The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


The good news, the bad news, and the Yankees rotation12.17.14

CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

The good news is, the Yankees added some rotation depth yesterday. The bad news is, it wasn’t by acquiring a front-end starter to make everyone feel better about the health concerns at the top of the rotation.

By re-signing Chris Capuano, the Yankees brought in an experienced lefty who pitched well in a fifth starter role last year. The good news is that he’s probably a little better than you’re thinking (his career numbers are nearly identical to the rock-solid results he put up with the Yankees last season), but the bad news is that the Yankees rotation still has an opening and is still crowded with uncertainty heading into next season.

Here’s a look at the Yankees starters in place — and the ones set to compete for a spot — as we move ever closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. As you might expect, with each one there’s some good news and some bad news.

Masahiro TanakaMASAHIRO TANAKA
Good news: Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidate through his first three months in the big leagues.
Bad news: Slightly torn elbow ligament suggests Tommy John surgery is a real threat as early as spring training.

MICHAEL PINEDA
Good news: Finally joined the Yankees staff with a 1.89 ERA last season.
Bad news: That stellar ERA came in just 13 starts because of another shoulder issue.

CC SABATHIA
Good news: Says he feels strong this winter; more than 200 innings in 2013 and a 3.38 ERA as recently as 2012.
Bad news: Coming back from knee surgery with a not-so-encouraging 4.87 ERA the past two seasons.

IVAN NOVA
Good news: Farm system success story had a 3.10 ERA (and an especially good second half) in his last healthy season.
Bad news: Had Tommy John surgery after just four starts last season; not expected to be ready for Opening Day.

CHRIS CAPUANO
Good news: Solid No. 5 starter with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the Yankees last season.
Bad news: Had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees got him in July.

Phelps (3)DAVID PHELPS
Good news: Was on a roll before a upper elbow injury (believed to be minor) pushed him to the DL last season.
Bad news: In three seasons has never quite established himself as a go-to member of the rotation.

ADAM WARREN
Good news: Coming off a terrific, breakout season with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
Bad news: Truly emerged as a one-inning setup man; has just three major-league starts on his resume.

ESMIL ROGERS
Good news: Showed flashes of promise late last year including a five-inning, one-run spot start in August.
Bad news: That promise has not consistently translated, leaving Rogers a 5.54 career ERA with four different teams before the age of 30.

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballCHASE WHITLEY
Good news: Long-time minor league reliever emerged with a 2.56 ERA through his first seven major league starts last season.
Bad news: Had a 9.00 ERA through his next five starts, falling out of the rotation and back into the bullpen.

BRYAN MITCHELL
Good news: Long touted for talent that exceeded his stats, Mitchell’s results were actually pretty impressive in his brief big league cameo.
Bad news: He’s still a 24 year old with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP through five minor league seasons; never with as many as 150 innings.

MANNY BANUELOS
Good news: One of the top pitching prospects in the system and one of the best in baseball before Tommy John surgery.
Bad news: Inconsistent with a 4.11 ERA and just 76.2 innings in his return from surgery last season.

JOSE DE PAULA
Good news: Hard-throwing lefty impressed the Yankees enough to land a major-league contract this winter.
Bad news: Has never actually pitched in the major leagues and has just 51.1 innings of so-so Triple-A experience.

Associated Press photos

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Looking for a re-do on the Yankees roster11.08.14

Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann

Last winter, the Yankees added nearly a half-billion dollars in new contracts, but they refused to give a 10-year deal to their best player. The Yankees reluctance with Robinson Cano seemed to be a clear attempt to avoid repeating past mistakes (specifically, an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of one other decade-long contract).

Of all the current regrets on the roster, I think it’s a safe bet that Alex Rodriguez’s contract is the one the Yankees would most like to void if they could. Three more years at basically $20 million a year for a guy who might be a non-factor on the field? That’s pretty bad, and that’s before factoring in all of the off-the-field problems. Total mess.

But if the Yankees could magically get out of one other current obligation, which would it be?

