With his spot in the rotation suddenly secure, David Phelps delivered the longest start of his career. But even in a 9-4 win against the Rays, the Yankees still managed to lose. Less than two weeks after returning from a broken forearm, outfielder Curtis Granderson broke his left pinky when he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. Granderson stayed in the game to run the bases, but X-rays at Tropicana Field revealed the damage. Before news of the injury, this seemed to be a good day for the Yankees. Mark Teixeira was hopeful of getting back in the lineup soon, the lineup scored it’s second-most runs since April 19 and Phelps retired the first 13 batters he faced. Phelps ultimately went 7.2 innings, with three of his four earned runs coming in the sixth inning, which was the only time he had real trouble. The bottom four hitters in the Yankees lineup each had two hits.
WEATHER: Pretty warm outside. Room temperature under the dome.
UMPIRES: HP John Hirschbeck, 1B John Tumpane, 2B Jim Reynolds, 3B James Hoye
GRANDY MAN CAN: Curtis Granderson has started each of the three outfield positions over his last three games started. He is the second Yankee to start three straight team games — all at a different OF position — this season (also Ichiro Suzuki from April 30 to May 3).
ADAMS IS ABLE: David Adams has hit safely in six of his first seven career games, compiling eight hits total. Only one Yankee since 2000 has recorded more hits over his first seven career Major League games. It was Hideki Matsui, who had nine hits. Since 1950, only one Yankees infielder has compiled more hits over his first seven Major League games. That was Frank Baker, who had nine hits in 1970.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: The Yankees have had 24 of their first 46 games decided by two runs or less, including 14 of 20 games in the month of May and 18 of their last 26 since April 25.
UPDATE, 7:28 p.m.: David Adams should have been out, but the Yankees caught a break and Overbay turned it into a run with a two-run double. It’s 2-0 here in the second inning.
UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: Runners at first and second, the Rays decide to walk Cano to face Wells with the bases loaded. I don’t hate the strategy — especially because Gardner was the runner at first — but Wells isn’t an easy out here.
UPDATE, 7:40 p.m.: Worked out. Wells popped out, inning over. It’s a 3-0 Yankees lead for Phelps, who’s heading out for the bottom of the second.
UPDATE, 8:01 p.m.: Three up, three down in each of the first three innings for Phelps. When’s the last time Nova did that?
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Stewart singles in his second at-bat of the night, then Brett Gardner jumps all over a first pitch to hit his fourth homer of the year. The Yankees lead is up to 5-0 in the fourth.
UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.: Here’s the good news, the Yankees just got three more runs and once again batted around in the fifth. They scored on a bases-loaded walk, bases-loaded singled and a bases-loaded hit by pitch. The bad news is, Granderson is out of the game because he was hit by a pitch in the left hand earlier in the inning. No word yet on the severity. He stayed in to run the bases, but now Ichiro is playing right field.
UPDATE, 8:51 p.m.: No longer a perfect game, but after a one-out double in the fifth, Phelps retired the next two and is through five scoreless.
UPDATE, 9:06 p.m.: Probably a play Adams should make at third base, but also the kind of play that doesn’t happen at second base. A hard-hit ball got past him — ruled a hit — and the Rays have scored two runs in the sixth.
UPDATE, 9:09 p.m.: Rays got another run before Phelps ended the inning with a fly ball. It’s an 8-3 Yankees lead, and that inning was the only hint of trouble for Phelps who’s at 74 pitches.
Two fairly significant bits of news came out of the pregame clubhouse: 1. Mark Teixiera believes he could be activated in a week, and 2. Ivan Nova is a reliever until further notice. The video above is Joe Girardi talking about the Nova decision, the text below is Teixeira talking about his rehab.
“If it was up to me, I would have been plying weeks ago,” Teixeira said. “But we really made sure there wasn’t any pain. They were like, ‘If it’s tight, if there’s any pain, you’re not allowed to swing hard.’ That took a long time. Once I got to swinging, I was letting it go. By the second or third day of swinging at full speed, I felt normal. I’ve been feeling great the last couple weeks.”
