After what has felt like months of never-ending drama surrounding the Yankees, this morning might have been the quietest that we’ve had in quite some time. The throng of reporters following Alex Rodriguez has dwindled, the injury updates have subsided and it finally resembled business as usual around the Yankees’ clubhouse.
The biggest news to announce today is that right-handed reliever Dellin Betances has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In a corresponding move, the Yankees sent infielder David Adams down, leaving them with 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster.
“We just feel we need pitching,” Joe Girardi said. “Our bullpen has been used a lot, and we don’t really have a lot of distance down there today. We felt we needed some help.”
Betances — as most of you surely remember — was one of the three highly regarded pitching prospects that made up the “Killer B’s,” along with Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman. None of those guys have lived up to the hype yet, but Betances has had a resurgent year after being converted from a starter to a reliever.
“He’s thrown pretty well,” Girardi said. “His numbers have been much better in the bullpen than they were as a starter. I’m anxious to see how he’s doing.”
• As Chad wrote the other day, the Yankees would be wise to take a good look at Betances in the next month and a half to figure out where in he fits in 2014. With Mariano Rivera set to retire and David Robertson likely to step into the closer role, they’ll need to reestablish some depth in the bullpen. Joba Chamberlain is likely to leave via free agency, leaving guys like Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne to factor into the setup role (assuming they’re each back in pinstripes next season). Betances looked like he might be at the end of his rope last season, as he finished a combined 6-9 with a 6.44 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in 131 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. But the move to the bullpen has worked out extremely well, with Betances pitching to a 2.97 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while striking out 88 in 72 2/3 innings. “I think he’s probably simplified it,” Girardi said. “He’s not worrying about the third and fourth pitch. He’s simplified it a little bit more, and he seems to be more comfortable. He threw out of the bullpen in fall ball — or whatever you want to call it in Arizona — and he had some success. They moved him back there, and he’s had success. Sometimes guys are just bullpen guys, and they’re more comfortable there.”
• Girardi seems to view Betances as a versatile guy who can pitch late in games, or give them a little length. “Wherever I need him,” he said. “I view him as a guy that I could use for two innings, or maybe two-plus, in a sense. Or I could use him short. Either one.”
• There are a few Yankees on the verge of personal milestones, and the one who seems to be pressing the most is Alfonso Soriano. He’s just one hit away from 2,000 for his career, but hasn’t had a hit yet in this series. “I’ve talked about it all of the time,” Girardi said. “I hate milestones. I think they’re asked about it everyday, and not just here. Sometimes at home you’re asked about it, and you start to feel the anxiety of getting through it. It can be troublesome for some players.”
• Ichiro Suzuki is another guy who is approaching a milestone, and his is much more unique. Coming into today’s game, he has 3,993 combined hits in his career between playing in Japan and playing in the majors. “It’s incredible that anyone could get 4,000 hits in professional baseball, to me,” Girardi said. “His pursuit of it hasn’t seemed to bother him. It will be interesting to see when he gets to 3,999 if it bothers him a little bit, but I think it’s incredible what he’s done. You think about the hits that he’s had here – it’s not in a short time – but how many hits he has here since 2001. He’s been consistent, he plays everyday and he finds way to get on-base. I love watching him play.”
• A-Rod is back in the lineup today, hitting cleanup and playing third. As Girardi said yesterday, he will get a day or two off per week, but he said he won’t hesitate to play Rodriguez at third on consecutive days. I’m very curious to see how he fares against Justin Verlander today. He looked bad against fellow righty Rick Porcello on Friday night; particularly when it came to inside fastballs. Not many guys can bring it like Verlander can. “I thought in the beginning that he might play three, four days in a row, and then you might need to give him a day,” Girardi said. “That was kind of what was in my head. We played him the three days in a row in Chicago, and I’ll look at — once we get to three days again here — how he’s feeling and how he’s moving. I’ll check in with him everyday, but there’s no exact science.”
• Andy Pettitte will get the start today, as he looks for a bounce back performance in what has been a grind of a season for the veteran lefty. He seemed to be getting back on track with a couple of quality starts in a row, but his most recent outing may have been his worst of the season. Pettitte allowed seven runs and didn’t make it out of the third against the White Sox on Monday. “It could,” Girardi said when asked if Pettitte being so hard on himself has added to his struggles. “I think sometimes you can be too hard on yourself and focus on the things that you should not be in doing, instead of the things that you should be doing. I think that can happen to players. Andy’s been through rough spells before, but I don’t know if he’s ever been through this rough of a spell, and sometimes you can be too hard on yourself.”
• Kevin Youkilis made an appearance in the Yankees’ clubhouse today. There’s not much to report, but he said he’s back in New York to do some more rehabbing after spending some time in California. He’s still yet to participate in any baseball activities, but he sounded hopeful that it may be coming soon.
Associated Press photos