On Opening Day, the Yankees had a patchwork roster that was supposed to have changed by now. And it has changed, but not for the better. This was the Yankees lineup on April 1
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Three of those players have since been added to the disabled list. Another has been released. Two of the guys who were supposed to eventually provide reinforcements — Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson — have returned only to suffer either a setback or another injury. Derek Jeter, who was initially expected to break camp with the team, suffered his setback at the end of spring training and now seems to be farther behind everyone, including Alex Rodriguez.
“It’s the B-squad back in action,” Kevin Long said. “Lyle Overbay is back in action. I expect Vernon Wells back in action. Travis Hafner. I told these guys, ‘Let’s go. You’re the same guys that got us 12 games over. I’ve got a lot of faith in you. You guys gotta believe it. We gotta believe it.’ We’ll see if we can’t chip away and get a win (today). That’s the best we can do; start there and see if we can kind of piece this thing back together.”
It’s true, the group the Yankees will roll out this afternoon will be a lot like the group that helped the Yankees get to 12 games above .500 in mid-May. But the general assumption — fair or not — was that those replacement players were playing over their head for much of the season and the Yankees would eventually need the A-squad. They needed guys like Teixeira and Granderson to come back and not go away again.
“If they doubt themselves like other people doubt them, they’re not going to get very far,” Long said. “They’ve got to believe in themselves, and I have to believe that they can do it. If we do it the other way, that doesn’t do them any good and it doesn’t do me any good. We’re going to stay at it, stay positive and just keep grinding. That’s all we can do.”
I’m not sure how widespread that optimism will be, especially given the way the offense has played lately.
“I’m going to (refer) back to the beginning of the year,” Chris Stewart said. “We had guys stepping in. We didn’t rely on anybody coming back and helping us out. We were trying to take care of business at the present time, and we’re going to do the same thing now.”
Associated Press photos