The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


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

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Ellsbury hoping to be back sooner than early six-week recovery estimate06.14.15

EllsburyApproaching four weeks since he sprained his right knee, Jacoby Ellsbury said today that he was initially told to expect a six-week recovery. He’s heading to Florida tonight with hopes of cutting into that time table.

“I’m optimistic I can be back before that,” Ellsbury said. “But when I was told, it would be six weeks from when I did it, so if I can trim any time off that I think it would be a success. Each step I’m pushing it and trying to trim more time off that six weeks when I can. Want to get it back there. Definitely not fun watching, that’s for sure.”

Ellsbury last played on May 19. Tuesday will make four weeks since he came out of the game in Washington, and Wednesday will be four weeks since he landed on the disabled list.

“Been doing some baserunning, hitting in the cage,” Ellsbury said. “I get here early and do some treatment during the game, but I make some nice progression every day. … The next step will probably be hitting outside (and) taking some live reads, so that’ll be the next step, and that’ll probably be down in Miami.”

If things go well, it seems Ellsbury will be with the Yankees in Miami and then head to Tampa when the Yankees come back home on Wednesday. Joe Girardi, though, has said that’s simply the hope, not necessarily a locked-in-place plan.

“Just a little tightness (still), but it hasn’t hampered the progression,” Ellsbury said. “It hasn’t slowed anything down, and I’ve been told that’s natural. That’s nothing that’s an eye-opener or anything that the doc didn’t say would happen. Even with that, its still progressing, I guess, according to the rehab program.”

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Pregame notes: “Roles will kind of get dictated with some innings”06.13.15

Sergio Santos

In the past two days, the Yankees have overhauled more than 40 percent of their bullpen. They’ve sent one reliever to the disabled list, optioned another to Triple-A, and outrighted another off the 40-man roster and into limbo. They’ve called up two fresh arms, added one veteran, and moved basically everyone in to relatively new roles.

There was a time early this season when it seemed the bullpen might be a strength for the Yankees. Now they’re clearly trying to put the pieces back together.

“Our starters have pitched pretty well,” Joe Girardi said. “But collectively it’s not a group that gets into the eighth inning very often, so we have to use our relievers a lot.”

RamirezThe Yankees finally saw enough of Esmil Rogers and outrighted him last night. Today, they decided to sent Jacob Lindgren back to Triple-A in hopes of him gaining some consistency. To replace them, Jose Ramirez is up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre — he’s fresher than Lindgren, