The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Postgame notes: “As bad as I’ve felt walking off a mound”08.28.14

Shawn Kelley

When a team is winning, a $20 horsehead mask bought on Amazon feels like good luck.

When a team has lost two of three in a tight wild card race, a one-run loss feels like rock bottom.

“That’s about as bad as I’ve felt walking off a mound in my career,” Shawn Kelley said.

Surely a misplaced slider on August 28 isn’t the low point of Kelley’s career, but I have no doubt it’s going to feel that way on the flight to Toronto. Three days ago, the Yankees had won five straight and Kelley’s goofy horsehead had become an unlikely team mascot. Now the team has lost two of three and fallen to three games behind both the Tigers and Mariners for the second wild card.

“We need to win every single game,” Derek Jeter said. “I don’t know how else to say it. That’s the approach we need to have. We’re in this position because of how we’ve played up to this point. So we are where we are, and now we need to win.”

As you might expect, there was a definite sense of lost opportunity in the Yankees clubhouse postgame. There were line drive outs. Brian McCann’s near home run was blown just foul. Kelley was one out away from escaping the ninth-inning jam.

When things are going well — when masks are good luck charms, and the team is winning, and 90s hip-hop is blasting in the clubhouse — there’s a real sense that games like this will eventually turn in the Yankees favor. But today, there was no laughing and no music blasting. And that horse mask was nowhere to be found.

“I didn’t watch (the game-winning hit),” Kelley said. “I just put my head down and walked off the field. It would’ve been a nice surprise if he would’ve (caught it), but I assumed it was a homer.”

Brian McCann• To be clear, off the bat I felt certain Alex Avila’s game-winner was a home run. I never thought Ichiro Suzuki had a shot at it until he closed the gap and came fairly close to a full-sprint catch at the wall. Ichiro was close, but I have a hard time suggesting he misplayed it. I’m mostly stunned he got that close. “It’s a do-or-die play,” Ichiro said. “I just went to where I thought the ball was going to be.”

• Girardi on whether Ichiro had a shot to make the catch: “It’s really hard for me to see once it gets out there. I heard him hit the wall, and I think I heard the ball hit the wall. I can’t tell you what exactly happened, but the bottom line is that it ended up being a base hit.”

• Kelley struck out both Nick Castellanos and Torii Hunter on fastballs, and he gave up both the Victor Martinez and Avila base hits on sliders. Surprised he went slider in that two-out situation against Avila? “No, that’s his bread-and-butter pitch,” Girardi said. “He also made some pretty good pitches with some sliders during some of the at-bats too.”

• Kelley on the first-pitch slider to Avila: “I got the outs I wanted to get, and then just overthrew a slider and left it up. Avila can hit that pitch. Most guys can.”

• Everyone involved seem to think McCann had a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the ninth. It seemed fair initially, but it eventually wound its way just foul. “I did (think it would stay fair),” McCann said. “It just kept going. I don’t know if the wind took it or what. It would have been nice if it stayed fair, but it didn’t.”

• Girardi said it “wasn’t a consideration” to use Dellin Betances for two innings tonight, and he indicated that it had nothing to do with using Betances last night. “You feel good about (Kelley) on the mound, especially the way he’s been throwing the baseball,” Girardi said. Kelley’s past five games leading into this one: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.

Hiroki Kuroda• Another pretty good start by Hiroki Kuroda, who has a 3.28 ERA in his past nine games. “I think I was pretty consistent with my splits,” Kuroda said. “I was able to be effective against the right-handers with my split.”

• We’re not into September yet, but Kuroda seems fairly confident that he can finish this season stronger than he did last year. “Yes, I had a bad second half last year and I am conscious of that,” he said. “I try to be different this year.” Kuroda has done things like limit the pitches he throws between starts in an effort to stay strong down the stretch.

• What made rookie Kyle Lobstein so effective? Girardi actually said the Yankees hit the ball better today than they did against David Price. “From the game that I saw, we swung the bats better than we did yesterday,” he said. “We just hit balls at people. That’s unfortunate. One inning we lined out three times. That’s part of the game, and we’re able to put a number of hits together and that’s why we didn’t score, but I actually thought we swung the bats well.”

