Joe Girardi will wait as long as possible before making his division series roster official, but the players are beginning to find out who’s in and who’s out, and Andruw Jones knows he’s out.
“It’s disappointing,” Jones said. “I’m more frustrated with myself than anything. I just didn’t finish as strong (as) I wanted to finish, so I don’t think I deserved to be on it. This series is a really short series, so we need guys that have had (played well).”
Jones was given plenty of chances. With limited alternatives on the roster, and last year’s strong second half providing at least a glimmer of hope that he’d turn it around, Girardi kept starting Jones against left-handers, but Jones hit just .142/.256/.255 with three home runs after the All-Star break. In the last week, Eduardo Nunez began getting DH starts against lefties and Jones became a player without a place to play.
Jones still might have made the roster — Casey McGehee and Chris Dickerson didn’t even make the trip to Baltimore — if not for Jayson Nix coming back from a strained hip flexor a little more quickly than expected. Nix has been able to go through full drills without feeling anything out of the ordinary, and there was something about Joe Girardi said that Nix is “definitely a possibility” that sounded as if it’s a forgone conclusion that Nix will be active.
“I was pretty optimistic about coming around,” Nix said. “(Last) Thursday I hurt it. The next Friday it was pretty sore and tight, but the very next day – the Saturday two days after – it felt really good. It came around and it was a big improvement in one day without doing any treatment, so I was pretty optimistic that it would come around.”
• If you’re curious, these are the borderline-type guys who are with the team in Baltimore: Nix, Jones, Brett Gardner, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, Derek Lowe, David Phelps, Freddy Garcia, Cody Eppley and Ivan Nova.
• These players are not with the team: McGehee, Dickerson, Melky Mesa, Cory Wade, Adam Warren and David Aardsma.
• The Orioles officially announced Jason Hammel as tomorrow’s starter. It will be Hammel’s first big league start since September 11 because of a sore knee. “Having the facility and the instructional league games, he basically pitched the equivalent of a baseball game on Monday,” Buck Showalter said. “… The challenge is going to be the Yankees, and they’ll let us know how he’s pitching. We’re excited about the possibility of getting him back.”
• Showalter said the Orioles will “probably” start Wei-Yin Chen in Game 2 and Miguel Gonzalez in Game 3.
• Girardi said he considered splitting his left-handed starters, but the desire to limit Andy Pettitte’s rest — and the desire to give Hiroki Kuroda a little extra rest — trumped that desire to plug a right hander between CC Sabathia and Pettitte. “I just told them, whenever they want me to pitch, I’ll pitch,” Pettitte said. “It really doesn’t matter, so I’m just excited to get back out there.”
• Kuroda didn’t indicated that he needs the extra rest, but he’s not turning it down. “It’s better to have it than to not have it,” he said.
• Pettitte actually hasn’t faced the Orioles this season. “You’ve just got to kind of simplify it,” he said. “You hope that you can get in a good rhythm, and when you can, make quality pitches. I think it’s always a key to keep the top couple guys off base because you know there’s going to be some power in the lineup once you get down (in the order). I think any team you face is going to be like that. The key for me is the same as always: When you’re out there, make quality pitches, not walk guys, walks are a big thing for me because I feel like I’m going to give up some hits. Those are the things that I focus on.”
• The Yankees honestly do seem perfectly indifferent about having to open on the road despite being the higher seed with home-field advantage. “We’d love to be playing at home,” Derek Jeter said. “But that’s not the case this year. Come here, play well, then we have three games at home. I really haven’t thought about it much. I think it was a little weird probably yesterday when we had the workout and didn’t know where we were going. Usually when you win the division or have the best record, you at least know you’ll be playing at home. It is what it is. I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal.”
Associated Press photos