The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Sorting through Yankees arbitration and non-tender candidates10.21.14

Michael Pineda

Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors announced it’s typically reliable salary predictions for the seven Yankees who are arbitration eligible this winter. The MLBTR predictions aren’t fool-proof, and they aren’t necessarily exact, but over time we’ve learned that they tend to provide a pretty solid expectation for what an individual player stands to earn through offseason negotiations.

So with these figures in mind, which arbitration-eligible Yankees are most likely to be non-tendered this winter?

IVAN NOVA
This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

No logical chance of a non-tender. Last year’s elbow injury cost the Yankees a full season from one of their top young starting pitchers, but it also made him significantly less expensive in his second year of arbitration. Despite the injury, the Yankees will gladly sign up for $3.3 million on a pitcher who could be at least a strong No. 3-4 starter with the potential to go on a run of near-ace-like production for several weeks at a time. The injury might keep them from considering a multi-year deal at this point, but one year at this price is surely a no-brainer.

Shawn KelleySHAWN KELLEY
This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

A $3.5-million commitment was enough for the Yankees to cut ties with Matt Thornton back in August, so the possibility of a $2.5-million deal with Kelley shouldn’t be completely dismissed. It’s not pocket change. That said, Kelley’s been a nice find for the Yankees bullpen. A back injury slowed him down for a while this year, but his key numbers — strikeout rate, walk rate, WHIP, etc. — were actually better in 2014 than in 2013. He’s a pretty reliable strikeout pitcher, and a one-year commitment to a reliever like this seems just about perfect at this point. The Yankees have some solid arms on the way, and one more year of Kelley might perfectly bridge the gap. No compelling reason to non-tender him.

MICHAEL PINEDA
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

Pretty big salary jump for a guy who’s made 13 big league starts since 2011. But that’s the nature of the business with a player who’s coming back from a long-term injury and a bunch of time on the 60-day disabled list. Ultimately, a little more than $2 million should be a bargain as long as Pineda stays healthy. And if he doesn’t, it probably means another chance for a similar low-risk, one-year contract next winter. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Pineda will certainly be back, and even with the injury concern and time missed, there’s no reason to balk at $2.1 million for a pitcher with Pineda’s proven talent.

ESMIL ROGERS
This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

Probably the strongest non-tender candidate of the bunch. Obviously the Yankees like Rogers’ arm — and at times they got terrific production out of him during his brief Yankees tenure last season — but he’s ultimately a 29-year-old with a 1.56 career WHIP, 5.54 career ERA, and a large enough sample size to suggest those numbers are a reasonable expectation for next year. Even if $1.9 million isn’t a ton of money, a one-year deal with Rogers probably isn’t the best way to spend it. Not with better options — or at least similar options — already in the system. The 40-man is going to be tight, money could be tight, and it’s probably not be worth using either a roster spot or a couple million bucks to retain Rogers. If the Yankees had less pitching depth, the situation might be different.

David PhelpsDAVID PHELPS
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

It seems Phelps just made it past the cutoff for early arbitration eligibility. I’m sure the Yankees would like one more year at the minimum, but I’m sure they also realize that Phelps is a really nice fit for them in the immediate future. He’s proven capable of filling any role, and this Yankees pitching staff should have a need for a long man who can either slide into the rotation or move into a late-inning role if necessary. That’s Phelps. As he more thoroughly defines himself one way or the other — and as his arbitration price goes up with each passing offseason — the Yankees will have a choice to make about how much he’s worth, but at slightly more than a million dollars, Phelps is still a good fit at a cheap price.

FRANCISCO CERVELLI
This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

You know, Cervelli has really developed into a nice catcher. He’s played like a high-end backup or a low-end (with upside) starter. And $1.1 million isn’t too much to pay for a guy like that. Even as the Yankees surely need to make a decision behind the plate — makes sense to make a move with either Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine — it would be a waste to simply non-tender Cervelli. Surely there’s trade value there, and even if the Yankees decide to cut him in spring training, arbitration-eligible players are never given guaranteed contracts, so the Yankees could move on a fraction of the price. Certainly worth signing a new contract, even if it’s also worth immediately trying to trade him.

