The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for July, 2014

Postgame notes: “It was just squishy”07.24.14

Yu Darvish

Getting the tarp on the field tonight was a near total failure. The rain came suddenly, it was a downpour within seconds, the wind was blowing, and the grounds crew literally couldn’t get the tarp out of left field. I wasn’t even paying much attention to them at first, so I’m not entirely sure what started the whole mess, but it was very quickly obvious that the tarp was covered with too much rain to drag onto the infield. It took a full 14 minutes — with various other stadium workers helping — to finally get the infield covered.

And it was all over at that point.

The rain stopped and there was a lengthy, rather impressive effort to get the field playable again. Just looking at it, the infield seemed perfectly fine. But that water didn’t disappear beneath all of that fresh dirt.

“Even if there was no rain, it’s not going to just magically going to dry up,” crew chief Dale Scott said. “It wasn’t the surface, it was underneath. From what you saw, not getting that tarp on, to what it looked like once they fixed it up, it looked beautiful. But frankly, the surface looked great, underneath though it was just squishy. And it was too soft for turns and baselines.”

Although the Yankees clearly had the most to gain from a called game, Scott said that both managers agreed that the surface was far too dangerous. Joe Girardi said that Ron Washington called the infield, “a hamstring just waiting to be pulled.”

And these two teams know a thing or two about pulled hamstrings this year.

“We made a joke that you could put the two teams together with their DL and you could form a pretty good team,” Girardi said. “Neither one of us can really afford anyone else to go on the DL because of conditions that players shouldn’t be on.”

So the Yankees got a win against one of the best pitchers in baseball. Call it karma for what happened just before the break.

“We kind of were owed this one after what happened in Baltimore, I think,” Brett Gardner said. “It’s good. We’ll take a win any way we get can get it.”

David Phelps• Look back at the last out of the fifth inning, when David Phelps came off the mound screaming and pumping his fist. That strikeout stranded the tying run at third base. Turns out to be the biggest out of the night. “I knew I had a base open,” Phelps said. “Cervy kind of told me, ‘Let’s make him swing at some stuff.’ I was able to make a couple of pitches, and he swung at a ball out of the zone. It’s a big moment. We were up 2-1 against Darvish, who doesn’t give up two runs very often. It was just one of those times when you really want to keep the lead for them.”

• Phelps is credited with a complete game for going five innings with one run on five hits, no walks and three strikeouts. That’s the first complete game of his career. Kind of a cheap way to get it, but he went head-to-head with Darvish and got a win. That’s something. Phelps is now unbeaten in his past eight starts going 4-0 with a 2.96 ERA. He has a 2.51 ERA in his past eight starts at Yankee Stadium.

• What’s made Phelps so consistent? Basically, he said being consistent starts with consistency. “It’s nice being on every five days,” he said. “I’ve been able to get on a routine and just getting comfortable with going out there every fifth day. It’s what I’ve done my whole career being a starter, and it’s nice being able to get back into that role.”

• Did Phelps pitch that fifth inning as if it were the ninth, knowing the rain was on its way? “I had no idea there was weather coming in,” he said. “When I got done, I heard one of our bat boys tell one of our coaches that they said they were calling for rain in five or 10 minutes. I looked at the forecast before the game, it said 40 to 50 percent, so I didn’t think we were seeing anything like that.”

• Phelps was not going back to the mound, by the way. Darvish was going, despite the delay of one hour and 49 minutes. Crazy. If Darvish hadn’t actually gone to the mound to throw some warm-up pitches, I wouldn’t have believed he was actually planning to stay in the game.

Bret Gardner• Gardner’s game-winning home run was his 100th hit of the season. His 10 homers this season are a career-high, and the Yankees are now 26-7 in games when Gardner goes deep in his career. “Just being a little more aggressive,” Gardner said. “Trying to continue to work on my swing with K-Long, being more aggressive at the plate, and take my A swing.”