• Jacoby Ellsbury had one hit, an RBI single. he’s hitting .462 in his past 10 games. Carlos Beltran is also fairly hot lately. He had two hits including a double and is batting .375 on the current road trip. This was his 27th multi-hit game of the season.

• This was the 42nd time the Yankees were limited to two runs or less this season. Little surprise they’re 7-35 in those games.

• Final word to Brett Gardner: “If we make up one game per week we’ll be in good shape at the end. I feel like we’re playing better baseball. Our pitching has been pretty consistent and they give us a chance to win ballgames. We’re headed in the right direction. It’s disappointing today, but we have another game tomorrow so we can’t get too down. We’ll keep grinding away.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I’m not sure how people do it”08.17.14

Derek Jeter

Here’s what Derek Jeter said last night about being a designated hitter:

“I don’t DH much. You go in the cage between at-bats. That’s about it. It’s not something that I do a lot of. To be honest with you, I’m not sure how people do it. I just run out of things to do. Fortunately, I think (Saturday) might be my second time this year. I don’t do it that often.”

Well, now Jeter’s the DH for a second day in a row, and with Carlos Beltran cleared to play the outfield — and with two awfully good defensive shortstops on the roster — there’s a chance Jeter will see even more DH days down the stretch.

“I don’t know,” Joe Girardi said. “I’ve talked about, now that we’ve got Carlos in the outfield, we could rotate the DH a little bit more. I’ll still DH Carlos plenty, but felt it was a chance to give Jeet a week where he could catch up.”

When the Yankees kick off next week’s home stand, Jeter’s past six days will have included three days off plus two days at designated hitter. That’s a pretty good amount of rest for a 40-year-old shortstop, and while Girardi wouldn’t commit to just how often Jeter will DH in the future — he said he’ll rotate the DH days, and that Beltran will stick get quite a few of them — the roster does seem pretty well designed for Jeter to get at least occasional days — if not regular days — out of the infield.

“Not thinking too much of it,” Girardi said. “Figure it’s a chance to do it (these two days). Turf can be rough on people. We’re going to get into another long stretch, so I chose to do it that way.”

Masahiro Tanaka• One day after his 25-pitch bullpen, Masahiro Tanaka played catch today and seems perfectly fine. “He felt good,” Girardi said. “He played catch today, so he’s scheduled for another bullpen next week. I’m not sure what day. Next bullpen he’ll start to spin some stuff.”

• By the way, saying Tanaka is going to “spin some stuff” doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start throwing splitters next week. “I’m not sure if he’ll throw a split,” Girardi said. “They talked about him spinning some curveballs. I’m not sure exactly if he’s going to throw a slider or what else he’s going to throw. We want him to spin some on some flat ground before he does it off a mound.”

• As expected, Brian McCann is off the disabled list and back at catcher. He missed slightly more than a week because of a concussion. Seems fine now. “It makes (the lineup) deeper, and obviously it’s a guy that has power,” Girardi said. “It’s really good to be able to put him back there because, any time someone goes through something like he went through, we’re always concerned. But he feels good and he’s back in there.”

• Austin Romine has been optioned back to Triple-A.

• Did having Beltran limited to DH keep Girardi from resting key players the past few months? “It worked out,” Girardi said. “Thinking of guys I might have DHed a little bit — I might have given Gardy one DH day in there, and Ellsbury one DH day in there, but not a whole lot.”

• Girardi said he would “absolutely” play Martin Prado in right field again.

• Hiroki Kuroda didn’t get through the fifth inning his last time out. “He didn’t really have a very good split that day, I didn’t think,” Girardi said. “That’s an important pitch for him.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I just feel like it’s time”08.16.14

Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran last played right field on May 11. It was one day later, on May 12, that Beltran felt sudden pain in his right elbow, which led to the discovery of a bone spur, which led to the Yankees decision to keep him out of the field for several months.

But he’s been playing catch for a while now, and the tightness that had developed in his forearm has subsided, and so the Yankees feel ready to get him back into right field. Beltran prefers playing out there, he feels confident that he’s healthy, and getting Beltran in the field opens the DH spot for other regulars to get a bit of a rest from time to time.

