The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees pregame: Phelps feeling better; Hughes/Joba on the trade block?07.10.13

David PhelpsDavid Phelps was a little concerned heading into his MRI. After winning his last start in Minnesota July 4, he went up to trainer Steve Donohue to ask for anti-inflammatory medication because he had been feeling a little stiffness in his right forearm near the elbow. Donohue told him a doctor visit was in order.

“There’s a lot less concern now after the MRI than there was,” Phelps said about the diagnosis of a slight straight. “Any time it’s your arm, there’s some concern. When (the doctor) came and said the ligament looked great, that was obviously reassuring. It’s just something minor. We can take care of that and go from there.”

The arm had been bothering him for a few days, but he said he didn’t feel it throwing.

“It was like weird times, like if I was laying in bed and I’d roll over,” Phelps said. “It would feel stiff.”

After ice and rest, he feels good to go again.

“My arm feels great now,” Phelps said. “It’s back to the way it felt before. I don’t expect it to bother me at all.”

Phelps spent some time with his family the last few days. He won’t be off during the All-Star break. He said he’s probably going to go to Tampa. He plans to throw on Monday. So barring any setbacks, he should be ready when he’s eligible to return from the DL next Saturday.

Alex Rodriguez had a single and an RBI in three at-bats today as a DH in Tampa’s 5-2 loss to Dunedin. So he’s 2 for 15 after six rehab games. There has been no lobbying campaign for a quick return like Derek Jeter has staged.

“I think Alex feels that he’s not to that level, that he’s not ready to go,” Joe Girardi said.

Jeter is scheduled to play tonight in Moosic for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Rochester. The Yankees have left open the possibility he will return for the weekend series here against the Twins. Girardi said he didn’t think it wasn’t an issue to bring back Jeter for that series if he’s ready even though there would be four off days afterward with the All-Star break.

Girardi also said he’d like to see Jeter go seven or eight innings at short in the minors first.

“We have to make sure he’s ready,” Girardi said.

The Yankees scored one run Tuesday night for the third straight game, but the lineup is the same. Any thought to doing some juggling?

“What would you suggest?” Girardi asked.

I’d suggest a trade for more help beyond just Jeter. Actually, there are reports circulating today that the Yankees are shopping free agents-to-be Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in their search for hitting help.  Anyone in favor?

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 84 Comments →

In search of offense; A-Rod suspension reportedly coming07.10.13

Yankees Jeter BaseballThe Yankees’ games seem to go fast, so much faster than they used to than in previous years when this team could hit. There were just six hits, all singles, Tuesday night in the 3-1 loss to Kansas City, the Yankees’ third straight setback, all at home. They had just one hit after the second inning. The game lasted just two hours, 29 minutes.

“We’re going to have to score more runs,” Joe Girardi said. “I believe they can do it.”

He praised the effort of his hitters and refused to make a plea for outside help as the nonwaiver deal deadline gets closer.

“As I’m asked that question on a yearly basis, what you’re asking me to do is kind of put down the guys in that room and I’ll never do that,” Girardi said.

He will have to hope the injured guys can get up and running in a hurry when they return, although outside help would sure be helpful, too. He will settle first for Derek Jeter’s help very soon.

“I think his presence is going to help us,” Girardi said. “He’s used to so many things that happen in New York and understands the landscape here. I think his attitude will help us.”

How much Alex Rodriguez will help in the second half is questionable. Besides the issue of performance after the second hip operation in four years, the latest ESPN report has a suspension by MLB over the Biogenensis scandal expected at some point after the All-Star Game, which will have a large cloud over it with about 20 players in this boat. You would think A-Rod would be able to play during the appeal process. Here’s a link to my Yankees notebook with items on A-Rod, Jeter and Travis Hafner.

Plus, here’s my article on the team’s latest offensive struggle and the waste of CC Sabathia’s complete game. And I have a look back at the Pine Tar Game with the 30th anniversary coming later this month and George Brett in town with the Royals.

Hey everyone, Chad here, just jumping in on Brian’s post to say I’m going to host a quick chat today at noon. The offense hasn’t been much to talk about, so why don’t we talk about that?

Photo by The Associated Press

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 135 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Starved for runs07.09.13

CC SabathiaIt looks like that 29-run eruption in Minnesota was just a mirage, accomplished against bad pitching. The Yankees have just 11 runs to show for their last five games and only three in their three straight home losses. They became the final AL team to drop three in a row at home after this 3-1 loss to the Royals.

“We have not scored a ton of runs all year long,” Joe Girardi said. “As I said when we left spring training, we were going to have to win a lot of close games … That’s what we’re going through.”

The Yankees wasted a complete game from CC Sabathia, who allowed three runs and seven hits. The Yankees managed just six hits. Sabathia is looking forward to the injured hitters coming back. Derek Jeter is the closest right now.

