Just a few quick notes from this cold Monday.
• The Yankees have signed outfielder Thomas Neal to a minor league contract. I believe it was Josh Norris who first pointed out that Neal’s twitter page described him as a member of the Yankees organization (that’s where I first saw it, anyway), and today Brian Cashman confirmed the signing. That’s one more right-handed outfield bat to put in the mix. Neal got into nine games for the Indians last season, and he’s put up pretty good minor league numbers. He’s primarily played the outfield corners, with a little bit of time at first and in center. Neal was designated for assignment and eventually released when the Indians signed Nick Swisher.
• Speaking of the Indians — and speaking of right-handed outfielders — Cleveland has agreed to minor league deals with Ben Francisco and Ryan Raburn. Both could have been cheap, fringy options for the Yankees bench. I especially like Raburn, who has a lot of defensive flexibility and has actually hit pretty well against lefties in his career.
• Speaking of minor league deals, the Mets have signed lefty Pedro Feliciano. The veteran signed a two-year deal with the Yankees before the 2011 season, but a shoulder injury kept him on the disabled list through the entirety of the contract. He’ll return to the Mets, where he pitched — probably too much — before signing with the Yankees.
• Down in Trenton, the Thunder have announced that they’re installing a big video board at Arm & Hammer Park. That’ll be a nice addition down there.
• In his new gig over at CBS Sports, Mike Axisa takes a look at the core of the Yankees determines that the current cornerstone of the franchise isn’t Robinson Cano (contract expires too soon), Derek Jeter (face of the franchise, but not necessarily the roster keystone), or Alex Rodriguez (more problem than solution at this point). Mike writes that it’s CC Sabathia who the Yankees seem to be building their team around. It’s good stuff, as always. Congratulations to Mike, who I’ve gotten to know a little bit over the years, and who does terrific work with Joe, Ben and the rest of the crew over at River Ave. Blues. He’ll be a nice addition to that CBS blog, and thankfully he’s not abandoning RAB.
Happy Thanksgiving/CC to be honored • 11.22.12
I just want to wish you all a great Thanksgiving. Thanks for being here with us year-round.
I’m off to a family gathering today, but first here’s a charity-related item I didn’t get to from the other day.
Yankees postgame: What’s up with CC? • 09.15.12
The Yankees need their ace to pitch like an ace right now, but it isn’t happening. CC Sabathia’s velocity was a bit better, but he still turned over a lead for the fifth straight start and didn’t win for the fourth straight start. He has dropped three decisions in a row for the first time as a Yankee.
“It’s tough because we’re in a race and I’m struggling,” Sabathia said. “… It’s definitely been frustrating.”
This time, he gave up four runs and six hits over 6 2/3 and fell to 13-6. David Price just outpitched him in Tampa Bay’s 6-4 victory.
Sabathia says his arm feels good. But the game got away from him when his command departed in the fifth. His 1-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit.
“Just not making pitches,” Sabathia said.
The Yankees were predictably supportive.
“I still believe in CC,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s done so many special things. I know his heart.”
“You definitely want CC on the mound,” Curtis Granderson said. “CC is one of the best guys out there.”
“CC pitched well,” Derek Jeter said. “I’m sure he didn’t pitch as good as he would’ve liked to, but he still kept us in the game.”
Sabathia knows he’s better than this. He thinks he may be looking to strike people out too much.
“Today should’ve been a day when I went out and dominated,” Sabathia said.
He’s happy that Ivan Nova will be back later today and that Andy Pettitte will return to start on Tuesday.
“Hopefully they can help us out, because I haven’t been,” Sabathia said.
Meanwhile, it was another milestone night for both Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Jeter passed Willie Mays and took sole possession of 10th on the all-time hits lists. The Captain had two hits, giving him 3,285. He said passing Mays was “pretty special.”
A-Rod passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time list for runs scored thanks to his homer. Rodriguez now has sole possession of ninth with 1,889. He also tied Zack Wheat for 37th on the all-time hits list at 2,884. Rodriguez is batting .279 with three homers and eight RBI in 11 games since coming off the DL. He’s now 13 homers behind Mays for fourth on the homers list after belting No. 647.
The Yankees are now 6-9 in their last 15 games. They are 3 for 40 with runners in scoring position over the last four games, leaving 36 on base. They have blown leads in six of their last seven defeats and 10 of their last 14 defeats. Lot of negatives here. But there are still 18 games to go.
