Kind of a strange day here in Yankees camp. Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes each made starts at the minor league complex, and soon after those two finished, the bulk of the team hit the road for a game in Sarasota where David Phelps will be making his 37th start of the spring, give or take. I still haven’t seen a Yankees lineup and still haven’t gotten on the road myself.
I suppose the real news of the day is that Hughes will definitely start the season on the disabled list. What’s still uncertain is whether he’ll be activated for a start on April 6. For now, the Yankees are preparing themselves to have Phelps make that start.
“He could do possibly the 6th if we think (Hughes) is ready,” Girardi said. “But right now, as we have a plan here, I think you plan for giving him two more starts. But that doesn’t mean it necessarily has to happen. We might feel that he’s ready after the next one. We’ve just gotta be prepared for it more than anything. Can’t get in a situation where one of those guys throws out of the bullpen and then he has to make a start.”
So, for the time being, pencil Phelps into the rotation as the fifth starter behind No. 4 starter Nova. As you’re doing that, though, realize that Nova pitched in a High-A game this afternoon and allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits through five-plus innings. Nova got off to a strong start this spring, but he’s struggled lately.
“I don’t think he pitched as well as we’d like him to,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “But a lot of times that doesn’t make a difference as long as his stamina’s there and he’s built up strength wise, pitch wise and things like that. But, obviously, if you have your druthers, you’d want to see him pitch really well and make quality pitches throughout. He’s made a lot of quality pitches, and then he’s made some mistakes. So, and the mistakes have caught him.”
“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” Nova said. “I was expecting to have a great spring, but I feel really good. It wasn’t that bad either. I didn’t think it was that bad. I make a lot of adjustments with my mechanics and my arm, and that’s a good point. … A lot of people look into the ERAs and other stuff. I’m not looking into the ERAs. I’m just looking that my arm is in shape and do what I intend to do with my mechanics.”
• Derek Jeter is not likely to get in a game until Monday at the earliest. Brian Cashman acknowledged that it’s “hard to predict” when Jeter will be ready to play in the big leagues, but he will definitely need to play back-to-back games before being activated. Cashman said there’s no additional medical problem, but the Yankees are trying to let Jeter fully rest the ankle. “Right now, I think rest and backing off just a bit to give the ankle soreness a chance to calm down and then we’ll get him going again,” Cashman said. “But I can’t tell you what that date is going to be. He was in there (getting treatment) today. I know we’ll get him back. I just can’t tell you when yet.”
• Still haven’t seen a Yankees lineup, but Girardi said Lyle Overbay is at first base. “He got released so I just gave him basically a three-day contract,” Cashman said. “Come on over we’ll take a quick peek. Our scouts have watched some of the stuff he’s been doing while he was with the Red Sox. So he’ll get a three-day, NBA-style contract on the minor league side.”
• Cashman said there is no intention of trying to put Overbay in Triple-A. He’s here to try to fill the Mark Teixeira hole at first base. If the Yankees decide he can’t do that, they won’t keep him.
• Will the Yankees carry both Overbay and Juan Rivera? “I don’t know,” Cashman said. “We’re first trying to see what (Overbay) is, in a very quick look.”
• Cashman left no doubt that the Yankees consider Vernon Wells their everyday left fielder for the time being. He’s not going to be in a platoon situation. “So the rest of these guys are fighting for support positions,” Cashman said.
• My own thought: If Wells is going to play against righties and lefties, is there any spot for Brennan Boesch? Is it better to use that roster spot for a right-handed outfielder who can DH against lefties?
• Why not put Mark Teixeira on the 60-day disabled list? “Right now he has a strong belief that, if everything goes right, he’ll be ready in May and hopefully early May,” Cashman said. “Doesn’t guarantee it. He may not be ready in May. It may not be until toward the end of May. It might be in June. But I’m not going to all of a sudden put ourselves in a position where he’s ready the second week of May, but I’ve got to wait for it now. I can’t do that. Those games are too important.”
• Why choose David Adams as the guy to come off the 40-man? “He’s been banged up and hurt,” Cashman said. “When he’s healthy, I know he can swing the bat. It’s just if he can stay healthy and on the field and what kind of defense given the injuries he’s had that he can provide. But he’s a gamer. He’s a tough cookie, high makeup guy, and (we) love the bat.” There seems to be at least some hope in the Yankees system that Adams could end up re-signing a minor league deal, but he has to go through release waivers first.
• Despite the fact Hughes is going to open on the DL, Girardi seemed uncertain whether the Yankees will need a true long man when they open the season. “That’s something we’re going to have to discuss,” Girardi said. “Do you carry a true long man, or do you think, with the seven guys that you have, can they give you enough innings that you don’t need a true long man?”
• Are the Yankees going to carry two lefties? “I prefer guys who can get people out,” Rothschild said. “So, lefty, righty, whatever. The way Joe uses the bullpen, it’s nice the two lefties, but again it’s nice to have guys who can get people out. That’s going to be the bottom line.”
• When the Yankees leave camp tomorrow night to play an exhibition in Washington D.C., Mark Teixeira will travel with the team. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson will not. Girardi said that’s because Jeter and Granderson are closer to doing some real baseball activity. They’ll stay behind so they can begin doing stuff in Tampa.
• The Yankees brought up a handful of minor league guys to make today’s trip to Sarasota, including highly touted center fielder Mason Williams. Others brought up for the day: RHP Nick Goody, RHP Zach Arneson, RHP Craig Heyer, LHP Fred Lewis, C Kyle Higashioka, C Jeff Farnham, INF Addison Maruszak, INF Walter Ibarra, INF Kevin Mahoney and OF Ramon Flores.
• RHP Kelvin Perez, C Francisco Arcia, INF Jose Pirela and OF Zoilo Almonte will be extra guys with the Yankees for the trip through West Point and D.C. Basically everyone still in big league camp will make the trip, including Adam Warren, who’s been technically optioned to Triple-A. He doesn’t seem to be completely ruled out for the Opening Day roster.
• Yankees results from today’s minor league games:
Phil Hughes (Low-A start)
5.0IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 4K, 81 pitches/52 strikes
Francisco Cervelli (catching Hughes in Low-A)
1-for-5 with 1 single and 1RBI
Ivan Nova (High-A start)
5.0IP, 8H, 7R, 6ER, 1BB, 4K, 92 pitches/62 strikes
Chris Stewart (catching Nova in High-A)
David Aardsma (intersquad game against Single-A and Double-A players)
1.0IP, 0H, 2K, 11 pitches/9 strikes
Associated Press photos