The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Archive for June, 2013

Yankees lineup: Gonzalez at short06.26.13

Vin here checking back in from the Bronx for the second consecutive day. I’m heading down to the clubhouse now, and I’ll have notes to come soon. Think we’ll have much to talk about?

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Jayson Nix 3B
Chris Stewart C
Alberto Gonzalez SS

LHP Andy Pettitte

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 195 Comments →

Doctors recommend surgery for Teixeira06.26.13

Here’s the announcement from the Yankees…

After a recent MRI with dye contrast was performed on Mark Teixeira’s right wrist, New York Yankees Team Physician, Dr. Christopher Ahmad, along with Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser and two other New York-based hand specialists (Dr. Michelle Carlson from the Hospital for Special Surgery and Dr. Keith Raskin from NYU) confirmed that the sheath has not adequately healed. Surgery has been recommended to repair the tear on the tendon sheath of his wrist.

Nothing official about Teixeira actually having surgery, but the recommendation from a team doctors certainly seems to point that direction. Teixeira is scheduled to speak to the media within the hour.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 154 Comments →

More of the same in Pineda’s latest rehab outing06.26.13

ph_501381We’ve grown used to positive reviews during Michael Pineda’s rehab from shoulder surgery, and last night was more of the same. In his first start for Double-A Trenton, Pineda allowed two hits through six innings. Vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman was among those in attendance, and he talked to Josh Norris after the game.

“I thought he was really good,” Newman said. “I think I’ve seen every one of his rehab starts. If not, I’ve only missed one, and this was the best. The best command of the strike zone, the best secondary pitches, the most consistent delivery. I thought he was good. He’s not there yet, but it’s a step in the right direction. He’s getting closer to where I know he wants to be and we want him to be.

“His change-up has improved immensely. He threw some really good change-ups. If he can take that change-up and integrate in to his pitch usage on a regular basis, it might make him a better pitcher at the big-league level and he’ll take something out of the rehab process. He’ll take a better change-up. That would be a nice plus out of all this difficulty he’s been through.”

Because he’s a crazy person, Mike Ashmore has an absurd amount of video from the game. Check out his blog to see it all for yourself.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 246 Comments →

Cashman’s strong words for A-Rod cause a stir in the Bronx06.26.13

Yankees Rodriguez

As a horde of reporters sat outside of the Yankees clubhouse late last night anxiously hoping that general manager Brian Cashman would pop his head out, a stadium worker drove by in a golf cart and exclaimed, “The Bronx Zoo is back, baby!”

This man’s reference to the circus-like atmosphere that surrounded the Yankees in the late ‘70s while The Boss was in his controversial prime may have been a bit exaggerated, but there’s no doubt that there was something odd going on in the Bronx on Tuesday night. Shortly after Joe Girardi had reiterated at his pregame press conference that Alex Rodriguez was still only taking simulated at-bats and had not been cleared to play in rehab games yet, A-Rod – through his less than a month old Twitter account – contradicted what the Yankees have been telling us.

“Visit from Dr. (Bryan) Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news – the green light to play games again!” Rodriguez tweeted at 6:22 p.m. last night.

A-Rod’s proclamation did not sit well in the Yankees front office, and in a rare moment of frustration, Cashman gave ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand a quote that would reverberate throughout the baseball world.

“You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will],” Cashman said. “Alex should just shut the f— up. That’s it. I’m going to call Alex now.”

Cashman’s surprising statement immediately took the attention off of the Yankees’ 4-3 walkoff win over the Texas Rangers, which may have caught Girardi a bit off guard during his postgame press conference.

“I don’t tweet and I don’t really follow Twitter, so I don’t know much of what is going on,” he said. “As far as I know, he is not cleared. (Head trainer) Stevie (Donohue) did not tell me that he was cleared to play in rehab games. I will find out.”

Clearly, A-Rod’s decision to make any kind of injured-related announcement on his own was not the way that the team wanted this handled. His tweet seemed harmless enough at the time, but Girardi noted that even if A-Rod was cleared by his surgeon, that still didn’t mean that he had been cleared by the team doctors.