Brian Heyman here for Chad today at Yankee Stadium. Much of the pregame talk revolved around Derek Jeter. Joe Girardi didn’t have a lineup ready to announce when he met the media at 4:10. He had to check on the status of Jeter’s left ankle. The lineup came out about an hour later and The Captain was in, but he’s serving as the designated hitter for the second straight game.
Girardi said Jeter’s status will be a day-to -ay thing as far as being at short or being the DH.
“If I had a 10-game lead, I’d probably give him some days off,” Girardi said. “But I’m not sure that would take care of it.”
Because if he lands on it the wrong way, he could aggravate it like he did Wednesday night in Boston. Could this bone bruise be a chronic thing that won’t fully heal until offseason rest? Girardi said he hasn’t been told that.
“But in my mind, that’s what I believe,” Girardi said, adding it could improve or it “could take a while.”
Jeter, predictably, shed no light. Talking about injuries isn’t his thing, especially when he feels he’s good enough to play.
“This is not an issue,” he said.
Jeter does feel he’s well enough to play short.
“I felt I could play the field when he took me out,” Jeter said, referring to Girardi’s move on Wednesday in the eighth inning after that lunge trying to beat out a double-play ball led to him leaving the game.
Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte threw from the main mound and did drills.
“Everything is a good for Tuesday,” Girardi said.
CC Sabathia takes the ball tonight after going 0-2 with a no-decision and turning over leads in his last three starts. He was down a bit on velocity in the last one, averaging about 92 on the fastball. Girardi said it could be for a number of reasons, including all “the innings he’s logged in his life.”
David Phelps continued to make a positive impression despite taking this 4-1 loss to the Red Sox. The rookie went a career-high 6 2/3 and gave up just three runs and seven hits. He struck out seven and walked none in what will likely be his final start before CC Sabathia comes off the DL. Joe Girardi said he hopes that will be Friday night in Cleveland.
But Phelps can still be an asset in the bullpen. He’s 3-4 with a 2.69 ERA in 24 outings overall. In his five starts, including two since Sabathia went down with his elbow problem, Phelps is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA. Someone will have to go to make room for Sabathia, but Phelps is pitching better than Joba Chamberlain and Cody Eppley right now.
“We like what he does,” Girardi said about Phelps. “He’s a guy that’s somewhat of a swing guy for us. If we need him to start, he can start. If we need him to give us an inning in the bullpen, a couple of innings in the bullpen, he can do that. If we need him to give long relief, he can do that.
“He’s a valuable guy on your team because he can do so many different things, and he’s had success in all areas.”
Phelps was done in by an opposite-field, two-run homer in the first by Adrian Gonzalez.
“It was right where we wanted it,” Phelps said. “The ball was down and off the plate. … It’s incredibly frustrating.”
Jon Lester’s inconsistency has been problematic for Boston, but the Yankees managed just five hits off the lefty. He’s still only 7-10 with a 5.03 after back-to-back starts with one run allowed.
“When you look up at the numbers, you kind of step back because you know that’s not the type of pitcher he really is,” said Nick Swisher, who had two of his three hits off Lester. “Tonight you got the best Jon Lester that we’ve seen in a while.”
The Yankees finished 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s hard to win a game when you do that,” Girardi said.
Curtis Granderson seems to be breaking out of his slump, coming through with a homer and two hits for the second consecutive game. Both homers were off left-handers. He has hit 11 of his 32 off lefties.
Derek Jeter lost his 13-game hitting streak. He batted .367 over that stretch.
Robinson Cano is struggling right now. He went hitless for the fourth consecutive game with an at-bat, his worst stretch since a four-game hitless run in 2008. His career high is five straight. That was in 2005.
The Yankees need to come up with an answer for Pedro Ciriaco. He had a four-hit game against them at Fenway last month and he went 4 for 4 in this game. He’s batting .517 against them in seven games, going 15 for 29. He’s batting .276 in 28 games against other teams.
“He’s on fire against us,” Phelps said. “It’s one of those things.”
Sunday night baseball on ESPN with feature a pitching matchup between Hiroki Kuroda, who has been very good, and Josh Beckett, who has not.
Brian Heyman here for Chad again today. Mark Teixeira is out of the starting lineup for the second straight game due to his left wrist inflammation.
“He’s a little bit better today,” Girardi said. “He’s not a player for me today. I wouldn’t imagine so. We’ll see in the next couple of days if we can get him back.”
Girardi is wondering, though.