• Two doubles for Francisco Cervelli. He’s hit safely in seven of his last eight starts, batting .379 in those games. “I just try to see the ball and hit it,” Cervelli said. “That’s it. I’m not worried about results because, like you said, I don’t have that many games. I cannot think too much. I just go there and try to hit the ball.”

• Another Yankees hit for Chase Headley who’s actually hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games.

• No hit for Brian McCann, who went 0-for-2 and snapped his streak of reaching base safely in 17 games.

• Derek Jeter played in his 1,600th Yankees victory. According to Elias, Jeter has the highest personal winning percentage (.595) among active players who have played at least 1,000 games.

• No doubt that this rain out really helped the Yankees depleted bullpen. One night after using every single reliever, the Yankees didn’t have to use a single one tonight. Even so, I wonder if they’ll keep Chris Leroux another day before bringing up another position player.

• Apparently Ron Washington said he did not believe the grounds crew’s tarp trouble was intentional. But, when asked if the idea crossed his mind, Washington said, “no comment.” Have to imagine the idea of an intentional tarp mistake at least crossed the mind of everyone watching this one, but I just can’t imagine it being the case. “The grounds crew did everything they could,” Girardi said. “They physically did everything they could and Mother Nature took over.”

• CC Sabathia’s surgery went as expected today. “I guess his surgery went well,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if we’ll see him. Obviously he’s not allowed to travel for a few days, so we’ll probably see him when we get back from the road trip.”

• Final word goes to Gardner about sneaking a win against a guy like Darvish: “He’s a guy who’s tough to get things going on, but we were able to get just enough of the game in before it started raining. The field was in pretty bad shape, so I’m glad we didn’t go back out there.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees get a rain-shortened win07.23.14

Francisco Cervelli

On the last day before the All-Star break, the Yankees took a five-inning loss with no chance to rally because of rain in Baltimore. Mother Nature owed them one, and she paid her debt tonight. A rain delay in the bottom of the fifth inning left Yankee Stadium soaked and ultimately handed the Yankees a rain-shortened 2-1 win against Yu Darvish and the Rangers. Same thing happened to the Yankees on July 13, when they were forced to accept a 3-1 loss after five innings at Camden Yards. When the rain started, it was an instant downpour, and it took the grounds crew 14 minutes to cover the field. The infield was drenched, and although the game nearly resumed at 10:05, more rain fell and the game was called at 10:35. Yankees starter David Phelps was credited with a complete game, having allowing one run through five innings. He’d pumped his fist and shouted as he came off the mound at the end of the fifth inning, having struck out Rougned Odor to strand the tying run at third base. As it turned out, that pitch made all the difference. The Yankees had scored their two runs in the third inning, first on a Darvish balk and then on Brett Gardner’s 10th home run of the year. Darvish has just a 2.92 ERA this season, and in a five-inning game, getting two runs against him was enough for the Yankees.

Associated Press photo

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Game 100: Yankees vs. Rangers07.23.14

Chase HeadleyYANKEES (51-48)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brendan Ryan 2B

RHP David Phelps (4-4, 3.87)
Phelps vs. Rangers

RANGERS (40-60)
Shin-Soo Choo LF
Elvis Andrus SS
Alex Rios RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jim Adduci 1B
J.P. Arencibia 1B
Leonys Martin CF
Chris Gimenez C
Rougned Odor 2B

RHP Yu Darvish (9-5, 2.88)
Darvish vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Solid chance of rain at some point tonight. Not the best-case scenario.

UMPIRES: HP Dale Scott, 1B Dan Iassogna, 2B CB Bucknor, 3B Quinn Wolcott

JETER METER: Over his last 35 games since June 10, Derek Jeter is hitting .299 (43-for-144) with 17 run, five doubles, 15 RBI, 11 walks and a home run.

The Yankese are 20-7 when leading after the first inning. They’re 31-41 in all other games. When leading after three innings, they are 34-14. They are 6-25 when trailing after three innings.

