The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Nova: “I don’t think (Tommy John surgery) had to do with anything”08.21.15

Ivan Nova

In Ivan Nova’s situation, it’s hard to have a start like last night without raising at least a little bit of curiosity: was it because of Tommy John surgery? We hear often that pitchers coming back from Tommy John are prone to some inconsistency; that they might hit a few bumps in the road, especially in that first year back.

“I’m sure it’s going to happen,” Nova said. “A lot of guys before I came up here told me, you’re going to have some days (that) are going to feel good and some days that I don’t feel good. But this year has been great so far. Except with my arm fatigue in Texas, I’ve been having really good velocity. I feel like my curveball’s getting better each time out there. Sinker’s been getting better. Throwing some changeups lately. It’s just one of those days that you don’t have it.”

Really, starts like last night weren’t uncommon for Nova even before he had surgery. His career has been largely defined by his ability to put together extended stretches of near dominance mixed in with stretches of unreliability so pronounced that in his last healthy season he was actually optioned to Triple-A at one point.

So is he entering a stretch of surgery-induced inconsistency or did he just have one of those nights when he didn’t have it? Impossible to say. For whatever it’s worth, Nova says surgery had nothing to do with last night’s struggles.

“It has been a long process and all that,” Nova said. “But I don’t think (surgery) had to do with anything because you look at the great games that I’ve had and I’m still coming back from Tommy John, so you (don’t) blame and put it on the Tommy John. Just, I don’t have it (last night).”

Nova is on schedule to make one more start before Michael Pineda’s anticipated return from the disabled list. After that, the Yankees will have options, and it seems they’ll likely go to a six-man rotation (which is more manageable while rosters are expanded in the month of September). If Nova continues to struggle and everyone else stays healthy, the Yankees could — in theory — put him in the bullpen and go with a typical five-man rotation down the stretch.

But here’s another question: Even if Nova does stick in the rotation the rest of the season, isn’t he likely to fall out of a potential playoff rotation? It is perhaps getting ahead of ourselves a little bit, but in an ideal world, aren’t Masahiro Tanaka, Pineda, Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi the Yankees top four starters for a playoff run?

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: “I’m not hurt or anything like that”07.28.15

Ivan Nova

After dealing with some arm fatigue last night, Ivan Nova said he plans to throw his normal bullpen and make his next scheduled start. He’s dismissing yesterday’s issues as little more than a part of the process after Tommy John surgery.

“I’m not hurt or anything like that,” Nova said. “So there isn’t any reason to think that I’m not going to pitch. I already asked some guys that went through Tommy John and they said it’s normal, that at some point you’re going to feel something like it. I’m not worried about it.”

Last night, Joe Girardi acknowledged some short-term concern about Nova’s arm, but he said that concern has diminished now that Nova’s arrived with no additional problems today.

“Probably less (concern today),” Girardi said. “He woke up today and said it was pretty much normal, how he felt was normal after his start. We still have him scheduled to pitch on Sunday. We’ll have him do his bullpen and go from there. I feel OK about it.”

Nova said he immediately reached out to Francisco Liriano, who’s become a close friend of Nova’s. He also talked to Dellin Betances and Nick Goody about the recovery process. He said the fatigue was centered around his triceps, and initially it caused some concern because he’d never experienced it.

“I was worried a little bit,” he said. “But the trainer checked on me, and I asked a couple guys and they said it was normal. There’s not any reason to be worried about it now.”

Mark Teixeira• Girardi didn’t go into detail, but he said there were conversations to make sure everything is good between Mark Teixeira and Joe Espado following last night’s vented frustration. “The one thing that we want from our players is intensity,” Girardi said. “I think Joe Espada has done a tremendous job, coaching third, coaching our infield. As a player, there are times that I made incorrect reads as a base runner. As a manager sometimes or as a player I’ve said things that I wish I’d maybe stated a little bit different. Everything’s OK. We talked about it, we move on and we learn from it. Things are good.”

• How often do things like this happen in the course of a six-month season (plus spring training, plus potential playoffs, etc.)? “They happen all the time,” Girardi said. “Sometimes people see it more than others, but things happen. You put 40 grown men in a room for 190 straight days, things happen. There’s intensity. There’s emotion. I know as a player there’s been times that I’ve said things and wish, man, I probably could have done that different. But to me it’s all about your heart, where your heart really is. Tex displays a lot of intensity every day he plays, and we understand that.”

