The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Archive for April, 2014

Robertson and Thornton hosting clinic for Center for Autism school04.30.14

We’ll finish off this unscheduled off day with information about Dave Robertson and Matt Thornton being generally good guys. They’re going to join a few players from the Rays — in town for this weekend’s series — to launch the 2014 Players Trust City Clinics program at the N.Y. Center for Autism Charter School in Harlem. Well done to all the guys involved. Here are the details from the MLBPA:

David RobertsonWHO: New York Yankees David Robertson and Matt Thornton to be joined by visiting Tampa Bay Rays players Desmond Jennings, James Loney and Sean Rodriguez; children from the N.Y. Center for Autism Charter School.

WHAT: The Players Trust’s City Clinics program is a grass-roots campaign developed by – and featuring the active participation of – current Major Leaguers to promote the game of baseball to under-served children, ages 6-16, in select cities across the country. In addition to Harlem, 2014 City Clinics will also be held in Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota and San Diego.

Children participating in these free clinics receive hands-on instruction from current and former pros in areas such as base running, pitching, hitting, throwing and fielding. During each session, City Clinics’ attendees also participate in a question and answer session with active Major Leaguers, and receive free t-shirts and autographs.

The Players Trust is a charitable foundation created by the players to help those in need. Through the Players Trust, active Major Leaguers contribute their time, money and celebrity to call attention to important issues affecting those in need and to help encourage others to get involved in their own communities. For additional information about the Players Trust, please visit www.PlayersTrust.org. Also, visit the Players Trust channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/MLBPlayersTrust. Follow the Players Trust on Twitter: @MLBPlayersTrust

The New York Center for Autism Charter School is dedicated to providing the highest quality education to students profoundly affected by autism who live across the five boroughs of New York City. The school’s baseball program is one of several enrichment programs offered to students. This event, the culmination of a year’s worth of practice, gives each family the opportunity to experience the joy of watching their child play baseball – a rarity for parents of children with autism.

The City Clinics program is underwritten by Majestic Athletic, a division of VF Imagewear, Inc..

WHEN: Friday, May 2, 2014
11:30 AM – 2:00 PM ET (Current players scheduled to arrive 11:45 AM)
(Please Note: The event is not open to the general public.)

WHERE: Harlem R.B.I. Baseball Field

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 161 Comments →

Betances: “I’m just attacking the hitters early”04.30.14

Dellin Betances

Dellin Betances tripled his earned run total for the season last night. It was still a pretty good outing, though.

Yes, Betances was charged with two earned runs in an inning and two-thirds — he’d allowed just one earned run before that — but those runs came in the seventh inning when the first hitter reached on an infield single and the second run scored after Betances had already left the game. What truly defined Betances last night was the sixth inning, when he entered with no outs and runners on the corners and got out of it with a couple of strikeouts and a ground ball to shortstop.

“The more and more I pitch, I feel like I’m getting in better (more important) situations,” Betances said. “I’m just going out there every time trying to prove myself and get better every time out. I feel like I’ve been able to do that.”

Brian McCann, Dellin BetancesHe’s not the setup man, and he’s certainly not the closer, but Betances seems to be slowly earning Joe Girardi’s trust. That’s what 15.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a 0.98 WHIP will do. Betances is still walking a fair share of batters, but he’s not consistently falling behind in the count, and he’s not struggling to put guys away.

“I feel like I’m getting a lot better at being more aggressive in the zone,” he said. “I’m pleased with the last two outings. Obviously I don’t want to give up any runs or anything, but I feel like they just found holes, you know? … I think I’m just attacking the hitters early, using my fastball and offspeed for strikes. I’ve been getting a lot of strikeouts with my offspeed, but I think it’s getting ahead that has helped me a lot.”

As Betances struggled to find consistency in the minor leagues, I generally argued against the idea of moving him to the bullpen. There was never really a question about his raw stuff — it’s not like he needed shorter outings to help his fastball play up — but his problem seemed primarily to be an inability to consistently throw strikes. My thinking was, if he couldn’t do that as a starter, why would he suddenly be able to do it as a reliever?

But, wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what’s happened since Betances converted to the bullpen last season.

“I think out of the bullpen, I feel like it’s a different feeling coming into the game, and that’s helping me,” Betances said. “It’s helping me more than starting, for me. I’m just trying to go out there right off the bat and be aggressive and make pitches. I think that’s helped me a lot.”

