The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Refsnyder staying focused on the task at hand

Refsnyder (Farmer)

First, a reminder that we’re doing a chat today at noon. We haven’t had one in a while, so there should be plenty to talk about. Stop by if you can.

Until then — on the off chance you’re not carefully reading The Journal News every day — here’s a link to Sunday’s story about second base prospect Rob Refsnyder. From his college coach, to his current general manager, to his Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammates, Refsnyder seems to routinely impress people with his ability to stay focused on the task at hand. At the very mention of a possible call-up later in the year, Refsnyder rattled off to me that day’s to-do list, from eating lunch to studying defensive assignments to working on his offensive holes with Triple-A hitting coach Butch Wynegar.

“The final destination is pretty obvious,” Refsnyder said. “But obviously we need to work on something (in Triple-A), and that’s kind of what consumes my day is how can I get better today and how can I get ready today?”

Among the things I didn’t have space to get into the newspaper story was Refsnyder’s step-by-step progress at second base.

A right fielder in college, Refsnyder started learning second base during instructs in the fall of 2012. He’d spent the second half of that season — right after he was drafted — playing right field for Low-A Charleston, but Refsnyder went to instructs and took “no exaggeration, probably a million ground balls” with Yankees infield instructor Carlos Mendoza. He was sent back to A-ball for the 2013 season and was treated as a full-time second baseman, working on a little of everything to get the basics ironed out.

“They started to get a little bit more fine-print when I was in Double-A,” he said.

By “fine print,” Refsnyder meant that he began working on some specifics when he got to Double-A this year. For example, at one point while he was in Trenton, the Yankees pointed out that his double play turns were slow.

“(Mendoza) came in and we did turns for three days,” Refsnyder said. “I was out before a lot of the people, and we did double play turns for like 40 minutes (each day). Then I got (to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) and Luis (Sojo) is like, ‘Hey, your first-step quickness is good, but we need to make it better.’ So I’m actually going to work on that today with Luis and watch some video to compare and contrast with some of the best defensive second basemen today. It’s a lot more fine print.”

Refsnyder said he feels that he has the fundamentals ironed out, and he credits a lot of teammates — he specifically named Cito Culver and Corban Joseph — with helping him learn some of the nuances of being an infielder. Although the Yankees have been using him in right field lately, it’s clear that they still see Refsnyder’s future at second base, and they seem encouraged by his defensive improvement. Refsnyder said he regularly finds himself making plays he couldn’t have made as recently as last season.

“Probably once or twice a week,” he said. “Just my double play turns this year have gotten so considerably quicker that Carlos and I share some moments where it’s like, wow man, it’s been fun.”

I closed the newspaper story with this quote from Refsnyder’s college coach, and I still think it’s a pretty telling comment on a player like this.

“Before, it was a guy who was bigger, faster and stronger (who made it to the majors),” Andy Lopez said. “Well, you know what? I’ve been doing this for 37 years. My God, they’re all big, strong and fast now. So what separates them? Well, it’s baseball IQ and work ethic and character. And Robert Refsnyder has all of those things.”

Photo from my old friend Jason Farmer at the Scranton Times-Tribune


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 at 8:56 am. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Postgame notes: “An ugly game on our part”

Shane Greene

Joe Girardi didn’t seem to be pointing fingers after this particularly sloppy loss. He wasn’t blaming it on Shane Greene, wasn’t blaming it on the sloppy infield defense, and wasn’t blaming it on an offense that got just one extra-base hit and scored just two runs against a pitcher with a 7.48 ERA.

His message seemed too broad for finger pointing.

“It was an ugly game on our part,” Girardi said. “Our defense was bad. We didn’t swing the bats particularly well. We made the pitcher work hard the first two innings, and then he ends up getting into the eighth inning. It was an ugly game.”

Ugly sums it up pretty well. And ugly in so many ways.

Pitching? Greene pitched pretty well for the most part, but with two outs, a one-run lead and the bases empty in the sixth inning, he let the bottom of a bad Rangers lineup set the stage for a six-run inning. Greene let Geovany Soto get the game-tying hit before Matt Thornton allowed back-to-back run-scoring singles against back-to-back lefties. Ugly.

