Yankees postgame: What’s up with Pettitte? • 05.05.13
This one came with four runs, four hits and four walks allowed in five innings, plus he hit a batter. He served up two homers. There were 100 pitches, just 57 for strikes.
“It’s a struggle,” Pettitte said. “The issue is everything. Everything I’ve got to do as a starting pitcher, I’m not able to do right now. … My release point is floating around a little bit. … It’s been a long, long time since I haven’t had a feeling for my pitches.”
Pettitte is good at being brutally frank when it comes to self-assessments.
“My cutter is nonexistent right now,” Pettitte said.
Joe Girardi said he wasn’t going to make a big deal out of two bad starts. Pettitte is just hoping to find a steady release point in a hurry.
“I wish I could tell you something hurt,” Pettitte said. “But I feel good.”
So did Preston Claiborne. The 25-year-old righty looked great in his major-league debut, throwing two perfect innings.
“This was a big game, the biggest one so far of my life,” Claiborne said. “I knew that when I took the mound, it was just playing baseball again. So I tried to keep that in mind and went out there and tried to just execute pitches as best I could.”
Vernon Wells didn’t execute with two on and two outs in the last of the ninth, going down swinging against Grant Balfour.
“It was shaping up to be one of those memorable Yankee Stadium moments,” Wells said. “I didn’t come through. I’ll have to wait for next time for that moment to happen.”
Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day after leaving with tightness in the front of his left rib cage. An MRI came back negative. Girardi wasn’t sure that he would have the shortstop for Tuesday night’s series opener in Colorado.
Robinson Cano went 2 for 4 with an intentional walk and now has 1,499 career hits.
Cody Eppley cleared waivers and was outrighted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
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.
Andy Pettitte turned in his worst start of the season, charged with seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3. It was 5-0 after four and the Yankees were on their way to a 9-1 loss to the AL’s worst team, the Astros.
“It’s frustrating,” Pettitte said. “We’ve been playing well. And to come out here and give up those five runs that early in the game and feel like we don’t have a chance to get back in it and not give us a chance to win, it makes me sick to my stomach.”
Pettitte and rookie catcher Austin Romine had trouble getting on the same page, especially since the 40-year-old lefty’s signature cutter had abandoned him.
“I’ve got to get into his head and figure out what he wants to do,” Romine said. (I’ll have more on Romine in my morning post.)
Joe Girardi couldn’t remember ever seeing Pettitte without that cutter working.
“He had a tough start,” Girardi said. “It happens.”
On the other hand, the Yankees had trouble with righty sinkerballer Lucas Harrell. They managed eight hits off in 6 1/3, but just the one run in the sixth. They grounded into four double plays overall, three against Harrell.
“He was able to continue to pound the sinker down in the zone,” Girardi said, “and we kept hitting it into the ground.”
The news that came out of his postgame press conference was that Kevin Youkilis’ MRI came back negative. He’s supposed to have an epidural injection Tuesday. The Yankees were supposed to make a decision late Monday night about whether to put him on the DL. So we’ll know Tuesday.
Yankees pregame: Pettitte hurting • 04.12.13
Andy Pettitte is having a problem with back spasms. The 40-year-old lefty first felt it in the mid-back area in the third inning of his start in Cleveland Tuesday and fought through it, allowing a run over seven innings in the 14-1 win. He was OK after laser treatment Wednesday and during his bullpen session Thursday. But the Yankees sent him home ahead of the team and he felt his lower back lock up at home Thursday night.
So they have pushed his Sunday start back. Now they’re hoping he can go Tuesday or Wednesday. Pettitte said he would have gone out and fought through it again, but the Yankees are taking the long view.
“I’m almost 100 percent we believe it’s a muscle spasm,” Pettitte said. “So hopefully it just calms down and I don’t have any more problems with it.”
So Phil Hughes, instead of pitching out of the bullpen after his start got rained out in Cleveland Thursday night, will take the ball Saturday and Hiroki Kuroda will be pushed back a day, starting now on Sunday.
