David Phelps was a little concerned heading into his MRI. After winning his last start in Minnesota July 4, he went up to trainer Steve Donohue to ask for anti-inflammatory medication because he had been feeling a little stiffness in his right forearm near the elbow. Donohue told him a doctor visit was in order.
“There’s a lot less concern now after the MRI than there was,” Phelps said about the diagnosis of a slight straight. “Any time it’s your arm, there’s some concern. When (the doctor) came and said the ligament looked great, that was obviously reassuring. It’s just something minor. We can take care of that and go from there.”
The arm had been bothering him for a few days, but he said he didn’t feel it throwing.
“It was like weird times, like if I was laying in bed and I’d roll over,” Phelps said. “It would feel stiff.”
After ice and rest, he feels good to go again.
“My arm feels great now,” Phelps said. “It’s back to the way it felt before. I don’t expect it to bother me at all.”
Phelps spent some time with his family the last few days. He won’t be off during the All-Star break. He said he’s probably going to go to Tampa. He plans to throw on Monday. So barring any setbacks, he should be ready when he’s eligible to return from the DL next Saturday.
Alex Rodriguez had a single and an RBI in three at-bats today as a DH in Tampa’s 5-2 loss to Dunedin. So he’s 2 for 15 after six rehab games. There has been no lobbying campaign for a quick return like Derek Jeter has staged.
“I think Alex feels that he’s not to that level, that he’s not ready to go,” Joe Girardi said.
Jeter is scheduled to play tonight in Moosic for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Rochester. The Yankees have left open the possibility he will return for the weekend series here against the Twins. Girardi said he didn’t think it wasn’t an issue to bring back Jeter for that series if he’s ready even though there would be four off days afterward with the All-Star break.
Girardi also said he’d like to see Jeter go seven or eight innings at short in the minors first.
“We have to make sure he’s ready,” Girardi said.
The Yankees scored one run Tuesday night for the third straight game, but the lineup is the same. Any thought to doing some juggling?
“What would you suggest?” Girardi asked.
I’d suggest a trade for more help beyond just Jeter. Actually, there are reports circulating today that the Yankees are shopping free agents-to-be Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in their search for hitting help. Anyone in favor?
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees postgame: Nova deserves old job back • 07.05.13
There’s no room at the moment for Ivan Nova, and yet doesn’t it seem like it’s time to make room again in the rotation? He has been excellent since he has been back from the minors, especially in this 3-2 win over the Orioles, his first career complete game. And it came with just three hits and one walk allowed, plus 11 strikeouts.
Nova would seem to have more of an upside than David Phelps, especially if the 26-year-old righty has indeed found his old consistency that abandoned him a year ago.
The Yankees could give him a start again with just nine games to go until the All-Star break. Eventually, though, they may have to make a decision. Plus, they have such a short bench with 13 pitchers here.
Joe Girardi said: “I’m not sure exactly how we’ll do it, but he’ll probably start again.”
Nova said he had everything working, including that mid-90s fastball, some changeups and again that great curveball.
“His curveball was about as good as I’ve seen a curveball from anyone,” Vernon Wells said.
Nova was told along the way by a couple of teammates that the Yankees were going to win this game, and he believed it, too.
“I never thought we were going to lose,” Nova said. “I was positive the whole night.”
It took Baltimore’s shaky closer to help shake out a couple of runs in the ninth. Jim Johnson blew his sixth save in 35 chances and dropped to 2-7. His ERA rose to 4.02. One of the two runs in the ninth was unearned thanks to Johnson’s error on Brett Gardner’s bunt. But David Adams helped as well, opening the ninth with a single. And Wells helped with his ground single to left to touch off the celebration.
The Yankees not only won their season-high-tying fifth straight despite struggling offensively again, but they snapped their five-game losing streak against the Orioles, improving to 4-6 against them.
“That team over there has had our number,” Wells said. “They’ve played well against us even in the games that we’ve won. … We were just able to come through late (tonight). But we need to win games like that. We haven’t done it enough. We were doing it early in the season. Hopefully we can get back to doing that.”
Hiroki Kuroda felt good after his bullpen session and will be slotted back into the rotation if his hip flexor feels the same Saturday.
Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in his rehab game with Trenton against Reading. Besides Derek Jeter and Michael Pineda being scheduled for rehab work Saturday night with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley, Alex Rodriguez is scheduled for a rehab game Saturday night with Single-A Tampa against the Brevard County Manatees at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Derek Jeter is scheduled to be back playing baseball tomorrow night at around 7:05. For now, he’s a RailRider. The Captain was cleared today to begin his 20-day rehab assignment clock. So he will play at least five innings at shortstop for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley.
“That’s really good news,” Joe Girardi said. “That obviously means his ankle feels a lot better. He’s been dying to get out there since spring training and he’s had some setbacks. But this is a really good sign.
“I think he has to feel comfortable playing. He really hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats. He hasn’t played a whole lot of infield. So (we need to see him) being able to go back-to-back days, back-to-back-to-back days that sort of thing.”
Asked if he would rule out Jeter returning on this final homestand before the break, Girardi said, “I don’t really have any expectations because I haven’t seen him play. If I can see him play in some games … I’d feel a lot better about making that decision.”
Right now, Girardi thinks Eduardo Nunez has a better chance of returning before the break than Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Robinson Cano has had five different double-play partners starting opposite him, the latest being Luis Cruz. Jeter would provide stability.
“Hopefully everything goes well with him and we will see him pretty soon,” Cano said.
Michael Pineda is supposed to make the final rehab start on his 30-day clock tomorrow with Double-A Trenton and then the Yankees will have to decide where he fits.
“We’ll see how he does tomorrow and make an evaluation,” Girardi said.