Teixeira is going to play first base and hit every inning — for at least the first five innings or so — of an extended spring training game tomorrow. He’ll take Sunday off, play extended spring training games again on Monday and Tuesday, then he’ll go to Double-A Trenton for a rehab assignment Wednesday and Thursday. Teixeira said he fully expects to need only those two rehab games before being activated.
The Yankees clarified that Teixeira is eligible to be activated on May 30. Teixeira is talking about being activated on Friday, which would be the 31st.
“We’ve really been doing a lot of work here,” Teixeira said. “A lot of simulated games, trying to make it as close to game situation as possible. We’ve been doing that for about a week here. … Four games next week, and then we’ll reevaluate after the two games in Trenton. Hopefully things go well and sometime at the end of next week I can join the team.”
• Kevin Youkilis is going to join Teixeira in tomorrow’s extended spring training game. Girardi said it’s “definitely possible” that Youkilis could also begin a rehab assignment next week. That fits with what Brian Cashman said yesterday. Basically, Teixeira and Youkilis seem to be on roughly the same schedule at this point, with the wild card being Youkilis’s back. “They’re both about at the same place, I think,” Girardi said. “The back’s a little tricky right now with Youk, but he’s making pretty good progress.”
• As for the Nova decision, Nova said he’s hoping to get back in the rotation soon, but for now he’s a long reliever. Girardi said he will try not to use Nova in the middle of an inning, and the Yankees like the idea of having Nova to backup Vidal Nuno tomorrow. “We believe this kid can really help us, and we’ve got to get him back on track,” Girardi said. “We’ll try it through the bullpen.”
• Obviously the decision to put Nova in the bullpen says a lot about Nova, but it also says a lot about David Phelps, who is starting today and has been awfully good since taking Nova’s spot in the rotation.
• Girardi said he doesn’t expect to have Adam Warren available tomorrow, but essentially the team is going to have two long relievers in Nova and Warren.
• Five more quick injury updates:
ANDY PETTITTE: Has played catch the past two days and plans to throw a bullpen tomorrow. If that goes well, Pettitte will throw a simulated game — or maybe an extended spring training game — rather than going on a rehab assignment. Girardi said he expects Pettitte to need only one sim game before being ready to rejoin the rotation.
EDUARDO NUNEZ: Girardi said Nunez will be ready to play in an extended spring training game “pretty quick” and indications are that Nunez is also fairly close to being ready.
JOBA CHAMBERLAIN: Scheduled to throw two innings or 30 pitches tomorrow. Sounds like he could be activated after that.
HIROKI KURODA: Right calf is a little sore, but no big deal. The Yankees fully expect him to make his next start. “I don’t have any doubts right now,” Girardi said.
CHRIS STEWART: Was able to run pregame and is back in the lineup. “My legs are a little weak just from sitting around for the last week, not being able to use them,” Stewart said. “But other than that, no, everything felt good and strong.”
• Girardi said the Yankees considered having Nova start tomorrow, but they preferred to keep Vidal Nuno in line to make that start. “That’s something that we talked about,” Girardi said. “Nuno did a very good job in his last start, so we’re going to stick with that. There could be something crazy that happens tonight that forces us to change our mind, but right now, that’s our plan.”
The past two springs, I made a point of talking to David Adams. Not because I expected him to break camp with the Yankees or anything, but because I like talking to the young guys in the middle lockers, and Adams was an interesting case because of his college success, his unusual injury history, and last year’s position change. These weren’t particularly in-depth conversations, just occasional small talk on the slow days.
I mention it only because there’s been absolutely no noticeable difference between Adams’ personality in spring training and his personality here in the big leagues. He’s polite, focused and composed. By all outward appearances, this environment has no affect on him.
“I think he’s been pretty calm in the way he approached it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Third base is not his natural position – he’s played it in the minor leagues – but I think he’s handled it very well. He just seems to prepare very well and he’s ready to go. Even in the spring trainings (when he) was here, we didn’t see him a lot. It was hard to say what we were going to get, in a sense. I think he’s handled it really well.”
