The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Postgame notes: “He’s not afraid to be here”09.10.11

Jered Weaver was positively dominant tonight. The Yankees scattered two singles and a handful of walks and never got a runner past first base.

Except Jesus Montero.

On a night when the Yankees failed to pickup a game in the standings, it was still hard to ignore the impact of the Yankees young designated hitter. Against one of the best pitchers in the game, Montero went deep for his third home run in as many days. It was his first time starting a big league game against a right-handed starter, and in his first at-bat he lifted a ball over both bullpens.

“He’s not afraid to be here,” Mark Teixeira said. “He’s not afraid to let it fly and if he’s going to be as good as everyone thinks he is, he’s going to have to face a lot of these guys. And he’s showing right away that he’s not afraid of them.”

The pitch was a 1-2 fastball inside, and Montero was looking for it.

“At the beginning of the at-bat, I was looking fastball,” Montero said. “He threw me two good curveballs and then I was thinking in, because I’m a catcher, too. I was thinking fastball in at that moment, and I got the right pitch.”

Joe Girardi said before the game that he wants to see more and more of the Yankees top hitting prospect, and tonight did little to change that opinion. “You continue to look at him,” is the way Girardi phrased it after the game. Bottom line, Montero’s going to keep getting at-bats. He’s going to have a real chance to earn a spot in the postseason.

“I just put that away and try to do my job whenever they give me the opportunity,” Montero said. “Keep doing my routine every single day. When I’m playing, when I’m DHing, I’m in the cage with Kevin Long. That’s been helping me, keeping my routine every single day… It’s been good, thank God. Tomorrow, I might play again and strike out four times, but it’s been good.”

Here’s Montero.

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• Montero and Bartolo Colon were the bright spots, but ultimately the game was decided by this fact: The Yankees bullpen was terribly thin. Rafael Soriano, Cory Wade and Boone Logan were unavailable, Dave Robertson had been used in the eighth and Mariano Rivera was being saved for a save. That meant Aaron Laffey and Luis Ayala got the call in a tied ninth inning. “Playing all these days in a row and all these tight ballgames, you get into this,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he’s actually planning to give Logan another full day off tomorrow. Logan said he’s not hurt, just going through a “little case of dead arm” and a couple days of rest might help. “My body is great and everything is fine,” he said. “But a couple days off, flushing out the body and letting it rest, it will give me a chance to get my velocity back.”

• Nick Swisher went for an MRI. The results won’t be available until tomorrow.

• Turns out, Bartolo Colon gave the Yankees seven strong innings on an upset stomach. He said he wasn’t feeling well all day, but he still delivered a performance reminiscent of his first half. “What I did today is the location of my sinker was really, really good,” Colon said. “Every time I command that way, I will pitch the same way I was pitching the first half.”

• The only Angels run off Colon came after Derek Jeter’s throwing error in the fifth. “He wasn’t in trouble the entire day until I put him in trouble,” Jeter said. “… It’s a play that has to be made. It’s not a difficult play.”

• Girardi said the Angels simply guessed right on Eduardo Nunez’s stolen base attempt in the top of the ninth. Nunez was brought in to steal the bag, and the Angels pitched out at the right time. “That’s going to happen,” Girardi said. “He was pretty close to being safe, too.”

• Girardi on using Ramiro Pena instead of Nunez to play third base in the bottom of the ninth: “I was probably going to hit Chavy the next inning and put Chavy at third, so that’s what I decided to do. Nino’s played a little more third than Nuney over his career, so I just decided to do it that way.”

• To be clear, Alex Rodriguez is not hurt. He came out strictly to have Nunez run.

• Russell Martin seemed to have a runner picked off at first base in the ninth, but he didn’t throw. “I didn’t get a good grip on the ball,” he said. “If I get a better grip I’ll make an attempt, but a couple of times this year I’ve tried to throw with a mediocre grip and I’ve thrown the ball into right field. In that situation, you don’t want that to happen.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 103 Comments →

Pregame notes: “He should be fresh”08.21.11

Things went a little later than usual pregame today, so I’ll try to make these notes quick.

As expected, Alex Rodriguez is back. Yesterday, both he and Joe Girardi hinted that he might play the field, and sure enough, he’s in there at third base, batting in his usual cleanup spot.

“He feels good, and with the day off tomorrow we thought it made sense to play him at third base today and see how he does in the nine innings,” Girardi said. “He should be fresh… I think you just kind of have to watch how long the games are, how he’s moving, how he’s recovering from day to day. I’ll talk to him tomorrow to see how he feels so you get kind of a temperature on how he’s recovering.”

The Yankees have been encouraged by Rodriguez’s work the past three days. They’re hopeful that they’re getting the guy who was driving the ball early in the season, not the hobbled singles hitter they had before he went on the disabled list.

“This is the middle-of-the-order hitter,” Girardi said. “This guy has been a run producer for years and years and years. Before he hurt his knee his home runs were good and his RBIs were good. Once he hurt his knee his power kind of went away a little bit, but he was productive.”