DAVID HUFF
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Could be a non-tender candidate despite having a pretty nice year. Huff walks quite a few batters, and he doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he had a 1.31 WHIP and a 1.85 ERA during his stint with the Yankees (granted, with a much higher FIP and xFIP). Ultimately, he was fine. Nothing about his season suggests he’s not worth a modest raise to $700,000. That said, the Yankees always treated him like a last-man in the bullpen, and his career splits don’t suggest a reliable lefty specialist. Solid year, fairly cheap price, but could be non-tendered just to open a roster spot for someone else.

Associated Press photo

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Salary predictions for arbitration-eligible Yankees10.20.14

Ivan Nova, Joe Girardi

These numbers are far from official, but the crew at MLB Trade Rumors — Matt Swartz in particular — has a strong record when it comes to predicting salaries for arbitration eligible players. Here’s what they’re predicting for this year’s arb-eligible Yankees:

IVAN NOVA
This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

SHAWN KELLEY
This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

MICHAEL PINEDA
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

ESMIL ROGERS
This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

DAVID PHELPS
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

FRANCISCO CERVELLI
This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

DAVID HUFF
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Associated Press photo

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Cervelli, Murphy, Romine: It’s time to choose a backup catcher10.06.14

John Ryan Murphy

Last winter, the Yankees picked their everyday catcher. They signed Brian McCann, locked him into a long-term deal and basically cemented his spot in the regular lineup. It’s McCann’s job, and there was nothing about his slow start last season that put him at risk of losing that job, just like there was nothing about his strong month of September that helped him keep the job.

McCann’s the Yankees catcher. Going to be that way for the next several years.

This winter, the Yankees have to pick their backup. At the very least they need to trim the field from three to two. Carrying Francisco Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine was an overabundance during the season, and it’s pretty wasteful this winter.

Francisco CervelliGary Sanchez is going to need Triple-A at-bats next season, and there’s little sense in making both Murphy and Romine sit around. Pretty sure Romine’s out of options anyway, so sending him to Triple-A might not even be an option.

“I think they get frustrated up and down in Triple-A,” Mark Newman said. “At some point you’ve got to either put them up there or trade them because they’ll die (if you leave them in the minors). You’ll destroy their value and then you won’t get anything for them.”

Neither Murphy nor Romine hit a ton in the minors this season, but you have to wonder how much of that was due to frustration, uncertainty and maybe even a little boredom. Murphy certainly held his own when he was in the big leagues, and Romine did the same late in his big league stint during the 2013 season.

They’ve done enough to at least compete head-to-head for a big league job in spring training.

That said, Cervelli is looking more and more like a pretty nice player. At the very least I’d consider him a high-end reserve, and he just might be a lower-end regular. He’s hit pretty well and pitchers seem to like throwing to him. He’s done nothing to lose his job. In fact, it’s largely to his credit that Murphy and Romine were stuck in the minors most of the season. Cervelli played well when he was healthy, and he earned the gig.

So what to do this winter? If there’s a team out there that values Cervelli as a potential starter, and is willing to treat him as such on the trade market, that seems like the obvious way to go. Trading Cervelli lets the Yankees get younger and cheaper. That said, Cervelli is still not overly expensive or particularly old, and if there’s significant value in trading Murphy or Romine, that would make sense as well.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “It’ll give me some good confidence”09.16.14

Masahiro Tanaka

After yesterday’s five innings against low-level minor leaguers, Masahiro Tanaka complained of no unusual pain or discomfort today and will step back into the Yankees rotation on Sunday. It’s entirely possible the game will be completely meaningless in the standings, but it will be Tanaka’s most significant test of an elbow ligament that was found to be slightly torn in early July.

“More than anything, I want to see if my body is able to go fully on a major-league mound; pitch on the mound,” Tanaka said. “That’s by far, (more than) anything, most important to me. Also, the fact that, to be able to contribute in the team’s win would be something important to me too.”

Joe Girardi made it clear that Tanaka will pitch Sunday even if the Yankees are mathematically eliminated at that point.

“Obviously he’s got to throw his bullpen again, which I don’t suspect will be a problem, but he’s got to do that,” Girardi said. “… He’s pitching if he’s OK.”

Roughly 70-75 pitches, Girardi said. It seems likely Tanaka would make one more start as long as Sunday goes as hoped.

“Even if it’s short, if I’m able to go out there and have a strong outing, it’ll give me some good confidence (that the elbow has healed),” Tanaka said.