“I just feel like it’s time,” Beltran said. “Right now I’ve been throwing and I don’t feel nothing. It’s good.”

There’s some risk here — Beltran has been a productive hitter since the All-Star break, and a setback would be a real blow to an offense that can’t afford to lose much — but Beltran said he’s convinced his elbow is up to making throws, and Joe Girardi said he doesn’t feel much need to pay extra attention to Beltran on defense.

“I feel that he’s healthy, and that it shouldn’t be an issue,” Girardi said. “They can test him (on the bases). His arm’s fine. He’s thrown. This an aggressive club anyway, so I don’t think they’re going to play any different.”

The Yankees have several long stretches late in the season, and the DH spot will surely be used to give players a half day off from time to time. Girardi wouldn’t commit to whether he considers Beltran to be the everyday right fielder or still a regular DH going forward. Surely he’ll get at least some DH days.

“Just wait to see how it goes,” Girardi said. “Let’s go day by day. I don’t want to make a decision too quickly here. Let’s just go day by day.”

Beltran is hitting .299 with five home runs and 17 RBI since the All-Star break. It seems little coincidence that his improved production has come as he’s grown more confident that the elbow and forearm are healthy.

“I guess in the back of my mind sometimes I get caught up a little bit protecting it,” Beltran said. “Especially, I don’t know, (when) it’s kind of sore a little bit, my forearm. But at the end of the day, I just have to come and prepare myself and try to do the best I can. Once the game starts, I try not to think about it, but during batting practice and cage work and things like that I try to be smart and try not to do much.”

Brian McCann• Brian McCann has not been activated. There’s no medical concern, the Yankees just want him to go through at least one more day of baseball drills. “I just felt that he was kind of lethargic (during drills yesterday),” Girardi said. “I think what happens is that when you are used to doing something every day for five, six months, and then you’re not able to do anything for five days, we’ve got to make sure because I don’t want to put him in there too soon and you get the foul tip and lose him for a long period of time.”

• It’s possible McCann will come off the disabled list tomorrow, but Girardi said that’s not a sure thing. Could wait until Tuesday.

• Worth noting that the Yankees wanted to play a bunch of right-handers against Drew Smyly anyway, and Francisco Cervelli has been catching Shane Greene regularly. Even so, Girardi said the determining factor on McCann had much more to do with wanting to get him more swings and work on the field. “It was more our feeling that he wasn’t quite ready to go,” Girardi said.

• Going right-handed is part of the reason today is Beltran’s return to right field. Putting him out there lets the Yankees sit both Stephen Drew and Ichiro Suzuki. “Try to get as many right-handed hitters in there against Smyly as possible,” Girardi said. “He’s been very tough against left-handers this year – and the last couple of years – and it’s one way of doing it.”

• After today’s bullpen, Masahiro Tanaka will stay with the Yankees when they leave Tampa. He’s not going to stay behind to do work at the complex. No word yet on when exactly he’ll throw his next bullpen, but he’s expected to throw some real breaking balls at that point. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow and then design the next few days,” Larry Rothschild said. “I don’t like to get ahead in the schedule with the rehabs. We have an idea of what he’ll do, but first we’ll see how he comes in.”

• What was Rothschild watching for in the bullpen today? “More facial expressions to see if he’s trying to hide something, which I don’t think he’s going to, but you never know,” Rothschild said. “You watch his delivery to make sure he’s not forcing anything. The most important part early in this is that he stays smooth and finishes his pitches so we don’t tweak anything. He’s had some time off, so it’s not only going to be the elbow. You have to watch everything.”

• Everyone involved indicates the Yankees are planning to bring Tanaka back this season regardless of where they are in the standings. Even if they’re out of it by the time Tanaka’s ready to pitch again, it’s still likely he’ll come off the disabled list to make a few starts. “I think it’s important that we know that he’s healthy,” Girardi said. “And I think the only way you’re going to find out is if you get him in games.”

• Tanaka on the possibility of coming back to a team that’s no longer in the race: “I think it’s important for the team to fight until the end of the season, so for me, if it would be possible, I’d like to contribute until the end of the season.”

• By the way, David Phelps is scheduled to be re-examined on Monday, which will be two weeks since his upper elbow/lower triceps issue. It’s entirely possible he’ll start playing catch that day as well.