THE NEW GUY: Chase Headley is making his first start with the Yankees. He’s hitting .333 with four doubles, a triple and a home run since July 4. That’s in 14 games.

UPDATE, 7:34 p.m.: Phelps through two scoreless innings. Cervelli has helped him out with a caught stealing and a nice play in front of the plate.

UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Double for Headley, who’s probably going to go down as the greatest Yankee of all time.

UPDATE, 7:51 p.m.: Yankees turn two here in the third inning, but the double play came with a runner at third base, so they gave up a run on the play. It’s a 1-0 Rangers lead.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Run scoring balk by Darvish. Don’t get many gifts like that from a pitcher like that. But it’s a tied game.

UPDATE, 8:01 p.m.: Brett Gardner’s 10th home run of the year has the Yankees in front 2-1. Gardner’s been huge for this lineup.

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Speaking of guys who have really stepped up this year, Phelps just got through a scoreless fourth inning and has been awfully good a while now. He’s carrying that 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth. Granted, this Rangers lineup stinks, but Phelps so far has done what he’s needed to do.

UPDATE, 8:32 p.m.: Well, Phelps is in a bit of trouble now. One-out triple has the tying run at third. Needs to get Gimenez and Odor to strand the runner.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: Phelps is all kinds of fired up after a big strikeout to end the inning and leave the runner at third. He got Gimenez to pop up in foul territory, then he got Odor swinging. Big out to keep this one-run lead intact. Can’t exactly plan on getting another run off Darvish.

UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.: Cervelli just hit his second double of the game. Also, there is now thunder and lightning happening. No word on whether those two things are related.

UPDATE, 8:46 p.m.: RAIN! Lots of it! Here comes the tarp. Lots of lightning too. Wonder if the Yankees could steal a win here, kind of like the game they lost in Baltimore.

UPDATE, 8:51 p.m.: Grounds crew still doesn’t have the tarp on the field. Something apparently went wrong. Meanwhile, it’s raining like one of those end-of-the-world movies. The infield is already a complete mess.

UPDATE, 9:05 p.m.: Various stadium workers came onto the field to help, one man was trapped under the tarp at one point, and the infield was soaked by the time the field was covered a full 14 minutes into the delay. Even then, a small part of the circle around the batters’ box has been left exposed. The field wasn’t covered until 9 p.m. The field is so wet under that tarp, I’ll be surprised if they’re able to keep playing.

UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: Grounds crew bringing out a couple of small tractors and a bunt of fresh dirt to try to get this infield playable.

UPDATE, 9:50 p.m.: Game supposed to start around 10:05 p.m. Yu Darvish is out warming up. Looks like he’s going to stay in to pitch. Can’t imagine Phelps will do the same. He’s been sitting longer than Darvish, and will have to keep sitting after Darvish gets on the mound. Rough night to have a short bullpen. Could be up to Chris Leroux, at some point, to keep this one-run lead intact.

UPDATE, 10:08 p.m.: The field certainly looks playable, but Ron Washington and Joe Girardi just spent some time walking around the infield, and just as the Rangers were about to take the field, they’ve now gathered in foul territory. Darvish looks ready to pitch, but apparently there’s some sort of field issue remaining.

UPDATE, 10:25 p.m.: Now the rain is back. Looks like the tarp is on the way.

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Cashman on Tanaka, Teixeira, Banuelos, Refsnyder, Pineda07.23.14

A few things from Brian Cashman on The Michael Kay Show this afternoon.

Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi• Masahiro Tanaka “still feels it,” Cashman said. “On a daily basis it decreases, so that’s good. But it’s not good that he’s still feeling it at this stage. Just day by day and week by week, and we’ll adjust accordingly. Right now, it’s too early to call.”

• On Mark Teixeira’s strained lat, Cashman said, “I can’t rule out a DL possibility.” But much like Joe Girardi said this afternoon, it depends on how Teixeira responds to the PRP injection, and the Yankees won’t know that for another 24 or 48 hours.

