Pinch hitting: Jordan Ozer • 01.23.13
Our next Pinch Hitter is Jordan Ozer, a 24-year-old who grew up in South Orange, N.J., went to college at the University of Wisconsin, and now works as a media relations assistant in the athletic department of the University of Arkansas. Jordan as a signed, 1952 poster of Mickey Mantle in his living room and still has his old Yankee Stadium subway route memorized.
Jordan is used to moving around, but he sees an opportunity for the Yankees to find – just maybe — some stability at a position of traditional strength for the franchise.
The offseason is nearly over, and the team with the long history of all-star backstops is looking at a gaping hole at catcher. For years the Yankees were buoyed by Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra, and younger Yankees fans were spoiled by Jorge Posada’s potent bat. But as Russell Martin prepares his Pirates uniform for spring training, the current Yankees squad presents a myriad of uninspiring options for the starting catcher spot.
The Yankees are steadily marching toward their self-imposed $189-million limit, and while the number would give many clubs a large berth to work with, the New York club, as currently constructed, is forced to use some creativity. The incumbents, namely Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, fit squarely into the “all-glove, no-bat” mold that backups have long utilized to craft lengthy professional careers. The most intriguing option for what otherwise seems to be an offensive black hole is to go on potential, install Austin Romine as the starting catcher, and see if he can run with it.
The Yankees farm system has been stacked with young backstops of late, and Romine’s all-around tools allowed for the Jesus Montero trade. While in hindsight, Montero could have been a solution to this problem, Romine’s ceiling is a higher in the combination of glove and bat.
While Romine has been in the Yankees farm system for five years, last season’s injury really hurt his development. With only 21 games at AAA, Romine is lacking in high minor league seasoning (Montero’s lingering presence kept him in Trenton longer than was needed). In an ideal world, Romine would spend another year developing in AAA while a veteran manned the plate in the Bronx, but that was last season’s plan before back trouble derailed things. With the given alternatives, there’s no reason not to give Romine the chance to cut his teeth at the big league level. His defense, which VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman called “plus, plus,” will approximate the values that Stewart and Cervelli bring, while at least offering a semblance of being able to produce at the plate. Cervelli hit .246 in AAA in 2012. Stewart hit .241 for the Yankees. With the other question marks in their lineup, the Yankees cannot afford either of those players in the everyday lineup.
The Yankees know what Cervelli and Stewart can produce. Romine should get a big opportunity this spring, especially with Cervelli not in Tampa while he participates in the World Baseball Classic. If Romine proves he can handle himself, the Bombers should be aggressive and gamble on his upside.
The Romine decision represents more than one starting spot in the 2013 lineup. As currently constructed, the Yankees will need to rely on their youth and farm system to succeed under the $189-million mark. That requires players such as Romine to pan out, because the Yankees eventually will need replacements for some of the current veterans.
It seems ownership wants to abandon the prior strategy of big free agent splashes that got the Yankees locked into long-term contracts with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett. This shift will only work if the Yankees get cheap production from within. That requires the homegrown Ivan Nova to hold down a spot in the starting rotation. Michael Pineda needs to get healthy and contribute. David Phelps and Manny Banuelos can become a part of the solution. Eduardo Nunez can carve out a role on the club with the tools he provides. Even further down the road, the Yankees have a wealth of impressive talent in the low minors. Between Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez and Jose Campos, the Yankees simply have to look at last year’s Charleston Riverdogs squad to envision a future New York team that is already wearing Yankees pinstripes.
Recent evidence across the league has proven that young players can make an immediate impact on winning clubs. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper not only captured the nation’s attention last year, but they were key pieces of playoff contenders. The Yankees may not have an on-the-verge superstar such as those two, but the Yankees do have a solid farm system. More importantly, they need to start relying on their young talent more than ever before.
The Yankees can start this transition this season, and it can begin with rolling the dice on Romine behind the plate.
Associated Press photo
Yankees injury report • 03.19.12
A quick rundown of the injuries suffered in Yankees camp this spring…
Hit by a pitch last night, Cano was pulled from the game, then he went for x-rays that came back negative. He’s going to be reevaluated on Tuesday, but the Yankees don’t seem overly concerned.
