The Yankees opened the season with Phil Hughes on the disabled list, then they put Ivan Nova on the DL. Their infield has been an injured mess from the beginning, they have yet to see Curtis Granderson, and Francisco Cervelli was hurt just as he was taking control of the catching position.
But their bullpen had been fairly healthy until two days ago.
“You really have to see where you’re at each day and how much we’ve had to use each guy each day to decide (what to do in the late innings),” Joe Girardi said. “Is there an exact formula? There is no exact formula. Shawn (Kelley) has more experience, and more experience in that situation, so he’s a guy that I would definitely probably use back there.”
Joba Chamberlain is on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Dave Robertson isn’t expected to be available until next week because of soreness in his left hamstring near the knee. The Yankees still have Mariano Rivera, but the setup options are now Kelley, lefty Boone Logan and the inexperienced trio of Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno and Preston Claiborne.
“When you look at our bullpen, three guys probably aren’t going to have many matchups (to look at) so I’m trying to evaluate their stuff against the strength and weaknesses of the hitters that we’re facing,” Girardi said. “That’s how I’m going to mix and match, in a sense. Nuno has never faced anyone. Warren has probably never faced anyone. And Kelley has probably (faced) a little bit against this club. And Claiborne obviously we know he hasn’t faced anyone. So in your mind you have to evaluate their stuff against the hitters’ strengths and weaknesses.”
Girardi said he’ll still stay away from using Rivera for more than three outs. The video above is Girardi talking a little more about Robertson’s injury, Claiborne’s arrival and his plans for the seventh and eighth innings.
• Robertson has been through a series of tests that have shown nothing seriously wrong with his left knee/hamstring, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect Robertson to be available until Tuesday at the earliest. “I’ll do whatever they let me do,” Robertson said. “That’s pretty much all I can do, wait a couple of days and see what happens. I was hoping I’d be able to throw today if they’d let me but, not gonna happen.”
• If you missed it Wednesday, Robertson felt some discomfort when coming off the mound toward first base (he was moving quickly just in case he had to cover the bag). The problem is in his hamstring right at the knee, and Robertson said he’s never had any problems there before. “It’s a stupid little, I don’t know what to call it,” he said. “It’s just irritating.”
• Mark Teixeira believes he’s only a few days away from taking full batting practice on the field. He’s doing tee and toss again today. “Toss feels really good,” he said. “I’m building up to full speed toss and then I’ll go outside and hit real batting practice. That’s the next couple of days depending on how it feels.”
• Whether he’s taken batting practice or not, Teixeira will travel to Tampa on Sunday. “Play it by ear (down there,” he said. “It’s the steps. Take BP outside for a few days, if that feels good, then probably like simulated games for a couple days. Then extended spring training and maybe Double-A, Triple-A, depending on the scheduling. That could take anywhere from a week to three weeks depending on how things go and my timing and that kind of stuff.”
• Claiborne and new infielder Chris Nelson have lockers right next to one another. Nelson was friendly but fairly soft spoken — “Just happy to be here in New York,” he said — while Claiborne was predictably pumped for his first big league call-up. He said he had not yet talked to Girardi about how he might be used.
• Claiborne on whether his spring success gives him confidence: “Absolutely. It’s always a different animal coming from Triple-A and pitching against guys up here. Obviously I don’t have the extended experience pitching at this level, but pitching in spring training and getting a little taste of what it’s like and what veteran hitters are like, having that limited experience is definitely beneficial.”
• As expected, Cody Eppley was designated for assignment to open a 40-man spot for Claiborne.
• Why bat Ichiro fifth today? As you might expect, it has a lot to do with avoiding batting three lefties in a row. “He’s been really swinging the bat great for us if you go back the last couple of weeks,” Girardi said. “You try not to stack your left-handers, but the five guys that have been swinging it the best we kind of have in the top five spots. I didn’t really want to put three left-handers in a row, so if you decided to go Gardy, Ich, Cano you’re going to end up with three left-handers in a row. The natural spot kind of came fifth for him.”
• On this date one year ago, Rivera tore his ACL, but on this date eight years ago, Robinson Cano made his big league debut.
• This will be the 1,000th game managed by Girardi. “I’m old,” he said, shaking his head.
Associated Press photo