When he looked into the stands, Joe Girardi saw his old friend Dante Bichette holding a video camera. When he looked onto the the field, Girardi saw Dante Bichette Jr. rounding the bases.
Could he imagine the feeling of ever watching his own son hit two home runs in a big league spring training game? Girardi leaned back and smiled.
“Hopefully I’ll get that chance,” he said.
This afternoon, Bichette Jr. came up from minor league camp to get a couple of at-bats against the Astros. First time he went to the plate, he swung at the first pitch and hit a wind-aided home run to right. Second time he went to the plate, he again swung at the first pitch, and hit a legitimate shot to center field.
“I was lucky to make contact with the first two swings, and they went pretty far,” Bichette Jr. said. “I’m happy with that. I was just trying to hit the ball, that’s all. … Family is the world to me, so my Mom and Dad here is everything. It’s a family effort, everything that’s happened so far, so having them here is perfect.”
Bichette Jr. grew up 20 minutes from this ballpark and played here in high school. Hard to imagine he ever had a day quite like this one, though. The wind got harsh as a line of bad weather moved through the area, and that helped the two teams combine for nine home runs. Bichette’s first was a product of that wind. The second one surely got some help, but he hit it pretty hard.
“It was pretty special,” Girardi said. “The second one, he really hit. Seeing his mom and dad, who we’ve been close to for a long time, his little brother; they played on this field a lot. They greew up in the area, so he’s been on this field. It’s pretty neat.”
Did Girardi say anything to Bichette Jr. in the dugout?
“I don’t know, honestly,” Bichette Jr. said. “I don’t remember any of them. It was kind of surreal.”
• If you missed it in the game post, the Yankees final diagnosis of Cesar Cabral is a stress fracture in his olecranon (essentially the tip of his elbow). Girardi said it’s the same injury Warner Madrigal had last spring, and an injury Jonathan Albaladejo had at one point. “It’s frustrating because he had a really good camp for us,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you what was going to happen, but he had a good camp for us.”
• Francisco Cervelli was taken out of the game after being hit by a pitch in the forearm, but he’s fine. Girardi said there are no concerns about it.
• Certainly the conditions didn’t help, but Adam Warren conceded that he “just wasn’t sharp” this afternoon. He allowed six runs on 10 hits through 5.2 innings. He walked none and struck out three, but said his command was bad from the very beginning. He did feel better as the game progressed, he said. Four of those runs came in the second inning.
• Girardi on Warren: “I thought he threw the ball better than the numbers indicated. It’s a windy day, an extremely fast infield — not great conditions to be a pitcher here. I thought he threw the ball better than what it indicated.”
• The game was called in the middle of the ninth inning because of steady rain. Each team agreed there was no sense taking the risk of injury. “We just said, ‘If it starts raining any harder, we don’t want to get anyone hurt,’” Girardi explained. “It kind of stopped a little bit, they put down some Diamond Dry, and then it started raining hard again. So, that’s it.”
• Clay Rapada gave up a home run to a lefty today, but it was hit to right field, where the wind was carrying fly balls over the wall. Hard to think the Yankees make too much of that.
• Raul Ibanez now has three home runs in his past five games. He’s also raised his spring batting average more than 100 points in that time.
• Curtis Granderson went 3-for-3 to raise his spring average to .381. He’s looked really good at the plate from the very beginning of spring. … Bichette, Ibanez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira each had two-hit games. … Jose Gil got a start and had another hit. A 1-for-4 day dropped his spring average to .455. … Doug Bernier also had another hit and is having a nice spring of his own. He’s hitting .344 and has played very good defense all over the infield, particularly at short. … Preston Claiborne got in the game and pitched the final two innings for the Yankees. He allowed two runs, one of them on a homer.
• After the game, the Yankees got back on the bus to go to Tampa. When they get back, the guy who are making the road trip to play the Marlins will join their teammates for a flight to Miami. Tomorrow is a day game followed by a night game on Monday. I’m going to hit the road myself. Long drive ahead of me.
Assocaited Press photos
Monday notes from the minor league complex • 03.26.12
I doubt the Yankees would ever frame it this way, but essentially they have to decide whether Phil Hughes will be more like the 2010 version of himself or the 2011 version. So far, he’s very clearly looked more like 2010, and he’s been able to maintain that level of performance throughout the spring.
“The beginning of that year, you come in and that real-season adrenalin starts to kick in,” Hughes said. “Everything is a little bit better, a little bit crisper. I don’t think I’m pitching that well at this point, but that’s not to say that it can’t be there when April rolls around and we get things going. I feel like I’m close.”
