The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Pregame notes: Hughes feeling good after bullpen09.24.11

Pretty quiet day here at Yankee Stadium. The first person I saw in the clubhouse was Yogi Berra, dressed in a sharp suit for today’s Roger Maris ceremony. The last person I talked to in the Yankees clubhouse was Phil Hughes, having just sat down after a morning bullpen.

“I didn’t even feel it,” he said.

In this case, Hughes was referring to his lower back, which started causing him problems last weekend and cost him a start this week. Hughes threw 35 to 40 pitches and he remains on schedule — assuming no setbacks — to pitch next week in Tampa. There’s no date scheduled for that appearance.

“I think you really have to wait and see how he feels tomorrow and decide what we’re going to do,” Joe Girardi said.

Given the fact he hasn’t pitched since September 12, there’s a very real possibility that the Yankees will decide to simply move him into the bullpen for the division series.

“I think you have to think about that,” Girardi said. “I think that’s one of the things you have to think about just because he hasn’t thrown in a while and we’re not sure how it’s going to play out in the next couple of days after throwing this bullpen. Just a lot of decisions to be made by Friday.”

• Francisco Cervelli ran for about 10 minutes today. He’s still not ready to begin baseball activities, but he’s making progress. “I still would be a little bit surprise if we got him back,” Girardi said. “But, you know, maybe it stays away and maybe he’s able to help us.”

• Without Cervelli, the Yankees have to consider a postseason roster without a traditional backup catcher. “It changes the way that maybe you think about your roster a little bit,” Girardi said. “You know, when you think about your roster, the expectation is that Russell is going to play every day. You really have to think about how you’re going to do things and the combination of guys. There’s a lot of thought that’s going to go into this. The one thing about making a roster is you try to guard against everything, that’s what you try to do, but you really can’t.”

• A.J. Burnett will start the first game tomorrow. Ivan Nova will start the second.

• Girardi was asked today about the impact of Mark Teixeira’s defense at first base: “He saves us errors,” Girardi said. “Saving errors to me is important. It saves runs, No. 1. No. 2, it saves pitches for our starter. An inning ends up being prolonged and a pitcher throws 12 extra pitches, and it takes an inning away from them, and it affects your bullpen. It’s just kind of a trickle effect. So, being able to save pitches by saving errors is extremely important to me, and he does a wonderful job.”

• I actually have not yet seen Manny Banuelos, but I know he’s here. I’ve seen Adam Warren and David Phelps hanging around the past two days. They’re here to observe for the weekend, just to get themselves used to the big league environment.

“This is something that our club has done in the past where we bring young kids up that we think could have an impact either next year or the year after,” Girardi said. “(They) kind of get a feel what it’s like to be in our clubhouse, see all the media, understand our clubhouse — our clubhouse is something you have to learn – so when they do get here, they’re more comfortable. We all know that those first couple days as a big league player, a lot of times, there’s a lot of butterflies, but you try to get rid of some of that. But these are kids that we believe are going to help us, and that’s why they’re here.”

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carl Crawford LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Mike Aviles 3B
Marco Scutaro SS
Josh Reddick RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “There’s a big, green blob out there”09.23.11

The rain has slowed a little bit, but it’s still coming down here at Yankee Stadium, and the tarp is still on the field. Nothing about the scene suggests a baseball game is remotely close to happening.

“All I know is when I look at the radar there’s a big, green blob out there coming this way,” Joe Girardi said. “We’re right in the middle of it… I don’t know what they’re going to do. The other night we waited until 11:15 to start a game and we played in the rain the whole time, and we played during what I thought was more than moderate rain at times. I have no idea what we’re going to do.”

Although Girardi said there’s no contingency plan he’s heard about. A doubleheader on Sunday seems to make sense, but there’s been no sort of announcement.

Girardi said he might change his lineup based on conditions, but as long as it stops raining, he thinks the field might drain fast enough that he would feel confident sending his regulars out there.

Speaking of sending regulars out there…

“My lineup is going to be very representative every day,” Girardi said. “I have plans. I have already kind of even staked it out where one guys or two guys get this day off, and two guys get this day off, and you’re going to see seven of our regulars in there. Some of that’s going to be Chavy and Nuney who have platooned for us and they’ve been regulars at points during the season.”

• Girardi’s still not ready to announce his postseason rotation — obviously — but he did more or less lock up two spots. Not that this is a big shock, but he agreed that CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are both no-doubt ALDS starters. “We have to make some decisions, there’s no doubt about it,” Girardi said. “But I think you’re safe to say that.”

• Could A.J. Burnett start an ALDS game? “Anyone could get a start in the ALDS,” Girardi said. “That’s where we are right now. I’ll continue to evaluate, and a lot of it depends on who we play.”

• Also not a huge shock, but Girardi made it clear that he plans to have Russell Martin start every playoff game behind the plate. “I think he’s more than capable of playing every day, every playoff game behind home plate, so that’s not really a question in my mind,” Girardi said. “Can he do that? I have no problem doing that.”

