said that Alex Rodriguez will probably be starting his rehab assignment Friday as a DH and then hopefully play Saturday at third for either Class A Tampa or the Gulf Coast League Yankees.
Girardi wasn’t counting on him being back for the start of the next seven-game road trip Monday in Kansas City, but he does believe he will be back during the trip, barring any setbacks, of course.
As for Mariano Rivera’s back-to-back bad outings, Girardi called them “a blip.”
“Usually when Mo has his little blips in the screen, sometimes they come back to back,” Girardi said. “Then he usually runs off a really good streak. If my sense is right, I think that’s what will happen. It’s just a little blip here.”
When asked about lefties starting to hit better against Rivera, Girardi said, “His velocity is not quite what it used to be.”
The topic that drew the most attention was the state of the rotation, with six good pieces and five holes. Ivan Nova starts tonight. Asked about whether Nova was pitching for a spot tonight, Girardi said, “No, I wouldn’t say that. Come out healthy.”
“He’s pitched very well for us,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. As we know, none of our pitchers are going to be perfect. Sometimes they’re going to have some blips. But we feel very good about him taking the ball every sixth day right now. That’s something we eventually have to get down to five here, just for our roster and just for the routine for the guys.
“I think the biggest difference in (Nova) – a month of it he wasn’t really here, three weeks – but the last two and a half months or whatever has been his slider and the ability to get swing and misses and strikeouts on it, and the improvement of that. It’s different weapon for him than his other pitches.”
Although it’s hard to envision it happening, Girardi did leave the door open a crack when he was asked about A.J. Burnett being able to pitch out of the bullpen, saying, “I think A.J. has the skillset to do anything.”