I’m going to assume the Yankees feel good about the Brett Gardner extension, considering he’s coming off a strong season and looks like a relative bargain. They also probably don’t have much regret about two more years and $22 million left on Martin Prado’s deal, if only because it’s a relatively small contract that isn’t going to cripple their payroll. The Brendan Ryan contract also is not the sort of thing that creates many payroll problems.

So, of the other multi-year contracts on the Yankees roster — non-Rodriguez division — which are you second guessing most?

CC Sabathia, David OrtizCC SABATHIA
Contract: Five years, $122 million (plus a vesting option)
What’s left: Two years (plus the vesting option)
This is the triple crown of contract concerns: Age, performance and injury. And that vesting option is based on shoulder injury, not a knee or elbow injury, so that option could vest despite the current concerns. Pitchers are always risky investments, and while there was very little doubt the Yankees would extend Sabathia back in 2011. He was good again in 2012, but the contract has been a problem ever since. If Sabathia can become a steady middle-of-the-rotation arm for the remaining years, the Yankees will surely be happy with that production at this point. The rotation now belongs to Tanaka and Michael Pineda.

MARK TEIXEIRA
Contract: Eight years, $180 million
What’s left: Two years
I’ve written before that if you go back to that 2008 offseason, Teixeira was exactly the kind of player worth a long-term investment. He was consistent, he was terrific on both offense and defense, there was little indication he’d ever have to abandon his position, and he was — perhaps most importantly — always healthy. One great years, though, and things started to slide in a big way. To me, Teixeira is the strongest example of why all long-term contracts are giant risks. If he hits for power like he did the first three months of 2014, and carries that through a full season, Teixeira can still be plenty productive for the Yankees. There are a lot of red flags at the moment, though.

CARLOS BELTRAN
Contract: Three years, $45 million
What’s left: Two years
This is a relatively short and relatively inexpensive contract, but because of Beltran’s age and overwhelming unproductive season, I think the Yankees would back out of his deal before they’d back out of some others. Losing Beltran might open right field for a free agent like Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz. This isn’t a contract that’s going to cripple the Yankees payroll for an extended period of time, but it’s a contract that looked bad just two months into its first season.

Brian McCannBRIAN McCANN
Contract: Five years, $85 million (plus a club option)
What’s left: Four years (plus the club option)
Even after a brutal first season in New York, I’m not sure the Yankees would be desperate to get out of this contract. After another year like this year, it might be a different story, but McCann seemed to show some signs of significant improvement late in the year. He also helped get a strong season out of a patchwork pitching staff, and I think that has to count for something. That said, the fact the Yankees are deep in upper-level catching prospects means they have some young and cheap alternatives behind the plate. I doubt the Yankees are too bothered by the McCann deal at the moment, but that first year certainly didn’t go as planned.

JACOBY ELLSBURY
Contract: Seven years, $153 million (plus a club option)
What’s left: Six years (plus the club option)
In his first year after coming from the Red Sox to the Yankees, Ellsbury’s performance was more or less in keeping with his past production. He hit the second-most home runs of his career, put up a slash line pretty close to his career numbers, and more or less provided the same speed and defense that the Yankees had seen from afar. The only immediate regret in the Ellsbury contract is that there are so many years left. Any contract of this length is worth second guessing. Which brings us to…

MASAHIRO TANAKA
Contract: Seven years, $155 million
What’s left: Six years (with a player opt out after 2017)
My guess is that the Yankees don’t regret this deal. Yes, Tanaka’s elbow could go out at any moment, but that’s basically true of any pitcher. Bigger risk with Tanaka, obviously, but they also signed a legitimate front-line starter who’s Japanese numbers carried over to the big leagues. That’s a big deal, and a young ace is nearly impossible to find. Even with the injury risk, that’s a guy worth signing for big money. That said, this is a lot of money and a lot of years for a guy who broke down midway through his first season.

Associated Press photos

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Election day in the Yankees clubhouse11.04.14

Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ichiro Suzuki,

It’s election day, so let’s have some fun with that!

