Hard to remember the last time Yankee Stadium got as loud as it did tonight. But there was no walk-off, no monumental home run. There was no milestone, and that was kind of the point. Those weren’t cheers that filled this stadium. They were chants and boos directed at a 27-year-old pitcher who seemed far more willing to hit Alex Rodriguez than give up a hit to him.
“I was just trying to get him out,” Marlins reliever Sam Dyson said. “… If he was going to beat me, he was going to have to get the head out. I ended up throwing four balls kind of at his belt off the plate.”
Four straight pitches inside with Rodriguez one hit away from 3,000. The crowd was not happy about it. Never mind that the walk was part of a four-run inning that removed any doubt about who would win this game. The fans wanted to see history. They wanted to see A-Rod swing the bat. They were supporting Rodriguez as much as they were dismissing Dyson.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Rodriguez said. “It feels great. Every time moments like that happen, I can just reflect on a year ago today, (and) how great the fans have been to me. I think their support has actually helped me play a lot better.”
No one seemed to think Dyson was trying to hit Rodriguez (though at least a few of those pitches might have done it had Rodriguez not backed out of the box).
“He didn’t really have much of a chance in his last at-bat,” Joe Girardi said. “I think the crowd wanted to see it, I think that’s the bottom line, and I understand that. I’m sure the young man was trying to get him out, he just threw a bunch of sinkers that were too far inside, and Alex couldn’t even swing at them.”
So history will have to wait. Tomorrow the Yankees get Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
“I’ll think about it some,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m in a good place. Our team is playing well, we like playing at home, having the fans behind us was phenomenal today. My daughters are in town, Father’s Day is around the corner, I’m just really excited and having fun.”
• Not a bad start by Sabathia, but not a great one either. It just kind of felt like a lot of Sabathia’s starts these days. Three runs across six innings is a 4.50 ERA, and if Sabathia could pitch like this every time out, I think the Yankees might take that. It was a winable start, and at times Sabathia looked great with seven strikeouts and no walks. “It’s difficult not, I guess, being the guy I used to be who went deep into games,” Sabathia said. “Just kind of is what it is. I go out there hard as I can until I’m done.”
• When did Sabathia come to grips with being that type of pitcher? “That’s something I came to grips with a couple of months ago; a couple of years ago,” he said. “It just kind of is what it is. Go out there and use my pitches and try to pitch deep into the game. … It really doesn’t change the way I pitch. It’s just frustrating for me that I can only give them six innings at a time.”
• After putting the side down in order the first three innings, Sabathia allowed one run apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Just falling behind, he said. He got into bad counts, and the Marlins were able to chip away and take the lead for a while. “He did a good job,” Girardi said. “To limit them to three runs, a team that has really hit left-handers this season, I thought he did a really good job.”
• Chasen Shreve extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings over his past 10 games. He got his fourth win of the season. Each of his past 17 strikeouts have been swinging third strikes.
• Even though this had become a lopsided game, Girardi had Dellin Betances warming in the ninth. Girardi said he felt the Marlins were too close to being back in it to not have Betances at least getting ready just in case. “If I don’t bring him in and we lose the game, how’s that wear and tear? Girardi said. “Not too good. I’ll be crucified.”
• Carlos Beltran’s game winner was the 30th home run of his career to tie a game or give his team a lead in the seventh inning or later. It was his second such home run with the Yankees. After a few good games in a row, Beltran is hitting .286/.348/.405 in the month of June. That’s after a good month of May. “The past couple of months I’ve been putting good at bats,” Beltran said. “It’s a long season, man. I know that it sounds cliché for me to say that, but I just have to approach each at-bat and every game as an individual.”
• After tonight’s game-tying shot, Brett Gardner’s hit 46 career homers, and 22 of those have tied a game or given the Yankees a lead. The Yankees have gone 34-11 in games when Gardner’s gone deep. “He’s been coming up huge for us the whole time,” Sabathia said.
• Mason Williams had two doubles tonight. Of his five big league hits, four have gone for extra bases. “I think he’s done a good job of making adjustments,” Girardi said. “It’s not easy being a young player, really hasn’t spent a lot of time in Triple-A. Not really knowing any of the pitchers that he’s facing. He’s made some nice little adjustments.”
• The Yankees are 9-1 in their past 10 home games. This was technically their sixth series sweep of the year, one away from their total from last year. … This was the fifth time Sabathia made a start without walking anyone this year. … Brian McCann has 20 RBI in his past 22 games. He had three hits tonight and I didn’t even notice until I saw the box score postgame.
