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

Archive for April, 2012

Pregame notes: Garcia sent to bullpen04.29.12

Freddy Garcia has been removed from the rotation and moved to the bullpen. Hes not going on the DL, and the Yankees still have not announced a move to add D.J. Mitchell. My guess is that Cody Eppley will be optioned (UPDATE: Yankees  just announced that Eppley has been optioned).

Also no official word on who will take Garcia’s spot in the rotation, but Joe Girardi acknowledged earlier today that David Phelps is the most obvious candidate.

Phelps said he hasn’t been told anything, but he’s been using all four pitches out of the bullpen and doesn’t think moving into the rotation will be all that different from pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen.

As you might expect, I’ve spent all morning standing around the clubhouse waiting for news on Garcia, so I’ll just add some quick pregame notes to this post.

• Garcia was obviously disappointed, but he also seemed to fully expect this sort of move. “I didn’t pitch the way I’m supposed to pitch,” he said.

• Garcia said he does not believe there’s anything physically wrong, he’s just not pitching very well. There’s nothing specific he wants to work on during his time in the bullpen. “I just try to feel right,” he said.

• During his pregame press conference — before anything had been announced involving Garcia — Girardi said Phelps is the top candidate to takeover a spot in the rotation. There’s been no official announcement saying Phelps is now a starter, but Girardi seemed to make it clear that Phelps would be the guy. We’ll probably hear something official after the game.

• A Yankees official said no roster move has been announced because the player involved hasn’t been informed. Eppley has pitched well, but I’m guessing he’ll be option strictly because he’s not going to be available for a while. That’s just the way these things work from time to time.

• Brett Gardner went to the cage to take swings for a second consecutive day. He said yesterday’s tee-and-toss session went fine, no problems with his elbow. “Step in the right direction,” he said.

• Chris Stewart is getting another start with CC Sabathia, but Girardi quickly dismissed the idea that Stewart is Sabathia’s personal catcher. Girardi said he likes to have his backup catchers stick with one or two guys, and it’s just worked out that Stewart’s starts have come with Sabathia. There’s not much difference between that and a personal catcher, but Girardi indicated that it’s more coincidence than anything.

• Mitchell found out about the call-up yesterday, before the big league game was even finished. Obviously the Yankees knew they would need another arm, but they didn’t settle on the actual move until this morning.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 147 Comments →

Chavez at DH; no move yet for Mitchell04.29.12

Joe Girardi said he doesnt have a move yet to activate D.J. Mitchell. The Yankees are waiting for Brian Cashman to get here to decide who comes off the roster.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez DH
Chris Stewart C

LHP CC Sabathia

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 150 Comments →

Mitchell called up from Triple-A04.29.12

No word on whos coming off the roster, but D.J. Mitchell had been called up from Triple-A to give the Yankees an extra arm in the bullpen.

He was scheduled to start today, so hes available whenever hes needed.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 360 Comments →

Postgame notes: Garcia’s role uncertain after another bad start04.28.12

The benefit of the doubt has been the only thing working in Freddy Garcia’s favor this season, but even that might have ended after today’s debacle. Manager Joe Girardi said he wanted to “sleep on things” before making a decision, but it’s clear that Garcia’s spot in the rotation is in doubt.

“I can’t tell you exactly what we’re going to do,” Girardi said. “I’m not going to come to any rash decisions. Obviously we’re trying to evaluate what’s going on here. It’s frustrating for the player and it’s frustrating for us, but we all know Freddy is better than what he has shown. We saw all last year how he competed, we saw it in spring training. For some reason it’s not coming out (of his hand).”

Although Garca said he physically feels fine, Girardi said it’s entirely possible that the Yankees will send him for medical tests. Garcia’s fastball velocity has dipped, and his split — an effective put-away pitch last season — has been cutting. It was an 0-2 split that Andy Dirks hit for a three-run home run in the first inning.

