Yankees pregame: Grandy off center? • 05.05.13
The Yankees had seemed to have passed on moving Curtis Granderson from center to left after he broke his right forearm in his first at-bat of his first exhibition game and missed spring training. But Joe Girardi today opened up the possibility again that Granderson may not be in center when he returns, that Brett Gardner may stay there.
“We’ll decide that as time goes on,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about Grandy; we just want to get him healthy. People have asked me a lot about, ‘When Grandy comes back, what are you going to do with your outfield if you have three guys who are playing pretty well?’ I said, ‘Well, Grandy is going to play. He’s a big part of our offense.’ But as we’ve seen around here, a lot can happen in a couple of weeks.”
Later, Girardi added, ‘We might toy around with some other things (for Granderson), left, right, other things. He’s getting reps everywhere right now.”
But that isn’t happening with Gardner next to him.
“That’s not my concern,” Girardi said. “My concern is how he reacts in all the different spots.”
Granderson has been playing extended spring games. And, of course, he had to get hit by a pitch Saturday in the arm. But this was in the triceps, according to Girardi.
“From what I understand, he’s OK. He’s kind of picking up where he left off,” Girardi said about him getting hit again.
The minor-league complex in Tampa will be packed with rehabbing major leaguers with several others set to join Granderson, including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
“I know there’s a lot of big people there,” Girardi said. “I understand that. But that’s not going to be the focus of my day. The focus of my day is the people in this room right now and winning the game.”
David Robertson played catch for the second straight day. He plans to test that lower left hamstring again Tuesday prior to the game in Colorado, throwing on flat ground and then throwing a few pitches off a mound if that goes well. He said he just has a little tightness now.
“I don’t see why I can’t be ready,” Robertson said.
Andy Pettitte struggled without his signature cutter in his last start, against the Astros. Girardi doesn’t expect that to be a problem today, against the A’s.
“I’ll be completely shocked if it’s not there today,” Girardi said.
It’s been said that Joe Girardi has one of the easiest jobs in baseball: Just write down the names of a bunch of superstars, call it a lineup, and go win 95 games. Things are a bit different this season, and Girardi acknowledged that this Opening Day lineup took him a little longer than usual.
“It’s a little bit more,” he said. “You look at some of the positions that you’re going to do, and more about where you’re going to put guys in the lineup, in a sense, than maybe who’s playing. Trying to divide up your lefties a little bit against Lester, and having some new faces in Wells and Francisco, trying to figure out where to put them. So there was a little bit more thought.”
Girardi settled on moving Eduardo Nunez near the top of the lineup, strictly to split the lefties. Ichiro Suzuki is batting seventh today, but Girardi said Ichiro will move up to the No. 2 spot when the Yankees face right-hander Clay Buchholz on Wednesday.
“We’ve liked the way Nuney has swung the bat,” Girardi said. “I didn’t particularly want to put three lefties in a row against Lester to start the game. We’ve liked Gardy’s ability to get on base, so I put him in the leadoff spot. And without Jeet, I thought we should put a right-hander in there, and we’ve liked what Nuney has done.”
• Based on this spring’s catching matchups, I really assumed Chris Stewart would catch CC Sabathia today. Then again, I also thought Girardi would stick with Ichiro in the No. 2 spot even against a lefty, so what do I know? “I think the first month, it will be somewhat of a process of figuring out exactly how you’re going to (use the catchers),” Girardi said. “You can play spring training games, but playing in-season games is different. The things you have to handle are different. Your emotions are different. It was something that I thought about the last three or four days. Talked to my coaches about it, and right now it’s probably going to be a fairly even split.”
• It’s worth noting that Cervelli is actually a career .317/.414/.393 hitter against lefties.
• According to Brian Cashman, Derek Jeter is scheduled to play catch and undergo treatment today. “There is no exact schedule for Derek because it’s what his ankle allows him to do,” Girardi said. “And we’re really not going to know that until he goes out there.”