• Ultimately, Girardi said he’s not close to finalizing any postseason roster decisions. He hasn’t even met with his staff to talk about it. “We’ve had some long days and we’ve been at the ballpark a lot,” he said. “I think you wait and see how things play out. We’ll have meetings next week and that’s when we’ll really begin to talk about it.”

• Francisco Cervelli said he hasn’t been dizzy this past week, and he’s still holding out hope that he’ll be healthy enough to play in the postseason. That said, he’s also planning to be very cautious because he doesn’t want to get too aggressive with a head injury.

• Joba Chamberlain also rejoined the Yankees this afternoon (on his birthday). He made 30 throws from 30 feet pregame — with Larry Rothschild — and he said he’ll be at that distance for a while. He said that he’s a month to six weeks ahead of schedule, and he thinks he’ll be able to throw off a mound by spring training.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
David Ortiz Dh
Mike Aviles 3B
Carl Crawford LF
Marco Scutaro SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Josh Reddick RF

Associated Press photos, the one at the top is from that rain game against the Orioles, but it paints a pretty accurate picture of the current scene

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Pregame notes: Swisher back in the outfield09.13.11

Three and half hours before first pitch, Joe Girardi still wasn’t sure who would be starting in right field. Nick Swisher was going to make some throws in the outfield, and his availability would depend on how he felt.

Obviously, he felt good enough to get in there.

“Tendinitis is going to go away,” Girardi said. “It could irritate him a little bit. It’s when it irritates him a lot that you worry about. There are a lot of guys that are probably playing with tendinitis in their arm right now, it’s just when it becomes too painful that you can’t do what you need to do.”

Just a few days ago, the Yankees seemed incredibly beat up, but the pieces are slowly falling back into place. Swisher is back in the outfield, Russell Martin is back behind the plate and Alex Rodriguez seems to be getting closer.

“It is good to see,” Girardi said. “It seemed like they all came at once, so we could have two back tonight and maybe a third – Alex – when we get to Toronto.”

• Curtis Granderson has a standard day off. Girardi figured it was a good day — as good as any, anyway — with a left-hander on the mound.

• Initially, the Yankees said Rodriguez would sit out three to four days. This is the fourth game he’s skipped, but Girardi is now planning to give him tomorrow, plus Thursday’s scheduled off day. “I think Friday is reasonable for Alex,” he said.

• Francisco Cervelli has been placed on the disabled list retroactive to Friday.

• Girardi said it’s still uncertain whether the Yankees will get Cervelli back this season. “I think it’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen,” he said. “Concussions today have become so unpredictable, you think you’re getting a guy back, he plays one game and then goes right back to the symptoms. I have no idea.”

• Phil Hughes pitched well last night. Now it’s A.J. Burnett’s turn. “I think he can get better and better,” Girardi said. “His changeup was the best I’ve ever seen it the other day. It still comes down to being able to locate your fastball, and I think his curveball has been better with the depth rather than going across.”

• Both Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman were getting loose during last night’s game, but neither actually got in. “I thought about using one of them,” Girardi said. “They were just throwing after that.”

• For those of you curious, four first-year pitchers have been carrying kids backpacks to and from the bullpen. George Kontos got Elmo, Hector Noesi got Dora the Explorer, Dellin Betances got Hannah Montana and Andrew Brackman got some sort of fairy character that I’ve never seen before.

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Kyle Seager 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Mike Carp LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Adam Kennedy DH
Casper Wells CF
Brendan Ryan SS

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “You have to find out what they can do”09.12.11

Joe Girardi chose today’s starting catcher based on two Double-A games in June. When Phil Hughes was in Trenton for rehab, his catcher was Austin Romine, and so Romine will catch Hughes again tonight in Seattle.

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t start (Jesus) Montero again,” Girardi said. “I just chose to do this because he caught him those times at Double-A… Romine’s been catching longer in his lifetime than Montero, but they’re both works in progress. We’re probably going to see things from them that you may not see in a couple years, just because they’re young catchers. Romine has been considered one of the top defensive catching prospects in baseball, so that’s why I brought him in.”

At this point, the Yankees are looking at Montero and Romine a little differently than expected. Girardi acknowledged today that one of them might have to be the Yankees backup catcher in the postseason.

Today’s MRI on Francisco Cervelli came back negative, but he’s still suffering from concussion symptoms, and the Yankees aren’t sure when they’ll have him back. Russell Martin is expected to be back tomorrow, but his backup is to-be-determined. In some ways, it’s similar to spring training, with Montero and Romine given an opportunity to prove themselves.

“They might be called into duty if we do get to the playoffs,” Girardi said. “You do have to find out what they can do.”

Even before the Cervelli injury, Montero seemed to be opening some eyes with his offense. He was trying to win a roster spot as a designated hitter anyway, now his ability to catch takes on some added importance. That said, the Yankees made it clear on Sunday — when Romine came in as a defensive replacement — that they prefer Romine’s glove behind the plate.

