Trying to build on a solid but injury shortened Triple-A season, David Phelps first three Arizona Fall League starts were uninspiring. He allowed three earned runs each time, never throwing more than 3.1 innings. His past two outings have been more what the Yankees were hoping to see.
In his past two starts, Phelps has pitched nine innings, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out seven. And that’s without throwing more than 67 pitches.
Phelps is one of those guys who was brought in to observe late in the season. The Yankees clearly believe he can play a role next season, and his Fall League stint is about building a few more innings before shutting things down for the winter.
• Speaking of young starters: Hector Noesi keeps getting better in the Dominican. After two not-so-great outings, Noesi pitched six innings without an earned run in his most recent start. He struck out five, walked one and dropped his winter ERA to 3.38 through three starts.
• Ronnier Mustelier, the utility man from Cuba, continues to hit in the Fall League. He’s batting .390/.405/.610 while playing third base (played mostly outfield and second base in Tampa this season). He’s new to the Yankees farm system, and a little old for a low-level prospect, but so far he’s been a steady hitter.
• Jorge Vazquez, the Yankees slugging Triple-A first baseman, is hitting .320/.400/.587 through 75 at-bats in Mexico. He has 21 RBI and 23 strikeouts. That’s pretty much the kind of hitter he is.
• Outside of the Arizona Fall League, there are only four Yankees with more than 20 winter at-bats. One of them is Vazquez. The other three are Jose Gil (an organizational catcher), Luis Nunez (an organizational infielder) and Jose Pirela (a borderline shortstop prospect). Pirela didn’t do much in Double-A this season, but he’s hitting .389/.421/.500 in Venezuela.
• Corban Joseph has a modest four-game hitting streak in the Fall League. He’s been kind of up-and-down in Arizona.
• Ramiro Pena has played in one game in Mexico. He went 1-for-4.
• Reliever Chase Whitley is a fast riser in the Yankees system, and he has nine strikeouts with one walk in his past seven Fall League outings. That’s a total of 9.1 innings in those appearances. Opponents are hitting .178 against him, and that’s usually an offensive league.
• Class-A reliever Dan Burawa is getting knocked around in Arizona. He was charged with five earned runs today and has a 9.00 ERA through 10 appearances. He’s been charged with multiple runs in each of his past three outings.
• Nine of Pat Venditte‘s 12 appearances in Mexico have been scoreless, but he’s twice allowed multiple runs, pushing his ERA to 4.15. More telling is the fact hitters are batting .238 with 11 strikeouts and just one walk against him.
Moving forward: The rotation • 10.10.11
Brian Cashman calls it the “key the kingdom,” and the game treats it as such. Starting pitching is the highest commodity in baseball these days, and the Yankees have made it a priority ever since the winter of 2008 when they signed CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, essentially setting the stage for the 2009 World Series.
It was a priority again last season, and it will be a priority again this winter.
That priority starts with Sabathia. If he opts out, as he’s expected to do, the Yankees will lose their ace. The top starter on the free agent market is C.J. Wilson, who’s been awfully good these past two years in Texas, but that’s the extent of his rotation experience. Sabathia is a proven commodity, even with his so-so last two months of the regular season.
Beyond Sabathia, the Yankees have Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes returning. They also have Hector Noesi and a series of young, minor league starters who could compete for spots.
Otherwise, the Yankees have to choose their targets and decide who rounds out the group.
Freddy Garcia opened some eyes this season, and he could be worth a return trip the Bronx. Bartolo Colon’s second half should raise some red flags, but he certainly gave the Yankees more than they could have expected. It’s probably safe to say Brian Gordon’s time has come and gone.
Is Wilson just the guy to bring some left-handed balance, and a reliable No. 2 behind Sabathia? Is someone like Edwin Jackson worth a middle-rotation spot? Is someone like Rich Harden worth the health risk? Is there a pitcher on the trade market who’s worth dangling Jesus Montero?
Moving forward means answering those questions, but first things first, it means resolving the Sabathia issue and giving the team a legitimate No. 1.
Associated Press photo
Joe Girardi had no regrets this morning about using Mariano Rivera last night. The way he saw it, a grand slam would have pulled the Tigers within 2, and Girardi thought it was best to shut the door right then and there.
“He hadn’t pitched since Tuesday, and before that, he hadn’t pitched in a little bit,” Girardi said. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt him. Obviously it helps to keep him sharp. I think you could look at it either way with three more days in a row. But it shouldn’t hurt.”
