Carlos Beltran has been activated from the disabled list, and in a fairly surprising move, the Yankees have optioned Rob Refsnyder back to Triple-A.
The Yankees seemed committed to giving Refsnyder a long look at second base — he started each of the past four games and was almost always left in to hit against right-handers and play late-inning defense — but the Yankees have ultimately decided to carry the combination of Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan, apparently prioritizing depth and experience in the infield.
“I think a lot of times people are going to have discussions about it, try to gather as much information as you can, and make the best decision you feel at the time,” Joe Girardi said before the move was announced. “Sometimes as you look back, maybe you would have done it a little different, but I think the important thing is that you make the best decision at the time with the information that you have. Guys are very close here, and that’s probably what’s making this decision tough.”
This morning, I believed the two most likely moves were either optioning Branden Pinder and carrying a short bullpen for a few days, or simply cutting Ryan despite a contract that lasts through next season.
“Defensively he’s outstanding,” Girardi said. “He’s a bat against left-handed hitters that you could use. If you wanted to spell someone, he’s a natural shortstop, in a sense, that can play second and third and you could also put him at first too.”
The Yankees seemed happy with Refsnyder’s performance during his brief trial. His defense looked better than advertised — not an elite defender, but he made the routine plays and occasionally made a nice one — and his at-bats seemed fine despite going hitless in three of four games.
“It’s really hard to judge a guy on 12, 13 at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think his at-bats have been pretty good. He put some tough at-bats on Iwakuma yesterday, and he’s been very tough on right handers. He’s had some tough plays, and been able to make them. He’s a work in progress, no doubt about it. He’s made huge strides since we saw him in spring training at second base, and we think he’ll continue to make them.”
• Beltran said he felt good during his rehab assignment, but he never seemed particularly worried about it. He didn’t get any actual rehab at-bats against left-handed pitching, but he went through his normal workout and BP routine from the right side of the plate, and said he’s not worried about that being an issue.
• The expected impact of Beltran’s return? “It gives you another run producer,” Girardi said. “He’s had a good year for us, and hopefully he can pick up where he left off, and be another dangerous bat who drives in runs and hits the ball out of the ballpark.
• Girardi on playing Drew at second base: “Drew has faced Felix,” Girardi said. “Felix is pretty tough on everyone, and we’re going to put as many lefties as we can in the lineup.”
• After a setback earlier this month, Mason Williams is playing catch again. He played catch today and said he feels like his shoulder is getting better. He said he’s been playing catch for a few days now.
• Here’s Girardi on the new expectations for CC Sabathia: “I think two or three years ago, he was the guy that a lot of times gave the bullpen a day off. We don’t necessarily expect that any more. We’d love to have him get back to that form, but there’s a lot of innings there over his career. He’s worked very hard, and he’s been a big part of our success here. As I said, he’s the one guy that’s been through this (playoff) race thing a number of times in his career, and we need him to contribute and somewhat lead because he understands it.”
Associated Press photos
Joe Girardi has not officially named Rob Refsnyder his everyday second baseman — in fact, he’s said over and over again that it’s a day-to-day situation — but this morning, Girardi basically declared Stephen Drew to strictly a utility man who’s playing time will come on a pick-and-choose basis.
“He’s been as good as anyone I’ve ever been around in handling all of this this season,” Girardi said. “We talked about what he needed to do, the different spots that he played, and he talked about just trying to help this team win. He’s been great.”
Girardi said he’s told Drew to take ground balls all over the infield. While he might play some second, it certainly seems that Drew is first and foremost a bench player, not really a platoon player or a guy who could get anything close to everyday at-bats going forward.
“We want him to be able to play all three positions, second, short and third,” Girardi said. “We’ve asked our middle infielders to be able to do that if you want to give Headley a day off, if you want to give Didi a day off, obviously he’s going to play some second as well. Those sort of things. He’s prepared to go in anywhere.”
What about taking advantage of Yankee Stadium with Drew’s left-handed power?
“The days that I probably try to use him, I’ll try to take advantage of this ballpark, absolutely,” Girardi said.
• Bryan Mitchell has been optioned back to Triple-A so that he can get stretched out as a starter. Giradri said Mitchell could actually start tonight’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game in Louisville. “I thought he did a good job (in the big leagues),” Girardi said. “And as I told him last night, it’s not that you did anything wrong; you actually did a lot of good things for us, but we need to stretch you out.”
• Without Mitchell, the Yankees Triple-A rotation was Luis Severino, Esmil Rogers, Kyle Davies and a pair of relievers trying to start for the first time (Diego Moreno and Danny Buraway). After a couple of starts in Triple-A, I have to think Mitchell would immediately be the top choice for a call-up for either long relief or a spot start.
• Branden Pinder is here to fill the open bullpen role.
