The Yankees offense is a mess, and so tonight Joe Girardi posted a lineup that did not include the team’s hottest hitter. Turns out Jacoby Ellsbury hurt himself rounding first base on that third-inning double. Girardi was planning to give Ellsbury one day off on this road trip anyway, and the minor injury — no one seems even slightly concerned — made this feel like the night to do it.
“Just had an awkward step,” Ellsbury said. “Caught myself, ended up getting the double out of it. Obviously finished the game. Came in today, but the plan was to come in at some point in the game if they needed me to hit or defense or run. Whatever it might have been, I was available.”
Because of the rain, Ellsbury got a day off without missing a game.
“We’re not concerned about it,” Girardi said. “I could use him, but he’s played a lot of days in a row here, so I figured with the conditions the way they would be if we played tonight, with the soft outfield, I’d give him the day. But I expect him to be in there tomorrow.”
Having Ellsbury on the bench and a left-hander on the mound seem to be the most significant factors in tonight’s unusual Yankees lineup. Girardi indicated that he’s not planning any sort of major lineup change, though it’s interesting to see Carlos Beltran moved all the way to seventh. Alfonso Soriano would have been a risky choice in the cleanup spot, but he has hit .294/.319/.500 against lefties this season, and he has decent numbers against Royals scheduled starter Jason Vargas.
“You move a guy down and he goes 3-for-4,” Girardi said. “And then you wish you had him hitting fifth that way (he’d come up) when two guys were on. That’s what you deal with. The big thing is to get them going, and they need at-bats to get going.”
• The Royals have announced that tonight’s game will be made up on August 25. That’s a mutual off day. For the Yankees, it was an off day immediately before going on the road to Detroit and Toronto. They have an off day the Monday before and the Monday after, but it still creates a stretch of 13 games in a row.
• Girardi confirmed that Vidal Nuno will start tomorrow, pushing Masahiro Tanaka back to Wednesday. “It gives all our guys an extra day, which in the long stretch I think they can use,” Girardi said.
• It’s worth noting that by keeping Nuno on turn, he will start the first game in Seattle and the last game in Oakland. That keeps his next two starts on the road where he has a 1.86 ERA this season. He has a 7.36 ERA at home.
• By pushing Tanaka back a day, the Yankees have deprived Japan of a high-profile matchup. Tanaka was scheduled to pitch against his former Golden Eagles teammate Hisashi Iwakuma tomorrow. “Five years together we played on the same team, so yes, I do know him,” Tanaka said yesterday. “… We’re going to be pitching at a different stage together, I think that’s what I’m looking forward to.” Not looking forward to it any more. “I’m not worried about that,” Girardi said.
• Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless inning in his Triple-A rehab outing tonight. He allowed a single but got his three outs without the ball leaving the infield. Kelley told Donnie Collins that he expects his next step to be joining the big league team. Girardi said the Yankees don’t have a decision set in stone. Amazing that it’s been more than a month since Kelley last pitched in the majors.
• The Royals were planning to present Derek Jeter with a $10,000 donation to his Turn 2 Foundation before Monday’s game. He will instead receive the gift when the Yankees come back to Kansas City for the makeup game.
• Designated for assignment last week, long reliever Alfredo Aceves has accepted an outright assignment to the Yankees Triple-A team. I have to assume he’ll slide into the Triple-A rotation. Even though he was just DFA, it’s still possible Aceves could quickly become the next in line for a spot start if the Yankees rotation suffered another blow.
• Girardi said there’s nothing new to report on either Michael Pineda or CC Sabathia.
Associated Press photos