The Yankees are officially banged up again. These seem to be nagging injuries more than anything else — depending on Alex Rodriguez’s MRI results, of course — but it’s obviously a concern that Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and now Nick Swisher have been forced to miss time recently because of health problems.
“I’m going to have to manage them carefully, but I don’t think it’s anything I haven’t done in the last couple of years,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ve had to do that. Alex coming off the hip. Mo. Had to manage Matsui that way, in a sense, and Jorge when he was catching. It’s just kind of the nature here and you have to be smart about it.
“And we’re going to open up with eight games on turf (after the all-star break), which is probably not the greatest thing for some of our guys.”
Jeter’s calf has healed, but he’s still less than a week removed from the disabled list, and so far he hasn’t had the day off that Girardi hoped to give him this week. Jeter said nothing has popped up in the past few days to cause him concern, but he’s trying to play it smart by skipping the All-Star Game.
“It’s just a situation where after talking with Joe and Cash and Geno, it would probably best not to push it,” Jeter said. “Be ready for the second half. That’s where my focus has to be. It’s unfortunate because I know you guys know how much I enjoy going to All-Star Games. I love playing in All-Star Games. Especially getting voted in by the fans, it’s something I would like to do. I try to be smart about it. I know I can be stubborn a lot of times when it comes to injuries, but I’m trying to be smart.”
The Yankees cleanup hitter has been hitting for average and drawing walks, but his power had evaporated. He had three homers in four days in early June, but since June 12 he’s hit .333 with just seven extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
“He’s not moving well,” Girardi said. “He’s been sore. His leg has been a little sore, and we’re doing a precautionary MRI just to make sure. It wasn’t anything yesterday that showed me that he was moving totally different to do the MRI, but he’s not playing, we’ve got time, we might as well do the MRI.”
The team announced just a few minutes ago that Rodriguez will also skip the all-star game.
Chasing down Ben Zobrist’s triple last night, Swisher tried to stop the ball with his foot. He kind of kicked at the ball — I didn’t see it, but that’s how he described it — and he felt something in his left quad. Swisher called it a slight strain, and he’s hopeful that he’ll be able to play tomorrow.
“I thought it would feel a lot better today than it was yesterday,” he said. “… “I know Geno and I are going to be buddies today. It just didn’t feel any better.”
Here’s Girardi, talking a lot about his banged up players.
• Without Rodriguez, Swisher or Martin, the Yankees shuffled their lineup to keep their six regular hitters in the top six spots. That meant Brett Gardner back in the leadoff spot. “If not, you’re going to hit Gardy sixth probably, and that wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do,” Girardi said. “I think he’s probably more comfortable hitting first or ninth. And then you’re putting him behind — trying to be nice here – Tex or Robbie and Jorge, and if he gets on base, that can become a situation too.”
• Day game tomorrow, which mean Martin was going to sit out one of these two games. Girardi chose to give him tonight and play him tomorrow.
• The radar doesn’t look good and the tarp is on the field. Right now the rain is light, but the forecast suggests it’s going to keep raining well into the night. If there’s a double header tomorrow, would Jeter play both games? “You could possibly DH him one if you can,” Girardi said. “I’m not crazy about anyone playing a double header, I don’t care if you’re 25 years old, but I’ll have to see what guys I have available, then I’ll have to make a decision.”
• The Yankees got cash considerations from the SK Wyverns of the Korean Professional League in exchange for releasing Brian Gordon and letting him sign overseas. That’s a nice deal for him. Probably making a ton more money over there than he was making with the Yankees, and obviously he’s behind Ivan Nova in the call-up pecking order.
• Girardi said he’s not overly concerned in the wake of Bartolo Colon’s struggles last night. “I just think it’s a blip,” he said. “I think if he was 27, people probably wouldn’t ask that question, but I understand when you’re older and you come off an injury. I really believe it’s a blip, but time will tell.”