• As Mark Newman said in this morning’s blog post, indications are that Andrew Bailey is not going to pitch at all for the Yankees this season. Girardi said Bailey’s had a few setbacks in his recovery from shoulder surgery, and he doesn’t expect to see him this season. Maybe next season.

• Girardi responding to last night’s Kevin Long comment about morale being low: “You’re always going to look down when you don’t score runs,” Girardi said. “That’s the nature of the game. Guys are frustrated. I’ve said that guys are frustrated because they know that they’re capable of doing more. We want to play in October, and when you lose, you should be frustrated. You shouldn’t just blow it off. Every day is a new day, and things can change very quickly in a clubhouse. You can get on a roll, and that’s what we need to do.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Tanaka to throw off a mound tomorrow08.15.14

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka did more long toss today. He also went through a round of pitcher’s fielding practice. The next step is actually throwing off a mound.

The plan is for Tanaka to throw a 25-pitch bullpen tomorrow. It will be, without a doubt, his most significant step yet in this attempt to rehab his way back from a partially torn elbow ligament.

“If I can’t throw the way I want to throw on the mound or in the bullpen, then there’s no way I’ll be able to throw that in a game,” Tanaka said. “So definitely, the bullpen will be important.”

Tomorrow’s bullpen is scheduled for all fastballs. Tanaka still hasn’t tried to throw any type of breaking ball.

“I’ve said all along I think you need to see him in competition,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s when the intensity gets turned up and it’s not controlled. You can somewhat control a bullpen, you can somewhat control live batting practice, but once you get in a game it’s a little bit harder.”

Tanaka said he continues to feel no pain through these early stages of his throwing program. He sounds optimistic, and the Yankees seem hopeful, but there are still a lot of steps along the way.

“I sure hope (he’ll be back this year),” Girardi said. “That’s why we’re going through it. Obviously you’ve got to find out if it’s the proper thing to do and if his arm going to hold up. You’d hate to shut him down the whole year and then go through it next year. Everything has been positive so far. He said he feels good, but you really don’t ever know.”

Brian McCann, BrendanRyan• Brian McCann came jogging into the clubhouse, then said he only had time to grab his hat before heading onto the field for batting practice. He said nothing about how he’s feeling, but he certainly didn’t seem like a guy suffering any concussion symptoms and the Yankees still expect to have him off the disabled list tomorrow.

• If you’re curious about the details, Girardi said McCann actually took a concussion test earlier today, and his performance will be evaluated elsewhere so that the league can clear him (or not clear him) for tomorrow’s game. The Yankees think he’s gotten past the problem, but he has to pass that test to be allowed back in the lineup.

• In McCann’s place, Francisco Cervelli has been awfully good. “I’m not surprised, though,” Girardi said. “We saw it last year and we’ve seen it from this kid before. The big thing is keeping him healthy and that he’s a player for us.”

• Despite some recent bumps in the road, Girardi said he’s not overly worried about bullpen workload. “No, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of resting them when we’ve needed to rest them,” Girardi said. “It’s a long year and you go through ups and downs. Very few bullpens are ever perfect; I haven’t found one yet, and I’ve been on some teams with some pretty good bullpens. It’s just part of it.”

• A lot of attention focused on Shawn Kelley saying on Wednesday that the Yankees best bet for making the playoffs was the second wild card. “Well, he also said our goal is still to win the division too,” Girardi said. “Obviously you’re closer in the Wild Card than you are in the division, but we still have plenty of games left with Baltimore. Our goal will be to win the division and we’ll continue to fight for that, but at the very least, you want to make the playoffs.”

• Apparently Joe Maddon has declared this to be an “American Legion” game for the Rays, meaning they’re basically a show-and-go team with no plans of taking batting practice or going through many of the usual pregame routines. They’ll just get to the park and play a big league game.

• Maybe everyone is just as tired as I am today, but this felt like an incredibly slow pregame session both in the clubhouse and with Girardi. The Little League World Series was on in the clubhouse, and there just wasn’t much happening in there. Girardi talked a lot more about the fact the Yankees need to build a long stretch of success, which wasn’t much more than simply stating the obvious.