• Have not seen Alex Rodriguez, but apparently he’s here. It’s still unclear just how much of the pregame ceremonies he’ll be a part of. “Introductions are usually not the first thing on my mind when I come in here,” Girardi said. “I’m anxious to see him. I want to see how he’s moving around in a sense because I haven’t seen him since, probably the end of January when he was just starting to ride a bike. What he chooses to do today is his prerogative, and I’m fine with whatever he chooses to do.”
• Also no sign of Mark Teixeira, who’s supposed to visit the doctor this morning. I know he was expecting to be out of the checkup in time to be here for the ceremonies.
• A few observations from the clubhouse: Dave Robertson’s has been given a new locker, the one right next to Mariano Rivera. Eduardo Nunez also has a new locker in between Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez. Francisco Cervelli’s old locker now belongs to Chris Stewart, so he’s in Nick Swisher’s old locker. Joba Chamberlain moved to Robertson’s old locker, David Phelps move to Chamberlain’s old locker, Cody Eppley moved to Phelps’ old locker, and Adam Warren has Eppley’s old locker.
• Not great news for Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay: They have the lockers generally given to players who bounce back and forth from Triple-A.
• In case it didn’t go without saying, Girardi said the Yankees will stick with just one left-handed reliever for the time being. “You look at our eighth inning and our ninth inning, and that’s nailed down,” Girardi said. “My hope is Joba will nail down the seventh inning. If there’s a lefty we want Boone to face in the seventh inning, we might do that, and then have Joba go after the righties. But I figure, if you can nail down the seventh, eighth and ninth, you can use Boonie earlier.”
• Someone from a Japanese television station said during Girardi’s pregame press conference that Hideki Matsui has been given Japan’s highest civilian honor. “Congratulations to Hideki,” Girardi said. “I think everybody is aware of what this organization thinks of Hideki Matsui. He’s a wonderful man, he was a wonderful player. Did a lot for the New York Yankees in his time here, and represented us very, very well. I think from the Yankees standpoint, we’d like to congratulate him because he’s a man who deserves a great honor.”
• The Yankees will honor the Sandy Hook victims and first responders before today’s game. “I think it’s important to say thank you,” Girardi said. “The town of Newtown has went through so much during the last four or five months, six months, and you think about being a responder. Sometimes we don’t think about what they go through, and how important they are during a situation like that. I think it’s nice that we’re getting an opportunity to say thank you for all that you do, because they’re obviously going to do more as the future goes on.”
• The video above is Girardi’s opening comments from this morning’s pregame press conference.
Associated Press photo
As A-Rod’s world turns… • 02.01.13
My mother used to watch some soap opera called As The World Turns. I have no idea what it was about, no clue whether it’s still on television and absolutely no interest in finding out. I only know that, with any soap opera type drama, it’s the first name that always pops into my head.
With that in mind, here’s what’s going on with Alex Rodriguez…
A source has told ESPN that Anthony Bosch used to personally inject Rodriguez with HGH. That said, ESPN also notes that the source made reference to Bosch once having trouble finding a vein for the injection, despite the fact an HGH injection would not require a vein. Fishy? Sure. There’s absolutely nothing proven here, but it’s yet another source — and ESPN says there are “several sources” who have said Bosch used to talk about his relationship with Rodriguez – who claims to have knowledge of Rodriguez’s connection to the now infamous Miami clinic.
Rodriguez’s people, of course, say the claims are totally false.
People close to Rodiguez have also told Yahoo! Sports, and a few others, that Rodriguez has no plans of retiring or backing out of his contract with the Yankees. “Alex is working diligently on his rehabilitation and looks forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible,” one source told Tim Brown.
Obviously nothing is proven at this point, it’s just another ugly chapter that’s ongoing. And probably will be ongoing for a long, long time.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Associated Press photo
Not worth the debate • 01.30.13
As you might assume, I don’t schedule the Pinch Hitter posts based on when Alex Rodriguez might be accused of further steroid use. If I had the option I might have rearranged some things to begin this day with a Pinch Hitter post that perfectly fit yesterday’s bombshell, but there really wasn’t a perfect match in the hopper.
And really, wasn’t Gil’s post connected to the latest A-Rod drama in its own way?