• Cashman gave a flat “no” answer when asked if Manny Banuelos could help the big league team this year. “He has not had a good year the first year back from Tommy John,” Cashman said. “Last night was a terrific start, and his best start of the season.”

• Pretty cut and dry reason why he hasn’t called up Rob Refsnyder. “I don’t think we would be significantly upgrading at second base right now,” Cashman said. “… If you did see him, he would be probably more likely an outfielder for us.” Cashman said Refsnyder has a legitimate chance to be the big league second baseman next year, but they don’t feel he’s ready to do that right now. Cashman said he thinks the immediate impact would be much less than outsiders might expect. “It’s a super big jump to the big league level,” Cashman said.

• If things go well, the Yankees will be Michael Pineda back in the big league rotation, “sometime in August.”

• Would he rather make a trade for a pitcher or a hitter? Cashman said it would depend on the impact, but if he had to choose between a big-time hitter or a big-time pitcher, he would choose the hitter. “But you’re asking me after watching the 14 innings last night,” he said.

• On the idea of a six-man rotation: “I buy into the fact that rest and recovery are vastly important to pitchers’ health,” Cashman said. “… But I can’t really speak to whether it’s viable. As you see, I’m scrambling right now when I’ve lost how many starters to find guys to take the ball every five days. The presumption would be, do you have six guys that can give you quality starts every six days and then also have depth behind those guys?”

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: First base uncertain with Teixeira out07.23.14

Brian McCann

The Yankees are still unsure when Mark Teixeira will be back in the lineup. He’s not in there tonight, he almost certainly won’t be tomorrow, and even Friday is no sure thing. With Kelly Johnson now on the disabled list, the Yankees are without an experienced first baseman — did Johnson ever truly count as experienced? — and so it’s Brian McCann’s job for the time being.

“He’s probably going to have to play there a good portion of the time,” Joe Girardi said.

Chase Headley has a very little bit of first base experience as well, and Francisco Cervelli made two starts there earlier this season. Brendan Ryan has played there as a late-inning replacement. Ultimately, though, as long as Teixeira is out, the Yankees are without a true first baseman. McCann doesn’t look too bad over there — “I feel a lot more comfortable than I thought I would,” he said — but it’s still a pretty uncertain situation while Teixeira continues to deal with this back injury. This is the third game he’s missed.

“I think you see how he feels tomorrow, then you make a decision about what would be a target date,” Girardi said. “… I said we would examine him after three or four days to see where the pain is, then if the pain has subsided, maybe you take some next steps. You take some light swings in the cage, and you see. But if the pain hasn’t subsided, then you can’t get to Step Two.”

Until Teixeira tests the back, there’s really no way to knowing how much he’s improved or how soon he could be back in the lineup.

It’s worth noting that, for now, the Yankees are carrying an extra pitcher, and that won’t be the case much longer. Chris Leroux is here to give the Yankees some available innings after last night’s game went so long. Eventually, Leroux or one of the other relievers will be replaced by a bench player.

“Could be an outfielder,” Girardi said. “Could be a first baseman.”

I have to assume which one of those the Yankees choose could depend entirely on the status of Teixeira.

Kyle Roller has hit pretty well as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s regular first baseman, but Jose Pirela, Corban Joseph and Austin Romine have also gotten some time at the position. Worth mentioning that, if McCann seems capable of handling first base, the Yankees could also call up John Ryan Murphy (or Romine) to do some catching while McCann sticks to the infield for a while.

TanakaSabathiaPinedaA few quick updates and non-updates on a few starting pitchers:

Michael Pineda
There is actual news on the big right-hander who’s still working his way back from that upper-back/shoulder injury. Pineda faced live hitters in batting practice on Sunday and will throw a simulated game tomorrow. He’s scheduled for two innings or 30 pitches. No word on what the next step would be, but he’s obviously getting pretty close to a rehab assignment.