I’m not going to say that I hope you all voted today. I’ll say instead that I hope you got yourself educated on the issues, really looked into the candidates and the possibilities, and then voted. That’s the way to take the responsibility seriously.

This blog post is one way to not take it seriously.

Remember being a senior in high school and voting on class personalities? If not, I’m sure you at least understand the reference. It’s not like voting for a senator or voting for an amendment. It’s done with a sense of having a good time, and that’s what this blog post is about. Here are a few suggestions for the leading candidates for various class superlatives on the current Yankees roster.

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballMost Likely to Succeed – Jacoby Ellsbury
With good reason, we focus a lot on the uncertainty of the Yankees current roster (and we’re going to focus on it again in a few sentences), but it’s interesting to do the opposite. What’s the most reliable piece heading into next season? I’d argue it’s Ellsbury, who more or less lived up to expectation in his first season with the Yankees. Factoring in track record, injury concerns, age, and everything else, I’d say Ellsbury is as reliable as it gets for next season.

Least Certain to Succeed – Masahiro Tanaka
Not least likely to succeed, just least certain. There can be no doubt about Tanaka’s talent – the first half of his rookie year proved his stuff can be plenty effective against major league hitters – but we also know that his elbow ligament was slightly torn last season. We know he can succeed, just can’t be certain he’ll have a successful 2015.

Class President – CC Sabathia
It will probably be several years before we see another Yankees captain, and the current roster really has no one quite like Derek Jeter in terms of clear clubhouse leadership. Recognizing that reality — acknowledging there’s no natural fit for team captain — who carries all those qualities you think of in a Class President? I think Sabathia fits best. He’s most certainly respected, he’s incredibly well liked, and he’s been around almost as long as anyone in the room.

Brendan RyanClass Clown – Brendan Ryan
This is not intended as a joke about Ryan’s talent or impact. This is intended literally to point out that he’s a bit of a goofball. In a clubhouse full of veterans, where the word stoic is far more applicable than silly, Ryan is a breath of fresh air. He was in good spirits despite rarely playing last season, and there were days he literally went bounding through the locker room laughing like a little kid. As long as it doesn’t cross the line from amusing to annoying, I tend to think a clubhouse needs a guy like that.

Teacher’s Pet – Martin Prado
Honestly, I’m kind of guessing here, but doesn’t Prado seem like exactly the kind of guy a manager could fall in love with? Willing and able to play anywhere in the field. Willing and able to hit basically anywhere in the lineup. Willing (and sometimes able) to play hurt. Does all of that with a real sense of professionalism. With good reason, I could see Prado becoming a Joe Girardi favorite.

Greatest Overachiever – Brett Gardner
Walk-on in college. Labeled a fourth outfielder throughout the minor leagues. Relegated to platoon playing time when he got to the big leagues. Even Gardner’s believers seemed to always acknowledge that he might not actually become an everyday guy, yet this season he landed a multi-year deal and led the Yankees in WAR (according to Baseball Reference; FanGraphs had him second). That’s defying expectation in a big way.

Greatest Underachiever – Brian McCann
At this point, I’m just piling on against a player who I still believe could be a really nice hitter next season (he was awfully good in September). But, the thing with McCann’s disappointing season is that it can’t be blamed on injury or age. Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano had some excuses in place. McCann never really had one — and to his credit, he never made one — for his disappointing year.

Michael PinedaMost Anticipated – Michael Pineda
If we’re looking ahead to next year, then Rob Refsnyder might fit in this spot. If we’re looking beyond next year, then maybe Luis Severino or Aaron Judge. If we’re looking back to last year, then it’s surely Tanaka. But as a combination — last season, next season, and beyond — the anticipation of Pineda is difficult to overlook. The Yankees waited years to finally get him on the field, and they still haven’t seen what he can do in a full season.  