Mark Teixera• No surprise that Martin Prado is out of the lineup, but it was a mild surprise that Mark Teixeira’s not in there. It’s hit right wrist again. Girardi said it was bothering him the final game of last week’s home stand, but now it’s significant enough to keep him out of the lineup. “I told him, come see me when you’re ready to go again,” Girardi said.

• Girardi gave absolutely no indication that Teixeira will miss the rest of the season, but it seems worth wondering if that’s possible. “You’re hoping when you have the surgery (last year) that you’re healthy and you can play every day,” Girardi said. “But for whatever reason, it’s lingered with him. Maybe the offseason will help and he’ll get through it and we won’t have that problem. That’s my hope for next year.”

• As for Prado, he had the appendectomy this morning. “He had a stomach ache all day yesterday and played through it,” Girardi said. “He went right from here to (the hospital) to have the tests and they determined that he needed to have surgery.”

• To add similar defensive flexibility, the Yankees have called up Jose Pirela, but he hasn’t played since the end of the Triple-A season two weeks ago. “We’ll try to get him in there,” Girardi said. “He hasn’t done much for two weeks. We’ll work him out a couple of days, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t just throw him in there one day.”

• Girardi said Francisco Cervelli got full medical clearance last night, but Girardi waited until today to get Cervelli back on the field. This is Cervelli’s first game action since those migraines earlier this month.

• This is another Michael Pineda start. He’s faced 102 consecutive batters without allowing a walk or a hit-by-pitch. He hasn’t walked anyone since August 20.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Jeter’s final game at Camden Yards09.14.14

Derek Jeter

This is Derek Jeter final game at Camden Yards, a place that’s awfully familiar for the retiring shortstop. Jeter has plenty of strong ties to the ballpark and this city, beginning with iconic Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and extending through their current manager Buck Showalter. This afternoon, Jeter held a press conference to discuss his final trip to Baltimore. A few highlights:

On Showalter’s idea that the Orioles give Jeter a framed poster of Jeffrey Maier’s catch
“I’ve already reaped the benefits of it. I don’t need a poster. I’ve had other reminders. It was funny playing with Tony (Tarasco), I forget what year it was he came and played for us. We had a lot of fun with that one.”

On the impact of Showalter as Jeter’s first big league manager
“The thing I appreciate with Buck is the fact that he gave me the opportunity to stay around for the postseason (in 1995). I wasn’t on the roster, and they could have sent me home or sent me back down to Tampa to be one of those just-in-case guys, but Buck kept me around and allowed me to see what the postseason atmosphere was like, which I think helped me the following year going into the playoffs. Even though I didn’t get a chance to play (in the ’95 postseason), I got a chance to see and feel what the atmosphere was like. I owe him for that. … You can’t prepare for nerves. How you’re going to feel, those are things you’re going to have to deal with. For him to give me the opportunity, I think I was more nervous watching the playoffs in ’95 than I was playing in ’96. A lot of that is a credit to him.”

On remembering the disappointment of the 1995 postseason
“Of course. I’ve always been a believer in, you try to remember the good times, but you also remember the times when you struggle and you lose. You remember what that feeling is like. When you remember those feelings, you don’t want to have them again. That’s what drives you, that’s what makes you continue to work. Yeah, I remember. Donnie played his entire career and got to the playoffs one time, his last year. So I never took that for granted. I’m glad I had an opportunity to see it. It may sound kind of funny, I’m not glad that they lost, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be around it.”

On the impact of Cal Ripken Jr.
“He’s someone I always looked up to, and I feel as though when I was younger I was allowed to continue playing the position because of guys like Cal. Taller shortstops. The bigger shortstops. A lot of guys today owe that to him. … I just remember when I was younger, not necessarily professionally, just growing up and playing shortstop and being tall, people would say well shortstops aren’t tall. The first line of defense is ‘Cal Ripken,’ and then everybody would shut up, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, he set the standard. There were other guys, but Cal was so big that he set the standard for big players playing in the middle of the field. So no, it’s never been brought up, not one time my entire career has switching positions been brought up.”