• Still really weird to watch Carter Capps pitch with that little hop off the rubber. He must deliver the ball an extra foot closer to home plate, plus he’s able to reach 100 mph (which he did tonight). “When I saw Capps warming up,” Rodriguez said. “I told a bunch of my teammates in the dugout, ‘three-thousand is going to have to wait for another day.’ The chances of me even putting the ball in play are very little. Once I saw him walk out of the game, I was pretty excited.”
• Final word goes to Rodriguez about chasing No. 3,000: “It’s a lot easier to deal with these at-bats because we’re in the middle of a game and we need to win badly. It’s all about wins for us. The game was 5-3 and we’re doing everything in our power to keep the big guy out of the game. The focus is always winning.”
Associated Press photos
At this point, we all know it’s going to happen.
Of course there’s the ever-present caveat about a freak injury or some other unforeseen roadblock – and with this guy, the potential unexpected events really do cover a wide range of possibilities – but by all reasonable logic, we all know Alex Rodriguez is going to reach 3,000 hits.
In fact, it seems a safe bet he’s going to reach the milestone at some point during this home stand. He needs three more, and the Yankees are home the next seven days. Rodriguez hasn’t had a seven-game stretch without at least three hits all season.
So, yeah, it’s going to happen. How we’re all supposed to feel about that, I really don’t know. Honestly, I don’t care, and maybe that says as much as anything about how far Rodriguez has come in terms of public opinion.
“I can’t tell you how the people are going to feel,” A-Rod said this week in Miami. “All I can do is focus on my job this year in particular. I’m really enjoying playing baseball and really grateful for the support that I’ve gotten.”
We all know the circumstances surrounding Rodriguez’s career. We know how great he was as an amateur, and how great he became as a professional. We know about the raw talent, the poor decisions, and the impossible questions of what he might have been had he let his natural ability speak for itself.
The situation is what it is. That’s a cliché bit of analysis, but it’s an accurate one. There’s really no sense rehashing the whole thing.
And because the steroid storyline has been analyzed and re-analyzed until I think we’ve all grown sick of it, Rodriguez gets to chase history without a ton of unwanted attention. His return from a year-long suspension was – with good reason – the biggest story in Yankees’ camp this spring. His passing of Willie Mays on the all-time home run list was a perfect opportunity to dig deeper into the whole scandalous affair earlier this season.
But at this point, we’ve all been there, and we’ve all done that. Some will never forgive Rodriguez. Some are completely on his side. Some will boo him no matter what. Some see him as a mistreated scapegoat. If your opinion hasn’t been changed by now, it’s probably not going to change by the time A-Rod collects four more hits.
He is who he is. And no matter what you think of A-Rod, 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits.
“You think about 15 years of 200 hits,” Joe Girardi said. “You see maybe three hitters a year get 200 hits in each league. I think it shows, obviously you have to have longevity, but it shows real consistency in the game. For him, it’s just another huge number that he’s put up in his career, whether it’s home runs that people want to judge or RBIs that people want to judge. But 3,000 hits is a lot of hits, and you don’t see it every day.”
So when Rodriguez gets there – as long as it happens in the Bronx – my guess is it will be celebrated. Not the way Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit was celebrated, but that’s OK. We can’t pretend to be shocked that fans, media, teammates and opponents treat A-Rod and Jeter differently. They’re incredibly different players. Both incredibly talented, but still incredibly different.
Rodriguez is a unique case. He was a unique talent as a kid, and he’s become a one-of-a-kind icon as he nears the end. Cheer him. Boo him. Watch him with indifference. Whatever you think of A-Rod, within in a few days, there will be 29 players who have reached 3,000 Major League hits, and Rodriguez inevitably will be one of them.
Associated Press photos
A-Rod grievance deadline put on hold • 06.17.15
From Ron Blum of The Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and the players’ association have stopped the clock on the deadline for Alex Rodriguez to file a grievance against the New York Yankees for not making a $6 million payment when he hit his 660th home run.
Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place on the career home run list on May 1, and baseball’s labor contract sets a 45-day deadline to file a grievance.
MLB and the union said Tuesday the deadline is on hold for as long as the two sides agree.
At the time Rodriguez and the Yankees signed their $275 million, 10-year contract in December 2007, they signed a separate marketing agreement that called for $6 million each for up to five milestone accomplishments.
