Alex Rodriguez, according to the New York Post, told the Yankees yesterday his hip isn’t ready for rehab games. The Daily News had him allegedly planning to start playing rehab games, then claim he physically can’t play and retire before a possible 100-game MLB suspension comes, so he could get his full 4 1/2 seasons of money owed to him.
“A couple of conflicting reports from sources,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s why I always say for me, when a player gets here, he gets here. When he’s ready, he’s ready. But everything that I understand, he’s been making progress and moved better day after day. So it sounds like things are pretty good.”
The erratic Phil Hughes gets the start today in the series finale against the Rangers.
“I’m not saying he’s pitching for a spot,” Girardi said.
But Hughes hasn’t pitched well in three of his last four starts and has gone 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA over his last seven starts. He’s 3-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 14 starts overall.
Girardi did say this start is “important. This is a guy who we need to be consistent for us and get on a roll like he’s capable of doing. It starts with his fastball command and using his other pitches.”
Ivan Nova pitched pretty well in his spot start Sunday and Michael Pineda has been pitching very well in his rehab starts, albeit against Single-A and Double-A hitters. Could that be in the back of Hughes’ mind? Could he be feeling any extra pressure for this start?
“I’m not sure,” Girardi said. “I think guys are aware of what’s going on around them. I’m not so sure when you get out on the mound, you start thinking about that. I think you think about making your pitches. Usually when you get on the field, you’re able to block everything out. It could be in someone’s thought process off the field.”
There’s no plan yet on what to do with Nova, according to Girardi. But by keeping him around, the Yankees are going with a shorter bench for the time being.
“It’s something that we’re going to have to look at and see if there’s someone who we think can help us that we can add,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. Is there someone who we think can help? We had Thomas Neal here. The minimum a guy has to be down is 10 days, and I’m not saying he’d be the guy that we would call up. Right now, a lot of players are on the DL and we’ll just have to see.”
Joba Chamberlain has given up at least one run in five of his last seven outings,, including two in two-thirds of an inning last night.
“I thought he threw pretty well before he got hurt,” Girardi said. “He just really hasn’t gotten on track for us. We’ve got to find a way to do it. Whatever it takes, we’ll try to do it.”
Brett Gardner isn’t starting today. He has a cold.
“But it’s more I’m just giving him a day because he’s played every day,” Girardi said.
So Vernon Wells is in the lineup, but he’s in right. Ichiro Suzuki is in center. Wells appears to have lost the regular left-field job after that 9-for-90 slump. Zoilo Almonte is starting in left for the sixth straight game. The rookie is 7 for 19 with three walks, two doubles, a homer and four RBI in seven games on the homestand.
“We’re running ‘Z’ out there,” Girardi said. “We’ll continue to do that, continue to watch how he’s doing. But he’s done pretty well.
“(Wells) has been ready to play every day. He’s ready to pinch hit. He’s worked very hard. I think he’s dealt with it very professionally.”
Support for A-Rod • 06.06.13
“We haven’t had him the last two months,” Brett Gardner said. “It won’t change anything.”
You would think Rodriguez would appeal if there’s a penalty. But if a ban is announced, as Tuesday’s ESPN report indicated it would be for Rodriguez and about a total of 20 players over alleged ties to PEDs, the attitude in the clubhouse will be forgiving. That’s what CC Sabathia indicated.
“I think it’ll be support,” Sabathia said. “Everybody makes mistakes. We’ll just have to wait and see. But I think there will be nothing but love and support in here.”
Gardner said Rodriguez is like a brother to the players. Mariano Rivera said he doesn’t think he will bring up the current situation with Rodriguez, but he’s open to listening if A-Rod wants to share his thoughts.
Asked if he has sympathy for Rodriguez, who always seems to be in the middle of some controversy, the closer said, “He’s my friend. Besides that, he’s my teammate also. Definitely it’s not easy. It’s not easy to be on the cameras or in the papers, always being chased. But at the same time, all I have to do is support.”
Here’s a link to my full story today on this matter, complete with Terry Francona’s thoughts on who’s to blame, plus an attached video at the top that I shot of Joe Girardi talking about the situation. Also, here’s a link to my story today about Sabathia feeling encouraged after his last two starts, including yesterday’s complete game. I also shot a video of Girardi talking about Sabathia with that one. Thanks for reading the last three days. Chad will be back later to take you through the West Coast trip.
Yankees pregame: All about the drugs • 06.05.13
Most of the questions at Joe Girardi’s press conference were about the latest PED scandal that is rocking baseball, especially since Alex Rodriguez is caught up in it.