It certainly wouldn’t have been this big of a story had Cashman been a bit gentler with his comments, but you have to believe that this is anger directed at A-Rod that has been mounting. Cashman is a smart guy who has dealt with the New York media for a long time, so he had to know what kind of a stir this would cause. My question is, what does he hope it will accomplish?

In response, A-Rod issued a statement on Wednesday morning.

“I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win,” he said through his publicist, Ron Berkowitz. “The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly’s prognosis.”

To say that A-Rod’s relationship with the Yankees is on thin ice might be an understatement, but the team really has no options. Cashman would love to unload his massive contract is he could, but we all know that is highly unlikely.

All of this makes you wonder what the fallout will be from Cashman’s rant. Maybe, the guy in the golf cart was right.

“There’s always a chain of command with the injuries, and there has to be,” Girardi said. “That’s the process. It goes through our training staff, our doctors, our GM and then it probably gets to me. I’m kind of down on the totem pole.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 170 Comments →

Postgame notes: “You’re a little more excited about a win like this”06.25.13

Ichiro Suzuki

Every once in awhile in sports, a story falls into place so nicely that it seems you couldn’t have scripted it any better if you had the opportunity to do so ahead of time. Tonight was one of those nights.

The hype leading up the game was about the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda and the Rangers’ Yu Darvish facing off in just the 11th meeting in Major League Baseball history between two Japanese-born pitchers. Though neither was at their best, they both dueled admirably and left with the game tied at 3-3. Then, it was up the greatest Japanese-born player ever to finish it.

“Any game is very important, but you’ve facing their best and we have a good one going in Kuroda, you’re a little more excited about a win like this,” Ichiro said.

Ichiro stepped up to the plate with two outs in the ninth with the Yankees on the cusp of extra innings. Though he’s not known as a home run hitter, we know that he has home run power, and he showed it by blasting a walk-off homer into the right field seats for a 4-3 win over Texas in Tuesday’s series opener.

“I have no idea,” Ichiro said when asked what happened. “Obviously, we got (Brett Gardner) thrown out there (trying to steal second). It was a pitcher I didn’t know too well, so I just gave it everything that I had.”

• If you haven’t seen Ichiro take batting practice before, I can tell you that no Yankee is as impressive other than Robinson Cano. He has tremendous pull power, but he very rarely looks to pull the ball in game situations. In this particular spot with two outs, it made sense to take a big hack, and that’s exactly what he did. “It was just a great at-bat by Ichiro right there,” Jayson Nix said. “He kind of got behind in the count, but I don’t know; I wasn’t surprised. I kind of expected him to do something right there.”

• Chris Stewart was talking about how dangerous Ichiro can be when he gets his hands out in front, but Ichiro dismissed the notion that he has any hidden power potential. “Look at my arms,” Ichiro joked after the game. “I can’t say that I was trying to end the game there.”

Hiroki Kuroda• Both Kuroda and Darvish were effective at times, but each was also a victim of the long ball. Kuroda gave up two jacks while Darvish surrendered three, and Kuroda in particular seemed to really beat himself up about the first homer that he gave up to Leonys Martin in the third. “That first homer I gave up was a mistake,” he said of the front door slider. “It was a careless pitch, and I believe that it led to the second homer… It was pitch selection. At that point in the game, the only thing that I should do is make sure that I don’t give up the big one, which I couldn’t do. In that sense, I feel really bad about it.”

• Martin also homered off of Kuroda in the fifth to extend Texas’ lead to 3-1 at the time. Travis Hafner had provided a solo shot in the fourth for the first Yankee run, and then Gardner homered in the fifth and Nix tied the game with a shot down the left field line in the sixth. The Yankees finished with four homers in a game for the first time since May 20 at Baltimore. “I love it,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes it’s tough to score runs when you’re not hitting home runs, so we got enough tonight and it was great.”

• The players who homered for the Yankees weren’t the typical guys that that you’d expect to be mashing the ball out of the ballpark (well, except for Hafner), but each was incredibly clutch. Gardner has already tied his single season career-high with seven homers this season, which he should be able to fly past if he stays healthy. And Nix broke a drought of just one home run from a right-handed batter for the Yankees since May 22. Nix ended his own homerless streak of 202 at-bat. “Anyone can contribute – that’s the great thing about this game,” Girardi said. “When you have a bat in your hands, you have a chance to be part of the story. Maybe we don’t even get to that point if Nixie doesn’t make some of the plays that he made tonight.”

