Brett Gardner had three hits yesterday. Ichiro Suzuki had three hits today. But those aren’t the outfield spots anyone wants to talk about these days. The Yankees search for a left fielder continues, and it seems that there will be no easy fix. Johnny Damon has offered his services, but general manager Brian Cashman made it clear today that the Yankees aren’t interested.
“It’s just not something we’re going to pursue,” Cashman said. “I love Johnny, a lot of leadership and everything else, but it’s just not going to fit our needs. It’s the same reason we didn’t bring him in last year. We need somebody who can play the outfield every day.”
In phone calls and text messages yesterday, Cashman told me and just about every other beat writer the same thing yesterday — that the Yankees are focusing on the options in camp — but today he was a little more crystal clear, and a little more detailed.
“I got a text from Scott Boras last night after I got a lot of texts from you guys,” Cashman said. “And I responded to him the same way I responded to you guys. … Johnny’s great. Listen, I love Johnny Damon, and he was an awesome Yankee when we had him. But that was a while ago.”
It was Matt Diaz starting in left field this afternoon. Melky Mesa played there yesterday. We’ll also see Juan Rivera, Ronnier Mustelier and Zoilo Almonte. It’s hard to rule out the Yankees making an addition before Opening Day, but Cashman made it clear that he’s in no hurry to make a change.
“We’re going to evaluate what we have in camp,” Cashman said. “I’m not looking outside at this stage. My first response, always, to a loss, is to make sure we don’t have what we need right here in front of us.”
• Have other free agents contacted the Yankees about their left field opening? “Yep,” Cashman said. Are any of them going to be signed? “No.”
• Phil Hughes did more pool work today, but Girardi didn’t have any sort of update on him. Hughes said yesterday that he expects to be reevaluated on Wednesday.
• Will Kevin Youkilis play in tomorrow’s game? “No, I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “We’ll make him go through some hoops first.”
• One random observation about Joba Chamberlain’s postgame comments. Doesn’t this eliminate any chance of him coming back to the Yankees after this season? If he wants to be either a starter or a closer, I have to think he’ll have a better chance finding one of those jobs elsewhere.
• Speaking of which, both Chamberlain and Robertson pitched a scoreless inning today. Robertson walked one batter but didn’t allow a hit. “I felt pretty good,” Robertson said. “I missed with a lot of fastballs away, but in my head I felt like they were minor misses. Missing six, eight inches outside. I felt like I had a good angle on my fastball, which is good. I feel like I’m more prepared this year than last year.”
• Chamberlain struck out two, first with a slider and then with a fastball. “Everything felt really good, so I was really happy about it,” Chamberlain said.
• Jose Ramirez made a strong first impression with his two scoreless innings. “To start his first game here, seeing Howard and Rollins, he threw strikes,” Girardi said. “He did a nice job. … He’s got a live arm. He’s got a really good changeup. Saw a good slider today. Good stuff.”
• Ichiro had three hits today, but the star of the show was J.R. Murphy who had a home run and a hard-hit double. The homer came off Zach Miner, who has 157 games in the big leagues. … Mark Teixeira had an RBI double today. … Suzuki stole a base. … Matt Diaz got his first spring hit with a single up the middle.
• The Yankees lost 4-3 because of a three-run seventh for the Phillies. All three runs came off Zach Nuding, who gave up a pair of homers — long ones — to Domonic Brown and Tommy Joseph. The Phillies had only five hits. … Branden Pinder gave the Yankees a good eighth inning with two strikeouts.
• Nunez hit three balls on the ground today. Each time, his helmet fell off on his way to first. Seems like that’s happened every time he’s hit a ball on the ground this spring. “I don’t know how it happens,” Nunez said. “This helmet fits me good on my head. You know, it’s tight! I don’t know what the problem is. … (Teammates) are all over me. They kill me, especially Jeter (who says), ‘Nuney, what’s wrong with you? This is Yankees. We can’t do that here.’”
Associated Press photos