Joe Girardi said he wasn’t expecting a full complement of starts out of Pettitte this season, not at this age. Pettitte hasn’t made it through a full season since 2009, when he made 32 starts, although he was retired for 2011.
“I think it’s pretty tough to get 32 starts out of a young guy in a sense, a guy who hasn’t logged as many innings as he has,” Girardi said. “Our hope is you get somewhere between 28 and 30 starts. … I don’t think we expect him to make 32 starts.”
Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco got eight games and a fine for intentionally hitting Kevin Youkilis in Tuesday’s game. Girardi said he wasn’t surprised.
Youkilis’ reaction? “I’m indifferent,” he said.
We should be able to get this game in, but it’s really cold and very windy.
The Yankees were a bit relieved to get out of town without getting swept by the Red Sox in this opening series.
“I thought it was pretty important or I probably wouldn’t have said it in the pregame,” Joe Girardi said after the 4-2 win. “You don’t hear me say that very often. We’re going to Detroit and Cleveland. We have a seven-day road trip, seven games. Detroit is a good team and Cleveland is much improved. You don’t want to leave your home park going 0-3. That’s for sure.”
This was like old times, Andy Pettitte starting and Mariano Rivera saving it for him. It was the 69th time in the regular season, extending the record for the tandem, but the first time since July 8, 2010, thanks to Pettitte’s one-season retirement in 2011 and Rivera’s knee injury in 2012. It was win No. 246 for Pettitte and save No. 609 for Rivera.
“These two have been doing it a long time together,” Girardi said. “As a fan, I appreciate what these two have done together, the amount of saves that Mo has for Andy’s wins, the amount of wins that Andy has, his postseason wins.”
Rivera was a bit shaky in his first real game in almost a year. He started his final season by allowing a leadoff walk, a one-out double and a run-scoring groundout, but he ultimately protected the lead.
“That’s a lot of emotions there, but at the same time, you have to control that,” Rivera said of his return. “I have to be able to do that because we still have to finish the game. But … it was wonderful.”
Rivera broke a tie with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra for most seasons playing with the Yankees. This is season No. 19 for Rivera. The closer also tied John Franco’s major-league record for most consecutive seasons with at least one save. This is season No. 18 for that.
“There were times where because of the therapy and the pain and all that stuff, I was thinking if it would be worth it come back,” Rivera said. “But at the same time, the love and the drive you have for the game motivated me to keep going.”
Andy Pettitte loved the idea of pitching in the World Baseball Classic. The Yankees did not.
“They weren’t crazy about it, and I understand it,” Pettitte said. “I mean, it’s understandable. I spoke with Cash and I spoke with Joe. (They said), ‘If you decide to do this, we’re going to support you,’ but obviously they were hoping it was something that I wouldn’t do, and like I said, I understand it. And at the time that I was considering it, I was just hoping they would understand, which I knew they probably couldn’t. I’ve done a lot of things in this game, but I’ve never had a chance to play for my country. I don’t know if that sounds corny, but it was a big deal for me.”
Doesn’t sound corny to me, but it also doesn’t sound unreasonable for the Yankees to have some hesitation about a 40-year-old playing in an unnecessary exhibition.
“This needed to be the focus,” Pettitte said. “I guess it just came down to not really wanting to take quite that chance of having something go wrong and then kicking yourself all year long.”
• The spring’s first workout went smoothly, but it’s always a little more boring when it’s just the pitchers and catchers. The position players really bring the place to life. Two interesting pitch counts: Phil Hughes threw 40 pitches and Clay Rapada threw 35. Rapada joked that he’s going to be a long man. Hughes explained that he’d already thrown six bullpens before today.
