Obviously the Alex Rodriguez report is the big story of the day, but there are a few smaller items worth knowing.
• Ken Rosenthal cited major league sources who say Andy Pettitte has decided not to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Pettitte was left off the roster, but Joe Torre made it clear that the invitation remained open if Pettitte wanted to pitch. Instead, Rosenthal writes, there’s still a chance that Justin Verlander will decide to pitch for Team USA.
• Chris Dickerson signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. I thought he might have a chance to get a big league deal somewhere, but apparently not. He was released by the Yankees earlier this month. The Orioles already have left-handed hitters Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth in their outfield. They also have lefty Xavier Avery and switch hitter Trayvon Robinson available for their bench.
• Freddy Garcia might have settled on a minor league deal, but he’s getting big league money. Jon Heyman reports that Garcia’s minor league contract pays $1.3 million with another $1.25 million in incentives.
• One of the best catchers still on the market — if not the best catcher still on the market — Kelly Shoppach is reportedly on the verge of a deal with the Mariners.
Thursday notes: “I don’t expect miracles” • 03.15.12
Both Joe Girardi and Freddy Garcia said pretty much the same thing today: It’s just too early to know anything for certain. Garcia had his right hand heavily wrapped this morning, but he’s still not sure how much time he’ll have to miss after being hit by a comebacker on Wednesday.
“Right now I don’t think about it,” Garcia said, “because I went to the hospital yesterday, they took x-rays and everything is fine. So, I just have to wait. I move my fingers good, so I don’t think I have to have any problems.”
Girardi said he’s expecting at least one more day of treatment. The injury seems to be close to the same spot where Eduardo Nunez has experienced soreness for a week and a half now.
“I don’t expect miracles,” Girardi said. “When you’ve got swelling in your hand, it’s going to take time to get rid of it. I’m not going to scratch him, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t make his next start on his day. Maybe a couple of days later or something.”
• Two more notes about Michael Pineda’s fastball: 1) Girardi said he hasn’t seen any signs of Pineda trying to overthrow just to reach 95, and 2) Pineda said he’s much more focused on hitting his spots than hitting the mid-90s.
• Russell Martin on Pineda’s fastball: “I think he was like 88-90 in Clearwater, so it’s coming along. I’m not worried about it. I just want to see the guy pitch. He’s a pitcher like anybody else out there. I just wanted to see him execute pitches. His velocity, he has it in him, it’s just a matter of time. As soon as you put on your uniform, you’re in New York and you get the juices flowing, the velocity is going to pick up no matter what.”
• And if you’re looking for more fastball specifics: “(Pineda) was a little inconsistent trying to throw his fastball away to right-handers. It looked like he was pulling off a little bit.” Martin said it’s an easy thing to correct and could be fixed in a single bullpen.
• Ramiro Pena was trying to steal second base, and just as he went into his slide, his spike stuck in the dirt. That’s when he sprained his right ankle, not when he actually made contact with the bag. He estimated that he’ll miss only two or three days, but Girardi said that might be optimistic. “We’ll see about that,” Girardi said. “I imagine it’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow. Sometimes adrenaline helps you out in a situation like that.”
Other injury updates:
• Dave Robertson was scheduled to play catch today and on track to throw a bullpen this weekend.
• Russell Branyan still hasn’t played this spring and is getting an epidural for his sore back.
• George Kontos threw another batting practice.
• Manny Delcarmen is throwing off a half mound.
• The Nationals announced a strained hamstring for Chien-Ming Wang, who stumbled trying to cover first base. It’s obviously a tough break for a guy who finally seemed to be healthy and effective again.
• Martin was knocked down on the play that left Wang injured. “It happened in slow motion,” Martin said. “It was weird. I tucked pretty good. If I had fell differently, it could have been worse. I kind of just rolled with it. It’s the ninja coming out right there.”
• Apparently the Yankees saved all of their excitement for after the media was down in the clubhouse. They won the game 8-5, having rallied with four runs in the seventh and two runs in the eighth. Jose Gil is hitting .750 this spring and had a two-run single. Melky Mesa and Bill Hall both doubled in the game. Hall and Justin Maxwell each had two hits, continuing a nice spring for Maxwell (he’s hitting .375 with two stolen bases). Maxwell, Jayson Nix and Andruw Jones each stole a bag today.
• Clay Rapada pitched into and out of some trouble, but finished with 1.1 scoreless innings. Mike O’Connor and Adam Warren combined for a scoreless ninth. In between, Brett Marshall allowed two runs in 2.1 innings and Juan Cedeno was charged with a run in his two-thirds of an inning.
Associated Press photos
Spread across two different spring training sites, separated by a little more than two hours worth of highway, a little less than half of the Yankees projected big league pitching staff got on the mound this afternoon. Phil Hughes faced the Twins in Fort Myers. CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan and Cory Wade faced the Phillies in Tampa.
