A sore elbow forced CC Sabathia to miss two starts this month, and when he did return, there was no guarantee the injury wouldn’t resurface. The Yankees thought he’d gotten over it once already, only to have it return the day after a start in Detroit.
“My concern was, A: When he went back out there, his command,” Joe Girardi said. “And that was really good. And then B: Two days after his start, how was he going to feel? The fact that he felt good and didn’t have any of the symptoms he had before was really reassuring for us.”
The Yankees seem to have their ace back, and they know how good he can be down the stretch. If Sabathia’s at his best, and Hiroki Kuroda continues to dominate, and Phil Hughes has more starts like last night’s, the top of the Yankees rotation will be a strength in this final month-plus.
“It would be huge because we have other pitches that have been throwing well as well, and (Sabathia)’s obviously our ace,” Girardi said. “This time of year, with the things that we’re going through and how tight the race is, it would be huge.”
For tonight, there’s another need: Distance. Dave Robertson is not available tonight, and Rafael Soriano might not be either. The Yankees would rather not have to lean heavily on their bullpen this afternoon.
“It’s really important that we get some distance out of him today,” Girardi said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
• Just yesterday, Girarid was talking about Andruw Jones’ recent struggles. Today, Jones is the Yankees cleanup hitter. “This is a guy that we expect to hit well off of left-handers, and we’re going to put him back there,” Girardi said. In Girardi’s defense, it’s not like this team has a standout cleanup option at this point. Based on this year’s numbers, I’d say Steve Pearce is the best bet, but I can’t say I blame Girardi for being a little unsure about him.
• Jones had that outstanding series in Boston right before the All-Star break. Since then he’s hit .139/.222/.264 with two home runs in 28 games.
• Nothing new on Andy Pettitte, though he did say he feels good after yesterday’s flat-ground session. The Yankees are still planning to have him throw off a bullpen this weekend. “The fact I haven’t seen Steve Donohue is a good sign to me,” Girardi said.
• Pettitte said he legitimately has no idea how much stamina he’ll be able to build before the end of the season, and Girardi acknowledged that Pettitte’s rehab schedule might have to be a little bit rushed because there’s really not much time left. “Whenever he does get on a mound, the process is probably going to have to be accelerated a little bit just because of the time frame,” Girardi said.
• Alex Rodriguez went through regular drills again today.
• In case you weren’t sure, Girardi made it clear today that David Phelps is going to make his next start. He’s not going to be skipped because of tomorrow’s off day.
• The Ugandan Little League team is here today. Pretty cool. The seemed quite and a little bit stunned when they walked into the Yankees clubhouse this morning. They’ve been on the field during batting practice, getting some pictures with Mariano Rivera.
Associated Press photos