The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for March, 2012

Experience vs. potential in the bullpen03.29.12

There are two big decisions in Yankees camp this spring, and both are built around the expectation of a veteran vs. the potential of a young pitcher. Most of the attention is rightfully focused on the rotation — Freddy Garcia vs. a trio of 20-somethings — but the last spot in the bullpen is also up for grabs.

Veteran Clay Rapada vs. Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabral.

“I think it comes down to trying to make an educated guess of what the upside (of Cabral) is versus you know what you’re getting from Clay,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s kind of similar to the young starters versus Freddy. That’s what you have to set your mind on and go with your heart.”

Rapada has been terrific against left-handers this spring, and he’s held them to a .153 average in his big league career. He’s 31 years old, brings an 86-87 mph fastball and big slider from an extreme arm angle, and right-handers feast on him. But he’s good against lefties.

Cabral is 23 years old. His raw stuff is easily more impressive than Rapada’s, and obviously the upside seems to be much higher, but he’s never pitched above Double-A. This is the second time he’s been taken in the Rule 5. He’s given up more than a hit per inning this spring, but he’s also struck out 12 and walked just two.

Rapada is the known quantity. Cabral is the more exciting possibility.

“I think Clay’s ability to change angles on left-handers has always been tough,” Girardi said. “It’s a tough angle for lefties. Cesar has a good arm. We saw him get the strikeouts when he needed to the other day. His slider has improved as time went on. His changeup helps him against right-handers. It’s kind of the young vs. the experienced.”

Associated Press photo of Cabral

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 99 Comments →

Garcia not going down without a fight03.28.12

I fairly certain I’m in a majority when I say this: I fully expect the Yankees to put Freddy Garcia in the bullpen to start the year. Not that he deserves to be there – Garcia was terrific last season, and he’s been terrific this spring — but there’s too much long-term value in Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda.

Those three don’t have Garcia’s track record, and they’ve lacked his consistency, but they’re physically capable of being very good – maybe even great — major league starters this season. Their upside is significant, and it’s hard to turn away from that potential when it seems to be big-league ready.

But if the Yankees truly are planning to dump Garcia into the bullpen, Joe Girardi is doing his very best to avoid that impression.

Today, Girardi talked about the need for Nova to improve his fastball command, for Hughes to see continued progress with his cutter, and for Pineda to keep working on the changeup. The big thing Garcia needs to work on? Getting innings. That’s it.

“You look at Freddy’s year last year and it was really good,” Girardi said. “And for a guy that’s not supposed to be pitch well in spring training, he sure has pitched well.”

It’s true, Garcia has been one of the five best starting pitchers in camp this spring, and Girardi even mentioned today that his fastball velocity is a little higher than it was last year. Velocity’s not a huge thing for a guy like Garcia, but Girardi sees it as an indication that his arm speed is good, which helps his split.

“I think when you look at a guy that doesn’t have a lot of time, you’re trying to consider the upside of what you could possibly get because they don’t have the same track record,” Girardi said. “I think you have a pretty good understanding of what Freddy’s going to give you.”

Someone is going to be bumped out of this rotation, and although I still believe it will be Garcia, it seems he’s doing all he can to stick around.

“Somebody’s going to be disappointed,” Girardi said. “That’s the worst part of this, is that somebody’s going to be disappointed. And they’ll have to get over their disappointment and help this team however it is.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 630 Comments →

Wednesday notes: Kuroda happy with spring adjustments03.28.12

It was the first four innings that Hiroki Kuroda held the Braves scoreless. It was in his last three innings that he gave up a couple of runs. In spring training, though, results are only part of the story, and Kuroda was much happier with the way he finished today’s next-to-last spring start.

“In the beginning I didn’t feel right, but I was able to make adjustments,” he said. “… Every game that I start I have to make some kind of adjustment, and I was able to do that the last few games that I pitched in spring training. I think I’m ready for that. I just hope I don’t get hurt.”

As long as he remains injury free, the Yankees seem happy with their offseason free agent signing. Pitching outside of the National League West for the first time, Kuroda has been exactly what the Yankees were expecting. He doesn’t overwhelm hitters, but he mixes pitches and throws strikes. Today he struck out six and walked none.

“I was pleased with what I saw, really pleased,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s the guy that I thought we were getting.”

The Yankees have planned all year to slot Kuroda into the No. 2 spot in the rotation, and that’s exactly where Kuroda will open the season, as the game-two starter against Tampa Bay. That leaves him lined up to start next month’s home opener.

“I try not to think that far ahead,” Kuroda said. “I’m just focused on this next start that I have to do.”

• The Yankees got good news on Curtis Granderson’s right elbow. An MRI showed no problems, and Girardi didn’t rule out the idea of Granderson playing as early as tomorrow.