Their combined line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
Most of the attention was naturally on Rivera, and that’s probably the way it’s going to be throughout the season. If the expectation is that he’ll retire at the end of the season, then every one of his outings carries a little extra significance. There’s a little added appreciation to every step along the way. Rivera, Logan and Wade each pitched a hitless inning today, but the bulk of the innings belongs to the starting pitchers.
Before the game, Sabathia told Russell Martin that he wanted to work on his two-seamer and his changeup, and those pitches were the focus of the afternoon. Sabathia wasn’t happy with his fastball command last time out, but he was much better this time, and he got better in the second and third innings.
Sabathia: “Felt good. The fastball command was pretty good, the secondary pitches were working. I still got a little ways to go, you know. I still want to work on my two-seamer. But I feel good today… Fastball command (improved). Getting it in on righties, and Russ did a good job making sure we got a lot of those. He called a lot of two-seamers which is something that we’ve been working on all spring. He did a good job of working in things we were trying to do.”
Martin: “He was great. What I liked about him was he had some good velocity. I don’t know how hard he was throwing, but it felt like the ball was jumping out of his hand. And he threw some good changeups. He threw his curveball for strikes. We talked before the game, he wanted to work on his two-seamer a lot and his changeup, I think we did a good job of that today. We threw some two-seamers in for lefties, made them uncomfortable. Locked a guy up with a slider for a puncy. Threw some good changeups down in the zone off his fastball. He was good today.”
3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Joe Girardi went on the road to see Hughes make his second spring appearance. Last time out, Hughes’ arm strength was much better than at this time last season, and his fastball remained in the low 90s this afternoon. I wasn’t there to see it, but it seems to be another solid step forward.
Hughes: “The cutter wasn’t as good as it was last time, but the curveball was much better. Fastball location was much better, as well. Command-wise, it was a lot better, especially in the second and third innings… It seemed like my fastball was good. It was jumping on hitters a little bit based on the swings I was getting. That was a positive thing. Being able to work out of some trouble with guys on, they put together some good at-bats in the first and I was able to get around those.”
Girardi: “I thought he had everything today. Fastball location was much better, he threw some good changeups, curveballs and cutters. I was very pleased. I thought it was a nice step in a positive direction for him. A lot of times at this point in the first couple starts, I’m focusing on the good things. Knowing that they are rusty, you don’t expect them to have their A stuff a lot of times. You want to see what they’ve got the first couple starts. I was pleased.”
• Dave Robertson is supposed to get his walking boot off tomorrow, but that’s subject to change depending on how he feels. “If he comes in and he’s walking okay and it’s not too painful, he’ll come out of the boot,” Girardi said. “If it’s still pretty painful, we’ll put him back in the boot.” For whatever it’s worth, Robertson seemed to be walking much more easily today.
• Eduardo Nunez could be in a game as early as Tuesday. “We’ll have him take BP Tuesday, and if he has no problem, I’ll put him in the game,” Girardi said.
• Really nice game by Chris Dickerson here in Tampa. He made a nice running play in center field, had the two-run single that gave the Yankees the lead, and he stayed in a rundown long enough to let runners advance to second and third. I’m still surprised no team thought they could carry him as a fourth outfielder this year. He’s a nice player.
• Russell Martin stole another base today. That’s four steals in five games for the Yankees catcher. “I’m putting a little pressure on Gardy,” Martin said. “That’s all I’m doing.” Might be working because Gardner also had a stolen base today. It was Gardner’s second.
• Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 — and had another hit taken away by a nice catch in center field — in the Yankees 3-1 win against the Phillies. Dickerson, Robinson Cano, Gustavo Molina, Bill Hall, Justin Maxwell and call-up-for-the-day Austin Krum also had hits in the win. … Francisco Cervelli went 3-for-3 in the 5-1 loss to the Twins. Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Gary Sanchez, Jayson Nix and Corban Joseph also had hits in that game, as did call-up-for-the-day Walter Ibarra.
• Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley and Kevin Whelan were able to keep the shutout intact in Tampa. … In Fort Myers, Adam Warren allowed one run through three innigns, but the game unraveled when Graham Stoneburner allowed a solo homer in the seventh inning and Adam Miller gave up a three-run homer in the eighth. All five Twins runs came on home runs.
• Add Dan Burawa to the injured list. Girardi said today that Burawa hurt his ribcage yesterday. “He’s probably down for a little bit,” Girardi said. Burawa seemed to be making a pretty good impression this spring but was still just here to get his feet wet. He’s not realistically in the big league picture this season.
