Pregame notes: Nunez anxious to get back • 03.11.12
Eduardo Nunez looked like a man ready to hit. He was standing at his locker with a bat in his hand, but that’s as close as he’ll get to batting practice. He joked that he keeps his bat with him just so the bat will know he still loves it and hasn’t abandoned it.
“I want to play,” Nunez said. “I’m excited to play. I want to show I’m ready to go, (but) I don’t want to rush anything. I don’t want to play two, three games and go back again to the DL.”
Nunez’s sore right hand feels better than it did six days ago, but it’s still tender. He tried to take batting practice yesterday and had to shut it down. Nunez said a doctor is coming to the field to re-examine him today, but tests have already shown nothing serious. He was hit by a pitch on Monday, and it’s just taking longer than expected for the soreness to go away.
“That’s weird because everything says negative,” Nunez said. “The doctors say I’m fine, but it still hurts a lot, and the doctor is coming back today to see me… It feels better, but it’s coming slow.”
Nunez admitted feeling a little bit worried, but mostly he just seems anxious. He worked out a lot this winter with Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols. He looks stronger, said he feels faster, and he wants to show that he’s a better player than he was a year ago. Right now, though, he’s just waiting. And keeping his bat company.
• Dave Robertson walked into the clubhouse with no crutches this morning. His right foot is still in a walking boot, but he was moving pretty easily. This is supposed to be his last day in the boot.
• George Kontos threw another bullpen today and threw a few pitches with Larry Rothschild standing in the batters box like a hitter. Kontos will throw batting practice on Tuesday and could get into a game after that. He’s been out with an oblique injury.
• Today’s other sides: Manny Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell and Freddy Garcia.
• Tomorrow’s sides: Brad Meyers, Matt Daley, Joba Chamberlain, Brett Marshall and David Phelps.
• J.R. Murphy will play third base off the bench in the road game against the Twins. He’s played that position in the past but this will be his first time in big league camp. With Jose Gil playing first base in the home game and Gary Sanchez DHing in the road game, a total of seven Yankees catchers will play in some capacity today. That’s not counting Ryan Baker and Jeff Farnham, a pair of minor league catchers called up to help catch bullpens today.
• Several minor league guys were called up to play off the bench today. Most of them went on the road to play against the Twins.
• Available pitchers: CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley, Kevin Whelan, Michael O’Connor and Craig Heyer.
• Second string: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Jose Gil, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Kevin Russo, LF Cole Garner, CF Justin Maxwell, RF Austin Krum, DH Colin Curtis
• Extra players on the bench: C Mitch Abeita, UT Addison Maruszak, UT Ronnier Mustelier, OF Abe Almonte
• Available pitchers: Phil Hughes, Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner, Adam Miller, Juan Cedeno, Cesar Cabral, Ryan Pope, Josh Romanski and Ryan Flannery
• Second string: C. Kyle Higashioka, 1B Luke Murton, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Walter Ibarra, 3B J.R. Murphy, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Melky Mesa, RF Ray Kruml, DH Gary Sanchez
• Extra players off the bench: INF Jose Pirela and OF Dan Brewer. The Yankees aren’t carrying any additional catchers on the road, but Higashioka, Murphy and Sanchez give them plenty of depth there for the day.
Associated Press photos
Joe Girardi said yesterday that there was a “cause for concern” in yesterday’s MRI on Dave Robertson’s injured foot. This morning, Robertson himself painted a much more optimistic picture.
“The first MRI, they said there wasn’t really anything really wrong,” Robertson said. “Just had some questionable things and they just wanted to make sure. They said it looked fine, but let’s just go ahead and check it out again and make sure nothing’s wrong.”
Robertson went back to the hospital for a second round of tests, and he’s still awaiting those results. Today he shuffled into the clubhouse wearing a walking boot and using crutches. The crutches seemed more for stability than anything. He wasn’t putting all of his weight on them, just sort of using them to carry a little bit of his weight as he walked fairly close to normal (as close as he could in a protective boot).
Optimism aside, Girardi sounded legitimately concerned yesterday. At this point, it’s hard to know what to expect while the Yankees wait for a foot specialist to give his diagnosis.
“After hearing that they didn’t see anything in the first round, I’m feeling better today,” Robertsons aid. “I’m hoping it’s something that’s going to pass in a week or so and I’ll be right back out there.”
• Robertson on having to address the injury: “It’s embarrassing. I don’t even want to have to come and talk to you guys about it. I’d rather be like, I tripped over a chair in the clubhouse or something than tell you I fell down the stairs at my house. And not like a full flight of stairs, just one stair.”