• More good news on Nick Swisher who managed to get 10 at-bats at the minor league complex today. He’ll go back to the complex tomorrow, and Girardi said he might play the outfield depending on how he feels. Girardi doesn’t expect him to take so many at-bats this time.

• In case you missed it, the Yankees announced today that they’ve claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Diamondbacks. The signing seems to make sense given the Austin Romine setback, but a Yankees source also confirmed that Tatum is out of options, meaning he can’t be sent to the minor leagues. Hard to imagine him getting the backup catcher job ahead of Francisco Cervelli. Kind of a head scratcher.

• Speaking of minor moves, Sweeny Murti reported this afternoon that the Yankees have signed Jack Cust to a minor league deal. That would seem to be clear insurance just in case Raul Ibanez can’t shake off his rocky spring. Cust is also a left-handed hitting designated hitter.

• Speaking of Ibanez, he went 1-for-3 today and very nearly had his second spring home run. He was robbed by Jason Heyward’s leaping catch over the wall in right field.

• Speaking of struggles, Cory Wade gave up another run this afternoon. The big hit was a double by Eric Hinske, and Girardi said he felt that was the only truly bad pitch Wade threw (he left it up). Wade has a 7.27 ERA this spring and hasn’t looked sharp, but Girardi made it clear that he’s planning to have Wade in his Opening Day bullpen.

• One more Wade note: Just a few days ago he threw a three-inning simulated game. The Yankees want him to be a little bit stretched out so that he could give multiple innings if necessary. The loser of the rotation competition will likely be the regular long reliever. “You’d like to have two guys down there that could really give you some multiple innings,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees settle for a 5-5 tie after George Kontos gave up a two-run homer in the ninth inning. Kontos stayed in to pitch a scoreless 10th. … Eric Chavez went 3-for-4 including a double and an RBI single. He brought his average up to .235. … Eduardo Nunez’s strong spring continued with two more hits for a .393 average. … Justin Maxwell took an 0-for-2.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 369 Comments →

Romine suffers setback03.28.12

Austin Romine has suffered a setback in his recovery from a back injury and likely won’t be ready for the start of the Triple-A season.

Having already missed every spring training game, Romine was finally going through drills again when he felt a “little pinch” in his back. Joe Girardi wasn’t sure whether it happened Monday or Tuesday, but it’s clearly bad news for the Yankees catching prospect.

“I think it’s going to be hard for him to start on time,” Girardi said.

Romine has been dealing with back issues since last season, and he was shutdown early this spring because of inflammation in his back. Long after Romine reported that the soreness had gone, the Yankees kept him on a rehab and treatment program in an attempt to get rid of the problem for good. He seemed to be making progress until this week.

“He doesn’t feel great,” Girardi said.

The Romine setback would seem to explain today’s announcement that the Yankees have claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Diamondbacks. Tatum seems to replace Romine in terms of upper-level catching depth.

UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.: Here’s an unexpected twist: A Yankees source just told me Tatum is out of options, meaning he can’t be sent to Triple-A.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 77 Comments →

Spring training Game 26: Yankees at Braves03.28.12

YANKEES (13-10-2)
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Eric Chavez 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Dewayne Wise CF
Chris Dickerson RF
Justin Maxwell LF

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 3.07)
Kuroda vs. Braves

BRAVES (9-14-3)
Michael Bourn CF
Martin Prado 3B
Brian McCann C
Dan Uggla 2B
Freddie Freeman 1B
Jason Heyward RF
Andrelton Simmons SS
Jose Constanza LF
Brandon Beachy SP

RHP Brandon Beachy (1-1, 6.43)
Beachy vs. Yankees

TIME: 1:05 p.m.

WEATHER: Seems like it’s always super sunny when we’re at the Wide World of Sports.

UMPIRES: HP Chris Degal, 1B Eric Loveless, 2B Jerry Layne, 3B Andy Fletcher

Based on today’s attempt at a chat, I’m doubting I’ll be able to update much during the game. The Internet is an absolute mess up here, and apparently Disney has no chance of fixing it. Sorry for the technical problems. Trust me, the annoyance is just as bad on my end.

UPDATE, 3:03 p.m.: Internet just started working here, just as the Yankees announced that they’ve claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Diamondbacks. Tatum is 29 years old and has hit .223 through parts of three seasons in the big leagues.

UPDATE, 3:06 p.m.: Through seven innings, the Yankees are up 3-2. Hiroki Kuroda has pitched all seven innings, walking none and striking out six.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 600 Comments →

LoHud Yankees chat starts at noon03.28.12

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 42 Comments →

Pregame notes: Rotation decision coming soon03.28.12

Joe Girardi said he might announce his rotation within three or four days. He’d like to have a “pretty good idea” as the Yankees enter their final turn through the spring training rotation.

