Finding answers and finding a way • 07.11.11
On the day before the all-star break, a doctor in Florida confirmed what a doctor in New York had already discovered. Alex Rodriguez has a torn meniscus in his right knee. He needs surgery, and he’s likely to miss a month or more.
It’s not yet official, but Rodriguez is about to become the 15th Yankee to go on the disabled list this season, more than they had on the DL all of last year.
“There’s no doubt we’re going to miss him,” Joe Girardi said. “But we need to find a way.”
The Yankees kept finding ways through the first half of the season.
Their thin rotation lost Phil Hughes, then it lost Hughes’ replacement. Their deep bullpen lost one setup man, then lost another, and it has yet to see its new left-handed specialist. The lineup was without its shortstop for an extended period of time, and the team’s catcher, right fielder and third baseman have missed time with nagging injuries. Their top bench player has been on the DL since May 6.
“You just got to keep going,” Curtis Granderson said. “You can’t dwell on it too much.”
The Yankees have kept going because guys like Granderson and Freddy Garcia and Dave Robertson have helped to fill the holes, but on this first day of the all-star break, the Yankees remain incomplete. Their approach to the second half might depend on how many pieces fall back into place.
Can Rodriguez come back quickly and fully? Will Rafael Soriano keep moving forward? Is Hughes back to last year’s form?
If the answer to all three of those questions is yes, then the Yankees might not have much work to do at the trade deadline. If the answer to any of those questions is no, then they might have a significant issue — in the lineup, in the bullpen, or in the rotation — that will need to be addressed.
My hope is to spend this day on the blog looking at some of the questions that the Yankees have yet to answer. In some ways, each season’s first half is about figuring out the right questions to ask, and the second half is about answering them. To use Girardi’s phrase, it’s all about finding a way.
“We have a strong team,” Russell Martin said. “Obviously we’re going to miss (Rodriguez)’s bat in the lineup, but I think we’ll be able to keep pushing hard without him.”
Associated Press photos
Postgame notes: Teixeira day-to-day • 06.08.11
The Yankees lost sole possession of first place in the American League East tonight. They could have lost much more.
Mark Teixeira seems to be relatively OK after being hit in the right knee by a first-inning pitch. Teixeira gets hit quite a bit, but this one was different. Teixeira was left squirming in the dirt, and he had trouble walking off the field, even with help from Joe Girardi and Tony Pena.
“My concern was that he fractured his kneecap,” Girardi said. “Tex has been hit a lot in three years that we’ve had him, and I’ve never seen him show that much pain before. He’s tough. He’s played with a broken toe and a lot of ailments. He was in a lot of pain, and that was scary.”
Girardi said Teixeira will probably not play tomorrow. Teixeira said not to rule it out.
“I always hope to play tomorrow. Always,” he said. “If I’m alright to go tomorrow, I’m going to go.”
First place on June 8 is something the Yankees want. Teixeira is someone they need. At this point in the season, Teixeira’s health immediately became the greatest concern. X-rays were negative, and Teixeira was diagnosed with a contusion (basically a bone bruise). He said there was never much swelling, and it wasn’t too painful after the game.
“It hit right there, kind of in between the knee cap and the side of the knee,” he said. “It was actually a lucky place. If it hits on the knee cap, it might do a lot of damage, so I feel lucky in that regard.”
Said Alex Rodriguez: “There are certain guys you can’t go without, and Tex is one of those guys. He’s in the middle of our lineup, and he produces day in and day out on both sides. I had a little bit of a flashback to the postseason when he got hurt running down the bases. You talk about him or Robbie, there are some guys that are irreplaceable.”
• Freddy Garcia threw a total of 46 pitches tonight. That’s all it took for Girardi to realize his starter didn’t have it. “He was up. He was behind. His stuff wasn’t crisp tonight,” Girardi said. “It’s really the first start we’ve seen that from him. He struggled, and they jumped on him early.”
• Girardi suggested that it seemed like the Red Sox were sitting on Garcia’s offspeed pitches. Garcia said that’s nothing new. “Probably,” he said. “But when I’m pitching I have to concentrate and throw strikes. I don’t have the chance really to make any adjustment. Everybody is sitting on my offspeed, but if you throw it where you want to hit the spot (you have success). If you don’t do that, that’s when you get hit.”
• Garcia said he would have liked to have had a chance to get himself straightened out, but he also seemed to understand Girardi’s decision to pull him early. “Next time, hopefully do my job,” he said.
• Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the decision to pull Garcia in the middle of the second. Luis Ayala pitched 1.1 hitless innings, and Hector Noesi was tremendous. Technically, I guess the David Ortiz two-run homer stands as the difference, but it’s impossible to pin this loss on Noesi. The rookie keeps proving his value around here. He allowed a total of three hits through six innings. “He gave us a chance to get to where we were,” Girardi said.
• The last Yankee to pick six innings in relief? Kei Igawa, who did it on April 28, 2007 against the Red Sox. He got the win in a 3-1 game that day.
• Raise your hand if you thought you’d be reading about Kei Igawa tonight.
• The Yankees best players tonight were two guys who didn’t start the game. Noesi had his six innings of excellent relief, and Jorge Posada went 3-for-3 with a walk and the RBI single that brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. “I wasn’t even in the lineup,” he said. “It’s one of those things. Throw you out there and hopefully you can produce.”
• Posada’s first two hits came off Jon Lester, his first two hits off a left-hander this season. That broke an 0-for-27 streak against lefties.
• Derek Jeter had two hits to move within 12 of career hit No. 3,000.
• Nick Swisher also had two hits, including a two-run double. That’s a good game following a good road trip.
• Girardi said Eric Chavez was examined and it was determined that he’s better, but not better enough to begin running and going through baseball drills. “He’s still not there,” Girardi said.
• Ortiz flipped his bat after the home run. Girardi seemed bothered by it, but not too bothered by it. “I didn’t really care for it,” he said. “I don’t know if he was upset that he missed some pitches earlier. I’ve got a young kid on the mound. I don’t know if he was upset that he came in hard on him. When it happens to you, you’re going to defend your guy. If it’s our guy, I’m going to say there was nothing intentional about it.”
• The Yankees are 1-6 against the Red Sox this season, including a sweep the last time the Red Sox played at Yankee Stadium. “We go back and forth with these guys,” Rodriguez said. “One year we were 0-8 and then we tied it 8-8. It goes back and forth, we play these guys so many times. We have a lot of respect for each other. Right now, they’re playing very well, and they’re very comfortable on our home field.”
Associated Press photos