The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Archive for June, 2012

Warren to make debut tonight06.29.12

We’ve already had a chance to see David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell this season — two of the three arms in the Yankees’ system considered to be the most major-league read — and tonight we’ll have the opportunity to see the third. With CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte both on the DL, the 24-year-old Adam Warren will make his big league debut tonight against the Chicago White Sox.

“I saw a big difference in him from last spring training to this spring training,” Joe Girardi said before Thursday’s series opener. “A lot of those kids – Phelpsie and Mitchell – where they felt like they belonged and were able to relax. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of butterflies tomorrow, but hopefully he can get through that first inning and settle down.”

While Phelps seems to be the Yankees’ favorite of this young pitching trio, he’s currently in the minors being stretched out after a stint as a reliever. That leaves the door open for Warren, who Girardi said impressed him during a spring training start against the Red Sox.

“It wasn’t where he just saw right-handed hitters – he saw pretty much their full lineup,” Girardi said. “I thought he pitched down in the zone, I thought he pitched in, I thought his breaking ball was outstanding, and I thought he used his changeup. It did stick out in my mind. It gave us a lot to think about when we were trying to decide who our 12th pitcher was.”

Warren joined the team yesterday, which Girardi hopes helped him begin to feel acclimated.

“We got him here today thinking that he can get used to his surroundings, relax a bit, watch the game and feel the atmosphere before he goes out there tomorrow,” Girardi said. “I did talk to him and congratulate him for being called up. When you see a young guy come up, enjoy the moment. Take a second to realize where you are, what you’ve accomplished and your opportunity here. And then just go to work.”

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Postgame notes: “I’m going to be cautious”06.28.12

What could have been a win that gave the Yankees a huge confidence boost after losing both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injury yesterday ended up being a devastating 4-3 loss that left the clubhouse feeling as somber as it has in quite some time.

David Robertson is usually one of the last Yankees to express any sort of displeasure, but it was written all over his face tonight. Clearly, Robertson was mad at himself for giving up the decisive home run to Dayan Viciedo in the ninth, but he also was a bit more open about his disappointment with how he was used than I would have expected.

“If it’s up to me – if it’s my choice – yeah, I would prefer (to start the inning),” Robertson said. “But I’ve been in situations before just like that, and I’ve gotten out of them. Tonight just wasn’t my night.”

With regular closer Rafael Soriano understandably unavailable after pitching in four of the last five games, Joe Girardi defended his decision not to start the inning with Robertson.

“His velocity has been not as consistent as before he g0t hurt, so I’m watching him,” Girardi said. “I’m going to be cautious.”

Basically, Girardi said that he decided to mix and match in the ninth inning rather than use Robertson for the second consecutive day. Robertson said that he felt fine to pitch a full inning, even noting that he felt better in his second consecutive day of work against the Mets over the weekend than he did in his first.

When asked if he thought he was going to have the opportunity to start and finish the ninth inning, Robertson responded, “I thought I was.”

• Of course, the inning would have never come down to Viciedo’s homer if Clay Rapada had been able to turn what looked to be a routine double play. After Cody Eppley gave up a single to lead off the inning, Girardi went to Rapada to face the lefty A.J. Pierzynski. Rapada induced a weak ground ball right back to the pitcher, but his throw to second sailed into center field. “I thought I fielded it very cleanly, I just didn’t get my feet going, and pushed the ball right into center field,” Rapada said. “It’s really tough because I executed the pitch that I wanted, I just didn’t do my job as a fielder… Throwing to the chest is throwing to the chest, and I didn’t do it.”

• Girardi was asked if he regretted his decision to not allow Robertson to pitch the entire inning. “No, not at all,” he said. “We give up a hit, and we get a double play ball. I should have been bringing him in with two outs… We’ve done a lot of mixing and matching, and we’re going to continue to do it.”

• Lost in all of the ninth inning madness was a strong outing from Ivan Nova. He was hit hard at times, but gave the Yankees 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. “I have to say my fastball and slider (were working), because my curveball wasn’t there today,” he said. “But I battled to the end.”

• Girardi talked about White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod, who did a pretty good job against this Yankees lineup other than the fifth inning. “I thought he threw a lot of sliders that were effective against us,” Girardi said. “Whether they were behind in the count or ahead in the count, he stayed down and nibbled.”

