Just boarded a train heading north, and stumbled upon my friend Andy McCullough who’s reading something far more intelligent than my book on the evolution of American popular music.
It feels strange to be this late into the season and just now making the first trip to Boston. It’s been more than 10 months since the Yankees last played at Fenway, and this trip carries significant weight.  The Yankees could cut their division deficit in half, or they could fall on the verge of a double-digit hole.
A few questions heading into this weekend…
Will Derek Jeter play?
The Captain’s return lasted only four at-bats before he was shut down with a mild quad strain. He spent the All-Star break getting treatment in hopes of playing tonight, and the Yankees will decide today whether to put Jeter in the lineup, leave him on the bench or send him back to the disabled list.
Can Alex Rodriguez get ready?
He hit another home run last night. Now Rodriguez has three more days to finish off his rehab assignment and get ready for Monday’s game in Texas. The focus is in Boston this weekend, but there will be some daily attention on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s short-term third baseman.
How will CC Sabathia respond in the second half?
It wasn’t a particularly good first half by Sabathia’s standards, but hes been a good second-half pitcher in his career. “I need to be better in the second half, helping this team out and keeping us in games longer and trying to get some wins,” Sabathia said. He gets the start in Sundays series finale.
Is there going to be a splash?
The trade deadline is less than two weeks away. One way or another, it’s not too early to see teams make a move at this point. The Yankees still have hope that they’ll get Rodriguez, Jeter and Curtis Granderson back in the lineup, but Francisco Cervelli had a setback two weeks ago and both Mark Teixeira and (quite possibly) Kevin Youkilis are done for the year. Is there an offensive catcher or a right-handed corner infielder in the Yankees future? Can they dump some pitching to get a bat?
Could anyone step up?
Is anyone even holding out hope for a strong surge from some of the current Yankees? Maybe Vernon Wells takes advantage of a couple of lefties, or Eduardo Nunez gets on base enough to provide some sort of spark, or Brett Gardner starts stealing some bases and creating offense. The Yankees need to make some sort of statement this weekend. Do they have the players to make that happen?
Associated Press photo