“The guys in here that have been called up to step up have done a good job, but it’s hard to replace those guys,” Sabathia said.

Travis Hafner struck out three times and walked in his four plate appearances. He’s 13 for his last 58 and down to .217 overall.

“Getting some of the guys who have been hurt back will be a big help, but I think the guys that are here can swing the bat better — obviously myself,” Hafner said.

Sabathia obviously would’ve had to pitch a shutout to win. He rued the inside fastballs that David Lough and Billy Butler hit for solo homers.

“Two big mistakes,” Sabathia said.

There is practically no margin for error with this offense in the state it’s in right now.

Ivan Nova gets the ball Wednesday night. Wade Davis, who’s 4-7 with a 5.42 ERA, will start for Kansas City.

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 71 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Waiting on the Captain07.09.13

Derek Jeter isn’t scheduled to play today in Triple-A, but Joe Girardi still won’t rule him out for the weekend series against the Twins.

“Anything’s possible at this point,” Girardi said.
What day would be the latest he would rule him out?
“Sunday,” Girardi said with a smile.
It does seem like Jeter will be with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for at least two more rehab games after playing just three so far and not going the full way at short yet.
“He’s got to play in the field a little bit longer and back-to-back possibly,” Girardi said. “I know (he thinks) he’s ready to be here. He was ready last week. That’s just Derek.”
The Yankees could sure use Jeter’s bat in the lineup.
“I think the real thing is to make sure he’s ready because you don’t want him to end up pulling something,” Girardi said. “We want to make sure his legs are in shape.”

Travis Hafner is 13 for his last 55, but Girardi is sticking with him at DH.

“It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why he’s struggling, but he is and we need him to hit and that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “We need this guy to hit so we’re doing everything we can to get him going.”

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 90 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Nova deserves old job back07.05.13

Ivan NovaThere’s no room at the moment for Ivan Nova, and yet doesn’t it seem like it’s time to make room again in the rotation? He has been excellent since he has been back from the minors, especially in this 3-2 win over the Orioles, his first career complete game. And it came with just three hits and one walk allowed, plus 11 strikeouts.

Nova would seem to have more of an upside than David Phelps, especially if the 26-year-old righty has indeed found his old consistency that abandoned him a year ago.

The Yankees could give him a start again with just nine games to go until the All-Star break. Eventually, though, they may have to make a decision. Plus, they have such a short bench with 13 pitchers here.

Joe Girardi said: “I’m not sure exactly how we’ll do it, but he’ll probably start again.”

Nova said he had everything working, including that mid-90s fastball, some changeups and again that great curveball.

“His curveball was about as good as I’ve seen a curveball from anyone,” Vernon Wells said.

Nova was told along the way by a couple of teammates that the Yankees were going to win this game, and he believed it, too.

“I never thought we were going to lose,” Nova said. “I was positive the whole night.”

It took Baltimore’s shaky closer to help shake out a couple of runs in the ninth. Jim Johnson blew his sixth save in 35 chances and dropped to 2-7. His ERA rose to 4.02. One of the two runs in the ninth was unearned thanks to Johnson’s error on Brett Gardner’s bunt. But David Adams helped as well, opening the ninth with a single. And Wells helped with his ground single to left to touch off the celebration.

The Yankees not only won their season-high-tying fifth straight despite struggling offensively again, but they snapped their five-game losing streak against the Orioles, improving to 4-6 against them.

“That team over there has had our number,” Wells said. “They’ve played well against us even in the games that we’ve won. … We were just able to come through late (tonight). But we need to win games like that. We haven’t done it enough. We were doing it early in the season. Hopefully we can get back to doing that.”

Hiroki Kuroda felt good after his bullpen session and will be slotted back into the rotation if his hip flexor feels the same Saturday.

Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in his rehab game with Trenton against Reading. Besides Derek Jeter and Michael Pineda being scheduled for rehab work Saturday night with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley, Alex Rodriguez is scheduled for a rehab game Saturday night with Single-A Tampa against the Brevard County Manatees at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 136 Comments →

Yankees pregame: The Captain returns in the minors07.05.13

Derek Jeter is scheduled to be back playing baseball tomorrow night at around 7:05. For now, he’s a RailRider. The  Captain was cleared today to begin his 20-day rehab assignment clock. So he will play at least five innings at shortstop for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley.

“That’s really good news,” Joe Girardi said. “That obviously means his ankle feels a lot better. He’s been dying to get out there since spring training and he’s had some setbacks. But this is a really good sign.

“I think he has to feel comfortable playing. He really hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats. He hasn’t played a whole lot of infield. So (we need to see him) being able to go back-to-back days, back-to-back-to-back days that sort of thing.”