• Once again Girardi said Austin Romine is making steady progress from his sore back, but the Yankees are staying extra cautious. There’s no rush to get Romine into regular duty in spring training. “If he’s a backup here, he’s not going to play every day,” Girardi said. “And if he’s in the minor leagues, he’s going to play every day, so you can work him up to three and four days in a row down there. That’s not a problem. I want to see him playing healthy before we leave; that’s the most important thing.”
• A lot of guys up from minor league camp today, but center field standout Mason Williams wasn’t among them. Girardi said today that he expects Williams to come up for a big league game at some point this spring. Girardi’s never seen him play, but “I’m interested,” he said.
• After fracturing the bone around his eye earlier this spring, A.J. Burnett has returned to Pirates camp. He’s still expected to miss two to three months.
• During a surprise Facetime conversation, Alex Rodriguez, Dave Robertson and Tino Martinez spoke with Stephanie Decker, the mother that lost both legs while protecting her two children from a tornado in Indiana last week.
• Want further proof that Mariano Rivera pretty much sets his own schedule in spring training? Here’s Girardi’s I-have-no-idea answer to a question about what’s next for Rivera after today’s debut appearance: “He’ll probably have some days where he has a couple days off. He might throw an inning, do a bullpen the next time, then throw an inning again. He usually gets his seven or eight appearances in, so he’s got plenty of time to do that. There’s no rush.”
Associated Press photos
Hope you weren’t counting on massive breaking news coming out the pregame clubhouse this morning. Aside from the arrival of Chris Dickerson — he flew in from Toledo last night — things were pretty routine. At this point, the story of the day will almost certainly be Phil Hughes.
“I’m anxious to see him get back out there and try to get him back to the form that we had him last year,” Joe Girardi said. “As you said, he’s had some time off, and that’s always a little bit of a concern about how strong he’ll be coming out of the gate, but he did do his share of bullpens.”
Trade talk is starting to heat up, but Girardi said a healthy and fully capable Hughes could be more significant than any sort of deadline addition. And Girardi thinks that Hughes knows just how important he can be in the second half.
“I think he does, and I think he relishes the responsibility,” Girardi said. “He’s excited to get back on track.”
• The Yankees swapped Dickerson for Greg Golson, who was optioned back to Triple-A. The Yankees wanted Golson for the past three games because they were facing two left-handed starters. With right-handers pitching four of the next five games against the Yankees, they preferred the lefty Dickerson.
• Derek Jeter was going to get one game off this road trip. Girardi decide today made the most sense.
• How did Girardi decide who started at short and who started at third? “We thought Nuney did a pretty good job at short while Jeet was gone, and we want him to continue some reps over there for when Alex does get back,” Girardi said. “If you play him a month at third and he never gets any reps at short, could that become an issue for a couple of days when you do put him over there?”
• Rafael Soriano is still on schedule to start Tuesday in Tampa. “Soriano’s going to have to have a few appearances,” Girardi said. “We’ll have to talk about, does he need to go back-to-back? To me the important thing is, let’s take it one day at a time and see how he feels after Tuesday.”
• Still not sure when Eric Chavez will begin a rehab assignment: “I’m not sure when Chavy is going to play. He’s obviously doing better. Hopefully it won’t be too long that we can get him going.” Marc Carig reports that Chavez could rehab as early as Tuesday.
• Alex Rodriguez has been riding a bike and doing upper-body workouts. He’ll stay in Miami for roughly two weeks total.
• Bartolo Colon is still on schedule to start Tuesday.
Rajai Davis CF
Eric Thames DH
Yunel Escobar SS
Adam Lind 1B
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Travis Snider LF
Aaron Hill 2B
J.P. Arencibia C
Corey Patterson RF
Postgame notes: “I gotta catch that ball” • 07.04.11
A.J. Burnett said he didn’t even remember the play, but Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner remembered it in great detail. Before Shelley Duncan even got to the plate in the seventh inning, and certainly before Austin Kearns went deep, the Yankees had a chance to catch a foul popup along the left-field line.
It would have been the final out. It dropped between Gardner and Rodriguez.
“I didn’t remember it until you said it,” Burnett said. “It’s on me. I’ve got to stay aggressive. Walks kill you. That’s the bottom line.”
Fair enough. Walks were a significant problem in that seventh inning, and Burnett said the walks bothered him even more than the three-run homer. But Gardner and Rodriguez were still reliving the play they both nearly made, but didn’t.
Gardner: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get to it. I wasn’t sure if Alex was going to be able to get to it. It was kind of one of those right in between us, and I called for it at the very last minute when I realized I could probably dive for it and catch it, but it was too late for him to get out of the way and give me room to be able to completely lay out for it. I kind of went in sideways instead of laying out headfirst for it. I didn’t want to lay out into his knees or ankles or wherever I was going to hit him. Short-armed it a little bit and just didn’t get to it.”