• By the way, you know what would be helpful for the Yankees starting this weekend? If they actually started hitting some home runs.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Tanaka takes next small step in throwing program08.13.14

Masahiro Tanaka

This is a big day for the Yankees rotation.

At least, it might be a big day for the Yankees rotation.

Not only is Michael Pineda making his first big league start in more than three months, but even before tonight’s first pitch, Masahiro Tanaka went into the outfield and threw 10 flat-ground fastballs. That’s a pretty small step, but it’s the most significant step yet in his return from a partially torn elbow ligament.

“Pain’s gone,” is the phrase Wally Matthews heard.

At this stage, it’s basically impossible for Tanaka to do anything that proves he’s in the clear and will definitely return to the Yankees rotation without needing Tommy John surgery. For now, the best the Yankees can hope for is that he doesn’t suffer a setback. And so far he hasn’t. We’re squarely into no news is good news territory, and right now it seems that Tanaka has no real news to report.

He’s a Major League pitcher who’s playing catch and throwing a few pitches off flat ground. As long as it goes well, none of this is a particularly big deal. It’s all just a series of steps in the right direction. It becomes a big deal when he either progresses to game action or suffers some sort of setback that shuts down the whole process.

Orioles Yankees Baseball• Although the Yankees originally announced a rotation that had Chris Capuano starting on Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda told reporters in Baltimore that he’s actually taking the ball that day. The Yankees seem to be clearly — and understandably — trying to give Kuroda a little bit of a rest in hopes of avoiding a late-season crash like they’ve seen in recent years.

• Joe Girardi told reporters that he expects Brian McCann to come off the disabled list on Saturday. McCann has been on the seven-day concussion DL.

• Pineda returns to the rotation tonight. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since April 23, the day he was ejected for using pine tar. Most pitches he threw during his minor league rehab assignment was 72 on Friday, so there’s basically no chance he’ll be cleared for anything particularly close to 100 pitches tonight.

• To open a roster spot for Pineda, Chris Leroux has been designated for assignment. What is this, three big league call-ups for Leroux this season? He’s been one of several guys shuttling back and forth to give the Yankees a long man when they need it. And the Yankees have needed it quite a bit because they’ve struggled to get much distance out of their starting pitchers.

• The Orioles have put third baseman Manny Machado on the disabled list with a knee injury. He hurt himself during Monday’s game against the Yankees. Chris Davis is back at third base for Baltimore.

• Speaking of Baltimore, from our friend Marly Rivera, here’s Orioles manager Buck Showalter on whether Pineda will be using pine tar tonight: “I’m hoping he’s got a little (pine tar) in the right place, YOU try gripping the ball in some of this weather.” It’s been said over and over again, but the problem with Pineda in Boston wasn’t so much that he was using pine tar, it was the fact he was being so blatant about it after the Red Sox had already looked the other way once.

• Clubhouse good guy Shawn Kelley did the Ice Bucket Challenge today and challenged Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez to do the same. Dan Barbarisi pointed out yesterday that Kelley lost his grandfather to ALS, so it’s pretty cool that he’s jumping into the recent trend.

• At the owner’s meeting to discuss the next commissioner, Hal Steinbrenner told Michael O’Keeffe that he expects to have Alex Rodriguez back in the Yankees lineup next season. That’s settled. I’m sure we won’t hear another word about it.

Associated Press photo

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Yankees postgame: From 10 runs to no runs08.09.14

Corey Kluber

After winning 10-6 in the series opener Friday night, the Yankees didn’t get much done again with bats their hands. They managed five hits and struck out 15 times against four pitchers in this 3-0 win by Cleveland, snapping their three-game winning streak.

Who was to blame?

Joe Girardi mostley blamed Corey Kluber. The right-hander gave up four of the hits and struck out 10 in six innings to improve to 13-6, including 7-1 in his last nine starts. This stretch comes with a 1.19 ERA. Girardi ranks him in the top five in the league.

“He’s got really good stuff,” Girardi said. “He’s got an outstanding slider that he uses against righties and lefties.”

“He’s nasty, man,” Derek Jeter said.

“Every time he toes the rubber, it’s a win,” Cody Allen said after picking up his 15th save.