The accomplishments were contemplated to be Rodriguez hitting home runs 660, 714, 755, 762 and 763. In exchange for each designation, Rodriguez would give the Yankees marketing rights, such as using Rodriguez’s name and image in selling licensed goods.
Following Rodriguez’s return this year from a season-long drug suspension, the Yankees said the decision to designate any historic achievements was at the team’s discretion and they would not designate any.
New York has offered to pay an amount less than $6 million in Rodriguez’s name to charities mutually chosen by both sides, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the sides have not discussed the situation publicly.
Associated Press photo
Even though the pitching line was impressive on Saturday, the Yankees have decided Ivan Nova needs one more rehab start.
He’s going to get one extra day of rest, so he’ll pitch on Friday. Joe Girardi said he wasn’t sure whether Nova would start in Double-A or Triple-A. Neither team is home, but Triple-A isn’t far away in Lehigh Valley. I guess that’s the smart bet.
“We just feel we want to make sure that he’s finished off,” Girardi said. “It’s not something that’s easy to make an adjustment if you say, we wish we would have had one more start, so we talked about it for a couple days and we just think it’s better that we know that he’s ready to go and ready to handle the rigors of throwing every fifth day and all that.
“They talked a little bit, they thought his fastball was good, his changeup was good. His curveball was not as sharp as they had seen it, and that could have just been the day. But for us, as I said, we waited a long time and to give him one more start and to make sure that he’s ready is probably the best thing to do.”
At some point the Yankees are going to use a sixth starter during this stretch of 20 days in a row, but it sounds like they’ll stay on rotation for this next turn.
“Right now we have not made a decision to insert a sixth starter so I would just assume everything is on rotation,” Girardi said.
One other bit of rotation depth news: Esmil Rogers accepted his outright assignment and will report to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Girardi had previously indicated the Yankees wanted Rogers to be stretched out as a starter in the minor leagues.
• There is a ton of excitement about the Yankees being in town, and most of that is centered on the return of Alex Rodriguez, who grew up here. The scene on the field during batting practice was near chaos, and there was incredible media coverage for A-Rod when he spoke pregame. “It’s always great to be back home,” Rodriguez said. “Miami is where family is. I have a bus of people coming in today; family, friends, my daughters are here, high school coach, Little League coach, my seventh grade teacher. You name it. So obviously I’m very excited. Never thought I’d get the opportunity again to play in front of the home fans.”
• Any thought of playing Rodriguez these two days? “I think he’s played third maybe once or twice,” Girardi said. “And he’s fallen into being really comfortable in the DH role and sometimes two days off helps a player so, no, there was no thought.”
• Very minor hamstring issue for Carlos Beltran. He apparently felt something at the bottom of his hamstring near the muscle when he was doubled off first base during the Baltimore series. That’s why he’s not in the lineup today. Girardi said he expects Beltran in right field again tomorrow. “It’s minor,” Girardi said. “I could use him tonight.”
• Of course, Girardi also acknowledged that this is a big right field, Beltran doesn’t have much range, and Girardi thought Garrett Jones looked alright in the field yesterday. “Like I said, I though Garrett had a nice day yesterday and I’m giving (Beltran) another day,” Girardi said.
• Still no definitive next step for Jacoby Ellsbury. “I think it really depends on how these next two days go,” Girardi said. “He’s going to hit on the field today, so it’s the first time he’s done that, but I think it depends on how these next two days go.”
• Since we’re in a National League park, Yankees starters have to his these two days. Girardi said he feels a little better about it because he’s starting two of his more experienced hitters. “Tanaka hit in Japan, so he did know how to handle the bat there,” Girardi said. “And Eovaldi’s hit (in the National League), and he’s hit this season, so the two candidates we have in there are probably two of the better candidates.”
• Ichiro Suzuki is playing center field and batting second for the Marlins (he’s hitting .281 this season). That creates a pretty cool matchup with Ichiro against Tanaka. “You have two great players going at it,” Girardi said. “I’ve seen Ichiro matched up against other players from Japan, and I think the country gets very excited so I think it’s great for baseball.”
• However big you think Giancarlo Stanton is, I promise you he’s bigger. Didn’t realize his arms look like they do until I saw him in the clubhouse while talking to David Phelps. He’s just a giant of a man. And Phelps had a lot of kind words to say about Stanton. Apparently he really goes about things the right way.
Associated Press photos
Alex Rodriguez’s next milestone might have to wait a few days.
