Two days ago, Joe Girardi said he would put Alex Rodriguez’s name in tonight’s lineup, and adjust only if Rodriguez struggled in batting practice. Today, Girardi changed his mind.
“He took swings in the cage, (and) he felt pretty good,” Girardi said. “We just decided he probably wasn’t going to play both of these games, today and tomorrow, so why don’t we just see how he feels tomorrow after taking his swings and taking a round of BP out here (on the field)? Then we either get him tomorrow or maybe the next day.”
Basically, Rodriguez was only going to play one of these first two games in Toronto, so the Yankees decided to shoot for tomorrow and use today to test the thumb in batting practice. Girardi said he’s hoping to have Rodriguez tomorrow — he plans to put him at third base, not DH — and playing tomorrow won’t rule out playing Sunday.
Girardi said Rodriguez hit with his hands separated very slightly, and that took some of the pressure off the left thumb.
“Let’s try to get this thing as healthy as we can get it so when he does come back maybe he doesn’t have another setback,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you that’s going to happen. You could wait two weeks and you could have another setback, but let’s try to be as patient as we can.”
The Blue Jays did switch starting pitchers from lefty Brett Cecil to right-hander Dustin McGowan, but Girardi said that had no impact on his decision to sit Rodriguez. It was all about giving him an extra day and shooting for tomorrow instead.
“You start talking about time and there’s not a lot of time left in the season,” Girardi said. “Timing and him feeling comfortable, that’s the important thing. It’s been six days since he’s had an at-bat, and everything’s been interrupted, so that’s a concern too. You want to get him as many at-bats as you can to get him going.”
• Robinson Cano didn’t even seem to limping as he walked around the clubhouse this afternoon, and he laughed when someone asked whether he’d be playing. “That’s one thing I don’t think people talk enough about is Robbie’s toughness,” Girardi said. “We’ve seen him hit (by a pitch) plenty of times where we thought he wouldn’t play the next day or even stay in the game, and he does.”
• Cano said he’s not going to wear any extra protection on the field because he doesn’t want his foot to feel extra tight.
• Girardi hasn’t set a rotation for the upcoming Tampa Bay series, but A.J. Burnett will start one of those games. “We haven’t quite made the rotation or Tampa yet, how we’re going to do it, but somewhere in that series (Burnett will pitch),” Girardi said. “I just don’t know exactly how we’re going to do it yet.”
• CC Sabathia is once again going for his 20th win. “Great night to get it, it really is,” Girardi said. “We talk about winning series, and series are always easier to win when you get the first game.”
• Girardi said he hasn’t thought about bumping Rodriguez from the cleanup spot, but he did acknowledge that there’s a chance Rodriguez won’t return with the same sort of power the Yankees have come to expect from him. “We’ll just see the days that he plays where we are,” Girardi said. “I haven’t really thought much about that. My concern is just getting him back healthy.”
• Francisco Cervelli was reevaluated today and he’s still experiencing concussion symptoms. He has another doctors visit and a series of tests planned for Monday or Tuesday. “I think you have to prepare that he won’t be (available for the playoffs) only because it’s so unpredictable,” Girardi said.
• With Cervelli no closer to a return, Girardi said he’ll have to give other guys — Jesus Montero, Jorge Posada or Austin Romine — some reps behind the plate. It’s necessary to rest Martin during long stretches, but it’s also necessary because one of them will likely be the backup in the postseason. “If you’re fortunate enough to get into the playoffs, conceivably Russell could catch every game,” Girardi said. “But you want them as familiar with your pitching staff as possible in case something were to happen.”
• Apparently Brett Cecil does his cooking with Freddy Garcia. Cecil was scratched from today’s start because he cut his finger cleaning a blender. “It changed our third baseman and took Andruw Jones out and Montero out,” Girardi said.
• Cecil was replaced by Dustin McGowan, who was looking like a pretty good young pitcher before injuries cost him almost all of three seasons. This is only his second start this season. “He had outstanding stuff before he got hurt,” Girardi said. “And I saw him start against Baltimore and he still got up to 96. His fastball is there. I don’t know if he sits quite as high on a consistent basis as he did. Just have to see how he throws. I don’t think his stuff has changed all the much since he came back. Sometimes the hardest thing when you come back from injuries is consistency and command, that’s what you’ve got to watch.”
Mike McCoy SS
Eric Thames LF
Jose Bautista RF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Adam Lind 1B
Brett Lawrie 3B
Colby Rasmus CF
J.P. Arencibia C
Kelly Johnson 2B
Associated Press photos