The timely hitting sure wasn’t there. The Yankees finished 0 for 9 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position. This was the fourth time they were shut out this season.

But they were also missing Brian McCann for the first of at least six games since he’s now on the 7-day concussion DL.

“It’s not what you want, but what we felt was necessary to do to protect him,” Girardi said.

They were also missing Mark Teixeira for the third straight game.

“He felt better,” Girardi said. “It’s possible tomorrow he’s a player for us. We’ll see.”

In the end, they wasted yet another outstanding start by Brandon McCarthy. He had to shake off the pain and numbness from a third-inning liner by Michael Brantley that got his right foot.

“It was Paul O’Neill Day,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t Leave the Game Early Day.”

McCarthy allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3. He struck eight and walked none. This was his first loss in six starts since coming over from Arizona. He’s 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA. X-rays were negative on his foot.

Jeter had a memorable day, picking up hit No. 3,431, passing Honus Wagner for sole possession of sixth on the all-time list. The Captain did it with an infield hit in the sixth and called it a “wow” moment.

Ichiro Suzuki picked up hit No. 2,811, passing George Sisler for sole possession of 48th on the all-time list.

Here’s my Lohud.com story on McCarthy’s bad history with comebackers and what happened today. And here’s my Yankees notebook on Paul O’Neill getting his plaque, Michael Pineda’s positive feelings and some other items.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Postgame notes: “We felt that they could help us”08.09.14

Indians Yankees Baseball

Since getting home from Boston, the Yankees have won four of five at Yankee Stadium, and each of those wins was started by a pitcher who wasn’t on the roster at the beginning of July. First it was Brandon McCarthy, then Chris Capuano, then Shane Greene, and now Esmil Rogers — a mix of youth and experience, familiar names and off-the-radar acquisitions.

This is not remotely the rotation the Yankees planned, but it’s working.

“It was the reason we went and got these guys because we felt that they could help us,” Joe Girardi said. “They’ve pitched extremely well. I’m not sure any of us knew exactly what to expect, but if you look at since the All-Star break, we’ve had a chance to win every game and that’s because of them.”

Rogers is arguably the least likely of the bunch. Cast out of the Blue Jays bullpen early this season, he’d been toiling in Triple-A for months when the Yankees grabbed him off waivers at the trade deadline. He was supposed to be a long man, but when David Phelps became the fifth Yankees starter to land on the disabled list — they have yet to get one back — Rogers was asked to make his first big league start since September of 2013.

He went five innings with one run, and even that was nearly avoided before a two-out single in the first inning.

“I didn’t have all my confidence (in Toronto) like I have it right now in all my pitches,” Rogers said. “My slider and my curveball, changeup and splitter too, and the sinker is unbelievable right now. So i think the key is pounding the zone right now.”

With Michael Pineda making a minor league rehab start tonight in Triple-A, and seeming available to come off the disabled list in five days if necessary, the Yankees now face a decision of whether to have Rogers start again or activate Pineda next turn through the rotation.

At the very least Rogers must have given the Yankees some confidence if they would rather stick with the original plan and let Pineda make one more minor league start.

“I think there’s a lot of things that are tied together here that we’re going to have to try to unwrap to see what we do next,” Girardi said.

Indians Yankees Baseball• Brian McCann left tonight’s game with a mild concussion, but Girardi said he’s still not sure whether McCann will land on the seven-day disabled list. It will depend on tests tomorrow morning. “I think they evaluate him the next day to see what the doctors determine,” Girardi said.

• For whatever it’s worth, McCann didn’t want to leave tonight’s game. He stayed in after taking a foul tip in the third inning — “He (initially) felt like his jaw got jammed,” Girardi said — but after the top of the sixth, McCann told Girardi that he didn’t feel quite right. “I asked him, ‘Are you dizzy?’” Girardi said. “He said, no. I said, ‘Are you sick to your stomach?’ He said, no. He said, ‘I just don’t feel quite right.’ I said, ‘Do you feel a little foggy?’ (He said), yes. … He didn’t want to come out, but I said, you’re out.”

• Pineda’s final line in tonight’s Triple-A rehab start: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. He threw 72 pitches. He told Donnie Collins that he feels ready to return to the big leagues.