Hughes’ fastball velocity has been fairly consistent this spring, and I talked to one scout today who said he wouldn’t be surprised to see it topping out a little higher a month or two into the season. He’s started throwing a harder, tigher curveball, and his changeup seems to be even better than it was in 2010. He’s walked two hitters all spring.
“I think he’s very close (to 2010) right now,” Francisco Cervelli said. “He’s got to keep working, because the season is long. He has to keep getting stronger.”
He looks strong right now, and if he keeps pitching at his 2010 level, I’ll be surprised if Hughes isn’t in the rotation come Opening Day.
• Hughes was pitching for the High-A team. The Low-A group was also in Tampa today. Triple-A and Double-A were on the road in Clearwater. The Low-A Charleston lineup is really, really impressive. Check it out at the bottom of this post.
• Andy Pettitte will throw his second batting practice tomorrow, but Larry Rothschild said he’s not sure what comes after that. He’s also not sure whether Pettitte will get in a game this spring, but he doesn’t seem to be ruling out the possibility.
• Joe Girardi was home visiting his ill father this morning but Rothschild, Rob Thomson, Billy Eppler and Brian Cashman were among the Yankees decision makers watching Hughes pitch.
• Center field prospect Mason Williams and catching prospect Gary Sanchez have been moved from the Tampa group to the Charleston group (which was expected). J.R. Murphy has been moved from Trenton to Tampa. Those assignments are more in keeping with where they’ll almost certainly open the regular season.
• Speaking of Sanchez, he and Tyler Austin hit back-to-back homers in the Low-A game today.
• I didn’t see it, but apparently Ravel Santana made his spring debut today. He’s back from a ankle injury.
• George King reported yesterday that the Phillies might be interested in Ramiro Pena to help them fill their sudden hole in the infield. Today I heard it’s true that the Phillies might have some interest, but only at a cheap price. They’re not willing to give up much. Today the Phillies signed Chin-lung Hu to give them some utility depth.
• Very good to see P.J. Pilittere this afternoon. The former Yankees minor league catcher is now a coach in the Yankees system. Very good guy. Could be a natural manager some day.
• Here are today’s lineups for Tampa and Charleston. This might be the actual Opening Day lineup for Charleston, and it’s loaded with legitimate prospects. Pretty impressive, actually.
Eduardo Sosa CF
Kelvin Castro 2B
Ramon Flores LF
Rob Segedin RF
Kyle Roller 1B
J.R. Murphy DH (went to catcher in the seventh)
Zach Wilson 3B (made a nice play in the field today)
Carmen Angelini SS
Francisco Cervelli C
Mason Williams CF
Ben Gamel LF
Dante Bichette 3B
Gary Sanchez C
Tyler Austin RF
Cito Culver SS
Angelo Gumbs 2B
Reymond Nunez 1B
Anderson Feliz DH
• Finally, I’ll be hosting a chat here on the blog at noon on Wednesday. Stop by if you can. I’m sure we’ll jump into the rotation decision and some of the guys who have made noise this spring.
Associated Press photos
Freddy Garcia could have made things easy for the Yankees this afternoon. Instead, he might have made things harder. Showing absolutely no rust in his first start back from a swollen right hand, Garcia pitched 4.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and two walks. The only hit he allowed was a comebacker — of course — that glanced off his leg.
“Freddy was great today,” Joe Girardi said, not even waiting for a reporter to ask him a question. “I mean, everything; slow curveball he used to get ahead in the count sometimes, located his fastball, his split was good, his backdoor slider was good. He had it all. We got him to 64 pitches, so I was very pleased.”
Garcia doesn’t have the longterm upside of Phil Hughes, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova — which means the Yankees might choose to cut him out of the rotation regardless of results — but he’s been very sharp this spring. Garcia ERA is down to 2.92, and he’s looked very much like the guy who pitched so well for the Yankees last season.
“Last year, I signed a minor-league deal and came to spring training to earn a spot,” Garcia said. “Everything was harder for me because I had to come here and pitch really good and show them I can pitch in this league. (This winter) I signed early, but they signed guys and (Girardi) said he liked competition, and we’re in competition. I like that. It’s making my thinking straight. I concentrate better on what you’re doing.”
After last week’s hand injury — on a comebacker in Dunedin — Garcia might have fallen to the back of the pack, but he looked today as if he hadn’t missed a step. Whether you believe him or not, Girardi has said the Yankees will take their five best starting pitchers, and right now Garcia has been more consistent than anyone but Phil Hughes.
“I have to worry about myself and go out there and pitch,” Garcia said. “The way I pitched today, you know, I needed it.”