Mr. Nice Guy – Adam Warren
Here’s the thing: If Adam reads this and sees a “Mr. Nice Guy” category, he’ll know that he’s going to win it. So will every one of his teammates. It’s not that there are a bunch of jerks in that room — Francisco Cervelli? Incredibly nice guy. Zelous Wheeler? Impossible to dislike. CC Sabathia? Ivan Nova? Brett Gardner? All invited to any dinner I’m attending. — but Warren’s a really, genuinely, nice guy. I don’t know how else to describe him. By the way, Chase Whitley might have been the choice here, but he’s made fun of Missouri football too many times. Total jerk, that guy.

Least Popular – Alex Rodriguez
I know, I know, this one is too easy. But who else fits this description, and what other distinction best fits this player? Rodriguez has gone beyond a lightning rod. At this point, he’s simply a cautionary tale about bad contracts, and performance enhancing drugs, and poor public relations decisions. Rodriguez will probably be booed a lot next year, but if he hits, I bet he’ll be cheered again.

Life of the Party – Dellin Betances
Not in the usual sense. Betances isn’t the life of the party because he’s an over-the-top personality (he’s actually pretty subdued for the most part). He’s the life of the party because he was surely the best thing about last season, and he’s one of the absolute bright spots heading into next season. If you want to look at the roster and find an undeniably good thing, a young success story like Betances — who’s not tied to a bad contract, who’s still in his 20s, who came up through the minor league system, who still has an exciting future — is about as good as it gets for the Yankees right now. The life of the party brings excitement when things get dull, and that’s certainly what Betances is doing.

Associated Press photos

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Big Game Jon? Sabathia picks Lester as his must-win pitcher10.22.14

CC Sabathia

On ESPN Radio this afternoon, CC Sabathia talked a lot about his repaired knee, his early throwing sessions, and his future in the Yankees rotation — all the stuff you’d expect him to discuss. Then Sabathia was asked who he’d want on the mound in a must-win, postseason game, and his answer was a bit unexpected.

Or maybe it was tactical.

“I think it would have to be, I guess, Jon Lester,” Sabathia said. “I like Lester.”

Interesting that Lester is going to be a free agent this winter.

“Yeah, well, it ain’t my money to spend,” Sabathia said. “I leave that up to the front office.”

CC Sabathia, David OrtizA few other things from Sabathia’s radio interview:

On his offseason recovery
“I’m actually feeling real good. I keep telling people I’m 100 percent. I feel great. I’ve been playing catch down at the stadium two times a week, just doing rehab and stuff. The other days, I’m here at my house working out. I feel good. I’ll definitely be ready to go come spring training and ready to have a healthy season. … I think I can definitely get back to being able to go out and dominate a game, and just be myself.”

On what kind of pitcher he needs to be
“Healthy, first of all. That’s the biggest thing is just getting back out there. For me, talking to Brian (McCann) last year during spring training, and getting the chance to work with him, I think we have a pretty good plan. Throwing the two-seamer now. Just trying to work both sides of the plate with all my pitches. That’s something we were getting accomplished and started getting going in spring training – I had a pretty good spring training – and I think certainly going forward that I can use and make myself a better pitcher.”

On what the Yankees will miss about Derek Jeter
“I think just jokes. I think a lot of people don’t realize how funny he is. Just having him around and some of the stuff he chimes in, I think people are going to miss. I’m happy for him that he’s retiring and getting a chance to move on his life, but he’ll definitely be missed. … He’s the captain. He’s won five championships. He’s played in New York for 20 years. That’s unmatched. Of course we will (miss him), but he left us with some good lessons and tools, and you use that to move forward.”

On (weirdly enough) the best Fantasy Football player in the clubhouse
“I have to say McCarthy. … But I think everybody in there thinks they’re a guru. Gardy thinks he’s definitely the best guy. Dellin Betances is pretty good. There are a lot of guys in there. We have fun.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees could find rotation depth on their own roster10.17.14

CC Sabathia

In trying to break down the state of the Yankees organization, it’s hard to look at pitchers the same way we look at position players. The development is different. The roles are different. The number of jobs available is different.  It’s just … different. In trying to look at the state of the Yankees rotation, it seems best to start by looking directly at the current 40-man roster (before free agency) where no less than 12 rotation possibilities are already in place. Given the Yankees injury concerns, they’re going to need some rotation depth heading into next season. They just might be able to find that depth while staying in house.