Ivan Nova pitching into last night’s ninth inning meant the Yankees used only Luis Ayala and Rivera in Game 1. Girardi has said he’s willing to use any of his relievers three days in a row, which leaves him with a full bullpen these next three days. There’s a chance Rivera wouldn’t be available on Tuesday, but Girardi said there’s no doubt he’ll be available tonight and tomorrow.
A full bullpen could be key with Freddy Garcia, who’s built his season on keeping the Yankees in a game for six innings, then letting the relievers takeover. Garcia-to-Soriano-to-Robertson-to-Rivera could be a perfect recipe for the Yankees in Game 2.
“Our bullpen is in very good shape,” Girardi said. “So that sets up really well. Freddy is a completely different look than all of our other pitchers. You can look at all of our other pitchers and say they’re somewhat power guys. Freddy is the one finesse guys we’ve got that’s going to use a lot of offspeed, see some slow breaking balls. It’s a totally different look.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference. It wasn’t very long. We got a little more in the beat writers session.
• The Yankees are now committed to CC Sabathia pitching tomorrow’s Game 3, and Girardi finally made it official that A.J. Burnett will start Game 4. The only thing that would have kept Burnett from lining up for Game 4 would have been using him in long relief last night. Phil Hughes is the long man today.
• Girardi said the umpires “absolutely” got the call right on Robinson Cano’s double off the top of the wall last night, though Girardi was a little surprised that fans didn’t reach out and pull that ball into the stands. “Usually you see that,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure how far they would have had to reach to get to it. I don’t know how wide that concrete is out there. I’m sure it would have been reviewed either way, so it would have ended up the same.”
• Despite the fact Sabathia just pitched two days ago, Girardi said his pitch count won’t be at all limited tomorrow night. “I don’t think so, just because he threw so few on Friday, and he’s not expected to make another start in the division series,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said he’s not second-guessing Ayala after back-to-back rough outings. “He’s pitched really well for us,” Girardi said. “And I think you have to look at his body of work. And he got a ground ball from Avila, then he got another ground ball. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.”
• Hector Noesi and Raul Valdes have joined Ramiro Pena in Tampa. Those three are staying sharp at the minor league complex. Bartolo Colon and Austin Romine are staying with the big league team. Romine is catching in the bullpen to stay with the big league staff.
• Girardi never looked a replay of last night’s play at the plate. He said last night that he was positive it was an out when he saw it live, and he never felt a need to look at it again.
• As someone pointed out, Rivera technically threw the first and last pitch of Game 1. He threw the ceremonial first pitch on Friday, then closed the game on Saturday.
Austin Jackson CF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Alex Avila C
Jhonny Peralta SS
Wilson Betemit 3B
Ramon Santiago 2B
Associated Press photo
Three pictures worth a thousand words • 09.27.11
The Yankees passed along some professional photos of last night’s rookie hazing. It’s rare that every single outfit is hilarious, but these were pretty good selections. Whoever made the decision to make the two tall guys Milli Vanilli … bravo! At one point, Jesus Montero was trying to dance like MC Hammer, and pictures will never fully explain just how hilarious it was to watch Austin Romine try to figure out how to get his costume on.
Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances as Milli Vanilli
Brandon Laird as Slash
Hector Noesi as Prince
Austin Romine as Madonna
George Kontos as George Michael
Jesus Montero as MC Hammer
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
I’m leaving for the airport in four hours, so I’m going to try to make this quick.
After 14 innings that left the Yankees oh-so-close to a doubleheader sweep, the biggest postgame news involved a player who had nothing to do with either of today’s games.
Joe Girardi announced that Phil Hughes will be moved immediately to the bullpen, and the plan is to leave him there into the postseason.
That’s what we’re going to load at during the playoffs,” Girardi said. “That’s how we’re going to look at him.”
Hughes was informed of the decision in between today’s games. He admitted being disappointed, but also recognized that, because he hasn’t pitched since September 12, the Yankees couldn’t be completely confident that he could be counted on as a starter.
“I did it to myself,” he said. “I had the back issue coming off a good start in Seattle, so therefore I didn’t have an opportunity to pitch. They had to make a decision… I’ve done it before. Just go down there and look to help out any way I can.”
Here’s Hughes talking very briefly about the move to the pen.
• One of the looming questions throughout tonight’s game was why veterans Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones were never given a chance to pinch hit in key situations. “To me it’s not the right thing to do,” Girardi said. “Their bodies were shutdown since 4 o’clock.” Girardi said he was worried someone might pull something trying to get ready in a hurry, and it wasn’t worth the risk.
