Cervelli stepping in and stepping up • 07.26.14
Francisco Cervelli has gotten a ticket to more playing time behind the plate thanks to the injuries to Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson. Brian McCann has been needed to fill the hole at first base, leaving Cervelli to catch.
He has started five straight games — his longest stretch since he caught 10 straight in May of 2010 — and has done fine. Cervelli has four doubles in the last three games. He has hit safely in nine of his past 10 starts, batting .400 (14 for 35) with six doubles and three RBI in those games. His hitting streak is at seven games.
Last year, he missed the final 140 games due to a fractured hand and his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. And then he missed 55 games after suffering a hamstring strain April 13. But he’s at .356 (16 for 45) since being reactivated June 17, which includes a 2-for-3 effort in Friday night’s 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.
“I just think as he has gotten more at-bats under his belt, he understands what people are trying to do to him and he understands what he needs to do,” Joe Girardi said. “Cervi’s biggest issue is — he had the concussion issue (in 2011) and … he broke the hand last year — getting nicked up.
“But when he’s played for us, he’s played really well. It’s a nice player to have on your team because he allows you to do a lot of things with (McCann). In a situation where we don’t have a first baseman, we can run Mac at first every day, and it’s worked out well.
“Cervi, it was tough when we lost him last year because he had started to take over that No. 1 spot and was playing extremely well and swinging the bat extremely well. But he’s just matured and understands what he needs to do.”
Here’s my story on last night’s victory and the Yankees’ domination of Mark Buehrle as well as the Jays when they come to the Bronx. And here’s my feature story on today’s starter Chris Capuano. He’s rather happy to be here and starting again.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Joe Girardi said the Yankees will to make a decision tomorrow regarding Mark Teixiera. He’s either healthy enough to rejoin the lineup in a few days, or he’s hurt enough to go on the disabled list.
“It’s just seeing how he feels after three or four days (of rest),” Girardi said. “And then we’ll decide if we think it’s going to be in the near future that he would play, or if we’re going to need the 15 days. If it’s going to be 12, 13, 14 days, it probably make sense to get a player.”
This is Teixeira’s fourth day off after getting that injection for his strained lat. Without him, the Yankees really don’t have a first baseman. Kelly Johnson was the backup, but now he’s on the disabled list, and Brian McCann has become the first base regular, but at some point Francisco Cervelli’s going to need a day off behind the plate.
“I’ve got like 11 other guys I can run out there,” Girardi said, either joking or making a fair statement about the fact one inexperienced guy is just as good as another. “I talked to Chase (Headley) about it. Chase said he would feel comfortable going over there. I would not be afraid to put Brendan Ryan there. I would not be afraid to put (Zelous) Wheeler there.”
But if Teixeira is going to be out much longer, the Yankees might as well add someone who gives more flexibility at first base. That could be bringing up a first baseman — I assume either Kyle Roller or Jose Pirela — or bringing up a catcher so that McCann can play first base full time for the time being.
“We’ll get through today,” Girardi said. “And we’ll probably have something tomorrow and we’ll make a decision.”
• Michael Pineda’s scheduled simulated game was rained out, so he pitched inside and threw the equivalent of two innings. Not ideal, but the Yankees will move forward with his rehab schedule. In five days he’ll go three innings or 45-50 pitches. Girardi said he wasn’t sure whether that would be a sim game or an actual rehab assignment.
• Regular day off for Derek Jeter, and Girardi said it has nothing to do with ground ball pitcher Brandon McCarthy being on the mound. “It’s just kind of the way it goes,” Girardi said. “Day game (after a night game). If it was a night game, he probably would’ve played.”
• Would Girardi consider swapping roles by putting Cervelli at first base and using McCann behind the plate? “I could do that, (but) I’m not sure I would,” Girardi said. “Cervy’s next thing might be a day off. But right now he’s extremely energetic still and he has that in him.”
• Girardi wouldn’t go into detail about why he preferred Jacoby Ellsbury leading off and Brett Gardner batting second today, but he was also asked if he’s ever considered — given Ellsbury’s steals and Gardner’s surprising power — batting Ellsbury leadoff and Gardner third when the Yankees have a full lineup. “That I wouldn’t do,” Girardi said. “It’s just that Gardy’s really never hit in that spot. Jake is a guy that I feel I can move around because he has moved around, in a sense. I’ve toyed with different ideas. I won’t say the other day that I didn’t think about hitting Gardy (third). I thought that Jake might not be available to me that one day, maybe I do hit Gardy third, but I probably wouldn’t do it. But I said probably.”
