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


Archive for the ‘Misc’

Game 126: Yankees vs. White Sox08.22.14

Shane GreeneYANKEES (64-61)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Martin Prado 2B
Brian McCann DH
Chase Headley 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Zelous Wheeler RF

RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.91)
Greene has never faced the White Sox

WHITE SOX (59-68)
Alejandro De Aza LF
Carlos Sanchez 2B
Jose Abreu 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Avisail Garcia RF
Conor Gillaspie 3B
Alexei Ramirez SS
Jordan Danks CF
Tyler Flowers C

LHP John Danks (9-8, 4.94)
Danks vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m, My9

WEATHER: Temperatures in the 70s. Kind of looks like it might rain, but the forecast says it won’t.

UMPIRES: HP Mike Muchlinski, 1B Tom Woodring, 2B Mike Winters, 3B Andy Fletcher

NO FREE PASSES: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, last night’s game was the first nine-inning Major League game in which both starters pitched a complete game and neither walked a batter since July 17, 2010, when Minnesota’s Carl Pavano beat Chicago’s Mark Buehrle, 3-2, at Target Field.

SAME RESULT, DIFFERENT UNIFORM:
With last night’s shutout Brandon McCarthy has recorded a shutout while pitching for four different teams (Texas, Oakland, Arizona and the Yankees). He?is one of three active pitchers to have recorded shutouts for at least four different MLB teams, joining Kyle Lohse (Twins, Reds, Cardinals and Brewers) and Bartolo Colon (Indians, Expos, Angels, Yankees and Athletics).

TRADING PLACES: Earlier today, closer Dave Robertson rang the NYSE opening bell.

UPDATE, 7:14 p.m.: Couple of pretty weak singles to start this game for the White Sox. Now Greene facing Abreu with two on and no outs. Not ideal.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Three-run homer for Abreu. This seems like a good time to remind everyone that it’s been two weeks since the Yankees scored more than four runs.

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Pregame notes: “They’re doing the necessary things they have to do”08.22.14

Chase Headley, Martin Prado

Hard to know what to make of yesterday’s pregame meeting of Yankees position players, who gathered to discuss the state of the offense and to talk about the desire to live up their potential down the stretch. Team meetings are always interesting, and it’s particularly interesting in this case because the offense has been so very bad, but it might mean a little more of the team had actually — you know — scored a bunch of runs yesterday.

Instead, yesterday’s win was mostly defined by Brandon McCarthy’s pitching rather than the lineup’s hitting.

“I’ve said all along, these guys have worked hard and they’re trying to figure it out,” Joe Girardi said. “Whatever it takes, it takes. They’re going to do whatever it takes to try to get better and try to be more productive. I am all for that. It’s not something where they come to work and they say, ‘OK, this is what it is.’ They don’t do that. They look for every road to get better every day, and they’re doing the necessary things they have to do.”

Hard to say how many times a similar message has been delivered one way or another this season. As has been written and said many times, this is certainly a veteran team that’s well aware of the way things work. I can’t imagine any of the players needed to be told that the offense has struggled, and you would certainly hope that they didn’t need some sort of meeting to make them work toward getting it turned around.

“I think there’s different ways to go about things,” Girardi said. “There are going to be times where I call the meetings and I have a specific message that I want delivered and I’m going to talk about it. There are going to be times that players just talk amongst themselves. They might be talking about what they see. Can you help me, in a sense, or those sorts of things. Meetings are meant to stay in house. How we do them is going to be different from time to time. There are going to be meetings where I’ll ask players to speak up and there will be meetings where I don’t ask them to speak up. I don’t think you can characterize meetings as just one way because there’s different ways to be effective.”

David Phelps• David Phelps played catch today and felt fine, but he doesn’t expect to throw a bullpen any time soon. Might not be until after the upcoming road trip.

• Carlos Beltran was planning to swing a bat today. If that goes well, it’s possible — but not certain — that he could be in the lineup tomorrow. “We hope it works and then we get him in a game,” Girardi said. “It wouldn’t happen today, but he’s going to take some swings today.”

• Ramon Flores has been activated from the Triple-A disabled list. The young outfielder was having a nice year before he went down with an ankle injury that’s cost him much of the season, but with a spot on the 40-man roster, Flores could be a September call-up candidate now that he’s healthy.

