Another day when the lineup is open to criticism, so here’s Joe Girardi answering the two most obvious questions.
Why isn’t Ichiro Suzuki playing the field?
“I just thought today was a good day to DH him, and see what we can do tomorrow because we’re in the midst of 20 in a row. We’re going to go on turf for a few days as well, so we’ve got to be careful.”
Speaking of Ichiro, why is it again that Curtis Granderson is the leadoff hitter?
“You look at him against right handers and his on-base percentage is one of the highest on the club. When we face left handers you might see a little bit different type of lineup.”
The answer to the first question was perfectly predictable. This is what Girardi does and, honestly, I have no idea whether it works. I know Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez haven’t broken down this season (Rodriguez’s injury has nothing to do with wear and tear). Maybe those two have been able to avoid nagging injuries because of occasional DH days. Maybe not. Maybe Ichiro, at 38 years old, does need a break during this long stretch of games. This is a pretty big outfield, so it’s not an ideal time to rest him, but that Toronto turf might not be ideal for Raul Ibanez to be in the field either.
As for the lineup, even against right handers, Ichiro has a .311 on-base percentage this season — that’s the same as Russell Martin’s season OBP — so he’s not a realistic option at the top, and with such a left-leaning lineup these days, I’m not sure the Yankees have an ideal batting order. Girardi could either stack his lefties, hit Eric Chavez leadoff, or do this. If it were me, I think might stack some lefties, but I don’t think there’s a clear-cut way to do it.
• Alex Rodriguez is on this trip. He just played catch during batting practice, throwing to Jayson Nix without wearing a glove on his broken left hand. Someone else stood next to him to catch Nix’s throws, then Rodriguez made the throw back to Nix. Girardi said there’s really no update on either Rodriguez or Andy Pettitte. “They’re healing,” Girardi said. “They’re not players for us yet, though.”
• Austin Romine is finally heading to Triple-A. He’ll report to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight, but he won’t be an active player until tomorrow. Coming back from a back injury, Romine has played 14 games in the Gulf Coast League and Florida State League this season.
• Speaking of Triple-A, Girardi confirmed an earlier ESPN New York story that Manny Banuelos will miss the rest of the season. Banuelos hurt his elbow earlier this season and Girardi said he’s been shutdown for another four weeks, which brings him to the end of the minor league season. Seems likely that Banuelos will be assigned to some sort of offseason league. He’s made just six starts this year. “It hurts,” Girardi said. “I don’t want to say it’s a wasted year, but obviously he didn’t pitch as much as we wanted him to. Can he make that up? Yeah, you can make that up, but who knows where he would have been if he had 150 innings this year.”
• Just to be clear, Girardi said there was nothing about Ichiro that made him think Ichiro needed a day. Ichiro isn’t hurting or anything, just getting a half day off. “Raul was DHing the last few days so I thought let’s give someone else a day,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees are obviously looking for a bounce-back start from Ivan Nova. “He’s had struggles before and has been able to come out of it,” Girardi said. “If you think about the progress he made last year, there were a lot of questions about when he got in jams. He figured out how to get out of jams. He’ll figure this out.”
Associated Press photos