On the ’90s rivalry with the Orioles
“I was sort of thrust right into it. Baltimore had some great teams. I remember coming here in 1996 in the ALCS my first full season and playing in the playoffs. Cal was on the other side, and this was the person I always admired growing up and still do today. To have the opportunity to play against him in the playoffs, it was a lot of fun. It was exciting. I was nervous. That’s a long time ago. Sometimes it feels like it’s not so long, but it was a very long time ago. Those are the memories that I’ll share with people about Camden Yards, playing those great teams.”

Chase Headley• Plan is for Chase Headley to basically go through full drills today, including batting practice and ground balls. “Maybe he’s a pinch hitter for me tonight and a player tomorrow,” Joe Girardi said.

• Francisco Cervelli has said his headaches have gone away, but the Yankees are still reluctant to put him in a game just yet. “The doctors didn’t say it was related to the concussions,” Girardi said. “But we don’t want these cluster migraines to come back. So he’s having to do a lot of activity to make sure it’s not triggered by that. … (Doctors have) talked about going day by day, seeing how he’s doing. He’s increased activity, caught in the bullpen.”

• Still some progress to report on Carlos Beltran. “He swung yesterday and felt better,” Girardi said. “So I’m going to see if they’re going to allow him to take BP today. He might do it in the cage.” Beltran is still hoping to play again before having offseason elbow surgery.

• This might seem like a good day for Ichiro Suzuki to be in the lineup, but the Yankees like what they’ve seen out of switch-hitter Antoan Richardson. “Yeah, (Ichiro)’s healthy,” Girardi said. “Antoan’s been playing well. And this guy (Orioles starter Chris Tillman) has given Ich some trouble. So, I was going to give him yesterday off just because he’d played a lot, day games after night games. Antoan swung well yesterday, and we’ll probably get Ich back in there tomorrow.”

• Jeter’s actually hit the ball fairly hard lately, but he hasn’t had much to show for it. Girardi said he’s planning to give Jeter one of the next three games off. “I don’t think Derek would ever press,” Girardi said. “Could he be physically tired? Well, it’s September, and you’re going to ask every player that, they’re all going to be a little bit tired this time of year. He’s had his days off – probably give him a day off in Tampa somewhere here. Probably would help him. I mean, we’re in a tough stretch here, and we need to make up ground.”

• Has nothing at all to do with baseball, but 10 years ago today, Arcade Fire’s album Funeral was released. It’s just a great album and a pretty important album for the rise of indie artists toward the mainstream in the past decade. Has no relevance for tonight’s game, just something I was reading about earlier today and had stuck in my head.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Baseball mourns Frank Torre09.13.14

Joe Torre

Joe Torre’s brother has passed away.

Frank Torre was 82, and his health problems were well documented during Joe’s stint as Yankees manager. Frank was not healthy enough to travel to Yankee Stadium for Joe’s number retirement earlier this season. For whatever it’s worth, I have a sister who I’m incredibly close to, and I always enjoyed hearing Joe talk about his brother. In the best of situations, a sibling relationship can be extremely powerful. Our thoughts are obviously with Joe and the Torre family.

Here’s a statement from baseball commissioner Bud Selig:

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Frank Torre, a close friend for nearly 60 years and a man who marked the start of a great baseball family. Before my career in baseball began, Frank and I formed a friendship that endured for decades, and I was touched to speak with him yesterday. Some of the fondest memories of my life involve Frank’s Milwaukee Braves teams from 1956-1960, and his great play in the 1957 Fall Classic was one of the keys to bringing the World Series Championship to my hometown. Frank’s longtime support of the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps the members of the baseball family who are in need, was an illustration of how much he cared about our game and the people who are a part of it.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Frank’s children and grandchildren, to Joe and Ali Torre, to Frank’s sisters and to his many friends and admirers throughout our game.”

Jacoby Ellsbury• Chase Headley is going to work out today. If that goes well, he’ll take batting practice tomorrow. Joe Girardi said the earliest he would consider putting Headley back in the lineup would be Monday. “We’ll see where we’re at (after he hits on Sunday),” Girardi said.

• Second straight game for Jacoby Ellsbury at DH. “(He’s) just played a lot,” Girardi said. “We haven’t had any problems with his ankle, but he is coming off an ankle sprain and didn’t sit out very long, so I figured I would just DH him again today.”

• All’s well with Masahiro Tanaka. Still on track to pitch in that instructs game on Monday.

