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.”
Pettitte’s future with the Yankees • 09.17.12
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 LoHud.com and in The Journal News. It should also be linked on my twitter feed, @bheyman99
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.”
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.
Yankees pregame: The injured come into focus • 08.05.12
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.
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.