There have been so many castoffs from other teams that have found their way into pinstripes this season that it’s beginning to feel like the norm. Not many teams have been as active when it comes to the waiver wire, and the Yankees certainly aren’t your typical bargain hunters. But despite the constant turnover that has at times made them look desperate, the Yanks have somehow made it work.
“I think you’re flexible enough to do it,” Joe Girardi said. “To me, it’s not a big deal. I think guys, when they have a chance to play, want to play. That’s why they’re players. They’re excited to come in here and get a chance.”
Girardi has made a habit of penciling guys into the lineup fresh off of red-eye flights, and Travis Ishikawa is the latest to join the club of Yankee journeymen. The 29-year-old first baseman was claimed on waivers from the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, and today he is hitting sixth for the 27-time champion New York Yankees.
Before Ishikawa, we’ve seen the likes of Reid Brignac and Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Cruz make their own unheralded debuts in the Bronx, which makes Ishikawa’s arrival seem like business as usual. But make no mistake, this is not how the Yankees drew it up in the offseason.
“They shouldn’t be surprised if they read the papers around here or get the box scores,” Girardi said. “When you get here, you play. That’s the bottom line. We’ve acquired so many people over the course of the season out of need, and usually when you do that, you need them to play.”
• Ishikawa made his MLB debut with the San Francisco Giants in 2006 and has bounced around quite a bit since then. He’s also played for the Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers, with a handful of minor league stints mixed in. He’s a career .260 hitter, but had just two hits in his 17 at-bats with Baltimore this season. As a left-handed hitter, he’s not an ideal platoon option at first with Lyle Overbay, but Girardi said the main reason that he’s here is because Overbay needs the occasional day off. The Yankees have been playing without a real backup first baseman for a good portion of the season. “He’ll give Lyle a spell here and there,” Girardi said. “Lyle has kind of been our only first baseman through this long stretch, so I’m giving him a night off. I imagine Lyle will be right back out there tomorrow.”
• To add Ishikawa to the roster, the Yankees sent David Adams down. The rookie third baseman showed some glimpses of why the Yankees are so high on him when he first came up, but he slipped into a bad slump soon after. “It’s always hard, cause everyone wants to be here. That’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “The way we saw it is that this kid is someone that we expect to be a player here for awhile, and for him not to play everyday didn’t make sense to us. We decided to let him go play, and he’ll be ready when we need him.”
• With Adams back at Triple-A, Girardi was asked what the right side of his infield will look like until Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez return. “Nunie is going to play short, and it’ll usually be Luis Cruz (at third),” he said. That tells me that whenever either Jeter or A-Rod is ready, Gonzalez will probably be the first guy to go. Cruz has made a pretty good impressive in his short time here.
• Girardi said that Jeter and A-Rod are both scheduled to play in the field today on their respective rehab assignments. Jeter will be at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, while A-Rod remains will Class A Tampa. He did give an interesting answer when asked if it’s possible that Jeter could be back with the Yankees this weekend. “There’s always a chance,” he said. “You just have to see how he does the next three or four days.”
• While Jeter and A-Rod are getting close, Curtis Granderson still has a ways to go. Girardi said that all he’s doing at this point is swinging under water, so there is no timetable for his return. “I don’t know if he’s behind,” Girardi said. “It’s probably not healing as quickly as I would like. He’s not to the point where he’s been able to do tee or toss yet. I don’t think you can ever say, when you come from an injury like a broken hand, how long it’s going to take. Maybe it’s taken a little bit longer than we expected, but we didn’t really put a time on it.”
• Phil Hughes will get the start for tonight’s series opener with the Kansas City Royals, and he’s been pretty good lately. He’s gone at least seven innings in each of his last two starts and didn’t allow more than two runs in either outing. Hughes has attributed the success to improved command, and Girardi was asked if he’s seen any other factors. “I don’t necessarily think so,” he said. “The mixing of his pitches, as well. Part of having command is also having command of your off-speed, too. Being able to use it when you’re behind in the count, and I think he was able to do that in his last couple starts.”
Associated Press photos