Girardi said Zoilo Almonte is just getting a rest today as this long stretch of games continues to the break. Vernon Wells is starting in left.
Hiroki Kuroda said his hip flexor feels OK now. He was cleared to throw a bullpen session today.
What should the Yankees do? • 06.28.13
So what should the Yankees do about their offense? I think they’re going to need more than their injured hitters back after the All-Star break in order to be serious about this season. They didn’t have enough offense last October.
They could use the outside help now. The team is just 12-18 over the last 30 games, going from 30-18 to 42-36. The production from the fill-ins was good enough earlier in the season, but it just hasn’t been steady enough the last month or so. The staff can’t afford to make too many mistakes. And the Yankees can’t always count on running into bad pitching.
“I think we’ve shown that with the guys that are in this lineup, especially early on in the year, we were able to do enough to win games,” Vernon Wells said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers capped a 4-5 homestand. “We just haven’t done that consistently lately.”
The Yankees have been shut out three times this month and seven times overall. They’ve been shut out four times at home already, the most in five years. Derek Holland two-hit them Thursday when they wasted a quality start by Phil Hughes. They had two baserunners to show for their last 20 plate appearances, both on walks. Holland had to throw just 92 pitches. The game was over in just 2:24. (Here’s a link to my story about it.)
Lyle Overbay said the Yankees haven’t been grinding out at-bats lately.
“I think we get into trying to do too much and then it kind of snowballs a little bit,” Overbay said. “We’re not going to be as consistent maybe, but if we get those timely hits, we can be effective. We’re not doing that right now.”
The previous lefty to shut the Yankees out on two hits or less in the Bronx was Matt Young of the Mariners. That was 30 years ago. The Yankees have dropped three in a row and four of the last five when a lefty has started. The bottom three in the order against Holland were rookie David Adams (now batting .179), journeyman Alberto Gonzalez (.188) and rookie Austin Romine (.150). They combined to go 1 for 8.
Robinson Cano was protected in the order by Wells, who played right and struck out all three times, leaving him 11 for his last 93. Cano is down to .276, although he sounded pleased that at least he has been taking more walks.
“We don’t have our main guys,” Cano said. “I’ve just got to go out there and try to take advantage if I get one pitch. … I’m not trying to chase pitches and not trying to do too much.”
Rookie Zoilo Almonte is 0 for 10 in his last three starts in place of Wells in left after going 6 for 10 in his first three starts. Adams is 1 for his last 24. Overbay is batting .258 against righties and .186 against lefties, so a righty bat to platoon with him wouldn’t hurt, especially now that Mark Teixeira isn’t coming back until next year.
The team average is down to .238. There are still 17 games left until the All-Star break, seven games against the Twins, six against the Orioles and four against the Royals. There’s still almost a month until the nonwaiver trade deadline.
When Derek Jeter returns, he will be coming off a twice-broken ankle. He just turned 39 Wednesday. Alex Rodriguez, who had been on the decline, will turn 38 next month. He, of course, is, coming off his second hip operation. There have been conflicting reports about his return. The latest had A-Rod questioning when he would come back this season or if he would come back this season. The MLB Biogenesis investigation and a possible suspension are also hanging over him.
There was a report from csnphilly.com earlier this week that the Yankees have thought about Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, now in the last year of his deal. So is Philadelphia’s Michael Young, who would be more expensive and more appealing. It would figure the Yankees would only want an expiring contract since their goal is to be below $189 million next season.
What should they do?
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees postgame: Hughes deserved better • 06.27.13
“He pitched way too good to get a loss,” Lyle Overbay said.
Hughes had seven days between starts and he put them to good use, working on mechanical issues and taking a step back to collect himself.
“I just felt like the last week or so really helped me,” Hughes said, “just to kind of gather my thoughts for a few days and work on some things on the side. I felt like I had better plan and better mechanics and threw the ball pretty good. … Whenever you’re trying to get through some rough stretches, it helps just to take a deep breath.”
There had been chatter about Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda waiting in the wings with Hughes struggling. But this isn’t his first bout with inconsistency.
“I don’t let the talk creep into my head,” Hughes said.
The Yankees are just 12-18 over the last 30 games, and the sporadic offense has obviously contributed. The Yankees were shut out for the seventh time, including three times this month. They were blanked only six times all of last season.
This time, Derek Holland shut them out on two hits. Do you know when the previous time was that a Rangers pitcher shut the Yankees out on two or less hits? That would be never. It hadn’t happened since the franchise moved from Washington to Texas in 1972. Joe Coleman last did it for the Senators on July 19, 1969.
“I believe we’re capable of scoring runs,” Joe Girardi said.
With this group?
“I think we can, but time will tell,” Girardi said.
On the rehab front, Derek Jeter actually drove Alex Rodriguez after their workout from Steinbrenner Field to the nearby minor-league complex, according to The Associated Press. Jeter ran outside for the first time since the second ankle fracture was discovered in April and reported no problems. The AP report stated that A-Rod took simulated at-bats. ESPNNewYork.com reported that Rodriguez basically told the Yankees Wednesday that he wasn’t sure when or if he will be back this season. But Jeter gave a positive review in the AP report.
“He looked good,” Jeter said. “Alex works extremely hard. He’s working hard now to come back.”
Jeter wouldn’t label A-Rod a distraction.
“Why would he be a distraction?” Jeter asked.
Francisco Cervelli, according to the AP, has been doing his hitting indoors. Curtis Granderson is doing range-of-motion exercises. No swinging yet. A minor-leaguer took a swing, though, launching a homer in batting practice that deflected off the clubhouse roof and hit Granderson’s car.
Photo by The Associated Press.
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.