• Truth be told, Robertson’s injury wasn’t nearly the most unusual in baseball yesterday. David Price hurt himself while toweling off between innings, and Robertson was happy to hear he wasn’t the only one talking about an awkward injury. “Yes,” Robertson said, giving a little fist pump. “That’s good news right there. That’s the best news I’ve heard.”*
• For whatever reason, Eduardo Nunez isn’t listed for batting practice today. I didn’t see Nunez in the clubhouse and didn’t have a chance to ask Joe Girardi about it before the clubhouse closed for a team meeting. Could be that he’s just going to take BP inside rather than out on the field with everyone else, but it seemed unusual considering he was making progress from that hand injury.
• Brad Meyers, George Kontos, Adam Warren, Joba Chamberlain, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Hiroki Kuroda all have sides today. Dellin Betances, David Phelps and Ivan Nova are throwing sides tomorrow.
• J.R. Murphy is planning to get the vast majority of his time at catcher this season, but today he’s working out at third base during fielding drills. The Yankees like his bat and have given him a look at the four corners, adding some versatility to the young catcher. For whatever it’s worth, Brett Gardner will take fly balls in center field today. He said he hadn’t taken any balls in center field this spring before starting there yesterday, but center field always feels more natural for him anyway.
• Today’s available pitchers: Freddy Garcia, Rafael Soriano, Manny Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell, Juan Cedeno, Chase Whitley, Ryan Pope, Kevin Whelan, Dan Burawa, Adam Miller, Michael O’Connor and Cesar Cabral
• Today’s second string: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Ramiro Pena, LF Cole Garner, CF Dewayne Wise, RF Colin Curtis, DH Zoilo Almonte
• Making the trip to Orlando tomorrow…
Pitchers: Dan Burawa, Cesar Cabral, Juan Cedeno, Brett Marshall, Michael O’Connor, Michael Pineda, Ryan Pope, Graham Stoneburner, Kevin Whelan, Chase Whitley
Catchers: Francisco Cervelli, Jose Gil, Kyle Higashioka, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez
Infielders: David Adams, Doug Bernier, Bill Hall, Corban Joseph, Brandon Laird, Jayson Nix, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Vazquez
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Colin Curtis, Brett Gardner, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Justin Maxwell, Melky Mesa, Dewayne Wise
* Before any Rays fans get offended, Robertson was clearly kidding and talking strictly about being hurt in an embarrasing way. He quickly said something about not really wanting anyone else to be hurt, he just liked the idea that he wasn’t the only one talking about an unusual injury.
UPDATE, 10:07 a.m.: The Braves have both RHP Buddy Carlye and OF Jordan Parraz on this trip. Those two played in the Yankees system last year, with Carlyle getting a little bit of big league team.
Michael Bourn CF
Tyler Pastornicky SS
Matt Diaz RF
Freddie Freeman 1B
David Ross C
Christian Bethancourt DH
Drew Sutton 2B
Brandon Hicks 3B
Jose Costanza LF
RHP Julio Teheran
Associated Press photo
Dave Robertson was moving boxes at his Tampa-area home last night when he stumbled down some stairs. Joe Girardi said it was more like he missed one step, not necessarily went tumbling down an entire flight. His right foot felt fine initially but it eventually became sore and Robertson went for x-rays, which were negative. He’s getting an MRI this morning and is currently wearing a walking boot as a precaution and for comfort.
“They were empty boxes,” Girardi said. “They weren’t even heavy boxes. I told to just kick them down the steps next time.”
There is some concern, obviously. Girardi said Robertson wasn’t walking very well this morning, and the official diagnosis so far is a mid-foot sprain. Girardi said there was no swelling, which he’s taking to be a good sign. Because he’s a reliever, Robertson could miss several days and not be at serious risk of missing the start of the season.
Until the MRI comes back, it’s really too early to know how much time Robertson will miss and whether Opening Day is at risk.
• Joba Chamberlain will throw another bullpen tomorrow, and he’ll throw breaking balls for the first time on Sunday. Those breaking balls won’t come off a mound. He’ll throw them off flat ground. He said things are still going well with his rehab from Tommy John.
• Raul Ibanez has seen most of his time in left field, but he played a lot of right field when he was younger and the Yankees want him to be able to play both outfield corners. That’s why he’s in right field today, to get a few reps out there before the season. “I’m pretty confident that he’s going to play it fine,” Girardi said.
• Eduardo Nunez will take batting practice today, but Girardi still not sure he’ll be ready to play tomorrow. There doesn’t seem to be any significant concern about him, just taking things slowly and making sure he’s ready.
• George Kontos will throw a bullpen tomorrow. If that goes well, hell fall back into a regular spring routine and could face hitters within a few days.
• Cole Garner, who’s been shutdown with a sore hamstring, is making today’s trip to Dunedin but he’s not scheduled to play.
• Today’s sides: Graham Stoneburner, Brett Marshall, Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia.