• Diego Moreno was brought up because he can give up to 65 pitches if necessary. The Yankees figure they can get about 50 pitches apiece from Chris Capuano and Adam Warren, but if one of those guys falls flat or the game goes extras, they would be in a real bind without an extra long guy. “If we wouldn’t have used Shreve two innings and used Willie (last night), maybe you do it a little bit different,” Girardi said. “But you had to win the game yesterday.”

• Goody was optioned back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He would have been available for only 30-35 pitches, Girardi said. Pretty sure Goody is the third Yankees player to be called up but not get a in game this season (I would still be on Goody getting in a game before the end of the season). Taylor Dugas and Joel De La Cruz were also called up without actually playing.

• Healthy days off for both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

• Because of the extreme heat, the Yankees did not take batting practice today (they hit inside, but didn’t take regular batting practice on the field). They might not take BP tomorrow either. “Save their energy,” Girardi said. “We’re what, 98 games in? I think sometimes it helps them being off their feet, especially these long stretches.”

• Girardi’s reaction to hearing news of the Troy Tulowitzki trade: “It’s not something I expected because they had Reyes. Obviously he’s another guy that’s extremely dangerous, hits the ball out of the ballpark, middle of the order hitter. But we’ll worry about ourselves. Our guys are playing well, let’s continue to play well.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees jump back into the A.L. East with matchup vs. Orioles07.21.15

Nathan Eovaldi

First a reminder that we’re doing a chat today at noon. Stop by for a while and we’ll talk Rob Refsnyder’s demotion, CC Sabathia’s solid past two starts, and the Yankees’ approach to the trade deadline. It’s a way to kill some time before the Yankees begin what could be a pretty important three-game series against Baltimore.

The Orioles are four games behind the Yankees in the American League East, and they could be as dangerous as any team in the division if guys like Chris Tillman and J.J. Hardy rebound in the second half, and if the Orioles can find some more production from the outfield corners.

This is the Yankees’ first series against Baltimore since June 14, and these teams don’t play one another again until a pair of series in September.

“Any time you start playing teams in your division when the season’s winding down, all those games are big,” CC Sabathia said.

In the series opener and the series finale, the Yankees face the two lowest ERAs in the Orioles’ rotation. The Yankees have won each of their past four series, and just finished taking two of three against Seattle.

“Baltimore is a similar type of team,” Alex Rodriguez said. “They can it the ball out of the ballpark and they have good pitching.”

Here are the pitching matchups for this series.

Tonight
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-2, 4.50)
vs.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-5, 2.78)
7:05 p.m., WPIX and MLB Network

Wednesday
RHP Ivan Nova (1-3, 3.42)
vs.
RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.00)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN

Thursday
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (6-3, 3.65)
vs.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5, 3.29)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

Associated Press photo

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Nova: “They feel — and I feel — that I can contribute to this team”07.11.15

Ivan Nova

Fourteen months in the making, Ivan Nova’s return to the Yankees’ rotation has been a boost. Not so much because of the wins he’s provided, but because he’s provided a fresh arm to a rotation overloaded with health and workload concerns. The key for the Yankees, as Nova heads into today’s final start before the All-Star break, is to get consistency and dependability out of Nova through the second half.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Nova said. “I have to keep pitching. Every time I pitch, I don’t focus on the results as much as the way I feel. I think the All-Star break will be good for me and my body to take a little rest, and then I’ll go back to work.”

Nova has been something of an enigma ever since he solidified himself as a big league starter back in 2011. In two of his three healthy seasons, Nova’s finished with an ERA of 3.70 or better, but his career has been largely defined by inconsistency – long stretches of dominance and long stretches of disappointment. He’s done enough to stick around, just not enough to know what he’ll do from month to month.

John Ryan Murphy, Ivan Nova, Mark Teixiera, Chase HeadleyHis first three starts this season were more of the same. Nova returned from a long Tommy John surgery rehab to pitch 6.2 scoreless innings on June 24, then he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings on June 30. Last time out, though, Nova’s command was spotty through a four-run, three-walk performance on Sunday. He got through it with limited damage, but he clearly wasn’t sharp.

