The biggest news to come out of Joe Girardi’s pregame press conference today was his announcement that Brett Gardner will be given two more days to rest before he resumes baseball activities. The Yankees’ regular left fielder is eligible to come off of the DL tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen.
“We’ve decided that we’re going to give another two days,” Girardi said. “He still has just a little bit of pain from the bone bruise, so we’re going to give him another two days where he does nothing. Seeing him Thursday or Friday is not going to be the case… We’ll see how he does over the weekend.”
From the sound of it, I’d say its doubtful that Gardner will play in this weekend’s four-game set with the Kansas City Royals. Girardi also said that Nick Swisher is progressing, but still hasn’t run or swung a bat. That means more playing time in the corner outfield spots for Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, and yes, Eduardo Nunez. For now, Girardi says they have no plans to add another outfielder to the roster.
“We’re a little squeezed, but it’s not that I don’t have capable and able players to stick out there,” he said. “We kind of reevaluate it every night.”
Girardi said you can expect to see Nunez in left on Thursday and Friday with two lefties expected to start for the Royals.
• Despite his somewhat blotted ERA (5.18) and high WHIP (1.68), Girardi seems pleased with tonight’s starter Ivan Nova mainly because of his 3-0 record. “He’s kept us in every game,” Girardi said. “I look at his last start when he got into the sixth against the Tigers, and that’s when they started to hit him a little bit… Anyone can have one stinker of a game and give up a big spot early and your team is not able to come back, but he really seems to manage innings.”
• The lack of production from the Yankees’ 3-4-5 hitters has been a topic that you can bank on Girardi being asked about each day so far this season. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira have each shown glimpses of breaking out, but none of the three have been consistent through one month. “You see some good at-bats, you see sometimes where maybe they’re a little out in front, sometimes they lined out, sometimes they missed their pitch – I think it’s a number of things,” Girardi said. “They’re not where they want to be — they’re not where we want them to be — but that just means that they’re due. The law of averages usually catches up.”
• Today’s focus was on Cano, who comes into today’s game hitting .255 with a .372 slugging percentage, one homer and just four RBI. Girardi didn’t seem to be concerned, and I can’t really blame him. Cano is last guy I’d expect to have an extended slump. “I just think he’s missing his pitch,” Girardi said. “He’s just a tick off. It doesn’t take much to be off at the plate – it really doesn’t. The timing has to be perfect and you have to swing at good pitches. I haven’t seen him chase. It’s not like I’ve seen him be overaggressive.”
• As a manager, Girardi often talks about not panicking when guys are struggling. He’s not going to make any drastic lineup changes, but he did talk about trying to loosen Cano up. “He had just lined out and I said, ‘Look at all of the green out there, and you happen to hit it to right where a guy is standing. How do you do that?’ ” Girardi said. “I’m trying to make a little light of the situation, because it’s frustrating when you hit a ball hard and make outs. But that will change. I guarantee you.”
• One guy who certainly isn’t slumping is Derek Jeter. After going 3 for 5 last night, the Captain comes into tonight’s game with exactly 40 hits in 100 at-bats for an even .400 average. “At this juncture, it’s a lot of hits early on,” Girardi said. “A lot of times hitters don’t heat up until the middle of the season, but it’s been extremely impressive what he’s done. All of us want him to carry it out as long as he can because he’s been a huge part of our offense.”
• Girardi was asked about backup catcher Chris Stewart, who got another start last night and seems to be a big hit with the pitching staff. “This is not the first time that he’s been up,” he said. “He does a really good job behind home plate — that’s the bottom line. If you see anywhere where Chris has had a hard time, it’s offensively. But I don’t really worry about that. I worry about the runs that he can save… He’s had some big hits for us.”
• Here is the Orioles’ lineup: 1. Endy Chavez LF; 2. J.J. Hardy SS; 3. Nick Markakis RF; 4. Adam Jones CF; 5. Matt Wieters C; 6. Chris Davis 1B; 7. Nick Johnson DH; 8. Mark Reynolds 3B; 9. Robert Andino 2B.
• The Orioles are collectively hitting .284 off of Nova. The red-hot Davis is hitting .571 off of him, while Wieters is batting .455. Wieters is beginning to show the promise this season that made him such a prized prospect a few years back.
• The Yanks are collectively hitting .239 off of Orioles’ starter Jake Arrieta. Jeter (.400), Tex (.375) and Granderson (.313) are the only guys with favorable numbers against the righty.
• Manny Banuelos will be making his first start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight since injuring his back on April 12. It will be the third start of the year for the young left-hander, who has struggled early on with a 10.13 ERA.
Associated Press photos