Mariano Rivera is the most dominant pitcher of his generation, and he’s the greatest reliever in the history of baseball. Unless, of course, you prefer the career of a guy like Goose Gossage, who pitched more innings and often entered difficult situations much earlier in the game. Rivera vs. Gossage is a debate about baseball. It’s all about workload and dominance; wondering how Rivera would have done in Gossage’s shoes and vice versa. It’s about real, authentic greatness.
At no point is Rodriguez going to be a part of a conversation like that.
Let me be clear, I do not feel sorry for Rodriguez. I’ll certainly feel bad for him if this Miami New Times report proves to be untrue, but the fact is, Rodriguez created this state of distrust. It’s far easier to believe he’s still tainted than to believe he’s turned innocent. It might not be fair, but it’s his reality. And it’s a shame that it’s our reality, too.
You know what we should be doing this winter? We should be rooting for Rodriguez. He should be a rallying point; one of the game’s great players trying to come back from yet another injury. There should be pity, and there should be hope. There should not be animosity, and there should not be anger. There should not be betrayal.
Fact is, baseball loves a hero. The game has its share of villains, but it’s always cheered the good guys. If anything, baseball might have created too many idols.
Rodriguez will never be among them. I’m sure the baseball culture of the past two decades or so helped create this monster — the pressure and temptation to use performance enhancing drugs must have been immense — but Rodriguez caved. He was not the hero. He’s admitted to having given in for three years when he was younger, and now the easiest thing to do is believe that he did it again. The Yankees reportedly want to void his contract, and who can blame them? All of baseball would rather walk away from Rodriguez than rush to his defense.
Where does Alex Rodriguez rank among the greatest players of all time? The better and far sadder question is, does anyone really care?
Associated Press photo
I feel like I’ve written this before, and it remains perfectly true: I rarely notice uniform numbers. I know that Jeter is No. 2, and Mariano is No. 42, but if you go too far beyond the obvious name-number combinations, I really have to think about it to put the two together.
Further proof that there are endless ways to enjoy this game.
This morning, Vincent wrote all about numbers. Not sabermetrics, but the numbers on the players’ backs, including Shelley Duncan wearing No. 17 when he made his big league debut in 2007. I covered Shelley in the minors that season, and I was paying quite a bit of attention when he got to the big leagues, but there’s no chance I could have told you what number he was wearing. None.
Some baseball fans want to see superstars, and some prefer on-the-rise prospects. Some have legitimate opinions on Class-A utility infielders, and some had never heard of Melky Mesa until he failed to step on third base last season. Some watch games on TV, some listen on radio, and some follow along online while they engage in conversations on forums and blogs (we like those folks!). Some study the game’s history, some worry about the future, and some just like the hats.
Baseball makes room for all types of fans. It’s one of the great things about the game.
Another great thing about the game, at least in my position: Media guides. Thanks to my latest copy, here are some other obscure recent names who wore the numbers Vincent mentioned.
11 – Chris Widger, Morgan Ensberg
17 – Justin Christian, Kevin Cash, Chad Moeller
19 – Chris Basak, Kevin Thompson, Tyler Clippard
22 – Colin Curtis, Chad Huffman, Brian Gordon, Greg Golson
33 – Kelly Stinnett, Brian Bruney
• In an interview with MLB Network, Derek Jeter said he doesn’t expect to start running until spring training, but he still fully expects to be ready for Opening Day. “(The ankle) feels good now,” Jeter said. “Right where I feel it should be.”
• Brian Cashman creating a minor stir when he acknowledged on radio that Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire season if his recovery from hip surgery doesn’t go as expected. Also, the Daily News reported that a Rodriguez associate is being investigated in connection to performance enhancing drugs.
• The Yankees avoided arbitration with Dave Robertson, signing him to a one-year, $3.1-million deal. He was their last arbitration-eligible player without a contract.
• Joe Torre told reporters that there’s still a chance Andy Pettitte will pitch in the World Baseball Classic. According to Torre, Team USA wants Pettitte but the Yankees have expressed some discomfort in letting him play.