“If you look at how many starts like that I had before I got hurt, it was a lot,” Nova said. “I was up and down a lot of times. There were days that I felt really good, went out there and had no command of any of my pitches. Stuff happens. I don’t worry about what happened last time. I know that I can still pitch a good game.”

So do the Yankees, which is why they activated Nova and eventually kept him in the rotation ahead of Adam Warren, who’d been pitching well for the better part of two months. Warren had already topped his innings total from either of the past two seasons, and so the Yankees put him in the bullpen to protect his arm. They have also worked to limit the stress on Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia, each of whom is coming back from injury issues last season. Tanaka has already spent time on the disabled list this year, Pineda had a start skipped earlier in the season, and Sabathia had a start pushed back three days in an effort to provide extra rest.

If you’re looking for the bright side to surgery, Nova’s time off has actually left him rested, and he could pitch with no or few restrictions the rest of the way.

“I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He gets an extra day (this turn). Maybe that will help as you’re coming back and you’re starting to throw every fifth day.”

Every fifth day. That’s what the Yankees are banking on. That, and Nova’s ability to be a difference maker beyond tonight’s game in Boston.

“If I’m up here with the team, it’s because they feel — and I feel — that I can contribute to this team,” Nova said. “Nobody mentions Tommy John when I pitch a good game, so why do you have to mention it when I pitch a bad game? You can’t judge any bad start I have and say it’s because of the surgery. I don’t believe in that. I’m pitching and I feel good.”

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: Beltran status uncertain with ribcage injury07.01.15

Yankees Angels Baseball

Carlos Beltran felt some tightness in his ribcage last night. He played through it then, and played through it again tonight until feeling “a little pinch” when he fouled off a pitch in the fifth inning. Now Beltran’s status is up in the air.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and we’ll make a decision on what we’re going to do,” Joe Girardi said. “He says it probably wouldn’t bother him swinging left-handed; we’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”

The Yankees do face a right-handed pitcher tomorrow, so that might help Beltran stay in the lineup. Girardi said it’s doubtful the Yankees could get a replacement here before the game anyway, so either Beltran can play or the Yankees will play with a two-man bench. Beltran said he’s hopeful it’s not a disabled list situation.

“I hope not, no,” he said. “The way I feel right now, I don’t think so. But tomorrow will be the day where, once I go to the cage, once I test it out, then I will know where I am.”

Beltran said he first felt some tightness yesterday. Nothing particularly unusual, he said, so he played through it. He woke up feeling alright the morning, but the tightness returned when he started hitting the cage. Again, nothing he hadn’t played through before, so he stayed in the lineup. He was still playable until that foul ball. Even then, he stayed in to finish the at-bat before Girardi pulled him.

“If I worry about how tight I feel, then you don’t play,” Beltran said. “As a ballplayer, every day you feel something. I decided to play through it, and I was fine.”

Beltran said he was examined by the Angels’ doctor, who only said that it’s a ribcage/oblique issue. Beltran’s not expecting any tests.

“Any time a player leaves a game, you’re concerned,” Girardi said. “We’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”

Yankees Angels Baseball• Wouldn’t know it these past three games, but the Yankees actually have a pretty productive lineup. They’ve scored the second-most runs in the Majors, and they have the game’s highest team OPS for the month of June. They’ve actually hit pretty well, but they’ve now gone three straight games with only one run. “We just didn’t do much offensively tonight,” Girardi said. “It’s hard to figure out.”

• Last night the Yankees really did seem to hit into some bad luck — hit a lot of balls hard with nothing to show for it — and there might have been some of that tonight, but even Girardi wasn’t ready to completely use that as an excuse. “We’ve had some unlucky things happen to us here,” Girardi said. “The balls Chris (Young) hit yesterday, they’ve made some good plays. We need to score some runs, that’s the bottom line. Whether tough things happen to you or not, you need to score runs to win.”

• Only two hits for the Yankees. The solo homer by Mark Teixeira and yet another hit for Brett Gardner, who has a .486 batting average during an eight-game hitting streak. “Basically the only guy getting on base is just Gardner,” Beltran said. “And we haven’t been able to rally off of him. It’s tough, but at the end of the day, we have to continue to fight.”

• Teixeira is tied for third in the American League with 19 home runs. This was his first homer in 42 at-bats, snapping his longest homerless streak of the season. He entered the game averaging one home run every 13.7 at-bats. He leads the American League with 54 RBI.

