After not playing for eight days due to a strained left hip flexor, Nick Swisher is set to return to the lineup tonight as the Yankees’ DH.
Needless to say, the 31-year-old switch-hitter is pretty excited about it.
“I love playing this game,” he said. “So anytime I can be in there, I’m going to enjoy it.”
Swish will bat fifth, which is an extremely important spot because he will be charged with the task of providing protection for the Yankees’ best hitter — Robinson Cano. We also know that Joe Girardi loves having switch-hitters in the lineup to make it difficult on opposing team’s bullpens.
“It hurts us,” he said of missing Swisher. “I think we have to make more moves and it’s easier for clubs to match up their left-handers against us… We’ve been able to score some runs in the last three days without him, but we do miss him. We miss that presence.”
Girardi expressed some concern because Swisher has had three leg injuries in the same area this season, and Swisher talked about having to make adjustments due to the fact that he changed his body in the offseason. He added a few pounds of muscle, and still says that he has no regrets about it.
“I kind of changed my body up a lot from last year to this year, and it’s kind of led to a lot of bumps and bruises, I guess you can say. I feel like I need to do more stretching and a lot more massages so that I don’t have to deal with this at all,” he said. “I came in here ready to go. Injuries are part of the season, and for myself I’ve been a pretty healthy guy. I take a lot of pride in that, so when I get knocked down for a week or something, it feels like a month…
I’ve got to take care of the temple.”
• Girardi is DHing Swisher today as a precaution, but Swish said that he expects to play the field tomorrow and could do it today, if necessary. He said he ran the bases at 85-90 percent yesterday with no issues. He is one home run away from 200 for his career. “Today is one of those good days,” Swisher said. “I felt everyday that he’s given me after what we said, I’ve felt that much better.”
• Swisher also talked about the fact that he thinks the extra days that Girardi made him sit will be beneficial in the long run. “I think that’s my biggest enemy – my biggest fight is with myself,” he said. “I want to be out there, and sometimes it takes another side or another party to really kind of tell you the things that can happen. This is a special year, and I want to be apart of this.”
• Girardi talked about his responsibility as a manager to protect injured players from themselves. “I think as a manager it’s really important that you listen to the signs and clues,” he said. “99 percent of players want to go out there and play whether they’re battered or beaten up and shouldn’t be out there, because it’s what they love to do. I was the same way. Sometimes you try to hide things and mask things, but as a manager, you have to listen carefully… It’s a tough part of the job.”
• Girardi also talked about what it’s like having Swisher on the bench. As you can imagine, he’s not the type to sit still. “He stills brings it, he’s just more of a cheerleader in a sense,” Girardi said. “The energy is still there. I know sometimes people think of us as kind of older, which is fair, but it’s a pretty energetic group.”
• David Phelps turned in another strong effort out of the bullpen last night, pitching two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and striking out three. Since returning to the big leagues in late June, he’s been outstanding. In his last four appearances, he’s allowed no runs, no walks and just one hit in 7 1/3 innings while striking out 12. He’s turned into a major asset, much like the way that Alfredo Aceves did a few years back in the long relief role. “I think the consistent work has helped him as much as anything,” Girardi said. “The innings that he was able to go down and get built back up and get his arm strength going again. When we used him early in the year, we used him a little more consistently because we werent getting a lot of depth out of our starters, and he was pretty good for us. And then we got in a period where our guys were going late, and we were turning it over to the eighth and ninth inning guys, and he wasn’t getting a lot of work. We sent him down to get work and get built back up, and he’s had consistent work almost every third day, and he’s been really good.”
• Jayson Nix is getting the start at third again after hitting a two-run homer yesterday. He’s been solid in the utility role for the Yanks since replacing Eduardo Nunez, and has come up with several timely hits. “I knew that he was a guy that could do a lot of different things for you,” Girardi said. “He was going to give you a good at-bat, and he was always going to be prepared. He had done somewhat of a utility, not-play-everyday role before. I had a pretty good idea of what he was. I hadn’t seen him on an everyday basis to know exactly how well he could play each position, but I think he’s done a really good job for us.”
• If you ask me, I think the Yankees will be fine with an Eric Chavez-Nix platoon at third in A-Rod’s absence — especially since the Ichiro trade made the team that much deeper. Chavez has swung the bat well all season, and I don’t know of many cheap replacements who could outperform him. Still, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported today that the Yankees have made a list of potential third basemen they could trade for. Click here to check it out.
• Girardi was asked about how much say he has in any potential deals that the team may make. “I’m cognizant of it, but my focus is on the guys in the room,” Girardi said of Tuesday’s trade deadline. “That’s my job. I let upstairs worry about July 31. As I’ve said all along, I’ve been around long enough to know that there are rumors that are always flying. Our names are going to brought up all of the time – a lot of time just to increase value – so until Brian (Cashman) says that we’re making this move, I don’t get too caught up in it.”
• Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to make another rehab appearance tonight, this one with Double-A Trenton. He will enter into the game with two outs in an inning then stay in to pitch the following inning. He has been placed on a limit of 30 pitches in an inning. Girardi noted today that Joba has to come off of the DL on August 6, assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. “I think as a player it’s important to take it day-by-day,” Girardi said. “There is a finish – there is a 30-day period. He knew of that, and we’re aware of that. You don’t want to rush a player. You can’t in a sense rush a player because something happens to someone else. You have to look at each guy independently, and what we fill that they need. And Joba, you have to remember, hasn’t pitched in awhile. He hasn’t pitched in really over a year at this level, so we have to make sure that he’s prepared.”
• Here is Boston’s lineup for tonight: 1. Ellsbury (CF); 2. Crawford (LF); 3. Pedroia (2B); 4. Gonzalez (1B); 5. Ross (DH); 6. Saltalamacchia (C); 7. Middlebrooks (3B); 8. Sweeney (RF); 9. Ciriaco (SS). LHP Doubront. Doubront gave up three earned runs on four hits (two homers) in 6 1/3 innings on July 7.
Associated Press photos
UPDATE, 7:33 p.m.: Two things: one good, one bad. We’ll start with the bad news, which is that it is being reported that Andy Pettitte has suffered a slight setback. According to Pettitte, he pushed himself too far while the team was in Seattle, and it has slowed the healing process. The Yankees are saying that a September 1 return is still feasible.
The good news is that Joba had another encouraging outing. He pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit while striking out the side in the eighth. He threw 30 pitches, 23 for strikes, with his fastball sitting between 94-98 mph.