• For a while there, Shane Greene was routinely pitching to Francisco Cervelli. But Cervelli is still not back in the lineup after suffering those headaches earlier in the month. “He is getting closer, yes,” Girardi said. “He has been doing a lot of things, catching in the bullpen, and has reported no issues. He is closer.” Girardi said that, because of the nature of the problem — Girardi is sympathetic to migraine sufferers; worth noting there’s also a concussion history in play — he’s trying to be extra cautious with Cervelli.

• This late in the season, is Girardi planning to simply play Derek Jeter every day through the end of his career? “No, I know I can’t do that,” Girardi said. “It’s 20 games in a row or 20 days in a row physically, it would be silly to do that, so I’m going to have to give him a day here and there.”

• There is still hope that Carlos Beltran will be able to play again this season. “Each day he’ll try to do more and I’ll have a better idea what he can do,” Girardi said. “He took swings yesterday. I have not talked to him today, but I would think he would try to take more today if he felt OK when he came in. We want him back as soon as we can get him, but he’s got to feel OK.”

• Quiet clubhouse this morning, but to be honest, I’d expect it to be that way regardless of what happened yesterday. A day game after a doubleheader — which came after a late night of travel — isn’t exactly a recipe for a lively bunch of ballplayers. Of course, being swept in that doubleheader and falling in farther from contention isn’t likely boost the team’s spirits either. “I don’t think you have any choice but to keep fighting,” Girardi said. “Other teams are having their issues, as I said yesterday. Why not? You run off a streak and all of a sudden you’re back in it. Yesterday was physically a hard day, and it was mentally a hard day, but the team has bounced back before and I expect them to do it.”

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “Hard to win when you only score one run”09.12.14

Derek Jeter

Twenty innings. One run. Let’s add today to the long list of potential low points for the Yankees offense this season. Riding a wave of momentum after back-to-back emotional wins at home, the Yankees lineup flat-lined again today. They nearly squeezed a win out of this mess, which is fairly remarkable, but they ultimately earned their doubleheader sweep. They earned it the same way they’ve earned so many losses this season: by simply not hitting.

“It’s hard to win when you only score one run in (20) innings,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought we had a pretty decent shot to win the first game when we scored the one run, but tonight we didn’t do anything off Norris. He’s got good stuff, and he’s been tough on us before, but you’ve got to score runs.”

The end of that quote is the new state of the Yankees. On nights they can’t score, teams never want to dismiss the performance of the opposing pitcher, but it seems the Yankees are sick of tipping their caps. There are plenty of good pitchers out there, but night after night, the one constant is this group of Yankees hitters. And they just keep having nights like this one.

“We have to go on a run,” Jacoby Ellsbury said. “That’s the only way to put it. We want to make it interesting. We still have a chance. All we can do is go out there and give everything we have, play good baseball. Obviously we have to get hot and we have to play very good baseball, but there’s still a chance. That’s what we have to hold out for.”

Hold out all you want, but the Yankees are now five games out with 16 to play. There are four teams ahead of them in that race for the second wild card. It might not be a death sentence, but it’s awfully close. Mathematically, they’re still in it. Realistically? After what they showed these past 20 innings? That seems to be a different story.

“I don’t care when you lose two games in a row, it’s frustrating,” Girardi said. “Especially after the last two wins that we had. Yeah, we’re beat up, but that’s no excuse. You’ve got to find a way.”

Brett Gardner• Chase Headley was in the Yankees clubhouse postgame. He has two stitches and actually looks alright considering what happened last night. Tests have come back clean so far, but he’s going to do some more tests tomorrow just to be certain. He said he doesn’t expect to play tomorrow, but it seems like the Yankees could get him back sooner than later.

• Carlos Beltran said he took about 20 light swings in the cage, just some soft toss. His elbow feels a little bit better, he said, but this wasn’t much of a workout. His situation is still uncertain to say the least.

• Francisco Cervelli is with the team in Baltimore. He said his headaches have gone away. He feels good and feels like he could play at this point.

• Martin Prado didn’t start the second game, but it seems likely he’ll play tomorrow. “You can see he’s not 100 percent, and you hate to try to have a guy wind it back up again (after playing in the afternoon game),” Girardi said. “There’s concern about him hurting it worse and it being a long-term problem and having some real issues with it. He’s a gamer, and I put him out there to pinch hit, and he hit the ball well. He did it as well last night. So my plan is to play him again tomorrow.”