• Derek Jeter is hitting .342 since coming back from the disabled list. With those numbers, there was no chance of Girardi dropping him to the bottom of the order, which meant Brett Gardner dropped. “There’s nothing set in stone,” Girardi said. “We’ve played with things, and if I feel we have to play with it (I will). The way Jeet’s swinging the bat, maybe it costs Gardy four at-bats a week. Maybe. But they’re still together. Most of the game they’re going to be together, and we like that combination.”

• The only alternative would have been breaking up the Yankees two through five hitters — Granderson, Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano — and Giradi wasn’t willing to do that. He prioritized getting those four at-bats. “You’re talking about two, three, four and five extremely productive guys that hit the ball out of the ball park,” Girardi said. “You don’t really want to move those guys down. You want to get those guys up as much as you can. That’s why we’re doing it.”

• To make room for Rodriguez, Aaron Laffey was optioned to Triple-A. “He’s a guy that we believe could help us against left-handers as we move forward here,” Girardi said. “He’s not going to be able to throw for a couple of days, anyway.”

• Russell Martin is catching a day game after a night game. “I was able to get him out from behind the plate after six innings (last night),” Girardi said. “He didn’t catch Thursday.”

• Girardi said he could easily have flipped Gardner and Eduardo Nunez in the order, but he thinks of both of them as basically the same guy on the bases. Either one puts speed on the bases ahead of Jeter and the Yankees power hitters.

• Girardi on Ivan Nova: “Big start. We expect him to pitch well. I thought in his last start he hung some breaking balls is what hurt him. You can say pitch selection. To me it was the execution of his pitches. He hung some pitches.”

Ben Revere CF
Trevor Plouffe 2B
Joe Mauer 1B
Jason Kubel RF
Jim Thome DH
Danny Valencia 3B
Rene Tosoni LF
Matt Tolbert SS
Drew Butera C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 19 Comments →

Postgame notes: “This is ridiculous”08.21.11

Here’s what was shown on television.

A.J. Burnett had just walked Joe Mauer in the second inning. When Joe Girardi pulled Burnett from the game, Burnett began walking off the mound, turned suddenly and cursed toward Girardi and the gathered Yankees. Girardi seemed to react, but it was hard to tell whether he said anything back to Burnett. When Burnett got to the dugout, went straight to the stairs leading to the Yankees clubhouse. When Girardi got to the dugout, he also went directly to the stairs leading to the clubhouse.

Here’s what was said after the game.

“You can write what you want,” Girardi said. “You can say what you want, but he was pissed because he thought he struck out Joe Mauer. I asked if they thought it was a strike and the guys said they thought it was a strike.”

Girardi grew truly agitated when asked about following Burnett into the clubhouse.

“This is silly,” he said. “This is really, really silly. You know what? We had a fistfight, is what we had. I came in and looked at the pitch. Our video room is right down there. Everyone always seems to want to blow it up about A.J., A.J., A.J. Nothing happened between me and A.J. I went and looked at the pitch. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people looking for something between me and A.J. Me and A.J. have mutual respect for each other. I cheer for this guy, he cheers for me and we cheer for this team. I want the guy to do well. Everyone’s always trying to say there’s something between me and A.J. What do you want, the pitcher to want to come out of the game? I mean, this is ridiculous.”

It might have seemed ridiculous to Girardi, but watching the scene unfold, it seemed ridiculous for another reason. Burnett seemed to be showing up his manager on the field, and Girardi seemed to be chasing his pitcher to have a chat about those actions. That’s certainly what it looked like.

“No,” Burnett said. “Russ came out and he said, ‘That’s a strike.’ I said, yeah. I was not talking to Joe, absolutely not. No matter how mad I get, that guy’s taken my back every day I’ve been here, (including) last year. No matter how boiling I’m going to be, I’m not going to say a swear at him. Not him. No chance.”

Girardi was supportive as ever after the game. He said he still has confidence in Burnett and the Yankees will work to get him back on track. But this is a bad Twins lineup, and Burnett couldn’t pitch out of the second inning. Freddy Garcia comes off the disabled list in a week, and then the Yankees have to make a rotation decision.

“We’re still on a six-man rotation just because we need to,” Girardi said. “We need this guy to pitch. That’s the bottom line; we need him to pitch like he’s capable of pitching.”

Here’s Burnett.

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Here’s Girardi.

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• Burnett said he and Girardi had a conversation “two or three innings later” so that Burnett could explain saying what he said coming off the mound. “We talked about it, for sure,” Burnett said. “I made sure and told him, look man, not you. I told him, as ticked off as I am, not at him. No chance.”

• Burnett said Girardi didn’t tell him to come back to the dugout after he was pulled from the game. “You don’t have to tell me that,” Girardi said. “I’ve been around the game long enough. I came in, put my stuff down and went back to the dugout.”

• Both Girardi and Burnett seemed to think his curveball was alright at moments tonight, but he had no control of the fastball. “It’s a hiccup, man,” Burnett said. “I had a bad night. I’m going to be frustrated and upset about it, but I’m going to come ready to work and ready to get back on a roll. It’s not going to stop me.”