• Tomorrow’s sides: Brad Meyers, Adam Warren, Joba Chamberlain, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Hiroki Kuroda.
• Today’s available pitchers: Ivan Nova, Michael O’Connor, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Cesar Cabral, Dan Burawa, Adam Miller, Ryan Pope, Chase Whitley and Juan Cedeno.
• Today’s second string: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Brandon Laird, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Melky Mesa, RF Chris Dickerson, DH Colin Curtis
Associated Press photo
Monday notes: A strong first impression • 03.05.12
The first time Michael Pineda was approached by a massive group of Yankees reporters, he’d just thrown batting practice in Tampa, and as soon as the crowd began to surround his locker, Pineda looked like a deer in the headlights. It had been quite a while since he’d pitched — he wasn’t mobbed as soon as he got to the clubhouse — but he seemed overwhelmed by the attention. You couldn’t help but wonder if it would be a bit much for him.
Today, he stood up in the corner of the clubhouse and gave an easy, light-hearted interview. Asked whether he was nervous to pitch today, he said “Hell no!” and started laughing. He didn’t come across as arrogant, just young and confident and perfectly at ease.
“I feel very good now,” he said. “I feel (a part of) the Yankee team right now.”
Freddy Garcia said yesterday that Pineda has been asking a lot of questions about what it’s like to pitch in New York. Larry Rothschild said he’s been more than willing to try new things that might make him better. Russell Martin was impressed with his willingness to use his developing changeup his first time out.
“In the meeting we had before the game, he was like, ‘I really want to work on my changeup today,’” Martin said. “And I told him, we’re going to use it, and use it the way you would use it during the season. I like him because he wants to work on stuff that he hasn’t mastered yet. He has a really good feel for his slider, his fastball. The velocity wasn’t where it’s going to be during the season but he has good fastball command and that was key.”
What I’ve seen of him, Pineda seems mostly quiet but confident. After today’s start, he was engaging. A language barrier sometimes limited him to one-word answers, but he seemed happy to talk and willing to consider his answers. He said he hadn’t been surrounded by so many reports since last year’s all-star game. As far as first impressions go, this was a good one.
“He seems to have that attitude that nothing really seems to bother him,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m curious to see as we move along how he carries himself on an everyday basis because I don’t know him. You try to learn a guy as soon as you can but you want to see, as they go through things, how they carry themselves.”
• No radar display at the stadium, but I was told Pineda’s fastball was roughly 89-91 mph and reached 92 once. That’s quite a bit lower than he’s expected to be in the season, but Larry Rothschild seemed unfazed. “Not what it’s going to be later in spring,” he said. “A little bit below, which you expect. Guys that are power pitchers usually take a little bit longer.”
• Pineda said earlier this spring that he showed up weighing about 10 pounds more than last season. He said today that he’s already lost seven to eight pounds and would like to drop two to four more.
• Nick Swisher fouled a ball off his shin but should be fine. No real concerns there.
• Dave Robertson struggled with his command in his spring debut. He allowed a run on a hit and a walk. “Sloppy, very sloppy,” Robertson said. “I just felt like my timing was off… Usually I feel like if you can throw it pretty close to the strike zone, the guys are going to swing (because) they’re not used to seeing it. I wasn’t able to get it in that zone today. I just couldn’t quite find it.”
• Jimmy Rollins stole two bases in that third inning, and Robertson said neither one was Russell Martin’s fault. “Nothing Russ could do about it,” Robertson said. “Because I was so slow to the plate.”
• The thing you really care about: Robertson said he’s thinking about sticking with the stirups this season. He wore them in college and for a while in the minor leagues – I can’t remember whether he had them in Scranton – and he’s taking them on something of a test drive this spring. “Have a bunch more outings like that and I won’t,” he said.
• I was down in the clubhouse and didn’t see much of Ryan Pope’s 1.2 hitless innings, but things were out of hand before that because Adam Miller and Juan Cedeno really struggled. They combined for four walks, five hits and eight earned runs. Miller also hit a guy. Cesar Cabral threw a scoreless fourth inning, but he was hit pretty hard. “You want them to get some outings under their belt before you really start analyzing what they’re doing,” Girardi said.
• Zoilo Almonte. 1-for-1. RBI. Still the late-inning star of these first few games.
• The only Yankee with more than one hit was Gustavo Molina who went 2-for-2. Brett Gardner had a triple, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Jayson Nix and Colin Curtis each singled.
• As planned, George Kontos threw long toss today. That’s his next step back from a sore oblique.
• After failing his physical with the Yankees, Hideki Okajima has signed a deal to return to Japan.
• Newly acquired reliever David Aardsma did a Q&A with the blog Yankees Fans Unite. Check it out.