Asked if he would rule out Jeter returning on this final homestand before the break, Girardi said, “I don’t really have any expectations because I haven’t seen him play. If I can see him play in some games … I’d feel a lot better about making that decision.”

Right now, Girardi thinks Eduardo Nunez has a better chance of returning before the break than Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Robinson Cano has had five different double-play partners starting opposite him, the latest being Luis Cruz. Jeter would provide stability.

“Hopefully everything goes well with him and we will see him pretty soon,” Cano said.

Michael Pineda is supposed to make the final rehab start on his 30-day clock tomorrow with Double-A Trenton and then the Yankees will have to decide where he fits.

“We’ll see how he does tomorrow and make an evaluation,” Girardi said.

Girardi said Zoilo Almonte is just getting a rest today as this long stretch of games continues to the break. Vernon Wells is starting in left.

Hiroki Kuroda said his hip flexor feels OK now. He was cleared to throw a bullpen session today.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 82 Comments →

What should the Yankees do?06.28.13

Robinson CanoSo what should the Yankees do about their offense? I think they’re going to need more than their injured hitters back after the All-Star break in order to be serious about this season. They didn’t have enough offense last October.

They could use the outside help now.  The team is just 12-18 over the last 30 games, going from 30-18 to 42-36. The production from the fill-ins was good enough earlier in the season, but it just hasn’t been steady enough the last month or so. The staff can’t afford to make too many mistakes. And the Yankees can’t always count on running into bad pitching.

“I think we’ve shown that with the guys that are in this lineup, especially early on in the year, we were able to do enough to win games,” Vernon Wells said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers capped a 4-5 homestand. “We just haven’t done that consistently lately.”

The Yankees have been shut out three times this month and seven times overall. They’ve been shut out four times at home already, the most in five years. Derek Holland two-hit them Thursday when they wasted a quality start by Phil Hughes. They had two baserunners to show for their last 20 plate appearances, both on walks. Holland had to throw just 92 pitches. The game was over in just 2:24. (Here’s a link to my story about it.)

Lyle Overbay said the Yankees haven’t been grinding out at-bats lately.

“I think we get into trying to do too much and then it kind of snowballs a little bit,” Overbay said. “We’re not going to be as consistent maybe, but if we get those timely hits, we can be effective. We’re not doing that right now.”

The previous lefty to shut the Yankees out on two hits or less in the Bronx was Matt Young of the Mariners. That was 30 years ago. The Yankees have dropped three in a row and four of the last five when a lefty has started. The bottom three in the order against Holland were rookie David Adams (now batting .179), journeyman Alberto Gonzalez (.188) and rookie Austin Romine (.150). They combined to go 1 for 8.

Robinson Cano was protected in the order by Wells, who played right and struck out all three times, leaving him 11 for his last 93. Cano is down to .276, although he sounded pleased that at least he has been taking more walks.

“We don’t have our main guys,” Cano said. “I’ve just got to go out there and try to take advantage if I get one pitch. … I’m not trying to chase pitches and not trying to do too much.”

Rookie Zoilo Almonte is 0 for 10 in his last three starts in place of Wells in left after going 6 for 10 in his first three starts. Adams is 1 for his last 24. Overbay is batting .258 against righties and .186 against lefties, so a righty bat to platoon with him wouldn’t hurt, especially now that Mark Teixeira isn’t coming back until next year.

The team average is down to .238. There are still 17 games left until the All-Star break, seven games against the Twins, six against the Orioles and four against the Royals. There’s still almost a month until the nonwaiver trade deadline.

When Derek Jeter returns, he will be coming off a twice-broken ankle. He just turned 39 Wednesday. Alex Rodriguez, who had been on the decline, will turn 38 next month. He, of course, is, coming off his second hip operation. There have been conflicting reports about his return. The latest had A-Rod questioning when he would come back this season or if he would come back this season. The MLB Biogenesis investigation and a possible suspension are also hanging over him.

There was a report from csnphilly.com earlier this week that the Yankees have thought about Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, now in the last year of his deal. So is Philadelphia’s Michael Young, who would be more expensive and more appealing. It would figure the Yankees would only want an expiring contract since their goal is to be below $189 million next season.

What should they do?

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 231 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Hughes deserved better06.27.13

Phil HughesPhil Hughes got back on track, allowing two runs and five hits across eight innings. And yet he still lost for the fifth time in his last six decisions and fell to 3-7 overall.

“He pitched way too good to get a loss,” Lyle Overbay said.

Hughes had seven days between starts and he put them to good use, working on mechanical issues and taking a step back to collect himself.

“I just felt like the last week or so really helped me,” Hughes said, “just to kind of gather my thoughts for a few days and work on some things on the side. I felt like I had better plan and better mechanics and threw the ball pretty good. … Whenever you’re trying to get through some rough stretches, it helps just to take a deep breath.”