“You think about what we asked them to do yesterday, two really young catchers that had never had a big-league start and neither one had caught in the big-leagues,” Girardi said. “They did a pretty good job.”

• Alex Rodriguez has not swung a bat since being shutdown on Saturday. Girardi said today that Rodriguez might not play against until this weekend’s series in Toronto. “I’m kind of a cage rat over there with Kevin and I can’t even do that,” Rodriguez said. “You sit around patiently (until) it heals up.”

• Nick Swisher is back in the lineup. He said swinging from the left side — like he’ll do tonight against Felix Hernandez — was completely pain-free during a pregame BP session. Swinging from the right side was only slightly painful, more of a slight tug than the sharp pain he was feeling a few days ago. “I just have to stay within myself and not try swing too hard,” he said.

• Swisher’s not ready to play the outfield. He did some throwing pregame and felt fine with shorter throws, but his elbow began bothering him when he stretched it to 120-130 feet. “Just want to make sure we get it all right,” he said. “But first base I think it will be perfectly fine.”

• One last Swisher note: “If I have to get a shot, maybe, to get through this pain toward the end of the season, we’ll go ahead and do that. My biggest thing is I want to be on the field, I want to play, and I’m going to do anything I can to get there.”

• Girardi on Martin: “He’s better. He’s going to come out and throw today and see if he can be an emergency guy for me today, if possible. His thumb is better.”

• Everyone is available in the Yankees bullpen, including Boone Logan.

• Even without Rodriguez in the lineup, the Yankees are sticking with Derek Jeter as the leadoff man, abandoning the use of Brett Gardner in the top spot against right-handers. “Jeet’s been doing a great job, so we’ve just kind stuck with it,” Girardi said.

• Girardi liked the idea of giving Mark Teixeira a half day off. “Unfortunately he got two and a half days off when he got hit in the leg, and I think that kind of rejuvenated him a little bit,” Girardi said. “But this schedule hasn’t done anything for any of our players, so that’s why I chose to DH him today.”

• Girardi on Hughes: “We want some distance from him tonight. He’s going to have to shut them down because of who we’re facing tonight. There’s usually not a lot of runs scored off of Felix, so he’s going to have o be on top of his game.”

• Girardi was asked about calling Romine’s girlfriend on Saturday to finally get in touch with Romine about the call-up. He said the Yankees got the girlfriend’s number from Romine’s agent, and she was apparently very polite when caught off guard by the Yankees manager suddenly calling her cell phone. “She asked me how I was,” Girardi said.

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Kyle Seager 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Mike Carp DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Trayvon Robinson LF
Brendan Ryan SS
Michael Saunders CF

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: “I told him, ‘It’s like riding a bike’”09.11.11

The Yankees have lost four in a row and they’ve scored one run in their past 25 innings. But we’ll get to all of that later.

Tonight’s most intriguing subplot was behind the plate where each of the four catchers on the active roster — and one who’s not yet on the roster — became newsworthy in one way or another.

Jorge Posada
Of course it starts with Posada, who hadn’t caught in a game — any game — since last year’s American League Championship Series. Even though Russell Martin initially stayed in the game, Joe Girardi told Posada to start getting loose just in case.

“That’s incredible, what he did today,” Girardi said. “It showed a lot of guts on his part. I told him, ‘It’s like riding a bike. Go ahead and get back on the bike.’ He wasn’t so sure. I’m not sure he believed me when he went back there, but he did a nice job.”

Chances are Posada won’t be back behind the plate. This was probably his one appearance of the season, and it was clear Posada enjoyed it. CC Sabathia said it was a “welcome sight” and Derek Jeter said it was “just like old times.”

“Fun again,” Posada said. “It was fun. I’ll be sore tomorrow. I’ll sleep well tonight… I didn’t think in September it was going to happen. You’ve got another catcher up here, but baseball’s a funny game.”

Russell Martin
X-rays were negative and Martin was diagnosed with a bruised thumb. After the game, he had it heavily wrapped, but Martin refused to rule out the idea of catching tomorrow.

“It was to the point when I really could feel the baseball in my hand,” Martin said. “I tried to throw to second base and didn’t have any feeling. The ball took off on me. They took me out of the game. We’re going to see probably how it feels tomorrow, just come in and get some treatment on it, and you know, go from there. It’s just a bruised thumb. The X-rays were negative. So, I’m feeling pretty good that I should be able to get in there tomorrow. We’ll see tomorrow. But I’ve played with a bruised thumb before.”

Martin asked to stay in the game, to at least give his hand some time for the feeling to come back. He said the ball hit the tip of his thumb, and his thumbnail split open a little bit, leaving blood coming from the side of his finger.

“I watched Russell throw to CC when he was warming up (before the third), then I saw his throw to second and said, ‘He can’t do it,’” Girardi said.

Francisco Cervelli
Dizzy for a third straight day, Cervelli is going to New York tomorrow for tests and treatment. Cervelli said this is his third concussion, though I was almost certain it was his fourth.