CC Sabathia
Although Sabathia was scheduled to have knee surgery today, Girardi said he had no update on his status. “The surgery was today,” Girardi said. “I have not talked to Stevie (Donohue) about it.”

Masahiro Tanaka
Everyone wants an update on the Yankees ace, but there’s nothing new to report and won’t be for a while. When he was diagnosed with that partially torn UCL, Tanaka was told to take a full three weeks off before thinking about the next step. Basically, until we get through those three weeks, there won’t be anything new. “He said he feels better,” Girardi said. “He did say he feels better, but I don’t think you really know how he’s doing until you get him on a mound and you start going forward.”

Kelly Johnson• If the Yankees weren’t already a man short (Teixeira) and didn’t need extra pitching (because of last night) it sounds like Johnson might not have landed on the disabled list. Last night’s MRI revealed a “low Grade 1″ strain, according to Girardi, and so he was placed on the disabled list to open a roster spot for Leroux. “You can’t have two guys out a while,” Girardi said. “Tex, it’s still too early to determine what to do with him, and we thought we needed a pitcher too. We assume Kelly is going to at least be 10 days, so we make that move and go from there.”

• In addition to being the backup first baseman, Johnson was kind of serving as the fourth outfielder. Without him, Zelous Wheeler is basically the fourth outfielder — Wheeler played the corners in Triple-A and Girardi said he would feel comfortable starting him out there — and Headley also has some outfield experience. Headley was actually a left fielder his first two years in the big leagues. “That would take a little bit more work probably than moving to first base,” Headley said.

• Which pitchers are completely unavailable tonight? “I can tell you Huff’s out for sure,” Girardi said. “Probably stay away from Warren. Then I’ll have to see about the other guys, how they’re doing.” Dave Robertson threw two innings last night, but Girardi said he might actually use Robertson depending on how Robertson says he feels.

• Cervelli back behind the plate after catching a 14-inning game? “Cervy has got a lot of energy, so I think he’ll be fine,” Girardi said.

• Biggest challenge for McCann at first base? “It’s just knowing where to be,” he said. “Knowing little things about the game. Do a cutoff, I may forget to do that. Last night I forgot to follow the trail runner at second. Those little parts of the game, over there is different.”

• And of course today is Headley’s first full day with the Yankees. Although he was a pretty popular subject in ever local newspaper this morning, Headley said he basically stayed in his hotel room all day and didn’t read a thing about last night’s walk-off. “I’ve been warned to stay out of those (newspapers),” Headley said. “… My parents first of all, when I started playing baseball, they told me that. But my agent is out of New York, so he gave me the heads up and told me to stay out of it. He actually texted me this morning and told me to look at it, but I’m still staying away from it.”

• I’m going to assume that Headley’s ban on newspapers does not extend to newspaper blogs. Hi Chase!

Associated Press photos

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Headley batting sixth; Ryan at second07.23.14

HeadleyBrett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brendan Ryan 2B

RHP David Phelps

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Johnson to the DL; Leroux called up07.23.14

The Yankees need bullpen help after last night, and it seems Kelly Johnson’s MRI didn’t come back clean.

· Placed INF Kelly Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin.

· Selected RHP Chris Leroux from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

· Designated RHP Bruce Billings for assignment.

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Whitley lays low for a strong second-half debut07.23.14

Shin-Soo Choo, Chase Whitley
An unwritten rule for reporters in a baseball clubhouse: You don’t talk to a starting pitcher on the day he’s scheduled to pitch. Some starters get so intense on game day that I won’t even say hello. Some guys aren’t so over-the-top — CC Sabathia is always pretty laid back on his days — but as a general rule, reporters try to steer clear of that day’s starting pitcher.

When I walked in the clubhouse yesterday, Chase Whitley called me over to his locker and asked me about my boots. Then he joked a little bit about there being a new guy named Chase on the roster. Then we talked about his pregame routine for a while. It was typical clubhouse small talk, but it was coming from the guy who was about to take the mound in the first inning.