There had been chatter about Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda waiting in the wings with Hughes struggling. But this isn’t his first bout with inconsistency.

“I don’t let the talk creep into my head,” Hughes said.

The Yankees are just 12-18 over the last 30 games, and the sporadic offense has obviously contributed. The Yankees were shut out for the seventh time, including three times this month. They were blanked only six times all of last season.

This time, Derek Holland shut them out on two hits. Do you know when the previous time was that a Rangers pitcher shut the Yankees out on two or less hits? That would be never. It hadn’t happened since the franchise moved from Washington to Texas in 1972. Joe Coleman last did it for the Senators on July 19, 1969.

“I believe we’re capable of scoring runs,” Joe Girardi said.

With this group?

“I think we can, but time will tell,” Girardi said.

On the rehab front, Derek Jeter actually drove Alex Rodriguez after their workout from Steinbrenner Field to the nearby minor-league complex, according to The Associated Press. Jeter ran outside for the first time since the second ankle fracture was discovered in April and reported no problems. The AP report stated that A-Rod took simulated at-bats. ESPNNewYork.com reported that Rodriguez basically told the Yankees Wednesday that he wasn’t sure when or if he will be back this season. But Jeter gave a positive review in the AP report.

“He looked good,” Jeter said. “Alex works extremely hard. He’s working hard now to come back.”

Jeter wouldn’t label A-Rod a distraction.

“Why would he be a distraction?” Jeter asked.

Francisco Cervelli, according to the AP, has been doing his hitting indoors. Curtis Granderson is doing range-of-motion exercises. No swinging yet. A minor-leaguer took a swing, though, launching a homer in batting practice that deflected off the clubhouse roof and hit Granderson’s car.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Podcastwith 98 Comments →

Nova a bright spot for Yankees, plus injury updates, Overbay situation05.30.13

Ivan NovaIvan Nova really hasn’t had too many good moments since the first half of last season, but the 26-year-old righty was one of the bright lights on an otherwise dark night for the home team at Yankee Stadium Wednesday.

He was working in the long-lost game against the Mets, entering for the fifth with the Yankees trailing 8-1.  He allowed just one run and five hits with six strikeouts and only one walk across the final five innings of the 9-4 loss.

“I was throwing a lot of strikes and I was aggressive,” Nova said. “It’s a good one.”

In the eighth, he struck out the side, getting Ike Davis, Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada swinging.

“The curveball was really good,” Nova said. “Once I get ahead, I go with my curveball. That’s my strikeout pitch.”

Nova knows he has to prove that he’s worthy of being put back in the rotation after posting a 6.48 ERA over four starts and then spending April 27 through May 23 on the DL with triceps inflammation and a back problem. He pitched into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th inning and earned the win last Saturday at Tampa Bay in his first relief outing after returning. This second outing brought his ERA down from 6.11 to 5.16.

“I’m really excited about the way I’m pitching,” Nova said. “The way I pitched today, I’m pretty happy with myself.”

It would certainly be a boost for the Yankees if he can pitch like this consistently and regain the form when he went 16-4 as a rookie in 2011 or 10-3 in the first half last year.

Also, here’s the link to my story on last night’s game. The Yankees have scored just nine runs in the four-game losing streak. Here are updates on Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson. And I spoke with Lyle Overbay and he’s loving his time here and wants to stay no matter what the role after Teixeira’s return.

Photo by The Associated Press

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 237 Comments →

Yankees hopeful Jeter will be same guy he used to be04.26.13

Derek Jeter is confident that whenever he returns — which is expected to be sometime after the All-Star break — he will be the same player he was before he broke his left ankle twice. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman want to think the quality will still be there when the healing process is over.

“I don’t think any of us are going to know until we get to that point,” Girardi said. “… He’s had a setback here and we have to deal with it. But hopefully we get him back and he’s the same player he was at the end of last year. …

“He hasn’t done anything in his career that would make me believe that he’s not going to be a good player when he comes back. Yeah, I know it’s nine months off, but players get four or five months off in the offseason and then come back and they’re fine.

“I don’t think the extra few months is necessarily going to hurt him. I don’t think he’s going to forget how to hit, forget how to do all the things he needs to do. I think some people will question how he’s going to move when he’s going to come back. That’s something that we hope won’t be a problem. We’re just going to have to wait and see.”

Cashman said: “Obviously Derek has never done anything but have success. So I would expect a successful player like we’ve always gotten from him. It’s hard to expect anything otherwise from a Hall of Famer like himself.”

Here’s the link to my story on Jeter believing he will come back as the same guy and not seeing the two fractures as a sign the end is near. Plus, here’s the link to my story on Hiroki Kuroda, Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano triple teaming to lead the Yankees past the Blue Jays last night.

How do you think Jeter will do when he returns at 39?

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 183 Comments →

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