In spring training, Betances also cited the repetition of the bullpen as a factor in his improvement. The more often he gets in games, the better he feels. Probably helps, too, that he’s found a breaking ball — more slurve than true curveball — that he can throw in the strike zone and not simply bury for a swing and miss. He can actually use his breaking ball to get ahead in the count, and not simply to put guys away.

Even after a game like last night, when the box score wasn’t perfectly clean, the improvement and impact of Betances has been hard to miss.

“I felt like coming in there (with two on), I felt like that was a big situation and I was able to get out of it with no runs scored,” he said. “I’m comfortable, you know? I’m comfortable in the bullpen, and I’m just trying to go out there and throw strikes and do the job.”

Real quick heads up, we’re going to do a chat tomorrow at noon. After the unexpected day off, seemed like we might as well talk about the team for a little while. Stop by here tomorrow at noon, hang out and chat for a while. I’ll see you then.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 150 Comments →

Today’s game rescheduled for June 204.30.14

This seems like good news for the Yankees. With no double header tomorrow, the Yankees won’t have to dig even deeper for a new starting pitcher on Monday. They’re already down two starters, and with Adam Warren in a setup role now, they might have been forced to either give Chris Leroux a spot start or bring up someone from Triple-A to start that series opener against the Angels. Anyway, here’s the announcement from the Yankees.

Robinson Cano, Brian RobertsThe New York Yankees announced that tonight’s postponed game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium has been rescheduled for Monday, June 2 at 7:05 p.m.

Fans holding paid tickets for tonight’s game (April 30) may use them for the rescheduled game or exchange their paid tickets for any regular season game at Yankee Stadium within 12 months of tonight’s postponed game (subject to availability).

Fans holding Complimentary (COMP) tickets for tonight’s game must use them for the rescheduled game. COMP tickets or equivalent tickets bear no cash value and do not have any additional benefits that may be offered to ticket(s) with a dollar value.

For complete information about the Yankees’ rainout policy, please visit www.yankees.com/rainout.

For tickets purchased through Yankees Ticket Exchange, please visit www.yankees.com/ticketexchange or call 1-800-355-2396 for complete information about its rainout policy.

PITCHING UPDATE:
Hiroki Kuroda will start for the Yankees tomorrow night. Lefty Roenis Elias will start for the Mariners. That means the Yankees are skipping David Phelps and avoiding Felix Hernandez.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 83 Comments →

Yankees game rained out; make-up date TBD04.30.14

Derek Jeter, Robinson CanoHere’s the announcement from the Yankees…

The New York Yankees announced that tonight’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium has been postponed due to inclement weather. Details regarding the time and date of a make-up game have not been determined.

Fans holding paid tickets for tonight’s game (April 30) may use them for the rescheduled game or exchange their paid tickets for any regular season game at Yankee Stadium within 12 months of tonight’s postponed game (subject to availability).

Fans holding Complimentary (COMP) tickets for tonight’s game must use them for the rescheduled game. COMP tickets or equivalent tickets bear no cash value and do not have any additional benefits that may be offered to ticket(s) with a dollar value.

For complete information about the Yankees’ rainout policy, please visit www.yankees.com/rainout.

For tickets purchased through Yankees Ticket Exchange, please visit www.yankees.com/ticketexchange or call 1-800-355-2396 for complete information about its rainout policy.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 63 Comments →

Power starting to show for Teixeira04.30.14

Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira has basically said that he doesn’t expect to be a .300 hitter at this stage of his career. He last had a batting average that high in 2008, and he hasn’t hit better than .256 since 2009. He’s a guy who’s supposed to play strong defense at first base, put together some patient at bats, and most of all drive in runs by hitting for power.

His offensive production isn’t going to come from base hits. It’s going to come from home runs. And in the past five games, Teixeira has hit three home runs.

“It tells me I’m getting better,” Teixeira said. “I’m getting close. When you start driving the ball, you know that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. That’s a good sign.”

Teixeira has routinely hit 30-plus home runs in his career, including 39 just three years ago. But in 2012 he was limited to just 123 games, which kept his home run total at 24. Last year, he played in just 15 games and went deep three times. Wrist surgery created some concern about whether he’d be able to truly drive the ball again.

“I think he’s feeling more comfortable as he’s getting at-bats,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought if you look at the season, it got interrupted when he went on the DL for two weeks. He’s swinging the bat well, he’s being patient and he’s walking. He’s doing the things that he needs to do, that we’re used to seeing from Mark. I do think he probably feels more comfortable up there.”

Looks that way, and Teixeira said it feels that way as well.