Sore left calf
Jeter felt some soreness in his calf during Wednesday’s game in Dunedin. He finished the game but hasn’t played since. Today he’s scheduled to get treatment at the stadium. He hasn’t done baseball activities since Thursday. He’s expected to play Tuesday.
Martin was scratched from yesterday’s road trip because of some stiffness that he says is between his groin and hamstring. He felt something similar a few years ago and decided to be cautious about it this year. He’s expected to play Tuesday.
An MRI came back negative, but Swisher hasn’t played since feeling something “tug” running out of the box on Wednesday. He’s been going through regular baseball drills and is expected to play on Tuesday. Like Martin, Swisher said he wouldn’t have come out of the lineup if this were the regular season.
Bruised right foot
The most infamous Yankees injury of the spring seems to have resolved itself. Robertson stumbled down a step while carrying a box at his house and he hasn’t played in two weeks, but he threw a bullpen yesterday and is scheduled to throw another one tomorrow. He could be in a game within a week or so and the expectation is that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
Swollen right hand
Hit by a comebacker on Wednesday, Garcia has been shutdown for a few days. He’s skipping a scheduled minor league start this afternoon but could be back in a game as early as Friday. X-rays showed no broken bones, and Garcia’s simply been waiting for the swelling to go down.
Bruised right hand
Although he still had the hand wrapped after the game, Nunez played last night and said everything felt fine. He’s now played in back-to-back games after missing nearly two weeks because of soreness than lingered longer than expected. He suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch in Clearwater.
Sprained right ankle
Pena is scheduled to take batting practice off Brad Meyers on Tuesday, which seems to indicate that he’s pretty close to returning from a sprained ankle suffered while sliding into second base on Thursday. He’s been walking around the clubhouse with no noticeable limp.
Romine missed time with a sore back last season as well, so the Yankees decided to be extra cautious when his back began feeling sore this spring. Romine has not played in a game and just started taking swings two days ago. He might be able to get in a game late in spring training, but he’s spent most of his time just trying to make sure the back doesn’t become a lingering issue.
Injured in his first bullpen of the spring, Kontos waited longer than expected before getting back on a mound, but he finally made his spring debut last night with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Something of a wild card for the Yankees platoon DH job, Branyan hasn’t had a chance to plead his case because he’s been shutdown with a sore back. He received epidurals last week, but it’s still not clear when he’ll be ready to play.
The former Red Sox reliever hasn’t pitched in a game this season, but he threw a bullpen yesterday. Based on the timing of other pitchers he seems to be on track to get in a game in about a week.
The biggest long-term injury of the camp could force Burawa to miss significant time. The young relief pitcher seemed to make a fast impression — both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman mentioned him at different points — but he had to shut it down at
Jeter, Martin and Swisher scratched • 03.16.12
Derek Jeter was pulled from todays lineup because of a tender left calf. Joe Girardi said hes decided Jeter wont play again until Tuesday, but he labeled this as more precautionary than anything. He hasnt forgotten what happened to Jeters other calf last year.
Also, Russell Martin was scratched because of soreness in his left groin. Its unclear whether it happened on yesterdays play at first base.
Nick Swisher has told Girardi that his tight groin feels better, but Girardi decided not to play him today either.
UPDATE, 10:14 a.m.: Here’s the basic injury update…
Went through normal drills in Tampa yesterday, but while the Yankees were on the bus home from Viera, Girardi got a call saying Jeter’s left calf was “tender.” That’s not the same calf that Jeter hurt last year, but Girardi considered last season’s injury to be a cautionary tale.
“My alarm was he hurt his calf last year,” Girardi said. “I said, even though it’s the other calf, I said we’re going to be smart about this. I told him, ‘Don’t even go out today.’ I think he could hit today and take BP, but just let it calm down.”
Girardi planned to have Martin catch seven or eight innings today, but instead Martin showed up and said his left groin was “stiff.” Girardi’s not sure whether it’s connected to yesterday’s awkward play at first base. For whatever it’s worth, Martin said yesterday that he was fine on that play, banged his shoulder into the ground but nothing else.