Rodriguez: “Maybe if I get a better jump on that ball, maybe I make that play. Maybe make it a little easier on him. Bottom line, I gotta catch that ball or get a better jump next time. For him to lose a game in that type of situation, it’s not good.”
Gardner did a good job of going into detail about the play, so here’s his audio.
And here’s Burnett.
• Derek Jeter said he felt fine after tonight’s. He’s expecting to play tomorrow, but Joe Girardi said he’ll have to wait until tomorrow to decide. “I was nervous at the beginning,” Jeter said. “It was almost like Opening Day again when you haven’t played in a while. As the game went on, I felt a lot better.”
• Jeter went 0-for-4 in his first game back. “If you don’t get hits, then it’s (bad) timing,” Jeter said. “If you do, they say you’re well-rested. I felt better as the game went on. I felt good in my last at-bat, a pretty good slider that I hit up the middle. I didn’t feel that bad. Obviously you play every day for a reason, but I felt better as the game went on.”
• No tests are scheduled for Mariano Rivera. He doesn’t remember ever feeling this sort of soreness, and he said it wasn’t bothering him during Sunday’s blown save. “When I’m pitching I don’t feel anything,” he said. “It’s after.”
• Burnett said he’s trying to stay positive after each of his starts this season, but it’s obvious that the two seventh-inning walks really bothered him. “I don’t have to worry about that (home run),” he said. “The two walks, when you put guys on, that allowed the inning to happen… They were both 3-2 heaters and they were up a little bit. I’m not going to be nitpicking. I went out there with my best stuff and I can walk away with that.”
• Burnett was amused to find out that Gameday listed his fastballs as cutters tonight. He said he was going to start bragging to Rivera about throwing 94-mph cutters deep into the game.
• Kind of a strange moment early when Burnett got into it a little bit with home plate umpire Mike Estabrook. It started with Burnett asking where a called ball missed the zone, but Estabrook though Burnett was trying to show him up. “I think my hands going up kind of did that,” Burnett said. “I just asked him where it was, but I can do that without throwing my hands up. The first-base umpire helped me out a little bit there and calmed me down, but that’s baseball. Hands stay down and I ask and maybe it doesn’t draw the attention that it drew.”
• Wouldn’t be a Burnett start without him finding a way to speak highly of Russell Martin. “I was able to find my hook here and there and mix in my changeup to lefties,” he said. “That was still a big pitch for me tonight, and I think I kept them off balance with that. (Martin)’s getting to where he knows what I want to do on every pitch.”
• How much was Girardi counting on Burnett tonight? “My bullpen was short tonight,” Girardi said. “I needed him to get through the seventh, and I was going to let him possibly go into the eighth.”
• With Rivera out of the mix, Dave Robertson was the closer for the night.
• Sounds like the shadows were a bit of an issue in the early innings. A few players said they were an issue, but Girardi said he didn’t hear anyone talking about the shadows after at-bats. Everyone seemed to be giving more credit to Josh Tomlin and Burnett rather than placing blame on the shadows.
• Girardi on the decision to option Dickerson: “Just because we were short on pitching. We were trying to give Nuney a couple days, another 48 hours, so we felt like we had to send Dickerson down. Dickerson has played extremely well for us.”
• Nick Swisher’s seventh-inning double seemed huge at the time. He’s hitting .305 with 18 runs, nine doubles, eight homers and 28 RBI in his past 35 games.
• Curtis Granderson hit his 23rd home run… Robinson Cano has an eight-game hitting streak… Mark Teixeira has a five-game hitting streak after breaking up Tomlin’s no-hitter with a leadoff single in the seventh.
• Cano on whether he can win the Home Run Derby: “Why not? Of course. The best thing is to be there, so once you’re there, you never know.”
Associated Press photos
Joe Girardi said his sixth-inning trip to the mound was about telling, not asking. He knew he had a strike-throwing, ground-ball pitcher on the mound. He knew the next three hitters in the Blue Jays lineup were 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Girardi decided to walk Juan Rivera before he stepped foot on the field.
“I told Alex to tell the manager that we would do whatever he wanted to do,” Bartolo Colon said.
Colon intentionally walked Rivera, then gave up a single, walk and game-breaking, three-run double. That’s when the game turned. The Yankees have come to trust Colon, and tonight’s game hinged on his ability to get one of those three batters out.
“They had a lot of runners in scoring position,” catcher Russell Martin said. “Bartolo did what he normally does, throw a lot of strikes. We loaded the bases and got in a situation where we needed a ground ball to turn two. We got the ground ball we wanted, just not in the right spot. Sometimes things like that happen.”
The ground ball was Aaron Hill’s go-ahead single. The more unexpected outcome was the four-pitch, bases-still-loaded walk to Eric Thames. Colon was trying to work away, getting Thames to roll over a routine grounder. He missed with four straight pitches. Then came the J.P. Arencibia double.