• If they Yankees needed a spot starter right now, could either Adam Warren or Chris Capuano do the job, or have they been in the bullpen too long? “They could do it,” Girardi said. “But it comes down to a point where you probably couldn’t get a ton of distance out of them, and then you’re not going to have them for three or four days in your bullpen. … Would I feel comfortable throwing Adam 50 pitches? Probably. Capuano 50 pitches, maybe a little bit more? Probably, but not much more than that at this point. I think they’re able to build back up quicker now because they’re in shape.”
• After playing three rehab games with High-A Tampa, Carlos Beltran will fly back to New York today. “There’s a good chance he’ll be activated tomorrow,” Girardi said. No roster move announced, obviously, but the way Girardi talked about Drew pregame made me think Drew’s job is safe. That leaves either Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones or a reliever as the most obvious choices to open a roster spot. I can’t imagine Ryan’s feeling very comfortable at this point.
• Can Girardi remember a player like Chris Young, who’s numbers are so drastically different against lefties than against righties? “There’s not one that’s really coming to mind,” Girardi said. “You look at his numbers against left handers this year, they’re off the chart. And his at-bats off of right handers have been pretty good. He just missed hitting a home run last night, but I understand there is a pretty big gap between them.”
Associated Press photos
Even as he plays almost every day and provides one of the most consistent bats in baseball, Alex Rodriguez talks a lot these days about the value of taking some time off. A four-day All-Star break? There’s value in that. A few games off in National League parks? Keeps him fresh. Even a year long suspension, Rodriguez says, might have had its benefits.
“I don’t know if I needed (the All-Star break),” Rodriguez said after tonight’s game-winning homer. “I felt good coming off Boston, was swinging pretty well, but the rest has been good for me. It was very beneficial when I was serving my suspension. Maybe the four days (helped). So far so good.”
Playing for the first time since Sunday’s win at Fenway, the Yankees were sharp tonight. Masahiro Tanaka made a couple of mistakes to Kyle Seager, but otherwise delivered a strong start. Chris Young delivered two more extra-base hits against a lefty. The infield defense was good and steady.
Then there was Rodriguez, who went hitless in his first two at-bats before singling and scoring the tying run in the fifth inning, then hitting his 19th home run of the season in the seventh. Rodriguez has had a go-ahead RBI in each of the Yankees’ past four games.
“I think Joe (Girardi) deserves a lot of credit,” Rodriguez said. “He’s put me in a situation where I can help the team win. I think the DH job for me has been good because I’m able to prepare differently, and I feel comfortable. … It’s been huge for me, I’m really enjoying it, working hard at it. Every day, I’m just trying to continue with my routine.”
The decision to keep Rodriguez confined to designated hitter — especially in interleague games on the road — has been the source of much discussion, but Girardi seems sold on the idea that keeping Rodriguez out of the field is keeping his body fresh, and Rodriguez hasn’t argued. In fact, he’s gone out of his way multiple times this season to talk about the positive impact of the DH job and the way extra rest has helped him.
“I’ll have to pick some sporadic days off (for Rodriguez), especially as we get into some of the longer stretches,” Girardi said. “And I’ll do that. He held up great the first half, and I expect him to hold up well the second half and be productive.”
Rodriguez didn’t look rusty tonight. He looked rested and ready to push the Yankees division lead to 4.5 games.
“A guy like Al,” Chris Young said, “who’s been around the block a few times, been in every situation, been in the World Series, had a lot of success in a lot of different situations, where you’re able to slow the game down, (is able to) keep things in perspective and come through in big situations.”
• Carlos Beltran went 0-for-2 with a walk in tonight’s rehab game. Even if he catches a flight back to New York tomorrow morning, it’s unlikely he’ll be activated for Saturday’s game. Looks like he’ll return Sunday at the earliest. “I heard that he came out OK,” Girardi said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk about what we’re going to do. It would be pretty hard to put him in the lineup tomorrow.”
• For anyone thinking a trade is in the works because Ramon Flores and Austin Romine were pulled from tonight’s Triple-A game, Brian Cashman said Romine came out because of a thumb issue that was bothering him even before the All-Star break, and Flores was pulled because he was hit by a pitch, but Cashman wasn’t sure how serious it was.
• By the way, Aaron Judge played center field again in that Triple-A game.
• Speaking of minor league guys, I was told tonight that Slade Heathcott is close to playing in rehab games. Mason Williams said he spent all of the All-Star break in New York getting treatment on his shoulder. He’s still a long way from playing in games.
• Tanaka retired seven of his last eight batters after the second Seager home run. “The at-bats against Seager, they were just bad pitches that I threw and he got the most out of it,” Tanaka said. “But other than that, I felt pretty good out there. Pitches were coming out of my hand pretty good, and I was able to pitch the way I wanted to. … I think a lot of the offspeed (pitches) were going from strike to ball, and they were swinging at them, so I think they were pretty good. I want to try to replicate that in my next outing as well.”