• Interesting column from Joel Sherman today. Joel wrote that Larry Rothschild is interested in exploring a six-man rotation, possibly down the stretch this season and potentially heading into next season. Doesn’t sound like the Yankees are particularly close to doing it, but it seems fairly significant that the team’s pitching coach is interested in giving it a shot.

• Earlier this season, Derek Jeter did a press conference specifically for Japanese media. Today he did one specifically for Latin media. Pretty clear sign of his international significance. “I think you’re pretty aware of the impact that he has in the game of baseball,” Girardi said. “We see that as we travel around and you’re going to visiting parks. Obviously Derek has meant a lot to fans all over the world, and it’s because of the way he has handled himself on and off the field, and the way he plays the game. He plays it hard, and he plays to win. Never shows anybody up and does things the right way. That’s why he’s had such a big impact.”

• Another start for Shane Greene, who’s been terrific since sliding into the rotation last month. “You know what we’ve seen, we’ve seen him overcome some things during some of his starts where he might have struggled a little bit early and found a way to get back on track,” Girardi said. “The growth that I’ve seen from the first time he threw in the big leagues, in his relief appearance, to now, has been pretty amazing.”

• Has absolutely nothing to do with baseball, but tomorrow is the 20-year anniversary of Jeff Buckley’s album Grace. I mention it only because it’s remarkable and everyone should hear it.

Associated Press photo

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McCann at DH; Wheeler in right08.22.14

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Martin Prado 2B
Brian McCann DH
Chase Headley 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Zelous Wheeler RF

RHP Shane Greene

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Pitching matchups vs. White Sox08.22.14

Shane Greene

Tonight
RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.91)
vs.
LHP John Danks (9-8, 4.94)
7:05 p.m, My9

Saturday
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (8-8, 3.97)
vs.
RHP Scott Carroll (5-7, 4.99)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

Sunday
LHP Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.35)
vs.
LHP Chris Sale (10-3, 2.12)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

Associated Press photo

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A few thoughts heading into the weekend08.22.14

The big picture is pretty obvious heading into this weekend. The Yankees are four games out of the second wild card and about to play three games against a pretty bad White Sox team (granted, with Chris Sale pitching one of those games). They’re not in a great spot, but they are remarkably not buried just yet. They have to hit better, they have to get on a roll, and they have to take advantage of situations like this weekend if they want to make any sort of playoff run. All of that goes without saying at this point. So here are a few random thoughts heading into the weekend.

Brandon McCarthy• Easy to say this after yesterday’s strong start, but of all the guys the Yankees traded for his season, Brandon McCarthy stands out as the best option for a new contract. Martin Prado is going to stick around anyway, and while there’s an argument to be made for both Chase Headley (who I think might be more expensive than expected) and Stephen Drew (who doesn’t strike me as the best shortstop on the market this winter), McCarthy seems like a great fit. He gets groundballs in a stadium where fly balls are dangerous, he throws strikes, and he has a personality that fits this market and this clubhouse. Kind of walks that line between being goofy and still having a leadership quality. And this year has proven beyond a doubt that there really is no such thing as too much starting pitching.

• Speaking of McCarthy, there are some similarities between him and tonight’s Yankees starter, Shane Greene. And yesterday, McCarthy had some awfully nice things to say about Greene. “I like watching Shane pitch. I don’t care if I’m not here anymore (next year), he’s a really fun kid for me to watch pitch because he lies and calls it a cutter even though it’s s disgusting, unhittable slider. His fastball is just explosive. He’s a guy I’d never heard of before a came here, and 10 years ago that’s a kid that’s on the cover of Baseball America, and he’s the next big thing. It’s crazy where pitching has gone, but I think it shows how good he is that, nobody really knows who he is, probably, and I guarantee you when hitters go back to the dugout they’re (saying), ‘I don’t know what I just saw.’”

• On Wednesday night, Joe Girardi said that Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Jeter — the top three hitters in the lineup — have been probably the team’s most consistent hitters. While I think most people are on board with Gardner and Ellsbury being two of the bright spots this season, I wanted to look up Jeter’s numbers. He hit .272 in April, .275 in May, .272 in June, and .289 in July. His on-base percentage — except for a down much of June — and slugging percentage have also been fairly steady from month to month (though all of his numbers are down in August). Jeter has not been a great hitter this season, but I really believe that if the offense were more productive around him, we’d all be talking about what a nice, steady, still-productive final seasons he’s having. Instead, with the offense struggling so much, Jeter occasionally becomes a go-to argument as if he’s the source of the problem.

Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran• Carlos Beltran seems confident that playing catch and playing the outfield have nothing to do with his recent elbow setback. But that’s been a risky situation ever since the bone spur was discovered, and I can’t help wondering if throwing a baseball a little bit might have played some small role in expediting a setback that was probably inevitable anyway. He’ll have surgery regardless, but now he’s had three cortisone shots in a year. That just seems like a lot. If doctors cleared it, I’m sure it’s fine, but he’s really doing what he can to stay on the field.

• On the flip side of the Beltran-in-the-field argument: I was never sure it was a good idea, and I’m still not sure it was a good idea, but I became significantly more on board when Girardi made it clear he was willing to give Derek Jeter significant time at designated hitter so that either Drew or Brendan Ryan could spend more time at shortstop. Freeing up the DH spot not only let the Yankees rest veterans more easily, but it helped their infield defense on those days Girardi was willing to play his best defensive shortstops. That seemed like a real plus. It might have been an obvious move, but I wasn’t sure Girardi would be willing to do it.

• I assume yesterday’s Zelous Wheeler call-up makes him a shoo-in for a September call-up (meaning he’ll stick around once rosters expand). Nothing against Wheeler, who’s done a nice job establishing himself as a kind of utility option in the big leagues, but I really wondered if his roster spot might be up for grabs next month. There’s little sense keeping both he and Jose Pirela on the roster — they’re fairly similar — and I thought the Yankees might prefer to check out the younger guy. I guess it still might happen. With Wheeler and Yangervis Solarte, the Yankees did a nice job over the winter of finding some useful pieces among the six-year minor league free agents. Need to do that kind of thing when the upper levels of the minor league system are fairly thin.

Brett Gardner• Take away any requirement for number of at-bats, and the only Yankees who have hit better than .300 with runners in scoring position this year are Scott Sizemore (2-for-4), Zoilo Almonte (1-for-3) and John Ryan Murphy (4-for-13). The other Yankees hitting better than .250 with runners in scoring position are Brett Gardner (.295), Stephen Drew (.294), Jacoby Ellsbury (.292), Yangervis Solarte (.284), Kelly Johnson (.280) and Derek Jeter (.275).

• Not the usual sort of item for a post like this, but it sounds interesting: Yesterday, MLB announced that Robinson Cano, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig and Albert Pujols will be among a group of Major Leaguers who will travel to Japan this November to play a five-game series against “Samurai Japan” (Japan’s National Team) in “All-Star Series 2014.” Ron Washington will manage the team. No word on a full roster just yet. I think it would be cool to see Brett Gardner, Dave Robertson or Dellin Betances make the trip. Maybe even a guy like Shane Greene or David Phelps if MLB is going to flesh out the roster with younger guys like that. Certainly not the biggest names on the Yankees roster, but absolutely among the most deserving of something like this.

• One reason the Yankees are still in the race is because of the general parity in baseball. I really wonder if we’ll see another run where a team makes the playoffs as consistently as the Yankees did the previous two decades. “I think that with the way that baseball has (gone) with the revenue sharing and the TV contracts and everything that’s going on, I think you’re seeing more parity in the game,” Girardi said. “It doesn’t appear that there’s going to be a team that wins 100 games this year. I don’t know how many teams are going to win 90 games this year. You’re seeing, I think, a group of 30 teams that from top to bottom, I think there’s more competition and it becomes really difficult. We can look at Boston last year, they won the World Series. They made a few changes, but they didn’t make a ton of changes, and this year for whatever reason it hasn’t worked out for them. And I don’t think they expected that. It’s not easy to win a championship.”

Associated Press photos

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Foul balls and celebrities at Yankee Stadium08.21.14

Chris Rock

I have no idea whether would actually care about. I mostly just found it hilarious that The Associated Press picked up the story and wrote something about it. It’s a longer-than-usual night after a faster-than-usual day game, so here’s a really random little story about Chris Rock almost catching a foul ball. Just something goofy after a Yankees win.

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium.

Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize — a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday’s game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.

Rock was sitting in the front row behind Houston’s dugout when Astros rookie Jon Singleton lofted a high foul popup toward the third-base side in the seventh inning. Rock raised his arms to catch it, holding a cellphone in his left hand as he shielded his head.