• The Yankees did most of their damage in the fifth with two outs. Curtis Granderson singled, which was followed by an RBI double from A-Rod. I’ve been saying for quite some time that opposing pitchers seem to always give him these hittable first-pitch strikes because they know he usually takes them. Tonight, he jumped on two first-pitch strikes, and it resulted in two doubles. Robby Cano also had an RBI double in the inning, giving him 19 RBI in the month of June.

• With a man on and two outs in the ninth, Derek Jeter hit one to the wall in right field that could have provided the Yankees with a walkoff win. “I didn’t know,” Jeter said when asked if he thought it was a home run. “They were playing no doubles (defense), so it either goes out or he catches it.”

• Here’s a typical Derek Jeter response on what it means to tie Cal Ripken, Jr. for 13th on the all-time hits list: “Right now, it’s kind of hard to sit around and think about it. Obviously what Cal represents, being a shortstop, he’s someone that I’ve always admired.”

• My opinion on Girardi’s decision not to use Robertson to start the ninth: He got too cute. I understand that Robertson is coming off of an injury, but he was obviously available. He’s their set-up man, and when the closer isn’t ready to go, the set-up man gets to close. You have to show more confidence in a guy that’s been as good as D-Rob. Girardi has done a great job managing the bullpen all year. But not tonight.

Associated Press photos

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Wild ninth inning ends Yankees’ winning streak06.28.12

On a day when the Yankees were still dealing with the aftermath of losing two of their top starting pitchers to injuries, Ivan Nova gave them the type of performance that should have provided some comfort. That was, until Joe Girardi decided to treat the ninth inning as if it were an audition, resulting in a devastating 4-3 loss to the Chicago White in Thursday’s series opener.

The Yankees entered the ninth with a 3-1 lead. Regular closer Rafael Soriano wasn’t available after pitching in four of the last five games, but rather than have set-up man David Robertson pitch the ninth, Girardi decided to use Cody Eppley.

Eppley allowed a leadoff single to Alex Rios, and was promptly replaced by Clay Rapada. Rapada got A.J. Pierzynski to ground back to the pitcher for a tailor-made double play, but Rapada threw the ball into center field. With runners on the corners, Girardi finally went to Robertson, who surrendered a three-run homer to Dayan Viciedo for the decisive blow.

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Game 75: Indians at Yankees06.28.12

YANKEES (46-28)
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez 3B
Chris Stewart C

RHP Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.25)
Nova vs. White Sox

WHITE SOX (40-35)
Alejandro De Aza CF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Alex Rios RF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Dayan Viciedo LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Gordan Beckham 2B

RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.85)
Axelrod has never faced any current Yankees

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

WEATHER: It’s hot and humid. My car said it was 100 out on the way here, and it doesn’t feel like it’s cooled down much.

UMPIRES: HP Marty Foster, 1B Tim Timmons, 2B Jeff Kellogg, 3B Eric Cooper

BEST OF THE BEST: Entering tonight’s game, the Yankees own the best record in MLB at 46-28. It marks the Yankees’ best record after 74 games since 2010. The last time the Yankees had a better record at this point of the season was 2004.

SWEEP MASTERS: With yesterday’s sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees have now swept seven series this season. More impressively, they’ve swept four of their last six series.

ONE WIN AWAY: With one more win in the month of June, the Yankees will have won 20-or-more games in a month for the second time since 2004. In 2009, the Yankees went 21-7 during the month of August.

(Note: I’ll be updating the action here every so often, but I’ll be much more active on Twitter. To join the conversation, follow me @vzmercogliano.)

UPDATE, 7:52 p.m.: We’ve gotten through three innings pretty quickly, and we’re still scoreless. Nova has allowed two hits and two walks while striking out two (37 pitches). Axelrod has allowed one hit and one walk while striking out two (44 pitches). As we’ve seen in the past, the Yankees tend to struggle against pitchers that they haven’t seen before.

UPDATE, 8:12 p.m.: Wasted opportunities for each team in the fourth. Despite hitting a few balls right on the screws, the White Sox never came up with a run after putting runners on the corners with no outs to begin the inning. And after back-to-back walks loaded the bases for the Yankees with two outs, Chavez weakly grounded out to third. We’re still scoreless heading into the fifth.

UPDATE, 8:21 p.m.: De Aza just launched one into the right field seats to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the fifth. He’s 3 for 3 tonight.