• Because he’s a solid evaluator, here’s Rodriguez on Tanaka: “I think he’s just been more consistent lately. His fastball command’s better. I thought his splitfinger got better as the night went on. I think he’s doing a better job of damage control. And for us, especially at home, it’s such a weapon having Betances and Miller at the back of the bullpen, because we know in a tight game like today, one run may be the difference, and it was today.”
• Why pull Rob Refsnyder against a right-handed reliever late in the game? In a tight game, Girardi was trying for a Yankee Stadium home run. He also was pretty sure the Mariners were unprepared for a pinch hitter, but Seattle stalled long enough to get Vidal Nuno ready for a left-on-left at-bat against Garrett Jones. “I was trying to pick up a quick run with Garrett,” Girardi said. “I knew that Nuno wasn’t ready, but by the time they threw over twice and went to the mound and stood there, they got him ready.”
• Even though Refsnyder went hitless, Girardi seemed impressed again. He left Refsnyder in to play defense in a one-run game in the eighth. “He looked pretty relaxed to me,” Girardi said. “Some tough plays. Some really tough plays tonight, and he made them all. Between hops. Slow rollers. Go to your left. Turn a double play, try to turn a double play. There really wasn’t an easy play for him tonight.”
• Refsnyder on his first roll call: “It was pretty cool. You hear about it and stuff like that. Obviously it was the furthest thing from my mind today, but it was nice. It was nice to hear my last name pronounced correctly. It’s rare.”
• Young just keeps crushing lefties, bringing exactly the kind of right-handed balance the Yankees had in mind when they re-signed him. “I’m happy I’m just able to get the opportunity, that’s the main thing,” Young said. “To be able to get consistent at bats, have the opportunity to get out there, try to find a streak to get going,, and if you slow down, still get the opportunity to go out there and find my way out of it. Consistent at-bats has always been the biggest want for me, as a player, and Joe’s given me a lot of opportunities, so I’m grateful for that.”
• Dellin Betances has struck out multiple batters in each of his past eight appearances, matching his eight-game streak from earlier this season. … Andrew Miller is a perfect 19-for-19 in save opportunities, extending his franchise record for consecutive saves converted to start a Yankees tenure. … The Yankees have homered in 33 of 42 home games this season.
• Let’s give the final word to Tanaka, talking about his first seasons playing alongside A-Rod: “I think he knows really how to hit the ball. It seems like once the ball comes off his bat, it just kind of flies. Being in the outfield shagging before games, you can see how well he gets to that ball and lets that ball fly out, so it’s pretty impressive.”
Associated Press photos
Beltran playing right field for High-A Tampa • 07.16.15
Before the break, Beltran said he expected to play a few games in Tampa and return to the Yankees’ lineup on Friday. With the Yankees facing a left-handed starter tomorrow — meaning Chris Young will almost certainly be in the lineup at one of the outfield spots — I suppose the Yankees could push Beltran’s return to Saturday to either give him a day off or to let him go through some sort of minor league game (or simulated game) on Friday morning before coming up to New York.
It’s worth noting that Brendan Ryan is not in the Trenton lineup tonight. He had been rehabbing in Double-A, and he’s still listed as a rehab player on the roster. Joe Girardi said this weekend that he expected to have Ryan back on Friday, but have to think that plan might change depending on the final plan for Rob Refsnyder.
Would the Yankees bring back Ryan to play shortstop against the lefty on Friday, then DFA him to make room for Beltran on Saturday?
Taylor Dugas said he was watching last night’s Yankees game in the Double-A clubhouse when Carlos Beltran was pulled with a ribcage injury. Dugas saw it happen, talked about it with his teammates, and it never occurred to him that his door to the big leagues had just opened. It was around 1 o’clock in the morning that he got the call.
First person Dugas called was his father.
“He didn’t really believe me, I don’t think,” Dugas said.
Clearly this is an unusual situation. If the Yankees knew Beltran’s injury were going to require a disabled list stint, they surely would have recalled Ramon Flores, but Flores can’t come up yet without putting someone on the DL, and the Yankees aren’t sure they need to do that with Beltran. Basically, they need an extra position player to fill out the bench for a game or two, and Dugas fits the role, despite his ugly numbers in the minors and the fact he wasn’t even invited to big league camp.
“We paid attention,” Joe Girardi said. “He had a tremendous year last year, a guy who really grinds out at-bats and plays hard. We knew who he was.”
This call-up might last only a game. If Beltran’s legitimately hurt, Flores will surely return, and there’s a solid chance Jacoby Ellsbury will be ready by Friday. Right now, the Yankees are hoping Beltran will also be available on Friday. Beltran said he’s ready to test his ribcage/oblique mid-game to see if he’s available to pinch hit, but Girardi said he’ll only ask Beltran to do that if absolutely necessary.