“I had a little dizziness (yesterday), but today is the same, so I had to say something because it’s not normal,” Cervelli said. “… I think I just need to rest a couple of days, but we’ll see what the doctors say.”

Doctors in Los Angeles have told Cervelli it’s safe to fly. Girardi’s not sure when Cervelli will rejoin the team. It might not be before the end of this road trip.

Jesus Montero
With Martin banged up, Cervelli heading for New York and Posada having just caught for the first time in nearly 11 months, Girardi really has only one option to start at catcher tomorrow.

“It would be pretty hard to ask Jorge to go back-to-back days when he hasn’t caught all year,” Girardi said. “We’ll see what we’re going to do tomorrow. Montero will probably catch.”

It would be Jesus Montero’s first time catching a big league game. He’s become a regular at designated hitter, even against right-handers, but he obviously wants to prove himself behind the plate. The first thing he did when he was called up was catch a bullpen with Freddy Garcia, who happens to be tomorrow’s starter.

“I haven’t heard any decisions,” Montero said. “I don’t know anything yet. I might catch. I might not… I would be happy, yeah, to catch my first game in the big leagues.”

Austin Romine
Girardi strongly hinted that the Yankees will add a catcher before tomorrow’s game. He wouldn’t say who — or even confirm that a move will be made — but he said, “Let’s see who gets here tomorrow.”

Asked specifically about Romine, Girardi smiled and said, “He’s a possibility.”

Here’s Posada.

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Here’s Martin.

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• CC Sabathia doesn’t have a start like this one very often. He allowed eight hits and four walks through six innings, but gave up only one run because he made huge pitches — and got some huge defensive plays — when he needed them. “I felt like I had to battle,” he said. “Fastball command was really off, and I couldn’t get ahead of anybody but we were able to make some pitches and try to keep the game close.”

• The Yankees still had a shot until Hector Noesi gave up four runs in the seventh, two of them on a home run by .183-hitter Jeff Mathis. George Kontos made his big league debut in relief of Noesi and gave up a solo shot to Torii Hunter. “That’s my fault,” Sabathia said. “I need to be able to go deep into games. I know the guys have been sucking it up in September. A lot of guys are tired. They’ve been used a lot. I blame that game on me.”

• Girardi on the bullpen: “Noesi has thrown the ball pretty good for us. He had a rough day today. We’re not scoring runs, and that changes the way you run a game, in a sense. We’re going to need those guys when we’re winning games or are tied. It’s frustrating, but this team has bounced back a lot this year. We’re in a tough streak right now, but we’ll bounce back.”

• The Yankees have scored just one run since the second inning of Thursday’s game in Baltimore. “We need to swing the bats better,” Derek Jeter said. “That’s the bottom line. They’ve pitched well; you run up against good pitching. It’s going to be tough at times. It’s one of those streaks where it doesn’t seem like too many people are hitting.”

• Girardi said the decision to go with Posada behind the plate was an easy one. He didn’t want to lose his DH so early in the game, and that would have happened had he gone to Montero.

• Posada said he expected the Angels to try to run on him, so he wasn’t surprised when the first base runner took off. “I knew they were going to attempt, so just be prepared, be ready,” Posada said. “It’s been a while, but I just got rid of it.”

• The throw was high, but Robinson Cano made a nifty leaping catch and tag to get the out.

• Jeter said he didn’t say much to Posada on the field. “’Good throw,’ that’s about it,” Jeter said. “I didn’t get too deep.”

• Martin was asked if he could have positioned himself differently to avoid being hit in the hand. “They talk a lot about having your hand behind your back,” he said. “When there’s guys on base, you have to have your hand in position to make the transfer. That was the situation where there was a guy on first base, or second base, I don’t remember where he was. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. My hand was right behind my glove.”

• Cervelli was asked if he was this dizzy before he left Baltimore. “After the collision, yeah,” he said. “I was catching. I don’t know how, but I stayed there. The next day, everything was sore: Nose, mouth, neck. I’m just dizzy right now. I just think I need a couple of days.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “Might as well let them get healthy”09.10.11

Just a few days ago, the mounting injuries in the Yankees clubhouse seemed to be a minor issue. A handful of guys were banged up, but none of the issues seemed serious. If anything, most guys seemed to be getting better.

Today, the feeling was different. Alex Rodriguez’s thumb injury just won’t go away. Nick Swisher isn’t sure how long he’ll be out. Francisco Cervelli was a late scratch (again). Boone Logan is still not available.

“I’m trying to win, just like I was last year,” Joe Girardi said. “If they can play, and be productive, I’m going to play them. If we feel like they’ll play and not be productive, we might as well let them get healthy so they can be productive. That’s what I have to measure.”

One-by-one, these are the issues the Yankees are dealing with.

Alex Rodriguez
This is the same thumb injury that’s bothered him ever since he made the awkward backhanded play in Minneapolis three weeks ago. The Yankees have tried to manage it with occasional days off, but it hasn’t quite gone away, and Rodriguez told Girardi after last night’s game that it was still bothering him.