• Hughes isn’t alone. Quite a few of the pitchers seem more advanced than usual (including Mariano Rivera, who actually threw a bullpen today rather than waiting another week). Some of the younger guys in camp — including guys like David Phelps, Adam Warren and Chase Whitley who could be in the big league mix — have already faced hitters. Phelps, Warren and Whitley threw batting practice at the minor league complex on Monday. Whitley said he expects to face hitters when he throws his first spring bullpen tomorrow.
• Because he’s coming back from an injury, Derek Jeter is allowed to report to spring training immediately (you may remember that David Adams and Justin Maxwell came to camp with the pitchers and catchers last year), but Girardi said he doesn’t expect Jeter to report early. “I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “I think he’s doing most of his stuff down at the minor league facility, doing his drills and all his work.”
• Girardi said all of the pitchers and catchers reported to camp on time. No one was late this year. “Not that I know of,” Girardi said.
• Pettitte said he’s well aware that the Yankees might try to protect him, but he wants — even expects — to make 30 starts this season. “I know Joe is going to protect me as best he can as far as keeping my innings limited,” Pettitte said. “But I want to throw 200 innings, make all my starts. Heck, I want to win 20 games, that’s what I want to do.”
• Is this Pettitte’s last year? He said he honestly hasn’t made up his mind. “I can tell you right now, as I sit right here, I hope this is it,” he said. “But having gone through this and done this, I’m not going to shut it down again unless I know for a fact that I’m done with this.”
Associated Press photos
Obviously the Alex Rodriguez report is the big story of the day, but there are a few smaller items worth knowing.
• Ken Rosenthal cited major league sources who say Andy Pettitte has decided not to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Pettitte was left off the roster, but Joe Torre made it clear that the invitation remained open if Pettitte wanted to pitch. Instead, Rosenthal writes, there’s still a chance that Justin Verlander will decide to pitch for Team USA.
• Chris Dickerson signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. I thought he might have a chance to get a big league deal somewhere, but apparently not. He was released by the Yankees earlier this month. The Orioles already have left-handed hitters Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth in their outfield. They also have lefty Xavier Avery and switch hitter Trayvon Robinson available for their bench.
• Freddy Garcia might have settled on a minor league deal, but he’s getting big league money. Jon Heyman reports that Garcia’s minor league contract pays $1.3 million with another $1.25 million in incentives.
• One of the best catchers still on the market — if not the best catcher still on the market – Kelly Shoppach is reportedly on the verge of a deal with the Mariners.
A few notes and links as we head into the weekend.
• I couldn’t get down to Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation gala last night, so I sent my old friend Marc Carig in my place (not really, but he was there for Newsday). Torre explained that Andy Pettitte hasn’t been ruled out as a WBC pitcher, but the Yankees aren’t sold on the idea. “They have expressed concerns because of the injuries he has had,” Torre said. “Again, that’s the most important thing, to make everybody comfortable with what’s going on.” Brian Cashman didn’t have much to say about the Pettitte decision, telling the Daily News only that Pettitte’s not currently on the Team USA roster.
• Speaking of Marc, now that he’s switched papers and beats, Andy McCullough is jumping onto the Yankees beat for the Star-Ledger. Give him a follow on Twitter. I think you all will like him.
• Alex Rodriguez had major hip surgery earlier this month. Not sure why it’s news that Brian Cashman admitted Rodriguez could miss the entire season, but apparently it is. As both Andrew Marchand and Erik Boland have pointed out — trust me, those two always agree with one another — Cashman has always said it’s at least possible Rodriguez could miss the whole year.
• The Royals claimed A’s catcher George Kottaras off waivers. That means, even if the Yankees had been interested, they couldn’t have claimed him because the Royals have a higher waiver priority.
• According to Baseball America’s latest minor league transactions, the Yankees have re-signed RHP Kelvin Castro. You might be familiar with the name because Castro spent seven seasons in the organization as a light-hitting middle infielder, but last year he was converted to the mound. No clue what sort of upside he has as a pitcher. My guess is the Yankees are still in the process of finding out for themselves.
• Buster Olney picked the 1998 Yankees as the best team of all time.