“A little bit better,” he said. “Still a long way to go. Still haven’t played that many games. I’d like to get better obviously, but the last couple of days I’ve put some good swings on balls and it’s good to see the ball getting out of the park and driving it. It’s good sign.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 87 Comments →

“Because they didn’t want you leave”04.30.14

Taboola Home/Section Front Player


In a lot of ways, I think Joe Girardi was right about the way Robinson Cano was greeted last night.

“I’ve always felt the people that are cheering for you are showing their respect for you,” Girardi said. “And the people that are booing you are really showing their respect for you, because they didn’t want you to leave.”

Or maybe Derek Jeter phrased it better.

“Some people probably booed because they wish he was here,” Jeter said. “Some people boo because they’re upset he left. And some people may have booed because the people next to them were booing.”

If Cano weren’t such a great player, there wouldn’t have been much reaction at all to his return on Tuesday night. But he was booed in every at-bat — booed even when he fielded a routine grounder — because Yankees fans are well aware of what was lost when he signed with Seattle.

Yes, there’s frustration that Cano didn’t take some sort of hometown discount, or perhaps there’s a sense fully appreciate the idea of being a lifelong Yankee — and seven years, $175 million certainly seems like more than enough money — but Cano’s hardly the first player to prefer taking the largest contract offer ahead of staying in a place that comfortable and successful. It means so much in this case because he’s one of the elite players in the game, and the Yankees know that as well as anyone.

“I knew he would be pretty sought-after and there would be clubs that would make some long-term deals,” Girardi said. “I’ve mentioned that I always thought Albert Pujols would be a Cardinal, and it didn’t happen. There are certain guys you envision their whole career, they’re going to play in a certain spot. Most of the times, it doesn’t happen.”

Monday’s bit on The Tonight Show was funny for that very reason. It’s easy to boo the idea of Cano — to boo the very notion of a player taking more money to play elsewhere — but faced with him in person, it’s hard to deny that the Yankees would be a better team with him at second base, hitting in the middle of the order. Boo the fact that he left, but acknowledge that most would welcome him back if at all possible.

Maybe a 10-year deal really was too much for the Yankees to give. Maybe another player would have been happy with the $175-million offer. Maybe in a different set of circumstances Cano would have been a lifelong Yankee, cheered in his first Bronx at-bat of every season from now until retirement. But that didn’t happen, and it matters this much — enough to boo the best Yankees player of the past half decade — because he is so very good.

“I’m just happy to be back,” Cano said. “(To) see guys that I played with for a long time, and guys that always were so kind and nice to me. Being able to say hi to them and in front of the New York crowd, (remembering) the way that they treated me when I was here.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 138 Comments →

Postgame notes: “They brought their best boos”04.30.14

Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano

The crowd was pretty thin here at Yankee Stadium tonight. It was cold and rainy, a pretty miserable night for a ballgame, really. But those who showed up seemed determined to send a message to Robinson Cano. Whatever cheers were scattered through the stadium were easily drowned out by the overwhelming boos each time Robinson Cano came to the plate, put the ball in play or simply fielded a routine ground ball.

I expected booing, but I also thought there might be at least a little bit of a mixed bag.

“Considering the place was half full, they brought out their best boos,” Mark Teixeira said. “But that’s exactly what’s expected. … The fans are supposed to boo him when he’s in here, but Robbie’s a great guy. He played his heart out when he was here, and that’s baseball. That’s sports. He’s going to get booed.”

Robinson CanoNo one seemed surprised, certainly not Cano who said he never heard or recognized the “You sold out!” chant that started immediately after he acknowledged a bottom-of-the-first roll call from the Bleacher Creatures.

“I know you’re going to get some boos and cheers, but you’re always going to hear more of the boos than the cheers,” Cano said. “That’s something I can’t control. It’s not a distraction, either. I really have fun with that. … I don’t want to say they were wrong or right. All I can say is it’s something I can’t control. Just go out there and it isn’t going to be a distraction for me.”

Cano wasn’t the biggest difference maker in the game. The Yankees offense went quiet after the first three innings, CC Sabathia made a bad pitch to Corey Hart in the fifth, and the Mariners were able to tack on in the seventh. But Cano wasn’t a non-factor either. His ground ball out drove in the first Mariners run, and he had an infield single and a stolen base to setup another run in that cushion-building seventh. The Yankees No. 3 hitter, Carlos Beltran — who signed on the very day Cano went to Seattle — went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

“Some people probably booed because they wish he was here,” Derek Jeter said. “Some people boo because they’re upset he left. And some people may have booed because the people next to them were booing. It is what it is: it’s not the first time someone’s come back and got booed.”