• One run through seven innings for rookie Angels starter Andrew Heaney (Yankees kind of oddly had a bunch of lefties in the lineup against him). “He threw a good ballgame against Houston and he threw a good game against us,” Girardi said. “He’s got some angle to him where it looks like he’s going to be able to get in on right-handers and be somewhat difficult on left-handers with the sweeping breaking ball. Only time will tell as you go around the league a couple times and people see, but the young man has a good arm and is off to a good start.”

Ivan Nova• Another strong start by Ivan Nova who pitched into the sixth inning and allowed his only runs on back-to-back homers by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar. “Physically, I feel good,” Nova said. “Even that I gave up two runs, for me it doesn’t feel like a good outing because I want to win the game for the team. Like I said, it’s good that I’m feeling good.”

• Nova questioned his decision to challenge Pujols. “I think first pitch fastball right in the middle to Pujols was a little bit up,” Nova said. “I shouldn’t throw that pitch.”

• Adam Warren came out of the bullpen for the first time this season and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to give the Yankees a chance. “Once I kind of got settled in, I just felt like last year, back where I was last year,” he said. “I felt like I got more comfortable as I went.”

• Getting loose quickly was something Warren hadn’t done in a while. He said he focuses on getting his fastball locked in, and once he has that, he feels good to go. Took him a few pitches to do that in the bullpen, but he was loose and ready by the time he was called into the game. “The first couple of throws down in the bullpen, trying to get hot quick was a little tough,” he said. “But once that adrenaline kicked in it was easy.”

• Let’s give the final word to Alex Rodriguez. “I think (the key) is just maintain our aggressiveness,” he said. “For the most part, over the last two weeks, we’ve swung the bats well, and I’m confident we can continue to do that. What I’m most encouraged about is tonight we saw a preview of what that bullpen is going to be like for us the rest of the year with Nova (in the rotation) and Warren (in the pen), and those guys on the backside — I’m really optimistic about the rest of the year.”

Associated Press photos

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Whitley takes encouragment from Nova’s triumphant return06.25.15

Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova walked off the mound to a standing ovation. He pulled the Yankees cap off his head and waved it to the Yankee Stadium crowd. He sat in the dugout to see the final out of the inning, and he settled into the clubhouse to talk about the 14 months that took him from Tommy John surgery back to the big leagues.

Chase Whitley watched all of it.

Standing at his own locker just a few feet from Nova’s after last night’s game, Whitley held two fingers an inch and a half apart to show what it meant to see Nova return with a gem.

“Say I’m this far from touching my shoulder easily,” Whitley said. “And I’m thinking, what’s the big deal (if I try to force it)? Well, 14 months ago, he was in the same spot. Now he’s in there. That sort of stuff’s encouraging.”

Chase Whitley, Steve DonohueLast April, it was Nova who threw a pitch in Tampa Bay and knew something wasn’t right. Days later he was having Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ligament in his elbow. Last month, it was Whitley, also in Tampa Bay, also throwing pitches knowing something wasn’t right, also just days away from Tommy John surgery.

Nova’s reached the finished line. Whitley’s a little more than a month into the process.

“I couldn’t pick up my kid,” Whitley said. “I’m just now being able to pick him up pain-free. You think about that, much less throw a baseball. We’re talking about an injury, even though it’s popular now, there’s no guarantee you’re coming back. To see a guy like that, the work he put in, come back. It’s encouraging.”

The Tommy John success rate is high, and the Yankees’ clubhouse is filled with players who have been through it, from Nova to Chris Capuano to Dellin Betances.

“I see a lot of guys coming back, but who knows?” Nova said. “You never know if you’re going to come back, and be able to go through six innings and get into the seventh inning, it’s amazing.”

What was amazing for Nova was reassuring for Whitley; a reminder of what’s waiting at the end of a very long tunnel.

“I’m not concerned with when I start throwing again,” Whitley said. “I’m concerned with trying to touch my shoulder right now. It’s the little goals. It’s not trying to worry about throwing again, because I can’t throw right now. I’m not trying to get ready. What is throwing two days early going to help me? It’s about the process. If I’m back a week earlier or a week late, what’s the difference?”