• Although his command was obviously bad, David Phelps said he felt physically fine in his first appearance in more than a month. “It doesn’t have anything to do with being rusty,” he said. “Regardless of how long you take off, throwing strikes shouldn’t be a problem. … Was pulling sliders off the plate all night, finally throw one and the guy hits it hard. It’s just frustrating.”

Bryan Mitchell• Better night on the mound for rookie Bryan Mitchell who gave up two runs through five innings in his first big league start. “My main goal tonight was to put us in a chance to win,” Mitchell said. “Obviously the two runs hurt, but it’s just one of those days I would have liked to have been better. … Yeah, it obviously is (good enough to have a chance to win), but without those two runs obviously we have a better chance.”

• Girardi on Mitchell: “He did OK. He hasn’t started a game in a while. He threw a bunch of pitches the other day on Sunday, and he got in some tough counts, but held the damage to a minimum. Obviously he gave us a chance to win. … It was good to see him pitch in a start. I’ve only seen him pitch really out of relief. He has the ability to have people swing and miss, and he has the ability to get out of innings. He did some little things. He held runners. He’s a work in progress, but it was good for him to get a start.”

• The Yankees intentionally paired Mitchell with Austin Romine, who’d caught him in Triple-A. “That definitely helped,” Mitchell said. “Made me a lot more comfortable because we have a similar plan to what we’ve been doing during the season (in Triple-A), so I liked that going into it.”

• After missing the past six games with a lower abdominal strain, Brett Gardner returned to the lineup, reached base twice and stole a bag. He’s hitting .348 with five extra-base hits in his past six games.

• Chris Young had another hit in the nightcap. He’s hitting .429 with five runs, three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI since joining the Yankees on September 2.

• The Orioles swept a doubleheader against the Yankes for the first time since September 24, 1984 in Baltimore.

• Final word to Girardi: “It’s no fun, but other teams are having problems in front of us that we’re trying to catch. We’re probably three or four hits from winning eight out of our last 10. If you get those hits and three or four pitches as well, it’s different. It makes a big difference. We need to win a lot, and I’ve said that a lot. We’re capable of doing it.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “It didn’t work out well”09.10.14

Martin Prado

This weekend, it seemed Martin Prado was basically through the woods. He wasn’t moving especially well, but he returned to the lineup with three hits on Saturday, played a full game again on Sunday, and it seemed his left hamstring injury was at least healed enough to make him regular again.

But he’s since had three days off, which suggests he’s either more badly hurt than originally believed, or it’s simply no longer worth taking the risk of putting him in the lineup.

“As he went through the weekend, what we saw, there was concern,” Joe Girardi said. “There’s still concern. It’s just talking to the training staff and the doctors, their thoughts.”

Here are Prado’s thoughts:

“To be honest with you, the way I see it, I tried to play when the team needs me to play,” Prado said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to miss four or five weeks or six weeks, a month, after this season if we clinch or not. I don’t want to spend that time waiting for my legs to heal because I can use that time to get ready for next season. The way I see it, I tried to play like that, and it didn’t work out well. That being said, I have to worry about my health and not push back and make that worse.”

Prado said his hamstring “didn’t feel right” after playing in those two weekend games. He was tight and unable to move at 100 percent. Prado was planning to take batting practice today, but it’s not likely he’ll be available even as a pinch hitter.

“I don’t want him to do too much running, as I told him,” Girardi said. “I said, ‘Go through BP, take some BP, see how you feel and we’ll go from there.’ As I said yesterday, there’s a concern there. I don’t think he’s ready to go, but we’re going to let him take some BP.”

Brett Gardner• Obviously there’s also some lingering concern about Brett Gardner’s abdominal issue. When he had something similar earlier this season, Gardner missed just one game. This time, he hasn’t played since Friday. “He’ll be out a few more days at least because that can become something that’s fairly serious,” Girardi said. “We’re giving him a few more days and we’ll go from there.”

• Masahiro Tanaka will throw a bullpen on Friday and he’ll pitch in some sort of game at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa on Monday. The Yankees will be in Tampa for a Rays series that day, so it makes sense to send him to the complex.