UPDATE, 8:35 p.m.: Nice two-out rally from the Yankees in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. For the second time this game (which I tweeted about earlier), A-Rod smoked a first pitch double. That scored Granderson, which was followed by an RBI double from the red-hot Cano. Amazingly, neither run was scored via the long ball.

UPDATE, 9:32 p.m.: The Yankees ended up getting 7.1 IP of one-run ball from Nova, who is on pace for his team-leading 10th win of the year. The Yankees were also on pace for their second win of the season in which they didn’t homer, but Tex just ended that possibility with a homer to LF in the eighth. It’s 3-1.

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Pregame notes: “I like how we’ve responded to injuries”06.28.12

With the loss of arguably their two best starting pitchers to injuries, the outlook for the Yankees is much different going into this four-game set with the Chicago White Sox than it was on Monday when they began their series with the Cleveland Indians. Despite sweeping the Tribe, the team will now have to find a way to continue its scorching play without lefties CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.

“I like the way that we’re playing, and I like how we’ve responded to injuries this year so far,” Joe Girardi said. “I expect our guys to do the same thing.”

Rookie Adam Warren arrived today to fill a roster spot and fill one of the vacant rotation spots. The right-hander comes in with decent minor league numbers at Triple-A (5-5, 3.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 59 K and 27 BB in 86.1 IP), but he’s been on a bit of a roll in his last five starts, not allowing a run in three of those outings.

The 24-year-old will make his major league debut tomorrow night, and Girardi talked about what he’s seen from him.

“I thought he had good command,” Girardi said. “I thought his fastball at times can be sneaky. I thought he pitched down in the zone well in spring training, and his breaking ball can be good. (The White Sox) feature a lot of right-handed hitters, and hopefully that bodes well for him.”

The other rotation spot will be temporarily filled by veteran Freddy Garcia. The right-hander pitched well enough last season to earn a playoff start, but looked as if he didn’t belonged to begin this year. Garcia gave up 19 earned runs through his first four outings this season (13.2 IP) before being removed from the rotation, but he’s been much better as the Yankees’ long man out of the bullpen. He’s only allowed three earned runs in 17.1 IP since the end of April, and seems to have regained Girardi’s trust.

“He did a good job, because there were times when he didn’t pitch a whole lot – I think like twice in a month,” Girardi said. “We saw him start to turn the corner and pitch better for us, and I think that was important. He’s not as stretched out as we would like, but that’s just something we’ll have to deal with. We had him throw some extra pitches yesterday after he came out in the bullpen, but I thought his fb was better, his slider was better and I thought his split got better. That’s a big part of his arsenal.”

• Russell Martin is out of the lineup again today because his back has stiffened back up. Chris Stewart will start in his place. “You can see that it’s tough for him to finish his swing,” Girardi said. “I think the rotation is what bothers him, so we’ll take it day by day.”

• Martin has dealt with back issues before, but it doesn’t sound like anyone is overly concerned at this point. For all of you Francisco Cervelli lovers, that likely means we won’t be seeing the energetic backup quite yet. “He’s been through it before,” Girardi said of Martin. “We’ve been through it before with him. Short term, we want it to get better. Long term, my feeling is that he’s going to be healthy and is going to be OK. In my mind, this is not a DL case. He’s available if I need him tonight.”

• Apparently, Brian Cashman said on Michael Kay’s radio show that David Phelps should be rejoining the team soon. Phelps pitched well out of the bullpen and as a spot starter earlier this season, and was recently sent down to the minors to be stretched back out. He’s said to be up to about 65-70 pitches, so you would think the Yankees would want to get him one more start before recalling him. Girardi wouldn’t confirm anything, but Warren will likely have to pitch well tomorrow night in order to hold down his spot in the rotation the next time through.

• Another name to keep an eye on is Ramon Ortiz. The veteran right-hander has been pitching well for Triple-A and has plenty of big league experience. He threw six scoreless innings last night (6 H, 2 BB, 2 K) and has now registered nine consecutive quality starts.

• To fill Pettitte’s roster spot, the Yankees have recalled RHP Ryota Igarashi. This will be his second stint with the team. In nine relief outings at Triple-A, Igarashi was 1-1 with two saves and a 2.61 ERA (10.1 IP, 3 ER, 15 K). He’ll be used out of the pen.