• The Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with left-handed first baseman Dan Johnson. He could have a chance to win regular at-bats as a designated hitter. The Yankees also signed right-handed outfielder Thomas Neal to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp.
• Speaking of minor leaguers coming to big league camp, Tyler Austin announced in an interview that he’s been invited to big league camp. The Yankees have yet to announce a full list of non-roster invitees.
• Yogi Berra and Joba Chamberlain were each honored at the annual B.A.T. dinner in New York.
• Several potential fits came off the board: Outfielder Justin Upton was traded to the Braves, catcher George Kottaras was claimed by the Royals, outfielder Jeff Baker signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, catcher Yorvit Torrealba signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, outfielder Scott Hairston signed a two-year deal with the Cubs and outfielder Delmon Young signed a one-year deal with the Phillies. Mark DeRosa, Ryan Raburn and Ben Francisco also signed last week.
Associated Press photos
Positive signs after A-Rod’s hip surgery • 01.18.13
He’s a hip specialist at a highly respected hospital where some of the most highly paid athletes in the world have trusted him with their careers. You can find his resume easily enough, and it’s legitimately overwhelming.
Basically, I’m willing to believe that Dr. Kelly can reshape a femur and reattach a labrum.
But when Alex Rodriguez went in for surgery this week, not everything was in Dr. Kelly’s hands, and as he explained earlier this month, the success or failure of Rodriguez’s recovery is going to hinge partially on the damage to his cartilage, which can’t be fixed or replaced.
Now there are two reports saying the same thing: Dr. Kelly did his job just fine, and Rodriguez’s knee just might live up to its part of the bargain as well. Both the New York Post and New York Daily News have quoted sources saying there was even less cartilage damage than Dr. Kelly anticipated.
“One thing is certain,” Dr. Kelly said before the surgery. “The less permanent damage you have to the cartilage, the greater the probability is for return to pre-injury level of play.”
So that’s a bit of good news to consider for the next six months while Rodriguez goes through the long rehab process.
Photo from Rodriguez’s Facebook page
One day after announcing the Alex Rodriguez injury, Brian Cashman was approached by various trade and free agent options.
“I’ve had a few of maybe the names I wouldn’t have thought of – lesser names that I wouldn’t have an interest in – volunteer their services for that position,” Cashmans said. “I’ve had some people suggest, ‘Hey, my guy who plays second base, he can swing over to play third.’ That type if stuff. I don’t have an interest in stuff like that. … I did have one irresponsible ask (in a trade suggestion), which I assume has everything to do with yesterday’s announcement. I’m no longer talking to that club.”
Although Cashman expects the market to continue its rapid development — “It seems like this is a market flush with money, the way it’s acting,” he said — but he plans to remain patient. Cashman said he believes it’s possible he could complete a move before these meetings end on Thursday morning, but he feels no need to force the issue.
“The preference is always to get your problems solved and get them fixed,” he said. “But the realistic side of that is that it’s going to take time and you have to solve it over time. If you don’t feel comfortable with the solution, you shouldn’t solve it until you feel comfortable. I’m prepared to drag this thing out.
“Hopefully everybody else is, too.”
• Cashman admitted to speaking with the agents for five different players: Kevin Youkilis, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki and A.J. Pierzynski. Those were the only names specifically mentioned, and Cashman confirmed that he’s had discussions about each one.
• Despite talking to Pierzynski’s camp, Cashman was as firm as ever in his belief that the Yankees will have an in-house starting catcher next season. “I think our catching will come from within, personally, as we are right now,” Cashman said. “I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”
• Cashman on whether he needs to stick with one-year deals: “Optimally that’s the best way you’d like to go, but it might not be the way I have to go. It just depends on the player and the dollar amount.”
• Earlier today, Joe Girardi said the Yankees need a third base solution that’s capable of playing the position all year because of Alex Rodriguez’s uncertainty. Cashman disagreed. Sort of. “I was just looking to someone who can get there for three months at the very least,” Cashman said. “If it’s somebody that’s good enough to go the whole way, fine, but there’s not a lot of choices out there. I’m not going to limit it by looking at it that way. I understand what he’s talking about – you need to have the protection – but it’s a very limited sandbox to play in.”