“I feel like there’s a big difference between being hurt and playing through bumps and bruises,” Rodriguez said. “I can certainly play through bumps and bruises. Even with bumps and bruises, I can do serious damage. But the way I am right now, I don’t think it’s possible.”

Since coming off the disabled list — he injured the thumb the first day back — Rodriguez has hit just .194/.370/.389 with three extra-base hits in 10 games. He went for an additional MRI in New York last week, but Rodriguez thinks it’s actually been getting better, it’s just not fully healed yet.

“We’re trying to get him going, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “If you keep taking these breaks, it’s hard to get going, and that’s the frustrating part.”

Nick Swisher
The test results could have been much worse. Swisher’s MRI revealed no structural damage, but it did show what Swisher described as “a lot of inflammation.” Girardi called it tendonitis, but the bottom line is this: Swisher is day-to-day, but he doesn’t seem to have a long-term issue.

“It’s a bummer because, right now, you want to be in there every day,” Swisher said. “Everyone is tired, everyone is going through their aches and pains, but you definitely want to try and be out there. Right now, we have relax a little bit. We just need to chill for a couple days.”

Swisher doesn’t seem to have a timetable. He’s going to do treatment today, and what he does tomorrow will depend on how he feels. Girardi expects this to be a smaller issue that Rodriguez’s thumb.

“I think Alex’s thumb might be more of a continual problem,” Girardi said. “Swish is probably just a few days rest of some medicine, some treatment. He should be ok. Tendonitis usually clears up. But Alex, we’ll just have to wait.”

Francisco Cervelli
After being run over by Nick Markakis on Thursday, Cervelli has been in the Yankees lineup two days in a row, only to be scratched each time. Girardi said Cervelli has some concussion symptoms, and he was sent for an ImPACT test tonight.

Andruw Jones
There’s no injury here, but the Yankees are cautious because Jones’ has a history of knee problems, and they don’t want to push him too hard when he’s not used to playing every day. Jones has missed only one day so far this month, so Girardi wanted to give him a day off. That’s why he’s not in right field tonight.

Boone Logan
Girardi plans to stay away from Logan again tonight. He’ll also stay away from Luis Ayala, and he has to check with Cory Wade, but Rafael Soriano is available again. Logan hasn’t had more than one day off since August 27, and in that span he’s thrown three days in a row once, and three out of four twice. His velocity has dipped lately, and the Yankees think fatigue and dead arm might be the cause.

Eduardo Nunez was pretty funny when he saw the lineup posted this afternoon. His reaction was a single word that can’t be printed in this space, and he was laughing about it when reporters asked about his first career start in right field.

“I knew if they needed me, I could play outfield, but I didn’t know I was starting today,” he said. “They didn’t tell me… It’s fun. It’s a new experience. I’ll do the best I can.”

Nunez has played right field only once in his life. It was earlier this season in Baltimore, and he caught the only ball hit to him. He played some left field in spring training, and he’s played both corners during batting practice.

“The way he’s swung the bat (was a factor),” Girardi said. “And I liked his at-bats against Haren the last time we played. And it might be something we have to do… Sometimes you have to look at it, and if we’re fortunate enough to get a lead, we can always make a switch.”

Here’s Nunez. At the end of the group interview someone wished him luck. “I need luck,” Nunez said.

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• Terrific pitching matchup tonight with CC Sabathia and Dan Haren. “Two guys who really know how to use the strike zone,” Girardi said. “They know how to mix their pitches, they know how to throw offspeed behind in the count. When you look at Danny Haren, he’s going to throw a split, a lot of cutters, he’s going to throw curveballs, he’s going to mix his pitches.

• The Yankees have lost three in a row, all by one run. “It could be fatigue,” Girardi said. “That’s the only thing that I could think of. We have not swung the bats very well lately, and maybe we could turn that around tonight.”

• Girardi is hopeful that he’ll have Rodriguez and Swisher back by the end of the road trip. “We’ve got a long way to go this road trip, so I would sure hope so,” he said. “I would hope to have both of them back before that.”

• Swisher on Nunez taking his spot in right: “He’s an athlete. He can do it.”

Maicer Izturis 3B
Peter Bourjos CF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Torii Hunter DH
Mark Trumbo 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Mike Trout RF
Erick Aybar SS
Jeff Mathis C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 32 Comments →

Postgame notes: “I’ve got a lot of energy”08.31.11

The top of the first inning wasn’t over, and already Joe Girardi was on the field arguing with home plate umpire Ed Rapuano. It was that kind of night here in Boston, a night fueled by plenty of emotion, and largely decided by those who were able to contain it.

Francisco Cervelli
The Yankees backup catcher is perhaps the most emotional player on the roster, and he was in the middle of everything tonight. He was behind the plate when CC Sabathia and Boone Logan got out of huge jams, he hit a towering home run off John Lackey, and he stood toe-to-toe with Jarrod Saltalamacchia after Lackey seemed to retaliate with a pitch to the back.