The video above is Girardi talking a little bit about his first impressions of Adams, including an interesting response when asked what might happen to Adams after a few veteran players get healthy.
“If you play extremely well at this level, you’re going to play,” Girardi said.
Adams has played extremely well so far. He’s hit for average, shown power, and played a good third base. There are times when he seems to have a typically weak second baseman’s arm, but there was also a play this week in Baltimore when Adams needed to get the ball to first base in a hurry and put something extra on the throw. It was the first I’d seen that, and it suggested he has more when he needs it.
Seven games aren’t nearly enough to label Adams a future star, but the Yankees got him to New York just as soon as he was eligible, and he’s wasted little time making a strong first impression. He’s made that impression with his steady production on the field, and with his quiet demeanor in the clubhouse.
“To be thrown in here in the Yankees lineup, the history, the tradition they have,” Adams said. “They expect to win every game and I understand that. For me, I’m just trying to work as hard as I can and just put my head down and keep working. I think the wins are huge. If I’m jumping in there and we’re losing, I don’t think it’s a good thing. I think having the wins behind us is helping out a lot.”
This has very little to do with the Yankees, but it’s a nice event for a wonderful cause, and it’s certainly worth mentioning on this off day. Good work by the Yankees organization to be involved with something like this. Here are the details — as provided by the folks running the event — about this year’s Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium.
On the morning of August 18, thousands of baseball fans, runners, walkers, cancer survivors, and their friends and family will gather at Yankee Stadium to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium. One of New York’s most unique summer events, the Runyon 5K is the only charitable run/walk that uses the iconic Stadium as its course. Since the inaugural event in 2009, the 5K has raised more than $2 million for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s groundbreaking efforts to strike out cancer.
Registration is open at www.damonrunyon.org/yankeestadium. Participants are responsible for a $40 registration fee and a $60 fundraising minimum. After July 1, the registration fee increases to $50.
The first heat of competitive runners will take off from the start line inside Gate 4 at 9:30am, followed by later heats of runners and walkers, with the last heat taking off in the early afternoon. Participants will wind through the legendary ballpark’s concourses and ramps, climb stairs between levels, and appear on the centerfield video board as they take two laps around the warning track that circles the field. Friends, family and supporters will have a chance to watch the race from the Delta SKY360° Suite overlooking home plate and meet the Damon Runyon scientists their contributions help support.
Last year’s event drew a capacity crowd of 4,000 participants – from 5-78 years old and traveling from 35 states. Click to see videos and photos of the 2012 Runyon 5K. As always, 100% of all donations raised by participants will directly support the nation’s most brilliant young scientists, pursuing cures for all forms of cancer.
“Over the past five years, the proceeds from the Runyon 5K have allowed us to fund amazing cancer researchers doing incredible work,” said Lorraine W. Egan, President and CEO of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. “Our 5K participants are making breakthroughs possible – it’s as simple as that.”
The Runyon 5K is the latest chapter in the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s long history with the Yankees. After the Foundation’s establishment in 1946, Joe DiMaggio was on its Board of Directors and Mickey Mantle was an active fundraiser. Damon Runyon himself was a New York writer who began his career as a baseball journalist, revolutionizing how the game was covered and often reporting on Yankees games.
The 2013 Runyon 5K is presented by MetLife Foundation, with additional support from Brick-Run Sports Physical Therapy, NYSID, 24 Hour Fitness, NBC 4 New York, the New York Daily News, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and the New York Yankees.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today’s best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative cancer research. The Foundation has gained worldwide prominence in cancer research by identifying outstanding researchers and physician-scientists. Eleven scientists supported by the Foundation have received the Nobel Prize. Since its founding in 1946, Damon Runyon has invested more than $260 million and funded more than 3,380 young scientists.
Six days ago, Curtis Granderson was out of the starting lineup. The next night, it was Ichiro Suzuki. The night after that — before that game was rained out – it was Brett Gardner.
Then the Yankees came to Baltimore, and Vernon Wells was on the bench Monday, Ichiro was back on the bench Tuesday, and Gardner wasn’t starting on Wednesday.