Associated Press photos
Pregame notes: “You’ve got to win this one” • 10.06.11
Jim Leyland had a story to tell, and so he sat at the podium before today’s decisive Game 5 and began speaking before anyone asked a question.
“I have an announcement to make,” he said. “This will explain why you think I’m so old and grumpy and messed up. I got a telegram today from a professor from a prominent university. These are my instructions for tonight… I am supposed to pitch Valverde the first five innings tonight, then I’m supposed to pitch Verlander the last three, quote, ‘the seventh and eighth.’ So that’s where we’re at.”
Everyone, you see, has an approach to Game 5.
What interesting is that Leyland and Joe Girardi are approaching this Game 5 very differently. Leyland has shuffled his lineup again, going with the hot hand in Don Kelly at the top. Girardi has stuck with his regulars, whether they’re struggling or not. Leyland has talked about wanting to get through this game with a select group of rested relievers. Girardi has entertained the notion of every key reliever pitching more than an inning.
Mostly, Leyland and Girardi have differed in the way they plan to use their aces.
Leyland says Justin Verlander won’t pitch at all. In fact, Verlander already threw a bullpen this afternoon so that he’s prepared for a possible ALCS Game 1.
“I’m not going to use Verlander,” Leyland said. “I am not under any circumstances… You can argue till the cows come home, I’m not going to do it. I don’t think it’s a wise decision.”
Girardi has told CC Sabathia to be ready. Girardi’s thinks he could throw a “couple” of innings, and he brought up the idea of going to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning, saving Sabathia to get the final few outs if Rivera runs out of gas before the end of the ninth.
“You can’t tell when you’re going to go to that move,” Girardi said. “There’s not an exact scenario.”
But would he be hesitant to use Sabathia, wanting to save his ace for Game 1 of the next round?
“You’ve got to win this one,” Girardi said. “(Otherwise) there is no Game 1.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.
• What’s the limit or Rivera tonight? “It’s more pitches than anything,” Girardi said. “You start to get around 35, 40 pitches you start to get into a gray area and you start to worry… That might be a situation where you have CC behind him. It could be something like that.”
• Girardi said it’s “very possible” that he’ll use Dave Robertson and Rivera to pitch the final three innings.
• A.J. Burnett is available if this game gets extremely crazy, but right now the plan is to have him in the rotation should the Yankees advance. “I imagine I would start him,” Girardi said. “I haven’t thought that far along, but yeah.”
• Girardi did not give any sort of pregame speech, and he didn’t ask a player or a member of the coaching staff to do so either. “I kind of watch what our guys are doing, and if they need something, they need something,” Girardi said. “I told you, I thought they were very loose the other day going into Game 4. I’ve seen some of the guys now, and they seem loose to me. I didn’t say anything magical to them in Game 4.”
• Today would have been a bullpen day for Sabathia, but he hasn’t thrown one yet. If this game becomes a blowout, and Sabathia starts to get loose, Girardi said that could be nothing more than a bullpen to prepare for the ALCS.
• Leyland explaining his Verlander decision: “One thing you have to remember, he went a little longer than CC the other night. He also was throwing 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning. He’s also thrown a lot of pitches under stressful circumstances. And I also remind you that Scherzer did a pretty good — he has more rest and he did a pretty good job against the Yankees. So Scherzer would be my first guy tonight if I needed a long guy.”
• Despite Leyland’s vow not to use Verlander, Girardi is approaching this game as if Verlander is available. “I know what Jim said,” Girardi said, laughing. “Sometimes circumstances change. You get into a crazy game and he might be the last guy. I’m not saying he’s going to put him in there, but I’m just saying, you get into an 18-inning game, you’re not putting Wilson Betemit out there, you know what I’m saying?”
Associated Press photos
It’s been a few days since Joe Girardi approached Mark Teixeira with the idea of moving Robinson Cano up to the third spot in the batting order. The move would have happened sooner, but it’s been a while since Cano, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez were in the same lineup together.
“I told Joe, not only am I for it, I think it’s a great idea,” Teixeira said. “Obviously, left-handed, my average isn’t where it should be, and Robbie’s had a great season. He’s hot – he’s really hot – and why not mix it up against a righty and hit him third… I think that’s the plan (for the playoffs). I think we’re going to see how it works, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.”
Chances are, the Yankees are going to stick with this lineup into the postseason, but only against right-handers. Girardi said he’s “leaning” toward going back to the old alignment against lefties. Teixeira is still a good all-around hitter against left-handers, and Girardi likes the idea of splitting lefties Cano and Curtis Granderson.
“The thing about managing here is that we have a lot of really good hitters,” Girardi said. “We have a lot of guys who could hit third in other lineups. You try to space it out, try to make it difficult for teams to navigate through. We’re moving Robbie to the three-hole against right-handers and it’s something we could do against lefties, too.”