The ball fell inches behind him, bounced off a seat and Rock outreached another fan to corral the souvenir. Rock held the ball aloft, got a cheer from the crowd and then gave it to a young boy.

Rock is a longtime Mets fan and has recorded a “Let’s Go, Mets!” chant this year for the videoboard at Citi Field. He wore a Yankees hat to Thursday’s game.

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “We’re going to get all the way through this”08.21.14

Carlos Beltran, Brandon McCarthy

Having gone nearly two weeks without scoring more than four runs in a game, a group of Yankees hitters gathered this morning for an “enough is enough” meeting. Brett Gardner said they “cleared the air” a little bit. Chase Headley said a few players talked about playing with more energy and emotion.

“Play the way that we’re capable of playing,” Headley said. “We understand that we’re a lot better offensively than we’ve shown. That was kind of the point, to come out with a little bit of fire and hopefully put some runs on the board.”

Brandon McCarthyThe Yankees showed exactly that kind of fire during a three-run spurt in the second inning, but the reason they won this game and avoided a sweep rested almost entirely on Brandon McCarthy. Maybe the offense is ready to do something big and turn itself around, but for at least one more day, the pitching did the bulk of the heavy lifting.

This was McCarthy’s ninth career complete game and fourth career shutout. He hadn’t thrown one in more than a year, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to throw one today. Even though it doesn’t show in the scorebook, McCarthy said he started to fatigue in the fifth inning and felt “wobbly” through the middle of the game.

Whatever McCarthy was feeling, apparently Francisco Cervelli would have none of it.

“He was angry with me,” McCarthy said. “He was like, ‘Your stuff’s so good, let’s go. We’re going to get all the way through this.’ From early on in the game, he was on me. He was just making sure I knew what we were doing, what the plan was, making sure that I continue to execute it. And then when I was lulling a little bit, he made sure to stay on top of me. He was yelling at me more than anything, which was that nice little kick in the a** that I needed.”

A three-run game when the Yankees again had just one hit with runners in scoring position wasn’t exactly the offensive explosion they wanted, but this was absolutely the win they needed. An early lead, a quick and dominant performance by McCarthy, and the team’s third victory since August 8.

In the clubhouse afterward, Ice Cube’s early-90s anthem “It Was a Good Day” blared from the speaker that sits between Cervelli’s and David Huff’s lockers. Maybe it wasn’t a perfect day — not a big offensive day — but McCarthy made sure it was still a good day.

“What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working,” Brett Gardner said. “So hopefully we can take this momentum, carry it over into the weekend and play some better baseball. … It was a good talk (during the pregame meeting) and hopefully we continue to do what we did today – and that’s win.”

Martin Prado, Jose Altuve• Headley and Gardner each indicated that the pregame meeting wasn’t necessarily called by anyone in particular — at least, not that they were willing to identify — but Gardner said there “might have been” some coaches involved in the conversation. “Just some of the position players got together and said enough is enough, and let’s go,” Headley said. “… It was just, let’s get on the same page and let’s go. I know everybody wants to win, everybody’s working, everybody’s doing the right things. You need that little extra sometimes and I think sometimes those little discussions – I don’t know if you’d really call it a meeting – but getting those guys together and getting guys on the same page can go a long ways.”

• Pretty funny quote from Gardner when asked what he meant when he said the team “cleared the air” during the meeting. “I just told Derek how much I didn’t like him,” Gardner said. Pretty good line.

• But seriously, did the offense need a meeting like that? “I don’t think it ever hurts,” Gardner said. “At this point, we’re trying to mix things up a little bit. … A lot of guys talked. It was good. Hopefully a game like today kind of gets us going a little bit and we can carry that momentum over into the weekend.”

• It was Headley who first mentioned the meeting, and while he didn’t really seem embarrassed to have spilled the beans, he seemed intent on creating the proper impression of what it meant and what it was about. “It was just guys getting together and kind of talking about how things have been going and what we can get better at,” Headley said. “It’s not a matter of trying harder. I promise you, there’s not a lack of effort in here.”

• Speaking of Headley, he had the only RISP hit of the game to drive in two of the Yankees three runs with a second-inning double. Two RBI were his most in a game since July 18 with San Diego.

