Archive for the ‘Notes’
I already wrote about some of the Beltran-specific stuff that came out of today’s introductory press conference, but inevitably, the conversation quickly turned to, “What’s next?”
While the Yankees’ lineup seems to be coming together nicely, there are still legitimate questions about the pitching staff. General manger Brian Cashman has expressed his desire to add a quality starter, but the status of the Yankees’ presumed top target – Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Golden Eagles – is still very much up in the air.
“It’s not holding up anything,” Cashman said regarding the uncertainty of whether or not Tanaka will be posted. “We’re focusing on what’s available in the marketplace – not what might become available one day, or might not. … We’re also recognizing and restating that we might not get everything answered with the exclamation point or comfort level that we would prefer. There might be some things that are delayed.”
Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and team president Randy Levine each refused comment specifically on Tanaka — Girardi said, “I’m sure you’ll hear it before I do” — but each hinted that there may be another splash or two coming before the offseason has concluded.
You gotta love the hot stove.
“I think there’s questions that have to be answered,” Girardi said. “I know we’re trying to answer those questions – whether it’s going to come from outside or within. There’s nothing set in stone. I think we were probably a little more sure of who our five starters were going to be last year than we are this year, but there’s still a lot of time left in the offseason.”
• If Tanaka is never posted, it doesn’t sound like the Yankees are too thrilled with any of the other starting pitchers on the market. Cashman acknowledged that they might have to rely on non-roster invitees and in-house candidates, and he was asked if he’s comfortable with the pitching staff that they have as of right now. “I would have to be,” he said. “We certainly right now – in no order – have CC, Kuroda, Nova and we’re hoping that Pineda can compete for a spot in the spring, and earn a spot. He has options if he doesn’t, but obviously health is a big part. He’s coming off of a shoulder issue that we all hope is behind him, but I can’t guarantee it is. We’ve got the Warrens and the Phelps of the world that are competing here, you’ve got the Huffs. You’ve got Manny Banuelos coming back from Tommy John. You’ve got some young kids like (Shane) Greene and (Jose) Ramirez that want to make their cases of where they belong, so I just don’t know. I just have to wait and see how it all shakes out. It’s somewhere where we’d like to improve if we can and get more certainty, but we might have enough already. But that’s not the approach we’re taking. Or, it might be the approach that we have to take given the options in front of us. We’ll have to wait and see.”
• CC, Kuroda and Nova are givens, but all indications are that the Yankees are expecting — or, at least hoping — that Pineda is in this season’s rotation. He’s proven that he can be very effective at the big league level, and probably has more upside than any of the other fringe rotation candidates. The Yankees would love to see Pineda become what they envisioned when they traded Jesus Montero for him. “I have not talked to him since he left, but he knows that there’s an expectation there that you’ve got to come and fight for a spot,” Girardi said. “We expect him to be part of the equation, but you have to come fight for it.”
• Adding a reliable starting pitcher would alleviate some of the bullpen concerns, but Girardi also hinted that there may be outside help on the way for the pen. “I think there’s some things in the works there, as well, that we’re trying to do,” he said. “As I said, usually we don’t have this much done this early. I think since we’re meeting, (we get asked) the questions, but I still think there are some things that are out there.”
• One of the Yankees’ less celebrated signings this offseason has been Kelly Johnson, who figures to be a key component of the Cano-less infield. Girardi was asked if he sees him as more of a second or third baseman. “I’m comfortable playing him at either position,” he said. “I saw him moving around at Tampa last year and thought that he did a pretty good job, so I’m comfortable moving him anywhere.”
• Of course, where Johnson plays could largely depend on the status of Alex Rodriguez. “I’m not sure yet,” Girardi said of what may come from A-Rod’s looming suspension. “I’m not completely in charge of that right now. That’s something that it sounds like we’re going to know in January, and that could change my whole thought process in terms of our lineup.”
• The only player from last year’s Opening Day lineup who seems likely to be apart of the 2014 everyday lineup is Brett Gardner. Girardi was asked if it will be strange to have so many new players. “Someone asked me the question today, ‘Have you ever managed a Yankee team that’s had so much change?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, last year during the season.’ ” he said. “It is different. There’s a lot of new faces and we’ll have to bring them together as a team, but I don’t think that will take long.”
• Final word goes to Cashman: ”We have some more stuff to do. I don’t know if this is the right analogy, but we have some torpedoes locked and loaded; we just have to be finished off. We’re not in the position to talk about them yet, but there’s some other things that are already down the pipeline that have been discussed in the public arena, but we’re not in the position to talk about them yet. We’ve got more work to do, or things to finish off, that have already been rumored. Listen, we have a lot of holes. We’ve been addressing them slowly – from my perspective – and there’s still some questions that need to be answered.”
Post written by Vincent Z. Mercogliano/Associated Press photos
It seems like we hear this from guys all of the time after they sign lucrative deals with the Yankees, but apparently, Carlos Beltran has always dreamed of wearing the pinstripes.
“I grew up being a Yankee fan. I grew up being a Bernie Williams fan,” Beltran said at today’s introductory press conference. “As a player, and first of all as a fan, I used to look up to this organization. They always did what it takes to put good teams out there and win championships. This team has more championships than any sports team in history, so as a player, you always want to join an organization where you’re going to have an opportunity and a chance to win a championship. In my case, last year, I was fortunate to go to my first World Series in my 15-year career. I just hope in the time that I’m going to be here, that I experience that.”