Teixeira said he’s been working with Kevin Long on changing his approach against right-handers. He’s squared up his stance a little bit, and he’s trying to use the whole field a little more. He admitted that the right-field porch at Yankee Stadium became a little too tempting and got him into some bad habits after his strong 2009 season. Now the defensive shift is frustrating him, and Teixeira is trying to correct the problem without losing his power.
“You don’t want me to turn into a slap hitter,” he said. “But at the same time, I think if I use a little bit more of the field – a little bit more of center field – some of those balls will start falling. I can’t get a ground ball hit left-handed right now. That’s not good for your average, so I need to kind of focus on keeping the ball up the middle and trying to use all of the field… I’m greedy. I want to have it all. I want to get back to being a high-.200s (or) .300s type hitter with the same amount of home runs and RBIs, and I think I can do that again. Actually, I know I can do that again.”
Girardi also admitted that it’s been hard not to notice that teams have been pitching around Cano lately, and that played a role in this decision.
“Hitting in the third spot, it’s a lot of responsibility,” Cano said. “You have to do everything right. You’re going to get pitches to hit because you’ve got a guy behind you that they don’t want to face, either. It’s a situation now where I’m going to get better pitches, so I have to continue doing what I’m doing right now. That’s not going to change my mindset. I’m going to keep playing my game and swing at strikes.”
Here’s Teixeira. He was good talking about his struggles and his attempts to fix them.
• Major League Baseball has announced that the first game of the Yankees division series will be an 8:37 p.m. first pitch on Friday. The other American League division series will be a 5:07 start, but of course the Yankees got the late game.
• If the Red Sox and Rays have to play a tiebreaker, that game will be at 4:07 p.m. on Thursday.
• Derek Jeter has a standard day off. “He’s played the last three days in a row and I just thought I’d give him a day off,” Girardi said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”
• Actually, Girardi said he expects to have most of his regulars in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s regular season finale.
• Still no Yankees starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game. Girardi said it depends on who pitches tonight. It could be almost anyone.
• Regardless of the score, Girardi definitely plans to use Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano tonight, and he’ll probably pitch Mariano Rivera. He wants to get them into tonight’s game, then rest them tomorrow and Thursday.
• The Yankees coaching staff met with Brian Cashman today to talk about the postseason roster. “We do have some of the answers, but we don’t have all of the answers,” Girardi said. “We threw a lot of ideas out there. It’s something we have to chew on for a little bit. We have time. Some of it depends on who we play, but we did make some progress.”
• One thing that has been decided is that the Yankees will carry an extra position player in the division series. Girardi said the Yankees will carry 11 pitchers at the most, and they might carry only 10.
• Still no official decision on whether the Yankees will carry three or four starters in the division series, but Girardi said it’s “very possible.”
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS
Associated Press photos
Does one good start in an ultimately meaningless game mean anything?
Since joining the Yankees three years ago, A.J. Burnett had never beaten the Red Sox. He had a 7.36 ERA in two previous starts against them this season, and let there be no doubt, they were certainly playing for something this afternoon. It might have been a meaningless game for the Yankees, but it meant something for the Red Sox.
Did it mean anything for Burnett?
“It’s up to (Joe Girardi),” Burnett said. “I just wanted to come out and give him headaches. I’ve been giving him headaches all year, why not give him a good headache, you know? I got runs early the past month or so and haven’t been able to put it all together, so to go deeper in the game and keep the lead — I still made a couple mistakes to Ellsbury — but for the most part I was able to make pitches when I needed to.”
Burnett pitched 7.2 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits — only Jacoby Ellsbury’s home runs hurt him — and he struck out six. He’s 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in September, but the last time he pitched this many innings with two runs or less was way back on June 13. He walked off the field to a standing ovation.
“There were lots of (goose bumps), lots of them,” Burnett said. “It means a lot, you know. They’ve been rough, but I’ve given them reason to be rough. That makes up for everything, walking off that mound to that ovation is incredible.”
What does it mean for his spot in the postsaeason?
“We’re going to continue to look at it and talk about it,” Girardi said. “And our opponent has something to do with who we’re going to pitch.”
Burnett hasn’t faced Texas this season, but he made two solid starts against the Tigers, and has pretty good career numbers against the current Detroit roster. Interestingly, Freddy Garcia has much worse career numbers against the current Tigers, and he gave up 10 hits — a season-high — against them earlier this season (Garcia has terrific career numbers against the Rangers and pitched six shutout innings against them this year). Is it possible the Yankees would lean toward Burnett over Garcia if they face Detroit in the first round? Girardi wouldn’t go into specifics.