Fielding? Five errors were the most for the Yankees in a nine-inning game since August 20, 1998. In most situations, a link to 1998 is most welcome, but this wasn’t so nice. None of the errors directly led to a run — a run scored on Brian Roberts’ error, but he said he wasn’t expecting to turn two on the play any way — but those errors certainly hurt Greene’s pitch count, which might have left him vulnerable in the sixth. Ugly.

Hitting? Not to knock the guy, but I’m not sure I’d ever heard of Miles Mikolas until I was writing today’s blog post listing the starting pitchers for this series. The Rangers have been hit with Yankees-like injuries, and Mikolas came into this game with a 10.05 ERA. His first inning wasn’t pretty, and Jacoby Ellsbury homered off him in the fourth, but otherwise he pitched 7.1 innings with just four hits and two runs. The Yankees gave him his first ever win as a starting pitcher. Ugly.

“There’s no point in dwelling on it too long,” Roberts said. “We didn’t play well tonight, and we need to play better tomorrow.”

Francisco Cervelli• I’m sure Greene is going to find himself on the bad end of a SportsCenter blooper reel, but he actually pitched alright. His errors were embarrassing, but the Rangers really didn’t make much hard contact against him. Through 5.2 innings he allowed just one walk and five hits (all but one were singles). “I’m honestly not that frustrated,” Greene said. “I’d like to have a couple of pitches back, but I felt pretty good.”

• Girardi on Greene: “He threw a really good game. He threw five and two-thirds, and we had four or five errors; that gets him into the seventh (if the errors hadn’t happened). They didn’t really square up a lot of balls. I thought he threw the ball well, but our defense — him included — hurt us.”

• Greene said the errors affected him “not at all” and his only comment on his own errors was: “Obviously I need to work on that.” So, there’s that.

• As for the impact of the errors, while they didn’t necessarily directly contribute to any of the Rangers runs, the did push Greene’s pitch count, and that might have impacted his rough end of the sixth inning. “You got it,” Girardi said. “That’s where it killed him. If you look, he threw 110 pitches. He was at like 80 and probably should have been through the sixth inning, and then it finally caught up to him.”

• Could say the Roberts error led to a run, but he said he really didn’t expect to turn a double play on that ball. “I guess I just missed the ball,” he said. “You know, it was one of those where it was kind of slow developing. It wasn’t hit real hard. I really wasn’t even thinking about turning the double play at that point. It just kind of hit off the thumb of my glove and unfortunately, it just didn’t go in.”

• Last time the Yankees had five errors in any game was July 7, 2007 when they had five errors in a 13-inning loss to the Angels.

• Last Yankees player to make three errors in a game was Ramiro Pena in 2011. An Pena, as you’ll remember, is considered a defensive specialist.

• Even with all the errors, all five Rangers runs were earned, snapping a streak of six games in which the Yankees pitching staff hadn’t allowed more than three earned.

Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury• Didn’t see Thornton in the clubhouse postgame — to his credit, I can’t remember another time when he wasn’t waiting at his locker after he’s had a bad game — but obviously those were two big hits in a situation that’s exactly what he’s here for. “That’s our guy to get lefties out,” Girardi said. “That’s why I went to him.”

• Jacoby Ellsbury has six hits in his past eight at-bats including a home run and a double. He’s hitting .500 with three runs, two doubles, two homers and three stolen bases in four games since the All-Star break.

• No one seemed able to explain what Mikolas as doing that gave the Yankees such trouble. “Once he got out there and kind of got rolling, that’s the kind of thing where guys get some confidence and they get going and they start feeling better and better about themselves,” Roberts said. “Especially in a place like this. I think that was one of those things that happened for him. He just kind of got rolling and we just couldn’t really string anything together.”

• Nothing new on Mark Teixeira. “Obviously he’s in the middle and we miss him,” Girardi said. “It would be nice to have him back. We’ll take three or four days to see where he’s at and then we’ll make a decision on what’s next for him.”

• Final word goes to Girardi: “There’s going to be physical errors. I don’t really think we made mental errors tonight. They were physical errors and those happen. It’s unfortunate they all happened in one game, in a sense, or maybe it’s not. Maybe we get them out of the way. But I didn’t really see any mental errors tonight. They were physical.”