Robinson Cano, Jayson Nix• As Girardi mentions, Nix also made some tremendous plays tonight at short. He was kind of the unsung hero of the game, and his game-tying homer was obviously huge. “We haven’t had a ton of home runs this year, but we’ve got guys in the lineup that can do it, and it was good to hit some long balls tonight,” Nix said. “I just wanted to be aggressive in the count right there, and he kind of left it up. It was a good pitch to hit.”

• Kuroda’s final line was: 6.2 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR. He was his usual self for the most part, except for the two mistakes to Martin.

• Darvish’s final line was: 5.1 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 3 HR. The damage could have been even worse for him if the Yankees were able to capitalize in the first with the bases loaded and one out, so this certainly wasn’t his sharpest outing. But one thing that did stand out is that he mixes all of his pitches pretty evenly and unpredictably. “He was really good tonight; he was really sharp,” Nix said. “He was throwing everything for strikes and mixing his pitches up a lot. We weren’t able to do a whole lot off of him.”

• I’ll have more on this story tomorrow, but I wanted to post a link to a story from Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. In short, A-Rod now has Twitter, and Brian Cashman was not happy about something that he tweeted today.

• I’ll give the final word to Kuroda, who didn’t seem as excited as Ichiro about the Japanese connection, but did acknowledge that this was probably a very exciting morning in Japan: “I don’t really put much thought into it, but today having two Japanese pitchers starting in the game and Ichiro finishing the game, I’m sure over there a lot of people are really happy.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 210 Comments →

Game 76: Rangers at Yankees06.25.13

YANKEES (41-34)
Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Jayson Nix SS
David Adams 3B
Chris Stewart C

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-5, 2.78)
Kuroda vs. Rangers

RANGERS (44-32)
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Nelson Cruz RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
AJ Pierzynski C
Lance Berkman DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
David Murphy LF
Leonys Martin CF

RHP Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.84)
Darvish vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., MY9 and MLB Network

WEATHER: It’s hot. Like, really hot. There were some clouds out before, but it seems have cleared up here shortly before first pitch. The forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms starting around midnight, so the hope is that they’ll finish this one uninterrupted.

UMPIRES: HP Dan Iassogna, 1B Mark Carlson, 2B Gerry Davis, 3B Brian Knight

LONG STRETCH: Tonight’s game will mark the beginning of a stretch of 20 straight games for the Yankees without a day off leading up the to the All-Star break.

SMALL BALL: The Yankees are 9-21 this year when they don’t hit a home run, which is two more wins than their total amount from all of last season in games in which they didn’t homer.

THE MIGHTY Z: Almonte has combined to go 6-for-10 (.600) with two runs, two doubles, a home run, four RBI and two walks in his first three MLB starts.

(I’ll be updating what’s going on in the game here every so often, but I’ll be much more active on Twitter. Follow me @vzmercogliano to join in the conversation!)

UPDATE, 7:33 p.m.: An eventful first inning results in nothing for the Yanks. Three consecutive singles from Ichiro, Cano and Hafner go to waste as Overbay struck out and Almonte grounded out to second. They had a chance to get a run or two off of Darvish early and missed the opportunity. We’re scoreless going into the second.

UPDATE, 8:02 p.m.: Martin took Kuroda deep in the third to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

UPDATE, 8:35 p.m.: The Rangers loaded the bases in the top of the fourth and came away with one run to make it 2-0, but the Yankees responded in the bottom half of the inning with a Hafner solo shot. It’s 2-1 Texas as we head into the fifth.

UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Another solo homer for Martin and the Rangers now lead 3-1. Where did this guy come from?

UPDATE, 9:02 p.m.: Gardner just hit a solo homer in the fifth to cut the deficit to 3-2 and tie his career-high with seven homers. He’s really developing into a solid all-around player, as opposed to a slap hitter with speed. Imagine where this offense would be without him?

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 517 Comments →

Pregame notes: “You have to learn to just manage that game”06.25.13

Mark Teixeira

We have one of the most exciting pitching matchups that you’ll see all season on tap for tonight, but once again, Joe Girardi’s pregame press conference was overshadowed by more injury talk.