• With Ichiro and Ibanez in the mix, Cashman indicated that he’s willing to use an all-left-handed regular outfield. “Beggars can’t be choosers, so to speak,” Cashman said. “If I’m in a situation where we have equal righty or lefty bats, you can gravitate one way or the other, but it doesn’t match up that way. … If we did (sign another left-handed outfielder), we’d need two outfield bats, one from the right side, one from the left side. If we wanted to put another left handed bat in, and it’s all three left handed outfielders, I would say focus on me adding another right-handed bat too, in the Andruw Jones category.”
• To be clear, in no way did I think Cashman was talking about bringing back Andruw Jones, he was just referring to a right-handed outfielder who strictly plays against lefties.
• Will Brett Gardner be in center field next year? “I see Gardner and Granderson both as center fielders,” Cashman said. “Currently Gardner is our left fielder and Granderson is our center fielder, and if we so choose to make a change, we’ll have no problem doing so. But that’s not something we’re talking about right now.”
• By the way, forgot to mention earlier that Girardi said Granderson had his vision checked and it’s fine. There was some speculation that maybe his vision caused last year’s second-half struggles. Apparently that’s not the case.
• Cashman on Chavez: “We know him very well and he had a hell of a year. He’s put himself in a very strong position, I think, in a marketplace that is thin at that position. That will run interference with our interest level, I would think, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make something happen there. We’ll see. We’re engaged.”
Associated Press photo
Alex Rodriguez called the Yankees’ five-run third “one of the best offensive innings we’ve had all year.” There were three hits, three walks, one homer (the three-run shot by Russell Martin), one error, one wild pitch and two steals, plus a Nick Swisher sacrifice.
“We get small ball and Bronx ball going back and forth, it’s going to be a lot of fun for us,” Swisher said. “A little Swisher-ism.”
Eduardo Nunez may be an adventure in the field sometimes, but he does have his value, especially in the small-ball game.
“I think I can run a little bit,” Nunez said.
He led off the big rally by working out a full-count walk. The following inning, he led off again and reached on an error before stealing second and third and scoring on an A-Rod sac fly in the fourth. His speed gives the Yankees an ability to create runs that they had been lacking without Brett Gardner.
“He changes the game offensively for us,” Rodriguez said about Nunez. “He has a unique package where he has power, speed and he has enough recklessness where it’s really helpful for our lineup.”
Martin has finally perked up in this lineup. His average is up to all of .209 after a 10-game stretch in which he has batted .343 with three homers and 11 RBI.
“The laws of averages, they’re on my side right now,” Martin said. “I just feel like I’m seeing the ball well.”
Joe Girardi saw Derek Jeter, the DH for the fourth straight game, still limping a little on the bases thanks to the bone bruise in his left ankle.
“I think it’s still hurt,” Girardi said. “I don’t see him as the shortstop yet right now as we speak.”
Girardi said he will see how Jeter feels on Tuesday following the off day. Jeter is one hit away from his eighth 200-hit year and his first since 2009, impressive at age 37/38 this season.
Hiroki Kuroda got some run support, which hasn’t always been the story of his season. He gave up four runs and four hits over six, with three runs coming in the sixth, two on a bad-hop single by Evan Longoria. Kuroda is 14-10 with a 3.26 ERA.
“With that kind of run support, I wanted to go deep in the game … but I hit that bump in the sixth inning,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “That’s the only regret I have.”
The Yankees have won two in a row, four of five, five of seven and seven of 11.
“We talked about playing better baseball,” Girardi said. “We starting to do that.”
“I think September is going to be the biggest blessing in disguise for us,” Alex Rodriguez said. “This is the kind of baseball we’re going to have to play to win in October. And the other thing is, these are playoff-caliber games. We’re stepping up to the occasion a little bit.”
Yankees postgame: What’s up with CC? • 09.15.12
The Yankees need their ace to pitch like an ace right now, but it isn’t happening. CC Sabathia’s velocity was a bit better, but he still turned over a lead for the fifth straight start and didn’t win for the fourth straight start. He has dropped three decisions in a row for the first time as a Yankee.