Associated Press photos
Decisions are coming. Decisions about what to do with Phil Hughes, about how to juggle a suddenly overcrowded rotation, and about whether Derek Jeter is ready to return to the big league lineup. For now, though, the only Yankees decision is to activated Bartolo Colon and option Brian Gordon, and those moves were fairly predictable.
In the back corner of the Yankees clubhouse, Dave Robertson is waiting for a different sort of decision. All-star selections will be announced tomorrow, and Robertson knows he’s in the mix.
“Everybody seems like they’re hoping I make it,” he said. “But I don’t want to get too excited about it. I don’t want it to get in my head and be bummed out if I don’t make it.”
Robertson doesn’t seem annoyed by constant questions about the all-star game, and he doesn’t seem to be dwelling on the possibility, but it’s obvious his teammates are thinking about it. Players have been dropping all-star references when talking about Robertson lately. It’s hard for a middle reliever to make the team — especially a middle reliever from a team that’s going to have its share of all-stars already — but Robertson’s numbers are overwhelming.
“Robby is most deserving,” Joe Girardi said. “It can become tricky, but I would love to see him go because I really believe he deserves to go.”
Robertson had another scoreless inning last night, and on a pitching staff suddenly filled with uncertainty and moving pieces, Robertson has been a constant.
“Play hard,” he said. “And hope you make it.”
• It’s been a while since Colon pitched in a game, but he had a message for Girardi this morning. “He told me that he could go nine innings today,” Girardi said. “He wasn’t out so long that I feel you really had to re-build him up.” Girardi said Colon will probably go 80 to 85 pitches.
• Any concern about the Mets bunting to exploit Colon’s hamstring injury? “He’s actually pretty good off the mound so, if they bunt, you take a chance of making an out,” Girardi said. “When you look at Bartolo you wouldn’t necessarily say that he would move off the mound well and field his position, but he does a really good job.”
• Gordon will go to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to work out of the rotation. “I’m grateful, thankful,” Gordon said. “But hopefully it’s not done.”
• Girardi said he’s not sure how many innings Jeter is supposed to play tonight, but Girardi would like to see him get three at-bats and play six or seven innings in the field.
• Would Jeter be able to play all three games in Cleveland? “If he was to play these two (in Trenton) and then play the next seven, you’re talking about nine days in a row,” Girardi said. “We haven’t played him nine days in a row in the field the whole year, so I doubt that would happen.”
• As you might expect, Girardi said 3,000 hits will not factor into Jeter’s playing time. “If he was to get three hits on Monday and he played Tuesday and got three hits and we won two games, and he was a big part of it, that’s the most important thing,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said he’ll meet with the Yankees brass after today’s game to discuss what to do with Hughes. A six-man rotation is still a consideration, but Girardi said a six-man rotation wouldn’t necessarily mean all six pitchers working on five-days rest. “You could keep certain guys on their five-day rotation,” Girardi said. “You could do that if you wanted to. Those are all the factors that we have to weigh. We seem to have a good problem here, but it’s something that we have to figure out.”
Jose Reyes SS
Justin Turner 2B
Carlos Beltran RF
Daniel Murphy 3B
Angel Pagan CF
Jason Bay LF
Lucas Duda 1B
Josh Thole C
Dillon Gee RHP
Associated Press photos
It’s been assumed — because Brian Cashman said so — that Phil Hughes would need one more rehab start before rejoining the big league rotation. But it seems that plan is not set in stone. Cashman was in Trenton today to watch Hughes go 6.1 innings, and Joe Girardi said the team is deciding whether they need to see any more.
“That’s something we’re in the process of discussing,” Girardi said. “Cash just got back from, I believe it was Trenton. We’ll discuss that over the next couple of days. He said it was night and day from the start before.”
Hughes was only so-so in his previous start, but this outing was sharp. Multiple reports say his fastball was generally in the low 90s, topping out at 94. Girardi said Hughes only threw a few changeups, but his cutter and curveball were sharp. All eight of his strikeouts were swinging.
