This would seem to be the final Vidal Nuno start before the Yankees begin to significantly reconstruct their roster. Joe Girardi said this afternoon that David Phelps will stay in the rotation, and Andy Pettitte said he’s expecting to return to the rotation on Monday.
That seems to leave little room for Nuno, who’s pitched very well in his limited opportunities. He coughed up that walkoff homer in Baltimore, but it’s hard to find much fault with his other appearances.
“He’s just got a great idea what he’s doing out there,” Pettitte said. “He doesn’t try to do too much. He doesn’t overthrow. He can change speeds and he’s locating the ball very well. The other thing is, obviously, these guys haven’t seen him so they don’t have a good idea what he’s doing. He’s very confident and he’s very aggressive. He’s done a great job for us. He’s going to be able to stick around for a long time if he continues to throw strikes and change speeds the way that he’s doing.”
With Pettitte basically ready to return, and Nuno starting tonight, it makes sense for Nuno to go back to Triple-A to open one of the roster spots for either Mark Teixeira or Kevin Youkilis to come off the disabled list. Opening the other roster spot will be a curious decision, but optioning Nuno seems to be the easiest one.
The video above is Joe Girardi talking about the job Nuno has done this season, which has obviously left the Yankees with a strong first impression. Tonight they’ll lean on him to snap a losing streak and give some distance on a night when the bullpen has used up its true long relievers.
“You hope you can get a lead early on, is what you want, and you can build upon that,” Girardi said. “We just haven’t scored a ton of runs lately, but every team, I’ve said, goes through that. Every day is a new day. That’s the great thing about our game. It’s not necessarily the case if you’re a starting pitcher, but if you’re a position player it is. These guys can turn it on at any time.”
• Pettitte could return on Sunday, but the Yankees have decided to give him an extra day and have him start on Monday. I assume that means Phelps will move back a day to start Tuesday — in what would be Nuno’s next turn — but that’s not quite clear.
• Pettitte on his back injury: “I feel good. I do. Doc never sent me for an MRI or anything like that. We felt like it was a muscle spasm, and I’m not sure (but) I think they were being pretty cautious with me as far as the DL. It was probably good. I was pretty locked up back there.”
• Pettitte on adjusting his between-games routine: “I have a certain routine and I want to be on it, and obviously you’ve got everyone saying, you might be doing too much. You might doing this, you might be doing that. It is an adjustment, and I’ll make another little bit of an adjustment here with this. Maybe not throw two bullpens for a little while in between. They want me to think about doing that, so it’s a constant adjustment.”
• Girardi would not commit to either Mark Teixeira or Kevin Youkilis being activated tomorrow. He said he doesn’t want to set expectations, but clearly expectations are set. Brian Cashman has said Teixeira and Youkilis will be activated tomorrow, as long as things go according to plan.
• The decision to play Brennan Boesch ahead of Ichiro Suzuki, Girardi said, has as much to do with resting Ichiro as keeping Boesch in the lineup. “I’m also thinking long-term too,” Girardi said. “Seventeen days in a row here. It’s getting hot. We have to make sure (guys are rested). Sometimes you can think of Ich as a young guy, but he’s one of those guys with some age on him too.”
• I’m not sure how many people think of Ichiro as a young guy.
• The Yankees announced that Hideki Matsui will sign a minor league contract and immediately retire as a Yankee on July 28. Matsui will be honored as a pregame ceremony at Yankee Stadium that day. “You’ll hear every player to a man say what a great teammate he was,” Girardi said. “And I think everyone will look forward to that day.”
Associated Press photo