** Late notice, but let’s chat tomorrow. We’ll chat at noon on Tuesday, so stop by for a while. **

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 at 12:13 am. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Sloppy game brings end to Yankees winning streak

Shane Greene

If this weekend was a sign of how good the Yankees could be, tonight was a reminder of just how fragile they really are. The Yankees committed five errors, but remarkably, that’s not what cost them the most in a 4-2 loss to the last-place Rangers. Only one error could be directly linked to a run, and it was an error-free sixth inning that saw a one-run Yankees lead turn into a two-run deficit. With two outs and the bases empty, five straight Rangers reached base for a three-run rally that made the difference. Starter Shane Greene allowed the game-tying hit before Matt Thornton allowed back-to-back singles to put Texas in front with an insurance run. Greene made three of the Yankees errors, but he pitched around each of his own mistakes, and Adam Warren pitched around a Derek Jeter throwing error in the seventh. The only error that might have cost the Yankees came in the third when Brian Roberts had a chance to turn an inning-ending double play – it would have been a close, and a run would have scored regardless if he couldn’t turn it — but instead dropped the ball. The Yankees took advantage of Rangers mistakes to score their first run, then they got a solo home run from Jacoby Ellsbury, but Jeter hit into a bases-loaded double play in the fifth and the offense didn’t make much noise the rest of the way.

Associated Press photo



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 10:41 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Game 98: Yankees vs. Rangers

Shane Greene, Francisco CervelliYANKEES (50-47)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran DH
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Zelous Wheeler 3B

RHP Shane Greene (2-0, 1.32)
Greene has never faced the Rangers

RANGERS (39-59)
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Elvis Andrus SS
Adrian Beltre 3B
J.P. Arencibia 1B
Leonys Martin CF
Jake Smolinski DH
Jim Adduci LF
Geovany Soto C
Rougned Odor 2B

RHP Miles Mikolas (0-2, 10.05)
Mikolas vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Rock solid night here at the ballpark. Just a nice night.

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

ROOKIE AGAIN: Tonight’s start by Shane Greene will be the 46th time a rookie starting pitcher has taken the mound for the Yankees this season, marking the highest such total in the Majors (Seattle is second with 23 coming into tonight). The Yankees are 28-17 in games started by rookie pitchers this season.

BIRTHDAY ON THE DL: CC Sabathia turned 34 years old today. Sad to me that a guy who’s considered old and broken down is still younger than I am.

ON THIS DATE: This is obviously the date that Sabathia was born back in 1980, and four years after that, on July 21, 1984, the Yankees dedicated plaques in honor of Elston Howard and Roger Maris in Monument Park.

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: A walk, a balk, an infield single and a sac fly. The little things have added up to an early 1-0 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 7:36 p.m.: Really nice play by Zelous Wheeler to help Shane Greene get the leadoff man in the second inning. Just how the Yankees planned it coming out of spring training.

UPDATE, 7:46 p.m.: Well, that wasn’t great. Greene botches the underhand toss — by about 10 feet — then a fan reaches onto the field to grab the live ball. Just a whole lot of bad on that play.

UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: I’ve seen better games than this one, but it’s so far the scoring isn’t out of hand. It’s 1-1 as we head into the fourth. Just generally sloppy play all around.

UPDATE, 8:40 p.m.: Greene made his third error of the game in the fourth inning, but he also got out of the inning without allowing a run, and Jacoby Ellsbury immediately went deep in the bottom of the fourth to push the Yankees in front 2-1. Greene’s had one of the most bizarrely effective games I can remember.

UPDATE, 9:03 p.m.: Internet has not been kind to me this evening, but the Yankees have an opportunity here in the fifth. Bases loaded with one out for Jeter.

UPDATE, 9:04 p.m.: Then again, Jeter just banged into a 4-6-3 double play, so never mind.

UPDATE, 9:21 p.m.: Greene couldn’t get that final out of the sixth inning, and Soto delivered a two-out RBI single to pull even at 2. Here comes Thornton to face Odor still with runners at first and second.

UPDATE, 9:24 p.m.: Single through the left side of the infield, and it’s now a 3-2 Rangers lead.

UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: Another single. Another run. Another pitching change. Here comes Warren with the Rangers lead up to 4-2.


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 7:00 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pregame notes: No fountain of youth for Teixeira

Mark Teixeira

The Yankees were in Oakland way back in early June. That’s when Mark Teixeira’s back trouble began. The spasms, he said, ranged from his neck to his lower back, and so the Yankees “put the fires out” as they presented themselves, but because the spasms were never concentrated in a single spot, Teixeira said the team never felt the need to do an MRI. Spasms happen from tiem to time, and Teixeira was able to play through it.