Ideally, the Yankees would like to give Beltran tonight and tomorrow off, then reevaluate the situation.
“Today I woke up feeling better,” Beltran said. “We do some tests, movement. I just feel like tight, but I don’t feel the pain I feel when I took the swing. Of course, I have to go to the cage and test it out.”
For now, the Yankees have their extra outfielder. On Friday, they’ll figure out if they need something more than a temporary placeholder.
“That’s a good sign that (Beltran) doesn’t wake up and feel really sore,” Girardi said. “So we won’t make any move concerning him, and we’ll see what happens in a couple days when we get back.”
• To make room on the roster — both the 25-man and the 40-man — Esmil Rogers has once against been outrighted to Triple-A. He’s off the 40-man again, which is surely good news for Bryan Mitchell and Nick Rumbelow, who get to stick around at least a little longer.
• As planned, Andrew Miller threw 20 pitches in the bullpen this afternoon. “Very good,” Larry Rothschild said. “He threw the ball well. First time on the mound, everything was good.”
• Up next for Miller: Another bullpen on Saturday, then possibly a rehab assignment. The Yankees are still hopeful that he’ll be back before the All-Star break. “I would hope so, but we’ve got to make sure (he’s ready),” Rothschild said. “It’s not worth risking one time out before the break to take a chance, but if everything is on schedule and he’s comfortable facing hitters, it’s a possibility.”
• Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the Tampa lineup playing center field. He’s scheduled to play five or six innings, then he’ll play again on Thursday. The Yankees still think it’s possible Ellsbury could be back on Friday. “As I’ve said all along, we’ll just see how he feels and where he feels he’s at, and then we’ll make an evaluation,” Girardi said. “His legs are extremely important, and we have to make sure he feels that he can do everything that he needs to do, and that you can run him out day after day.”
• Beltran will have some tests done in New York, either Thursday or Friday.
• Dugas had a 7 a.m. flight out of Philedelphia. As you might suspect from a guy who was hitting .200 in Double-A, Dugas didn’t think he was on the radar for a call-up. “I can’t say I was expecting it,” he said. “I was kind of in awe, getting that phone call for the first time. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain. Until you go through it, I was just sitting there in shock with a couple of my roommates. It was an awesome feeling, I’ll say that.”
Associated Press photos
Carlos Beltran felt some tightness in his ribcage last night. He played through it then, and played through it again tonight until feeling “a little pinch” when he fouled off a pitch in the fifth inning. Now Beltran’s status is up in the air.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and we’ll make a decision on what we’re going to do,” Joe Girardi said. “He says it probably wouldn’t bother him swinging left-handed; we’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”
The Yankees do face a right-handed pitcher tomorrow, so that might help Beltran stay in the lineup. Girardi said it’s doubtful the Yankees could get a replacement here before the game anyway, so either Beltran can play or the Yankees will play with a two-man bench. Beltran said he’s hopeful it’s not a disabled list situation.
“I hope not, no,” he said. “The way I feel right now, I don’t think so. But tomorrow will be the day where, once I go to the cage, once I test it out, then I will know where I am.”
Beltran said he first felt some tightness yesterday. Nothing particularly unusual, he said, so he played through it. He woke up feeling alright the morning, but the tightness returned when he started hitting the cage. Again, nothing he hadn’t played through before, so he stayed in the lineup. He was still playable until that foul ball. Even then, he stayed in to finish the at-bat before Girardi pulled him.
“If I worry about how tight I feel, then you don’t play,” Beltran said. “As a ballplayer, every day you feel something. I decided to play through it, and I was fine.”
Beltran said he was examined by the Angels’ doctor, who only said that it’s a ribcage/oblique issue. Beltran’s not expecting any tests.
“Any time a player leaves a game, you’re concerned,” Girardi said. “We’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”
• Wouldn’t know it these past three games, but the Yankees actually have a pretty productive lineup. They’ve scored the second-most runs in the Majors, and they have the game’s highest team OPS for the month of June. They’ve actually hit pretty well, but they’ve now gone three straight games with only one run. “We just didn’t do much offensively tonight,” Girardi said. “It’s hard to figure out.”
• Last night the Yankees really did seem to hit into some bad luck — hit a lot of balls hard with nothing to show for it — and there might have been some of that tonight, but even Girardi wasn’t ready to completely use that as an excuse. “We’ve had some unlucky things happen to us here,” Girardi said. “The balls Chris (Young) hit yesterday, they’ve made some good plays. We need to score some runs, that’s the bottom line. Whether tough things happen to you or not, you need to score runs to win.”
• Only two hits for the Yankees. The solo homer by Mark Teixeira and yet another hit for Brett Gardner, who has a .486 batting average during an eight-game hitting streak. “Basically the only guy getting on base is just Gardner,” Beltran said. “And we haven’t been able to rally off of him. It’s tough, but at the end of the day, we have to continue to fight.”