• Raul Ibanez’s two-run home run in the seventh inning not only gave the Yankees the lead, it also snapped him out of a hitless streak dating back to March 10. “It felt good to be able to make a left turn instead of a right turn,” Ibanez said.
• Ibanez credited extra work with Kevin Long. The two spent an extended session in the cage yesterday, and Ibanez said it paid off. “I felt like I was in a better position to hit,” he said. “And in a better position to take a good swing.”
• Because the Yankees are facing a left-handed starter tomorrow, Ibanez will go to the minor league complex to get at-bats. It’s not uncommon for big league hitters to leadoff every inning in minor league spring training games. They can often get more at-bats by hitting in multiple games. “I told him, as many (at-bats) as he wants,” Girardi said.
• Garcia was fine after being hit by a Jhonny Peralta comebacker in the third inning. He quickly dismissed the training staff and stayed in the game, but it was kind of freaky to see a pitcher hit in his first game back from a comebacker. “It happened to me twice,” Garcia sad. “But it’s nothing to worry about.”
• Dewayne Wise continued his strong spring training with a game-winning, two-run double in the 10th inning. The Yankees went into extras after the Tigers tied the game with two-runs in the ninth. Both runs came off D.J. Mitchell, who was pitching his third inning of work and seemed to lose the strike zone a little bit.
• Another strong showing for Cesar Cabral who had one strikeout in a hitless bottom of the 10th. The Rule 5 pick has 12 strikeouts and only one walk this spring.
• Justin Maxwell picked up his fourth stolen base of the spring as part of a double steal in the 10th inning. Maxwell stole third. … Jose Gil’s batting average is down to .563 after a 1-for-2 day. … Mark Teixeira and Colin Curtis also had hits today. … Boone Logan retired the two batters he faced, and Kevin Whelan retired the three batters he faced.
• Although Joba Chamberlain is being released from the hospital tomorrow, Girardi said he’s not sure when Chamberlain will stop by Yankees camp. Girardi expects Chamberlain to be in camp again at some point, but it might not happen right away. “He’s not capable of driving, so we might see him next week some time,” Girardi said. “It just depends what he wants to do.”
Associated Press photos
Wednesday notes: Mitchell steals the show • 03.14.12
Manny Banuelos is considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and there have been days — both this spring and last spring — when he’s shown every bit of that potential. Today was not one of those days, and it was instead often-overshadowed D.J. Mitchell who stole the show.
“(Banuelos) couldn’t throw his secondary pitches for strikes and he was behind,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s just a tough combination. Look at what D.J. Mitchell did. He was able to throw his curveball and his changeup when he was behind in the count to get back in the count and throw some fastballs for strikes. Manny just really struggled with his command.”
Banuelos labored through a four-run fifth inning when he allowed three hits, walked two batters and coughed up Edwin Encarnacion’s second home run of the day. If previous starts have been a reminder of what he can become, today was a reminder that he’s still very young with inconsistent command. It’s nothing that can’t be sorted out, but there’s still some development to be done.
“He’s a young guy and he’s got four pitches to be in the big leagues,” Francisco Cervelli said. “But with the experience, he’s going to learn how you can make adjustments during the game and have more patience. It’s just a bad day. Next time he’s going to come back and of what he always does because it’s great. I think he’s top three over here, best rookie guys.”
As for the top rookie in camp? Mitchell is making his case. He closed today’s game with three hitless innings, striking out four and walking none. Often labeled as a sinkerballer, Mitchell was drawing praise just last week from a Yankees official who said he doesn’t get enough credit for his secondary pitches. Mitchell does generate a lot of ground balls, but they don’t have to come from his two-seamer. He can get them with his changeup, curveball and slider. He did hit two batter today, but through seven innings in big league camp, Mitchell has allowed just three hits.
He was awfully good this afternoon, and Girardi noticed.
• Obvoiusly the Yankees got good news on Freddy Garcia’s injured right hand, but there will be considerably curiosity tomorrow to find out whether the injury will cause him to miss significant time. “That’s why we try to have depth every year in case you do run into something freaky like this injury,” Girardi said before hearing the x-ray results. “I hope it’s not going to keep him down, but we’ll find out.”
• Garcia was pitching well at the time of the injury. He’d allowed one run through three innings and had just stranded two runners in the bottom of third. Edwin Encarnacion’s comebacker came in the first at-bat of the fourth. “Freddy’s Freddy,” Girardi said. “He commands all his offspeed. He commands his fastball. He changes speeds. And that’s exactly what he did today. His split was effective. Just got his hand in the way. That’s the only thing I didn’t like.”
• Cervelli on how Garcia was pitching for the injury: “It was great. It was really, really good. The split was good A lot of fastballs today. I think he was throwing 90, a lot of movement in the fastball. Really good. His plan was really good today.”