• Just to be clear, the Yankees don’t expect Teixeira to play tomorrow, only that they’ll have a better idea about his health tomorrow. “I don’t think tomorrow’s the day,” Girardi said. “But obviously you want to feel that there’s progress and that he feels better and that he can start doing some stuff. We felt that we’d give him three days not doing much with treatment and we’d see where we’re at.”
• The Yankees are keeping their extra pitcher for today. Could lose a pitcher tomorrow to add a position player. Likely want to know what’s going on with Teixeira before making that decision.
• McCarthy has pitched well since coming to the Yankees, and he’s given some credit to the fact the Yankees are having him throw his cutter again. “I think guys want to feel like they have all their weapons,” Girardi said. “That was a big pitch for him. I know that when we faced him that was a huge pitch for him, and for him to get that back and feel comfortable with it would be really important.”
Associated Press photos
Yankees pregame: Cervelli back, Murphy down • 06.17.14
John Ryan Murphy has been sent down to Triple-A and Francisco Cervelli has been activated from the DL, not just to be the backup catcher, but again to possibly be one of the backups for Mark Teixeira. When Cervelli hurt his hamstring back in mid-April, it was a game in which he started at first base. Two of his five starts in April were at first.
Joe Girardi said a choice between Kelly Johnson and Cervelli would come down to matchups.
“I think I’m comfortable there,” Cervelli said. “But I don’t want to forget about catching. That’s what I like, but I want to help any way I can.”
This has been the second straight season Cervelli has missed a huge chunk of time. He said he stayed positive these last two months.
“It’s frustrating,” Cervelli said. “But this time I took it differently. … I spent time with my dad. I recovered so fast before the 60 days.”
John Ryan Murphy got sent down to Triple-A to make room. He hit .286 with one homer and eight RBI in 24 games.
“He played extremely well,” Girardi said. “Obviously we were pleased with what he did. … We think it’s important for him to go play every day.”
CC Sabathia threw a 25-pitch bullpen yesterday and will have another session out there tomorrow. Joe Girardi compared this to the beginning of spring training for him.
Michael Pineda, who was shut down after his setback, is scheduled to play catch Saturday.
Rotation fill-in Vidal Nuno is 1-3 with a 5.90 ERA. Adam Warren has been mentioned as a possible replacement. But the reliever would have to be stretched out. Girardi said Warren could probably only go up to about 50 pitches now.
“We’ll continue to evaluate our staff and decide what we’re going to do,” Girardi said.
Tonight it appears the ball is in good hands. It’s Masahiro Tanaka time.
“Obviously Tanaka is the best pitcher on the planet,” Sabathia said.
Photo by The Associated Press
Nova off to shaky start • 04.08.14
He allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings in losing to the Orioles after walking five in 5 2/3 in his first start in Houston. Nova only gave up two runs in that game and was the winner, but in this game, he couldn’t minimize the damage and the Yankees ended up losing 14-5.
“I don’t feel good when you pitch that way with the good spring training that I had,” Nova said. “It’s only the second time. I have plenty of time to fix it and get back to where I want to be.”
He had a problem with his curve, and his sinker was up. Nova said he needs to get his pitches down.
“I wouldn’t make too much out of two starts,” Joe Girardi said. “I know it’s glaring in the beginning. I know he’s more than capable of turning this around and being a big-time pitcher for us.”
There was a chance for Nova to get out of the first with no runs scored instead of three. But Derek Jeter couldn’t reach Delmon Young’s bouncing single for a double-play try.
“I know he tried the best to get the double play,” Nova said. “That’s the game.”
Despite struggling, Nova didn’t walk anyone. So Yankees starting pitchers haven’t walked a batter now in five straight games.
Francisco Cervelli got his first shot at first base. He admitted he missed one foul ball that he probably should have caught. But Girardi said he was OK with his work over there.
“He passed for me,” Girardi said.
So Cervelli could be another option vs. lefties with Mark Teixeira out.
Yangervis Solarte doubled twice, making the rookie third baseman the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles in the first seven games of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 3 for 4 and is 12 for his last 22 after starting 0 for 7.
Alfonso Soriano hit homer No. 1 on the season and No. 407 for his career, tying Duke Snider for 50th on the all-time list.
I’ll have more on Masahiro Tanaka’s Wednesday night Bronx debut in the morning.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Who’s on first? The catcher • 04.08.14
Greetings, Brian Heyman back with you. It’s been a while. I’m here at Yankee Stadium today, tomorrow and Friday. Chad’s Ironman streak is over. I lost count of his consecutive-day record. Even Ripken eventually took a day off.
Here’s a guy who is on duty today as well: Meet your new Yankees first baseman, Francisco Cervelli. At least for the start of this game with lefty Wei-Yin Chen going for the Orioles.
So when was the last time the backup catcher played first? He said he was 15. But he has worked out at first occasionally.