• Just as Cashman has, Girardi also seemed to dismiss the notion that the Yankees may need to look outside of the organization for help. CC is expected back shortly after the All-Star break, so the expectation is that they’ll only need to find one guy to step up between Garcia, Warren, Phelps and Co. Girardi talked about liking the fact that the Yankees have several options who they’re familiar with. Of course, a few dud outings may change all of that. “It does make you comfortable, because you have an idea of what they’re like and they’re personality,” he said. “It’s not someone who you’re seeing for the first time in your clubhouse.”

• Here is the today’s lineup for the White Sox: 1. De Aza (CF); 2. Youkilis (3B); 3. Dunn (DH); 4. Konerko (1B); 5. Rios (RF); 6. Pierzynski (C); 7. Viciedo (LF); 8. Ramirez (SS); 9. Beckham (2B); RHP Axelrod.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees lineup: A-Rod at DH; Stewart behind the dish06.28.12

Vincent Mercogliano here from Yankee Stadium with today’s lineup for the series opener against the Chicago White Sox. I’ll be in the Bronx for the next two days filling in for Chad. Apparently, Russell Martin’s back has stiffened up again.

Jeter SS
Granderson CF
A-Rod DH
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
Swisher RF
Ibanez LF
Chavez 3B
Stewart C
RHP Nova

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 52 Comments →

Pitching matchups vs. White Sox06.28.12

Tonight 
RHP Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.25)
vs.
RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 5.54)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Friday
RHP Adam Warren (major league debut)
vs.
LHP Jose Quintana (2-1, 1.25)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

Saturday
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-7, 3.40)
vs.
RHP Jake Peavy (6-4, 2.84)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

Sunday
RHP Phil Hughes (8-6, 4.48)
vs.
RHP Gavin Floyd (6-7, 4.80)
2:05 p.m., YES Network and TBS

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 209 Comments →

HOPE Week honors the GlamourGals06.28.12

HOPE Week continues this morning with the GlamourGals organization, which recently landed in the Bronx. Here are the details from the Yankees…

The New York Yankees are proud to continue HOPE Week 2012 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) on Thursday by celebrating GlamourGals. Yankees players Nick Swisher, David Robertson, Brett Gardner and Cody Eppley­ will honor GlamourGals by surprising the group for one of their events at the East Haven Nursing and Senior Rehab Center in the Bronx, and participating in the makeovers of the senior citizen residents. The volunteers and GlamourGals founder Rachel Doyle will then be the Yankees’ special guests for their 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Chicago White Sox. They will watch batting practice from the field and be part of pregame on-field ceremonies.

THE STORY OF GLAMOURGALS
http://www.glamourgals.org/

Rachel Doyle was a sophomore in high school when her grandmother passed away in a Nevada nursing home. To honor her memory and create a bridge between the generations, Doyle, then 17, created the first chapter of GlamourGals in 2000. The organization is comprised of male and female high school and college-age volunteers who give manicures and makeovers to the elderly at senior homes. The organization’s goal is to foster self-esteem and mutual respect while building meaningful relationships. Additionally, many seniors in nursing homes do not receive frequent visitors, and GlamourGals helps to fill that void.

More than a decade after her first makeover, Doyle serves as CEO. Her vision and dedication has seen the organization grow to approximately 1,300 volunteers in more than 62 chapters spanning 13 states, along with a chapter in St. Andrews, Scotland. The organization just expanded to the Bronx in April 2012.

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Girardi: “Guys have to step up”06.28.12

The Yankees have gotten nine games out of Brett Gardner this season, which is nine more than they’ve gotten out of Michael Pineda. They’ve lost Dave Robertson for a month, and they’ve lost Mariano Rivera for the year. Nick Swisher’s been banged up, Mark Teixeira couldn’t stop coughing and Russell Martin missed three games because of a sore back.

But yesterday the Yankees were dealt a new kind of blow with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte going on the disabled list on the same day.

“When I came to the park, I felt pretty good about the way we’ve been playing,” Joe Girardi said. “CC’s hurt and now Andy’s hurt, but as I said, no one’s going to feel sorry for us, and guys have to step up, that’s the bottom line.”

How can the Yankees make up for losing two starters on the same day?

Get more out of the lineup
Despite all of those runners left in scoring position, the Yankees still have one of the most potent lineups in baseball. They’ve hit more home runs than any other team, and there’s certainly enough talent to believe this team can hit with anyone. The Yankees could lean on the pitching staff a little less, and lean on the lineup a little more.