• McCarthy was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in Arizona. With the Yankees, he’s 5-2 with a 1.90, the lowest ERA of any Yankees pitcher who’s made at least one start this season. “I think my pitch mix is better now,” McCarthy said. “The cutter and the four-seam have become pitches I can use as weapons again. In turn, that just starts to build confidence. Kind of becomes a self-fulfilling thing. In Arizona, I’m not getting out of jams and not performing well. That starts to roll (the wrong way). Here I feel confident again. I feel like I’m able to get through situations I wasn’t there. Then you start to believe you can. It’s just kind of the story of the season, riding those ups and downs. In the future I’d like to mitigate that a little better, make sure you don’t get too high, too low.”

Francisco Cervelli, Brandon McCarthy• Biggest jam of the game was the seventh inning when McCarthy allowed a one-out ground-rule double that put runners at second and third. That was one of the moments when Cervelli got on McCarthy and made sure he was on top of his game. “I didn’t want to give any runs,” Cervelli said. “So I kind of feel like we can strike the next guy out and work with the next one, and that’s what he did. Just tried to give him a little push and that’s it. But he was so great.”

• McCarthy described Cervelli’s between-inning conversations as “yelling.” How often does Cervelli have that sort of interaction with a pitcher? “It depends on the situation,” Cervelli said. “Just trying to make him believe that he was so good today, and I wanted it for the whole game, just to let the bullpen breathe a little bit too.”

• More from McCarthy on the role of Cervelli in getting him through nine innings. “In the dugout it’s just a stern, ‘Hey lets go. You stay with me. Let’s go we’re going to get through this.’ Even after the seventh where I’m fighting through that inning and getting out of a jam, you feel like you’ve left everything there, he’s like ‘C’mon, we’re going to go back out for the eighth. We’ve got more in us. We’re going to keep going.’ And that’s a great thing to have when you feel like you’re fatiguing, and it’s someone else who says, ‘Let’s go, you’re going to come with me.’”

• Girardi had Dave Robertson up in the ninth inning and said he was going batter to batter with McCarthy. If a runner got on, Robertson was coming in to finish it off, but McCarthy retired the last eight batters he faced.

• Funny how, as he’s continued to play so well, Gardner has become a go-to source for big picture comments in the clubhouse. With that in mind, we’ll give the final word to Gardner: “It was nice to have a quick game and a win. Obviously we would have liked to score more than three runs, but at this point we’ll take a win any way we can get it. It’s good to get back on the right track and hopefully have a good weekend against the White Sox.”

Associated Press photos

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McCarthy’s gem lifts Yankees to much-needed win08.21.14

Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy made 17 starts for the Diamondbacks this season and won just three of them. He’s made eight starts for the Yankees, and this afternoon was his fifth win. Easily the Yankees most significant trade acquisition, McCarthy has been terrific, and today’s masterpiece was his finest hour so far. McCarthy struck out eight, scattered four hits and pitched his first complete game of the year in a 3-0 Yankees win that let the team avoid an embarrassing sweep against the Astros. All of the Yankees offense came in a three-hit burst in the second inning. Mark Teixeira, Martin Prado and Chase Headley started the inning with a single and a pair of doubles, and when Ichiro Suzuki added a sacrifice fly to left field, the Yankees were in front 3-0. That was plenty for McCarthy, who had two runners on in the fourth inning and again in the seventh inning, but got out of each jam. Every other inning, the side went down in order.

Associated Press photo

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Game 125: Yankees vs. Astros08.21.14

Brandon McCarthy, Joe GirardiYANKEES (63-61)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Martin Prado 2B
Chase Headley 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Zelous Wheeler DH

RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-2, 2.30)
McCarthy vs. Astros

ASTROS (54-73)
Robbie Grossman LF
Jose Altuve 2B
Chris Carter DH
Dexter Fowler CF
Marc Krauss RF
Jon Singleton 1B
Carlos Corporan C
Matt Dominguez 3B
Marwin Gonzalez SS

LHP Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.11)
Keuchel vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: Clouds have pretty much scattered.

UMPIRES: HP Jordan Baker, 1B Jerry Meals, 2B Paul Emmel, 3B Chris Conroy

FIVE RUNS: Derek Jeter has 1,914 career runs scored. With five more, he’ll tie Alex Rodriguez for the ninth-most runs in baseball history. Of course, to do that today, the Yankees would have to as a team score at least five runs. That hasn’t happened in nearly two weeks!

KEEP IT CLOSE: Hasn’t meant much lately, but the Yankees still have the Majors’ best record in games decided by two runs or less. They’re 40-27 in such games. They have the third-best record in the American League in one-run games.