“It was a good step,” Hughes told The Associated Press. “I went out today and did not even think about stuff. I know that’s what everybody wants to know about, but my last two outings, and even in the (simulated) games in Florida, my stuff was good. I trusted that it would be there and worried more about command, so that’s really what I was most concerned about.”
Hughes would be on turn to start on Monday, either for the Yankees in Cleveland or for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Lehigh Valley. Bartolo Colon is in New York and could start this weekend against the Mets, and Girardi said he’s begun thinking about what his rotation might look like with both Colon and Hughes healthy.
“We started for about 5-10 minutes before I came in here today,” Girardi said. “When they are both healthy, there are decisions that we’re going to have to make. We have a lot of people throwing the baseball good in our rotation, and that’s a good problem to have. We’re going to have to make some decisions.”
The first decision will be where to send Hughes for his next start.
“I just have to make sure I keep improving, getting all my pitches and making sure my location is good,” Hughes said. “I felt like I was throwing a lot more strikes and that was a good sign. Overall, I was just much more comfortable.”
• Colon is here, but the Yankees aren’t sure whether he’ll be activated this weekend. If he is activated, he’ll start Saturday against the Mets. If not, Brian Gordon will make that start. “We’re going to run him through some drills,” Girardi said. “Then we should know in a couple of days what we’re going to do with him. I have no answers on that yet, but he’s got to go through some drills for us.”
• Girardi said that right now, it’s either Colon or Gordon for Saturday’s start. As it stands, there is no third option.
• Derek Jeter once again ran the bases at less than full strength today in Tampa. “He basically just did the same thing (as yesterday),” Girardi said. “Ran the bases. Took ground balls. We don’t have a time table yet set for him, but he’s definitely going in the right direction.”
• Curtis Granderson fouled a ball off his right leg yesterday and had it wrapped after last night’s game. Girardi said he did not check with Granderson before posting the lineup, but he’ll check with him after batting practice.
• Alex Rodriguez has not hit a home run since June 11, but in those 14 homer-less games, he’s hit .408/.483/.531 with 14 RBI. “He’s been getting on base and driving in runs, and that’s basically his job in the spot where he hits in the order,” Girardi said. “He’s not trying to do too much. I think he’s taking what the pitcher is giving him. His average has been on a constant climb, and very pleased. His on-base percentage has been on a constant climb. Keeping the line moving is what he’s doing. But he’s also being very productive while he’s doing that.”
• If you’re looking for more on the Hughes rehab start in Trenton, go to my old friend Mike Ashmore’s blog. There’s an insane amount of information there, including video of every pitch and video of Hughes’ entire postgame press conference.
• Speaking of Mike’s blog, he notes that Melky Mesa has rejoined Trenton. He was sent to Tampa earlier this month, but that seems to have been largely to work his way back from injury.
• And speaking of Double-A: Austin Romine, Corban Joseph, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances made the Eastern League all-star team. I believe the International League all-stars will be announced later this week. The Pacific Coast League all-star team was announced today, including former Yankees utility man Cody Ransom. He’s hitting .321/.398/.632 with Reno in the Diamondbacks system.
UPDATE, 6:08 p.m.: Cashman agrees that Hughes might not need another rehab start. He also said it’s entirely possible Derek Jeter could begin a rehab assignment on Saturday, putting him back in the big league lineup during next week’s Cleveland series.
Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Corey Hart RF
Mat Gamel DH
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Associated Press photos
Joe Girardi said he hasn’t scheduled his starting pitchers beyond the next four games, but right now, the plan is for Brian Gordon to stay in the rotation. Tonight, Gordon took the good with the bad. He didn’t walk anyone, and at one point he retired 10 in a row, but when he made mistakes, the Reds punished him with three home runs.
“He had one good start and one so-so start,” Girardi said. “Obviously he’s gotten an opportunity because we have people that are hurt. Besides the few mistakes he made, he did okay, but his mistakes were big mistakes… He’s in our rotation. I haven’t sat and thought with the extra days off, what do you do? Right now, I have plans for him to start again.”
