Much of the pregame talk today in Joe Girardi’s press conference revolved around his decision to DH Alex Rodriguez for the second game of this opening home series vs. the Angels. The early indications are that A-Rod and Derek Jeter are probably going to DH about one game each per week, with scattered days off mixed in.
“I could have (DHed) either one,” Girardi said. “I decided to do A-Rod today. I believe we’ll see a left-hander on Tuesday, so I could possibly do (Jeter) on that day.”
Francisco Liriano is slated to start for the Minnesota Twins here in the Bronx that day, so expect to see The Captain receiving a half day off. Both A-Rod and Jeter have shown some signs of what they’re still capable of when fresh through the first seven games of the season. Jeter is hitting .355 with four extra-base hits, and scouts have remarked that he’s looking quicker than he did at this time last year — both in the field and at the plate. A-Rod showed signs of an early-season breakout yesterday, going 3 for 4 with his first homer of the season. It was a great sign to see him driving the ball with authority to center field.
“When I look at a player, let’s take a 10 game period,” Girardi said. “I’d rather him go all out for eight games and have to sit two, than have him go 80 percent and go nine of the ten. I want everything that you’ve got, and then I’ll make that determination… I don’t want my players saving anything. A lot of the time when you try to save something, that’s when you end up getting hurt.”
• Phil Hughes will make his second start of the season after somewhat of a head-scratcher against the Rays last Sunday. On one hand, the right-hander only allowed two runs and showed better velocity than he had at this point last season. On the other hand, he didn’t make it out of the fifth allowing, lasting only 4 2/3 innings. The Tampa hitters had some long at-bats against Hughes, so I’ll be looking to see if he can finish guys off earlier in the count to keep his pitch count under control. “I think they just did a good job on him, fouling pitches off,” Girardi said. “I actually was very pleased with his changeup and his curveball and his fastball. They just fouled some pitches off. Maybe you expand a little bit more so that it looks like a strike.”
• Sticking with the rotation theme, Girardi said that Andy Pettitte will be making another start tomorrow. He said he thought it would be for the Yankees’ Tampa affiliate, but had to confirm it. He expects him to throw about 45-50 pitches. Pettitte allowed one run and two hits over three innings in his last start. He threw 26 of his 32 pitches for strikes — a very good sign. “It’s probably easier to put a pitch limit,” Girardi said. “In A-ball you don’t always see people working the count, so 45-50 could take awhile.”
• Of course, the question was asked what will happen with the rotation when Pettitte is ready to go. After one week, you’d have to think that Freddy Garcia is the favorite to get bumped, but things could get even hairier when Michael Pineda returns from the DL. “That’s why we signed him,” Girardi responded when asked if Pettitte would join the rotation. “I think that’s fair to say. We’re going to have to make an evaluation, but ready is not just a pitch limit. Ready is how you’re throwing the baseball in a sense too, so we’re going to have to evaluate that… We’ll cross that bridge when we have to. Right now we just want the guys to go out and throw the ball the way they’re capable of.”
• Girardi had no update on Pineda.
• Apparently, Brett Gardner is not feeling great, but will be available off of the bench. Andruw Jones will get the start in LF. “Gardy was pretty sick last night,” Girardi said. “He had some flu-like symptoms, so it kind of made my decision easy today.”
• Eduardo Nunez will get the start at 3B with A-Rod DHing. With a lefty in C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Angels, Eric Chavez once again finds himself on the bench (although he has a career .429 batting average vs. Wilson in seven at-bats). He only has two at-bats so far this season (with one hit). Girardi was asked about any concerns he may have about Nunez’s knack for committing errors. “He’s been OK,” Girardi said. “He had the one error on the first play in Tampa, but people were talking about how the infield was a little hard and there were some clumps that were breaking up a little bit. But he’s looked OK to me. I don’t want to judge him too quick, because everyone is excited in the first week of the season.”
• Robinson Cano is batting in the 3-hole today after a one-game hiatus. A-Rod slots back into the cleanup spot, which you can expect to see against lefties. The plan is still for A-Rod and Cano to flop against righties, which seemed to work out pretty well yesterday.
• Here’s the Angels lineup: 1. Aybar (SS); 2. Kendrick (2B); 3. Pujols (1B); 4. Morales (DH); 5. Hunter (RF); 6. Callaspo (3B); 7. Wells (LF); 8. Iannetta (C); 9. Bourjos (CF).
• Wilson will take the ball after a somewhat disappointing start for the Angels rotation. Wilson was very good in his first start with his new club, allowing just three hits and striking out five over seven innings to earn the win against the Twins. I’d expect the rest of this rotation to shape up sooner rather than later, as it looks like it should be one of the strongest in the AL. “I mean we’ve only really had two good starts, one from (Jered) Weaver and one from C.J.,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But our rotation is good… These guys can pitch and they’ll be there for us in the end. We just need to start executing better on the mound and getting some better production from guys that are very important to us.”
• Cano, Jeter, Russell Martin and Nick Swisher each have career batting averages over .300 vs. Wilson (although Martin only has three at-bats).
Associated Press photos