“Yeah, I’m a little bit concerned if it’s going to get to 100 percent,” Girardi said. “He was better after the few days off a couple of weeks ago. And it seemed to come back a little bit. That raises a little bit of a red flag. You do what you can. Tex is good at playing beat up. He’s used to it in his career. We’ll try to get him back as soon as we can.”
The DL doesn’t appear off the table if the improvement doesn’t continue.
“Everyone plays a little beat up,” Girardi said. “It’s to the point where you’re too beat up to be productive. That’s what we weigh. If we feel that after two or three days, maybe he needs a whole week, we might try to make it like that. Or if he needs two weeks, we’ll do that. We’re going to do what it takes to try to get him healthy.”
Nick Swisher is again at first for Teixeira. Girardi said the Yankees originally had thought about playing Swisher at first before they acquired Teixeira. “I think he’s a very good first baseman,” Girardi said of Swisher, who’s batting .350 with a double, four homers and 11 RBI in the first five games of the homestand.
Girardi said: “What I’ve seen from Swish is he’s been patient, gotten his pitch and he hasn’t missed it. … He’s just in one of those grooves.”
Derek Jeter is the DH for the second straight game. Girardi had planned to DH him Thursday and today (both day games after night games), but Thursday’s plan went bad because Robinson Cano couldn’t start at second due to a stiff neck.
“Sixteen days in a row is the reason why I’ve done it,” Girardi said. “It’s really hard to give him a day off with the way that he’s swinging the bat. He’s our leadoff guy — and especially against left-handers.”
CC Sabathia threw about 20 pitches in the bullpen and pronounced himself ready to pitch Friday in Cleveland.
The Red Sox begin this game at 58-62, 13 1/2 back of the Yankees and 6 1/2 back of the Orioles and the Tigers in the race for the second wild card.
Bobby Valentine gave this summation on how he has done so far as manager: “As far as my job is concerned here and whether I’m doing a good job, I’m not doing a good job. I didn’t get paid to do anything other than to get to the playoffs, win a lot of games, be in the thick of things right down to the end, even be in first place. The team I’m managing is not there. Simple. So my job has not been a good job if I had to assess, but that’s not what I do. That’s not my job.”
Sabathia and Martin together again • 08.04.12
Joe Girardi has wanted to team CC Sabathia and Russell Martin again for a while, but he finally did it Friday night against the Mariners, and it worked out well for the Yankees.
Sabathia threw a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the 6-3 win over the Mariners.
“After a day off, Russell was fresh, as fresh as he can be in the month of August,” Girardi said. “It just felt like the time to do it.”
Sabathia said: “Everybody made such a big deal. We wondering when I was going to throw to him again. … Once we got out there, we were on the same page.”
Martin caught him the first two games, then Chris Stewart caught the next 16, and it didn’t go poorly. Sabathia has a 3.24 ERA with Stewart behind the plate.
But when Game 1 comes, barring injury, it’s going to be Martin catching Sabathia. So working together some can’t hurt.
“I wanted to make sure he had a good start,” Martin said. “If he didn’t, I know there would be some stories about it. … Today just proved I can catch CC.”
Martin also continued to come on a little bit with the bat, delivering a double and a single. And he stole a base and scored two runs. But Martin is still only hitting .195.
Yankees postgame: Sabathia dominates • 08.04.12
CC Sabathia has generally been good, his previous start against the Red Sox notwithstanding. But he finally turned in a dominant start, allowing just three hits and fanning 10 in this 6-3 win over the Mariners.
“CC’s a winner,” Joe Girardi said. “Very seldom I have ever got to worry about CC. I thought he pitched a heck of a game. He went right at the hitters like he always does, but his stuff was really effective.”
CC gave up at least nine hits six times in the final two months last season and then didn’t have a wonderful postseason. There were questions about his weight.
“Last year is last year,” Sabathia said. “I usually feel good at the end of the year. I had some problems last year. But I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited and feel pretty good.”
The Mariners don’t hit much to begin with, but after watching Sabathia’s dipping two-seamer and the rest of his assortment, manager Eric Wedge said: “I think he beats anybody tonight with what he was throwing out there.”
Sabathia is up to 11-3, becoming just the fourth pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to win 11 games in each of his first 12 seasons.
Eric Chavez came out after eight because the ankle he hurt in the Red Sox series was acting up. He came in to put ice on it.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Girardi said.
Chavez has been using an Andruw Jones bat for a few months. This time, Chavez hit the decisive two-run homer.