“He will not catch today and I’m not sure when he’ll play again,” Girardi said. “… I don’t think Russell will be out but a couple of days, but you never know. You don’t know how guys respond.”
Pulled from Wednesday’s game because of a sore groin, Swisher went through drills yesterday and told Girardi that he’s feeling better, but Girardi is being extra cautious — hard to blame him given the current state of nagging injuries — and so he won’t play this afternoon. Girardi said it’s possible Swisher will play tomorrow.
Was scheduled to pitch on Monday’s off day, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect that to happen. However, there seems to be a chance that Monday will be the only start Garcia actually skips. Too early to know for sure, but Girardi didn’t seem to be ruling out any other start.
“His hand looks better,” Girardi said. “(But) he still has some swelling in there.”
As scheduled, Nunez will not hit again today. It will be his third day off in a row. He’s scheduled to try to hit again tomorrow. He still hasn’t played since being hit by a pitch in the right hand last Monday.
Out with a sprained right ankle suffered in yesterday’s game. Although Pena said yesterday that he thinks he’ll be out only a day or two, Girardi still thinks it might be longer. Girardi mentioned Tuesday as a possible return for Pena.
“I imagine he’s going to be a couple of days,” Girardi said. “The way I saw him walk off the field yesterday, I wasn’t extremely encouraged.”
Has yet to play in a spring training game and had multiple epidurals this morning to try to help his sore back.
Still not doing anything baseball related because of his sore back.
“He’s doing better,” Girardi said. “He’s probably pretty close to getting on the field to do some baseball activities. He feels much better, he feels much stronger, and that was the feeling we wanted him to have.”
Said this morning that he’s going to play catch today, but he’s still not sure when he’ll be on a mound. Robertson said he’s “doing well” but Girardi had too many other players on his mind today and forgot to check on his setup man.
“I forgot to ask about him,” Girardi said. “I had so many other guys to talk about.”
Spread across two different spring training sites, separated by a little more than two hours worth of highway, a little less than half of the Yankees projected big league pitching staff got on the mound this afternoon. Phil Hughes faced the Twins in Fort Myers. CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan and Cory Wade faced the Phillies in Tampa.
Their combined line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
Most of the attention was naturally on Rivera, and that’s probably the way it’s going to be throughout the season. If the expectation is that he’ll retire at the end of the season, then every one of his outings carries a little extra significance. There’s a little added appreciation to every step along the way. Rivera, Logan and Wade each pitched a hitless inning today, but the bulk of the innings belongs to the starting pitchers.
Before the game, Sabathia told Russell Martin that he wanted to work on his two-seamer and his changeup, and those pitches were the focus of the afternoon. Sabathia wasn’t happy with his fastball command last time out, but he was much better this time, and he got better in the second and third innings.
Sabathia: “Felt good. The fastball command was pretty good, the secondary pitches were working. I still got a little ways to go, you know. I still want to work on my two-seamer. But I feel good today… Fastball command (improved). Getting it in on righties, and Russ did a good job making sure we got a lot of those. He called a lot of two-seamers which is something that we’ve been working on all spring. He did a good job of working in things we were trying to do.”
Martin: “He was great. What I liked about him was he had some good velocity. I don’t know how hard he was throwing, but it felt like the ball was jumping out of his hand. And he threw some good changeups. He threw his curveball for strikes. We talked before the game, he wanted to work on his two-seamer a lot and his changeup, I think we did a good job of that today. We threw some two-seamers in for lefties, made them uncomfortable. Locked a guy up with a slider for a puncy. Threw some good changeups down in the zone off his fastball. He was good today.”
3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Joe Girardi went on the road to see Hughes make his second spring appearance. Last time out, Hughes’ arm strength was much better than at this time last season, and his fastball remained in the low 90s this afternoon. I wasn’t there to see it, but it seems to be another solid step forward.
Hughes: “The cutter wasn’t as good as it was last time, but the curveball was much better. Fastball location was much better, as well. Command-wise, it was a lot better, especially in the second and third innings… It seemed like my fastball was good. It was jumping on hitters a little bit based on the swings I was getting. That was a positive thing. Being able to work out of some trouble with guys on, they put together some good at-bats in the first and I was able to get around those.”