THE OBVIOUS INJURY CONCERNS

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka – His elbow might be a ticking time bomb, but he’s also an ace-caliber pitcher. The Yankees know Tanaka might need Tommy John surgery at any moment, but they’ve done what they can to postpone that procedure, and a couple of healthy starts at the end of the year were enough to build some cautious optimism. Tanaka should be the Yankees No. 1 starter. But that depends largely on a tiny ligament in his elbow.

Michael Pineda – The Yankees finally got to see the guy they acquired years ago, and they liked what they saw. Sure, the pine tar situation was embarrassing, and there was yet another shoulder setback, but when Pineda was on the mound, he was terrific. He’s far removed from surgery, but that doesn’t mean health concerns don’t linger. Would be a strong No. 2, but again, that’s only if he stays healthy.

CC Sabathia – This could be the year his run of Opening Day starts come to an end. That said, if he gets to spring training healthy and reasonably effective, he might still get the nod in the opener if only because he’s still very clearly the leader of the staff (and this is a clubhouse that could be searching to leadership next season). Whether Sabathia will be anything more than a symbolic choice, though, remains to be seen. If he can at least be a reliable back-of-the-rotation arm, that would be helpful. There’s clearly a new ace in town.

Ivan Nova – Almost certainly will not be ready to break camp with the Yankees, but initial word about Nova’s recovery from Tommy John surgery has been nothing but positive. Still a long way to go, but Nova made it through the initial rehab steps with no problem. Tommy John has become a relatively routine procedure these days, but some pitchers say it takes close to two years to truly feel 100 percent. Timing suggests Nova could be back in the New York around early May. But how effective will he be?

THE REPLACEMENT STARTERS

Shane GreeneDavid Phelps – When the Yankees rotation went through a series of injuries last season, Vidal Nuno was technically the first replacement starter, but Phelps wasn’t far behind. He was solid, then he got knocked around one game, then he looked really good for about a month and a half before his upper elbow became a problem. Phelps should be arbitration eligible this season, and he might once again come to camp as a rotation candidate who could easily slip into a bullpen role.

Shane Greene – Phelps’ chances of winning a spot in the rotation surely took a hit when Greene showed up. Having made a strong impression in spring training, and having struggled in his brief big league debut, Greene wound up pitching like a rotation mainstay through the second half of the season. He had a 3.24 ERA before a six-run mess in his final start. Given the Nova injury, Greene could legitimately come to camp as a rotation favorite.

Chase Whitley – A career minor league reliever until the very end of 2013, Whitley moved to the Triple-A rotation, improved his breaking ball and got his first big league call-up as a replacement starter. He was a bit streaky — very good at first, pretty good at the end, plenty of rough outings in the middle — but Whitley joins the mix as a swing man who could start or work in long relief. Could also go to Triple-A as rotation insurance.

THE MINOR LEAGUERS

Bryan MitchellManny Banuelos – Once considered to be among the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, Banuelos needed Tommy John surgery, which slowed his ascent considerably. He missed all of 2013 and put up inconsistent results this year in Double-A and Triple-A. Banuelos has an awfully good arm, though, and being further removed from surgery surely helps his cause heading into his age-24 season.

Bryan Mitchell – For the longest time, Mitchell’s reputation was far better than his results. The Yankees regularly touted his potential, and that was enough to put him on the 40-man roster last winter despite a 5.12 ERA in High-A the year before. More so-so results followed in Double-A this season, but the Yankees challenged Mitchell with a Triple-A promotion and things seemed to take off. He got 11 innings in the big leagues and looked solid. Probably no more than rotation depth to open the season, but he’s among the most advanced young starters in the system.

Matt Tracy/Nik Turley – These guys aren’t on the current 40-man roster, but they stand out as Rule 5 eligible lefties had at least 60 Triple-A innings with mid-4.00 ERAs this season. Neither one was great next season, and there’s a chance both will be left exposed to the Rule 5 this winter — guys like Zach Nuding, Jairo Heredia and Caleb Cotham are in vaguely similar situations — but they’re potential rotation depth options who could be on the 40-man eventually (or could be added next year if necessary). Turley’s been on the 40-man before, and he in particular was putting up better numbers at the end of the year.