Girardi said the Yankees will stay on rotation for this weekend series against the Rockies — A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova — then Freddy Garcia will likely get the start in Tuesday’s series opener against the Brewers. Beyond that, Girardi’s not sure how he’ll manipulate the rotation. He could change it around because of Monday’s off day.
Against two of the five highest-scoring lineups in baseball, Gordon hasn’t been overwhelming — and he’s occasionally walked a tightrope — but he’s given the Yankees a chance to win. He had his good moments tonight, but a first-inning cutter, a second-inning curveball and a fifth-inning slider were hammered for home runs to left field.
“Definitely a little disappointed with the outcome,” Gordon said. “I think overall I felt like I executed most of my pitches, and I think I made three mistakes and I paid for all three of them.”
As Russell Martin explained it: “I thought he made a lot of good pitches today. He didn’t always get rewarded for it. I felt like it was a pretty tight zone out there for him, and then with the tight zone you get behind in counts and you have to get back in counts. Left maybe a couple of pitches over the middle of the plate, and they didn’t miss them.”
The Yankees might not need a fifth starter the next time through the rotation, but they’ll need one eventually, and right now Gordon is still in that spot.
Here’s Gordon after tonight’s game.
• As you would probably imagine, this was a pretty short postgame in the Yankees clubhouse. Jorge Posada’s home run in the first game, and the Yankees winning record on the road trip, remained the biggest stories of the day. In the big picture, Gordon and the second-game letdown were pretty secondary today.
• Of course, there was the subject of Hector Noesi. He had his first truly bad outing since coming to the big leagues. The Yankees were still within striking distance before Noesi gave up three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth. “Missed location, too,” Girardi said. “Left some balls up. Left a slider up to Rolen, an 0-2 slider. He just made mistakes.”
• The good news out of the bullpen was Boone Logan, who faced two very good lefties — Joey Votto and Jay Bruce — and got them both out.
• There wasn’t much discussion about the Yankees missed opportunity in the top of the seventh. Not much to say about it really. Girardi’s strategy spoke for itself — he pinch hit in the spots that he could pinch hit and neither Robinson Cano nor Posada got the big hit — and that was really their last chance to make a dent in the Reds’ lead. Next time the Yankees came to the plate, the game was out of hand.
• Cano’s ninth-inning single did extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
• The Yankees are now 8-19 when the opposition scores first.
• Reds outfielder Chris Heisey had three home runs today. He had five all season before today. “Every mistake that he got, it only took him one pitch,” Martin said. “I remember him from when I used to see him, earlier on, he really didn’t hit breaking balls that well. Today, he got a couple of mistakes on breaking pitches and he hit them.”
• Johnny Cueto is good. “I can’t speak for everybody, but I didn’t really get many pitches to hit today,” Martin said. “He had that fastball working in the bottom of the zone against me and mixing his breaking ball really well. He was tough out there.”
• The Jeff Marquez injury is a mystery. He pitched this weekend in Chicago, seemed fine, then said his shoulder was bothering him while playing catch today. “He came in and played catch today and his arm was sore,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you when he did it. He threw pretty well Sunday for us. I have no idea. He said he played catch today and his arm was sore.”
• The Yankees have signed veterans Terry Tiffee and Mike Lamb to minor league deals to bolster the Triple-A lineup. Just my opinion, but both could quickly become legitimate options for the big league bench as power-hitting corner infielders, kind of filling that Eric Chavez role.
Associated Press photos
Game 73: Yankees at Reds • 06.22.11
Brett Gardner LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS
Ramiro Pena 2B
Brian Gordon RHP
RHP Brian Gordon (0-0, 3.38)
Gordon has never faced any of the Reds
Chris Heisey CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Jay Bruce RF
Jonny Gomes LF
Ramon Hernandez C
Miguel Cairo 3B
Paul Janish SS
Johnny Cueto RHP
RHP Johnny Cueto (4-2, 1.68)
Cueto vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:10 p.m., MY9 / MLB Network
WEATHER: Still so far, so good. Some of the clouds have actually cleared out. Wind still blowing from right to left.