Hiroki Kuroda will take the ball for tonight’s series opener with the Texas Rangers and will be opposed by the flame-throwing Yu Darvish in just the 11th matchup between Japanese-born pitchers in MLB history, but with Brian Cashman stating yesterday that Mark Teixeira’s injured right wrist is “still experiencing soreness,” that topic received most of the focus.

“He’s seeing the doctors today, and we’ll go from there,” Girardi said. “I’m concerned. I’ve said before that it’s tricky, what he had was a tricky injury, and I’m concerned about it.”

Teixeira is starring down the possibility of season-ending surgery if his wrist doesn’t make a turn for the better soon, which means that Girardi is looking at the possibility losing yet another key bat for an extended period of time.

“I’ve always said that as long as I know who I have in the room, it’s not a whole lot different than what it is if you have other certain guys in the room,” he said. “It’s when you get surprises. When a guy like Grandy gets hit in the hand again and goes back down. Then you’ve got to start thinking how are you going to use your outfielders now that Grandy is gone? It’s when you get the surprises, but on an everyday basis, it doesn’t change a whole lot. You know what you have and you just go to work with it.”

• Teixeira received a cortisone shot in the wrist over a week ago now and it sounds like he still has not felt much relief. Usually, a cortisone shot will take effect within a week, which has the Yankees fearing for the worst. It’s been acknowledged that Tex may end up needing surgery, but Girardi was asked if there may be any alternative options. “If there is, I’m not sure,” he said. “I have not been told that. I think we’ll probably find out more today, at some point.”

• With Teixeira’s return in doubt, Girardi did express some optimism that they will be getting some injured players back in the near future. The need for a right-handed bat has become even more glaring (I heard on the radio today that the Yankees have hit one right-handed home run since May 22), and while Yankees fans may not want to hear it, the best internal option is a healthy Alex Rodriguez. “He’s in sim games until they decide that he’s ready to go out on a rehab,” Girardi said. “It’s not yet, and I’m sure as soon as it is, we’ll let you know. He’s not ready to do that, but he is making progress, which is good.”

David Adams• One guy who looked like he could provide a lift as a right-handed bat is David Adams, but as Brian Heyman wrote today, his production has tailed off dramatically. Girardi was asked if he’s concerned about his rookie third baseman. “I think you do,” he said. “Anytime that it’s a young kid, you get a little bit concerned. Our job is to show that we have confidence in him and he is capable of doing this. As a young kid, you have to make adjustments, because it’s amazing how quick they find ways to make adjustments to you. And he’s trying to do that.”

• More injury updates from Girardi: “Nunie had some sim at-bats again today, Jeet had another good day of work, Cervi is doing tee and toss, so the list is going on and on. We’re getting to where these guys are doing more every day.”

• Will all of the injury problems change how the Yankees approach the trading deadline? “I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “Not for me. Maybe it does upstairs a little bit, but my focus is always on the guys that you have in the room. There’s so many rumors that go around during a trade deadline anyway that I’ve always just concentrated on what’s in the room.”

• While Jeter, Nunez, Cervelli, Granderson and A-Rod are all expected to return at some point this season, Girardi said that he isn’t expecting to see any of them with the big league club before the all-star break. That means the lineup that you see today — a lineup that features five straight lefties at the top — is pretty much what you’ll be seeing everyday until late July. Girardi’s preference is usually to separate his lefties with right-handed bats, but he seems to have ditched that philosophy for the sake of getting his most productive hitters more at-bats. “For me, you get used to it; just worrying about today,” Girardi said. “When you manage a game, you can’t really worry a whole lot about tomorrow or the next day or the next day. You have to learn to just manage that game, and a lot of times that really comes into play with your bullpen, in a sense. I think you’re trained to just worry about today, because worrying about tomorrow doesn’t do me any good. A whole new set of circumstances could come up and change.”