• Teixeira is tied for third in the American League with 19 home runs. This was his first homer in 42 at-bats, snapping his longest homerless streak of the season. He entered the game averaging one home run every 13.7 at-bats. He leads the American League with 54 RBI.
• One run through seven innings for rookie Angels starter Andrew Heaney (Yankees kind of oddly had a bunch of lefties in the lineup against him). “He threw a good ballgame against Houston and he threw a good game against us,” Girardi said. “He’s got some angle to him where it looks like he’s going to be able to get in on right-handers and be somewhat difficult on left-handers with the sweeping breaking ball. Only time will tell as you go around the league a couple times and people see, but the young man has a good arm and is off to a good start.”
• Another strong start by Ivan Nova who pitched into the sixth inning and allowed his only runs on back-to-back homers by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar. “Physically, I feel good,” Nova said. “Even that I gave up two runs, for me it doesn’t feel like a good outing because I want to win the game for the team. Like I said, it’s good that I’m feeling good.”
• Nova questioned his decision to challenge Pujols. “I think first pitch fastball right in the middle to Pujols was a little bit up,” Nova said. “I shouldn’t throw that pitch.”
• Adam Warren came out of the bullpen for the first time this season and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to give the Yankees a chance. “Once I kind of got settled in, I just felt like last year, back where I was last year,” he said. “I felt like I got more comfortable as I went.”
• Getting loose quickly was something Warren hadn’t done in a while. He said he focuses on getting his fastball locked in, and once he has that, he feels good to go. Took him a few pitches to do that in the bullpen, but he was loose and ready by the time he was called into the game. “The first couple of throws down in the bullpen, trying to get hot quick was a little tough,” he said. “But once that adrenaline kicked in it was easy.”
• Let’s give the final word to Alex Rodriguez. “I think (the key) is just maintain our aggressiveness,” he said. “For the most part, over the last two weeks, we’ve swung the bats well, and I’m confident we can continue to do that. What I’m most encouraged about is tonight we saw a preview of what that bullpen is going to be like for us the rest of the year with Nova (in the rotation) and Warren (in the pen), and those guys on the backside — I’m really optimistic about the rest of the year.”
Associated Press photos
Hard to remember the last time Yankee Stadium got as loud as it did tonight. But there was no walk-off, no monumental home run. There was no milestone, and that was kind of the point. Those weren’t cheers that filled this stadium. They were chants and boos directed at a 27-year-old pitcher who seemed far more willing to hit Alex Rodriguez than give up a hit to him.
“I was just trying to get him out,” Marlins reliever Sam Dyson said. “… If he was going to beat me, he was going to have to get the head out. I ended up throwing four balls kind of at his belt off the plate.”
Four straight pitches inside with Rodriguez one hit away from 3,000. The crowd was not happy about it. Never mind that the walk was part of a four-run inning that removed any doubt about who would win this game. The fans wanted to see history. They wanted to see A-Rod swing the bat. They were supporting Rodriguez as much as they were dismissing Dyson.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Rodriguez said. “It feels great. Every time moments like that happen, I can just reflect on a year ago today, (and) how great the fans have been to me. I think their support has actually helped me play a lot better.”
No one seemed to think Dyson was trying to hit Rodriguez (though at least a few of those pitches might have done it had Rodriguez not backed out of the box).
“He didn’t really have much of a chance in his last at-bat,” Joe Girardi said. “I think the crowd wanted to see it, I think that’s the bottom line, and I understand that. I’m sure the young man was trying to get him out, he just threw a bunch of sinkers that were too far inside, and Alex couldn’t even swing at them.”
So history will have to wait. Tomorrow the Yankees get Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
“I’ll think about it some,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m in a good place. Our team is playing well, we like playing at home, having the fans behind us was phenomenal today. My daughters are in town, Father’s Day is around the corner, I’m just really excited and having fun.”
• Not a bad start by Sabathia, but not a great one either. It just kind of felt like a lot of Sabathia’s starts these days. Three runs across six innings is a 4.50 ERA, and if Sabathia could pitch like this every time out, I think the Yankees might take that. It was a winable start, and at times Sabathia looked great with seven strikeouts and no walks. “It’s difficult not, I guess, being the guy I used to be who went deep into games,” Sabathia said. “Just kind of is what it is. I go out there hard as I can until I’m done.”
• When did Sabathia come to grips with being that type of pitcher? “That’s something I came to grips with a couple of months ago; a couple of years ago,” he said. “It just kind of is what it is. Go out there and use my pitches and try to pitch deep into the game. … It really doesn’t change the way I pitch. It’s just frustrating for me that I can only give them six innings at a time.”