UMPIRES: HP D.J. Reyburn, 1B Tim McClelland, 2B Marvin Hudson, 3B Lance Barrett
LET’S PLAY TWO: Last time the Yankees played a double header was that two-game set in Boston at the end of last season. The Yankees split that day, winning the the first game and losing the second.
CLOSE THE DEAL: The Yankees are 17-7 in series finales hit season, and they’ve won nine of their past 11.
UPDATE, 7:20 p.m.: Full count, Gordon allowed a home run to his first batter of the night. An early 1-0 Reds lead in the first.
UPDATE, 7:33 p.m.: Gordon sent the next three down in order, and Swisher picked him up with a solo shot in the top of the second. Tied at 1 with Gordon heading back for his second inning.
UPDATE, 7:43 p.m.: Another leadoff homer, and another inning limited to the one run. It’s 2-1 Reds after two innings.
UPDATE, 7:46 p.m.: I can’t imagine how badly Gordon wanted to swing away at that 3-0 pitch. All this time waiting, and he doesn’t even get the bat off his shoulder with a four-pitch walk in his first big league plate appearance. Also, batting lefty. Weird.
UPDATE, 8:46 p.m.: Gordon was good except for three key mistakes, each of them a home run to left field. It’s a 4-1 Reds lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, with Boone Logan in to face Joey Votto and Jay Bruce (he got them both out).
UPDATE, 9:09 p.m.: Girardi went to the bench, but neither Cano nor Posada could come up with the big hit in the seventh inning. The Yankees left the bases loaded and still trail 4-1.
UPDATE, 9:25 p.m.: Noesi just struggled through the seventh. He hit a batter with the bases loaded and allowed three runs that gave the Reds considerable breathing room. It’s now 7-1.
Game 72: Yankees at Reds • 06.22.11
Brett Gardner LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Ramiro Pena 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Freddy Garcia RHP
RHP Freddy Garcia (5-6, 3.63)
Garcia vs. Reds
Fred Lewis LF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Jay Bruce RF
Scott Rolen 3B
Drew Stubbs CF
Edgar Renteria SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Ryan Leake RHP
RHP Mike Leake (6-3, 4.04)
Leake vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 12:35 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: So far, so good. Cloudy, but no rain just yet. Wind blowing pretty hard from right to left.
UMPIRES: HP D.J. Reyburn, 1B Ted Barrett, 2B Tim McClelland, 3B Marvin Hudson
CHANGING OF THE GARDY: In the Yankees past 11 games, Brett Gardner is hitting .472 with eight runs, five doubles, a triple, a home run and four walks. That’s the third-highest average in the Majors during that span.
GET AWAY: The Yankees have the best road record in the Majors at 19-12 (.613). Their pitching staff has the second-lowest road ERA in the big leagues (3.15) and their lineup has scored the most road runs per game (5.45).
TWO AWAY: Mariano Rivera is two games away from tying Roberto Hernandez for the 12th-most games pitched in Major League history.
ON THIS DATE: On June 22, 1938, Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmelling in 124 seconds during a heavyweight fight at Yankee Stadium… On June 22, 1957, Yogi Berra hit a walk-off homer in the 13th inning to give the Yankees a 6-5 win against the White Sox. Tommy Byrne got the win, having pitched nine innings of scoreless relief.
UPDATE, 12:51 p.m.: Things could have gotten out of hand for Garcia in that first inning. The first two balls were hit hard and the third guy walked, but Garcia got a big strikeout — Jay Bruce swinging at an offspeed pitch — and a fly ball to left to leave two runners stranded. Scoreless after one.
UPDATE, 1:26 p.m.: High throw to the plate + Gardner’s speed from third = An early 1-0 Yankees lead in the third inning.
