The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Cashman relieved; Jeter projection11.20.12

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.

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Yankees postgame: Star Wars costumes and Nunez’s defense09.23.12

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.”

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Pettitte’s future with the Yankees09.17.12

Andy Pettitte is finally scheduled to return to the mound for the Yankees tomorrow night against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, his first start since that comebacker broke his ankle on June 27. He has made just nine starts and thrown only 58 2/3 innings in his comeback from a one-year retirement. The 40-year-old lefty was effective before getting hurt, going 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA. But he isn’t sure yet about coming back for another season.

That said, the injury has at least ensured the possibility of a return by the postseason’s all-time winningest pitcher.

“I hate it,” Pettitte said. “I wish I knew what I was going to do next year. But I’ll get to the offseason and think about it and try to figure out if this is something I want to do again or not.

“I can probably say that when I came back, I thought there was no chance that I was coming back (next season), that this was a one-year deal. But getting hurt and only having (about) 60 innings right now when you were hoping to have a couple hundred innings under your belt, it definitely gives me the option to consider coming back again next year, that’s for sure.

“I’m hoping to get a lot of work still this year. So we’ll what happens as this year continues on.”

While the Yankees could use to add a few more younger pieces to an aging team, who wouldn’t want to see Pettitte back?

The Yankees have won four of five and five of seven after yesterday’s small-ball/long-ball win over the Rays. Hope you can check out my linked article about it. I’ll have more on Pettitte in an article that will appear tomorrow on and in The Journal News. It should also be linked on my twitter feed, @bheyman99

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Yankees pregame: Jeter playing but not in the field09.14.12

Brian Heyman here for Chad today at Yankee Stadium. Much of the pregame talk revolved around Derek Jeter. Joe Girardi didn’t have a lineup ready to announce when he met the media at 4:10. He had to check on the status of Jeter’s left ankle. The lineup came out about an hour later and The Captain was in, but he’s serving as the designated hitter for the second straight game.

Girardi said Jeter’s status will be a day-to -ay thing as far as being at short or being the DH.

“If I had a 10-game lead, I’d probably give him some days off,” Girardi said. “But I’m not sure that would take care of it.”

Because if he lands on it the wrong way, he could aggravate it like he did Wednesday night in Boston. Could this bone bruise be a chronic thing that won’t fully heal until offseason rest? Girardi said he hasn’t been told that.

“But in my mind, that’s what I believe,” Girardi said, adding it could improve or it “could take a while.”

Jeter, predictably, shed no light. Talking about injuries isn’t his thing, especially when he feels he’s good enough to play.

“This is not an issue,” he said.

Jeter does feel he’s well enough to play short.

“I felt I could play the field when he took me out,” Jeter said, referring to Girardi’s move on Wednesday in the eighth inning after that lunge trying to beat out a double-play ball led to him leaving the game.

Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte threw from the main mound and did drills.

“Everything is a good for Tuesday,” Girardi said.

CC Sabathia takes the ball tonight after going 0-2 with a no-decision and turning over leads in his last three starts. He was down a bit on velocity in the last one, averaging about 92 on the fastball. Girardi said it could be for a number of reasons, including all “the innings he’s logged in his life.”


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Yankees postgame: Garcia perseveres to milestone08.05.12

Freddy Garcia struggled a bit in the heat and humidity, allowing five hits and four walks in five innings. But he only cracked for two runs in this 6-2 victory over the Mariners.

“Freddy battled,” Derek Jeter said. “Freddy has been around a long time. He knows how to mix things up.”

Garcia snapped a three-game winning streak and became the first Venezuelan to reach 150 victories in the majors.

“I still have the record,” said Garcia, who’s also the 12th Latin American-born pitcher to win at least 150. “For me, it’s another win. Hopefully more are coming.”

Garcia is 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA in seven starts since rejoining the rotation July 2.

“You’ve got to feel good about it after I pitched four games in April and I didn’t do my job and they sent me to the bullpen,” Garcia said.

The bullpen backed him up rather nicely this time, four hitless innings between Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.

“It’s one reason why we are where we are,” Jeter said.

Ibanez is another reason. He has a knack for big hits, even at age 40. This time, he hit a long solo homer in the fifth to make it 4-2, then worked the count full and delivered a two-out, two-run bases-packed single in the sixth to set the final margin. Ibanez said he tries to keep any emotion out of the at-bats in these important situations.

“Raul is one of those guys who never tries to do too much and can relax in those situations,” Girardi said. “That’s why he comes through a lot.”

Ichiro Suzuki came through with a double in the seventh to tie Don Slaught’s record for longest hitting streak at the start of a Yankees career at 12 games. Of course, if you saw it or heard about it on the radio, it was a gift from the sun god. Center fielder Michael Saunders was blinded by the light and the ball fell for a gift double.