Five hits away from 3,000 for his career, the Yankees’ regular designated hitter isn’t expected to be in the lineup these next two games in Miami. Back-to-back interleague games on the road leave no place for a DH – Rodriguez can’t get an exemption, even his home town — and manager Joe Girardi said he plans to limit Rodriguez to pinch hit duties until the team returns to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
“But everything is always subject to change,” Girardi said.
Two-and-a-half months into the season, Rodriguez has been plowing through benchmarks. He’s already passed Willie Mays for fourth on baseball’s all-time home run list, he passed Stan Musial for ninth in runs scored, and on Saturday he became on the second player to ever officially reach 2,000 career RBI.
With five more hits, he’ll become the 29th player to reach 3,000 hits.
“It’s like saying, ‘Which do you like more of your kids?’” Rodriguez said. “They’re all pretty special. The way you win games historically has been by scoring runs, so I would say RBI and runs scored are the two most important (milestones) to help the team win.”
For his year’s Yankees, Rodriguez is second in runs scored and third in RBI. He’s been helping the team win, and his move into the No. 3 spot in the order matched up with their hot streak in mid-April.
These next two days, though, Rodriguez might be limited an at-bat a night. Although he has played both first base and third base this season, Girardi prefers to keep him out of the field. Rodriguez hasn’t started a game in the field since April 27.
“I never welcome days off,” Rodriguez said. “I love to play. But it worked pretty well for me (sitting the bench) in Washington; after those two days off, I swung the bat pretty well at home.”
The Yankees get home again on Wednesday. There’s another A-Rod milestone coming, and it might have to wait until then.
“I won’t be able to appreciate these things until years after I’m done playing, anyway,” Rodriguez said. “My focus is to come out nightly and try to help the team win.”
Associated Press photo
Yesterday afternoon, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman stepped onto the field to watch a little bit of batting practice. While he was there, he talked to the media for a while. Nothing particularly new came out of it, but the GM did hit on a number of topics that really matter to this team right now, so here are a few highlights:
On the recovery of Jacoby Ellsbury
“We had a timetable. I don’t think we talked about it too much publicly. He was going to be in one of those lineman-looking braces for three weeks. He’s been doing running and stuff in the brace, I think, with some low-level resistance. Obviously doing a lot of strength work. He’s been working his tail off to make sure his quads and his hammys and everything else are not falling behind. … My update through yesterday is he’s busting his tail and doing a lot of functional stuff, but he’s got to have that brace on for three weeks total and he’s just past week two.”
On the decision to have Michael Pineda skip a start
“We’ve just been talking through it. Tanaka obviously got a time out because of the injury he had, so with the off days that we’ve had, it was: all right, let’s try to make a decision here at least on this front end. There’s other avenues to do it if you got a full complement (and) everybody’s healthy. You can always play with a six-man rotation if Nova’s back and everybody’s in line. We’re just trying to find ways to manage it properly so everybody keeps that full tank of gas and doesn’t have fatigue set in too easily, because once fatigue sets in, injuries can happen.”
On the idea of six starter when Ivan Nova is healthy
“It just depends on time of year, how things are functioning, who’s experiencing what. There’s no strict plan as much as (trying to) find ways at times to give people blows is basically what we’re going to try to do. But how we’re going to do it, we’re not sure just yet. … (Nova)’s going to have one (rehab start) in the Florida State League. If that goes fine, he’ll go to Scranton, weather permitting, and at that point we’ll evaluate. I guess it’s possible (he could be back this month). We did build him up to 75 pitches in extended spring so we can keep him on the clock if we feel it’s necessary, or we can pull him if we need him.”
On the dependability of Alex Rodriguez as an everyday player
“It was unpredictable what we were going to get. I could throw out there about the DH spot, it’s not as demanding and we all know that, but I didn’t have any expectations, let alone playing every day as a DH or being productive. He’s been very, very impressive and obviously helpful.”
On lingering foot concerns with Brian McCann
“I’m just thankful every test was negative. (The wrong orthotic) is more likely than not what was causing the issues. We’ll just swap it out and we’ll be able to go on from there and forget that it happened.”
On lingering elbow concerns with Masahiro Tanaka
“I can only speak for myself; I don’t think about it any more. I just think about if he is going to perform. In his last start, given how it was in his two rehab starts, I just wanted him to be productive. I knew he was around an 85-pitch count, so I didn’t know if we were going to be deep in the pen or not. My God, he was tremendous. I wasn’t worried about health. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
Associated Press photos
We’ll get to the game in just a bit. First, here’s what’s going on with Slade Heathcott:
The quad tightness that knocked him out of tonight’s lineup was not new or unfamiliar. Heathcott said he’d been dealing with it off and on since the offseason. It’s never been a serious issue, and he doesn’t think it’s a serious issue now, but he might miss a few days because of it.