“I don’t see the crispness in his pitches,” Girardi said. “If we didn’t see it in spring training I’d say, well, maybe it’s not going to be there. But it was there. He threw great in spring training. He threw harder than he did last year. For whatever reason it’s not there right now.”

Garcia seemed baffled, frustrated and uncertain following the loss. He said he’d like to make his next start, but acknowledged that he’s not sure the Yankees will send him back out there.

“I’m just struggling, man,” he said. “For me, it’s really hard. I like to compete and I’m not competing right now. It’s frustrating. … My velocity is down. We work hard last week on a couple of things and things are not going in the right way right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

• For the first time, Girardi called David Phelps a candidate to move into the rotation. “Any time you have a long man, he’s a candidate to be a starter,” Girardi said. “Your long man is someone who is a sixth starter all the time in the bullpen.”

• After three hitless innings today, Phelps ERA is down to 3.57. After two rocky outings, today looked much more like what the Yankees saw out of Phelps in the first two weeks of the season. “My last two outings I was just trying to do a little bit too much instead of staying within myself,” he said. “I kind of got back to that today.”

• The bullpen allowed one run through 7.1 innings. Cody Eppley gave up a solo homer to Miguel Cabrera, but that was the extent of the damage. Despite Garcia’s awful start, the Yankees had a chance because of the pen. “It just speaks volumes to the quality of arms we have in our bullpen, the job that we’ve done all year,” Phelps said. “You saw tonight, we were 10 or 15 feet away from having a tie ballgame. It’s what we’re supposed to do, go in and give our team a chance to win. We’ve been doing a great job of it so far.”

• Those 10 or 15 feet came on Eric Chavez’s fly ball to end the game. A three-run ninth got Chavez to the plate as the tying run with two outs in the ninth. He gave the ball quite a ride, but it was caught short of the wall.

• Nick Swisher homered from both sides of the plate for the 11th time in his career, tying Eddie Murray and Chili Davis for the second-most such games all time behind Mark Teixeira. This was the first time Swisher had homered at home this season. He has six home runs.

• Curtis Granderson hit his seventh homer of the season. It was his first home run off a left-hander this season.

• Garcia has allowed nine first-inning runs this season.

• This is the first time in Garcia’s career that he’s gone back-to-back starts without pitching out of the second inning. Last time it happened to a Yankees starter was Chien-Ming Wang in 2009. That’s not exactly the comparision he wants right now.

• That Dirks home run was the first time Garcia had allowed a homer on an 0-2 pitch since Cabrera did it against him in 2009.

• Girardi said the team might call up a reliever before tomorrow’s game. “We’ll figure that out,” Girardi said. “Obviously we could make some adjustments.”

• It’s worth noting that D.J. Mitchell last started on Tuesday, making Sunday his regular day to pitch.

• Speaking of minor league starters: The Yankees confirmed that Andy Pettitte’s next start will be with High-A Tampa, not Double-A Trenton. They don’t want him pitching in the cold.

• Finally, here’s Girardi on whether Garcia is hurt: “It’s something I’ve thought. You see it one start and you don’t think much of it. You see it a couple starts and you start seeing it three starts, you really start to wonder.”

Associated Press photos (the Garcia shot was taken through the mesh at the front of the dugout)

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 263 Comments →

Garcia’s problems continue in loss to Detroit04.28.12

Freddy Garcia gave the Yankees an unexpected boost last season, but he’s been unexpected drain this year. For a second consecutive start, Garcia failed to pitch out of the second inning. He gave up six runs in a 7-5 loss to the Tigers and saw his ERA swell to 12.51. Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher each homered — Swisher went deep twice — and the bullpen allowed just one run through 7.1 innings, but Garcia’s outing was too much to overcome. A three-run ninth was enough to bring the tying run to the plate, but Eric Chavez flied to deep right field to end it. Although Joe Girardi has previous said the team has no plans of putting David Phelps in the rotation, Phelps delivered three hitless innings of relief and looks like a more reliable option than Garcia, who’s pitched through the fifth inning only once this season and has allowed at least five runs in each of his past three starts.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 201 Comments →