Beltran may be more believable than most because eight years ago, he almost became a Yankee. It wasn’t a big secret that Beltran — who was in the prime of his career and was considered to be the top free agent outfielder on the market — preferred the Yankees over the cross-town rival Mets, but in a display of rare restraint, the Yankees wouldn’t budge to match the Mets heftier offer.
He ended up signing with the Mets, where he had plenty of ups (at least 27 homers and 112 RBI in each season from 2006-08) and a few notable downs (an infamous strikeout against Adam Wainwright and Cardinals to eliminate the Mets in Game 7 of the ’06 NLCS, as well as some injury issues in ’09 and ’10). But now, after two very successful seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Beltran is finally joining the Yankees for what could very well be the final three seasons of his career.
“Having the opportunity to come back (to New York) as a Yankee really means a lot to me,” Beltran said. “At one point, I almost got the opportunity to sign with the Yankees. It didn’t work out, but at the end of the day, what’s in the past is in the past.”
• Most the things that Beltran said today were predictable, but he did express the fact that there is some bad blood between him and the Mets. He seemed to be upset by some of the leaks that came out during his time there, saying that they portrayed him as a “bad apple” and claiming that, “It wasn’t right.” For the most part, Beltran handles himself with professionalism, but I don’t see the point of him making those comments. It’s very believable that the Mets might not have handled everything well, but why discuss it? He should have known that the New York media was going to make it into a big deal.
• Getting back to the baseball side of things, both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi spoke about the depth and versatility that this year’s lineup should have. They lost one of the best hitters on the planet in Robinson Cano, but they have added three All-Stars in Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. If Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira can stay healthy — big ifs, I know — then the Yankees’ offense should be significantly better than it was last season. “To be able to add another switch-hitter to the middle of the order gives me so much flexibility,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about it – at times, we had trouble scoring runs last year. But our lineup has gotten so much deeper with guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark, get on-base, hit for average and grind out at-bats.”
• The fact that Beltran is a switch-hitter came up often today. Cashman pointed out that switch-hitters have been a staple on each of their championship teams in the past 20 years — whether it was Bernie and Posada in the ’90s, or Tex, Swisher and Posada in ’09. Girardi loves switch-hitters because they help break up the lefties in the lineup, and they should have another on the way once the Brian Roberts signing becomes official. “I think Carlos’ strengths clearly provide Joe Girardi with a lot of flexibility,” Cashman said. “The Yankees, historically since I’ve been here, have had a chance to provide the manager with some great matchups with some switch-hitters in the lineups.”
• Cashman also mentioned a handful of former Mets who went onto have success with the Yankees later in their careers. “George Steinbrenner and his family have had a chance to take some players who have been premier players across town with the Mets, and later in their careers, they’ve come over here to continue their successful run as major league players,” he said. “Those examples, clearly, are David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry – to name a few. We look forward to Carlos Beltran, who has been a New Yorker in the past and has had a lot of success and experience in this town in the past, to get reengaged with this city.”
• As I mentioned, Beltran dealt with some injury problems towards the end of his tenure with the Mets. At 36, Beltran is the oldest member of freshly signed trio, and the Yankees are counting on him to maintain his production for the entirety of the three-year, $45 million contract. It’s worth noting that he has been able to stay on the field for at least 142 games in each of the past three seasons, hitting at least 22 homers and knocking in at least 84 runs in each of those years. “There is certainly risk – there’s no doubt about that,” Cashman said. “He has gone to the National League and played right field considerably, where obviously there’s no DH over there. The Cardinals were able to put together a playing program for him where they sat him, at times, and were able to make sure that he stayed on the field. I think that in the Bronx here, as we move forward, we’ll have more of the ability to protect him, and I hope that we have the same results as they’ve had the past two years because of the DH days.”
• Girardi was asked about how he envisions the outfield shaking out. Cashman confirmed that they see Ellsbury and Brett Gardner manning left and center — although he didn’t say who he thinks will play in which spot — and then said it will be up to Girardi to figure out who fits best in right, and how to rotate the DH days. Beltran has played mostly right in recent years, whereas Alfonso Soriano has been predominantly in left. Neither are great defenders at this stage in their careers, but Soriano can be an adventure out there and Beltran seems to have the stronger arm, which makes him the more logical choice to play right. But Girardi noted that Soriano has made it clear to him he prefers to play in the field, so expect to see a lot of shuffling. “I’m going to try and move it around because Sori wants to play the outfield, as well,” Girardi said. “That’s something that I’m going to have to balance. There’s no reason that I couldn’t DH a Gardy one day, or I couldn’t DH an Ellsbury one day. The great thing about having that flexibility is that I can keep them all kind of rested.”