• David Phelps has a bullpen today and seems likely to be activated on Friday. “Our hope is to bring him back maybe when we go to Baltimore,” Girardi said. “He threw a simulated game, and our hope is to bring him back in Baltimore. He would be in the bullpen, a guy that I could use an inning, inning-plus, then I’d have to give him some days off after that.”

• Brandon McCarthy will start the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. The second game’s starter will depend on who’s available. Girardi mentioned Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Esmil Rogers as possibilities. “We could use a bullpen day if we have to,” Girardi said.

• Francisco Cervelli took batting practice on the field today. He’s been out with severe headaches.

• How does Girardi approach these final 20 games knowing most of baseball considers the Yankees to be realistically out of the playoff race? “It’s happened before,” he said. “It’s very difficult, but it’s happened before. You can only control the things you can control, so go control them. And then worry about where you fall later.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I think the fatigue is done”09.06.14

Masahiro Tanaka

After a 34-pitch bullpen, Masahiro Tanaka declared his arm soreness to be a thing of the past.

“I feel that it’s way stronger than it was, so way better,” Tanaka said. “I think the fatigue is done.”

For many obvious reasons, that’s reassuring news for the Yankees who absolutely want to get Tanaka into a game this season to make sure his injection-and-rehab protocol has solved his torn ligament issue. The Yankees have made it clear that — even if they’re eliminated from the playoffs — they plan to get Tanaka into a game this season.

And they’re so confident that they have enough time to make that happen, that Joe Girardi largely dismissed the idea of creating games for Tanaka to pitch in October.

“I guess that would be possible,” Girardi said. “But our belief is that he’ll be in games with us. … You have to get him in games to resolve the situation. That’s the bottom line because you can’t wait until next spring to resolve it. So it needs to resolve, and we’ll do everything we can to get him in games before we leave.”

Tanaka sounds similarly confident. After having his throwing program temporarily shut down last weekend because of arm fatigue, he seems back on track. Girardi said the team will meet with the training staff to decide whether the next step is live batting practice or another simulated game.

“Not worried (about how the arm will feel tomorrow),” Tanaka said. “One, because it was a bullpen today, and two, that I really do feel that I’m getting stronger, so I’m really not worried about it.”

Francisco Cervelli• As reported last night by Sweeny Murti, the Yankees have recalled catcher Austin Romine to give them some additional depth. They need it because Francisco Cervelli is dealing with migraines and won’t be available today. “From the neurologist standpoint, it wasn’t concussion related,” Girardi said. “I’m a migraine sufferer. They’re no fun. Sometimes they come in clusters where you’ll get them a couple days in a row and that’s even worse most of the time I can take my medicine and I’m ok. There’s been a couple times where I’ve had to go to the hospital to get rid of them but hopefully it’s just something he’s going through it and he’ll get through it.”

• Martin Prado is in the lineup, and all indications are that he’ll play today. But the lineup was set before batting practice. “If I have to change it, I’ll change it,” Girardi said. So far, that doesn’t seem necessary.

• Royals starter Danny Duffy has been very good this year, and he’s been especially good against lefties who are hitting just .129/.205/.155 against him. Jacoby Ellsbury is the only lefty in the Yankees lineup today.

• The Yankees have announced that tomorrow’s first pitch has been pushed back to 1:35 p.m. to allow time for the Derek Jeter pregame ceremony. Jeter’s family, several former teammates, and other unannounced “special guests” will take part. “I don’t know anything,” Jeter said. “I haven’t been told. I don’t even know what time I have to be here tomorrow. I don’t know a thing. I don’t know if that’s by design, but no one’s told me anything. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to something that I assume would be pretty special.”

• Have to assume Dave Winfield will be here, right? That’s Jeter’s childhood idol. Another popular guess in the press box has been Michael Jordan and maybe other great non-baseball athletes to show Jeter’s overall impact and appeal.

• Does having a ceremony like this affect Jeter’s approach in the middle of such a desperate push toward the playoffs? “It doesn’t because my mindset is one day at a time,” Jeter said. “I’m thinking about today. I’m not thinking about tomorrow.”

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: “They’re all damaging at this point”09.05.14

Carlos Beltran

Last night, Chase Headley stood in front of his locker and talked about confidence and momentum. Tonight he stood in that exact same spot and talked about the fact that one hard-hit ground ball was enough to beat this team that he believes in so completely.