• Not among the best of all time is Carl Pavano, who’s somehow managed to get hurt again. This time he ruptured his spleen while shoveling his driveway. No, I don’t think the Yankees would have been interested even if he were healthy.
• One player I thought the Yankees might be interested in, Yorvit Torrealba, has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies. Not sure Torrealba would have been a legitimate upgrade over what the Yankees already have in camp, but he would have been one more veteran option at catcher.
Associated Press photo
Cashman relieved; Jeter projection • 11.20.12
Brian Cashman had a conference call tonight with reporters in conjunction with the re-signing of Hiroki Kuroda.
“It’s a relief to know that Hiroki is back,” Cashman said. “… It’s a short-term deal that provides flexibility as we move forward and gives us an important, valuable arm to our rotation.”
Cashman didn’t have any update on Andy Pettitte’s thinking as far as a return.
He did say: “The pitching is our priority and has been our priority. So we’ll continue on those efforts.”
Cashman did talk up Ivan Nova as a starter despite his second-half struggles. He said Michael Pineda looked good recently throwing on flat ground, but that the Yankees aren’t ready to count on him yet for the rotation. He said the Yankees are still in talks with Mariano Rivera, and that he had no concerns over the closer’s reconstructed knee. Cashman also had praise for the Blue Jays’ big offseason. And here’s Cashman’s view on Derek Jeter’s return following his broken ankle.
“He’ll be our Opening Day starting shortstop,” Cashman said.
The Yankees were enjoying rookie hazing day after this 5-4 loss to the A’s. The rookies were given Star Wars clothes to wear. So there was David Phelps as Princess Leia and Melky Mesa as Darth Vader (Where was that black helmet and robe Saturday when Mesa could’ve used to hide his identity after that baserunning blunder in his debut?). Even the new assistant trainer, Mark Littlefield, had to wear a costume. He got stuck with the hairy Chewbacca.
“Every time you guys see Princess Leia, this is what you’ll think of,” Phelps said, posing for pictures.
Eduardo Nunez was the one who could have used the mask and full body costume on this day. But like Mesa the day before, he stood in front of his locker and faced the crowd. Nunez made two more errors at short, including a throwing error in the sixth that led to the decisive run.
“It happens,” said Nunez, who also had a ball pop out of his hand and back in, causing a late throw in the seventh, his seventh error in 33 games. “Everybody has a bad day. You’ve got to keep pushing, keep playing hard.
“I know I have to keep practicing my defense. Everybody knows that.”
My thought is you can’t risk the potential for these type of mistakes with 10 games to go and just a one-game lead in the division, although Jeter did make an error at short Wednesday in the second game of the doubleheader sweep vs. Toronto. Girardi hasn’t been playing Jeter every day at short due to the bruised ankle, using him as the DH when he isn’t in the field. Girardi still sounded concerned about a potential misstep, causing a setback. Jeter didn’t sound worried.
Jayson Nix is another option at short.
“Those are decisions we’ll have to make,” Girardi said.
Girardi, at least publicly, wouldn’t say he’s down on Nunez’s defense, the reason he got sent to the minors in May.
“For the most part, he’s done a real good job,” Girardi said, adding that he just needs more experience.
Girardi likes what the fast-moving Nunez brings overall.
“He give us excitement out there,” Girardi said.
Hiroki Kuroda was charged with five runs, four earned, seven hits, three walks and two wild pitches in 5 2/3. His September numbers? Now 2-1 with a 5.63 ERA in four starts.
So the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak is over. They finished the homestand 7-2. And they finished the season series against the A’s 5-5.
The Yankees go on the road for seven now, starting tonight in Minnesota.
Andy Pettitte gets the start. He’s down for 85-90 pitches after throwing 75 pitches in his strong return start, but Girardi also said he might be willing to push that total against the Twins.
“I feel great,” Pettitte said. “I hope being my second start back, the body feels really good.”