And when he got out there, Whitley delivered six scoreless.

“I changed my walk-up song, right?,” Whitley said, as a way of explaining last night’s strong outing. “It was like a Christian song or whatever. I was telling Chad (Bohling), the mental (conditioning) guy, ‘It’s kind of like I was in that zone the whole game.’ I never got that here-I-am, tough-guy kind of mentality. It was more just kind of (being a) competitor, just kind of lay low the whole game. Even when there’s a runner at third with no outs, or a runner at second.

“… Even before the game, I was in here kind of joking around a little bit more instead of just super-amped-up serious. Maybe I found something today, I don’t know. It would be pretty cool to move forward with that.”

When Whitley first came up to the big leagues, he talked about sometimes making too much of each start. He’d go to the mound thinking about the need to get through five innings instead of focusing on each pitch and each at-bat. He got better at staying focused, and got on a roll. Last night seemed like kind of the next step in that development. He was calm and collected even while letting the leadoff hitter reach base in the first four innings, then allowing a one-out double in the fifth.

“He was great,” Joe Girardi said. “He had an outstanding performance for us. He got into the seventh inning for us, and I thought his stuff was sharp. I thought his changeup was really good, his slider was sharp, his fastball. I think the rest helped him.”

Is that true? For a guy who’s quickly approaching a career-high in innings pitched, did a few days off help?

“I think so,” Whitley said. “Physically, yes. Mentally, yes. Both of them. Just being the first start of the second half, I was able to kind of regroup and start fresh. Clean slate. New beginning. It was important.”

Associated Press photo

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Random thoughts after Headley’s big day07.23.14

Chase Headley

Might as well start this day with a few random thoughts in the wake of yesterday’s Chase Headley trade and last night’s Chase Headley walk-off.

• For quite a while now I’ve written and said that I didn’t think Headley would be a particularly strong fit for the Yankees. He fit, of course — he’s a perfectly fine third baseman and the Yankees needed infield help — but he seemed over-hyped based on that one standout season in San Diego. I just didn’t think he should be considered a high-impact acquisition, and he was sometimes treated that way when his name came up in trade speculation. That said, to get him for the package the Yankees gave up (a guy signed as a minor league free agent and a 23-year-old A-ball pitcher) was a no-brainer. That’s a shot worth taking, especially with Headley hitting a little bit ever since getting an epidural in his back.

• Speaking of Headley’s back: “It’s been great,” he said after last night’s walk-off. “I really had some struggles with it before the epidural, but since then — knock on wood — it’s been so much better. It really doesn’t affect me when I’m playing at all. We’ll keep an eye on it, maintain it, work on all the things you can do with core stabilization to stay on top of it. But I don’t anticipate having any more trouble with it.”

• As for Headley’s production, he was asked last night why he hasn’t been able to repeat his 2012 results. Some of it is surely because of injury — and Headley acknowledged sometimes playing when he shouldn’t have — but it wasn’t only an assortment of injuries that took him from a .498 slugging percentage to a .355. “Obviously that year a lot of things came together and you get rolling like that, you get confidence and things like that can happen,” Headley said. “I think another factor in that was everybody on the team was hitting. When you have a lot of guys around you doing good things, it makes your job easier. Hopefully I can get back to being the type of player that I know I am. That may not be 31 and 115, but I know I’m a good player and I know that I’m better than I’ve played this year. I look forward to being that player.”

Chase Headley• Yangervis Solarte was a great story for a few months, but I find it hard to believe that all of baseball completely misjudged him and he’s actually going to stick as a big league regular. He might not be as bad as he was the past month and a half — he was pretty awful from June 1 onward — but he’s surely not as good as he was through the end of May. He’s cheap and versatile, so there’s value there for the Padres, but he’s easily expendable for the Yankees, even with their general lack of upper-level infield depth.