THE SOON-TO-BE FREE AGENTS

Hiroki KurodaHiroki Kuroda – Of all the Yankees soon-to-be free agents, none has a future quite as uncertain as Kuroda. He turns 40 in February, and despite yet again providing some much-needed stability for the Yankees rotation, there seems to be a solid chance Kuroda will retire this winter. He could also come back, pitch elsewhere, or decide to pitch one last season in Japan. Kuroda left all options open at the end of the year.

Brandon McCarthy — Aside from Dave Robertson, there might not be an outgoing free agent who’s more interesting for the Yankees. McCarthy throws strikes and gets ground balls, he thrived during his three-month stint with the Yankees, and he seems like a strong fit in this unusual market. At the right price, McCarthy could be a strong choice for additional rotation depth (though he comes with injury concerns of his own).

Chris Capuano – Would be easy to dismiss Capuano as a non-factor going forward, and maybe that’s exactly what he’ll be. Two things to consider, though: 1. Capuano really was a pretty good No. 5 starter during his time with the Yankees, and he has experience as a bullpen lefty, which the Yankees don’t really have at the moment. Probably least like to return of anyone on this list, but he did his job during his time with the team.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I should be good to go for next season”09.22.14

Masahiro Tanaka

Yesterday was the big test for Masahiro Tanaka, but it wasn’t until this afternoon that the Yankees got a final grade on his long-awaited return to the rotation. It was important not only that he pitch well, but that he feel good the day after.

“He was all smiles today, which was good,” Joe Girardi said. “He was doing his normal routine that he would do after any other start, so it’s all good news.”

Yesterday’s game was encouraging. So was today’s catch. Tanaka remains on track to start again on Saturday. These last few steps are all about testing Tanaka’s elbow as much as possible heading into the offseason. There’s no way to be 100 percent certain his ligament will hold up, the more steps he gets through, the better. Today was another small one.

“Just the fact that I was able to throw yesterday and the fact I’m feeling good today (is encouraging),” Tanaka said. “Having the start coming up on Saturday, if I come out from that strong, then obviously that’s a positive. From where I am right now, I should be able to have a good offseason of training that I want to do, and I should be good to go for next season.”

CC Sabathia also played catch today — his first official throwing session since knee surgery — which was another small but encouraging step for a Yankees rotation facing quite a bit of uncertainty heading into this offseason.

“And I think you can add another guy in there; Nova’s rehab has went extremely well,” Girardi said. “He has had zero setbacks and has progressed very, very well. Obviously CC has done well after this new knee surgery and we’re pleased about that. These guys play a very important role. Pitching is a huge part and when you have pitching you can stay in most games and have an opportunity to win them. When you get distance from your starters, your bullpen stays more rested and you can use them a little more different. It would be big for us.”

Mark Teixeira, Jonathan Schoop• Mark Teixeira got a third cortisone injection for his sore right wrist. He got it yesterday and said this injection was in a slightly different spot — “The first two shots were kind of inside the tendon sheath and this is outside the tendon sheath,” he said — and the hope is that he’ll be back in the lineup tomorrow. Why get a third injection at this point? “You never want to end the season hurt,” he said. “You want to finish the season. Every game you can’t play, you make a lot out of it, but realistically, to take a couple days off and get it taken care of, play the last five or six games whatever it might be — it’s worth it.”

• Can Teixeira ever be a 150-game player again? “As many games as hopefully I can,” he said. “I never want to say I am going to play 150 games-plus again because, who knows? You never know what is going to happen. I know my wrist is going to be healthier next year. It’s going to be stronger. That’s all I can say because I’ll have that full offseason of working out and strengthening and not necessarily rehabbing.”