• The Yankees rotation against Tampa Bay:
Monday: Hector Noesi
Tuesday: Bartolo Colon
• Girardi when asked who he’s considering to start Wednesday: “It might be a bullpen day.”
• Girardi was ejected for arguing with first-base umpire Tim McClelland in the 13th inning. McClelland had clearly blown a call at first base, and Nick Swisher — playing first at the time — had gotten into a short argument. “I thought he went at Swish, and I didn’t think that was right,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli had another concussion test today and was cleared to travel with the team to Tampa. Girardi said he might catch a bullpen this week.
• Austin Romine was hit in the head by a back swing, but he said he’s fine. “I got smacked around a couple of time,” he said. “My head’s fine. I’ve been hit before.”
• Romine on his tag at the plate when Pedroia tried to fly over him: “I’ve never seen anybody try to jump over me before.”
• Girardi on Ivan Nova: “I was pleased with the way he threw the ball tonight.” He really didn’t get into much more detail than that. Neither did Nova, to tell the truth.
• The Yankees fell to 4-11 in extra-inning games this season.
• Forgot to mention after the first game that Brandon Laird was getting a lot of credit for his work at first base in Game 1. “He saved me a couple runs, for sure,” A.J. Burnett said.
• First time through the order against John Lackey, the Yankees went 4-for-7 with two doubles a walk and a strikeout. The went 1-for-13 with two walks and three strikeouts against Lackey the rest of the game. They had just two hits over their final 45 batters.
• At five hours and 11 minutes, this was the Yankees longest game since September 10, 2010 against Texas.
Associated Press photos
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
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
Alex Rodriguez jammed his thumb making a play at third base in Minneapolis. He aggravated the injury swinging a bat here in Baltimore. Although an MRI came back clean, the Yankees aren’t certain they’ll have their third baseman at all this week in Boston.
“I think it’s really questionable,” Joe Girardi said. “But let’s just see.”
Rodriguez saw hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser, and Girardi said the Yankees just have to make sure the thumb is ready to go. It bothers him more swinging than fielding, and Girardi doesn’t believe it’s the kind of injury that will linger. Once it’s healed, it’s healed.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are heading to Boston for a key three-game series, and their third baseman isn’t the only concern. Derek Jeter seems better, but obviously he’s a little banged up, and he’s spent a ton of time in the trainer’s room this afternoon. The Yankees bullpen is also short-handed with Hector Noesi optioned to Triple-A to make room for Freddy Garcia.
“It is a little bit (of a concern), knowing how some of the games can get up north,” Girardi said. “With Freddy tonight, it is a little bit of a concern. We’re going to have to deal with it.”
• Noesi has been optioned, and so he won’t be available for a call-up on September 1. Demoted players have to stay in the minors for 10 days. In the case of September, a player has to stay in the minors either 10 days or until the end of that particular minor league season. So Noesi won’t be back — barring injury — until September 6.
• Without Noesi, the Yankees are carrying a six-man bullpen, none of whom is a true long man. Girardi said the bullpen is plenty deep enough for tonight, and he’ll adjust if necessary the next few days. Just a guess, but I’d say this basically assures either Lance Pendleton or George Kontos or one of the Triple-A starters getting an immediate September call-up to fill that long-man void.
• Girardi on Derek Jeter: “He was walking around fine today. Walking a lot better than I would have anticipated wnen I saw him walk out last night. He healed up pretty good, so I can use him in case of an emergency.”
• Both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte have suffered setbacks. They pitched on Thursday, but they felt soreness and have been shutdown. Girardi said it’s still very unlikely that either will pitch in the big leagues this season. If Feliciano ends up having surgery, Girardi acknowledged that it could be career-ending.
• Tonight, Freddy Garcia’s pitch count could be a “a little short” but nothing significant. He’s still pretty stretched out after that one rehab game. “I’m not sure what to expect,” Girardi said. “I feel better that he threw better Monday in Scranton, was able to use all of his pitches and that his finger is healed. But when a guy hasn’t pitched off a mound in a while, you worry a little about control and stamina.”
• Girardi was asked a little bit about September call-ups today, but he wouldn’t give any indication about who they’re planning to promote. He didn’t commit to any specific pitchers or hitters, and didn’t say whether they planned to add a third catcher.
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Adams 2B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 3B
Associated Press photos
The three exceptions • 08.08.11
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.
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.
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.
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.