“I’m just hoping I gave him something to think about, you know,” Burnett said. “He’s been nothing but positive toward me the whole season. He came out and shook my hand on the mound, and it was very professional of him. As many times I’ve gone away mad, he knows I’m not mad at him. He can call Cito (Gaston) and ask him how many times I got mad at Cito. He deals with it well, he deals with me well and when he put his hand out there, it meant a lot.”
• Cool pregame ceremony to honor Mariano Rivera’s record-breaking 602nd career save. The Yankees kept it a surprise and announced it to the media pregame with strict orders not to announce it on blogs or Twitter. Rivera was given a fireman’s helmet and a huge picture commemorating the milestone.
• Jorge Posada was out there for the Rivera ceremony, and he got his own moment with a third-inning curtain call after his home run. “The fans have been amazing all through my career, but especially this year,” Posada said. “They’ve been very supportive and for them standing after Andruw gets strike one. I didn’t want to interrupt his at-bat. It’s special to hit a home run and even in the last regular season game.”
• This was the first time that Posada hit cleanup since September 28, 2009. he hit his first cleanup home run since April 10, 2008. Of his 14 home runs this season, 11 have come at Yankee Stadium.
• On the home run, Posada scored his 900th career run. His first-inning walk was No. 934 of his career, moving him past Roy White for sole possession of seventh place on the Yankees all-time franchise list.
• The Yankees scored their first two runs without getting the ball out of the infield thanks to bunt singles by Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter. “It had nothing to do with our game plan,” Jeter said. “I’ve faced Wakefield a bunch and I don’t know if I’ve ever bunted off him before. The opportunity presented itself, and I tried it.”
• Jeter’s batting average is up to .300. “I’m not playing for a batting average,” he said. “I’m playing for trying to stay sharp for the playoffs. (Hitting) .300 obviously is better than .200, but I’ve hit .300 before.”
• This is the first time Jeter’s batting average has been .300 or better at the end of a game since he was hitting .333 after the second game of the season.
• The Yankees are an even 16-16 in Burnett’s starts this season.
• Dave Robertson has allowed one run and 11 hits in his past 26 appearances dating back to July 26. He has a 0.35 ERA in that stretch. According to Elias, Robertson has held opponents hitless in his past 21 at-bats with men on base.
• Robertson leads all American League relievers with 99 strikeouts this season. That’s good news for High Socks for Hope.
• Francisco Cervelli went for further tests today but the Yankees haven’t heard back from the doctors.
• Girardi said he’ll probably announce a Tampa rotation after the second game.
• There’s still no plan in place — or, announced anyway — for Phil Hughes. “We’re going to talk about how we’re going to use him in the next couple of days,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees will finish the season 44-12 in day game, the highest all-time day winning percentage by any team since 1900 according to Elias.
Associated Press photos
Postgame notes: “Command is the big issue” • 09.17.11
CC Sabathia matched season-highs tonight by allowing 10 hits and four walks. He also matched a season-low by pitching only 5.2 innings.
Since the Yankees went to a six-man rotation at the end of July, Sabathia has made nine starts, seven of them on extra rest. He’s allowed 10 hits in five of those extra-rest starts, something he’d done only once in 23 starts before the six-man rotation became a somewhat permanent situation.
“I don’t think (extra rest has been the problem),” Sabathia said. “I’ve felt great. My arm feels good. My body feels good. It’s just been not executing pitches when I need to. The Lind at-bat, not being able to make the pitch and get out of the inning… Command is the big issue, but my stuff has been there. That’s what’s so frustrating.”
The Lind at-bat was in the fifth, when the Yankees had given Sabathia a 3-1 lead. Sabathia allowed a pair of two-out walks, then he faced Adam Lind with the bases loaded. Lind doubled in all three runs, and when Sabathia loaded the bases again in the sixth, Luis Ayala had to bail him out.
“I still felt good about him getting Lind out,” Girardi said. “Lind hurt us tonight with a couple doubles and a single. I still felt good about it. I thought his stuff was okay, and I thought he’d get him out. He didn’t… I still really believe in (Sabathia). I think he’s going to be great for us and he’ll continue to be great for us. Tonight, he struggled a little bit, but he gave us a chance to win that game. We weren’t able to score after we tied it up 4-4. I still think CC’s going to run off some good starts, I really do.”
Could extra rest be an issue? Sabathia notoriously thrives with less rest rather than more.
“It could,” Girardi said. “He’s going to be on regular rest his next turn, so we’ll get a good chance to see that. That’s just been the way it’s been for us, but we’ll get him on regular rest.”
Actually, to line up Sabathia for Game 1 of the division series, the Yankees might have to pitch him on short rest Sunday against Boston.
