Dave Robertson isn’t expected to pick up a baseball for seven to 10 days, meaning a strained left oblique has robbed the Yankees of yet another closer. Of course, their third-stringer just so happened to lead the American League in saves two years ago.
“You know, to me, I don’t think nothing changed,” Rafael Soriano said. “Sometimes, something happens like that and you got to keep going, because we lost Mariano first and the bullpen tried to do whatever it had to do. Now, with two guys down, it’s not going to be easy for us. We’re trying to be together, the bullpen and the team, and win.”
The ninth inning belongs to Soriano now, and Joe Girardi said he’ll likely mix-and-match the other innings. Boone Logan and Cory Wade seem to be at the top of the depth chart for the seventh inning, but Girardi said situations might push Clay Rapada or even David Phelps into a setup role at some point.
“We are testing our depth, and time’s going to tell if we can sustain what we’re doing,” Girardi said. “They’ve done a good job so far. You look at the job those guys have done there, they’ve been really, really good. I think the distance from your starters becomes maybe a little more important now.”
Before the end of spring training, Soriano specifically asked Girardi which inning would be his. He wanted a defined role, wanted know what exactly he would be asked to do. He’s gone from the seventh to the eighth and now he’s back in the ninth, a role he cherishes, and a role in which he thrived with the Rays in 2010.
“When it’s close,” Soriano said. “No matter if it’s the sixth, seventh, ninth — I feel better when the game is tied, or close, losing by one run, winning by one run. … That’s what I like. That makes me feel more better, when I face the 3, 4, 5 hitters. Whatever happens, come back next day, try to do it again.”
• Ivan Nova’s ankle was wrapped today, but he said it feels significantly better than last night. Girardi said he expects Nova to make his next start, but that decision might not be made until Saturday. “It hurts a little bit,” Nova said. “But not like last night. Last night was really bad. They take care of it and it’s much better right now.”
• Nova had a similar injury last year. He said this one is much less severe. “Today I’m better,” he said. “Last year, the next day I can’t even walk.”
• The preference is for Soriano to be limited to one inning, but Girardi said he wouldn’t be shocked to occasionally use him for four outs. He had Soriano getting loose in the eighth inning last night just in case he needed him to finish off that inning.
• Girardi on whether Phelps could be a one-inning reliever at some point: “I think I’m going to have to use him somewhat like that, and use him sometimes (like) that and sometimes multiple innings. It’s a guy that has done a pretty good job against left-handers and right-handers, and I think you can do that along with Cory.”
• Just to get this out of the way, Girardi said he doesn’t plan to move Phil Hughes into a setup role just to fill the late-inning gap. “Not right now,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about that he’s starting to turn it around as a starter and he’s given us some distance and that becomes very important.”
• Cody Eppley was supposed to land at 5:15. The Yankees expect him to be at the part in time for the game.
• Rapada said it was a combination of medication that made him so light-headed last night, but he feels well enough to pitch tonight. Girardi said he thinks Rapada will be available. “Just dealing with the bullpen flu,” Rapada said. Turns out just about every reliever has had this cold at one point or another.
• Raul Ibanez said he can swing and should be available to pinch hit tonight. “He said he felt OK,” Girardi said “But it’s one thing when you’re not moving it.”
• Claimed off waivers this weekend, reliever Justin Thomas has reported to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Eppley.
Associated Press photos