“He was throwing fastballs,” Martin said. “That’s his best command pitch. You get behind in the count, you still don’t want to make a mistake over the plate and with one swing they have a big lead. He was missing with fastballs away, then the next hitter came up and he’s in a situation where he doesn’t want to throw another ball. He threw a four-seamer over the plate and he put a good swing on the ball.”
• No one asked about the decision to intentionally walk Jose Bautista earlier in the sixth. At this point, that’s gotta be a no-brainer, right? Especially with Yunel Escobar hitting behind him. Can’t let the game’s best hitter — right now — beat you in that spot.
• Girardi on not using Nick Swisher to pinch hit for Jorge Posada late in the game: “I’m thinking about we need a couple base runners. I’m saving Swish (for) if we get closer.”
• Girardi on Robinson Cano, who did drive in every run tonight, but still hasn’t been quite the game-changing hitter we saw last year: “He’s not swinging the bat as well as he was earlier on this year. Last night, he has a big RBI, tonight he has (all) of our three RBI, so he’s still being productive. Maybe you’re not seeing the long ball as much as we did earlier, but he’s still being productive.”
• Carlos Villanueva held the Yankees to one earned run on two hits. This was his first start of the season — and first since 2009 with Milwaukee — and he got the win. He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced. “We haven’t seen him too much,” Derek Jeter said. “Try to make adjustments every time you face someone, but if you can make pitches, you’re going to beat the hitters, and today he made some good pitches. He mixed it up pretty good.”
• The Yankees were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
• Brett Gardner had two stolen bases and Curtis Granderson stole one. Three stolen bases was a season-high for the Yankes.
• Granderson scored all three Yankees runs tonight. According to the Yankees media relations department, he’s on pace for 123 runs, which would be the most for a Yankees center fielder since Rickey Henderson scored 130 in 1986.
• Alex Rodriguez has three straight multi-hit games. He’s quietly pushed his batting average up to .289.
• Chris Dickerson said the leadoff double in the sixth hooked more than he was expecting, which is why he took a funky route toward it. Dickerson said, even without the bad first step, he’s not sure he could have actually caught the ball. Hard to say how much that would have changed the inning, but I can’t get too worked up about that play considering the eight more Blue Jays came to the plate that inning.
• Bautista has 16 home runs in his past 26 games. He has 10 in the month of May, putting him two shy of his own franchise record, which he set last season. “He’s been doing it for, what, a year and a half now,” Jeter said. “It seems like every time he comes up he looks like he’s in a 3-0 count and is trying to hit a home run. It’s pretty impressive to do, but we don’t like to see it.”
• Colin Curtis was in the clubhouse after tonight’s game. When I walked up to say hello, he said, “Watch this,” then held out his right hand. He was able to actually squeeze my during a handshake, something he’s only been able to do for three days. Never tear your labrum almost completely. It’s a pretty nasty recovery.
Associated Press photo
Pregame notes: Time to find a glove • 05.19.11
The Yankees did not hit on the field this afternoon, which meant no infield drills. At least, that was the initial plan. Just a few minutes ago, Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez went to shortstop and Jorge Posada went to first base for a brief session of infield practice.
“Every day I’ve been taking grounders,” Posada said. “Today, I wish I could take a little bit more grounders because obviously I’m out there. I would like to be on the field taking more grounders, yeah.”
Obviously Posada got some friends to help him out. Someone asked if Posada made a point of telling the shortstop to make all of his throws chest-high. Posada said he told all of the infielders that.
Joe Girardi said he had this in mind a few days ago, deciding today would be a good day to give Mark Teixeira a DH start, and all along he was planning to play Posada in his place at first base. The Yankees told Posada to start taking extra grounders after Eric Chavez went on the disabled list.
“Where to be with people on base, where you have to be (on) cut-offs, if it’s a double. It’s just challenging,” Posada said. “You have to think about it before the play starts. It keeps you in the game.”
By the way, Posada got own first baseman’s glove this spring. Until this year he’s kept a first base mitt with him, but it was an old one that used to belong to Tino Martinez.
“(The ball) will find me,” Posada said.
All things considered, Chris Dickerson is in good shape. He has a cut along the bottom of his forehead extending just above his left eye. The bump from last night is gone, replaced with a scratch that Dickerson said might be from the ball itself grazing his face. He has a very minor concussion, but none of the usual symptoms — no sensitivity to light or dizziness — except for a “splitting” headache.
“Every time I look at the replay, if you don’t look down just in time, it hits you right in the face, right square in the eye rather than in the side,” Dickerson said. “I just feel extremely fortunate today.”
Dickerson said he absolutely does not believe the pitch was intentional, and he also does not believe he’ll need to be placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Girardi said it was a possibility, but Dickerson said he felt surprisingly good today. He was still wearing the bracelets from his hospital visit last night.