“I don’t know,” Brian Cashman said. “You really have to replace (them) with some quality pitching. You have to have guys give you some distance, give you a chance to win. Give you distance so you don’t burn the bullpen out. It helps certainly when you’re swinging the bats well, but this is an offensive ballpark. Both teams can swing the bats, and they can play catch-up real quick. Yes and no. Yes, having a deep offense is certainly helpful, but there was a period of time where Freddy didn’t pitch for 12 days because we (never) needed a long man and the games were close. There was a period when we were winning a lot, 6-4, 5-3, that type of stuff.”

Lean on the proven starters
Sabathia’s the ace and Pettitte has been outstanding, but Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are also pitching pretty well lately. Kuroda has an ERA lower than Sabathia’s, Nova has nine wins and Hughes just pitched eight scoreless innings.

“The big thing is, what our guys understand is, Nova, Hughes and Kuroda can’t make the starts for CC and Andy,” Girardi said. “So just be yourself. Don’t try to do too much because if you do that, usually things go awry. So, to me, the big thing is just saying, just reminding (them to) go out and do what you do. We’ll take care of the other two days. It’s not your responsibility.”

Hope Garcia can rediscover 2011
Sabathia’s supposed to miss two starts. By the end of the all-star break, there’s a good chance the Yankees will need only one of Freddy Garcia and Adam Warren in the rotation. Warren’s got upside, but Garcia was terrific last season, and he’s pitched to a 1.56 ERA since moving to the bullpen. Both Girardi and Russell Martin have talked about Garcia’s improved arm speed leading to his improvement.

“I’ve been a starter all of my career,” Garcia said. “Now I’m in the bullpen, but I took my role in the bullpen really serious and I took it as a positive. That’s the way I dealt with that and tried to do my job. I’ve been playing this game for a long time, and I have to be ready for any situation. My arm feels good. We’ll see what happens Monday, but hopefully I pitch good with the way I’ve been pitching lately. … I’ve been throwing long toss almost every day and I feel great. I wasn’t pitching that much, but I was looking for any opportunity every time they put me out there. I’m glad I did my job when they asked me, and now I’m looking forward to starting Monday.”

Associated Press photo

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Warren next in line for Yankees pitching staff06.27.12

When this day started, the Yankees planning to call-up Adam Warren to serve as a long reliever, a bit of multi-inning insurance behind Freddy Garcia. By the time Andy Pettitte hobbled into the clubhouse with a broken ankle, the Yankees were definitely calling up Warren and giving him his first big league start on Friday.

“He’s earned it,” Brian Cashman said. “He almost earned the opportunity last year, too. We’re excited to get a chance to see what he’s got to do. I know this is a day he’s been dreaming about and growing for. Throw strikes, try to eliminate the butterflies, trust the guys he’s got behind him and we’ll see where he takes us.”

Warren opened some eyes this spring, and after getting off to a slow start this season, he’s pitched to a 2.03 ERA through five starts this month. Ramon Ortiz is a big league veteran with good Triple-A numbers, but Cashman said Warren is the better option at this point. He’s getting the call because he’s the best starter available.

“I saw him quite a bit (in spring training),” Russell Martin said. “I was pleased. He’s a professional. He’s got good command of at least three pitches. Understands how to pitch. We’ll see what we have when we get here. I haven’t seen him in a while, but I like his stuff.”

When camp opened this spring, all of the buzz centered on Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, but Betances has been demoted to Double-A and Banuelos hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Instead it’s been David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell and now Warren who have pitched their way to the big league roster.

Phelps has made two starts for High-A Tampa and will be cleared for 65-70 pitches next time out. He’s being stretched out as a starter, but he’s not there yet, and so the door has opened for Warren. Friday will be his normal turn after last pitching on Sunday.

“He’s next in line,” Cashman said. “Phelps, if he was stretched out, would be the prime candidate, then Warren would be second to Phelps. With Phelps’ assistance to us at the big-league level, he was reduced to about an inning in the end. We’re trying to get him back going into the rotation, so Warren is by far the next best for us. … He’s earned the right, and he’s due for the opportunity. Now it’s going to come, which is great. Whatever happens is going to happen in the short-term, (but) it’s not going to change the fact that we believe he’s a big-league starter going forward here at some point on a consistent basis.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 92 Comments →

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