“The past couple of starts it’s just been tough, throwing a lot of pitches in a short amount of time. Just frustrating,”
• After batting practice, Alex Rodriguez explained that he spent the day learning to hit with a ring of tape separating his uninjured top hand and his sore left thumb. He believes he’s allowed to use the taped bat during the game. “We’ve never tried it, but Kevin had me split my hands, and after that it felt really good because I didn’t put any pressure on the thumb,” Rodriguez said. “If it goes well — you know how us baseball players are, we just won’t change — it will definitely alleviate any pain on my thumb, because the only pressure I have is when I press down on the point of contact.”
• Rodriguez took a ton of swings today. He did tee and toss with Kevin Long before batting practice, then he took eight rounds of regular BP, hitting with two different groups.
• Girardi said after the game that he still plans to play Rodriguez tomorrow. Everything he saw in BP makes him think Rodriguez will be ready. “I’d like to pencil his name in there,” Girardi said. “I’d actually like to use a pen.”
• Sabathia’s short-and-sweet explanation of what went wrong on the pitch to Lind: “Just got a ball out over the plate. He put a good swing on it. He had been putting good swings all night and got a pitch he could handle.”
• The Yankees have lost six of their past nine games, five of their past six loses have come in one-run games.
• Three days ago, Cory Wade had not lost a game since joining the Yankees. He’s now allowed two straight walkoffs, giving up a walkoff homer on Wednesday and Jose Molina’s walkoff single tonight.
• Boone Logan took the loss after allowing a sharp leadoff double in that decisive ninth.
• Until the ninth, the bullpen had been a bright spot for the Yankees. Ayala got Sabathia out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, Rafael Soriano struck out the side in the seventh and Dave Robertson left the bases loaded in the eighth.
• Eric Chavez hit his second home run of the season… Nick Swisher twice tied the game with two-out hits… Derek Jeter’s 13-game hitting streak ended.
• Brett Gardner stole two bases tonight. He’s been successful in 40 of his past 47 attempts.
Associated Press photos
Postgame notes: One that got away • 09.15.11
The Yankees are paying attention to what’s happening around them. They were well aware that tonight was a chance to increase their lead in the American League East, and they were well aware that they had their chances to win.
“You want to win this one,” Robinson Cano said. “Especially because the Red Sox lost today.”
The Yankees had just four hits tonight and got their only run on Nick Swisher’s home run. It wasn’t enough offense, even on a night when the pitching staff was tremendous except for two costly mistakes.
“It was a curveball that fell out of my hand a little bit, and I couldn’t get it down,” Nova said. “I didn’t give Russell Martin a chance to catch it. That happens. I don’t want that to happen to me, but it’s going to happen.”
Martin never really had a chance to stop it.
“It’s a curveball that backed up and that’s the one thing you can’t really predict as a catcher,” Joe Girardi said. “You can anticipate down, down, block the ball, block the ball, but that one backed up and it happens.”
The home run
Cory Wade pitched out of trouble in the 11th, but the first batter he faced in the 12th was Luis Rodriguez, who already had two doubles. The 2-1 pitch was a changeup, and Rodriguez hammered it to right.
“It’s rough,” Wade said. “Everybody’s going out and contributing and did what they needed to do, and it came down to me and I made a mistake.”
The changeup has been a good pitch for Wade, and he didn’t second guess the pitch selection. He just missed his spot.
“I threw the pitch essentially right down the middle of the plate,” Wade said. “He gets paid to hit, and he did exactly what he’s supposed to… Nova shut it down for, I think, seven innings, and everybody came out of the bullpen and threw the ball really well. It’s just unfortunate that I had to be the lone wolf to go out there and struggle a little bit.”
• Cano was hobbling quite a bit in the clubhouse, but x-rays were negative and he seems fairly certain that he’ll play on Friday. The pitch in the 12th inning hit him right in the side of the right foot. “I knew it was a lot of pain, but I didn’t think it was broke,” he said. “… We can do ice treatment tomorrow and be ready to go Friday.”
• Girardi said the plan is still for Alex Rodriguez to play on Friday. Rodriguez came through fielding drills with no problems.
• The Yankees hit several balls hard tonight, but they never got much going against Jason Vargas. Obviously they made a mistake trying to score Andruw Jones in the third, but Girardi seemed more focused on deep fly balls that didn’t quite get out of the yard. “Think about the ball Grandy hit, the ball Tex hit,” Girardi said. “We hit some balls good. I thought we were patient on Vargas, I thought the guys put good at-bats. I thought he just located well. They made him work, we just didn’t get hits.”
• Nova came out of the game after 87 pitches. Although he acknowledged it was the right call to bring in Dave Robertson, he also felt strong enough to keep going. “I threw 80 something pitches,” he said. “So I was feeling really good. I think if we got two more runs, at least a run or two more, I think I can finish the game. But unfortunately, we don’t hit today, and I’ve got to be out of the game.”