Here’s Dickerson speaking this afternoon.
• Girardi said there was no serious consideration of a player move. The Yankees feel that they’re covered for multiple innings because Amauri Sanit is here as a second long man.
• It’s not a sure thing — Girardi said it depends on what time the Yankees get back to New York tonight/tomorrow — but right now the Yankees are planning to have Alex Rodriguez go for a short checkup tomorrow afternoon.
• Phil Hughes did more or less the exact same series of throws that he did on Tuesday. Said everything still feels pretty good.
• Girardi said it’s possible he’ll use Teixeira for late-inning defense tonight.
• Girardi said he will not use Dickerson tonight.
• No word on whether Dave Robertson is available tonight. The only pitcher Girardi ruled out was Hector Noesi. He has to check with Robertson and the rest to make sure they’re up to pitching. The fact Robertson got hot in the bullpen last night almost counts like a game the way the Yankees view workload.
• Girardi said it’s good to start Posada at first base on a day CC Sabathia is pitching. “A lot of right-handers in their lineup,” he said. “CC is a guy that, he’s going to get his share of ground balls, but you’re going to think more of them are going to be to the left side than the right side.”
• Had Rodriguez been ejected last night, Girardi said his first thought would have been to put Posada at catcher and Russell Martin at third base. “Probably would have been my first thought and we would have seen how it went,” Girardi said. “Or maybe you put Texy at first and Jorge at first.”
• Yes, Girardi really called Teixeira, “Texy.”
Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Jake Fox C
Brandon Snyder 1B
Associated Press photos
First, let’s take a moment to realize what happened tonight.
• A guy who came to spring training as an assumed-to-be-washed-up minor league free agent pitched eight shutout innings (and needed just 87 pitches to do it).
• The greatest closer of all time blew a save (then watched a series of largely unknown relievers dance out of every sort of danger).
• A kid made his major-league debut in the 12th inning of a 1-1 game and managed to pitch four scoreless (after striking out his first two batters, then promptly loading the bases, and knowing every batter was the potential game-winner).
• In quick succession a player was hit in the head by a fastball, tried to stay in the game, was replaced by a starting-pitcher-turned-pinch-runner, all while another starting pitcher came out of the other team’s bullpen to pitch in relief (oh, and a half inning later a base runner was hit by a ground ball for what was actually a key out).
• And the last out of the game was made by a backup infielder who was playing right field on a day when he started at shortstop ahead of a sure Hall of Famer (yet everything about that situation made perfect sense given the context and the events of the day).
“Honestly, yeah, (I’m glad it’s over),” Robinson Cano said. “I’m not going to lie. Especially going from Tampa, a long day in New York, Sunday night baseball. We get to Tampa 3 in the morning, get here at 2. But when you’re winning, you always have fun, even if you’re tired. We need to start winning series and put this together.”
Here’s Joe Girardi talking about a little of everything tonight.
It wasn’t so much the pitch itself, it was the reaction. Girardi said Dickerson never lost consciousness, but the way he was blinking his eyes, it looked like he was just waking up while he was lying there in the dirt. Then Girardi tossed away the broken helmet, which wasn’t a good sign, and Dickerson stood up to reveal a big knot near his eye, which was a far worse sign.
“He said he was all right,” Girardi said. “But I was listening to Geno. Geno said he had to come out. Geno made the right call and took him to the hospital. Hopefully everything is okay.”
Dickerson went for a CT Scan and the Yankees should know more tomorrow. Girardi said Dickerson was lucid on the field, knew where he was and who he was, all that good stuff. I’m telling you, this place was silent.
“You have to assume that he’s probably got a concussion,” Girardi said. “We’ll see.”
My guess is that there’s a great desire to absolutely crush Girardi for bringing in Mariano Rivera when Bartolo Colon was pitching so well. I wrote in the game post — before Girardi made his move — that I would have stuck with Colon.
It’s an easy move to second-guess.
But let’s not pretend that’s an obvious or easy choice. The choices were a starting pitcher who was positively dealing, or Mariano Rivera himself. Either decision would have been perfectly justifiable, and either decision would have looked bad had the pitcher given up a run.
“Of course there’s a thought to leave him in there,” Girardi said. “But I have Mariano Rivera. That’s why I made the move.”
Luis Ayala and Boone Logan did their jobs after Rivera gave up the tying run, but my gosh, how good was Hector Noesi? In this game? Coming into that inning? When ever base runner was the winning run? That’s an incredible way to make a Major League debut, and an amazing way to make a first impression.
“I can’t imagine that, but I thank God,” Rivera said. “Thank God the job that he did. Well deserved. He did tremendous. He made good pitches at the end and he won the game… The whole game was a tremendous game. Only my participation wasn’t good.”