“If I’ve got to pitch, I’ll go, too,” Cervelli said. “It’s not like I feel like I’m Mark Teixeira, but I think I’m going to be comfortable with more games. I think it’s like every other position. If I feel I’m not going to catch the ball, I’m going to block it.”
Sounds like a catcher playing first base. Joe Girardi called this move “low risk.”
“I really believe he can do it,” Girardi said. “I do. We’re going to find out.”
Girardi said the reward, if it works out, is “more flexibility during the course of the season. We don’t anticipate Tex being out very long, but you never know.”
Why no Brian McCann at first?
“I’ve seen Cervelli take ground balls and I like what I’ve seen,” Girardi said. “I’ve never seen Brian McCann take a ground ball.”
Girardi said Shawn Kelley will probably get much of the closing opportunities with David Robertson now officially on the DL with his groin strain. But Girardi also said Kelley will probably not be available today. If that’s the case, who would close if need be?
“That a good question?” Girardi said. “Let’s see where they are in the lineup.”
Robertson has been replaced on the roster by Cesar Cabral, up from Triple-A. The lefty had a strong spring training.
“We’re seeing some pretty tough left-handed hitters this week, and we feel he can help us,” Girardi said.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees postgame: Hughes deserved better • 06.27.13
“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.
Romine catching on • 05.19.13
There was that forgettable first start April 29 against the Astros at Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte lost his cutter in the first inning and Romine struggled to get on the same page with him. The Yankees ended up losing 9-1.
But the 24-year-0ld rookie catcher has taken some steps forward back there since then. Good thing, too. Because Cervelli’s primary replacement, Chris Stewart, hurt his groin Thursday night and has been only available in a pinch. It sounded like Stewart won’t be starting the first two games in Baltimore. So Romine, who has guided the pitchers to a 2.25 ERA during his 60 innings, will get more time.
“I think he’s gotten in a better rhythm with our pitchers,” Girardi said. “He has a better understanding. He’s been able to watch them a couple of times. He’s gotten back there with I think almost everybody at this point. So I think he’s just getting more comfortable.
“It’s always tough when you come in the middle of the season as a catcher, and especially when you’re a young catcher, to feel like you know exactly what they want to do. That can be difficult. It could be a day when the guy doesn’t have everything, and that even makes it harder. But I think he’s adjusted really, really well.”
Romine is also 3 for 6 at the plate over the last two games after starting out 1 for 16.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Kevin Youkilis played Saturday after six games off, woke up Sunday not feeling so hot and sat out, and indicated Monday his lower back was feeling the same as before he returned, which meant stiff. So he’s sitting out again. The Yankees missed out on a chance to backdate him to April 21 if the DL is in his future. Youkilis said he was waiting on the results of his MRI today.
Joe Girardi wasn’t second-guessing himself over playing Youkilis Saturday.
“The player told us he was ready to go and we put him in,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you how he reinjured it.” …
Francisco Cervelli stood in front of his locker, bandage on his surgically repaired broken right hand, arm in a sling. Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser operated Saturday after Cervelli took a foul tip off the back of the hand Friday night.
“I don’t know if they put another finger there,” Cervelli joked. “But the doctor said it was really good. I think a little plate there is going to help to heal quicker. But I trust Dr. Rosenwasser because he did my surgery in 2008. I got two screws there. Now I got another plate there. It’s a good hand. I’m a robot now.”
Cervelli is hoping to be back in less than six weeks.
“Today is five weeks and five days,” Cervelli said. “I’m counting. Tomorrow is four days. I’ve got to stay positive. … The last two days, there was a lot of pain. But today I feel a little better.”
Jason Collins made history today, becoming the first active athlete in the four major North American professional sports to come out as gay.
“It’s good for him,” CC Sabathia said. “He can be honest and not have to live a lie, I guess.”
That’s the NBA. Is MLB ready if one of its players wants to do the same?
“Sure,” Sabathia said. “Why not? … I don’t know what it would be like. It would be tough, but you’d have to deal with it, I guess.”
Joe Girardi said: “No matter what it is in our world, any time it happens for the first time, it’s a little bit of a shock. But I believe baseball would handle it well.”
If it happened in the Yankees’ clubhouse, that player would find a comforting presence in Girardi.
“As far as myself personally, and everyone is not going to believe with my religious beliefs, I believe as men and women, we’re called to love others, depending on their race, their religion, their thought process, whatever they do,” Girardi said. “We’re not called to judge people. I think part of judging people is probably what gets us into a lot of trouble in the world.
“So as far as me personally, he’s a player; he’s a man. My job is to be his friend and love him. And if I was his manager, it’s to get the most out of him. I always felt as a player, it was to be the best teammate that I could be. And that’s the bottom line.”