ON THIS DATE: On August 21 of last year, Ichiro Suzuki collected his 4,000th career hit (1,278 in Japan, 2,722 in Major League Baseball) with a first-inning single off R.A. Dickey at Yankee Stadium. … It was one August 21, 1988 that the Yankees dedicated plaques to Billy Dickey and Yogi Berra.

UPDATE, 1:26 p.m.: Well, Brandon McCarthy isn’t messing around so far. Six up. Six down. Three strikeouts.

UPDATE, 1:29 p.m.: Yankees in business with runners at second and third and no outs.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.: And Chase Headley cashes in with a two-run double. Yankees up 2-0.

UPDATE, 2:25 p.m.: That burst of second-inning offense — three straight hits and a sac fly — is so far all of the scoring for the Yankees, but right now that’s just fine because McCarthy is dealing through five innings. He’s into the sixth inning having still thrown fewer than 65 pitches.

UPDATE, 2:29 p.m.: McCarthy through six scoreless on 70 pitches.

UPDATE, 2:39 p.m.: First two Yankees reach in the sixth, and of course they’re left stranded.

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Pregame notes: “Obviously we’re judged on the results”08.21.14

Joe Girardi

Just an observation: Joe Girardi no longer seems upset or disappointed when he hears questions about whether the Yankees offense is ever going to get any better this season. Girardi still strongly backs his team, shows nothing but confidence in them, but it’s as if every answer comes with an unspoken line: “But I can understand why you’re asking.”

Most of today’s pregame press conference was all about whether the Yankees really are good enough to make a playoff run in these final five weeks or so.

Does Girardi ever think that his team just might not be good enough?

“No, I don’t, because I know how hard it is to play this game,” he said. “Obviously we’re judged on the results. I look at the effort. And I know the results are very important because, if the effort is not there, there is no chance of having results. The effort is there everyday. I talked about it yesterday. We (had) seven or eight guys hitting early trying to figure this out and get going, so I will be optimistic as long as they continue to prepare correctly and they work hard.”

To which Michael Kay made this point: If they’re prepared, and they’re focused, and they’re approaching everything the right way, is there a chance they just aren’t good enough?

“I don’t believe that,” Girardi said.

So what do you do?

“You keep running guys out there and believe it’s going to change,” Girardi said. “Eventually it’s going to be right and it’s going to be consistent over a long period.”

At this point, the Yankees are far enough behind teams that they’re going to need some help along the way. They can’t simply sweep three games against Detroit next week and climb into the wild card lead. It’s not a comfortable position, but the Yankees — Girardi included — seem well aware that they put themselves in this spot.

“It becomes a concern when you get down to the last three, four weeks of the season,” Girardi said. “But it’s a concern now. But my bigger concern is us, not the other teams. Because if we don’t win, it doesn’t matter what the other teams do in front of us. My focus is still our club, and if we play really good baseball down the stretch, we have a shot.”

Zelous Wheeler• Zelous Wheeler is up and Chase Whitley has been optioned to Triple-A. Without Carlos Beltran for a few days, the Yankees were going to be down to a two-man bench, so they added Whitley who can play some infield and outfield. The Yankees also face a left-handed pitcher today, and lefties on Friday and Sunday. So a right-handed bat is a solid fit. “With Carlos being an uncertainty for a day or two, we felt that we could use the extra bat,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees had been carrying eight relievers since the trade deadline, so this basically puts their roster back to the typical alignment. Whitley will likely go down until September, and then return when rosters expand. I don’t think he’ll even burn an option. Pretty sure a player has to stay down for 20 days to burn one.

• Beltran said yesterday that he hopes to play on Friday. Girardi made that sound like a real long shot. “I think you’ll start to have a pretty good idea by Saturday where we’re headed with this, if we can get him back fairly quickly,” Girardi said.

• Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to face hitters on Saturday. Should be a live batting practice session (or perhaps a sim game, which is more or less the same thing). “Our plan is that it will probably be here, but we’ve got figure out who to face,” Girardi said.

• The plan for David Phelps? “Until he starts throwing bullpens, I’m not ready to put a timetable out,” Girardi said. “Obviously we felt we could get him back much quicker (making him a reliever). You don’t need to build him up nearly as much. Right now I believe he’s going to play catch again today. I’ve got to talk to Stevie to see when the first time he has him off a mound and then you’ll have a better idea.”

Associated Press photos

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