Girardi said he hasn’t spoken to A-Rod today.
“When I talk to him, it will strictly be baseball stuff and rehab stuff like it always has been,” Girardi said.
“My concern is about the game and the game being clean and the game just being good. I had hoped that we were through it, but obviously maybe we’re not. We’re going to find out. But we’ll let MLB handle it.”
Girardi was asked how the team will be affected if A-Rod is suspended for 100 games, which is the plan, according to ESPN.
“We’ll cross that bridge,” Girardi said. “This is in MLB’s hands. For me to speculate doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Girardi was asked how he’s dealing with the issue in regard to the Yankees involved, including Francisco Cervelli.
“Being in New York, you’re always going to have things that come up,” Girardi said. “Some of it is going to be speculation, some of it’s not. You deal with it. You deal with it as time goes on and make sure that players focus on the field. I think our guys are really good at doing that. There are a lot of expectations that players have to deal with here. There’s a lot of different things that players have to deal with on a daily basis to play the game, and I think guys are really good at handling that.
“I’m always concerned about my players. And I’m concerned about guys on other teams, too, how they handle situations and how they deal with it, how it affects maybe a rehab. But my focus on them is doing whatever I have to to help them get ready. You try to put them in a good place. Right now, it’s in Tampa for Alex to get ready. Hopefully that will build up to games. But that’s my focus. My focus is not on what MLB is investigating and all of that. And I don’t want to get caught up in that just because, in a sense, they’re going to handle it. I’ll let them handle it. I’ll continue to assist our players in getting ready any way they can. But he’s in Tampa getting ready and that’s what we want him to do.
“I think the game is always bigger than one individual, 10 individuals, a hundred individuals, a thousand individuals. This game has gone on for a long period of time. I think the important thing is you try to learn from everything that happens in the game, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. You try to learn. That’s how I try to get by it and through it and however you want to talk about it.
“This is a great game and I love this game and I want what’s best for this game,” Girardi added. “I think baseball is trying to do that as well. Unfortunately there are some things that you go through in all sports that sometimes is not what’s best for the sport. But you’re going to get through it. … This game has a long history and it’s a great game and it will continue to be a great game.”
Lyle Overbay is in right for the third straight game and Ichiro Suzuki is sitting at the start. Girardi said it’s partly about giving “our guys a day off in a long stretch. We’re going at it night game after day game, long day yesterday. So it’s just a good way to give Ich a little break and he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”
Mark Teixeira has driven in seven runs with two homers in the last two games.
“Tex is a great RBI guy and that’s what he’s doing,” Girardi said.
The ESPN news flash had spread that MLB plans to suspend about 20 players. One of them, Alex Rodriguez, could be facing a 100-game suspension in relation to allegedly purchasing PEDs from the now-closed anti-aging clinic in south Florida. Why he would do that after having to admit previously that he had used while with the Rangers is beyond me. He has denied this latest claim.
Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli are also among those on the list.
“I always worry about my players,” Joe Girardi said. “And I worry about the game. … If you care about the game, you care about how it’s affected. I think we all hoped we kind of got through it. But obviously we’re not through it yet.”
The steroid era lives on.
Vernon Wells didn’t think this subject would be a distraction to the Yankees. He’s hoping the steroid era will die one day.
“We’ve done so much as a group to rid ourselves of conversations like this, stepping outside of our agreement and making changes in the middle of it,” Vernon Wells said. “We’ll continue to make strides to clean the game up. … I know I’ll never be a part of this conversation.”
Joba Chamberlain said: “Major League Baseball is going to do its thing and we’re going to go out and play.”
As for David Phelps’ performance, it was sure better than the last start when he got one out and was charged with five runs against the Mets.
“I’ve been chomping at the bit since the last outing,” Phelps said.
His fastball command came and went in this start. But it was there when he needed it. Phelps threw 102 pitches and allowed just one infield hit to go with four walks and seven Ks in six innings.
“He kind of ran the game,” Terry Francona said. “He mixed everything up and we didn’t have anything to show for it. We made him work. We took our walks. We couldn’t push any runs across. It’s rare that you see getting one hit and look up and see a bunch of pitches like that. He did a very good job of not giving in, mixing things up, elevating and cutting.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Hal speaks on Yankees issues • 06.04.13
Hal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:
On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”
On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”
On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”
On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”
More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”
On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way. I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”
On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’
On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”
On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”
Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Steinbrenner admits disappointment in A-Rod • 06.03.13
Hal Steinbrenner spoke after a press conference to announce the Big Ten’s new affiliation with the Pinstripe Bowl and he didn’t hold back on the subject of Alex Rodriguez.
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