Granted, Carlos Beltran hasn’t spoken to the media very often since first feeling that elbow discomfort that forced him out of the lineup on May 12, but there was something noticeably different about his tone of voice and basic body language this afternoon. For the first time in a while, Beltran seems reasonably confident that he just might avoid surgery after all.
“I’m happy, honestly,” Beltran said. “These few days have been tough because I’ve been going seeing doctors, seeing (Dr. James) Andrews. The doctor said it was a 50-50 chance (of avoiding surgery). The 50-50 chance means that I’m glad I’m on this 50 percent. I’m happy about that.”
Beltran took batting practice on the field today. He swung from both sides of the plate and said he felt fine. After two days of dry swings and one day of soft toss, this was easily his most significant test. It was the first time he’d swung at a pitched baseball since hurting himself in the Yankees batting cage almost three weeks ago.
Joe Girardi cautioned that the Yankees aren’t out of the woods yet — Beltran still has to get into some minor league rehab games, and that bone spur could begin causing trouble again — but for the moment, all of the news is good news.
“It’s been a long wait for me mentally,” Beltran said. “Just trying to get back as soon as I can and working as hard as I can to avoid surgery. Thank God things are going well. You never know what’s going to happen ahead but right now I just can’t think about what’s going to happen ahead. I’m thinking about how I feel right now and right now I feel good.
There’s still no set time table for Beltran (at least not one that the Yankees are making public). He’ll take batting practice again tomorrow, and assuming things go well, it seems he could be in minor league games relatively soon. How soon depends on how well these next few days go. Girardi said that assuming Beltran gets back, he’ll probably be primarily a DH for at least the first few weeks of his return.
“I don’t think you’re out of the woods,” Girardi said. “I think he has to go through rehab games where you all types of things happen: where you swing and miss, or you get fooled, or you get out in front of a ball. I think you’re going to have to go through some of that. And you could go through rehab games, and you still may not know. The only way to find out if we can get him into games is if we get him in games.”
• Mark Teixeira took early batting practice today, swinging for the first time since Sunday, which was his last game before sitting out with right wrist soreness. Teixeira hit enough to declare himself ready to play tonight. He’s missed the past three games. “You still feel it,” Teixeira said. “But I feel the normal soreness whatever that I feel every day, which is what I’ve been feeling since Spring Training. … Pain and soreness are different. It was painful last week. This is just the normal soreness that you’ve got to fight through the year after surgery.”
• Girardi said there was no expectation of checking with Teixeira after the full team BP to make sure he could still play. The Yankees are not expecting any sort of last-minute lineup change.
• Also positive news for Shawn Kelley, who threw a 25-pitch bullpen this afternoon. He finished with five sliders, and as long as his back feels fine the next two days, Girardi said it’s likely Kelley will throw another bullpen on Sunday. After that, Kelley will certainly need at least one rehab appearance. “We’re just going to see how I feel tomorrow,” Kelley said. “Make sure that I wake up and don’t have any after-effects from it. I’m sure they have something in mind. The last couple of times, I’ve gotten ahead of myself and let myself down.”
• CC Sabathia is scheduled to visit Dr. Ahmad today to put a plan in place for whatever he’s going to do going forward. “He does feel better,” Girardi said.
• John Ryan Murphy is back behind the plate for two reasons: 1. He’s caught Vidal Nuno a lot this year. 2. Girardi wasn’t going to have Brian McCann catch a day game after catching a night game, so McCann was going to DH either tonight or tomorrow. Girardi chose to do it tonight.
• Brian Roberts has moved up in the order a little bit. “His at-bats have been really good,” Girardi said. “He’s consistently hit the ball good, so we moved him up.”
• Eduardo Nunez is back. He’s starting at DH and batting eighth for the Twins. He’s also wearing No. 9 now and — of course — he has a beard.
• Phil Hughes won’t start until Sunday, but he met with the media today. He said he’s expecting a pretty negative reaction from Yankees fans when he goes to the mound, but his season has really be awfully good. Certainly much better than last year. “There’s not a whole lot of difference,” Hughes said. “I’m doing the same things I do, attack hitters, throw strikes, pound the zone. I think my stuff’s been pretty good. Been avoiding walks and getting fly balls, doing things I normally do. It’s just been working out.”
• As you probably remember, Hughes was asked about his changeup a ton during his years with the Yankees. As his big group interview was dying down this afternoon, Hughes was waiting for the next question when Sweeny Murti blurted out: “So, how’s the changeup?” Hughes started cracking up immediately. Said he actually remembers throwing only one all year, and it was hit for a home run.
• Hughes on his reaction to Derek Jeter’s retirement decision: “I was kind of surprised at first when I heard it, but I’m glad he’s doing it on his own terms. It’s kind of nice he’s going to get the sendoff like Mariano did last year. … I thought he’d hang on for a few more years, so that kind of came as a shock to me. If he feels like the time is right, he knows better than anybody.”
Associated Press photo