Zoilo Almonte is heading to Tampa and will get an MRI down there to further evaluate the severity of his left ankle sprain. For the time being, though, he’s gone and Vernon Wells is back to being the Yankees regular left fielder.
Although the Yankees called up two outfielders today, Joe Girardi said he expects to use Wells in the outfield more often as an Almonte replacement. Thomas Neal will DH against some lefties and Melky Mesa will essentially be a fourth outfielder, playing against “some of the guys,” Girardi said with what was probably an intentional sense of being vague.
It’s worth remembering that Alex Rodriguez is expected to be activated on Monday, so there’s a good chance one of the two extra outfielders could be back in Scranton within a few days.
To open the second roster spot, Alberto Gonzalez was designated for assignment.
“Lillibridge and Cruz can play anywhere in the infield so we’re covered there,” Girardi said.
There are 13 position players on the Yankees roster: Four were projected to be Yankees regulars this season (Gardner, Cano, Hafner, Ichiro); two were expected to play part-time roles off the bench (Nunez, Stewart); two were released or salary dumped in spring training (Overbay, Wells); two have been designated for assignment this year (Cruz, Lillibridge); and three were supposed to be Triple-A depth (Neal, Mesa, Romine).
• Latest reports on Alex Rodriguez? “Sounds like he had another good night last night,” Girardi said. “Sounds like he’s moving better every day, and hopefully we’ll get to find out soon.”
• We’re talking tiny sample sizes here, but Eduardo Nunez was hitting a little bit when he came off the disabled list. He’s since gone 1-for-12. “He’s just kind of jumping at the ball a little bit too much,” Girardi said. “And hitters will go through that where they swing the bat well for a while and then they’ll get in slumps. We need to get him out of it. We need his at-bats to be more consistent because he can be productive.”
• Any concern about playing Chris Stewart in this heat in a day game after a night game? “No, I expect him to bounce back,” Girardi said. “He’s had four days off, and I expect him to bounce back. We’re going to Texas, so it’s not like it’s going to get any better.” Girardi didn’t mention Austin Romine’s struggles, but it’s hard not to think that played a role in the decision.
• This is only the fifth time this season that Lyle Overbay has been in the cleanup spot. It’s the first time Travis Hafner has batted sixth. “He’s been struggling, and Overbay’s swung the bat really well, especially against right-handers, so we made the change,” Girardi said.
• Brett Gardner went out of his way to apologize to Girardi for being ejected last night. “He did it twice,” Girardi said. “I told him, you don’t need to do that. I told him, I love your emotion and your passion for the game, and it happens. I was not upset. But he did it, he felt it was his responsibility to do that. I credit him for the way he plays the game, and the passion he has for the game. But it’s going to happen. I can’t say I’ve never been thrown out.”
• Is Girardi expecting anything more than a fine from the league for Gardner? “I would hope not,” Girardi said.
Associated Press photos