• One of the biggest factors that led to the Yankees wanting to sign Beltran had to be his postseason resume. He brings the reputation as one of the greatest postseason sluggers of all-time, with a career playoff average of .333 to go along with 16 homers and 40 RBI in 51 games. It’s clear that he can handle pressure situations well — the Wainwright strikeout in ’06 notwithstanding — and Girardi said he could tell that he can handle New York simply from how he was with the media today. “I’m extremely excited,” Girardi said. “I just watched how he handled this press conference and how professional he was. We’ve all seen the way that he plays the game, and you can just see that there’s a level of comfort in the spotlight. He does not get rattled with any question that he is asked, and it’s the same way on the field.”
• Interesting nugget that I picked up while listening to Beltran’s interview with WFAN on the ride home. Beltran admitted that he does think about the Hall of Fame, and when asked which team’s cap he would wear if he ever gets selected, he said the Mets would be a definite consideration. He also mentioned the Royals, where he spent the same amount of time — six and a half years — that he did with the Mets. I guess he can’t hate the Mets that much.
• Final word goes to… you guessed it… Beltran: “I know there’s going to be a lot of good things coming out of the New York Yankees. With the signings of Ellsbury, McCann, myself and the players that we have, I believe that we have a good (enough) team to go all the way. We still have to go out there on the field and perform, but most importantly, we feel that we have the players – the characters – to accomplish that.”
Post written by Vincent Z. Mercogliano/Associated Press photos
Postgame notes: “He’s human after all” • 05.29.13
Mariano Rivera made his 1,072nd appearance tonight, passing Dennis Eckersley for the fourth-most ever. Remarkably, this was the first time in all those games, on all those nights pitching where the cushion was nothing or close to it, that Rivera had blown a save without recording an out.
Said Hiroki Kuroda: “He’s human after all.”
Rivera blows so few saves you can practically remember them all. Tonight marked his third blown save against the Mets, joining the Matt Franco game and Ronny Paulino game. Add Lucas Duda to the list. Duda drove in David Wright with the winning run after Daniel Murphy doubled to open the ninth.
Rivera was typically stoic afterward, saying this — or something like it — again and again: “It’s part of the game, man. I have to come back tomorrow strong.”
There’s no reason to believe he won’t. The 43-year old entered the night 18 for 18 in save opportunities this season. Neither the Wright nor Duda hits were hit hard, although Rivera did fail to back up on Brett Gardner’s throw home on Wright’s game-tying single.
“There’s no excuses,” said Rivera, taking the blame.
Joe Girardi pinned it on catcher Chris Stewart, who has suffered through a few defensive lapses the last two nights and went 0 for 3 against Matt Harvey with three strikeouts.
“It got under might glove, but I think it might have hit the bat or something and kicked a little further,” Stewart said. “But it got under me to begin with and I have to put my glove down and stop the ball and keep it in front. Bad play.”
“That ball’s got to be stopped,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line.”
• Girardi also disagreed with the suggestion of walking Wright — a heart-of-the-order of one — with first base open.
“You’re not going to put the winning run on,” he said. “We have a Hall of Fame closer on the mound, so no.”
• Rivera’s other two blown saves against the Mets: July 10, 1999 on Matt Franco’s RBI single; July 3, 2011 when Ronny Paulino’s RBI single sent the game to extra innings.
Rivera now has a 3.53 ERA against the Mets (14 ER in 35.2 IP). The only team to fare better is the Angels (3.65 ERA against).
• The ninth inning marred another brilliant night from Kuroda, who pitched seven scoreless and allowed just four singles, didn’t issue a walk and struck out seven. He struck out five of the last eight men he faced to drop his ERA to 2.39.
Kuroda tied Cleveland’s Justin Masterson and L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw by tossing his fourth scoreless outing of seven innings or more — the most in baseball. He has 10 such starts since joining the Yankees — again, the most in baseball.
Kuroda’s finest moment came in the sixth after Brett Gardner robbed Murphy of a game-tying extra-base hit. He threw a splitter to strikeout Wright and then picked Ruben Tejada off second.
“Same,” Girardi said of the dependable Kuroda. “Good split, good slider, good command of his fastball. He just really knows how to pitch.”
Surprisingly, Kuroda had been 0-4 with an 8.20 ERA in four career starts in Queens (one at Shea, three at Citi Field).
• Kuroda was up for his duel with Harvey, who finished the night allowing six singles and no walks and having struck out 10 in eight strong. The Mets have now scored 11 runs for their young ace in his last seven starts.
“He was impressive. He had command of four pitches, but our guys threw a pretty good game, too,” Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t hold on to win.”
• Here’s more from Girardi:
• The Mets swept the Yankees for just the third time in Subway Series history. They also swept at Shea in 2004 and at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
The Yankees also lost three straight for the first time all season in their 51st game. It is the deepest into a year for them without a three-game skid since 1955 (58 games).
• Lyle Overbay now has nine go-ahead RBI this season. He’s tied with Travis Hafner for the team lead.
• Gardner is now 12 for his last 35 (.343). He had four strong at-bats (and two hits) against Harvey and drove deep outs to center and left in the first and eighth, respectively.
As for his larceny of Murphy…
“I don’t think he’s too happy with me right now,” Gardner said.
• More from Gardner:
Photos by Getty Images
With Citi Field being the latest stop on his farewell tour, the Mets honored Mariano Rivera in the stadium’s press conference room this afternoon.
Because of his history as a “fireman,” COO Jeff Wilpon and FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano presented Rivera with an authentic FDNY hose nozzle and call box.