The Yankees didn’t rush Nova’s recovery. Even though every step of his recovery was positive, the Yankees moved him slowly through spring training and gave him one extra rehab start at the end. Recovery was methodical, and it was calculated, and that’s what lies ahead for Whitley. For one night, though, Nova provided a glimpse of the end result.

“It was so encouraging because you know the hard work that he put in,” Whitley said. “I know the hard work that I’m putting in right now. To see him, the success he had (on Wednesday), the execution he had. He hadn’t pitched in 14 months, and to see him go out there and it looked like he just made a start two days ago. It was awesome.”

Associated Press photos

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Examining the Yankees’ current roster issues heading to Houston06.25.15

Joe Girardi

As the Yankees head on the road to finish off this stretch of 20 games in a row — there are still seven games left, four in Houston and three in Los Angeles — their roster is in state of constant upheaval. Trying to make up for injuries, disappointing performances and one newborn baby, the team has cycled through a series of relief pitchers and a handful of bench players. The roster has seemed to change daily, and there’s most certainly going to be another change at some point today.

After yesterday’s game, the Yankees sent relievers Branden Pinder and Diego Moreno back to Triple-A. We already know one of those open roster spots will go to Stephen Drew, who’s coming back from the paternity list, but the other could be used for either a pitcher or a position player.

Here’s. look at some of the roster issues heading into this surprisingly important series against the much-better-than-expected Astros:

Adam WarrenFor the time being, the Yankees have just three bench players
Because of the unexpected Brendan Ryan injury, coupled with the Drew paternity leave, the Yankees actually played yesterday’s game with only two bench players. Safe to assume that will be remedied to some extent with Drew’s return this afternoon. Drew could have stayed on the paternity list until Friday, but he was back in the clubhouse yesterday and is expected to be in Houston tonight. With Drew, the Yankees will basically have a bench of Jose Pirela (the backup infielder), John Ryan Murphy (the backup catcher), and Garrett Jones (the backup outfielder/first baseman and possible left-field platoon with Chris Young). But there’s still an open roster spot, and it’s unclear whether the Yankees prefer to fill it with a position player or a pitcher. Normally, it would be a position player without a doubt, but the Yankees are in a bit of an unusual position following the return of Ivan Nova.

The Yankees are currently carrying six starters
Because they want to give all of their starters an extra day off, the Yankees are technically carrying a six-man rotation. Nova came off the disabled list yesterday, and the other five starters will pitch on five days of rest their next turn through the rotation. Extra rest makes obvious sense for a group of starters loaded with health and workload concerns, but it requires a sacrifice somewhere. To make a six-man rotation work, the Yankees will have to carry either a short bench or a short bullpen. Given the way they’ve handled the bullpen up to this point, it’s hard to imagine they’ll go with just six relievers. Then again, Girardi earlier in the week shot down the idea that he was definitely planning to carry a short bench, so maybe they feel covered in the bullpen with Chris Capuano and Bryan Mitchell able to go long. Whichever way they go — short bullpen or short bench — it should last only a few days until they’re ready to move someone — probably Adam Warren — out of the rotation and into the bullpen.

Even if they wanted a full bench, who would they call up?
Because the Yankees didn’t take advantage of the Ryan injury to let them immediately recall Ramon Flores, there’s really not an obvious option to fill a fourth bench spot right now. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams are still hurt, and there’s really little point in carrying both Gregorio Petit and Pirela. The only other available position players currently on the full 40-man roster are Gary Sanchez (a Double-A catcher) and Tyler Austin (a right-handed outfielder who wouldn’t really have much of a role). Since it seems unlikely the Yankees are ready to give Rob Refsnyder the everyday job at second, it could be that they’ll simply wait for Jacoby Ellsbury to come off the disabled list before carrying the usual number of position players. That said, there’s not exactly an obvious pitching call-up on the horizon either.

John Ryan Murphy, Diego MorenoDistance and durability concerns continue to impact bullpen decisions
Because the Yankees have not gotten consistent distance from their starting pitchers, there’s been a trickle-down effect on the bullpen, which has basically caused all of the up-and-down player movement we’ve seen lately. In the past 12 days, the Yankees have called up and/or activated nine different pitchers (Sergio Santos, Jose Ramirez, Jose De Paula, Mitchell, Pinder, Danny Burawa, Moreno, Nick Rumbelow and Nova). Mitchell was actually called up, optioned and called up again in that span. The long list of moves, though, hasn’t solved the key issues of getting more distance out of the starters and finding bullpen stability for the middle innings. Maybe Nova in the rotation, Warren (or someone else) in the bullpen and Andrew Miller (eventually) off the disabled list will finally fix those problems. For now, they linger, and they’re shaping an ever-changing roster.