• After Dickerson was hit, Girardi said the only decision was which pitcher to use as a pinch runner. It was never going to be Jorge Posada because it’s a base-running situation and there was no sense burning the last position player in that spot. Girardi chose Burnett because he figured he had the most base-running experience, then he gave Burnett one instruction: Don’t get picked off.
• Mike Gonzalez was ejected for hitting Dickerson, but he stayed on the field and watched with some obvious fear on his face. Did Girardi think it was intentional? “I don’t get into that,” he said. “It’s just a scary part of the game when a guy gets hit there.” For whatever it’s worth, I find it hard to believe Gonzalez meant to do that.
• Noesi was good for 90 pitches. “He was going to have to get it done for us,” Girardi said.
• Can’t overlook the Mark Teixeira play that saved the game in the 11th. Alex Rodriguez made a nice stop, but his throw was way off line and it was all Teixeira could do to keep it from going into the outfield. Boone Logan took it from there. Two huge outs. To be honest, my “Yankees lose” game story was 100 percent ready to go at that point (and in the bottom of every inning after it, except the 15th).
• Rodriguez on why he threw the ball in the first place: “Make a play. At that point you’ve got to go crazy, you’ve got to make plays. That’s the way we play baseball, we attack.”
• Teixeira on the play: “Really, when I dove I said, ‘Just go in my glove. Just knock it down somehow.’ Luckily, I came up with it clean and we got out of the jam.”
• Colon was one inning away from his first complete game shutout since 2006. “That’s my best game so far (this year),” he said. “I thank God for the way I’m pitching right now. I wish I continue pitching that way.”
• What was wrong with Rivera? “A lot of things happened,” he said. “I didn’t make my pitches. Balls were finding holes. Bad day at the office.”
• Dave Robertson wasn’t supposed to be available tonight, but when those two runners were on base in the bottom of the 15th, Robertson was loose in the bullpen. He said he was ready to go and he assumed he was coming into the game had that ball not hit the base runner and given Noesi a gift second out. Girardi said Robertson might not be available tomorrow because of the pitches he threw in the bullpen tonight.
• Completely forgot to mention pregame that Thursday will be two weeks since the Eric Chavez injury. He’s due to be reexamined. “I think they talked about doing some functional stuff (as part of early rehab work),” Girardi said.
• The Orioles have lost to the Yankees five times this season, three of them in extra innings.
• I’m beyond tired. Get some sleep everyone. If you stayed up for all of this one, you really did see a pretty incredible baseball game.
Associated Press photos
A fresh perspective, and a fresh bat • 05.18.11
In a room full of players, coaches and media who watched the team’s losing streak day after day, Chris Dickerson settled into a corner locker with no preconceived notions. He said he didn’t even realize the team had lost six in a row until he got to the airport and saw a copy of the New York Post.
Could Dickerson tell this team was desperate for a win?
“Not at all,” he said. “Except for when we finally did win and Gardner and was just going crazy, ‘We won! We won!’ That’s the first I’ve seen of a team that’s lost six in a row. Everyone was just super positive as far as coming into the locker room, everybody couldn’t have been nicer as far as greeting and congratulating. It didn’t feel like a team that was on a little bit of a skid.”
Dickerson is an interesting addition. He’s one of those outfielders who does a lot of things well but not one thing extremely well. He’s reached double-digit home runs a few times in the minors, and he’s hit a few out in the big leagues, but he’s not a true power guy. He moves well enough to steal a bag, but he’s not a raw speed guy. He draws a lot of walks, but also strikes out quite a bit.
If there’s one thing that stands out about Dickerson it’s this: He hits right-handed pitcher. He’s a career .227 hitter with almost no power against lefties, but he’s a .273/.363/.420 hitter against right-handers at the big league level. With his ability to play defense and occasionally steal a bag, that’s more than enough to play a role here.
When the Yankees traded for him, the fact Dickerson hit left-handed was a bit of a strike against him, something the team didn’t need with two lefties and a switch hitter in the regular outfield. Nick Swisher, though, has hit just .163/.297/.265 against right-handers this year, and Dickerson could help balance things out with at-bats here and there until Swisher finds his own left-handed stroke.
Don’t forget that before the trade, Dickerson wasn’t fighting for a roster spot in Brewers camp, he was fighting for an everyday job. He’s been at this level before, and he can play.
“You get that (call-up) phone call and you still get a little bit of the goose bumps,” Dickerson said. “Better sooner than later. Just definitely teaches you not to take anything for granted. Being back, it’s a great feeling, and just looking forward to the opportunity to help out.”
Associated Press photo
Joe Girardi believes in the rules, but tonight he broke one of his own. In the seventh inning, Girardi turned to Joba Chamberlain, then he stuck with Chamberlain through the eighth. It was the first time this season Chamberlain had pitched three days in a row, the kind of bullpen workload Girardi usually avoids at all costs.