“I don’t remember (what was said),” Cervelli said. “A lot of Spanish. At that moment, I forgot my English. But it’s part of the game, I’ve got a lot of energy.”

Girardi seemed certain Lackey’s pitch was intentional, Cervelli thought the same thing, and so did Sabathia, who was among the agitated Yankees who seemed ready to fight after the plunking.

What would have happened if Sabathia had stayed in the game to pitch the next half inning?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know.”

CC Sabathia
Speaking of Sabathia, while Cervelli was a bundle of energy behind the plate, Sabathia was a picture of calm on the mound. He gave up 10 hits tonight, and he seemed to be in trouble constantly, but he made huge pitches. Adrian Gonzalez was 0-for-4 against him with three strikeouts and a ground ball that ended the sixth inning.

“I was just trying to make pitches,” Sabathia said. “They put some tough at-bats together and tonight I was able to make pitches. They had a lot of runners on base, lot of opportunities but we could make pitches when we needed to. I felt like I had good stuff, felt good, felt strong all the way through. I tried to make sure I controlled my emotions and make pitches.”

Sabathia seemed indifferent to the fact this was his first win against Boston this season. The Yankees needed to win this game, and whatever happened in the past didn’t seem to matter.

“It was a big win against a team we’re chasing,” Sabathia said. “And I look forward to pitching 5 days from now.”

Boone Logan
Can’t forget this guy. He wasn’t in the middle of a near fight like Cervelli, and he didn’t find his way through six innings like Sabathia, but his back-to-back bases-loaded strikeouts in the seventh were huge.

“I haven’t been more relaxed all year,” Logan said. “I know it’s easy to say that after what happened, but that’s the honest truth. I was composed, and the louder the fans got, the more locked in I got.”

Against this lineup, Logan knows this might not be the last time the Yankees need him this series.

“Coming in, I have good confidence right now,” he said. “I’ve been pitching well lately, which is what you need coming in facing the second-best lineup in the league. With all the lefties, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to be getting in a couple of games.”

On an emotional night, the key might have been the one guy who kept his cool. Here’s Sabathia.

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• There were a handful of good lines in the clubhouse tonight, but the best might have come from soft-spoken Larry Rothschild. He was asked whether he said a bad word to get himself ejected after Cervelli was plunked. “More than one,” he said.

• Girardi was ejected with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He argued that Saltalamacchia swung, but the umpires ruled it was a hit by pitch. “The explanation to me is, he said, ‘He got hit, which caused him to swing,’” Girardi said. “That was the explanation I got. He clearly swung to me, and that’s an important out. It’s not like me to blow my top very often, but this is an important game.”

• Girardi said, without question, Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch in the first inning. The umpire ruled that it hit the bat.

• After Cervelli’s long home run, he clapped his hands when he got to home plate. That might have upset Lackey and led to the hit-by-pitch. “Every time I get a base hit or a double, I clap,” Cervelli said. “That’s me, that’s my game, and I don’t try to do anything bad to another player. That’s me, and if they feel a different thing, I say I’m sorry. But I’m not trying to.”

• Asked about his emotional response to Logan getting out of the seventh, Cervelli said, “That’s Cervelli.” Seriously. It was a Rickey moment. Hilarious.

• Girardi said there was no hesitation leaving Sabathia in to finish the sixth inning with his highest pitch count of the season. The Yankees had Cory Wade getting lose in the fifth, and Girardi told Rothschild to sit Wade down after Sabathia got through that inning. It was basically a given, to Girardi, that Sabathia was going back out there. “There’s situations that he’s ready for,” Rothschild said. “And he’s had some extra rest the last four or five starts.”

• Sabathia threw 128 pitches, matching the second-highest total of his career.

• Girardi said it’s possible the Yankees could line up the rotation so that Sabathia gets an extra day before his next start, but it’s not certain they’ll do that. No one seems especially concerned about the pitch count, especially not Sabathia.

• Turns out, Russell Martin is a little banged up after being hit in the toe and the thumb in Baltimore. “We’ll see how he feels (tomorrow),” Girardi said. Martin said it’s a none issue. “I’m alright,” he said.

• Huge play by Robinson Cano to get the second out in the fifth inning. “He’s done that for me a couple times this year,” Sabathia said.

• Girardi’s ejection was hit second of the season, 16th of his career and 11th as Yankees manager. He was also ejected once as a player. The two ejections tonight were only the Yankees second and third ejections of the season.

• Brett Gardner broke an 0-for-14 skid with his seventh-inning single.

• Mariano Rivera got his 35th save of the season, making this his 11th season in which he’s saved at least 35 games. That’s one shy of Trevor Hoffman’s record for 35-save seasons.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 365 Comments →

Between-game notes: “I really don’t feel tired”08.28.11

Obviously winning is the most important thing, and the Yankees didn’t do that this afternoon, but they did come away encouraged by Bartolo Colon. No big-picture issue is more pressing heading into the final month of the season, and Colon eased some concerns with a vintage start.