• After putting the side down in order the first three innings, Sabathia allowed one run apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Just falling behind, he said. He got into bad counts, and the Marlins were able to chip away and take the lead for a while. “He did a good job,” Girardi said. “To limit them to three runs, a team that has really hit left-handers this season, I thought he did a really good job.”
• Chasen Shreve extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings over his past 10 games. He got his fourth win of the season. Each of his past 17 strikeouts have been swinging third strikes.
• Even though this had become a lopsided game, Girardi had Dellin Betances warming in the ninth. Girardi said he felt the Marlins were too close to being back in it to not have Betances at least getting ready just in case. “If I don’t bring him in and we lose the game, how’s that wear and tear? Girardi said. “Not too good. I’ll be crucified.”
• Carlos Beltran’s game winner was the 30th home run of his career to tie a game or give his team a lead in the seventh inning or later. It was his second such home run with the Yankees. After a few good games in a row, Beltran is hitting .286/.348/.405 in the month of June. That’s after a good month of May. “The past couple of months I’ve been putting good at bats,” Beltran said. “It’s a long season, man. I know that it sounds cliché for me to say that, but I just have to approach each at-bat and every game as an individual.”
• After tonight’s game-tying shot, Brett Gardner’s hit 46 career homers, and 22 of those have tied a game or given the Yankees a lead. The Yankees have gone 34-11 in games when Gardner’s gone deep. “He’s been coming up huge for us the whole time,” Sabathia said.
• Mason Williams had two doubles tonight. Of his five big league hits, four have gone for extra bases. “I think he’s done a good job of making adjustments,” Girardi said. “It’s not easy being a young player, really hasn’t spent a lot of time in Triple-A. Not really knowing any of the pitchers that he’s facing. He’s made some nice little adjustments.”
• The Yankees are 9-1 in their past 10 home games. This was technically their sixth series sweep of the year, one away from their total from last year. … This was the fifth time Sabathia made a start without walking anyone this year. … Brian McCann has 20 RBI in his past 22 games. He had three hits tonight and I didn’t even notice until I saw the box score postgame.
• Still really weird to watch Carter Capps pitch with that little hop off the rubber. He must deliver the ball an extra foot closer to home plate, plus he’s able to reach 100 mph (which he did tonight). “When I saw Capps warming up,” Rodriguez said. “I told a bunch of my teammates in the dugout, ‘three-thousand is going to have to wait for another day.’ The chances of me even putting the ball in play are very little. Once I saw him walk out of the game, I was pretty excited.”
• Final word goes to Rodriguez about chasing No. 3,000: “It’s a lot easier to deal with these at-bats because we’re in the middle of a game and we need to win badly. It’s all about wins for us. The game was 5-3 and we’re doing everything in our power to keep the big guy out of the game. The focus is always winning.”
Associated Press photos
Even though the pitching line was impressive on Saturday, the Yankees have decided Ivan Nova needs one more rehab start.
He’s going to get one extra day of rest, so he’ll pitch on Friday. Joe Girardi said he wasn’t sure whether Nova would start in Double-A or Triple-A. Neither team is home, but Triple-A isn’t far away in Lehigh Valley. I guess that’s the smart bet.
“We just feel we want to make sure that he’s finished off,” Girardi said. “It’s not something that’s easy to make an adjustment if you say, we wish we would have had one more start, so we talked about it for a couple days and we just think it’s better that we know that he’s ready to go and ready to handle the rigors of throwing every fifth day and all that.
“They talked a little bit, they thought his fastball was good, his changeup was good. His curveball was not as sharp as they had seen it, and that could have just been the day. But for us, as I said, we waited a long time and to give him one more start and to make sure that he’s ready is probably the best thing to do.”
At some point the Yankees are going to use a sixth starter during this stretch of 20 days in a row, but it sounds like they’ll stay on rotation for this next turn.
“Right now we have not made a decision to insert a sixth starter so I would just assume everything is on rotation,” Girardi said.
One other bit of rotation depth news: Esmil Rogers accepted his outright assignment and will report to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Girardi had previously indicated the Yankees wanted Rogers to be stretched out as a starter in the minor leagues.
• There is a ton of excitement about the Yankees being in town, and most of that is centered on the return of Alex Rodriguez, who grew up here. The scene on the field during batting practice was near chaos, and there was incredible media coverage for A-Rod when he spoke pregame. “It’s always great to be back home,” Rodriguez said. “Miami is where family is. I have a bus of people coming in today; family, friends, my daughters are here, high school coach, Little League coach, my seventh grade teacher. You name it. So obviously I’m very excited. Never thought I’d get the opportunity again to play in front of the home fans.”
• Any thought of playing Rodriguez these two days? “I think he’s played third maybe once or twice,” Girardi said. “And he’s fallen into being really comfortable in the DH role and sometimes two days off helps a player so, no, there was no thought.”