“It just feels comfortable,” Chavez said.
Before the game, Mark Teixeira met with a doctor and went through batting practice, and he found that he was good to go after missing two games. He had received a cortisone shot for left wrist inflammation. He went 1 for 4.
“Everything checked out pretty good,” Teixeira said. “Hopefully no more issues.”
Ichiro Suzuki went 1 for 4, giving him one hit in each of his first 10 games as a Yankee. That equals the longest hitting streak to start a Yankees career, matching Rey Sanchez in 1997.
Derek Jeter took sole possession of 10th on the all-time list for games played for those who spent their whole career with one team. This was game No. 2,529 for him.
The Yankees have homered in 21 straight home games.
There’s a good pitching matchup later today, Hiroki Kuroda and Felix Hernandez.
Yankees pregame: Waiting on Tex and a lineup • 08.03.12
Brian Heyman here for Chad today. No Yankees lineup yet. Joe Girardi was waiting for an update on the state of Mark Teixeira’s left wrist from a doctor and whether he could take batting practice. And Teixeira is indeed giving batting practice a try right now at a little before 5.
Tonight’s starter is CC Sabathia, and he has owned the Mariners, winning seven straight starts with a 0.88 ERA dating to 2009. But Sabathia wasn’t so great his last time out, allowing six runs and eight hits in six innings against the Red Sox. His weight gain was something that came up after he was allowing a lot of hits the final two months of last season and had a 6.23 ERA vs. Detroit in the ALDS. But his fitness is a non-factor right now, according to Girardi.
“His conditioning is great,” Girardi said. “I’m very pleased with where he’s at there. And I’ve never seen it as a huge issue for me. This is a guy who’s won 60 games in three years. It’s pretty hard to complain. But obviously you worry about long-term health and long-term health of a pitcher’s body. But that has not been an issue.
“This guy works hard. He’s a true professional. He’s prepared every time he goes out there. For me, it’s just like any other pitcher you have. If he locates, he’s going to pitch well.”
Joba Chamberlain struggled in his first Yankees outing of the season, allowing two runs and four hits in 1 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Orioles. He had been away from major-league mounds for 14 months or so.
“I think it could take a little for him to get on track and be what we expect him to be because he’s been out so long,” Girardi said. “Just like any starter or reliever starting a season, or position player, you’re not sure how they’re going to start, if they’re going to have a great start or if they’re going to have a slow start. So I think you’re going to have to have some patience.”
A-Rod is here. “Just working out,” Girardi said, “doing as much as he can basically not using the one hand, conditioning, trying to work his legs. But that’s about it. He’ll throw and do things like that. But as far as using his left hand, he can’t do much there.”
Ichiro Suzuki spoke to some of his former teammates on the field, but he indicated his emotions aren’t as high facing them as they were in Seattle right after the trade went down.
Curtis Granderson has played a wonderful center field for the Yankees, but he had a bad moment in the ninth and it cost the Yankees this game against the Red Sox.
It was 6-6 with Jacoby Ellsbury on first and one out in the ninth when Pedro Ciriaco hit the drive to center.
“I thought (Ciriaco) was good and we were lucky,” Bobby Valentine said.
Because Granderson broke in, then drifted back, got twisted around and missed in his reach for the ball.
“We haven’t seen much of that, him getting turned around like that,” Joe Girardi said.
Ellsbury scored and Ciriaco ended up on third. Then he scored on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.
“You’re going to make some mistakes out there,” Granderson said. “I didn’t get the best read on it. … I just didn’t think it was hit that hard.”
CC Sabathia really didn’t help the cause, either, allowing six runs and eight hits over six innings.
“It’s tough … not being able to get out there and pitch the way you want, especially against a team in your division,” Sabathia said.
Nick Swisher struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth after failing to start for the seventh straight game because of that strained hip flexor. Swisher wants back in Sunday night in the series finale.
“I think to be able to pinch hit after sitting on the bench for three hours, you’d be able to DH at least,” Swisher said. “We’ll come back here tomorrow and see what they say.
“I’ve been penned up for a while. I’m ready to go.”
Ichiro Suzuki has hit in all five games as a Yankee. Robinson Cano had his 13-game hitting streak against Boston snapped.
I’ll have more on Mark Teixeira’s homer off Vicente Padilla in our 9 a.m. posting.
Sunday night’s pitching matchup pits Hiroki Kuroda and Felix Doubront.