• Burnett thought his last pitch to Mauer was a strike, but he also seemed to know he had no room for argument. “You’re not going to give somebody a strike who’s all over the zone,” he said. “That’s the case there.”

• Martin on ball four to Mauer: “If it missed, it missed by a hair. He called that pitch later in the game. Nothing you can do to change that, but it was a good pitch. He just didn’t call it. Whether it was a strike or not; if it missed, it missed by an inch or two. Normally you get that pitch if you’re around the zone. He hit the spot.”

• Martin on Burnett: “It just seemed like they were hitting every fastball that he threw over the plate. He had a hard time locating his curveball for a strike, and when that happens, they kind of just spit on the curveball, spit on the breaking stuff and wait for their fastball. When they got their fastball, they didn’t miss it.”

• Burnett’s 1.2 innings were his fewest in a start since he threw one inning on June 20, 2004 against Atlanta as a member of the Marlins. His 61 pitches were the fewest he’s thrown in a game since September 27, 2010 in Toronto. This was his shortest start as a Yankee.

• Four of Burnett’s five hits went for extra bases. He entered tonight’s game tied for fifth in the American League with 59 extra-base hits allowed.

• Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 12 games and is hitting .373 in that span. Cano’s season-high hitting streak is 13 games.

• Martin played second base for the first time in his Major League career. He’s played third three times this season.

• Andruw Jones went deep for the second time in as many games. This one did not go into the third deck.

•  On the day he got to the Yankees, Aaron Laffey made his debut and allowed two runs on five hits through three innings. He said before the game that he grew up a Yankees fan. “My dad was a big-time Mantle and DiMaggio fan,” he said. “I just kind of fell into the same role. Growing up watching some of these guys, it’s just an honor to be in the same locker room as them.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 358 Comments →

Pregame notes: The wait for A-Rod continues08.19.11

Alex Rodriguez was encouraged by a more aggressive workout this afternoon, but his return to the Yankees lineup will likely wait another full day. Joe Girardi said today that he doesn’t expect to activate his third baseman until Sunday at the earliest.

“We’ve got to do the best thing possible,” Rodriguez said. “But I think after today, this is definitely a step in the right direction. We have another big day tomorrow and we’ll take it from there. But I’m definitely not counting this weekend out.”

Girardi said Rodriguez was definitely not ready yesterday, which is why the team wanted to see him go through drills today. They want to see him go through more drills tomorrow before making a decision. Girardi didn’t rule out activating Rodriguez tomorrow, but said he would “lean against doing it.”

“I think everything was better,” Rodriguez said. “I think Mick called me defensively game ready as far as speed. I trust his eyes. He’s my defensive coach. Kevin and I thought our offensive session was really good. But the most drastic thing for me was going from first to third. Skip made me do five first to thirds, pretty much close to 100 percent, and more than anything else the recovery time was much better so Dana was happy about that.”

Rodriguez has been wearing a soft, blue brace on his knee. He said he’ll keep wearing it for a few weeks after he returns, but he expects to get rid of it eventually.

Here’s Alex.

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• Aaron Laffey broke into the big leagues as a starting pitcher, and Girardi said he plans to use him as more than a left-handed specialist. “He’s a guy that can give you multiple innings,” Girardi said. “But he’s another left-hander for us. That’s why we went and got him.”

• Laffey is expected to be here tomorrow. Lefties are hitting .250 against him this season. He had a 1.87 ERA before the all-star break, but a 12.00 since. He was once a fairly highly touted prospect, and he’s still just 26 years old.

• Girardi said Boone Logan’s role won’t change because of Laffey. Logan will still be the top lefty in the bullpen, but it helps that he won’t be the only lefty. “The only time it really limits you is when he throws two or three days in a row,” Girardi said. Now, on days Logan’s not available, the Yankees will have Laffey.

• Freddy Garcia reported no problems throwing his splitfinger today, and it’s pretty clear that he preferred to start in Minnesota on Sunday rather than go to Scranton on Monday. “We just thought it was the safer route,” Girardi said. “When you’re a starter, you’re used to working every fifth or sixth day, and he hasn’t pitched in two weeks. We just thought it would make sense to see how he comes out after today’s bullpen. Have him throw on Monday somewhere and test the finger to make sure it’s OK, and just to get sharp again.”

• The plan is for Garcia to start one of those doubleheader games next Saturday.

• Girardi didn’t have a pitch count for Garcia on Monday. “I’ll see how many pitches Larry wants him to make,” Girardi said. “It will be more than an inning.”

• A possible added bonus of Garcia’s situation: The cut has helped to limit his workload and give him a little rest. “It definitely could help him,” Girardi said. “He was throwing the ball well, and when a guy is throwing the ball well, you hate for him to have all this time. With the rehab start on Monday, that should help. In the long run, this could really help him.”

• Mustaches are 0-for-2 in the Yankees clubhouse. Following Russell Martin’s lead, Eric Chavez has shaved his.

Ben Revere CF
Trevor Plouffe RF
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau 1B
Jason Kubel DH
Danny Valencia 3B
Rene Tosoni LF
Luke Hughes 2B
Tyuyoshi Nishioka SS

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 249 Comments →

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