Girardi: “I thought he had everything today. Fastball location was much better, he threw some good changeups, curveballs and cutters. I was very pleased. I thought it was a nice step in a positive direction for him. A lot of times at this point in the first couple starts, I’m focusing on the good things. Knowing that they are rusty, you don’t expect them to have their A stuff a lot of times. You want to see what they’ve got the first couple starts. I was pleased.”
• Dave Robertson is supposed to get his walking boot off tomorrow, but that’s subject to change depending on how he feels. “If he comes in and he’s walking okay and it’s not too painful, he’ll come out of the boot,” Girardi said. “If it’s still pretty painful, we’ll put him back in the boot.” For whatever it’s worth, Robertson seemed to be walking much more easily today.
• Eduardo Nunez could be in a game as early as Tuesday. “We’ll have him take BP Tuesday, and if he has no problem, I’ll put him in the game,” Girardi said.
• Really nice game by Chris Dickerson here in Tampa. He made a nice running play in center field, had the two-run single that gave the Yankees the lead, and he stayed in a rundown long enough to let runners advance to second and third. I’m still surprised no team thought they could carry him as a fourth outfielder this year. He’s a nice player.
• Russell Martin stole another base today. That’s four steals in five games for the Yankees catcher. “I’m putting a little pressure on Gardy,” Martin said. “That’s all I’m doing.” Might be working because Gardner also had a stolen base today. It was Gardner’s second.
• Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 — and had another hit taken away by a nice catch in center field — in the Yankees 3-1 win against the Phillies. Dickerson, Robinson Cano, Gustavo Molina, Bill Hall, Justin Maxwell and call-up-for-the-day Austin Krum also had hits in the win. … Francisco Cervelli went 3-for-3 in the 5-1 loss to the Twins. Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Gary Sanchez, Jayson Nix and Corban Joseph also had hits in that game, as did call-up-for-the-day Walter Ibarra.
• Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley and Kevin Whelan were able to keep the shutout intact in Tampa. … In Fort Myers, Adam Warren allowed one run through three innigns, but the game unraveled when Graham Stoneburner allowed a solo homer in the seventh inning and Adam Miller gave up a three-run homer in the eighth. All five Twins runs came on home runs.
• Add Dan Burawa to the injured list. Girardi said today that Burawa hurt his ribcage yesterday. “He’s probably down for a little bit,” Girardi said. Burawa seemed to be making a pretty good impression this spring but was still just here to get his feet wet. He’s not realistically in the big league picture this season.
• Once again Girardi said Austin Romine is making steady progress from his sore back, but the Yankees are staying extra cautious. There’s no rush to get Romine into regular duty in spring training. “If he’s a backup here, he’s not going to play every day,” Girardi said. “And if he’s in the minor leagues, he’s going to play every day, so you can work him up to three and four days in a row down there. That’s not a problem. I want to see him playing healthy before we leave; that’s the most important thing.”
• A lot of guys up from minor league camp today, but center field standout Mason Williams wasn’t among them. Girardi said today that he expects Williams to come up for a big league game at some point this spring. Girardi’s never seen him play, but “I’m interested,” he said.
• After fracturing the bone around his eye earlier this spring, A.J. Burnett has returned to Pirates camp. He’s still expected to miss two to three months.
• During a surprise Facetime conversation, Alex Rodriguez, Dave Robertson and Tino Martinez spoke with Stephanie Decker, the mother that lost both legs while protecting her two children from a tornado in Indiana last week.
• Want further proof that Mariano Rivera pretty much sets his own schedule in spring training? Here’s Girardi’s I-have-no-idea answer to a question about what’s next for Rivera after today’s debut appearance: “He’ll probably have some days where he has a couple days off. He might throw an inning, do a bullpen the next time, then throw an inning again. He usually gets his seven or eight appearances in, so he’s got plenty of time to do that. There’s no rush.”
Associated Press photos
Is it possible for one of the best hitters in baseball to sneak under the radar?
Miguel Cabrera leads the Majors in batting average and on-base percentage. He ranks fourth in slugging, and his OPS is second only to Jose Bautista. But he’s a secondary focus on this Tigers team, where Justin Verlander gets so much attention that Cabrera seems like a piece of the supporting cast.