More from Donnie Collins: “Pineda really only gave up two hard-hit balls. (Double) by Walters in the first, and (single) by Aguilar in third. Change, fastball up, respectively.” Donnie says that Pineda’s fastball was 92-94 mph.

• Rogers has pitched for the Yankees three times and he has two wins. He threw 88 pitches tonight, and Girardi said he might have gone longer had he not pitched in Tuesday’s game. Certainly suggests he would be at least cleared for 100 pitches if the Yankees choose to send him out in five days. “I just wasn’t sure how much he would be able to give us, and I think we were pretty conscious of watching his stuff continue to be sharp as his pitch count mounted,” Girardi said. “He did a great job.”

Indians Yankees Baseball• Carlos Beltran hit the 11th grand slam of his career in the sixth inning. It was his first grand slam since 2012. “You want to at least get the job done and get one in,” Beltran said. “I faced John Axford many times in the National League so I guess I have maybe like one hit against him. He felt that it was the right matchup for me. I was able to put a good at-bat and come through for the team.”

• This was the Yankees second grand slam of the year. Brett Gardner also hit one. Beltran had two hits and has been excellent since the All-Star break.

• Another milestone for Derek Jeter. Tonight’s first-inning single was the 3,430th of his career, tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on baseball’s all-time hits list. Honus Wagner! That’s insane. “Big names,” Girardi said. “I mean really big names, and it’s been fun to watch him go through it this season.”

• Ichiro Suzuki collected his 2,810th big league hit, tying George Sisler for 48th on baseball’s all-time hits list. Ichiro also had his first multi-steal game since June 15 of last year.

• This was the fourth time the Yankees scored at least 10 runs this season. This was the first time since 2012 that they scored five runs in more than one inning.

• In those two five-run innings, the Yankees had a total of just six hits. Took advantage of a bunch of walks tonight.

• The Yankees had a losing home record in the first half of the season, but they’ve won 11 of 15 at home since the All-Star break. “I did expect it to even out because we feel our lineup is built for this field, our ballpark,” Girardi said. “So you did expect it to even out. When I talked about coming into the second half (I said) we need to play better at home, and we have.”

• Final word to Beltran: “I think the team has been doing the job, trying to add players that can make the ballclub better offensively and defensively. We had a lot of downs with our starting rotation and things like that, but at the end of the day we need to find a way to do it with what we’ve got.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Opening up the DH spot07.28.14

Carlos Beltran

Joe Girardi is looking forward to Carlos Beltran being able to play some in right again because it’s going to give the manager more flexibility without having one guy locked into the DH role.

“I’m sure Gardy could probably use a DH day,” Girardi said. “Ells could use a DH day. These guys are run out there on a regular, regular basis. It probably wouldn’t hurt them. By having (Beltran) and Ichiro, who’s an outstanding outfielder as well, I could probably do some things.”

Girardi indicated Beltran could be back out there as soon as next week, barring any setback with the bone spur in his right elbow that caused him to miss 21 games while on the DL in May and early June.

“He’s continuing to throw,” Girardi said. “He has progressed and he has thrown more and more distance as we’ve went on, and he’s done some outfield drills early.”

Beltran wants to get back out there, but it’s a process for him. After yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays, he said he had only been throwing for five days.

“Right now, throwing 90 feet isn’t going to do it,” said Beltran, who has picked it up offensively of late, batting .314 on the 10-game homestand to lift his average to .228. “So when I get to I guess 140, something like that, where I can make a throw from the outfield to home plate on a do-or-die play, let it go, then I will be close to playing games. Right now, I’m not.”

The Yankees, of course, could also acquire another outfield bat before Thursday’s nonwaiver deal deadline, which could impact how Beltran would be used.

Then there’s the question of who will mainly be used to back up the now oft-injured Mark Teixeira.

After missing the last seven games with a strained lat, Girardi didn’t rule out Teixeira returning as soon as tonight in Texas, depending on how felt today when he woke up after taking 50 swings yesterday and how he feels following live batting practice later, if he’s good to swing more.

With Kelly Johnson going on the DL Wednesday due to a strained groin, Brian McCann became the regular fill-in at first instead of squatting behind the plate. If Teixeira needs a day off, it figures to be Johnson’s job to fill in once he returns, according to Girardi. Johnson is eligible to return Aug. 7.