It’s hard to tell who’s “next” on the list of impact call-ups
Because Refsnyder hasn’t hit enough to force the Yankees’ hand, and because Drew keeps hitting for good power in those rare moments when he gets a hit at all, it doesn’t seem that the Yankees are considering a change at second base. Their next impact additions to the outfield (Ellsbury) and bullpen (Miller) are more likely to come from the disabled list than the minor league system. So who will be the next young player to make his big league debut? The Yankees have had 10 players debut this season — most in the majors — but No. 11 might have to wait a while unless the Yankees have a trick up their sleeves today. Top prospects Luis Severino and Aaron Judge have each moved up to Triple-A and could be on the radar at some point, but an immediate call-up seems unlikely. Who else could be on the radar? Ben Gamel? Tyler Webb? Jaron Long? There’s not a no-doubt, next-in-line choice.

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Pregame notes: Nova being activated; six-man rotation for now06.22.15

Ivan Nova

The Yankees are prepared to carry a six-man rotation for at least a few days.

Ivan Nova will be activated from the disabled list to start on Wednesday. Adam Warren will take his turn on Thursday, followed by the rest of the usual starters. Joe Girardi said, for now, the team prefers to carry the extra starter to give everyone an extra day of rest, but at some point — some point soon — they will cut back to a typical five-man rotation.

“The one thing that we have after this long streak is we have some off days (in early July),” Girardi said. “I wouldn’t anticipate us doing it after we get home from Anaheim.”

A six-man rotation will carry the Yankees through the end of June. On July 1, they’ll basically have to decide whether to have Warren start on an extra day or rest or to pitch Nathan Eovaldi on four days of rest. Scheduled off days mean the Yankees wouldn’t have to pitch anyone else on four days rest until the day before the All-Star break.

How the rotation adjusts in the next week or so is an issue for another day. For now, the Yankees have decided Nova is ready, so they’re taking him off the disabled list a little more than 13 month after Tommy John surgery. His last Triple-A rehab start wasn’t particularly overwhelming — 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K — but the Yankees believe that if Nova is healthy and pitching well, he can help them.

“To be honest, I wasn’t trying to show myself anything,” Nova said. “I was just getting ready. Trying to get my arm healthy and in good shape. I know exactly what I have to do when I go to the mound. Even knowing that you don’t get the results that you want, that stuff happens in the game. I was working hard, getting my arm back and in good shape.”

The Yankees have significant workload concerns throughout their rotation — Warren has basically matched his workload for the past two seasons — so adding Nova could be a boost, but there’s always a wild card element for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John. They’re physically able to pitch a year after surgery, but many say they don’t really feel 100 percent until two years after. Nova was prone to ups and downs even before the surgery, but the Yankees see him as a boost for their often worn-thin pitching staff.

“I don’t think you can ever make too much of what a Major League hitter or pitcher is doing in a minor league situation because it’s just different,” Girardi said. “We just feel that he’s ready to go. No matter how he does Wednesday, I don’t think you could say he wasn’t ready or he was ready. It’s just kind of a feel that we’re using, and we feel that it’s probably important that we inject this sixth starter in right now, in a sense, and that’s why we’re going to do it. … We know what he’s capable of doing, and he’s fairly rested in a sense, so it could mean a lot to our rotation.”

Mark Teixeira• Mark Teixeira had an MRI on his sore neck, but results weren’t available pregame. The Yankees are hoping this is only a short-term issue that will be reasonably corrected by another day off (he had one last week because of the same issue). “I don’t know if it’s ever really went away completely,” Girardi said. “It’s been going on for about 10 days now. We’ll continue to evaluate, I’m just going to give him a day today.”

• Against a right-handed pitcher, the Yankees have lefty Garrett Jones to easily step into first base. But they face a lefty — Cole Hamels — on Wednesday. “My thought is that Tex will be in there Wednesday,” Girardi said.

• Not that these things are related, but the Yankees minor league affiliates have officially announced that Aaron Judge has been promoted to Triple-A.