“If he plays another eight to 10 years, he could go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time,” Joe Girardi said. “If you get in situations, you don’t want to let him beat you.”
“It was a young man who, at a very young age, really knew how to hit and really knew how to play the game,” Girardi said. “I was impressed with his knowledge of the game and understanding how to play the game, and we had a very good relationship.”
At this point, you know all about the Yankees. You know Robinson Cano has been moved up to third in the lineup, you know Alex Rodriguez is coming off an injury and you know Curtis Granderson spent the year emerging as one of the game’s most dangerous hitters. You also know all about Verlander and CC Sabathia, a pitching matchup custom-made for Game 1. You know this is the division series, and the Yankees have the home-field advantage.
What’s we’ll find tonight is how the Yankees plan to approach the most dangerous hitter in the Tigers lineup, a guy who’s not getting the most buzz in Detroit, but who could make the biggest difference in this series if the Yankee choose to face him.
“That’s why we went out and got Victor Martinez,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “… We feel very comfortable with Victor behind Miguel right now. There’s no question about that. He’s a very professional hitter. He’s knocked in over 100 runs. There’s never a perfect lineup but we think we have the guy to hit behind him.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.
• Leyland announced that Rick Porcello will be his Game 4 starter. That means they’re planning to use Verlander in Game 5. Girardi said he’s sticking with his decision to use Sabathia in Game 4 and Nova in Game 5.
• Girardi said all of his roster decisions were “pretty much as anticipated.” They wanted to keep their regular bullpen, and they felt comfortable with Jesus Montero as the backup catcher. A.J. Burnett is basically the long man, which seems to have lessened the need for Hector Noesi.
• Will Burnett be the fourth starter if the Yankees advance to the ALCS? “There’s a good possibility, yes,” Girardi said.
• Girardi expects to pinch hit Montero for Jorge Posada if the Tigers bring in a left-hander late in the game. In using Montero, the Yankees will eliminate their backup catcher, but Girardi will take that chance and lose his DH if something happens to Martin at that point.
• Austin Romine will stay with the big league club. So will Bartolo Colon. Ramiro Pena has already gone to Tampa to stay sharp, and lefty Raul Valdes will head down there on Sunday.
• Girardi didn’t rule out the idea of using Colon later in the postseason, but it doesn’t seem especially likely. “It’s possible. We’re going to have him continue to throw. He’s probably going ot stay with us though, but we’ll have him continue to throw and maybe the extra rest will help him.”
• Chris Dickerson became an important piece because the Yankees want to use him for late-inning defense in Detroit. “You look at the outfield in Detroit, how big it is, it’s nice to have Dickerson,” Girardi said.
• The seventh, eighth and ninth innings are obviously spoken for, but Girardi said he considers Phil Hughes to be a candidate for key spots in the sixth. “I’ll look at matchups,” Girardi said. “We’ve used Wade and Ayala and Boone in those situations. Not afraid to use Hughsey in those situations either.”
• The Yankees plan to stick with this lineup throughout the series.
• Girardi’s reaction to news that Terry Francona is out as manager in Boston: “These jobs are precious, there’s no doubt about it. There’s expectations. A lot of times they’re extremely high expectations when you’re in certain towns. We understand that when we take the job. High expectations are better than no expectations. You do enjoy it and you enjoy your time when you’re there. Tito has done a great job there. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I know he’s done a great job.”
Austin Jackson CF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Alex Avila C
Ryan Raburn 2B
Jhonny Peralta SS
Brandon Inge 3B
Associated Press photo
Pregame notes: You were expecting decisions? • 09.28.11
Joe Girardi made three announcements about his division series roster.
1. CC Sabathia will start Game 1.
2. Mariano Rivera will be on the roster.
3. Ivan Nova will start Game 2.
“We haven’t completely made our roster, and some of it’s going to depend on who we’re going to play, and we still don’t know that,” Girardi said. “We’re fairly close, but there are some decisions that have to be made depending on who we play.”
I guess locking Nova into Game 2 is a mild bit of news, but that was pretty much the assumption. Girardi said his Game 3 starter doesn’t really depend on the opponent, but he’s still not ready to announce it. He said there are “two or three” decisions that still have to be made.