CC Sabathia• For Sabathia, this was a start similar to his first three outings this season. He was pitching well through four innings, and he was one out away from getting through the fifth with a one-run lead, but he made a bad pitch with a fastball to Hart. It went for a two-out, two-run double that put the Mariners in front. “I just feel like I need to make a better pitch,” Sabathia said. “That ball cut back over the plate. I knew he was swinging. I wanted to get something away from him where he could roll over something. That ball just cut back to the middle of the plate. Sometimes it is just one pitch. I think tonight it was just a combination of a bunch of stuff. It ended up coming down to that one pitch, and me not making it.”

• That fifth inning started with three singles. One was an infield hit initially ruled an out, one was a ground ball into right field, and another was a bunt single when Brian Roberts was in double play position and couldn’t get to first base in time to cover. “I made good pitches to get to two outs,” Sabathia said. “Gave up a run (on the Cano ground out), but I need to make better pitches to finish that inning and put us in a position to be leading after that inning.”

• Roberts on the bunt single: “I took off, but it was just too far for me to be able to cover the double play and the bunt. Obviously it’s a situation where you have no idea what he’s going to do. Obviously there’s a chance that I guess he could bunt, but there’s also a pretty good chance that he could swing too. It’s unfortunate. We need to get an out there, one way or the other, somehow. It’s something that we’ve talked about. With all the movement in the infield nowadays and so much scouting, positioning, sometimes you just get caught in a position where it’s hard to cover two different things.”

• Teixeira on the bunt single: “As soon as the guy squares, I go get the ball. That’s the way I’ve been playing it for 12 years.”

Mark Teixeira• Good news from Teixeira: He homered for the third time since coming off the disabled list. He’s homered in back-to-back games. “The last couple of days I’ve put some good swings on balls and it’s good to see the ball getting out of the park and (to be) driving it,” Teixeira said. “It’s good sign.”

• He wound up being charged with two runs in the seventh inning, but Dellin Betances got Sabathia out of a jam in the sixth. He entered with no outs and runners at the corners, but Betances got back-to-back strikeouts before ending the inning with a ground ball to short.

• Chris Leroux made his Yankees debut with a scoreless ninth inning. He allowed two hits and struck out one. He opened last season on the Pirates roster but wound up DFA and pitching in Japan. He’s the latest player called up from Triple-A to give the Yankees a long reliever.

• With 12 strikeouts tonight, the Yankees have five consecutive games in which the pitching staff has struck out at least 10. According to Elias, that’s the first time in franchise history that the Yankees have had this many games in a row with double-digit strikeouts.

• By taking the loss tonight, Sabathia snapped an eight-game winning streak against the Mariners. He hadn’t lost to them since July 2, 2009. It was his longest active winning streak against any opponent. According to Elias, it was the Majors’ longest active winning streak against the Mariners and tied with Ron Guidry and Mike Mussina for the longest such streak in franchise history.

• Strange to face Cano? “Not for me,” Sabathia said. “Because I faced him before coming here. If I had played with him like Grady (Sizemore), where I played with him my whole career and not facing him before (it might have been weird). I’m kind of familiar with him, if that makes sense.”

• Strange to see Cano in a Mariners uniform: “Yeah, a little bit,” Jeter said. “You’ve gotten used to not seeing him, but then seeing him in another uniform . . . it’s kind of an odd picture. It’s not the first time guys have played here and gone elsewhere. It’s over and done with and now the stories of what’s going to happen when he comes back I think are over with. But it’s a little odd.”

• Final word to Cano: “I don’t want to say sweet. You go out there and play against them, you want to go out there and just beat them. Now I’m on the other side. I’m not on their side, so I don’t hope for them to win. I hope for us to win our games. I just have to play hard and keep playing the same game. I’m happy to see them and be back in New York.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 78 Comments →

Pineda to miss three to four weeks04.29.14

PinedaMichael Pineda will be shut down for 10 days and miss a total of three to four weeks after today’s MRI showed a Grade 1 strain of the teres major muscle in his upper back. It’s basically a muscle kind of between his shoulder and his lat.

Pineda felt discomfort after one inning of a simulated game today in Tampa. He flew back to New York and was examined by Dr. Chris Ahmad tonight. It was Ahmad who made the final diagnosis.