Hiroki Kuroda• Getting back to the pitching matchup for tonight: Not only is it big because it’s two Japanese pitchers, but they are also two of the best in the American League. Both Kuroda and Darvish are sporting sub-3.00 ERAs and both should be members of the AL all-star team. Darvish has shown why he was so highly-touted before he came to the states with a complete arsenal of plus pitches. He’s simply dominating at times. Kuroda, on the other hand, has gotten better with age, and pitches with discipline and precision to earn his keep. He certainly doesn’t have the stuff that Darvish has at this point in his career, but Kuroda has been equally as effective this season. “It’s become more global and attracted more fans for American baseball is what you’ve seen,” Girardi said of the increasing number of Japanese pitchers in MLB. “I think about Hiroki’s last start in the matchup against (Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin) Ryu. It’s very interesting, and I think it makes our game better, because we’re getting the best players from all over the world.”

• Another pitcher who Girardi discussed today was Ivan Nova. He’s here and will throw a bullpen today, but Girardi said that there is “no exact plan” after that. It sounds like he will be used out of the bullpen and as an occasional spot starter. “He’s going to obviously throw a bullpen today, and we’re just going to kind of go day-by-day here to see,” Girardi said. “It’s possible that he could get another start here at some point. I’m not taking anyone out of the rotation, but we’re in a long stretch here of 20 games, so it’s possible we might put him in there just to give the guys an extra day that way. He threw the ball very well, and we were very pleased with what he did.”

• The last question of the day was about the increasingly competitive AL East. Since the Toronto Blue Jays have won 11 of their last 12 games, all five teams in the division are now above .500. The Yankees are sitting two and a half games out of first place behind the Boston Red Sox. “It is pretty amazing that you have five teams in one division this late all over .500,” Girardi said. “It just shows you how competitive this division is. We’ve said the last couple of years that it’s probably not going to be easy, and it’s going to be a very tough division. And that’s exactly what it is.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 71 Comments →

Yankees lineup: Lefties stacked at the top06.25.13

Vin Mercogliano back here at Yankee Stadium after a wonderful vacation down to Delaware for the Firefly Music Festival. (For any of you music junkies out there, it’s worth checking out in the future. Just take a look at this year’s lineup.) The big story today will be the Kuroda vs. Darvish pitching matchup with the Texas Rangers coming to town, but tonight’s lineup also makes it abundantly clear that Joe Girardi has given up on his usual preference to separate the lefties in his lineup. I’ll be back with notes in a little while.

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Jayson Nix SS
David Adams 3B
Chris Stewart C

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 52 Comments →

Pitching matchups vs. Rangers06.25.13

Tonight
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-5, 2.78)
vs.
RHP Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.84)
7:05 p.m., and MY9 and MLB Network

Wednesday
LHP Andy Pettitte (5-5, 4.20)
vs.
RHP Justin Grimm (6-5, 5.57)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN2

Thursday
RHP Phil Hughes (3-6, 5.09)
vs.
LHP Derek Holland (5-4, 3.43)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 77 Comments →

Not always the usual suspects06.25.13

The Yankees are expected to make some sort of move today. This season, they have already used nine different players who opened the season in the minor league system (they’ve called up 10, but Dellin Betances came and went without getting in a game). In many cases, the call-ups weren’t to the players you might have been keeping an eye on during spring training.

Austin RomineAUSTIN ROMINE
Called up: April 27 to replace Francisco Cervelli
Surprise? Romine hasn’t been overshadowed since Jesus Montero was traded, so it was no surprise he got the call when Cervelli went down. Romine’s not the biggest catching prospect in the system, but he was the obvious choice for a promotion. The only thing that might be surprising is how little he’s played, and how little he’s hit in trying to force more at-bats. Romine just nine at-bats as the Yankees were clearly determined to send their most advanced catching prospect back to the minors for regular at-bats when the season started. Now they’ve shown little faith that he’s ready to be an everyday big leaguer.

VIDAL NUNO
Called up: April 27 to replace Ivan Nova (again May 17 to replace Andy Pettitte)
Surprise? Two years ago, the idea of Nuno being the first pitcher promoted this season would have been stunning. He was thoroughly off the radar before a strong showing in Double-A last season, and he further put himself on the map with a 0.61 ERA in big league camp this spring. Nuno was kind of a wild card entering spring training. It was tough to know whether last year’s results were repeatable, and whether a light-throwing former independent league pitcher could legitimately handle advanced hitters. He’s been outstanding and might be back for a third big league stint if he weren’t on the disabled list.