That’s a lot of shuffling, and it’s to be expected with four guys for three spots, but Joe Girardi said he has yet to talk to his outfielders about his plans for dividing playing time going forward.
“No,” Girardi said. “Because I haven’t exactly figured out exactly what it’s going to be everyday, and it could change so quickly.”
Girardi did make it clear, however, that he wants to have a regular, everyday outfield eventually.
“I think at some point you’ll probably get to where you’re trying to put the same lineup out there every day,” he said.
If immediate labels are necessary, the numbers suggest Ichiro should be the one designated as the fourth outfielder. He had a short spurt when he looked awfully good this season, but his overall slash line is even worse than it was in 2011. His speed and defense have value, but that sort of value is fairly common for reserve outfielders. He simply has not shown an everyday bat.
But there are few other factors to keep in mind.
• Wells has been outstanding this season, but his past certainly suggests a bit of caution, and his age gives Girardi reason to rest him from time to time. It’s also worth noting that Wells has hit for power against both lefties and righties, but his batting average and on-base percentage are significantly worse against right-handers.
• Gardner has been his typically streaky self, and it’s well understood that he’s prone to considerable ups and downs. We’ve already seen some of that this season. Gardner has walked a lot, but he’s also struck out a lot. He’s started to run much more often lately, but he’s also played so much this season that it might be worth giving his legs a break now and then.
• Until last night, Granderson had not looked particularly good since coming off the disabled list. Perhaps a slow start was understandable, but last night’s double and home run were his first extra-base hits since being activated. Now that he’s generally a corner outfielder who doesn’t run much, most of his value is in his ability to hit for power. Perhaps last night was a sign that the power is back.
Clearly the Yankees are going to give Granderson significant at-bats to get himself going. It’s also clear that Wells has played too well to simply fall into a platoon role. It’s also clear that Gardner is outplaying Ichiro at the moment. For the time being, a regular outfield of Wells/Gardner/Granderson makes obvious sense, but there are factors at play beyond the early statistics.
“They understand,” Girardi said. “It’s not their first rodeo, and they understand that there’s four guys here that are used to playing a lot. But I’ll try to sit down (with them) as you get a little bit better handle on how things are going. That’s always subject to change, how we’re going to do it.”
I didn’t get to Tampa early enough to actually see any of today’s action over at the minor league complex, so it’s a good thing Brian Cashman is still taking my calls. Here are the basics…
Threw five innings in an extended spring training game. His fastball averaged 93 mph, and Cashman said the reports on his slider and changeup were also positive.
“I heard everything looked good today,” Cashman said. “It’s a good day.”
For a guy coming back from shoulder surgery, averaging 93 mph certainly seems to be a good sign. It’s actually not all that far from what Pineda’s fastball averaged with Seattle back in 2011.
“It’s better than the alternative,” Cashman said. “He’s currently showing that he’s healthy and he’s commanding his pitches and that’s all good. He’s probably an outing away or so from starting a rehab assignment.”
In case you’re wondering, Cashman said he does not expect to bring Pineda to New York as a reliever. Obviously something like this can change depending on several factors, but for now, Cashman is considering Pineda a rotation option only.
Nova has been pitching in games for a while now. He had that one minor setback, but he’s pitched since then, and Cashman strongly hinted that Nova is ready to return to the big leagues.
“I’d say you’re going to see him pretty soon,” Cashman said. “You’re going to see him very soon.”
Cashman more or less dismissed the idea of sending Nova to Triple-A first.
For a few days now we’ve heard about Teixeira getting extended at-bats in simulated games. Today Cashman said Teixeira could begin a rehab assignment with Trenton as early as Tuesday. Basically, Teixeira is on a schedule that could have him in Trenton in five days. That’s the path he’s on right now.
The path for Youkilis is a little less clear, but he’s also been facing live pitching down here in Tampa and could be in New York sooner than I was expecting.
“Maybe joins us by next week,” Cashman said.
In this case, Cashman said, joining “us” means joining the big league team.