“As a hitter, I was hoping that ball would drop,” Suzuki said through an interpreter. “But at the same time, I understand the outfielder’s feeling, how tough it is to fight that sun. So I felt for him a little bit.”

Andy Pettitte was due for another X-ray today on his fractured left ankle. After the game, Joe Girardi said Pettitte was “definitely better.” He’s exercising and playing catch. The Yankees are still hopeful he’ll be back in September.

The Yankees finished the homestand at 4-5. They had dropped the first two series, to the Red Sox and the Orioles.

“We won a series leaving and I think it’s important because we have to get back to winning series,” Girardi said. “We lost some really tight games. Hopefully this will get us on a really good streak.”

They head to Detroit for four and then to Toronto for three. Monday night’s pitching matchup features Ivan Nova and Justin Verlander. I’ll have more on that in my 9 a.m. post.



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Yankees pregame: The injured come into focus08.05.12

The injured Yankees were dressed in their pinstripes again this morning to say hello, pose for pictures and bump fists with season-ticket holders filling the warning track. Those players included Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Brett Gardner.

Joe Girardi said Andy Pettitte has been frustrated with the healing rate of his fractured fibula. There was talk of a setback recently. The Yankees are still thinking September for him.

“That’s our hope,” Girardi said. “I think Andy thought with his broken leg that he was going to be on the mound in two weeks. That’s just Andy. I think you have to hold players back and they have to understand that it’s a process. But as players, we get anxious to come back. That’s the bottom line. I think that’s what happened with Andy.

“It takes time. When you miss as much time as he has, you have to build a guy up. You can’t rush him and make him come back too soon when he’s not ready. We’ll just take it day by day.”

As for Rivera and his mending ACL, is it 100 percent that he isn’t coming back this season as Brian Cashman has said?

“Nothing is ever 100 percent, but I would say it’s 99 percent, 99.9,” Girardi said. “But nothing is ever 100 percent in life. There have been a lot of people that have said that they’re done playing and they find a way back. We will die, though. I can tell you that for sure.”

As for Gardner possibly returning in September from his elbow surgery, Girardi said, “If there’s a way he can help us, we’ll definitely use him, especially in the month of September when you can expand rosters. If there’s certain things that he can’t do and it’s during the month of August, then you’re kind of limited and you limit your roster. But with an expanded roster, if he can help us, we’ll definitely use him, if it doesn’t jeopardize him getting back next year.”

So it’s the homestand finale and Curtis Granderson is leading off again, breaking up two righty batters, Chris Stewart in the nine hole and Derek Jeter in the two hole.

“Grandy falls in the category of he’s one of our higher (on-base) guys, so that’s why he goes there,” Girardi said. “Well, you could say, ‘Grandy is a power hitter.’ Well, so is Cano. So is Tex. So is Swish. So is Ibanez. So you say, ‘Why don’t you move him back?’ Well, then who do I move up to the front with speed? You might say, ‘OK, why don’t you move Ichiro up?’ Well, his on-base is not as high as it’s been in the past. So then you try to break up your left-handers with your switch-hitters and your right-handers, so it’s not easy for them to get through the lineup.

“If we had all of our hitters present, Granderson wouldn’t lead off. But with the injury to Alex, you have to make some adjustments.”

Derek Jeter comes in leading the AL in hits with 138.

“It’s pretty incredible,” Girardi said. “It just shows you the type of player he is, the type of worker that he is and what he brings to the park every day. He’s a special player and he’s been a special player for a long time.
“I think if you were to look at Derek Jeter when he was 25 and say he’d be playing every day at 38 and hitting .310 or whatever he’s hitting with a chance to have 190 to 200 hits, you’d probably say, ‘Thirty-eight, I don’t know if a guy could do that.’ But knowing Derek and the way he handles himself and takes care of himself, am I surprised? A little bit, but not much, just because of the type of person he is. I don’t know when it’s going to end for Derek. This guy’s playing at a high level and I think it’s because of what’s inside of him.”



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Yankees postgame: A-Rod breaks out; Pettitte looking good05.24.12

Alex Rodriguez had vowed Tuesday night that he was about to go off, and he was right. Two homers, three RBI. The first one snapped a 52 at-bat homerless streak. The Yankees were on their way to the 8-3 win in the rubber game that capped a 3-3 homestand.

“I said it because I’ve been working on some things,” A-Rod said. “It’s good to back it up.

“I just felt I was getting good pitches to hit and I wasn’t in a position to hit them. The last two or three days, I’ve taken a lot of swings. Today I put myself in a position to take my A swing.”