“We don’t anticipate Kelly Johnson’s injury is going to be long,” Girardi said. “So probably when I give Mac a day off (from catching), I’ll give him a day off.”

Here’s my latest story on what went on yesterday and Girardi’s frustration over the loss and really the mistakes of the last two days.

Photo by The Associated Press

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Yankees pregame: Progress by Teixeira, Beltran07.27.14

Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira took 50 swings this morning, 25 from each side of the plate. He told a couple of reporters that he felt no pain.

“He took swings today; he felt good,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s taking ground balls. He felt good. So we’ll reevaluate where he is tomorrow and how he feels after today. Hopefully he’s a player here pretty soon.”

Asked if tomorrow night’s game is a possibility, Girardi said, “I don’t know. I’m going to take it day by day and just see how he feels.”

He has missed six straight games heading into today.

“The one thing he hasn’t taken is live BP, (just) tee and toss,” Girardi said. “The one thing you always have to measure is when you’re working, you can guard against a lot of things. When you’re in the course of a game, sometimes you can’t do that. … Hopefully he wakes up and feels great tomorrow and he’s able to take BP and we’ll go from there.”

Carlos Beltran could be back in right within the next few weeks, freeing up the DH spot.

“He’s continuing to throw,” Girardi said. “He has progressed and he has thrown more and more distance as we’ve went on, and he’s done some outfield drills early. I don’t think it’s too far off. I don’t know if it will happen next week, but after that, I think it’s a possibility.”

Zelous Wheeler is making his second start in right today.

“This is a guy that’s been used to being moving around in his career, and I’m OK,” Girardi said.

Brian McCann, after yesterday’s seventh-inning debacle, is again at first.

“He’s going to give me everything he’s got,” Girardi said. “This guy is a professional.”

Brian Roberts, not excelling offensively or defensively, isn’t in the lineup. Girardi indicated it’s just a normal day of rest for the second baseman.

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Yankees postgame: The streak is over07.26.14

Brian McCann

The Yankees had beaten the Blue Jays 17 straight times at Yankee Stadium. But the streak is now past tense after this 6-4 Toronto win, its first here since Aug. 29, 2012.

“When we have a tough year, usually around this place you’d see tire tracks on your neck,” John Gibbons said.

But the Jays are improved this year and finally weren’t run over in their fifth try here in 2014.

“Sometimes you need a screwup or something to help you win a game in a tough streak, and we got some of that,” Gibbons said.

Yes, they did. In the seventh inning, Brian McCann had a bad moment filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira at first base, failing to get an out on a ball hit to him by Dioner Navarro with runners at second and third and no outs in a 2-2 game. The catcher, making just his seventh start this season at first, looked at Melky Cabrera holding in place down the third-base line, then looked at first too late, then threw to second and couldn’t get Jose Bautista getting back to the bag.

“There are a lot of things he could do, but he’s extremely inexperienced over there,” Joe Girardi said.

“The game sped up on me,” McCann said. “I didn’t make the play. … The more experience I’ll get over there, the better decision making I’ll have.”

One out later, Matt Thornton came on and Dan Johnson hit an infield blooper between first and second. Brian Roberts couldn’t get to it, then couldn’t hold the ball in his glove after a tricky hop. The go-ahead run scored.

“Maybe it’s a play I’m supposed to make,” Roberts said. “I don’t know.”

The Yankees are going to have to remake their middle infield. Derek Jeter will be retiring, of course. Roberts hasn’t been too impressive offensively or defensively. They could use a steadier backup first baseman as well with Teixeira breaking down a lot.

Chris Capuano put a lot of runners on, but the 35-year-old lefty didn’t give up a lot of runs in his Yankees debut, allowing just two in six innings.

“I had a little nerves going in the beginning,” Capuano said. “… But I made some good pitches today when I had to and was just thrilled to be out there.”

Francisco Cervelli went 1 for 2, so he has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 starts, batting .405 in that stretch.

Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story about the day’s happenings and the end of the streak. And here’s my Yankees notebook with items on Capuano, Roberts’ defense and Teixeira’s status.

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

 

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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