Game 20: Yankees vs. Tigers04.28.12

YANKEES (11-8)
Derek Jeter DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Andruw Jones LF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS

RHP Freddy Garcia (0-1, 9.75)
Garcia vs. Tigers

TIGERS (10-10)
Austin Jackson CF
Brennan Boesch RF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Andy Dirks LF
Brad Eldred DH
Alex Avila C
Jhonny Peralta SS
Ramon Santiago 2B

LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 1.13)
Smyly has never faced the Yankees

TIME/TV: 4:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Chilly. Wind is pretty gentle at the moment. Temperatures ranging from high to low 50s.

UMPIRES: HP Andy Fletcher, 1B Rob Drake, 2B Cory Blaser, 3B Joe West

NOT A REGULAR ENDING: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, last night was the first time in the last 50 years that a Yankees win ended on a ninth-inning passed ball.

FUN IN THE SUN: Freddy Garcia will be making his second day-time start of the season. He was 6-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 12 daytime starts last season, and in his career Garcia is 55-24 in day games, marking the fourth-highest winning percentage in day games among active pitchers (minimum of 50 starts) according to Elias.

SAME OLD MO: Mariano Rivera got his first win of the season last night. Since blowing the save in the season opener — allowing two earned run and five of his six batters faced to reach — Rivera has retired 19 of his last 21 batters faced (2H, 0BB, 7K) over seven outings with four saves in four save opportunities.

UPDATE, 4:22 p.m.: Garcia struck out Miguel Cabrera, pitched around Prince Fielder and had an 0-2 count on Andy Dirks. He was one pitch away from getting out of the first inning before Dirks sent a three-run homer to right field. It’s 3-0 Tigers.

UPDATE, 4:29 p.m.: Swisher’s strong month continues with a solo homer to left field. That’s hit fiffth of the season, and it pulls the Yankees within 3-1.

UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: Second inning and there’s already activity in the Yankees bullpen. Clay Rapada getting loose after a sharp RBI double by Boesch. It’s 4-1 with the middle of the Tigers order coming to the plate. This is quickly shaping up to be another all-too-short outing for Garcia.

UPDATE, 4:42 p.m.: A lot of boos after Garcia allows a two-run single to Cabrera. It’s 6-1 Tigers and it looks like Garcia is stalling.

UPDATE, 4:43 p.m.: Yep. After a couple of looks at first base, Garcia is pulled after an inning and two-thirds for a second start in a row. Not sure the Yankees can run him out there again. At least Hughes has gone through a few stretches — a few innings in a row — when it looks like he can get big league hitters out and limit the damage. Garcia hasn’t shown that at all. He just looks bad.

UPDATE, 5:08 p.m.: That’s Jeter’s 1,000th career walk.

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.: Rapada goes an inning and a third, and now here’s Phelps.

UPDATE, 5:44 p.m.: Three hitless innings for Phelps. He hasn’t been perfect every time out, but he’s been as effective as anyone currently in the Yankees rotation. Time to give him a start?

UPDATE, 6:09 p.m.: There’s Granderson’s seventh home run, and it comes off lefty Phil Coke. It’s a 6-2 Tigers lead here in the seventh.

UPDATE, 6:27 p.m.: Miguel Cabrera answers with his seventh home run of the season, this one off Cody Eppley.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 708 Comments →

Pregame notes: Looking for more from Garcia04.28.12

On his best days, Freddy Garcia’s fastball sits in upper 80s. Velocity is not what made him effective last season, and it’s not something he’s counting on this season, but when Garcia’s velocity dips in the low-to-mid 80s like it did in his last start, it’s a sign of problems across the board.

“When it’s that drastically low, you’re going to lose some of the break on your offspeed pitches and some of the deception on your split,” Joe Girardi said. “Things are going to roll a little bit when it comes to your offspeed.”