• It’s a positive sign that Dave Robertson was able to jog without pain, but Girardi said he’ll need to throw a few times on the side before he starts getting into games again. “He’s been out long enough that I think he’s got to do some bullpens,” Girardi said.
• Girardi seems to be used to getting velocity questions. This was the first thing he said about Robertson’s half hour on a treadmill: “I don’t have the speed, but there was no pain.”
• In between Garcia’s three innings and Mitchell’s three innings, both Banuelos and Cory Wade pitched an inning. Wade gave up a two-run homer to J.P. Arencibia, letting Garcia’s final base runner come around to score. Wade also had two strikeouts in his inning.
• In spring training, the media is usually in the clubhouse by the fifth or sixth inning, so I didn’t see any of the Yankees seventh-inning rally. They scored four runs in the seventh, all of them generated by non-starters. Doug Bernier had a bases-loaded, two-run double and Dewayne Wise followed with his own two-run double. Wise also had a stolen base in the inning.
• The one Yankees run I did see came on Curtis Granderson’s RBI double in the third inning. It was one of two doubles for Granderson who’s hitting .316 this spring. Granderson and Wise each had two hits.
• Other Yankees with hits: Derek Jeter, Corban Joseph, Mark Teixeira, Cole Garner, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and Cervelli. Cervelli and Garner each doubled. The Yankees lost 7-5.
Associated Press photos
Pregame notes: Explaining a wild card tie • 09.26.11
Not directly connected to the Yankees, but people have asked about this scenario and Major League Baseball just sent a press release explaining what would happen if there were a three-way tie for the American League wild card.
If the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finish in a three-way tie for the Wild Card, then two games will be played in the first two days after the regular season. The games will be played according to designations based on the head-to-head three-way records among the tied clubs:
• The Rays went 12-6 against the Red Sox and 4-4 against the Angels. Combined: 16-10 (.615).
• The Red Sox went 6-12 against the Rays and 6-2 against the Angels. Combined: 12-14 (.462).
• The Angels went 4-4 against the Rays and 2-6 against the Red Sox. Combined: 6-10 (.375).
The designations dictate that:
• Club A would host Club B on Thursday, September 29th.
• Club C would play at the winner of the A vs. B game on Friday, September 30th.
Because the Rays held the best head-to-head record among the three tied clubs, the Rays received the first choice of designation and the Red Sox had the second choice. If such a scenario arises:
• The Rays have chosen to be Club C, playing a road game on Friday, September 30th.
• The Red Sox have chosen to be Club A, hosting the first tiebreaker game on Thursday, September 29th.
• The Angels, as Club B, would play the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday.
• The winner of the Thursday’s Angels-Red Sox game would host the Rays on Friday, September 30th.
• The winner of Friday’s game would be the American League Wild Card.
In the National League, the potential two-way National League Wild Card tie between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals would be broken with a tiebreaker game on Thursday, September 29th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Head-to-head record determines home-field advantage in a two-way tie, and the Cardinals earned a 5-1 advantage over the Braves in the season series.
• Girardi wants to use Phil Hughes out of the bullpen tonight and Wednesday to get Hughes readjusted to life as a reliever. Hughes could obviously go multiple innings, and he said he wouldn’t be hesitant to pitch back-to-back days. As for the transition to pitching one inning at a time: “It’s easy,” he said. “Just let it go.”
• Girardi on the role Hughes might play in the bullpen: “He can be a multiple-inning guy for us, it could be a one-inning guy. We’ve seen him have a lot of success out of there. And that’s why we think it’s important to get him in there a couple of times.”
• The Yankees are no closer to deciding a Game 3 starter in the playoffs, and Girardi insists it’s not necessarily between Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett. “Bartolo is starting again and I’m gonna look at that, too,” Girardi said.
• Aside from Hughes, Girardi made it sound like he has no plans of using any of his go-to pitchers on Wednesday. He wants them to have two full days off before the playoffs begin on Friday.
• Francisco Cervelli tried to throw and go through catching drills today, and his concussion symptoms returned. Sounds like he’s as close to completely ruled out as he could be (if he weren’t there already).
• Hector Noesi is good for 70-80 pitches, which is a little more than his previous spot start.
• In the past, managers have occasionally let a player manage the last game of the season. Girardi said he might do that on Wednesday. “Depends if the game means anything,” Girardi said.
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon DH
Matt Joyce RF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS
Associated Press photos
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
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
Pregame notes: Swisher back in the outfield • 09.13.11
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.”
• 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
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
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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.”
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.”
• 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.”
• 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