It was actually the All-Star break that made things worse, or at least made the problem more concentrated.

“That’s kind of what happens when you shut down for a little while,” Teixeira said. “The blood’s not flowing, you don’t have that adrenaline pumping through your body and it becomes worse. I think that’s what we saw this weekend. … When the pain ratcheted up, it was one spot. I could tell Doc, ‘Listen Doc, this spot’s killing me. Let’s take a look at it.’ That’s when we found the strain.”

The lat strain is a mild Grade 1, and Teixeira will receive a PRP injection later today. Joe Girardi said he expects to give Teixeira three or four days off — with treatment this time, so not the same as the four-day All-Star break — and if that works, Teixeira will avoid the disabled list and return to the lineup in time for the upcoming weekend series against Toronto.

Although the strain is on the left side, Teixeira said it affects him swinging both left-handed and right-handed. It also bothers him when he throws.

It’s worth noting — though I doubt you’ve forgotten — that this is just the latest in a series of health problems for Teixiera this season. He went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, but he’s also missed time with back, wrist, knee and groin/fatigue issues.

“I thought the year off last year would kind of give me a fountain of youth,” Teixeira said. “And it’s just made me rusty. I’ve used that word a few times this year; that’s the way it feels. It’s been something. Every game, it’s something. I was dealing with the hamstring early, the knee, back — it’s really frustrating — not to mention the wrist, which is obviously something I’ve been dealing with. That’s life. You have to grind through things. I’ve been grinding pretty well all season. I’m still happy with the way I’ve played when I’m healthy. I just need to get healthy again.”

Brian McCann• With Teixeira out, why give Brian McCann a day off as well? It’s a combination of needing to give him a day off at some point — Yankees are playing 13 days in a row — and also wanting to keep Shane Greene with Francisco Cervelli, who caught each of Greene’s first two big league starts. “Cervy and Greenie have had a good little mixture going,” Girardi said. “So I figured today was a day that I’d give (McCann) off.”

• Could McCann become an option at first base while Teixeira is out? “It could be a number of people,” Girardi said. “But, yes, I would not be afraid to put him there.”

• How concerned are the Yankees that Teixeira will eventually need a DL stint because of the lat injury? “I think if we were concerned, really concerned, we’d put him on the DL right away,” Girardi said. “We’re hoping that after three or four days he feels OK and we’ll get him back in there.”

• It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating that the Yankees have played a ton of games started by rookie pitcher this season. Tonight will be their 46th game with a rookie starter. No other team has had more than 23 such games. “I don’t think you ever expect that because when we started the season, we had veteran starters,” Girardi said. “So you weren’t expecting it, but it happens. And it’s an opportunity for (Shane Greene) to shine, to prove, you know what, I do belong here, and I do belong in the New York Yankees plans as a starter here and I can help this team win. So I think it’s a great opportunity for him.”

• This will be Greene’s first career appearance at Yankee Stadium. His debut was a relief appearance in Boston, and his two starts have come come in Cleveland and Baltimore.

• In the first three games after the break, the Yankees got strong starts out of David Phelps, Brandon McCarthy and Hiroki Kuroda. Tonight they’ll ask Greene to continue that trend. “They’ve been aggressive,” Girardi said. “They have not beat themselves. That have not walked people. They have just thrown the ball extremely well.”

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 5:11 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Teixeira out with mild strain

TeixeiraJust a regular day off for Brian McCann, but Mark Teixeira is out because of an injury.

Teixeira has a strain in his lower lat. Joe Girardi described the injury as “mild” and said there are no DL plans at the moment. Girardi said he expects to give Teixeira three or four days off in hopes that the rest does the trick.

Teixeira will have a PRP injection later today. He’s had occasional back spasms since the Oakland trip, but it was only recently that a single, clear problem area emerged. Teixeira said days off for the All-Star break — lack of activity or treatment — actually made it worse.



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 3:52 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

No Teixeira, No McCann

McCannBrett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran DH
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Zelous Wheeler 3B

RHP Shane Greene


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 3:27 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pitching matchups vs. Rangers

Shane Greene

Aside from Yu Darvish, who is predictably exceptional, the Rangers rotation just might be more of a mess than the Yankees rotation.