“It’s been very easily manageable,” Heathcott said. “Came in today just a little more tender, and we just decided that giving it a day or two here would be better than four weeks.”
Heathcott said the quad was mostly an offseason issue that hadn’t really popped up since the beginning of spring training, but Joe Girardi said it had been at least a mild issue during spring training, during the Triple-A season and for a few days since Heathcott got to the big leagues. Girardi even speculated that Heathcott’s first double in his first big league start might have sparked the latest flare up.
“He’s been battling this for five or six days, I think it is,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if he did it on his first double. It’s possible he did it then. I think he’s battled it in Triple-A a little bit, and battled it in spring training a little bit. Part of it could have to do with the surgeries he’s had on his knee. All the different things that you go through. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
The Yankees face nothing but right-handed starters the next three days, but Heathcott might have to miss a few of those games.
“It’s not where I want to be, but I can’t start doubting the plan now,” he said. “I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason, this has got to be the way it is, and just go from here. … Maybe just one of those things where I realize what I need to do, maintain it a little better.”
• Might have been a much different game had the Yankees been playing with a full bullpen, but Girardi said he did not have Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances or Justin Wilson available. If those guys were in the pen, it’s not a sure thing CC Sabathia would have gone out for the seventh inning, and it’s doubtful David Carpenter would have been called in with two on and none out. “It’s hard to say,” Girardi said. “(Sabathia) pitched pretty well up to that point. It could have been different.”
• Speaking of Sabathia, he was pitching a good game until that two-out, two-run homer in the sixth. Even in that inning he’d done a nice job to get two quick outs after a leadoff double. He had a chance to get out of the inning but threw a bad changeup that Brett Lawrie hit for a game-tying home run. “Just up and down the middle,” Sabathia said. “He put a good swing on it. I’d thrown him a couple of them. He saw them pretty good and put a good swing.”
• Girardi on Sabathia: “He had a changeup that cut. He gives up the leadoff double. Does a tremendous job of getting to where he wants to get with two outs and the guy still on third base. And the changeup cut. That’s the ball Lawrie hit out. Next guy gets a hit in the hole the following inning, then he walks the next guy, and I had to make a change. But he was, he was pitching really well, and it just kind of got away from him.”
• Before that sixth inning, Sabathia seemed to be heading toward his third strong start in his past four outings. “I felt like we did a good job of moving the ball in and out,” he said. “… Threw the ball well, like I said, now just got to tighten up on a couple of pitches and get the ball to the back of our bullpen which is the strength of our team.”
• Carpenter’s having a bad year, and he certainly knows it. “At this point right now, I know it’s not mechanical,” he said. “It’s (possibly) pitch selection. Could be that. Just hard to tell. I try to go in there and be aggressive with what I’ve got that day and try to get people out. It’s not so much whether it’s this pitch, that pitch, whatever. … I’m frustrated. I’m not happy about how I’m performing right now. I don’t like letting guys down. That’s the thing that upsets me the most, not so much about numbers or anything like that, just letting guys down. They went out there and busted their butt.”
• Nifty play by Alex Rodriguez to score a run in the fourth inning. His diving, tumbling move to avoid a tag at the plate resulted in a run that might have been key had the Yankees not let the game fall apart. “That was not pretty,” Rodriguez said. “That looked like Shaquille O’Neal coming out of a pick. … I was confident (I had touched the plate). When Joe asked me, I said, ‘I think so, but I’m not 100 percent.’ I thought I felt it with my fingers.”
• Brian McCann called Rodriguez “nimble” and Girardi said he was only hoping Rodriguez would “be safe and get back up.”
• Another milestone for Rodiguez as he tied Barry Bonds for second place on baseball’s all-time RBI list (of course, that list doesn’t count a whole bunch of Babe Ruth’s RBIs). “You say the same thing about Gehrig and Ruth, and Barry’s the same thing; he’s one of the greats,” Rodriguez said. “This is kind of special because he’s also a friend and I know him very well.”
• Big game for McCann who had three hits including his first road home run of the season. He’s reached base three times in three straight games, and he has three home runs and 10 RBI in his past six games. “Balls have been falling,” McCann said. “I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat well all year. Numbers – especially numbers today, I don’t think you can really judge a player off his average anymore, especially if you’re left-handed and don’t run well.”