That’s why Girardi said he’ll first and foremost look for improved velocity in Garcia’s start this afternoon. He doesn’t need a big fastball, but he needs to show enough arm strength to suggest his secondary pitches will remain effective.

“Then it just really comes down to location for Freddy, and mixing in all of his pitches, and having his split and having his four pitches that he can go to,” Girardi said. “Freddy lives on the edges, and that’s what he has to do.”

The Yankees need Garcia to figure it out, because a 9.75 ERA isn’t cutting it. After Ivan Nova struggled last night, the Yankees don’t have a single starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.38.

“We definitely have to do better, there’s no doubt about it,” Girardi said. “To compete in this division, and to compete in this league, you have to do better. Our bullpen will get worn out if we continue at this pace, but I believe they will turn it around.”

• Speaking of doing better in the rotation… Because of weather concerns in Maine, Andy Pettitte’s next minor league start might be shifted from Double-A to High-A. Girardi said a decision will likely be made today whether to have Pettitte go ahead with Monday’s scheduled start in Portland or to move that start down to Tampa. “Basically, he feels good though,” Girardi said. “That’s the good thing. He’s bouncing back really well.”

• Girardi said the timing of the Roger Clemens trial will not affect when the Yankees bring Pettitte up to New York. The team is not worried about the distraction of Pettitte needing to testify. “That has not really been brought into determining when we would call him back, no,” Girardi said. “I don’t know how much time or if any time he’s going to have to spend there, but that has not been in our conversations.”

• Brett Gardner has been cleared to hit in the cage. He came through bunting drills just fine yesterday, saw the doctor again this morning and will attempt to hit after batting practice. He expects to be ready after his 15 days are up. “Today’s just step one, but hopefully it feels good,” he said.

• The two everyday Yankees with the lowest batting averages are Alex Rodriguez (.250) and Russell Martin (.188). Martin was as low as .133 a week and a half ago, but he’s hit a little bit lately. “I think he’s getting closer to where we expect him to be,” Girardi said. “He’s driving the ball the other way, he’s starting to drive the ball. The one thing that he has done through this whole thing is he has taken his walks. He has been patient. He has had long at-bats. Usually when you’re able to do things, things will turn around.”

• As for Rodriguez, he had three hits including his fourth homer yesterday. “He drove the ball the other way,” Girardi said. “He was patient. He got his pitch. One of the balls he hit the hardest was the ball he hit to center field. On a normal day when it’s not cold and the wind’s blowing, he’s got another home run. I just thought he swung at good pitches and he was patient.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 69 Comments →

Jeter at DH04.28.12

Derek Jeter DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Andruw Jones LF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS

RHP Freddy Garcia

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 106 Comments →

Postgame notes: Girardi, Nova down on West04.28.12

For two completely different reasons, Joe Girardi and Ivan Nova weren’t thrilled with Joe West after Friday night’s 7-6 walkoff win over the Tigers.

Girardi didn’t appreciate the combative home plate ump’s decorum in the seventh inning. That’s when Girardi was tossed for the 18th time in his career and 13th time as Yankee manager.

He had hopped from the dugout to argue a called third strike on Russell Martin and kicked some dirt around in an otherwise subdued protest. But West flashed a few smiles and eventually ejected Girardi, who was none too pleased with the way it all unfolded.

“I just didn’t care for the way it went,” Girardi said. “These games are very serious. Every game is serious stuff. That’s how I approach it. You’ve seen too many times where one game costs a team a playoff spot.”

It was West’s strike zone that drew Nova’s ire. The young right-hander felt he threw low strikes that West called balls. He subsequently elevated his pitches and was hit.

The Tigers touched up Nova for six earned runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. He never quite blamed West, but it clearly had some impact on his command.

“I was trying to put it higher and that’s when I got into trouble,” Nova said. “My fastball especially, if you don’t throw it where you want to throw it you can have a lot of problems. Today, I got hit, but I was feeling pretty good.”