“It’s real encouraging for us,” Joe Girardi said. “He had struggled a little bit and hadn’t been as sharp. I thought he was real sharp today. Maybe the extra rest helped him recharge a little bit and got him going.”

Larry Rothschild had talked to Colon about trusting his two-seamer, and that pitch was a weapon again tonight (of course, Colon it was a backdoor two-seamer that Vladimir Guerrero hit for an RBI single that put the Orioles on the board). Big picture, Colon eased some concerns about his workload and his ability to maintain velocity and effectiveness this late in the season.

“I really don’t feel tired,” Colon said. “Every time I pitch, I won’t pitch the same. Sometimes I’m going to get hit, and some days I’m going to pitch the way I pitched today.”

Here’s Colon, with Roman Rodriguez translating.

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• Girardi made it clear that he plans to cut to a five-man rotation after the upcoming Boston series. Colon made it clear that he feels ready to remain a starter down the stretch. “I’m a little bit older now, but that’s the way I always pitched, every five days,” he said. “I feel better that way.”

• Derek Jeter fouled a ball off his right leg just above the knee. No surprise, he said it was a non-issue. Didn’t even have it wrapped… Nick Swisher seemed bothered after a play in the outfield, but he also said it was no big deal. “Just rolled around a little out there,” he said… Francisco Cervelli had his left leg wrapped after taking a foul ball while catching. He said he’s fine. “Just a bruise,” he said.

• Zach Britton was a mess the last time he faced the Yankees. This time he pitched seven scoreless with just four hits and one walk. “We expect a lot out of this lineup,” Swisher said. “And when something like that happens to us, we take that to heart. I’m really excited to see how we bounce back today.

• When Girardi went to the mound for the first time in the eighth inning, it was strictly to discuss strategy and what the Orioles might do. He had no thoughts of taking Colon out at that point.

• Girardi said no one did anything wrong on the hit by Jeter that turned into a fielder’s choice when Cervelli was thrown out at second. Cervelli had to wait to decide whether the right fielder would catch it, and was stuck in no-man’s land. “It’s just a tough play that you see once in a while,” Girardi said. “There’s nothing Cervy can do there.”

•  Curtis Granderson said he simply didn’t get there in time on the bloop single that feel kind of between him and Robinson Cano. He didn’t think Cano ever had a real shot at the ball either.

• Cano struck out twice today, only the 13th time he’s done that this season. He hasn’t struck out three times in a game this year.

• Cano’s team-leading 17-game hitting streak came to an end.

• This was Colon’s first loss in a day game this season. He is now 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA in day games. “I have no idea (why),” he said. “I never pay attention to that.”

• Girardi said he still wasn’t sure who would start the second game. He needed to check with all of his guys. Not sure when we’ll get a lineup.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 251 Comments →

The three exceptions08.08.11

The Yankees have used 40 different players this season, a list that includes brief stints by Buddy Carlyle, Steve Garrison, Brian Gordon, Jeff Marquez, Amauri Sanit, Brandon Laird and Greg Golson. They’ve sent 17 different players to the disabled list, including two starting pitchers, two setup relievers and two starting infielders.

But after 113 games, the current roster looks remarkably similar to the Opening Day roster. Only three current Yankees were not on the team on March 31.

Francisco Cervelli
In place of Gustavo Molina
Really, this was Cervelli’s job all along. It was momentarily up for grabs when Cervelli was hurt in spring training, but his temporary replacement, Molina, got exactly three at-bats before Cervelli was activated. It might be a different story had Jesus Montero won the job out of camp, but he didn’t, and Cervelli’s taken his familiar spot on the bench. He’s more-or-less become Sabathia’s personal catcher in a behind-the-place rotation that lets Russell Martin get a regular day off every five days. So far the Yankees have stuck with Cervelli rather than call Montero up from Triple-A.

Cory Wade
In place of Joba Chamberlain
I guess this is the way it’s worked out: Rafael Soriano has replaced Chamberlain in the seventh inning, Dave Robertson has replaced Soriano in the eighth, and Wade has replaced Robertson as the middle-innings, get-out-of-trouble reliever. Signing Wade to a minor league deal on June 13 was one of the best and least noticed moves of the season. He has the lowest WHIP on the team, even lower than the closer. For a while it seemed that Luis Ayala was emerging as the the top reliever beyond the late-inning trio, but that distinction clearly belongs to Wade these days. He got a big out for the Yankees on Friday, and he’s been without question the organization’s best in-season addition.

Hector Noesi
In place of Alex Rodriguez
With Rodriguez on the disabled list, the Yankees are carrying an extra pitcher, and essentially that’s the spot Noesi is filling. He’s taken the role that belonged to Bartolo Colon on Opening Day — a multi-inning reliever capable of pitching key late innings if necessary — and now that Colon has joined the original five starters, Noesi is filling the open spot in the bullpen. Given the Yankees young rotation depth, it’s inevitable that some young starters are going to be moved into the bullpen, and Noesi has taken to the role. He’s had some rocky outings — he struggled on Saturday — but as a long man, he’s been generally reliable and occasionally outstanding.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 531 Comments →

Postgame notes: “When I’m right, I can get anybody”08.06.11

It’s easy to see the trend developing between CC Sabathia and the Red Sox. The numbers paint a pretty convincing picture, and it’s not a good one for the Yankees ace: He’s 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against the rest of baseball, but 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against Boston. He’d allowed a total of seven runs in his previous eight starts, but allowed seven runs in six innings today.