Wilpon also asked Rivera to throw out the first pitch tonight and Rivera accepted.
“I know you usually throw the last pitch, but we’re asking you to throw the first,” Wilpon said.
In a moment of honesty, Wilpon told Rivera “I wish we could see you in the World Series, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year.” Rivera told him “you never know,” but, yeah, we know. Apparently so does Wilpon.
Rivera said he has some good games and also blown some saves in Queens, but considered it a place where he experienced many great moments. He told Wilpon the hose nozzle and call box will be on display in his house.
• Joe Girardi sang a different tune today than he did on Monday. The manager sounded optimistic that Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis could return as soon as Friday against Boston.
“It’s a possibility for both them,” Girardi said.
Teixeria (wrist) and Youkilis (back) will play rehab games at Double-A Trenton Wednesday and Thursday. They both took five at-bats apiece today at extended spring training in Tampa.
Girardi said the team has had internal discussions about roster machinations if and when Teixeira and/or Youkilis return but said he would keep that information private.
“Things can change real quick around here,” he said. Translation: We’ll probably have another injury before Friday. And can you blame him for being pessimistic at this point?
• Here’s full audio of Girardi’s pregame presser:
• Francisco Cervelli had the pins removed from his hand last Friday and believes he is one week away from beginning a throwing program. Right now, he’s spending the majority of his time in therapy and rehabbing the hand.
He plans to leave for Tampa later this week and will need to make one more visit to the doctor before he is cleared to throw. When cleared, Cervelli thinks it will take him two weeks until he is ready to return, although, as a few of you have pointed out, he’s not eligible to come off the 60-day DL until late June.
“If I throw a ball, I’m only going to need two weeks to get my arm strength. Then I’ll be ready to go,” Cervelli said. “That’s my opinion. If I’m able to (make a fist) next week, that means I’ll be able to throw and grab a bat.”
Hearing Cervelli, it sounded like progress has been slow and frustrating, but it has been progress nonetheless.
“It’s better today than yesterday so I have to keep doing therapy here, in my house,” he said. “Don’t let the fingers fall asleep — just keep moving, moving. It depends on me. Nobody wants to play more than me, so I will be good in one week, I believe.”
• Curtis Granderson (hand) visited the doctor today. Girardi didn’t know the exact diagnosis, but said the timetable remains the same. Granderson will need four weeks before he can resume any activity.
• Joba Chamberlain (oblique) will be activated from the DL tonight. David Huff was designated for assignment to make room for Chamberlain. He pitched two innings Saturday and has just thrown off flat ground since. Girardi expects Chamberlain to return to his regular seventh-inning role fairly quickly.
• Andy Pettitte (back) threw 75 pitches today in a simulated game. Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw as well, but his outing was cut short. His arm was sound, but he cracked a nail and couldn’t continue. (Pineda had been scheduled to throw 60-70 pitches. I’m not sure how many he threw, but he fell short of that number.)
• Still no activity for Eduardo Nunez (rib) since his injury.
• Obviously, the bullpen is crowded now and then bench is thin, but Girardi wanted Ivan Nova here and not starting in Scranton. The Yankees have to worry about how rain will impact the schedule, Hiroki Kuroda’s bruised calf, David Phelps’ forearm and somewhat of an unknown in Vidal Nuno.
“We want all the pitching here,” Girardi said.
If you think the Yankee bullpen had been sharp this year, consider: The Yankees just dropped their first game of the season when trailing after six innings.
They fell 2-1 to the Mets, who, almost just as remarkably, have now tied the club record with five straight wins in their last at-bat at home (when they actually win, of course). That this one came against the Yankees was a surprise; largely because of their bullpen brilliance, the Yanks entered tonight 22-0 when leading after six.
David Robertson has been just about as responsible as the great Mariano Rivera for that late-game dominance. But he had no command, damning his own performance perhaps even more than necessary.
“I did a terrible job out there,” Robertson said. “I didn’t have any command of anything really. That was pretty much the downfall right there. I couldn’t throw a fastball where I wanted to and I kept falling behind in the count. I couldn’t throw a breaking ball for a strike. When you keep making mistakes like that against good teams, they make you pay for it.”
While the Mets may not be good, you get the point. Robertson allowed a double to Mike Baxter, walked the impatient Jordany Valdespin and surrendered the winning single to Daniel Murphy. He also nearly hit David Wright in the head with a curve ball.
It was just Robertson’s second blown save all season. The other came Apr. 20 at Toronto.
Here’s more from Robertson:
• It’s sometimes hard in the wake of a tough loss for athletes to balance their disappointment with their delight at one achievement or another. That was the case with Brett Gardner’s grand larceny of Murphy in the sixth. The center fielder reached over the wall to snare Murphy’s potential go-ahead two-run homer to end the inning.
Phil Hughes had three balls nearly carry out of cavernous Citi Field before David Wright’s no-doubter in the seventh tied it 1-1. But Gardner just considered his highlight-reel grab payback for when he crashed into the wall on Wright’s triple to right-center in the first.
“I felt like I got him back for messing up earlier in the game,” he said.
Gardner said he was OK after the collision. He crashed into a padded post on the open fencing and thought it helped soften the blow.