• Speaking of the decision to pull Nova, Robertson did it again, getting out of the eighth with a shallow fly ball and a strikeout to strand runners at the corners. “I’ve always said he has the ability to strike people out,” Girardi said. “You can bring him in tough situations and he did it again tonight.”
• The Yankees were held to one run or less for the 16th time this season, and the third time in their past six games. They are 4-10 in extra innings this season.
• Derek Jeter extended his season-high hitting streak to 13 games and is batting .368 in his past 29 games, since August 11. He’s hitting .346 in his past 46 games, and he’s hitting .332 since returning from the disabled list on July 4.
• This is Jeter’s 16th consecutive season with 150 hits, tying Pete Rose for the second-longest 150-hit streak in baseball history. Hank Aaron has the record with 17 straight.
• Swisher has eight home runs in his past 19 games dating back to August 23. He his just five homers in his first 60 games this season.
• Girardi didn’t know Pedro Feliciano had surgery until reporters told him about it after the game. “I would be surprised if he pitched next year,” Girardi said. “But I’d have to hear the details.”
Associated Press photos
Nick Swisher’s left elbow has bothered him from time to time, but not quite like it did on his first throw from the outfield yesterday.
“I threw it and said, ‘Wow, that didn’t’ feel right,’” Swisher said. “… I know what feels right, I know what doesn’t feel right. After yesterday’s game, I was like man, I’ve got to check this thing out. I don’t like going to the training room man, it’s not my thing. But there are some times. You can’t be a hard head all the time, man, and you actually have to go in there. We’ll just see what they say and figure it out from there.”
Swisher will see the Angels team doctor at some point, probably today. He’s expecting to play tomorrow, but it’s hard to know anything for certain at this point. Joe Girardi called Swisher day-to-day.
During these past three days — when the Yankees had that long rain delay, followed by the four-hour-plus game, followed by extra innings in Baltimore — Swisher actually played all three days, but that’s only after he’d been off on Monday. Girardi said he didn’t believe playing those three games had a real impact on the elbow.
“I think it’s just one throw, really, more than anything,” Swisher said. “I don’t know what it is, so I’m going to see the doctor and find out. So, we’ll see. I’m not nervous about it but I’d feel a lot better if the doctor said ‘hey man, this is what you’ve got. It’s going to be OK.’ Because I’ve never had something like this before. (This is) more sharp pains. Hopefully, it’s just a day-to-day thing.”
• Jesus Montero is getting a designated hitter start against a right-hander today, and Girardi hinted that he might do that more often. “I think you want to see more,” he said. “You don’t want him to sit too long between games, either. You want to get him back in there. He’s swung the bat very well, showed patience and showed the ability to make adjustments.”
• Aside from Swisher, all of the Yankees regulars are in the lineup, but the bullpen is thin beyond Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson. It’s possible, in the next couple of days, that the Yankees will have to move a starter to the bullpen. “We might need someone,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying they won’t start again, but we might need someone in the bullpen. Soriano’s went a bunch of days in a row, Ayala’s went a bunch of days, Wade’s went a bunch of days, Logan’s went a bunch of days. I have Robby and Mo available tonight, but after that, I have to see.”
• If the Yankees don’t get distance out of Bartolo Colon, Girardi said he’s not sure Hector Noesi could be used for a truly extended outing (he threw back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple innings Wednesday). So, if the Yankees need a true long man, Girardi said it would likely be either George Kontos, Andrew Brackman or Dellin Betances. “Could be one of the kids,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of the kids, Betances is here mostly to get his feet wet and get a look at life in the big leagues. He’s active, but unlike Montero, Betances isn’t expected to play a significant role down the stretch. “You never know,” Girardi said. “He might pitch in a game, he might pich great and you might use him more. I don’t have any specific plans for him, in a sense, but we’ll see what happens.”
• Today is Betances’ normal day to pitch, which is why the call-up waited until now. He went to Tampa to throw a regular bullpen after the Triple-A regular season, then spent one day at home in New Jersey before flying to California yesterday afternoon.
• Girardi expected Betances to be the last September call-up. He said there was talk about calling up Manny Banuelos, but the Yankees didn’t think this was the time to do it. “They talked about him and decided not to,” Girardi said. “They looked at his year and said they weren’t going to call him up yet.”
• The Yankees rotation is not set beyond Sunday. “We’ll wait to see how we get through this weekend,” Girardi said. “Larry and I are still talking about it.”
• I’m sure he doesn’t speak for everyone, but Brett Gardner said he actually feels no different today — after those long three days of rain and extra innings — than he would at the start of any other West Coast trip. “No, not really,” he said. “I feel pretty good, especially after that long flight last night. I feel better today than I expected to. It’s obviously not ideal and something everybody has to deal with.”
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo 1B
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Vernon Wells LF
Peter Bourjos CF
Jeff Mathis C
Associated Press photos