• Carlos Beltran’s 15-game hitting streak ended.
• Final word goes to Rodriguez: “On any given day, you have to come ready to play every day because any team can beat anybody. We proved that last week; we beat one of the best teams in baseball in Kansas City and lost nine out of 10. It’s just important to come out every day mentally tough and play to win.”
Associated Press photos
Masahiro Tanaka will make a rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. He will be scheduled for just 45 pitches, meaning this will be the first of multiple outings before Tanaka’s activated from the disabled list.
“It’s a decision that we’ll make after each start when we feel that he’s ready to go,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m not going to put a number on it. Let’s just see how he does with 45 and decide what’s next after that.”
The Yankees won’t say how many starts they expect Tanaka to make in the minor leagues, but pitchers in this situation typically build up 15 pitches at a time. That suggests one start at 45 pitches, one at 60 and one at 75 before the Yankees would seem likely to even consider activating Tanaka. It’s pretty common for them to prefer going one more step and getting a pitcher to 90 pitches before taking him off the disabled list.
Would they really move at a faster pace with a guy like Tanaka?
“Let’s just go a start at a time,” Girardi said. “We know that we have to build him back up some. He has not been out that long, so he’ll go three and 45 and then we’ll decide what’s next.”
Tanaka said he feels encouraged. Ever since the forearm and wrist injuries that put him on the disabled list late last month, the Yankees’ ace has progress as planned. He threw another bullpen on Monday and came through it with no problems.
“Good progress,” Tanaka said. “Should be OK (on Thursday). … Can’t really tell (how many starts will be necessary). It’s something I’ll discuss with the pitching coach and the manager.”
Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild have moved cautiously with Tanaka since spring training. There’s little reason to think they’ll sudden accelerate things at this point. If they’re starting at 45 pitches, then it seems they’re banking on at least three rehab starts, maybe four.
• Mark Teixeira’s toe feels fine, so he’s back in the lineup at first base, basically wiping out any chance of Alex Rodriguez starting tonight. “You can think about (playing him),” Girardi said. “But he hasn’t play a whole lot of field. (Chase Headley) just hit a three-run homer off a left-hander. I went with the guys that we’ve been running out there every day.”
• Of course, Rodriguez will be a go-to pinch hitter off the bench. “I’ll try to get him at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think that’s important to keep him going.”
• Also no Carlos Beltran in today’s lineup. That means the two guys who have spent the most time in the No. 3 spot in the batting order this season are on the bench tonight. “(Beltran)’s been playing well and he’s been swinging well,” Girardi said. “You get in a situation where you’re coming off an off day, your two guys at the top have done a great job against left-handers, Chris Young has done a great job against left-handers. But Carlos has been playing extremely well. In this long run, these two days might not hurt him, but it was hard to take him out today.”
• Chase Whitley had Tommy John surgery earlier today. Girardi said it went well, and there was basically no choice but to have the surgery. “The way I understood it, there were only a few fibers left,” Girardi said. “So maybe he had a couple pitches left and it would have been completely gone. It was the right choice on his part.”
• Brendan Ryan is supposed to resume playing games in Tampa tomorrow.
• When Chasen Shreve was in high school, he played on a travel team with Bryce Harper. The two remain pretty good friends and go golfing regularly in the offseason. “I thought he was more of a football player than a baseball player,” Shreve said. “When he played, he was just unreal. He played hard; he’s always played hard.”
• Shreve said he’s faced Harper only once. It was a minor league game a few years ago and Harper popped to shortstop. If Shreve faces him these next two days? “I don’t know how I’m going to react,” Shreve said. “I think we’re both going to smile.”
• One thing that struck me about Shreve talking about Harper: Shreve clearly likes him. In no way did this feel like a guy who felt he had to say nice things about a guy he knew growing up. It’s obvious Shreve really likes him and is happy for him.
Associated Press photos
Chase Whitley kept clenching his fist. He wasn’t finishing off his pitches. He’d focus on Brian McCann’s glove set on the inner half of the plate, then fire a fastball outside for a ball.
“I had no idea where it was going,” Whitley admitted.
It was finally McCann who motioned to the dugout and called for the trainer. He knows what Whitley’s supposed to look like on the mound, and this wasn’t it. Manager Joe Girardi got to the rubber, and for the first time, Whitley admitted that his elbow was bothering him. That’s when Girardi patted Whitley on the chest. When Whitley slammed the ball into McCann’s glove, it wasn’t because he wanted to stay in the game, it was because he knew he couldn’t.