• Very minor hamstring issue for Carlos Beltran. He apparently felt something at the bottom of his hamstring near the muscle when he was doubled off first base during the Baltimore series. That’s why he’s not in the lineup today. Girardi said he expects Beltran in right field again tomorrow. “It’s minor,” Girardi said. “I could use him tonight.”
• Of course, Girardi also acknowledged that this is a big right field, Beltran doesn’t have much range, and Girardi thought Garrett Jones looked alright in the field yesterday. “Like I said, I though Garrett had a nice day yesterday and I’m giving (Beltran) another day,” Girardi said.
• Still no definitive next step for Jacoby Ellsbury. “I think it really depends on how these next two days go,” Girardi said. “He’s going to hit on the field today, so it’s the first time he’s done that, but I think it depends on how these next two days go.”
• Since we’re in a National League park, Yankees starters have to his these two days. Girardi said he feels a little better about it because he’s starting two of his more experienced hitters. “Tanaka hit in Japan, so he did know how to handle the bat there,” Girardi said. “And Eovaldi’s hit (in the National League), and he’s hit this season, so the two candidates we have in there are probably two of the better candidates.”
• Ichiro Suzuki is playing center field and batting second for the Marlins (he’s hitting .281 this season). That creates a pretty cool matchup with Ichiro against Tanaka. “You have two great players going at it,” Girardi said. “I’ve seen Ichiro matched up against other players from Japan, and I think the country gets very excited so I think it’s great for baseball.”
• However big you think Giancarlo Stanton is, I promise you he’s bigger. Didn’t realize his arms look like they do until I saw him in the clubhouse while talking to David Phelps. He’s just a giant of a man. And Phelps had a lot of kind words to say about Stanton. Apparently he really goes about things the right way.
Associated Press photos
Carlos Beltran is 38 years old. He’s been through a long list of injuries in his career, and just last season he took quite a hit when he flipped over a low wall trying to make a running catch at Tropicana Field. He used to be a Gold Glove center fielder, but now he’s a barely passable right fielder.
And Joe Girardi said he’s OK with that.
“We knew when we got him he wasn’t the center fielder he was back in the day,” Girardi said. “We knew that. Our ballpark being a shorter distance between home and right, it doesn’t play in as much. But you get to some of these other parks and it plays in a little bit.”
Here in Baltimore — and in a few others parks this season — Beltran’s let balls fall where other right fielders might have made a catch. He at times looks hesitant. Just two days ago, it seemed Brett Gardner expected Beltran to be in position to make a catch on a ball that fell for an embarrassing and avoidable base hit. Gardner took responsibility, but off the bat it looked like the right fielder’s ball.
“(The effort) is always there,” Girardi said. “I know Carlos is not a guy that plays like his hair’s on fire, but he’s playing hard. You have those certain guys that, I mean, Carlos was a Gold Glove center fielder and probably at times he looked like he was gliding to the ball. That’s just the way he runs. And I think sometimes people can mistake that for effort. The effort is there. … How many of you move as well as you did 20 years ago? I know I don’t.”
Today the Yankees have Garrett Jones in right field, and they have Chris Young available for late-inning defense, but Girardi said he plans to have Beltran back in right field these next two days in Miami. That’s another big ballpark, but the Yankees are banking on Beltran hitting enough to make up for the balls he can’t catch.
“That’s a lot of the reason why we replace him late in games,” Girardi said. “That’s why we do it. He’s in there for his bat.”
• Still listed as TBA as recently as yesterday, the Orioles are starting right-hander Mike Wright today. He’s 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. Apparently they’re getting lefty reliever Brian Matusz back today as well.
• Ivan Nova finished with an impressive pitching line in last night’s Triple-A rehab start, but Girardi didn’t sound completely sold on the outing. “He threw OK,” Girardi said. “The reports on him (said) he threw OK. … They said (his command) was OK too. His velocity was decent. His curveball maybe wasn’t quite as sharp as we’ve seen it. But he got stretched out a little bit and has been going every fifth day, so like I said, I’ll sit down with Brian and talk about what we think is best.”
• Obviously Girardi gave no definitive plan for Nova, but after listening to Girardi this morning, I’ll be a little surprised if Nova doesn’t get at least one more minor league start. I heard from a friend at last night’s Triple-A game who said Nova’s command was pretty bad. Not a lot of walks, but apparently he was a bit erratic.
• Still no plans to have Alex Rodriguez in the starting lineup at any point these next two days in Miami. “But everything is always subject to change,” Girardi said. Getting to 3,000 hits might have to wait until the upcoming home stand.
• What’s made Adam Warren so good lately? “I think it’s the consistency in his stuff,” Girardi said. “The location. Being able to use all four pitches. Able to keep hitters off balance doing that and showing them different looks. He’s been real consistent.”