• Sabathia said he wants to build up to throwing a bullpen, then he’ll shut down and have a relatively normal offseason. He did 20 throws at 60 feet today. “We’re trying not to make it that much (different from a normal offseason),” Sabathia said. “I’ll come up here a few times a week, but as far as workouts and stuff, it should be a normal winter.”

• Maybe we already knew this and I just forgot about it, but Sabathia said today that he got a second stem-cell injection last month. “I haven’t (had an knee pain), not since I went back out there for (another) stem cell,” Sabathia said. “I think that was the end of August. It feels great. I haven’t had any problems in the workouts.”

• First time playing catch today? “I’ve kinda been throwing the football a little bit, and throwing at home,” Sabathia said. “So it feels good to come out here and not have to hide and throw.”

• The Yankees claimed OF Eury Perez off waivers and opened a roster spot by designating Josh Outman. “We acquired a young center fielder, left fielder, plays all over, from the Washington Nationals,” Girardi said. “With some of the nicked up position players we had, we felt it was probably in our best interest to (DFA) a pitcher. Outman had done a pretty good job for us. He’s a situational lefty, which are kind of difficult to use this time of year because every time you send a lefty to face a lefty, they put a right hander up because they have so many players. It becomes more difficult to use them.”

• Girardi said Carlos Beltran’s elbow is still bothering him. No update on Jacoby Ellsbury’s hamstring.

Associated Press photos

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AUDIO: CC Sabathia relieved to avoid microfracture surgery07.19.14

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees

Again, Josh Thomson here in for Chad. I have a few things to share from this morning’s pregame.

CC Sabathia met with the media this morning, a day after Brian Cashman announced the lefty would undergo season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery, but one that will allow him to avoid dreaded micro-fracture surgery. Sabathia said he was disappointed to learn he would miss the remainder of the season. However, news that he would, for now, avoid the much more invasive micro-fracture and the long-term uncertainty that comes with it was welcome.

“I was very concerned,” he said. “I told my wife last night, my season’s over, but it was the first time I was able to get some real sleep just kind of knowing I didn’t have to have the micro-fracture and that I can return next year.”

Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the surgery next Wednesday, but Sabathia confirmed that team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad and Rangers team doctor Dr. Keith Meister both agreed with the form of treatment. He expects it will be approximately 6-8 weeks after his surgery next Wednesday before he can resume activity.

Sabathia said it was basically the same procedure performed on Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook, who obviously returned to form without any trouble. Sabathia believes he can pitch another 5-6 years, although he admitted the possibility of having to undergo future knee scopes for maintenance.

Here’s what Sabathia had to say today in its entirety:

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Yankees pregame: Questions about “horrible” McCann07.01.14

Brian McCannBrian McCann described his offensive work as “horrible” Monday night, and that led to a lot of what’s wrong with McCann questions in Joe Girardi’s pregame meeting with the media.

The big-ticket catcher is getting a rest tonight against the Rays, at least at the start. He’s batting just .221 through the first half, with a .281 on-base percentage. He has hit nine homers and drive in 36.

“I think everything involved — you talk about coming to a new town, a new contract, learning all these new pitchers — it can be difficult,” Girardi said. “His RBI total isn’t too bad. His home runs aren’t too bad. I think he’s done a really good job with our pitching staff.

“But when he looks at his average, I’m sure he’s frustrated and knows that he can do better. So I don’t want to just focus on one aspect of the game because he has driven in some big runs for us and he has done a great job with our staff.

“And he needs to remind himself of that, too.”

Without question, Dellin Betances belongs at the All-Star Game. And Girardi made a good case for him.

“If you want a big strikeout and you want a guy to come in in the middle of an inning and get people out, he’s pretty good at it,” Girardi said. “He’s done a tremendous job. He’s a reliever that can obviously give you multiple innings. Sometimes you get in an extra-inning game, that can be pretty important, too.”

Betances, who may get a game or two off after pitching in three of the last four, is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 35 appearances. He’d love to be at Target Field July 15.

“You’re talking about guys that you grew up watching, unbelievable players,” Betances said. “I haven’t really thought too much about it, but I’d be honored.”