“I knew something was up,” McCann said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s not going to say anything, so he wanted to keep pitching. It was one of those things where you could see it. … He wanted to fight through it.”
The Yankees haven’t said Whitley needs Tommy John surgery, but that’s clearly the concern. Girardi said only that the pain is “in that area you don’t want to talk about,” and Whitley seemed to have accepted whatever tomorrow’s MRI is going to show. The team has already announced that Chris Capuano will take Whitley’s spot in the rotation.
“It’s extremely disappointing because this kid’s done everything that we’ve asked,” Girardi said. “He’s been trying to deal with it. It’s a kid that’s never been hurt and he just felt like, he said, ‘You know, once I got going, I was always fine.’ … I feel for him, because like I said, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. A reliever turned starter that gave us big innings last year. He’s done a good job for us this year. Pitched extremely well in spring training. We asked him to go down and be a starter for us in case something happens, and now he’s got to deal with this.”
In his previous starts, Whitley said, adrenaline seemed to take over. Whatever pain he’d felt in bullpens more or less disappeared in his games. He had a terrific spring, pitched well in Scranton, gave the Yankees two strong starts after his call-up, then struggled the past two times out. This time, the pain was there from the beginning. McCann said Whitley was spiking his changeup (usually his best pitch) and fastball command was erratic (that’s usually a strength).
“Tonight it just carried over to the game,” Whitley said. “I’ve been able to get through it in the game, and tonight obviously you could pretty much tell.”
Tomorrow’s MRI should give the Yankees their final diagnosis, but optimism seemed low in the clubhouse.
“The first thought is Tommy John because it’s so prevalent,” Adam Warren said. “Just makes it more real when it’s somebody real close to you. It’s just one of those injuries, it’s hard to prevent. It’s a unnatural arm motion for your arm. I hate to assume the worst right away, but that’s the first thing you think about. That’s my concern, and I’m sure he’s worried about it too.”
• While Girardi committed to Chris Capuano joining the rotation, he wasn’t sure when it would happen. Wouldn’t be surprising to see a reliever come up for at least the start of the Royals series. Earliest Capuano could pitch would be Sunday, anyway.
• When Whitley left the game, Esmil Rogers’ first pitch was a pretty decent slider that No. 9 hitter Rene Rivera hit for a three-run homer. “It was a good pitch, good location,” McCann said. “All you can do is tip your hat on that one.”
• Although Rogers had to be rushed into duty, he had plenty of time to get ready. He said he felt fully loose and didn’t think the circumstances coming into the game contributed to the home run. “It was a good pitch,” Rogers said. “I think maybe they were looking for that. The location was down and away, and he got it.”
• Whitley actually threw more balls than strikes tonight. He’s the first Yankees starter to do that since A.J. Burnett on June 26, 2010 against the Dodgers.
• Reliever Branden Pinder, who could easily have been the guy sent down for Capuano, seems like to stick around now. Tonight he pitched another scoreless inning. He’s only pitched four innings so far this season, but he’s allowed just two hits. Three of his four appearances have come at Tropicana Field. He’s pitched here three times and still hasn’t pitched at Yankee Stadium.
• Alex Rodriguez’s ninth-inning home run let the Yankees avoid their first shutout loss since September 15, 2014 (a game that also happened at Tropicana Field). They have played 49 games since their last shutout. They are one of three teams that have not been shutout this season (Detroit and Toronto are the others).
• Rodriguez’s home run also let the Yankees avoid going without an extra-base hit for the third-straight game. Would have been the first time that had happened to the Yankees since 2000. Before the home run, the Yankees went 98 at-bats without an extra-base hit between Mark Teixeira’s ninth-inning home run on Monday and Rodriguez’s ninth-inning home run tonight.
• The Yankees have scored in three of their past 27 innings.
• Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Rodriguez — the one, two, three hitters — combined to go 5-for-11 tonight. The rest of the lineup went 0-for-19.
• Rodriguez’s home run was his 1,000th RBI as a Yankee. He’s two career RBI away from Babe Ruth’s total of 1,992 (fourth all-time since RBI became an official stat in 1920). Of Rodriguez’s nine home runs this season, four have come against the Rays, and three of those have come against rookies.