And there’s a good chance nothing will be official until tomorrow’s workout at the stadium.
“I should know who we’re playing,” Girardi said. “Hopefully they don’t pay until 4 tomorrow afternoon. We’ll talk about it when we come in tomorrow and I’ll probably have most of the decisions made.”
• Girardi said he chose Dellin Betances to start today’s game largely because he expected to use Betances anyway, and he’s used to being a starter. “We probably won’t go long with him, I mean, we’re not asking him to give us five or six innings,” Girardi said. “We just figured it was the best time to pitch him.”
• Girardi said he’s expecting two or three innings out of Betances. Ultimately, he’s expecting to use a lot of young relievers. Boone Logan, Luis Ayala and Phil Hughes are the big league guys expected to pitch.
• Hughes didn’t start because Girardi wants him to once again get loose and get in the game. It’s one more chance to readjust to life in the bullpen.
• Girardi said he’s planning to stick with this heart-of-the-order against lefties. He likes having Rodriguez hitting behind Cano for protection.
• Why Montero behind the plate? “With some of the younger kids throwing, Montero has a better idea of what they’re doing,” Girardi said. “He caught most of these guys at Triple-A this year.”
• Montero would DH more often against Texas, making Romine more necessary if that’s the opponent? “That’s a pretty good assumption,” Girardi said.
• Will the regulars play all game? “We’ll just kind of see how it goes,” Girardi said. “We’ll go along with the game and see how it goes. Will I play them all nine innings? Maybe not. My first priority is taking care of my guys, and I’ve got to do it.”
• If Derek Jeter gets his batting average above .300, would Girardi pull him? “That’s something I’ll talk to him about,” Girardi said.
Associated Press photos
Three pictures worth a thousand words • 09.27.11
The Yankees passed along some professional photos of last night’s rookie hazing. It’s rare that every single outfit is hilarious, but these were pretty good selections. Whoever made the decision to make the two tall guys Milli Vanilli … bravo! At one point, Jesus Montero was trying to dance like MC Hammer, and pictures will never fully explain just how hilarious it was to watch Austin Romine try to figure out how to get his costume on.
Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances as Milli Vanilli
Brandon Laird as Slash
Hector Noesi as Prince
Austin Romine as Madonna
George Kontos as George Michael
Jesus Montero as MC Hammer
The Yankees lost tonight, but the mood in the clubhouse was beyond loose. Things were normal for a while — quiet, like after most losses — then the rookies started getting to their lockers and finding costumes.
Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances are towering versions of Milli Vanilli. George Kontos is George Michael. Jesus Montero is MC Hammer. Brandon Laird is Slash, complete with a guitar and black vest. Austin Romine is Madonna, but he had such trouble figuring out the dress that he improvised parts of it. At one point he was tying something that didn’t seem like it was supposed to be tied.
The Yankees are sending an official photo later tonight.
The story that had people laughing even before the costumes came from Russell Martin, who actually went into detail about his ejection in the fifth inning. He’d just gone to the mound to calm down Phil Hughes, who was upset about some borderline pitches, and when he got to the plate, Martin started talking to home plate umpire Paul Schrieber. Here’s Martin’s version of conversation.
Martin: “Did you stretch before the game?”
Schrieber: “What?” (said while walking in front of Martin)
Martin: “Did you stretch before the game?”
Schrieber: (gave Martin a puzzled look)
Martin: “I feel like you’re kinda tight right now.”
“I didn’t say it in a way that was condescending,” Martin said. “I was trying to loosen things up a little bit because I felt like he wasn’t really having a good time, and so he threw me out. I didn’t say he sucked. I didn’t say he was the worst umpire in the league. I didn’t say any of that stuff. I just made a joke and he then threw me out, no warning, nothing. Gone.”
Someone suggested that perhaps Schrieber didn’t get the joke.
“I think he got it,” Martin said. “I think he just didn’t like it.”
Here’s Martin telling the story. It’s honestly hilarious.
• Obviously Girardi didn’t go to his top relievers tonight. He said that’s because he wants to use all of his top guys tomorrow night. Using them tomorrow gives them a chance to stay fresh, but it still gives them two days off before the division series opener.