After the 12-inning game last night, the Yankees needed a fresh arm in the bullpen. Righty Jim Miller has the arm that was summoned from Triple-A. Jose Ramirez got sent down. And CC Sabathia got moved to the 60-day DL.

Speaking of Sabathia, he will pitch a rehab game on three days’ rest. His next start will come tomorrow for Trenton. Sabathia threw just 37 pitches in his first rehab start, Saturday with Tampa.

“After that, it’ll be every five days,” Girardi said.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 268 Comments →

CC hoping “spring training” ends early06.18.14

CC Sabathia could be at least six weeks away from returning after throwing his first bullpen session Monday. Joe Girardi indicated Tuesday it was fair to compare this to the start of spring training for him. But Sabathia is hoping to return sooner than later. His problematic right knee has been cooperating.

“I’ve been throwing the whole time,” Sabathia said. “I feel pretty good. Obviously you have to be cautious, not wanting to hurt my arm. But we’ll see. I feel good. Hopefully we can skip some steps.”

The 33-year-old lefty was just 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA when he was done with his last start on May 10.

“It’s hard to watch the games and sit here and not be a part of it,” Sabathia said. “This is one of toughest things I’ve ever had to deal with as far as my career goes.”

Sabathia is scheduled to throw another bullpen today.

“We’ll just continue to increase the amount of pitches and the pitches that he throws,” Girardi said. “He threw fastball, changeup the first day. I think he’s going to mix in some other pitches (today), mix in his slider as well. And then just kind of go day by day with him for me.

“If he gets through (today), then he’ll probably throw another bullpen and we’ll increase the number there. And then if he gets through that, eventually you start to see hitters and BP and then you get the games.

“So it’s really just taking it a step at a time. … He’s been out for a little bit. We’ve said when you’re a starter and you have not thrown a lot, we have to somewhat rebuild you up. So it’s fairly similar (to spring training).”

Masahiro Tanaka just continues to win. Here’s my story on his victory over the Blue Jays last night. Francisco Cervelli is back and ready to help in any way possible, while John Ryan Murphy is now back in Triple-A. Here’s my story on Cervelli’s return and other Yankees notes. And Chase Whitley will take the ball tonight against Toronto. Here’s my feature story on Whitley and his success as a rookie.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 212 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Cervelli back, Murphy down06.17.14

John Ryan MurphyJohn Ryan Murphy has been sent down to Triple-A and Francisco Cervelli has been activated from the DL, not just to be the backup catcher, but again to possibly be one of the backups for Mark Teixeira. When Cervelli hurt his hamstring back in mid-April, it was a game in which he started at first base. Two of his five starts in April were at first.

Joe Girardi said a choice between Kelly Johnson and Cervelli would come down to matchups.

“I think I’m comfortable there,” Cervelli said. “But I don’t want to forget about catching. That’s what I like, but I want to help any way I can.”

This has been the second straight season Cervelli has missed a huge chunk of time. He said he stayed positive these last two months.

“It’s frustrating,” Cervelli said. “But this time I took it differently. … I spent time with my dad. I recovered so fast before the 60 days.”

John Ryan Murphy got sent down to Triple-A to make room. He hit .286 with one homer and eight RBI in 24 games.

“He played extremely well,” Girardi said. “Obviously we were pleased with what he did. … We think it’s important for him to go play every day.”

CC Sabathia threw a 25-pitch bullpen yesterday and will have another session out there tomorrow. Joe Girardi compared this to the beginning of spring training for him.

Michael Pineda, who was shut down after his setback, is scheduled to play catch Saturday.

Rotation fill-in Vidal Nuno is 1-3 with a 5.90 ERA. Adam Warren has been mentioned as a possible replacement. But the reliever would have to be stretched out. Girardi said Warren could probably only go up to about 50 pitches now.

“We’ll continue to evaluate our staff and decide what we’re going to do,” Girardi said.

Tonight it appears the ball is in good hands. It’s Masahiro Tanaka time.

“Obviously Tanaka is the best pitcher on the planet,” Sabathia said.

Photo by The Associated Press

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 700 Comments →

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