CORBAN JOSEPH
Called up: April 30 to replace Kevin Youkilis (and again to be the 26th man for a doubleheader)
Surprise? Maybe based on his poor showing in spring training, but Joseph was pretty firmly on the radar after he hit .276/.375/.465 between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He might have had a chance to break camp as a big league bench player, but he hit just .200, showed very little power and played spotty defense in spring training. His first big league call-up came and went without an at-bat, but he was helpful during that doubleheader split in Cleveland.

Preston ClaibornePRESTON CLAIBORNE
Called up: May 3 to replace Joba Chamberlain
Surprise? Yeah, I’d say so. Not that Claiborne was a complete unknown, but he was significantly overshadowed by Mark Montgomery, and when Chamberlain went on the DL, the assumption seemed to be that Montgomery would get the call-up. If not him, maybe the more experienced Sam Demel. But the Yankees went with Claiborne, who had opened eyes with his 1.13 WHIP in big league camp. He’d been one of the last cuts, so the big league staff got a good look at him, and the Yankees seemed to look beyond the fact he’d given up quite a few hits in Triple-A. He’s been terrific since coming up. In most ways, he’s really outpitched Chamberlain.

BRETT MARSHALL
Called up: May 13 to provide a fresh arm in a doubleheader
Surprise? His numbers have not been particularly good this season, but Marshall put himself in position for a call-up with his strong 2012 season in Double-A. That’s what won him a spot on the 40-man and put him one step away from the big leagues. It probably helped that he pitched well in spring training. When the Yankees needed a fresh arm, Marshall was available, and he helped out by eating innings on the day Phil Hughes couldn’t pitch out of the first. He has not had a good season in Triple-A, but it’s hard to say it’s a surprise that he’s played a temporary role in the big leagues.

DAVD ADAMS
Called up: May 15 (when he was finally eligible) to replace Chris Nelsonhit
Surprise? Considering he was released at the end of spring training, I’d say there was some element of surprise to the Adams call-up. By the time he was actually promoted it was pretty much known and expected, but for a while there, Adams seemed more myth than reality. A lingering ankle injury basically cost him two seasons, a stubborn back forced him to miss all of big league camp this spring, and there were real questions about whether he would be healthy enough to actually play a role. But Adams got back on the field, hit .316 in Triple-A, and got a call-up on the first day he was eligible.

Thomas NealTHOMAS NEAL
Called up:
June 14 to replace Kevin Youkilis
Surprise? Absolutely. His strong Triple-A numbers made him an obvious candidate for promotion, but when Neal arrived in big league camp he was way off the radar. He wasn’t an internal prospect like Ronnier Mustelier, Melky Mesa or Zoilo Almonte, and he wasn’t an experienced veteran like Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera. He was just another guy, easy to overlook. But Neal hit .289/.373/.444 in big league camp, then had similar — better, even — success in Triple-A. If you’d said four months ago that Neal would be the first outfielder called up, it would have seemed unlikely. By the time the move actually happened, it made sense.

CHRIS BOOTCHECK
Called up: June 14 to replace Adam Warren
Surprise? This guy wasn’t even invited to big league camp, and his minor league signing seemed to go completely unnoticed until his name showed up on the list of workout groups at the minor league complex. Not only do the Yankees have a pretty decent amount of upper-level pitching prospects, their spring signing of Chien-Ming Wang all but wiped out any chance of a Bootcheck call-up. But Bootcheck pitched well in Triple-A, and Nuno got hurt, and Wang had an out in his contract, and the Yankees needed a fresh long man, and just like that, Bootcheck was in the Yankees clubhouse. He is perhaps the perfect example of a player no one would have expected in spring training actually getting an opportunity.

ZOILO ALMONTE
Called up: June 18 to replace Mark Teixeira
Surprise? If he’d done much in spring training, Almonte might have had some chance of breaking camp on the major league roster. Ultimately, though, this sort of call-up is exactly the kind of thing that seemed possible or even likely when Almonte showed up in spring training. Coming off a strong Double-A season, Almonte had a spot on the 40-man and seemed like a natural mid-season fill-in. What hurt him was being a switch hitter who’s best from the left side. For a  while, that sort of hitter seemed like a bad fit — too many lefties already in the mix — but with so many players hurt, a door opened, and Almonte wasted little time making a strong impression.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 63 Comments →

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