Here’s more from Gardner, including a not-so-subtle dig at his height:
• Although a little lucky he was in Queens instead of the Bronx, Hughes was solid. He threw six scoreless before allowing the Wright homer and finished having thrown seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball without issuing a walk.
He said the pitch to Murphy in the sixth was a bad changeup. He thought the ball was gone based on Murphy’s reaction and Gardner’s effort just to track it. He said he tried to pitch Wright inside in the seventh after getting him to ground out earlier in the game.
Wright fouled off four pitches in the at-bat before homering with two strikes. It was the 11th allowed this year by Hughes, tying him with CC Sabathia and a host of others for the second-most in the AL.
“It’s tough,” Hughes said. “He’s not a guy who’s easy to strikeout. He fouled off a couple pretty good pitches. I decided that going in right there might be a good option and just left it out over the plate.”
More from Hughes:
• Murphy — one of those hitters who punishes himself to get better — stomped in frustration after Gardner robbed him in the sixth. He later spiked his bat in celebration upon lining the winning hit to center in the eighth.
Joe Girardi had no qualms with Murphy’s exuberance.
“I don’t have an issue,” Girardi said. “It’s an emotional game. Some guys are going to show more emotion outwardly than other guys. I only have a problem if I feel a guy’s doing it to show up another guy and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.”
• As for Girardi, there wasn’t much to debate with him afterward. He may have had a spot or two for Travis Hafner earlier, but the slugger was up with Ichiro Suzuki on base down a run in the ninth. Bobby Parnell got Hafner to pop out to end it, but Girardi was asked why Ichiro didn’t attempt to steal with either Lyle Overbay or Hafner at the plate to put him in position to score on a single.
“He kept changing his looks. He kept changing his times,” Girardi said of Parnell. “He was pretty quick most of the time. I think it’s a pretty big risk with Hafner up.”
• The brain lock of the night belonged to Chris Stewart, who simply dropped Robertson’s pitch to Ruben Tejada with one out in the eighth. It could’ve proven an awful time to lose focus. Mets’ runners moved to second and third with one out, but Robinson Cano helped bail Stewart out when he threw home on Tejada’s grounder and Stewart tagged out lead runner Mike Baxter.
I asked Stewart if he and Robertson were crossed up. Like Robertson, he did not pass the blame.
“I botched it somehow,” Stewart said. “I’ve caught that same pitch 1,000 times and never had a problem with it. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I just took my eye off of it at the last second or what, but it hit off my glove and got by me.”
• Vernon Wells snapped a 0-for-17 skid. Good timing, because…
• The attendance was 32,911. ESPNNY’s Adam Rubin reported that it was the lowest attendance in Subway Series history.
• The Yankees face Matt Harvey tomorrow night. Even after a relatively rough outing vs. the Reds (4 ER on 9 H, 3 BB in 6.1 IP), Harvey leads baseball in WHIP (0.83) and opponent batting average (.169).
Photos by Getty Images
Prior to tonight’s subway series opener, a half-resigned (and maybe half-irritated) Joe Girardi noted that he gives updates almost daily on the status of the injured Yankees. Of course, such is the interest level when just about every hobbled regular is a former or potential All-Star.
So, here’s the latest from Girardi and the Yankees on everyone except Derek Jeter:
Curtis Granderson (hand) will see the doctor Tuesday.
Andy Pettitte (back) will throw a simulated game Tuesday.
Alex Rodriguez (hip) took grounders and batting practice today.
Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Kevin Youkilis (back) each had five at-bats and played five innings today in an extended spring training game. Teixeira will play a simulated game Tuesday and is still scheduled to go to Trenton for games Wednesday and Thursday.
“It’s how they feel and when we feel they feel that they’re ready,” Girardi said. “It has to be both sides, not necessarily one. It’s tricky for Tex because he needs left-handed and right-handed at-bats.”
Girardi said the key with Youkilis was that he needed to prove he could play back to back to back.
Michael Pineda (shoulder) is scheduled to throw 60 or 70 pitches this week in a simulated game.
Eduardo Nunez (ribs) did not participate in any baseball-related activities today.
Here’s audio from Girardi, which focuses a good bit on the injuries:
• Joba Chamberlain (oblique) said he will be activated from the DL Tuesday. Joe Girardi wasn’t as concrete to say the least, as you can hear above, but it does sound like Chamberlain is in line to return tomorrow.
Girardi expects to use him in the seventh or the eighth, the latter being if David Robertson is unavailable for some reason.
• Chamberlain threw two innings in Tampa on Saturday. He cranked it up to 95 or 96 m.p.h., he said, noting twice (at least) that he did so at 10:30 a.m.
“If you can throw 95, 96 at 10:30 in the morning, usually you should be OK,” Chamberlain said. “It’s one of those things that we wanted to make sure that in between inning we saw how it reacted in between innings.”
More from Chamberlain:
• An interesting note, albeit expected, on Teixeira is that Girardi will treat him as an everyday player upon his return. (That come come as soon as this weekend, although the manager said that was speculation based solely on Trenton going on the road after Teixeira’s two rehab games there this week.)
However, Girardi compared Teixeira to Granderson, who played three games before taking the fourth off when he returned from the DL. It certainly sounds like Lyle Overbay will have a few starts at first, but how long will that last?