• Girardi and several Yankees players said they felt the team hit the ball harder than the numbers suggest tonight. That really did seem to the case, at least for this game. Maybe not the past two games, but tonight there were some hard-hit balls. “I’d say we hit six or seven balls really hard that they caught tonight,” Girardi said. “You put that with the four or five hits, if they fall, I mean the one inning we had three guys line out. You could add a couple of runs in possibly, with a runner on second and nobody out. But it didn’t happen. They played good defense and we just didn’t get the hits.”
• Final word goes to Gardner: “I think if we went out there and struck out 15 or 20 times and things were real ugly, I think it would be a little different, but some guys swung the bats well. Chase Headley swung the bat really, really well tonight and nothing to show for it. We’ve got to keep our heads up and realize we’re still in first place. The last couple of days have been tough, but we’ll be fine.”
Associated Press photos
Jorge Posada doesn’t think Alex Rodriguez belongs in the Hall of Fame, and he seems unhappy that A-Rod beat him for the MVP award a dozen years ago.
“You know, the only thing that I can think is 2003,” Posada said during a interview with CBS This Morning. “You know, I was close to the MVP. Didn’t happen. Alex won the MVP and, you know, I think second was either Carlos Delgado or David Ortiz, I don’t remember. But, I was almost there. You know what could’ve happened if, you know, it’s tough. It’s really tough.”
All of this, of course, is because of Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs. Posada made his comments while promoting his new book.
“I think the guys that need to be in the Hall of Fame need to be a player that played with no controversy,” Posada said.
During the interview, Posada acknowledged he had never discussed any of this with Rodriguez, and in the Yankees’ clubhouse this afternoon, Rodriguez took the high road in responding to Posada’s criticism.
“I consider Jorgie a friend,” Rodriguez said. “… I have nothing bad to say about Jorgie. I have nothing but good things to say about Jorgie. He was a great player and a good teammate and we won a championship in ’09 together.”
For the most part, Rodriguez seems to have been embraced by many players throughout the league, and his current teammates seem to have accepted him with no problems.
“I’ve been so humbled by the response I’ve gotten, not only from my current teammates but from former teammates,” Rodriguez said. “The support that I’ve had is overwhelming and I just feel extremely grateful.”
Posada will be at Yankee Stadium later this season to have his number retired. Rodriguez said he will not find that inevitable encounter to be awkward.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Jorge is a friend. We’ll keep it simple. Keep it light.”
The video above is from this morning’s interview.
• Stephen Drew said that, in his entire life, he has never played third base in a game. He took some ground balls at the position yesterday, and now he’s starting there in a big league game. “I kind of know my role,” Drew said. “Yeah, it’s something new, but at the same time just trust my hands and my feet and go from there. That’s all you can really do. I’m not going to go over there and start stressing that I haven’t played. It’s just more reaction and hopefully I can do my job there.”
• Joe Girardi said he no longer considers Rodriguez to be a true backup at either third base or first base. He might play the field occasionally, but the Yankees want him to be a full-time designated hitter. “I’m thinking we’ll play him a lot more if we can DH him,” Girardi said.
• Rodriguez said he’s on board with being a full-time DH going forward. “I’m totally on board with whatever Joe wants,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve said that from Day 1. Whatever Joe wants. I played third base in the ninth inning the other day and was pretty nervous about that. That was pretty alarming. Whatever Joe wants, I can do.”
• Jose Pirela actually has some third base experience, but the Yankees clearly don’t like him at the position. Asked why he’s using Drew at third ahead of Pirela, Girardi said only: “We just felt that Stephen will make the adjustment easier than Jose.”
• Rodriguez said his sore left hamstring feels better today. Obviously he’s been able to play through the issue. Doesn’t seem to be a huge issue, but Girardi said he was especially hesitant to use Rodriguez at third while the hamstring is even a mild issue.
• Chase Headley doesn’t have a specific injury, Girardi said, but he’s taken a beating lately with diving plays and such. “He’s just beat up,” Girardi said. “All the diving that he does. He just kind of physically could use a day, so we decided to do it today.”
• Masahiro Tanaka will throw another bullpen on Friday.
• The Yankees are still deciding whether to have Chris Capuano make another rehab start or activate him in a few days to rejoin the rotation. Two off days next week really takes some of the urgency away. The rotation is about to get extra rest regardless. “We just kind of touched on (discussing Capuano’s play) today,” Girardi said. “I talked to Cash. I talked to Larry some. Obviously we want to see how he feels physically and have a chance to talk to him. We’ve got to make a decision. It’s not urgent that we make it today or tomorrow, but we’ll probably have him throw a side tomorrow and have him be on line depending on what we do.”
Associated Press photo