“It just felt like we needed to win this game,” Girardi said. “I don’t want to say it was a must-win, but it was as close as you can get to a must-win in the month of May.”
There was a sense of relief in the Yankees clubhouse tonight. Not only because the snapped a six-game losing streak, but because they played well in the process. After Alex Rodriguez hit those two home runs, something seemed to click. Suddenly the Yankees were executing the fundamentals, getting key outs and hitting with runners in scoring position. Dave Robertson pitched out of a jam, Brett Gardner laid down a perfect bunt single and Jorge Posada doubled to spark a cushion-building, two-run seventh.
“It was desperation,” Rodriguez said. “We definitely needed to win a game. We haven’t won in a while and hopefully this was the start of something good.”
Girardi said he won’t use Chamberlain tomorrow, no matter the situation. Frankly, as big as Chamberlain’s seventh-inning out was, no outs felt more must-have than Robertson’s back-to-back strikeouts in the sixth. If this game was going to turn on the Yankees, it was going to happen right there. Robertson did what he does, and he charged off the mound showing more emotion than perhaps the Yankees had ever seen from him.
“I told him,” Ivan Nova said, “that game was his game.”
And here’s Rodriguez.
• Oddly enough, Rodriguez said it was hit first at-bat — the ground out to third — that let him know his swing was in better shape. He was happy with that at-bat, and he homered in his next two at-bats. “I’ve had one good swing here, another one there, but the consistency hasn’t been there,” Rodriguez said. “Not only there (in games), but it hasn’t been there in my work. That’s one thing that Kevin and I are looking for is consistency and really start driving into my lower half. I thought my leg kick was under control for the most part and every swing I took I was happy with tonight.”
• Two hits for Posada in his return to the lineup. “Just be able to put everything away and behind you and go out there and play ball,” Posada said. “It’s one of those things that, you’re happy to be back in the lineup and it’s a good feeling.”
• You might have seen on television that Nova slammed his glove when he came out of the game. He said he was upset at himself because of his command. “I won the game which is important, because we had bad moments and lost six in a row,” he said. “My command, I don’t feel too good about that. I know I can do better than what I showed today.”
• After B.J. Upton burned A.J. Burnett by hitting a curveball for a home run last night, Robertson attacked Upton with fastballs. “I felt good with my fastball, so that’s what I was going to throw to him,” Robertson said.
• Similar story for Robertson against Casey Kotchman. “Another fastball,” he said. “Just wanted to come in a little higher, and not leave it down at the knees because I don’t want to give him a chance to drop the head on it and get it out. It turned out to be strike three, so I was pretty excited.”
• Chris Dickerson said that RBI single in the seventh felt like his first Major League hit. He felt like he could exhale a little bit when he got to first base. He also said there was some comfort getting the bunt signal in his first at-bat. “That’s easy,” he said. “Coming from the National League, I’ve always been a good bunter. As soon as I saw him (give the sign) I was like, OK, this will be easy. This will be an easy way to contribute right here, because I know I can get this down.”
• Why not go straight to Mariano Rivera in the ninth? “We had a five-run lead and I wanted to try to get three outs out of Sanit,” Girardi said. “I told him if a couple guys get on, I’m bringing Mo in. Give Mo some wiggle room if something happens. That’s just the way I did it.”
• By the way, Girardi said he checked with Chamberlain before the game to make sure he felt up to pitching if necessary. “Because he didn’t throw a lot of pitches and he’s been economical, I just felt that I had to do it,” Girardi said. He was trying to avoid using Boone Logan and Luis Ayala tonight.
• Both Nova and Girardi said pace was important for the Yankees starter. “I thought he got better in the fourth and fifth,” Girardi said. “He picked up his pace a little bit. It seemed like he was working slow the first three innings. He was getting in a lot of long counts. He was almost at 70 pitches after three innings and he got into the sixth, so I did see some improvement.”
• Strange review play on the Shoppach fly ball in the ninth. Both Brett Gardner and Girardi said they were sure it hadn’t hit the catwalk. If it did hit the catwalk, it would have been a home run.
• Robertson seemed almost embarrassed by his outburst of emotion, but Mark Feinsand suggested he should start yelling and screaming all the time. Robertson laughed at the very idea of it. “Oh yeah,” he said. “because I’m such a loud guy.”
• A different way of looking at this finally finished losing streak: “We haven’t been out there in a week to shake hands,” Girardi said.
• Phil Hughes made 45 throws today, 30 from 90 feet and 15 from closer to 110. He’ll keep doing stuff like this for the next few days and ramp things up when he gets back to New York at the end of the week. He’s been doing his normal weight training.
Associated Press photos