“I think there are little things that each guy can work on a little bit to help us make our decision,” Girardi said.

He specifically mentioned Ivan Nova’s fastball command, Michael Pineda’s changeup, Phil Hughes cutter and Freddy Garcia’s workload as things he’s paying attention to. Nova will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow, and Garcia will likely pitch in a minor league game Friday. The last turn through the rotation essentially begins when CC Sabathia makes his final start on Sunday. After that, every starter will pitch once before making his regular season debut.

“Can you make a wrong decision?” Girardi said. “I don’t know.”

• Curtis Granderson is going for his MRI later this morning. We might know something about the results by the end of this afternoon’s game.

• Girardi acknowledged that it’s likely the team will carry a second left-handed reliever and the choice is between veteran Clay Rapada and Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabral. The Yankees more or less know what Rapada can do, but they have to evaluate Cabral. “Educated guess of what his upside is,” Girardi said.

• Either Cabral or Rapada would likely serve as the true lefty specialist. Boone Logan would be more of a middle reliever similar to Cory Wade, used to pitch to both lefties and righties. “I don’t consider Booney such a specialty left-hander,” Girardi said.

• Girardi also acknowledged that he’s planned all along to have Hiroki Kuroda be the No. 2 starter. “I think we had a pretty decent idea that was where we would probably slot him,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees are definitely planning to carry 12 pitchers.

• D.J. Mitchell gets the start tomorrow, with David Phelps scheduled to pitch after him. Essentially, those two will split the big league game against the Orioles.

• Phil Hughes and Michael Pineda are throwing sides today. Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia are throwing sides tomorrow.

• Two interesting names added to today’s group of minor league additions: Tyler Austin and Cito Culver. Austin is scheduled to play, Culver is not. Mitch Abeita, Walter Ibarra and Abe Almonte are also up from minor league camp but not scheduled to play.

• Today’s available pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda, Cory Wade, Adam Warren, George Kontos, Cesar Cabral, Juan Cedeno, Cory Arbiso, Ryan Flannery and Pat Venditte.

• Today’s second string: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Addison Maruszak, 2B Jayson Nix, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Bill Hall, LF Tyler Austin, CF none, RF none.

• Don’t forget that I’ll be hosting a chat today at noon. Stop by if you can.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 141 Comments →

Ibanez, Nunez and Chavez heading to Disney03.28.12

Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Eric Chavez 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Dewayne Wise CF
Chris Dickerson RF
Justin Maxwell LF

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 91 Comments →

Postgame notes: Granderson going for precautionary tests03.27.12

Curtis Granderson felt some soreness around his right elbow while working out today. Joe Girardi said he went to play catch and felt nothing out of the ordinary, but Granderson is going for a precautionary MRI tomorrow just in case.

“I’m just hoping it’s precautionary,” Girardi said. “I don’t like not having him, I’ll tell you that.”

Brian Cashman described his level of concern as a “two or lower” on a scale from 1 to 10.

“We’ll do a precautionary MRI tomorrow to make sure it’s nothing significant,” Cashman said. “We don’t believe it is. Because of the time or year and everything like that, better safe than sorry. Until we have that certainty that there’s nothing significant, we’ll hold him out.”

A situation like this seems to be the reason Justin Maxwell hasn’t been traded just yet. Right now it seems that the Yankees have no room for Maxwell, but if this Granderson injury or the Nick Swisher injury prove more significant than expected, Maxwell could have a spot as a fifth outfielder.

• Jorge Vazquez has been reassigned to minor league camp.

• Following today’s press conference, here are a few things to know about the Joba Chamberlain injury: 1. He felt it upon jumping, not landing, at the trampoline center. 2. It was only Joba, his son, one of Joba’s friend and a facility employee in the building when the incident occured. 3. Despite Joba’s insistence that the bone never penetrated the skin, general manager Brian Cashman clarified with the doctor that bone did in fact rip through causing bleeding. “It wasn’t that painful,” Chamberlain said. “As much as people probably say I’m lying, It wasn’t.”

• Chamberlain said his son Karter saw the injury but handled it better than most people. In fact, when a nurse asked what happened, Karter blurted out: “My dad got owned by a trampoline.”

• Chamberlain got choked up talking about his son. “Never question being a father,” he said. “I felt like I let my team down to be honest with you, and that’s the most frustrating part, but when I look back and realize what was going on, I will never question being a father. (16 second pause to gather himself) I think that’s the biggest thing to know. This game is very important to me. It allows me to do a lot of things, but my son is my pride and joy and I think that was the biggest thing. Don’t be so hard on yourself and realize what you were doing. You were trying to be a great dad.”