Andy Pettitte looks like he never left, seven-plus innings, two runs, seven hits, one walk, eight Ks. His cutter has been great. He’s 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA. He has won his last nine decisions against the Royals.

“All along I felt like if I stayed healthy, I could get back to where I was when I left,” Pettitte said. “I’m just thankful right now I feel like I’m getting real close to that.”

So the Yankees have won two straight. Turns out, that coincides with a team meeting before Tuesday night’s game featuring Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman after the Yankees had fallen to .500 and dropped into a tie for last.

“Joe gave us a great talk,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a great manager and we have a lot of faith in him.”

The lineup isn’t totally cured since it went just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

But A-Rod had a general message for the nonbelievers.

“Don’t underestimate this team,” A-Rod said. “It’s not our first rodeo. We understand what it takes to win. We know how to win.”

Brett Gardner had an MRI on his problematic elbow. Joe Girardi said the muscle has healed, but that Gardner  still feels some stiffness in there. So he’s due to report to Tampa today, but he isn’t set to start swinging off a tee until Monday, if all goes well. David Robertson is also reporting to Tampa and should play catch today.

So now the Yankees head out on the road for a 10-day, nine-game swing to Oakland, Anaheim and Detroit, their longest trip before the All-Star break.

Friday night, it will be Ivan Nova vs. Tyson Ross, a righty with a 5.73 ERA. The Yankees will face Bartolo Colon on Saturday.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 73 Comments →

Game 44: Yankees vs. Royals05.23.12

Yankees lineup

1. Derek Jeter SS

2. Curtis Granderson CF

3. Mark Teixeira 1B

4. Alex Rodriguez 3B

5. Robinson Cano 2B

6. Nick Swisher RF

7. Andruw Jones DH

8. Russell Martin C

9. Jayson Nix LF

Andy Pettitte LHP

Royals lineup

1. Alex Gordon LF

2. Johnny Giavotella 2B

3. Billy Butler DH

4. Jeff Francoeur RF

5. Mike Moustakas 3B

6. Alcides Escobar SS

7. Eric Hosmer 1B

8. Humberto Quintero C

9. Mitch Maier CF


TV/Radio: YES/WCBS 880

Umpires: Mike Muchlinski HP, Wally Bell 1B, Mike Winters 2B, Mark Wegner 3B

Weather: Partly cloudy, 71 degrees

The new guy: The Yankees get to face a pitcher making his big-league debut for the 14th time since 2000. They will come in against Will Smith with a 5-8 record against the first-timers.

The old guy: Andy Pettitte made his minor-league debut in June 1991 when little Will Smith was one month away from turning 2. Pettitte’s big-league debut came on April 29, 1995 when little Will Smith was 5.

RISP watch: The Yankees are 8 for their last 79 with runners in scoring position.

Update, 7:13: Three ground balls, three outs for Pettitte in the first.

Update, 7:18: Looked like Smith hung a 1-2 curve to Granderson. Welcome to the big leagues, 1-0 Yankees.

Update, 7:24: 3-0, homer No. 635 for A-Rod, who promised Tuesday night that his homer and RBI count would be fine by the time this season ends.

Update, 7:31: Pettitte is dominating so far, two Ks in a perfect second.

Update, 7:45: Teixeira’s invaluable glove bails out Pettitte, diving stop, 3-6-3 double play to end a two-infield-hit third.

Update, 7:51: Teixeira hits into a double play, run scores, 4-0.

Update, 7:53: Will Smith throwing batting practice to A-Rod, 56th two-homer game, it’s 5-0.

Update, 8:00: Royals break through against Pettitte, Billy Butler solo shot to right.

Update, 8:09: Vintage Pettitte, gets out of a bases-loaded, two-out mess with a strikeout.

Update, 8:13: Smith’s “memorable” debut is over after 3 1/3. Luis Mendoza is on.

Update, 8:19: Solo shot for Mitch Maier, just his second homer, 5-2.

Update, 8:30: Bases-loaded walk to Teixeira, 6-2. A-Rod looks for HR No. 3.

Update, 8:34: Oh well. A-Rod hits into a force at the plate. Mendoza is out of the game. Jose Mijares is in.

Update, 8:38: Cano hits into a force, but the run scores, 7-2. This is their most runs since May 14.

Update, 8:42: Louis Coleman in to pitch for the Royals after Mijares hits Swisher to load the bases.

Update, 8:47: RBI walk for Jones, 8-2.

Update, 8:53: Two runs, seven hits allowed by Pettitte through six.

Update, 9:07: 1-2-3 for Pettitte in the seventh, has retired nine straight, the last two via strikeouts.

Update, 9:25: Pettitte runs off to a standing ovation after walking the first batter in the eighth. David Phelps is on.