• Triple-A outfielder Tyler Austin has been added to the minor league disabled list. He apparently hurt his hip diving for a ball. Not great timing. Austin was finally starting to hit this season. Had a .360/.429/.520 slash line in his last seven games.
• Tuesday’s pitching matchup: Former Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi against former Yankees starter David Phelps.
Associated Press photos
In the summer of 1985, Esmil Rogers and David Carpenter were born one month apart. They’ll each turn 30 this year. Carpenter has appeared in 210 major league games. Rogers has appeared in 209. The Yankees were the fourth major league team for each of them.
Although Carpenter pitched well for Atlanta the past two seasons, he pitched to a 4.82 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP in the first two months of this season, and the Yankees decided to cut him loose.
Rogers was so bad the past two seasons in Toronto that the Blue Jays waived him last July, and he’s now pitched to a 6.39 ERA with a 1.61 WHIP through two-plus months this season, but the Yankees are sticking with him.
“I believe the stuff is there,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ve seen it. He gets swings and misses, and he can get quick outs, and he has a good fastball, and a good curveball. But his stuff has been inconsistent, and part of that could be not working on a normal basis sometimes as a long man, but you’ve got to figure out a way to do that and be ready to pitch when you’re called upon.”
Why keep Rogers and jettison Carpenter? I honestly don’t know.
Rogers has an ability to pitch multiple innings, which Carpenter doesn’t really do, but that long man quality doesn’t matter as much now that Chris Capuano is in the bullpen. Even without Rogers, the Yankees could use Capuano or Chasen Shreve for multiple innings.
It can’t be a money thing, because Rogers is guaranteed less money than Carpenter. Even if Rogers were to max out his contract, his $1.48 million wouldn’t be significantly more than Carpenter’s $1.3 million (and Carpenter comes with more years of team control, which would seem to be a plus on Carpenter’s side).
Instead, it simply seems that the Yankees like Rogers more than they like Carpenter, despite plenty of on-the-field evidence to the contrary. Rogers was awfully good in April, so perhaps the Yankees keep looking back on that one good month believing they’ve seen what Rogers could become if he were to finally live up to his potential.
“He’s struggled in the month of May and to start June,” Girardi said. “I know his work has not been consistent, and sometimes it’s more difficult as a pitcher, but when you’re the long man, that happens. The big thing is we have to get him going.”
Do they really have to get Rogers going, though? Girardi has said that he considers Justin Wilson to be his seventh-inning guy, and Wilson’s been pretty solid in that role. Shreve has earned more high-leverage opportunities, Capuano is available for long relief, and Jacob Lindgren is getting an opportunity to emerge. So why exactly do the Yankees need Rogers when guys like Branden Pinder, Jose Ramirez, Chris Martin (and others) are waiting in the Triple-A bullpen to serve as right-handed alternatives? Wanting Rogers to pitch well is one thing, but truly needing him is something else.
“When you look at our bullpen, the Wilsons, the Shreves, have been doing a really good job on right-handers as well,” Girardi said. “Lindgren in the short amount of history that we have (has pitched well). Even though we are left-handed dominant, I don’t worry about it so much because our lefties have been good against right-handers.”
The Yankees only need Rogers as long as he’s in the bullpen, and they could take him out of the pen any time they want. It’s exactly what they did with Carpenter. So far, they’ve elected not to do it with Rogers.
• After missing two games — and having an off day for additional rest — Carlos Beltran is back in the lineup. He’s been out with a sore foot, an injury suffered on a foul ball back in Seattle. “He’s better, yes,” Girardi said.
• Brian McCann is the lineup for a second straight game after getting new orthotics to help him deal with his own foot soreness. Girardi said he expects McCann to have the day off tomorrow when the Yankees play a day game against left-handed starter C.J. Wilson. John Ryan Murphy will likely start that game behind the plate.
• After a four-hit game yesterday, Alex Rodriguez is only nine away from 3,000 career hits. Clearly his history is clouded by his steroid use, but the number itself is still awfully big. “It means consistency and longevity to me,” Girardi said. “It’s the only way you’re going to get 3,000 hits. You could be a fabulous player for 12, 13 years, but you’re not getting 3,000 hits. You have to do it over a long, long period of time. So that’s what it means to me.”
• With Ivan Nova about to begin an official rehab assignment, Girardi made it clear that he has no plans of using a true six-man rotation this season. The Yankees might still insert a sixth starter occasionally, but they won’t carry six starters after Nova’s ready. Girardi said he doesn’t think it’s realistic with the current 25-man roster limit.
• Girardi on last night’s mess: “It’s probably forgotten today. I think you probably think about how it happened and what happened and how you try to make some corrections, but it was, what, 8-6 and they had the bases loaded with nobody out. It got down to some tough times, but we were able to pull it out.”
Associated Press photos