• Closer Andrew Miller expects to play catch on Wednesday. That’s just the start of a long-toss program, so he would still be several days away from throwing a bullpen, which would leave him even more days away from coming off the disabled list. As a reliever, though, his arm-strength-building process should be much quicker than it was with Masahiro Tanaka.

• Not much of an update on Jacoby Ellsbury: “He’s going to run the bases again, he’s going to take normal BP with us and go through normal BP,” Girardi said. No word on when he’ll take his next step.

• The Yankees have their go-to guys for the late innings — Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve — and they have Chris Capuano as their long man, then they have three relatively unproven right-handers in Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow and Diego Moreno. Rumbelow and Moreno were just called up today. “Pinder’s the most experienced of my (new) right-handers,” Girardi said. “And it’s just trying to get a feel for the other two as quick as I can. You’d like to put them in a situation where it’s not necessarily high-leverage right away, but sometimes you’re not afforded that.”

• With Danny Burawa and Jose De Paula each making their Major League debuts on Sunday, the Yankees have now used 20 pitchers in June, their most pitchers ever in a calendar month (excluding September). Could climb past that very soon with Rumbelow and Moreno. “Because of some of our concerns about the length that we get, we kind of rotate people in and out here a lot,” Girardi said. “And it doesn’t mean we don’t believe in them; we’re doing it to protect the arms of everyone.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Ivan Nova getting one more rehab start06.15.15

Ivan Nova

Even though the pitching line was impressive on Saturday, the Yankees have decided Ivan Nova needs one more rehab start.

He’s going to get one extra day of rest, so he’ll pitch on Friday. Joe Girardi said he wasn’t sure whether Nova would start in Double-A or Triple-A. Neither team is home, but Triple-A isn’t far away in Lehigh Valley. I guess that’s the smart bet.

“We just feel we want to make sure that he’s finished off,” Girardi said. “It’s not something that’s easy to make an adjustment if you say, we wish we would have had one more start, so we talked about it for a couple days and we just think it’s better that we know that he’s ready to go and ready to handle the rigors of throwing every fifth day and all that.

“They talked a little bit, they thought his fastball was good, his changeup was good. His curveball was not as sharp as they had seen it, and that could have just been the day. But for us, as I said, we waited a long time and to give him one more start and to make sure that he’s ready is probably the best thing to do.”

At some point the Yankees are going to use a sixth starter during this stretch of 20 days in a row, but it sounds like they’ll stay on rotation for this next turn.

“Right now we have not made a decision to insert a sixth starter so I would just assume everything is on rotation,” Girardi said.

One other bit of rotation depth news: Esmil Rogers accepted his outright assignment and will report to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Girardi had previously indicated the Yankees wanted Rogers to be stretched out as a starter in the minor leagues.

Alex Rodriguez• There is a ton of excitement about the Yankees being in town, and most of that is centered on the return of Alex Rodriguez, who grew up here. The scene on the field during batting practice was near chaos, and there was incredible media coverage for A-Rod when he spoke pregame. “It’s always great to be back home,” Rodriguez said. “Miami is where family is. I have a bus of people coming in today; family, friends, my daughters are here, high school coach, Little League coach, my seventh grade teacher. You name it. So obviously I’m very excited. Never thought I’d get the opportunity again to play in front of the home fans.”

• Any thought of playing Rodriguez these two days? “I think he’s played third maybe once or twice,” Girardi said. “And he’s fallen into being really comfortable in the DH role and sometimes two days off helps a player so, no, there was no thought.”

• Very minor hamstring issue for Carlos Beltran. He apparently felt something at the bottom of his hamstring near the muscle when he was doubled off first base during the Baltimore series. That’s why he’s not in the lineup today. Girardi said he expects Beltran in right field again tomorrow. “It’s minor,” Girardi said. “I could use him tonight.”

• Of course, Girardi also acknowledged that this is a big right field, Beltran doesn’t have much range, and Girardi thought Garrett Jones looked alright in the field yesterday. “Like I said, I though Garrett had a nice day yesterday and I’m giving (Beltran) another day,” Girardi said.

• Still no definitive next step for Jacoby Ellsbury. “I think it really depends on how these next two days go,” Girardi said. “He’s going to hit on the field today, so it’s the first time he’s done that, but I think it depends on how these next two days go.”