Joe Girardi:

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Ivan Nova:

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• Tight strike zone or not, Nova’s charmed existence on the mound continued. He left down 6-4 and in line for the loss, but the bullpen pitched 3 2/3 scoreless and the offense rallied for three runs. That kept Nova’s winning streak to live another day. He remains unbeaten in his last 20 starts dating to 6/10/11. And he is still just one win shy of tying Roger Clemens’ club record for 16 straight winning decisions.

• Yes, Nova is 3-0, but his ERA ballooned to 5.18 and his WHIP an unsightly 1.68.

• Yankee Stadium continued to vex Justin Verlander, who is now 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts here. He’s allowed 12 earned runs in 24 innings after surrendering four in six innings tonight. He also surrendered his first home runs of the year to Alex Rodriguez (fourth) and Russell Martin (fifth).

“That’s a real tough lineup to get through,” Jim Leyland said. “I didn’t think he really had his off-speed stuff going well tonight, particularly his changeup. He just didn’t seem to have a real good feel for it tonight, at least that’s the way it looked anyway. He left a couple of fastballs over the plate where you can reach the seats here in right field. They might have been out almost anywhere. It’s a pretty good setup for guys like A-Rod that can hit it out that way, and Derek. He still pitched, obviously, well enough to win.”

Here’s Martin on his team’s apparent hold over one of the game’s best…

Russell Martin:

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• Of course, after scoring off the Detroit bullpen to tie it, the Yankees won by virtue of a wild pitch and a passed ball in the ninth. Derek Jeter said he couldn’t see the ball get passed Alex Avila on the 2-0 pitch to Rodriguez, so he actually retreated back slightly at first. A-Rod then waived him home so Jeter took off. He narrowly beat the throw by Avila to the plate.

“That’s how you win games sometimes,” Jeter said. “You have to be aggressive, but we caught a break.”

Listen to Jeter and A-Rod explain the final play…

Derek Jeter:

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Alex Rodriguez:

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• Lost amid the wild finish was the end of Jeter’s 15-game hitting streak. It ended with an 0-for-4 night that dropped his average 20 points to an even .400.

• The Yanks now have a remarkable seven comebacks out of their 11 wins this season. Their offense has carried them, and had to again tonight. Their starters entered tonight next-to-last in baseball with a 5.73 ERA and 30th with a 1.52 WHIP.

I asked Girardi if living on this edge concerns him.

“You don’t want to fight that battle every night,” he said. “But I think our starting pitching will get better.”

• Player notes: Rodriguez hit his 633rd home run and his 288th as a Yankee. He passed Bernie Williams for sole possession of sixth place in club history, but next is Yogi Berra at 358. … Curtis Granderson reached base safely for his 18th straight game. … Nick Swisher now has 13 extra-base hits after picking up a pair of doubles. He did not have 13 XBHs until 6/14 of last year. … The bullpen’s line was superb: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. It has now held opponents scoreless in seven of its last nine games. … Mariano Rivera earned the win and appeared in his 1,050th game in the process, tying Kent Tekulve for eighth on baseball’s all-time list.


Posted by: Josh Thomson - Posted in Miscwith 186 Comments →

Nova remains unbeatable04.27.12

It seems that nothing can stop Ivan Nova’s win streak. Not wind. Not cold. Not Justin Verlander. And certainly not a parade of baserunners. The young right-hander surrendered 14 of them in 5 1/3 innings tonight and left in line for the loss. But the offense rallied against Justin Verlander and the Tiger bullpen to give the Yankees a 7-6 win tonight at the Stadium.

Alex Rodriguez and Russell Martin each hit home runs. With Rodriguez up and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Avila allowed a passed ball on a 2-0 pitch that allowed Derek Jeter to score the winning run. Jeter had walked and moved to third on a wild pitch on ball four to Curtis Granderson.

The Yanks kept Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP, winless in their park. He’s now just 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts here after allowing four earned runs over six innings.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Josh Thomson - Posted in Miscwith 370 Comments →

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