Yankees postgame: More injuries • 04.27.13
The Yankees certainly aren’t having any luck in the injury department. They keep dropping. Add Ivan Nova and Francisco Cervelli to the list.
Nova left with pain around the right elbow area. Joe Girardi was still waiting for the MRI results after the game. He was under the impression the problem was in the triceps connecting to the elbow. Nova complained of a little stiffness after the second inning, but he wanted to try to go in the third. After he hit the first batter and gave up a single to the second, he was done.
“We went out there and asked him; he said he wasn’t OK,” Girardi said.
Cervelli only lasted five pitches. Leadoff batter Rajai Davis fouled a ball off the back of Cervelli’s right hand. Surgery is set for Saturday. The catcher will be out at least six weeks.
“It’s disappointing, and I know it’s real disappointing to him because of all he’s been through to get to this point,” Girardi said.
Girardi said he’ll play the catching situation by ear with Chris Stewart and Austin Romine, coming up now from Triple-A. Romine was batting .333 with a homer and four RBI in 14 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Stewart said the 24-year-old righty hitter has “got a lot of talent. It’s just a matter of getting experience up here.”
Phelps would seem to be the logical choice to replace Nova, but Girardi said he wanted to wait a few days before announcing anything. Phelps had a 6.23 ERA in five outings before the game. He said he had struggled with the mentality of coming out of the bullpen, that he has been a starter basically his whole career. He said he has been better in these longer outings.
And he was good in this one, four innings, one run, two hits, nine Ks. The strikeout total was not only a career high. It was the most by a Yankees reliever since Jay Howell fanned nine over 4 2/3 in 1983. Phelps is the first Yankees pitcher to strike out at least nine in four innings or less in the Live Ball Era.
Despite all the injuries, the Yankees keep winning. They’re 13-9 overall, and 12-5 since April 7.
At the postgame press conference, Girardi expressed his happiness over what this team has achieved to date.
“Injuries are part of the game,” Girardi said. “It’s part of life. I’m sure everyone in here can attest that life doesn’t go exactly the way we want it to sometimes. But when you’re able to accomplish things and go out and continue to win games, it’s very satisfying. I’m proud of what these guys have done so far. We’ll keep fighting and we’ll keep finding ways.”
Toronto, meanwhile, has found ways to go 9-15, probably the biggest disappointment in baseball so far after all its acquisitions.
“I’d say that we’re just not playing good enough to win right now,” manager John Gibbons said.
Hiroki Kuroda didn’t look good the first two innings of this 5-3 win, three runs, six hits allowed.
“All I thought was just hang in there pitch by pitch and hopefully I would be able to overcome this adversity,” he said.
Who could have predicted Kuroda wouldn’t allow another run or hit to the Blue Jays over the next four innings of his six-inning outing?
“It says a lot because he didn’t really have a whole lot tonight,” Joe Girardi said. “… He didn’t have his sinker. He didn’t have his good off speed for the most part. He seemed to find his slider at the end of the third and found a way to gut it through six innings without giving up any more runs after the second. … This might be his best performance of the year.”
Vernon Wells continues to perform against his old team as well as against Mark Buehrle. Wells launched the comeback with a solo shot over the center-field fence in the second. He’s now batting .480 (24 for 50) with three homers lifetime vs. Buehrle and .421 (8 for 19) with three homers vs. the Blue Jays this season. He’s at .293 with six homers and 10 RBI in 19 games with the Yankees.
“Vernon’s a good player,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Always has been. He’s got new life going over there. He’s a very intelligent guy and you know he’s motivated. Something about playing in Yankee Stadium for the Yankees. This place brings out the best in people or you hear about it if you don’t.”
Robinson Cano hit the go-ahead three-run homer. He’s streaking, now batting .391 (25 for 64) with six doubles, seven homers, 17 RBI and 13 runs scored over his last 15 games.
“This is probably as good as he’s started that I can really remember,” Girardi said.
Something strange happened in the seventh. Ben Francisco was called out on a throw to first, but the umpires met and reversed the call. Gibbons got ejected after arguing the decision.
“… They said he bobbled it,” Gibbons said, talking about first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. “My big concern was that there was no appeal by the other side.”
Jeff Kellogg, the second base umpire and crew chief, said: “My sense (was) the ball was resting on the ground and his glove was around the top of the ball. … Our thought process is we’re going to try to get the plays right.”
The reversal/hit raised Francisco’s average to .103 (3 for 29).
Jayson Nix went 2 for 3, his third multihit game in the last five and fourth overall. He also turned in golden glove work at third.
Francisco Cervelli hit his third homer, one short of his career high from two years ago.
The Yankees are now 11-5 after the 1-4 start.