The same can be said for David Adams at third whenever Youkilis returns.
“I’ll continue to take the approach that I’ll handle it when I have to handle it,” Girardi said. “Right now, I have to focus on the guys in the room. I’m hoping we get these guys back soon, but I’ll worry about that when it happens.”
• As for the Subway Series, Girardi said he didn’t mind the consecutive two-game series and even said the alignment makes it easier for the coaching staff to prepare to meet the Mets, so to speak. But he did offer one suggestion:
“I never had a problem with the number of games you play. The only problem I had is I think it should be an odd number so that there’s a winner every year. That’s my only issue.”
• The Yankees face Mets phenom Matt Harvey Tuesday night. Girardi remembered watching Harvey’s first start last summer against Arizona. He called a friend who was a Met fan.
“I told him, you have something to be excited about,” Girardi said. “He has a great arm. He’s been impressive all year long. I’ve seen some of his games on TV. I saw a game he pitched against the Phllies — it was a Sunday night game — and we’ll get a chance to see him in person tomorrow. He has a good swing, too.”
• In more Mariano Rivera is a great guy news, Rivera met with fans in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda this afternoon. He was then in the stands during batting practice signing autographs.
Photos by Getty Images
Postgame notes: “He’s very important to us” • 05.18.13
Joe Girardi issued the above quote about David Phelps, who was strong throughout a career-long seven innings in today’s 7-2 win over the Blue Jays. Of course, it applies to Robinson Cano, too. Consider that as much of a no-doubter as Cano’s second two-run shot today, which carried through the bullpen to the bleachers in right-center.
Phelps and Cano powered the Yankees to their eighth victory in nine tries this season against the Blue Jays, who were thought to be preseason contenders in the AL East but now trail by 10 games. They’ve also dropped nine straight here at Yankee Stadium, including all six this season, and matched the franchise’s longest losing streak in the Bronx. The Yankees also won nine straight here against the Jays from June 21, 1979 to Sept. 17, 1980.
• For Phelps, the outing started slowly. He walked two in the first and fell behind 3-1 to Adam Lind. Phelps — with an assist from Jayson Nix — saved himself, escaping when Nix ducked behind Jose Bautista and snared Phelps’ pick-off throw. His tag ended the inning and escaped a jam that saw Phelps struggle with his control less than a week after walking five against Cleveland.
“It got me out of a jam right there,” Phelps said. “I think it was 3-1 on Lind right there. That could be the game with a big first inning, but I was able to put up a zero.”
• Phelps went on to throw a career-best seven innings and allow just one run on six hits and three walks. He struck out eight against the free-swinging Jays. The right-hander pumped his fist when he retired Melky Cabrera to end the seventh on pitch No. 113.
Phelps isn’t overpowering, but his slider was sharp today. He has now struck out 15 in his last two starts and has lasted at least six innings while allowing no more than two earned runs in his last three.
“I’m really encouraged,” Girardi said. “He’s giving us distance. He’s doing a lot of really good things.”
• Girardi wasn’t prepared to insert Phelps permanently into Ivan Nova’s vacated rotation spot, but Phelps’ ability to juggle relief and rotation roles has impressed the manager.
“It’s not easy to do,” Girardi said. “You see clubs that struggle with that. He’s done a good job the last two years doing that for us and he continues to make strides. He’s very important to us.”
• Here’s more from Phelps:
• Cano’s two-homer game was the 12th of his career and his second of the season. He’s never gone deep three times in a game and he struck out given the opportunity to do just that in the eighth against veteran lefty Darren Oliver.
• Cano took the AL lead in home runs briefly, although Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion and Cleveland’s Mark Reynolds tied him when they hit No. 12 as well. Cano didn’t hit his 12th homer until June 17 last season.
• Cano took advantage of the short porch on his first homer. He was a little fooled, but said he kept his hands back and got enough to muscle the two-out changeup into the right-field seats off Brandon Morrow. Cano caught a better piece in the fifth when he sent another two-out pitch over the bullpen in right-center.
That time, Cano struck again with two outs and staked Phelps to a 5-1 lead. He also yet again underscored his importance to a lineup that continued to play without three of its four starting infielders and its starting catcher.
• Here’s more from Cano:
• Amid constant lineup shuffling, Cano has been the one, well, constant.
“I’m glad that’s not a moving part,” Girardi joked. “That’s been really nice.”
• Cano, who will be a free agent at season’s end, was asked if he tried to put on a show for Hal Steinbrenner, who was at the park for Photo Day.
“No,” Cano said, “I just go out there to win games.”
• Travis Hafner (shoulder) looked fit playing his first game since May 13. He went 1 for 4 with a home run. He also yanked another ball foul that traveled home run distance and made a hard out up the middle.
Hafner’s seventh home run came in just his 100th at-bat. He now has five home runs in 54 at-bats at Yankee Stadium.
“I think you could see there’s a difference,” Girardi said. “The last couple weeks he’s been playing with a little bit of a soreness and there didn’t seem to be the same whip. But it’s back.”
• Curtis Granderson went 0 for 4 making his first career start in right.