Update, 9:43: Jeter just tied Paul Waner for 15th on the all-time list with hit number 3,152, his third of the night.

Update, 10:01: Yankees win, 8-3.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 475 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Swisher update, Nunez in left, Pettitte’s line04.30.12

Hello there, Brian Heyman here for Chad today. Let’s start with this: There are still no plans right now to put Nick Swisher on the DL due to his low-grade strained left hamstring that he suffered yesterday.

“That’s not my category, guys,” Swisher just told us.

But there is a descrepancy about when he’ll be able to play again. Joe Girardi said he’s aiming for him to return in the field next Tuesday. Swisher hopes to be ready to play again Thursday night in Kansas City.

“Me and Skip, we’ve got to get together and get a game plan,” Swisher said. “From the way I feel right now, I wouldn’t see it being a week.”

“Could I pinch hit him?” Girardi said. “We’ve just got to go day by day to see how he’s feeling and where he’s at.”

The Yankees will have just two position players on the bench for this series. Brett Gardner is eligible to come off the DL Thursday. Girardi talked about a rehab assignment for him, which would probably be brief since the manager said, “We haven’t determined what day yet.”

So Eduardo Nunez is getting a shot in left tonight.

“It’s left field. That’s where they put players who can’t play anywhere else,” Gardner cracked. “He’ll be fine.”

Asked if Nunez could turn into a regular outfielder since infield advancement is blocked here right now, Girardi said, “We have him targeted as being an everyday shortstop one day. But, hey, stranger things have happened because of opportunities. You never what the possibilities are. He’s athletic. He has a lot of speed. There are a lot of different things he can do. We’re going to find out.”

Nunez said he’s comfortable in practice out there, but he obviously doesn’t have much game experience.

“I’m never nervous,” Nunez said. “Errors are part of the game. If you’re nervous, you’ll never be a good player. I’ve played this game all my life.” …

Here’s Andy Pettitte’s line from an extended spring training start today against Phillies organization personnel in Clearwater, Fla.: 5 2/3 innings, six runs, five earned, 10 hits, no walks, 8 Ks. He threw 96 pitches, 71 for strikes. Girardi said his understanding was there was “quite a wind blowing out.”

So does Pettitte need one more? Or is he ready?

“I think it’s something we have to talk about,” Girardi said, “see how he feels tomorrow and the next day and decide what’s next.”

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Yankees pregame (with revised lineup)04.17.12

Brian Heyman here again tonight for Chad. Mark Teixeira has been scratched due to flu-like symptoms.

Here’s the revised lineup:

1. Derek Jeter DH

2. Nick Swisher 1B

3. Robinson Cano 2B

4. Alex Rodriguez 3B

5. Andruw Jones RF

6. Curtis Granderson CF

7. Eduardo Nunez SS

8. Brett Gardner LF

9. Chris Stewart C

On the subject of starting pitchers, Andy Pettitte is down for about 65 pitches Friday when he starts again for Single-A Tampa, this time at Daytona.

And Michael Pineda is down for another bullpen session within the next few days, according to Joe Girardi. The Yankees hope he can start pitching in games after that. …

The Yankees have just two quality starts out of 10 so far, none from tonight’s starter against the Twins, CC Sabathia.

“To me, command has probably been the biggest issue,” Girardi said, speaking about the five starters in general. “Not to where we’ve walked a lot of people, but where we’ve gotten too much of the plate.”

Sabathia allowed nine earned runs over 12 innings in his first two starts, both no-decisions. The lefty is usually better when the weather is warmer.

“CC is a guy who has a really good changeup,” Girardi said. “A changeup is a feeling pitch. Obviously the warmer it is, the better feeling you’re going to have in your fingers. Some guys just enjoy the weather more. CC is one of those guys that you look at him, he doesn’t mind if it’s 95 degrees and really, really hot. I always dislike those days, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.” …

Hiroki Kuroda, who will start tomorrow night, has one of the two quality starts, his last one in the home opener against the Angels when he tossed eight-plus shutout innings. He had faced the Angels with the Dodgers, but the Rays got him for six runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 in his first outing. Kuroda is still adjusting to life in the AL.

“The biggest challenge is to get to know the hitters,” Kuroda said through interpreter Kenji Nimura.

Russell Martin is familiar with him from their Dodger days.

“Russell really helps me out,” Kuroda said.

The AL has taken the bat out of Kuroda’s hands so far.

“I don’t miss it at all,” he said. …

This is the 61st anniversary of Bob Sheppard’s first major-league game here as the PA announcer. April 17, 1951, marked Mickey Mantle’s first game as well. Mantle went 1 for 4. Two years later on this date, Mantle sent up his 565-foot homer at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 614 Comments →

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