“It’s tough because we’re in a race and I’m struggling,” Sabathia said. “… It’s definitely been frustrating.”
This time, he gave up four runs and six hits over 6 2/3 and fell to 13-6. David Price just outpitched him in Tampa Bay’s 6-4 victory.
Sabathia says his arm feels good. But the game got away from him when his command departed in the fifth. His 1-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit.
“Just not making pitches,” Sabathia said.
The Yankees were predictably supportive.
“I still believe in CC,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s done so many special things. I know his heart.”
“You definitely want CC on the mound,” Curtis Granderson said. “CC is one of the best guys out there.”
“CC pitched well,” Derek Jeter said. “I’m sure he didn’t pitch as good as he would’ve liked to, but he still kept us in the game.”
Sabathia knows he’s better than this. He thinks he may be looking to strike people out too much.
“Today should’ve been a day when I went out and dominated,” Sabathia said.
He’s happy that Ivan Nova will be back later today and that Andy Pettitte will return to start on Tuesday.
“Hopefully they can help us out, because I haven’t been,” Sabathia said.
Meanwhile, it was another milestone night for both Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Jeter passed Willie Mays and took sole possession of 10th on the all-time hits lists. The Captain had two hits, giving him 3,285. He said passing Mays was “pretty special.”
A-Rod passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time list for runs scored thanks to his homer. Rodriguez now has sole possession of ninth with 1,889. He also tied Zack Wheat for 37th on the all-time hits list at 2,884. Rodriguez is batting .279 with three homers and eight RBI in 11 games since coming off the DL. He’s now 13 homers behind Mays for fourth on the homers list after belting No. 647.
The Yankees are now 6-9 in their last 15 games. They are 3 for 40 with runners in scoring position over the last four games, leaving 36 on base. They have blown leads in six of their last seven defeats and 10 of their last 14 defeats. Lot of negatives here. But there are still 18 games to go.
Yankees pregame: Waiting on Tex and a lineup • 08.03.12
Brian Heyman here for Chad today. No Yankees lineup yet. Joe Girardi was waiting for an update on the state of Mark Teixeira’s left wrist from a doctor and whether he could take batting practice. And Teixeira is indeed giving batting practice a try right now at a little before 5.
Tonight’s starter is CC Sabathia, and he has owned the Mariners, winning seven straight starts with a 0.88 ERA dating to 2009. But Sabathia wasn’t so great his last time out, allowing six runs and eight hits in six innings against the Red Sox. His weight gain was something that came up after he was allowing a lot of hits the final two months of last season and had a 6.23 ERA vs. Detroit in the ALDS. But his fitness is a non-factor right now, according to Girardi.
“His conditioning is great,” Girardi said. “I’m very pleased with where he’s at there. And I’ve never seen it as a huge issue for me. This is a guy who’s won 60 games in three years. It’s pretty hard to complain. But obviously you worry about long-term health and long-term health of a pitcher’s body. But that has not been an issue.
“This guy works hard. He’s a true professional. He’s prepared every time he goes out there. For me, it’s just like any other pitcher you have. If he locates, he’s going to pitch well.”
Joba Chamberlain struggled in his first Yankees outing of the season, allowing two runs and four hits in 1 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Orioles. He had been away from major-league mounds for 14 months or so.
“I think it could take a little for him to get on track and be what we expect him to be because he’s been out so long,” Girardi said. “Just like any starter or reliever starting a season, or position player, you’re not sure how they’re going to start, if they’re going to have a great start or if they’re going to have a slow start. So I think you’re going to have to have some patience.”
A-Rod is here. “Just working out,” Girardi said, “doing as much as he can basically not using the one hand, conditioning, trying to work his legs. But that’s about it. He’ll throw and do things like that. But as far as using his left hand, he can’t do much there.”
Ichiro Suzuki spoke to some of his former teammates on the field, but he indicated his emotions aren’t as high facing them as they were in Seattle right after the trade went down.