The Yankees have gone through a power outage lately, and it just so happens that two of their regular bench players are primarily power hitters.
Infielder Kelly Johnson and outfielder Zoilo Almonte haven’t played much, but the greatest asset for each one is an ability to hit for power. It seems little coincidence that Johnson is in the lineup this afternoon.
“You think about using Kelly maybe more here than sometimes on the road,” Girardi said. “Because the ballpark plays to him, and that’s one of the reasons he’s in there today. His at-bats have kind of gotten going a bit, and I want to keep him going. We’re in a really long stretch here, 17 days in a row, and a bunch of day games in a row here, and (we will) try to take advantage of it.”
As for a regular lineup change to try to take advantage of Almonte’s ability to hit the ball out of the park, that might not be in the cards just yet. Girardi has a tendency to stick with his guys, and Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki have been the regular outfielders (a trio that has very little power) while Alfonso Soriano has basically rotated between right field and designated hitter (a legitimate power hitter, but with a .359 slugging percentage against right handers this year). Johnson had fallen behind both Brian Roberts and Yangervis Solarte on the infield depth chart, but we’ll see if that changes if Johnson can string together some productive games during this home stand.
“Sometimes you have to do some things (to shake up the lineup) just because of the way your players are, the way the schedule is,” Girardi said. “You try to run a set lineup out there every day, and we’ve had our five or six guys we run out there every day, six or seven. And you have the injury to Carlos which kind of changed things a little bit, so we’ve had to adapt a little bit there. We had the injury to Tex, which changed things a bit and we had to adapt there. You’d like to run out about seven or eight of the same guys every day.”
• Shawn Kelley said he feels fine today — he threw a bullpen yesterday — and he’s still on track to throw another bullpen tomorrow. Yesterday was his first bullpen since that day he couldn’t get loose in Milwaukee. Seems like a rehab assignment is possible next week, assuming he comes through tomorrow with no problem.
• Carlos Beltran hit again today and he’s scheduled to hit again tomorrow. “We’ll make some decisions from there if that all goes OK,” Girardi said. The Yankees haven’t announced a plan for Beltran, but kind of like Kelley, it wouldn’t seem surprising to see him getting into minor league games at some point next week.
• Also, Michael Pineda is scheduled to pitch an intrasquad game tomorrow.
• Girardi said he did not check with mark Teixeira before posting today’s lineup, but he was planning to check with him whenever Teixeira got to the ballpark. “He came to us on Monday (to say his wrist was hurting),” Girardi said. “So I trust that if he feels he’s not a player, he’ll come to me.”
• On whether Teixeira has to be managed more carefully going forward: “There’s probably going to be soreness in 92 percent of my players during the course of a game,” Girardi said. “Soreness is one thing. Being injured is another. I think you have to check in with all the guys, and when it becomes too much they’re going to sit down. Players don’t play feeling 100 percent every day. It’s not the nature of the game. … I check with guys every day to see how they’re feeling. I just don’t want to make too much of this. If we feel he needs a day off, then we’ll give him a day off. If he says he’s OK, then we’re going to play him.”
• Just a personal observation: Girardi seems to be irritated by the questions about the ways to properly manage Teixeira’s playing time. Can’t help wondering if that has something to do with Teixeira basically saying — more than once this season — that he’s played too much, which has caused his fatigue and soreness issues. It’s surely on both Girardi and Teixeira to make sure this wrist issue, or any other, doesn’t get out of hand and force a three-day shutdown like Teixeira experienced this week.
• Can’t forget to mention, Happy Tanaka Day. Where would the Yankees be without him? “Well, we wouldn’t be in probably as good of shape as we’re in,” Girardi said. “His pitching has been extremely consistent, we’ve won his games and he has a number of wins — I think it’s seven or eight. It’s hard to say. He’s been a guy that has given us distance and has given us a little bit of time off when he takes it. It’s not just distance, it’s good distance where he leaves the game usually with a lead and we’re able to finish out the games.”
• You know how sometimes you’re writing pregame blog notes and scroll through your iTunes library only to randomly land on the Creedence album Green River? Man, I love when that happens. Such a great album.
Associated Press photos