UPDATE, 2:01 p.m.: With a 2-0 Yankees lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees have scored their runs by playing an NL style of baseball, and so far Freddy Garcia has negotiated this Reds lineup without much trouble beyond that first inning jam.
UPDATE, 2:11 p.m.: Rough inning for Pena at third. One throw sailed wide to first base, and another short-hopped it’s way to the plate. His pair of errors have opened the door to a game-tying two-run fifth for the Reds.
UPDATE, 2:24 p.m.: The Yankees replacement at first base just made up for their replacement at third. Posada’s two-run homer has the Yankees back in front, 4-2, in the sixth.
UPDATE, 2:55 p.m.: Terrific start by Garcia, who gave the Yankees seven strong innings and shouldn’t have allowed a run. He’s turned a 4-2 lead over to the bullpen, with Dave Robertson in to handle the eighth. The Yankees have upgraded their defense with Mark Teixeira taking over at first base and Chris Dickerson moving into right field.
Yankees postgame: Gordon’s big day • 06.16.11
Brian Gordon drew a crowd for a good while around his locker. This was really his day, the day for which he waited so long.
Yes, the 15-year minor-leaguer had three relief outings with Texas as a September call-up in 2008. But this was a start for the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. The 32-year-old righty got a no-decision in the 3-2, 12-inning win over the Rangers, but he did well, allowing two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3. He used a cutter and a 68-71 mph curve among other pitches. He began going to that slow hook as an out pitch when he was on the mound as a kid.
“There have been a lot of highs; there have been a lot of lows,” Gordon said. “This has got to be at the top of all the highs. It was a very special day for myself and my family. … Hopefully I can stick around for a little bit.”
He decided on a sort of career change before the 2007 season, feeling he had hit a plateau as an outfielder, although he was a .274 career hitter with 118 homers.
“After 10 years of trying it with no big-league time and bouncing around from organization to organization, it just didn’t seem too promising,” said Gordon, who was born in West Point. “I was starting a family. So I was like, I’m at peace with retirement. But I loved to pitch when I was kid. Let’s give it a shot.”
Now he has earned another start, this one an interleague start in Cincinnati Tuesday night. You know what means? No DH.
“You spend 10 years grinding it out and then you decide to pitch, and now you get your first big-league at-bat,” Gordon said. “I guess that’s the way I like to operate.”
*Jorge Posada extended his hitting streak to nine games by delivering an RBI double as a righty batter. Now he becomes a pinch hitter for the six-game NL trip, unless Mark Teixeira gets a rest from first in one game.
But Posada is encouraged at the moment: “I feel a lot of things are coming. I’m working counts well and good things are happening.”
*Andruw Jones started in left as usual with a lefty going. But Brett Gardner came on in the ninth and had two singles in extra innings against lefty Michael Kirkman, including the walk-off hit in the 12th.
“I never worry about him against lefties,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m just trying to keep Andruw going.”
*New righty reliever Cory Wade has been great since coming up yesterday, throwing three perfect innings in the two games, including the final two in this one. Russell Martin used to catch him with the Dodgers.
“He’s probably even better than the last time I saw him,” Martin said. “He reminds me of 2008. He had a great year in 2008. He looks like he’s got his stuff. He’s got command of his changeup, his fastball. He’s the type of guy who can throw any pitch, any count. That’s why he’s tough to hit.”
Hector Noesi, David Robertson, Mariano Rivera and Wade combined to go 6 2-3 scoreless innings, retiring 19 of 22. Yankees relievers haven’t been charged with a run in their last six outings, covering 18 innings.
*The Yankees bounced back well from the Boston sweep, ending the homestand with six wins in seven tries. They are 19-9 since May 17. They are also the first big-league team since 1958 to win 18 of their first 21 day games. The last team to do it? The Yankees, of course. Robinson Cano has been on base in all the day games.
Now it’s on to another day game, Friday in Chicago against the Cubs, the start of 15 straight against the NL.