• CC Sabathia has one more start before Opening Day. “If the season started tomorrow I’d be ready,” Sabathia said. “I just try to be consistent with my delivery and make sure the secondary pitches are coming along.”

• Today Sabathia pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked none. Four of the Blue Jays hits went for extra bases, and Sabathia said he needed to do a better job with two strikes. “The hits they got were extra-base hits,” Girardi said. “You move them over, you get them in. A high-chop base hit didn’t help either. He looked alright to me.”

• Sabathia said he’s still ironing out his two-seamer, but he was happy with his ability to locate his fastball on his glove side, which is usually a key indication that he’s ready for the season.

• Girardi said Nick Swisher will in fact play at the minor league complex tomorrow. Sounds like he came through all of today’s drills just fine. Swisher will only hit. He won’t play the field and he likely won’t run the bases.

• Mark Teixeira was pulled from the game after just five innings. That’s because Teixeira is playing three days in a row and has a quick turnaround tomorrow. He’s fine, just getting a little bit of a break to start this running of playing a lot.

• Dave Robertson got in another game. He threw a hitless inning with one strikeout and one walk. He said he’s still a little rusty but physically feels just fine.

• Not sure whether Robertson was joking, but he did say this in the clubhouse: “I threw the boxes down the stairs yesterday.” Gotta be careful around Yankees camp these days.

• Trying to win a spot as a second lefty, Cesar Cabral gave up a run in the eighth inning, but he faced a bunch of right-handers. Clay Rapada pitched a perfect ninth by retiring three straight lefties.

• Brett Gardner had a two-hit game with a stolen base. … Justin Maxwell had one of his first bad games of the spring, going 0-for-4 with an error in left. … Eduardo Nunez had another hit and is batting .375 this spring.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 730 Comments →

Spring training Game 25: Yankees vs. Blue Jays (Granderson scratched)03.27.12

YANKEES (13-9-2)
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Raul Ibanez DH
Russell Martin C
Andruw Jones RF
Brett Gardner CF
Justin Maxwell LF

LHP CC Sabathia (0-0, 4.50)
Sabathia vs. Blue Jays

BLUE JAYS (19-4-1)
Kelly Johnson 2B
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Eric Thames LF
Brett Lawrie 3B
J.P. Arencibia C
Colby Rasmus CF
Yan Gomes DH

RHP Kyle Drabek (1-0, 4.82)
Drabek vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Nothing out of the ordinary. Temperatures in the 70s. Wind blowing from right to left.

UMPIRES: HP Marty Foster, 1B Mike Estabrook, 2B Vic Carapazza, 3B Mike Hamari

BLUE JAY PEN: Toronto brought relievers Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen, Aaron Loup, Dustin Antolin, Daniel Barnes and Scott Gracey.

GOING TO B.A.T.: MLB has announced that the Yankees are the American League winners of the Bobby Murcer Award given to the team in each league whose players contribute the most money to the Baseball Assistance Team during the annual spring training fundraising tour.

THAT NUMBERS SOUNDS FAMILIAR: After the latest round of cuts, the Yankees are down to 42 players in big league camp. The oldest, of course, is No. 42 himself, Mariano Rivera.

MITCHELL GETS A START: D.J. Mitchell is the Yankees scheduled starter for Thursday’s big league game against Baltimore. Ivano Nova will pitch in a minor league game that day.

GRANDERSON SCRATCHED: Curtis Granderson has been scratched from the lineup because of soreness in his right elbow. No word on severity. Just happened a couple of minutes ago.

CHAMBERLAIN SPEAKS: I’m sure I’ll have more on this later, but Joba Chamberlain addressed the media today and said there was never any bone sticking out of his ankle and never a life-threatening loss of blood. He said he has a subtalor dislocation, not an open dislocation, and he seems very optimistic about pitching this season. Open dislocation is the term the Yankees have used from the very beginning.

UPDATE, 7:26 p.m.: Brian Cashman just met with the media to clarify that Chamberlain had an open dislocation of his subtalar joint. Cashman said he double checked with doctors and bone did, in fact, break through the skin. Cashman said there wasn’t a ton of bleeding, but there was bleeding. He’s still optimistic that Chamberlain will play this season.

As for Granderson, he’s going for a precautionary MRI tomorrow. Cashman said his level of concern is “two or less” on a scale from 1 to 10.

UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.: Sorry for the lack of updates tonight. Things have been a little hectic. Mark Teixeira is out of the game in the sixth inning, replaced by Jorge Vazquez for an unknown reason.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 310 Comments →

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