Through a team spokesman, general manager Brian Cashman said he wasn’t sure yet whether Pineda would immediately go on the disabled list or wait until after his current suspension is over.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 67 Comments →

Yankees let one get away in Cano’s return to the Bronx04.29.14

CC Sabathia

There might have been some cheers mixed in, but hearing those lonely voices was nearly impossible in the overwhelming chorus of boos that greeted Robinson Cano’s every at-bat at Yankee Stadium tonight. Cano was unwelcome from the beginning, and that surely didn’t change when he drove in one run and scored another in the Mariners 6-3 win in the opening game of their only trip to the Bronx this season. Cano’s only hit was an infield single, and he struck out twice, but his RBI ground out drove in the first Seattle run in the fifth inning, and he singled, stole a base and scored a run in the seventh. The Yankees led 2-0 early in the game — Mark Teixiera homered for the third time since coming off the disabled list — but Cano’s fifth-inning RBI was followed immediately by a Corey Hart two-run double that put the Seattle in front for good. Mariners catcher Mike Zunino had four hits; the Yankees combined for five before a mild rally in the ninth. CC Sabathia, who’d done a good job limiting the damage in his past two starts, allowed four-runs in the fifth inning — three of them with two outs — to make this start feel a lot like his first three starts this season. He seemed to have the game under control early, then he had to be bailed out by Dellin Betances as things unraveled.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 97 Comments →

Game 26: Yankees vs. Mariners04.29.14

Robinson CanoYANKEES (15-10)
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Brian Roberts 2B

LHP CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.78)
Sabathia vs. Mariners

MARINERS (10-14)
Abe Almonte CF
Stefen Romero RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Corey Hart DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Cole Gillespie LF
Kyle Seager 3B
Mike Zunino C
Willie Bloomquist SS

RHP Chris Young (0-0, 3.50)
Young vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: Cold with a pretty solid chance of rain at some point.

UMPIRES: HP Greg Gibson, 1B Bill Miller, 2B Vic Carapazza, 3B Adam Hamari

NOVA HAS SURGERY:
The Yankees announced pregame that Ivan Nova’s scheduled Tommy John surgery went as expected in Pensacola, Fla. It was performed by Dr. James Andrews.

MAKE IT FIVE:
Yankees pitchers have recorded at least 10 strikeouts in four consecutive games, their longest such streak since September 9-12, 2012. According to Elias, the Yankees have never had a longer streak of 10-strikeout games.

PLENTY PRODUCTIVE: Carlos Beltran is fifth in the American League with 14 extra-base hits (Abreu has 17, Donaldson has 16 and Pujols and Trout each have 15) In his last 13 games, Beltran is hitting .296 with seven runs, six doubles, four home runs and nine RBI. The team has gone 10-3 in games Beltran has played during that stretch.

UPDATE, 7:12 p.m.: There might be a handful of people cheering, but the reaction to Cano’s first at-bat is overwhelmingly filled with boos.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Cano struck out, and as the bottom of the first got started, the Bleacher Creatures gave him a roll call. Cano waved toward the fans in right field, at which point some group of fans — maybe the same fans who did the roll call — started a chant of, “You sold out!”

UPDATE, 7:34 p.m.: There’s Teixeira’s third home run since coming off the disabled list. It’s a 1-0 Yankees lead in the second.

UPDATE, 8:05 p.m.: Not the best decision ever by a catcher. Zunino tried to throw out Gardner stealing second and instead threw the ball into center field, letting Roberts score easily from third. The Yankees lead is up to 2-0.

UPDATE, 8:17 p.m.: Big strikeout by Sabathia to get out of trouble and leave runners at second and third in the fourth.

UPDATE, 8:40 p.m.: Cano up with the bases loaded in the fifth. At-bat of the game?

UPDATE, 8:42 p.m.: Well, that could have been worse for the Yankees. Cano grounds to first and Teixeira takes the easy out, allowing one run and keeping the Yankees in front, 2-1. Not sure he had a play anywhere else.

UPDATE, 8:43 p.m.: Welp, there’s the real at-bat of the game so far. Hart just doubled to right-center, scoring two runs and putting Seattle in front 3-2.

UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.: For a few starts in a row, Sabathia was keeping these big innings from happening. But here he is again, having allowed four runs in the fifth. The Mariners are now up 4-2. Sabathia had been pretty good today until this inning.

UPDATE, 9:14 p.m.: Awfully good work by Betances to strand runners at the corners and keep this a two-run game. Girardi’s beginning to trust him more and more, it seems.

UPDATE, 9:50 p.m.: Mariners add two more runs in the top of the seventh, and with that, I’ve moved to the indoor workroom here in the Yankee Stadium press box. I’ve always had a seat in here, but I honestly can’t remember ever using it until tonight. It’s just brutally cold out there. Trying to finish my running game story and couldn’t feel my fingers to type. Can’t be a comfortable playing experience.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 701 Comments →

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