• The Yankees are now 18-0 when scoring first. They are not only the only team in baseball yet to lose when doing so, their 18-game streak is an American League record to start a season (per Elias). It’s their longest stretch at any point of the year since 2002, when they won 19 straight times when scoring first.
• If and when Reid Brignac plays, expect him to play shortstop for Jayson Nix and David Adams to remain in the lineup at third. Girardi basically said as much after the game.
“I envision moving him around,” Girardi said. “We envision him more as a shortstop than anything else, but he has the ability to play other places.”
Photo by Getty Images
Pregame notes: Steinbrenner “pleasantly surprised, not shocked” with first-place Yanks (UPDATED w/audio) • 05.18.13
UPDATE, 3:18 p.m.: Here’s audio of Hal Steinbrenner’s chat with reporters:
* * *
Now here’s my post from earlier:
In the building for Photo Day, Hal Steinbrenner lauded the first-place start by the Yankees. You could tell from his voice that the success of young call-ups from Scranton have invigorated ownership.
“I can say it’s a good thing. There’s no doubt it’s a good thing,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m excited about it. I’m excited last night with Adams and Romine getting those hits. It’s a great thing to see. A lot of these kids you wouldn’t have seen this year, chances are. They would’ve played in Scranton all year long if the marquee players were all healthy.”
With the cavalcade of stars sent to the DL so far, Steinbrenner admitted he was pleased with the club’s results. The Yankees are in first in the division, and opened today 10 games over .500.
“Pleasantly surprised. I’m not shocked. I didn’t buy into the doomsday scenario that many people did,” Steinbrenner said. “I knew we had some good kids at Triple-A. More importantly, I knew that the guys we got in the offseason were veterans. Whether people thought they were worth getting or not, I felt they were veterans and this is what you expect veterans to do.”
It’s no secret attendance at the Stadium and ratings on the YES Network are both down. Steinbrenner met with MLB officials today and said attendance had dipped across the sport.
He hopes the new faces will pique the interest of fans now that the weather has improved.
“The good stories that we’ve all known about on this club are going to be more well-known to the fan base,” he said. “I think people are going to be excited to come out and see the Adamses, the Romines, the Hafners and the players we got in the offseason.”
Steinbrenner also said the organization will not negotiate with Joe Girardi during the season, but he praised the work of the manager and Brian Cashman, framing it in the obvious.
“Both have done a great job,” he said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs to Triple-A and back, shuffling around players. They’ve done a great job, and Cash did a great job with the players we got in the offseason.”
Steinbrenner did not want to delve into the future for Robinson Cano, but said he has met a couple times with Cano’s new agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, a partner of Roc Nation, the company founded by Jay-Z. Steinbrenner deemed those meetings “procedural.”
Although the Yankees have been burned by long-term deals in excess of $100 million in recent years, Steinbrenner said the market will dictate how long the club would be willing to go on a contract. He didn’t say it, but that’s clearly in consideration for Cano, who will turn 31 in October.
“Anybody would get a little nervous if you get into a seven or eight-year deal,” Steinbrenner said. “It depends on the age of the player, too, I guess. Give an eight-year contract to a 34-year old — you probably wouldn’t do that, right? Twenty-five, 26?”
Here are the rest of today’s notes:
• Brian Cashman on if the slow progress of Kevin Youkilis was something to fear: “I hope not. He took batting practice again today. Obviously, he’s moving along slowly, but he’s moving along.”
• For more on the acquisition of Reid Brignac, click here. It includes Cashman’s thoughts on Ben Francisco and why fans need to pipe down.
• Girardi does not expect Travis Hafner (shoulder) to have any limitations.
• Here’s Girardi on Chris Stewart: “He’s just doing treatment. He’s better. My hope is that we don’t need him today again and then we’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
• As I said earlier, this is the 1,046th start of Curtis Granderson’s career, but his first ever in right field. Girardi talked to Granderson about playing right and said Granderson was fine with it.
As you know, Granderson worked in right and left during his rehab stint. He played twice in left since returning on Tuesday.
“Curtis is just here to play and wants to win,” Girardi said. “He’s the type of guy who would do anything you ask him to do. It was an easy conversation. Sometimes you don’t know how those conversations are going to go, but it was very easy.”
• The club will benefit from not just Granderson’s flexibility, but that of Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. He does not want to rotate players just to rotate them, but a tight schedule over the next month will require all four to rest at times.
He said Ichiro’s rest today was not a reflection of his recent struggles at the plate.
• Vidal Nuno will be in the bullpen today. Girardi said he will probably pitch when Andy Pettitte’s spot pops up next week but that it will depend on if they need Nuno before then.
One day after announcing the Alex Rodriguez injury, Brian Cashman was approached by various trade and free agent options.
“I’ve had a few of maybe the names I wouldn’t have thought of – lesser names that I wouldn’t have an interest in – volunteer their services for that position,” Cashmans said. “I’ve had some people suggest, ‘Hey, my guy who plays second base, he can swing over to play third.’ That type if stuff. I don’t have an interest in stuff like that. … I did have one irresponsible ask (in a trade suggestion), which I assume has everything to do with yesterday’s announcement. I’m no longer talking to that club.”
Although Cashman expects the market to continue its rapid development — “It seems like this is a market flush with money, the way it’s acting,” he said — but he plans to remain patient. Cashman said he believes it’s possible he could complete a move before these meetings end on Thursday morning, but he feels no need to force the issue.