• Can’t completely dismiss Rafael De Paula as a significant part of the trade. He has good stuff and plenty of minor league strikeouts, but I still think he’s the kind of guy that’s easy to surrender in a deal like this. De Paula has upside, there’s no doubt, but he’s also been inconsistent, even in A-ball, and he’s one of several guys who built some of his prospect hype while facing really young competition in the Dominican Republic. Kind of makes me think of guys like Jose Ramirez and Arodys Vizcaino. De Paula could get to the big leagues and still fall far short of that early best-case-scenario that put him on the radar in the first place. Last year’s first half was impressive, but moving up has been enough of a challenge to make it worth trading him.

• Franciso Cervelli is the backup catcher and Brendan Ryan is the backup shortstop, but Zelous Wheeler and Kelly Johnson are what exactly? They used to be the platoon third basemen, now they’re just kind of bench players with no clear roles. Wheeler might get some playing time against lefties — could see him at second, third or the outfield corners — but Johnson’s is especially unclear going forward. I don’t think it would be the worst idea to keep using him in right field if only for the power upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki, but I doubt that’s what Girardi is thinking.

• All of that said, Johnson’s situation could resolve itself depending on the results of last night’s MRI. If he’s heading to the disabled list, could the Yankees finally give Zoilo Almonte some at-bats? Bringing up Rob Refsnyder might not make sense unless he’s going to be an everyday guy, and Jose Pirela seems redundant with Wheeler on the roster. Maybe John Ryan Murphy for a few days while Mark Teixeira is still sidelined, leaving Brian McCann to step in at first base?

• Along those same lines, if you’re trying to think of better ways to use one of those roster spots assuming Johnson’s MRI comes back clean, remember that until yesterday, the Yankees were still carrying Solarte on the big league roster, and he really had no defined role at that point. I’m not sure Refsnyder, Pirela or Adonis Garcia would be a better right-handed bench player than Wheeler, and at this point; and I really doubt Almonte would get more left-handed at-bats than Johnson.

• Expectation for Headley in the second half? Outside of that one big season, there’s little about his history to suggest he’s going to have the same impact Alfonso Soriano had last season. But I’m not sure this Yankees lineup needs that kind of one-man difference maker. Headley is here to help out the lineup, not to single-handedly save it. Still need big things from McCann and Carlos Beltran. Still need Teixeira to stay healthy. Still need Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury to stay consistent. If Headley can hit a half dozen home runs, knock a few doubles and play a good third base, I think he’ll help. But it’s important that he not be considered an absolute difference maker. He has to be a piece of the puzzle, not the entire missing link.

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: “Why wouldn’t it go this way?”07.23.14

Joe Girardi, Chase Headley

By the time Chase Headley stepped to the plate in the 14th inning, he’d already been through enough on this day. He woke up in Chicago, got a late-morning phone call, found out he’d been traded, said his goodbyes to his old Padres teammates, shaved his beard, caught a 3:30 p.m. flight to LaGuardia, took a car to Yankee Stadium, and he walked into the Yankees dugout sometime around the second inning.

This was Headley’s first time ever wearing the uniform of a professional team other than the Padres. It was a lot to take in, and so when he stepped to the plate in the 14th, he took his time.

Chase Headley“There’s a lot of nerves there,” Headley said. “But I kind of stepped out of the box and I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’ Why wouldn’t this day go this way?”

By the time he was halfway up the first-base line, Headley had his right hand up in the air. He got to first base, high-fived his new infield coach and was instantly mobbed by teammates he’d met just a few hours earlier. On his first day with the Yankees — technically second day, it was just past midnight — Headley was doused in Gatorade by Brett Gardner while being interviewed by Meredith Marakovits.

“What a way to do it,” Headley said. “Yeah, it’s strange. Anytime there’s a trade that happens during the season, it’s awkward. I’ve been on a team where we brought guys in, and you try to include the guy wherever you can because you know he’s experiencing a lot. But like I said, great bunch of guys so far, and I’m excited to get to know my teammates more.”

