Sounds like Jeff Francis will join the Yankees sometime this weekend. What exactly he’ll do when he gets here remains a mystery.
“Obviously he’s a guy that was stretched out but he is not now,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s a guy that’s probably in the 30-to-40-pitch range right now. We’ll talk to him when he gets here and see what he’s been doing the past few days.”
Designated for assignment on July 3, Francis hasn’t pitched in a week and a half. He made one start with the Reds earlier this season, but his past 10 outings came out of the A’s bullpen. His 5.89 ERA is pretty ugly, but he actually has a 1.04 WHIP with 14 strikeouts and only three walks this season, so his numbers aren’t a complete wreck.
But if the Yankees see Francis as a potential replacement starter, they’re going to have to get him stretched out again. He’s thrown no more than 39 pitches at a time since getting to the Athletics in late May, and he hasn’t thrown more than 14 pitches as a time since June 24.
The Yankees need a Sunday starter, but it probably won’t be Francis.
“I wouldn’t think so just because he hasn’t pitched in a while,” Girardi said. “Could I use him on Sunday? Yeah, I think that’s possible, but I think we’ve got to see what he’s been doing. I know when David (Huff) was in that limbo stage, he threw some really long bullpens, and maybe Jeff’s been doing that too to stretch him out more.”
Sounds like he’s a guy who the Yankees believed might be useful, so they got him. A lot of guys have gotten an opportunity this year, and that’s certainly going to remain true in the wake of the Masahiro Tanaka injury.
“You like to think that it’s an opportunity for someone to step up and really show what they’ve got,” Girardi said. “For a lot of us, that’s how we get our start in the big leagues. Someone gets hurt and we get an opportunity to play, and then you prove that you can play, and then you stick. There are certain people that are difficult to replace. It’s not like every starter is going to go 12-4 with a 2.40 ERA, but sometimes you have to get it a little bit from other spots and try to hold teams down and score runs. I don’t think anyone plans on having four starters on the DL in your rotation, but you’ve got to figure it out.”
• Predictably classy statement from Tanaka in reaction to the current situation. “I have not spoken to him,” Girardi said. “He’s been kind of flying back and forth, all over the place. I think it shows you how much he loves the game, and how much he loves pitching here, and the responsibility that he puts on his shoulders of being there every fifth, sixth day and performing at a high level. I’m sure it’s extremely difficult for him right now. First time he’s probably ever been through something of this magnitude. You’re not in your own country, so there are some hurdles he has to clear, but our hope is to get him back.”
• The plan for CC Sabathia is kind of murky. In announcing that Monday’s appointment with Dr. James Andrews isn’t happening, the word postponed was used once and the word cancelled was used once. I took it mean that the Monday appointment was cancelled, but that Dr. Andrews will still be involved at some point. Basically, it’s probably going to take a big longer for us to know what exactly Sabathia’s going to try next.
• Still sounds like Chase Whitley is the most likely starter for Sunday, but that assumes he’s not needed these next two games. If Whitley does pitch tonight or tomorrow, Girardi said he would still expect Sunday’s starter to be someone currently on the roster. “I think,” he said. “I don’t know. It all depends. If you get in a long game on Saturday like we did the other night, maybe not, so it all really depends on what we use.”
• Oddly enough, Girardi said he had not checked with the training staff to find out whether Michael Pineda has thrown off a mound yet. He was supposed to do that at the end of this week, but Girardi seems fair disinterested at the moment. Even if Pineda got on a mound today, he’d still be a really long way from rejoining the big league rotation. “I know he was supposed to throw a bullpen around this time, but I didn’t ask if he did it today,” Girardi said. “I need to find out.”
• The Orioles put Ubaldo Jimenez on the disabled list today. Jimenez was supposed to start tomorrow night. Sounds like Chris Tillman will now start that game and Kevin Gausman will start Sunday.
• Speaking of the Orioles, this is Brian Roberts’ first game as a visiting player at Camden Yards. “I think this’ll be the weirdest moment, definitely,” Roberts said. “When they were at our place, it was different but it wasn’t crazy different because you’re not in the city. You’re not in Camden Yards. You’re not in a different locker room in the clubhouse. I think this will be a little bit strange but I’m sure once you get on the field and you start playing baseball, it’ll be the same.”
Associated Press photos