• The plan is still to have Phil Hughes pitch again on Wednesday. “We need to get him back out there,” Girardi said. “He hasn’t pitched in two weeks, so I wasn’t sure what I’d get today. It’s important that he comes out feeling okay tomorrow and that his back is okay.”
• Girardi was talking to the media in his office when the crowd at the Trop went nuts. They’d just seen the Red Sox lose on the big video board in right field, meaning the wild card race is tied. “I actually saw one of their players look at the scoreboard when there was a loud cheer today,” Girardi said. “That probably wouldn’t happen on a normal day. They should be excited.”
• On tomorrow’s game: “We’re playing to win,” Girardi said. “I’ve got Bartolo and a loaded bullpen tomorrow, so we’re playing to win games. But I also have to pick the time to use my relievers, because if we get into some long games on Friday and Saturday, I’ve got to make sure they can go multiple innings. If you start throwing them a lot and you wear them down a little, shame on me. My responsibility is to this club.”
• Girardi wasn’t worried about Austin Romine getting back behind the plate after catching 14 innings last night. “He’s young,” Girardi said. “I don’t worry about that.”
• Girardi also said using Romine wasn’t necessarily an indication that he’s planning to carry Romine on the postseason roster. Girardi also wanted to save Montero for a pinch hitting opportunity, because he knows Montero might be asked to pinch hit in the playoffs.
• Jorge Posada was involved in two double plays that ended with plays at the plate. “He made a good double play on the bullet, then the other double play on the stolen base attempt by Johnny,” Girardi said. “He did OK over there.”
• Hector Noesi has allowed five runs on nine hits and three walked in 4.2 innings as a starter. He has a 6.84 ERA in 16 road appearances this season. His ERA is 2.59 in 14 appearances at home.
• Robinson Cano now has 81 extra-base hits, tied with Roger Maris for the third-most by a Yankees left-handed hitter since 1950. Don Mattingly had 86 in both 1985 and 1986.
• Cano has 14 home runs in 8 career games at Tropicana Field. That’s his most at any visiting ballpark. In his past nine games at the Trop, Cano is hitting .417 with three homers and 10 RBI.
Associated Press photos
I’m leaving for the airport in four hours, so I’m going to try to make this quick.
After 14 innings that left the Yankees oh-so-close to a doubleheader sweep, the biggest postgame news involved a player who had nothing to do with either of today’s games.
Joe Girardi announced that Phil Hughes will be moved immediately to the bullpen, and the plan is to leave him there into the postseason.
That’s what we’re going to load at during the playoffs,” Girardi said. “That’s how we’re going to look at him.”
Hughes was informed of the decision in between today’s games. He admitted being disappointed, but also recognized that, because he hasn’t pitched since September 12, the Yankees couldn’t be completely confident that he could be counted on as a starter.
“I did it to myself,” he said. “I had the back issue coming off a good start in Seattle, so therefore I didn’t have an opportunity to pitch. They had to make a decision… I’ve done it before. Just go down there and look to help out any way I can.”
Here’s Hughes talking very briefly about the move to the pen.
• One of the looming questions throughout tonight’s game was why veterans Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones were never given a chance to pinch hit in key situations. “To me it’s not the right thing to do,” Girardi said. “Their bodies were shutdown since 4 o’clock.” Girardi said he was worried someone might pull something trying to get ready in a hurry, and it wasn’t worth the risk.
• The Yankees rotation against Tampa Bay:
Monday: Hector Noesi
Tuesday: Bartolo Colon
• Girardi when asked who he’s considering to start Wednesday: “It might be a bullpen day.”
• Girardi was ejected for arguing with first-base umpire Tim McClelland in the 13th inning. McClelland had clearly blown a call at first base, and Nick Swisher — playing first at the time — had gotten into a short argument. “I thought he went at Swish, and I didn’t think that was right,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli had another concussion test today and was cleared to travel with the team to Tampa. Girardi said he might catch a bullpen this week.
• Austin Romine was hit in the head by a back swing, but he said he’s fine. “I got smacked around a couple of time,” he said. “My head’s fine. I’ve been hit before.”