“The preference is always to get your problems solved and get them fixed,” he said. “But the realistic side of that is that it’s going to take time and you have to solve it over time. If you don’t feel comfortable with the solution, you shouldn’t solve it until you feel comfortable. I’m prepared to drag this thing out.
“Hopefully everybody else is, too.”
• Cashman admitted to speaking with the agents for five different players: Kevin Youkilis, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki and A.J. Pierzynski. Those were the only names specifically mentioned, and Cashman confirmed that he’s had discussions about each one.
• Despite talking to Pierzynski’s camp, Cashman was as firm as ever in his belief that the Yankees will have an in-house starting catcher next season. “I think our catching will come from within, personally, as we are right now,” Cashman said. “I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”
• Cashman on whether he needs to stick with one-year deals: “Optimally that’s the best way you’d like to go, but it might not be the way I have to go. It just depends on the player and the dollar amount.”
• Earlier today, Joe Girardi said the Yankees need a third base solution that’s capable of playing the position all year because of Alex Rodriguez’s uncertainty. Cashman disagreed. Sort of. “I was just looking to someone who can get there for three months at the very least,” Cashman said. “If it’s somebody that’s good enough to go the whole way, fine, but there’s not a lot of choices out there. I’m not going to limit it by looking at it that way. I understand what he’s talking about – you need to have the protection – but it’s a very limited sandbox to play in.”
• With Ichiro and Ibanez in the mix, Cashman indicated that he’s willing to use an all-left-handed regular outfield. “Beggars can’t be choosers, so to speak,” Cashman said. “If I’m in a situation where we have equal righty or lefty bats, you can gravitate one way or the other, but it doesn’t match up that way. … If we did (sign another left-handed outfielder), we’d need two outfield bats, one from the right side, one from the left side. If we wanted to put another left handed bat in, and it’s all three left handed outfielders, I would say focus on me adding another right-handed bat too, in the Andruw Jones category.”
• To be clear, in no way did I think Cashman was talking about bringing back Andruw Jones, he was just referring to a right-handed outfielder who strictly plays against lefties.
• Will Brett Gardner be in center field next year? “I see Gardner and Granderson both as center fielders,” Cashman said. “Currently Gardner is our left fielder and Granderson is our center fielder, and if we so choose to make a change, we’ll have no problem doing so. But that’s not something we’re talking about right now.”
• By the way, forgot to mention earlier that Girardi said Granderson had his vision checked and it’s fine. There was some speculation that maybe his vision caused last year’s second-half struggles. Apparently that’s not the case.
• Cashman on Chavez: “We know him very well and he had a hell of a year. He’s put himself in a very strong position, I think, in a marketplace that is thin at that position. That will run interference with our interest level, I would think, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make something happen there. We’ll see. We’re engaged.”
Associated Press photo
Introducing, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The name and logo were announced at an unveiling ceremony earlier this evening. A name-the-team contest selected RailRiders ahead of other the finalists: Blast, Black Diamond Bears, Porcupines, Trolley Frogs and Fireflies. According to the team, Porcupines was another popular choice, and so the team mascot will be a porcupine.
That new mascot and logo will be with the team next season when it opens a new stadium, meaning the Triple-A guys won’t play an all-on-the-road schedule next year.
I’m sure very few of you were paying any attention to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team back when it was called the Red Barons and belonged to the Phillies organization, but for those of us who were paying attention back then, the new RailRiders uniforms are instantly recognizable as throwbacks to the Red Barons days. And that should be a pretty popular touch in Northeastern Pennsylvania where many local fans had a strong attachment to the old team.
“The RailRiders brand signifies our reenergized commitment to the community, not only with a new team name and logos, but our unwavering focus to provide the best in affordable, family fun entertainment,” team president Rob Crain said in a statement. “Our new identity also honors NEPA’s rich baseball history with the interlocking SWB mark. Plus, it highlights our strong partnership with the New York Yankees with navy caps and home pinstripes.”
I honestly did not care one bit which team name was chosen, but I do think the logo looks pretty cool.
• Indications have been trending this way for a while, and today Torii Hunter agreed to a two-year deal with the Tigers. The contract is reportedly worth $13 million per year. It was reported last week that the Yankees were not willing to give Hunter a two-year contract, and it was reported today that the Yankees never made Hunter an actual offer at all.
• The Marlins are getting rid of bad contracts, and Erik Boland reports that the Yankees have some interest in not-very-good starting pitching Ricky Nolasco. Problems solved!
• Josh Norris noted today that, while talking on MLB Network radio, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said it’s possible a former Yankees prospect will be in Washington’s rotation next year: “I think Christian Garcia would look good in the starting rotation,” Johnson said. Garcia was highly touted with the Yankees, but he could never stay healthy and wound up finally getting to the big leagues as a Nationals reliever this season. Really, really nice guy. Even though he’s somewhere else, you should really root for that kid.
• Brian Fuentes has decided to retire. Inevitably I’ll still get a “the Yankees should get Brian Fuentes!” email at some point this winter.
Associated Press photo of Hunter; I stole the RailRiders logo from my friends in Scranton