“I can see (being worried) if I hadn’t beat them in the last three years,” Sabathia said. “But I have. So that gives me confidence to know that I can go out and pitch well against this team.”

The Yankees are quick to point out that Sabathia allowed just one run in one of those Boston losses, and it was one bad inning that cost him in another. Instead of looking for broad story lines, they focused on the specifics of this start. Again, the evidence was convincing.

Sabathia: “Fastball command wasn’t there. Everybody knows I throw everything off my fastball. It was just cutting and up-and-out and just all over the place. It was a tough day today.”

Francisco Cervelli: “Early in the game we had no fastball control, so it was tough with the Red Sox lineup. It’s tough, man. If you get behind, if you make mistakes, you’re going to pay because they’re really good.”

Larry Rothschild: “I think you need all your pitches in a game like today. I think he got into a little bit of a pattern of throwing fastballs when he didn’t have to in some situations, and he didn’t command it as good as he has been. He was up a lot. Even the strikes were up and away. They weren’t located as well as he usually locates them. It was one of those days for him.”

Fastball command was the issue today. Sabathia said it was fastball command that got him into hitters’ counts, and it was fastball command that left hitable pitches over the plate. If there was an adjustment to be made, it didn’t happen quickly enough.

“When I’m right, I can get anybody,” Sabathia said. “It’s just one of those things.”

Here’s Sabathia. It’s kind of hard to hear parts of it, but he did his interview out in the concourse so bad audio is unavoidable.

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Three comments about pitch selection, and whether Sabathia should have adjusted without his fastball command:

Sabathia: “It’s just me not recognizing it early enough and going to other pitches. Maybe use my changeup a little more, maybe use my cutter a little more. In some of those hitters counts, I was just trying to make a pitch with a fastball and it just wasn’t working out for me.”

Rothschild: “They’re going to have prolonged at-bats and they’re going to make adjustments. You have to be able to make adjustments, and the only way to do that is to have command of more than one pitch.”

Cervelli: “Maybe if the fastball is in a good location and they get jammed, it’s another opinion. I’ve got my plans. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s wrong.”

• The pitching matchup seemed lopsided in the Yankees favor, but John Lackey was able to limit the damage. The Yankees were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and they left nine men on base. The leadoff man reached base in the sixth, seventh and ninth without the Yankees scoring a run.

• The best chance to get back in the game came when the first three batters reached in the fifth. The Yankees got only one run out of it because Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira struck out, and Robinson Cano grounded to third. “Boston had already done what they needed to do,” Granderson said. “We had to play catch-up and we weren’t able to go ahead and get even.”

• On the other side, the decisive blow was certainly Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out, three-run homer in the fourth. Ellsbury doubled his previous career-high with six RBI. “It’s another missed location,” Sabathia said of the home run pitch. “Two fastballs down and away, and then I give one up and out over the plate like he likes it. He just put a good swing on it.”

• Against Sabathia: David Ortiz was hitless, Adrian Gonzalez had one hit, Carl Crawford went 3-for-3 and Ellsbury was 1-for-2 with the home run and a sac fly. Lefties are hitting .200 against Sabathia this season, but Crawford and Ellsbury were especially damaging against him today.

• Seven runs was a season-high for Sabathia. The five-run fourth was his second-worst inning of the season.

• One positive note on Sabathia: He struck out six, giving him nine straight starts with at least that many strikeouts. That’s a career-long streak, and last Yankees pitchers to have that many consecutive six-strikeout games was Roger Clemens in 2001.

• Girardi said he believes Hector Noesi will be fine after being hit by a line drive in the ninth. The ball hit his chest and bounced up to hit his face. “I think he’s fine, but he’s probably a little sore,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of the bullpen, Girardi said he believes the bullpen will be fine for tomorrow, but he will have Phil Hughes just in case. “If I need him, depending on what kind of game it is,” Girardi said.

• Cervelli went 3-for-4, improving to 6-for-10 against the Red Sox this season and 18-for-42 in 13 career games against Boston. He’s a .478 hitter in seven career games at Fenway.

• Robinson Cano has gone hitless in back-to-back games at Fenway for the first time in his career.

• Mark Teixeira’s team-leading 32nd home run was his four career homer off Daniel Bard. No other major leaguer has more than one home run against Bard.

• Granderson stole his 100th career base in the fourth inning. He also scored his Major League-leading 100th run of the season.

• Girardi on Alex Rodriguez: “He took BP, took some ground balls and moved a little bit. Basically the same stuff he’s been doing, a little bit more, though.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 130 Comments →

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