• Since we’re in a National League park, Yankees starters have to his these two days. Girardi said he feels a little better about it because he’s starting two of his more experienced hitters. “Tanaka hit in Japan, so he did know how to handle the bat there,” Girardi said. “And Eovaldi’s hit (in the National League), and he’s hit this season, so the two candidates we have in there are probably two of the better candidates.”

• Ichiro Suzuki is playing center field and batting second for the Marlins (he’s hitting .281 this season). That creates a pretty cool matchup with Ichiro against Tanaka. “You have two great players going at it,” Girardi said. “I’ve seen Ichiro matched up against other players from Japan, and I think the country gets very excited so I think it’s great for baseball.”

• However big you think Giancarlo Stanton is, I promise you he’s bigger. Didn’t realize his arms look like they do until I saw him in the clubhouse while talking to David Phelps. He’s just a giant of a man. And Phelps had a lot of kind words to say about Stanton. Apparently he really goes about things the right way.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Pregame notes: Girardi satisfied with Beltran’s effort in right field06.14.15

Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran is 38 years old. He’s been through a long list of injuries in his career, and just last season he took quite a hit when he flipped over a low wall trying to make a running catch at Tropicana Field. He used to be a Gold Glove center fielder, but now he’s a barely passable right fielder.

And Joe Girardi said he’s OK with that.

“We knew when we got him he wasn’t the center fielder he was back in the day,” Girardi said. “We knew that. Our ballpark being a shorter distance between home and right, it doesn’t play in as much. But you get to some of these other parks and it plays in a little bit.”

Here in Baltimore — and in a few others parks this season — Beltran’s let balls fall where other right fielders might have made a catch. He at times looks hesitant. Just two days ago, it seemed Brett Gardner expected Beltran to be in position to make a catch on a ball that fell for an embarrassing and avoidable base hit. Gardner took responsibility, but off the bat it looked like the right fielder’s ball.

“(The effort) is always there,” Girardi said. “I know Carlos is not a guy that plays like his hair’s on fire, but he’s playing hard. You have those certain guys that, I mean, Carlos was a Gold Glove center fielder and probably at times he looked like he was gliding to the ball. That’s just the way he runs. And I think sometimes people can mistake that for effort. The effort is there. … How many of you move as well as you did 20 years ago? I know I don’t.”

Today the Yankees have Garrett Jones in right field, and they have Chris Young available for late-inning defense, but Girardi said he plans to have Beltran back in right field these next two days in Miami. That’s another big ballpark, but the Yankees are banking on Beltran hitting enough to make up for the balls he can’t catch.

“That’s a lot of the reason why we replace him late in games,” Girardi said. “That’s why we do it. He’s in there for his bat.”

Ivan Nova• Still listed as TBA as recently as yesterday, the Orioles are starting right-hander Mike Wright today. He’s 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. Apparently they’re getting lefty reliever Brian Matusz back today as well.

• Ivan Nova finished with an impressive pitching line in last night’s Triple-A rehab start, but Girardi didn’t sound completely sold on the outing. “He threw OK,” Girardi said. “The reports on him (said) he threw OK. … They said (his command) was OK too. His velocity was decent. His curveball maybe wasn’t quite as sharp as we’ve seen it. But he got stretched out a little bit and has been going every fifth day, so like I said, I’ll sit down with Brian and talk about what we think is best.”

• Obviously Girardi gave no definitive plan for Nova, but after listening to Girardi this morning, I’ll be a little surprised if Nova doesn’t get at least one more minor league start. I heard from a friend at last night’s Triple-A game who said Nova’s command was pretty bad. Not a lot of walks, but apparently he was a bit erratic.

• Still no plans to have Alex Rodriguez in the starting lineup at any point these next two days in Miami. “But everything is always subject to change,” Girardi said. Getting to 3,000 hits might have to wait until the upcoming home stand.

• What’s made Adam Warren so good lately? “I think it’s the consistency in his stuff,” Girardi said. “The location. Being able to use all four pitches. Able to keep hitters off balance doing that and showing them different looks. He’s been real consistent.”

• Triple-A outfielder Tyler Austin has been added to the minor league disabled list. He apparently hurt his hip diving for a ball. Not great timing. Austin was finally starting to hit this season. Had a .360/.429/.520 slash line in his last seven games.

• Tuesday’s pitching matchup: Former Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi against former Yankees starter David Phelps.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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