“You never are resigned to the fact that that’s going to cost you,” Headley said. “But obviously it did. It’s a tough way to lose a game.”

That one ground ball was a third-inning scorcher that took a late hop just past his glove. He said he played it pretty well, but he didn’t anticipate the kick and so the ball got by him. When the Royals followed with a single, they had all the offense they needed.

One unearned run, that’s the game-by-game margin for error with an offense that tends to disappear on occasion. As for the season’s margin for error — the one that determines whether the Yankees actually make a run toward the playoffs — that seems just as narrow.

“They’re all damaging at this point because it just makes it that much tougher,” manager Joe Girardi said. “… It’s just frustrating because you lose by one run. Whether its 2-1 or 3-2, it’s frustrating. We just really never got anything going.”

There’s little debate that James Shields is an extremely good pitcher. The Yankees were able to get to him two weeks ago in Kansas City, but the guy has a 3.23 ERA for a reason. He’s awfully good, and it was clear pretty early that Shields had his good stuff tonight. In another season, in a different situation, it would be a good night to tip a cap and move on.

But the Yankees don’t have that luxury at this point. Shields was great. The Yankees needed to be better, and they weren’t.

Michael Pineda• Definitely Michael Pineda’s best start since coming off the disabled list, and probably his best start of the year. He pitched through the seventh inning for the first time, and that one unearned run was the only damage he allowed. He’s the second Yankees starter in the past 10 years to take a loss despite not allowing an earned run. The other was all-time good guy Dan Giese who did it in 2008.

• Pineda struck out four and walked none. He has 19 strikeouts and only one walk in his past six starts.

• Pineda has allowed two earned runs or less in each of his nine starts with the Yankees. Mike Axisa pointed out on Twitter that Pineda has a 1.80 ERA, but the Yankees at 3-6 in his starts. Brutal. Just brutal.

• Three of the seven times the Yankees have been shutout this season, it’s happened in games started by Pineda. But at least he’s used to it. He has just 18 runs of support in his past 13 major league starts dating back to August 27, 2011.

• What was working for Pineda? “Tonight, my changeup was working pretty good,” he said. “And my fastball too. Everything was working good. And I have control and good command of the ball tonight.” That’s a pretty good combination for him.

• Our friend Sweeny Murti is reporting that Francisco Cervelli is dealing with some severe headache issues. To give the Yankees an extra catcher, Austin Romine is expected to join the team.

• Headley on his costly error: “Hard-hit groundball. Got down. It kicked up over my glove. I watched it a few times. Technique-wise there’s probably not a whole lot I could have done different. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch it. It’s a play that I’d like to make, but it just didn’t happen.”

Brett Gardner• Less than two weeks ago, the Yankees had six runs and 10 hits against James Shields. “He pitched way different than the Shields that we faced in Kansas City,” Carlos Beltran said. “Today he was using a lot of cutters and the changeup away so basically he keep us off balanced all game long and we couldn’t do anything until the ninth.”

• Speaking of the ninth, Antoan Richardson got a chance for redemption after being doubled up last night. This time he stole the base he needed — looked to me like he would have been safe even if the ball hadn’t gotten past the catcher — but the Yankees left him stranded.

• Beltran struck out against Wade Davis to end the game. “He tried to throw me some good pitches on the corner on the edges,” Beltran said. “And (he) threw me a 94 (MPH) cutter inside and he stayed away after that with a good fastball. … I guess today is the first time I faced that guy so I was basically looking for a good pitch to hit, and at the end of the day he was able to win the battle.”

• Davis struck out the two batters he faced tonight. He extended his lead-leading scoreless innings streak to 28.2 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since June 25. This was his first save of the season.

• Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning and now has 124 strikeouts in 82 innings, passing Goose Gossage for the second-most strikeouts by a Yankees reliever in a single season. Mariano Rivera still has the record — for now — with 130 in 1996.

• Final word to Girardi: “(James) just didn’t make any mistakes. There were no balls in the middle of the plate. It seemd like he used all his stuff effectively, whether it was his fastball early in the count, his cutter, his curveball or his changeup, they were all effective tonight. A jam shot here, just missed a ball there, he was really on.”

Associated Press photos

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