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Pregame notes: “That pitch woke up a monster”

Tweet [1]

Alex Rodriguez [2]

It’s not so much that David Ortiz is suddenly on the Yankees side. It’s more that he realizes what Ryan Dempster might have done by sending that purpose pitch into Alex Rodriguez’s ribs.

“I didn’t like it. I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Ortiz told USA Today. [3]“But we don’t all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy. It’s not that I didn’t think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone’s on their own.

But we’ve got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees’ team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC (Sabathia) was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You’re talking about a good team that you can’t wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.”

Before even seeing the USA Today story, I was having a conversation about that very topic with a player in the Yankees clubhouse this morning. The Yankees were legitimately fired up on Sunday, and this player said it felt like the Red Sox rivalry ignited in that moment. There was a new level of determination against Boston, and that’s carried into this series against Toronto.

Jayson Nix [4]• In choosing to replace Jayson Nix with Preston Claiborne, the Yankees prioritized pitching depth over infield depth. “When you look at it, you can go with a short bench or do you go with short pitching?” Joe Girardi said. “I really don’t want to bring a position player in to pitch, so I chose to go short bench. If we have to adjust, we’ll adjust. We’ve done it before. It’s kind of what we’re going through right now.”

• Because he’s replacing an injured player, Claiborne was allowed to return without being in Triple-A for a full 10 days. David Huff, who won’t be available for several days after pitching five innings, is out of options. The Yankees would have needed to pass him through waivers — again — to take him off the roster.

• As for a backup shortstop: “Vernon lobbied yesterday and I said, I don’t think so Vernon,” Girardi said. “I have some ideas. You start thinking, how many people do you want to move around for one position? I have some ideas. Hopefully it doesn’t happen, but we’ll see.”

• Could Alex Rodriguez play shortstop in a pinch? “I said I have some ideas,” Girardi said, vaguely. “I have a left fielder that’s played second base, too.”

• Speaking of shortstops, Derek Jeter is scheduled to play five innings of a Triple-A rehab game tonight. It’s not ideal that the Yankees next six big league games are on turf, but that’s a problem for another day. “I think the concern is making sure he’s healthy more than anything with the turf,” Girardi said. “If you had to give him a day off on the turf, you give him a day off.”

• Also it’s worth noting that the Yankees still haven’t said when they expect to activate Jeter except that he’s likely to play at least two games in Triple-A. Tonight’s game starts at 7:05 p.m.

• Pretty much goes without saying, but Nix is probably out for the year. “We haven’t got a timetable, but my guess would be yeah,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of which, Kevin Youkilis is here today. He said he’s doing a lot of “trunk stabilization” work, but “nothing sexy or exciting.” He’s still hoping to play in September, but he hasn’t hit and doesn’t seem particularly close to hitting.

• Brett Gardner is fine. “Just a day (off),” Girardi said. “We looked at some matchups, we looked at some things, and chose to put Grandy in center and Ich in right.”

• Girardi on Alex Rodriguez’s decision to stop all the off-the-field talk: “I think our team has handled it well with what’s been going on. It’s probably easier on Alex and easier just to focus on the game than having to focus on all the other stuff. I commend him for it. Just try to put this on the side burner for now and focus on the task at hand. I think it’s a good thing.”

Associated Press photos