RHP Shane Greene (2-0, 1.32)
RHP Miles Mikolas (0-2, 10.05)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN

RHP Chase Whitley (4-3, 5.10)
RHP Nick Martinez (1-6, 5.10)
7:05 p.m., MY9

RHP David Phelps (4-4, 3.87)
RHP Yu Darvish (9-5, 2.88)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 1.42)
RHP Colby Lewis (6-7, 6.37)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 12:13 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Kuroda hoping not to run another fade pattern

Hiroki Kuroda


Hiroki Kuroda has 1,700 and one-third regular-season innings behind him with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. And he has 1,243 regular-season innings behind him with the Dodgers and the Yankees.

The right-hander is 39 now. He faded badly last year, going 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA over his final eight starts for the Yankees. He’s intent on a faster finish.

“You won’t know until you do it, until the end,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “But hopefully I will take last year as a lesson and see how it goes.”

The Yankees have been trying to prevent a repeat. Kuroda has gone past 100 pitches only seven times in 20 starts. Joe Girardi removed him after 99 pitches Sunday when he gave up just an unearned run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings in the 3-2 win over the Reds. He was on eight days’ rest thanks to the All-Star break.

“I think we’ve kind of taken that initiative in the first half,” Girardi said. “We haven’t run him over 100 pitches a whole lot this year. We’ve given him the extra day when he needs the extra day. … So we’ll do what we can. But the other thing is we’re fighting to get in the playoffs and we’re going to have to pitch him.”

Kuroda is 6-6 with a 3.88 ERA. He began the season as the oldest Yankees starter. He’s the only one of the original five not currently residing on the DL.

“It just tells you about his conditioning and how he prepares himself on a daily basis during the offseason,” Girardi said. “He’s done a really good job. And it’s probably partly genetic, too. He’s been blessed.”

Girardi is wary about pushing him too far.

“You can maybe push him a little bit more, but I still think you have to be cautious because it’s kind of like your bullpen,” Girardi said. “If it gets overworked and then all of a sudden they’re not throwing as well, people wonder why. Well, it’s because you overworked. So it’s a fine line that we walk.”

Here’s my story on how the Yankees finished off their sweep and my Yankees notebook with items on the Derek Jeter Day ticket controversy, Carlos Beltran and Michael Pineda.

Photo by The Associated Press



Posted by:Brian Heymanon Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 8:55 am. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees postgame: Team finally does its home work well

Zack Cozart, Skip Schumaker

The Yankees know they need to be more rude to their guests in the second half. They have an AL-high 37 home games left. In the first half, they were just an 18-23 home team.

“We’re going to have to win at home,” Brian McCann said. “Our team is built for this ballpark. When we start to swing the bats better, we’re going to win more games.”

Now they’re 21-23 after this three-game sweep over the Reds to start a 10-game homestand out of the break.

“To be able to start off this way against a team that’s been playing well, that’s fighting for their division as well, I think it was real important,” Joe Girardi said.

Cincinnati put a bow on the sweep by giving the Yankees a gift run in the last of the ninth — McCann’s popup to shallow right that fell between three Reds and went for a single, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury from third to make it a 3-2 win.

“But I’ll take it, for sure,” McCann said.

“I thought I was under it and I was not,” first baseman Todd Frazier said.

Manager Bryan Price was looking at second baseman Skip Schumaker and right fielder Jay Bruce.

“Certainly I think it was a miscommunication in the sense that I’m sure Jay and Schumaker both thought the other was going to catch it,” Price said.

For all their rotation injuries, the Yankees’ starters are doing OK. They have given up three earned runs or less in each of their last eight games. They are 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in this stretch.

“Right now, these guys are getting it done for us,” Girardi said.

The only original starter left, Hiroki Kuroda, sure did in this start, allowing one unearned run and three hits in 6 2/3.

“He was awesome — again,” McCann said.

Dellin Betances wasn’t awesome for a change, surrendering the tying homer to Frazier in the eighth.

“I think we were all a little bit shocked when it happened,” Girardi said.

Betances said: “It was definitely frustrating, but I had faith that our team would come back.”

Ellsbury went 4 for 4, stole two bases and made a great catch in center.

“He showed all his tools today,” McCann said.

The Yankees finished interleague play at 13-7. Now injury-ravaged Texas comes in for four.

Photo by The Associated Press


Posted by:Brian Heymanon Sunday, July 20th, 2014 at 7:43 pm. InMisc withComments Off Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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