Headley said he arrived ready to play. He got loose a few times during those late innings, and Joe Girardi gave him the heads up that he would likely pinch hit for Zelous Wheeler at some point. Not sure Headley expected to get four at-bats in a game he didn’t start — for a team he wasn’t with when the day started — but that’s the way things went today.

“You’ve got to want to be up in that spot,” Headley said. “Had a chance earlier, wasn’t able to get it done. But was fortunate to come back around, for us to scrap out a big run in the 12th, 13th, whatever it was, to stay in the game. Was fortunate I had that opportunity. … Couldn’t be happier to be a Yankee. It’s unbelievable. Can’t even believe I’m saying that. But yeah, long day, but great way to finish.”

Jacoby Ellsbury• Kelly Johnson left tonight’s game with soreness in his groin. He thought it was a cramp, but was ultimately sent for an MRI. The Yankees didn’t have results postgame. Should know more tomorrow. “I think (he did it) running to first in that last at-bat,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees used their entire bullpen tonight — so the did the Rangers — and Girardi said he would talk to Brian Cashman about bringing up a pitcher tomorrow.

• Tonight’s winning pitcher was Jeff Francis, who made his Yankees debut 11 days after being acquired. Last time he pitched in a game was July 2 in Detroit with Oakland. “Jeff Francis hasn’t thrown in I don’t know how long; 14, 15 days maybe,” Girardi said. “Maybe even more than that. He comes in to throw strikes, gets a big three outs for us, and we win the game.”

• Before the J.P. Arencibia home run in the 13th, the Yankees relievers — six different guys — had held the Rangers to no hits and one walk with eight strikeouts through six innings.

• This was the Yankees third walk-off win of the season and second of the home stand. Last time they had a walk-off against the Rangers was June 25 of last year when Ichiro hit a game-winning home run in the ninth.

• Last player to have a walk-off hit as his first Yankees hit was Alfonso Soriano, who had an 11th-inning game-winner on September 24, 1999. Last player to have a walk-off hit in his Yankees debut was Roy Weatherly, who had a walk-off double in the ninth inning on April 22, 1943. That’s from Elias.

• Headley now has four career walk-off hits. This was his first since a 10th-inning home run on August 21, 2012.

• This game was scoreless through 12 innings. According to Elias, it was the first Yankees game in which both teams were scoreless through at least 12 innings since August 7, 2009 against Boston when the Yankees and Red Sox were scoreless through 14. The Yankees eventually won that game 2-0 in the 15th.

Derek Jeter• Derek Jeter hit his 535th career double, passing Lou Gehrig for the most doubles in Yankees franchise history. According to Elias, it also snapped a 68-at-bat stretch without an extra-base hit, the second-longest of Jeter’s career.

• Chase Whitley — remember him, he actually started this game — delivered the longest scoreless outing of his career. He and Masahiro Tanaka are the only Yankees to pitch at least six scoreless innings without a walk this season. Whitley is the first Yankee to pull that off at home since Hiroki Kuroda’s complete game shutout on April 14 of last year.

• Worth noting that the Yankees very nearly had this game won in the 12th inning when Francisco Cervelli positively scorched a line drive that Adrian Beltre caught at third base. “You can’t a ball any harder,” Girardi said. “If it’s one foot to the left — his left, our right — he doesn’t catch it. You just think ‘What are the chances?’ But that’s baseball. The guys kept going at it, and we won.”

• Final word goes to Girardi: “It’s a huge hit for us. A huge rally off of Soria, too. We didn’t do much the first, I don’t know, 10, 11 innings. We didn’t have many chances. I lost track (of how many innings). And we used our whole bullpen, and they used their whole bullpen and ended up with a starter at the end. And we get a good at-bat out of Brian Roberts, Cervy, and then Chase. And it’s over.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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