• Romine on his tag at the plate when Pedroia tried to fly over him: “I’ve never seen anybody try to jump over me before.”
• Girardi on Ivan Nova: “I was pleased with the way he threw the ball tonight.” He really didn’t get into much more detail than that. Neither did Nova, to tell the truth.
• The Yankees fell to 4-11 in extra-inning games this season.
• Forgot to mention after the first game that Brandon Laird was getting a lot of credit for his work at first base in Game 1. “He saved me a couple runs, for sure,” A.J. Burnett said.
• First time through the order against John Lackey, the Yankees went 4-for-7 with two doubles a walk and a strikeout. The went 1-for-13 with two walks and three strikeouts against Lackey the rest of the game. They had just two hits over their final 45 batters.
• At five hours and 11 minutes, this was the Yankees longest game since September 10, 2010 against Texas.
Associated Press photos
When Alex Rodriguez came back from knee surgery, he was immediately inserted back into the cleanup spot. This time, coming back from his sprained thumb, Rodriguez is sliding down a spot to fifth in the order.
“It’s more that he’s just missed time,” Joe Girardi said. “Really, he hasn’t played much in the last two months, so I figured we’ll just keep Robbie there for right now, and if Alex gets going, we can adjust our lineup as we see needed.”
Rodriguez plans to play with a ring of tape around the handle of his bat, and that ring will keep his top hand from driving into his sore thumb. He tried it yesterday and liked the results.
“Just to have the authority to get through the zone the way I’m used to is the most important thing,” Rodriguez said. “I think timing takes a little adjustment, but not as bad as the other thing.”
Whether he has that authority through the zone will determine which version of Rodriguez the Yankees have these last two weeks and into the postseason.
“We don’t know what version we’re going to get,” Girardi said. “We might get the version we had at the beginning of the season when he was healthy. If that version is in there, that’s really good.”
• Girardi said it’s “fair to say” he wants CC Sabathia to start Game 1 of the division series, but right now, Sabathia’s not lined up for that game. Getting him on regular rest for Game 1 seems to require that he start next Sunday on short rest, but Girardi said he hasn’t decided what to do with Sabathia leading into the postseason. “We’ve got to see after his next start how he feels,” Girardi said. “You’re asking a hypothetical question and I can’t answer it, because I don’t know where we’re going to be and I don’t know how he’s going to feel after his next start. Let’s just wait and see after he starts on Wednesday, then we’ll look at Friday and Saturday and decide what we’re going to do.”
• Kind of surprising, but Girardi revealed that Sabathia actually asked for an extra day of rest heading into his Sept. 10 start against Anaheim. “I think pitchers prefer to pitch every fifth day, but we’re in a situation where we’ve had some off-days and we’ve had to (give Sabathia extra rest),” Girardi said. “There was a time he asked for an extra day one time, so we gave it to him. We’re just doing the best with what we’ve got.”
• Part of the reason for starting Austin Romine is the fact he faced Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez earlier this season. “Romine saw this kid in Double-A and hit a couple balls hard off him,” Girardi said. “He’s familiar with him.”
• Speaking of Romine, he was studying scouting reports in the clubhouse long before a lot of players arrived at the ballpark. The kid seems to be doing whatever he can to be ready.
• Girardi said Romine’s not necessarily his regular No. 2 catcher. “I’ll look at that individually each day,” Girardi said. As for the possibility of carrying both Romine and Jesus Montero in the postseason, Girardi said, “We’ll worry about that when we get there.”
• Boone Logan was really sharp for a while, but he’s taken a step back recently. “He’s just not quite as sharp,” Girardi said. “He’s making a mistake and they’re hitting it. He threw some really good sliders to Adam Lind (last night), and the one that he hit, he left it up in the middle. Good hitters are going to put that in play and usually hit it hard.”
• With three straight day games, Girardi said he expects some regulars to get time off Sunday and Monday. “I’m going to rest a couple of the guys,” Girardi said. “It is what it is. We’re going to have to give the guys a little bit of rest. It’s not what we want, but our schedule has just been bad.”
Mike McCoy SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
David Cooper DH
Colby Rasmus CF
Brett Lawrie 3B
Adam Loewen LF
Jose Molina C
Associated Press photos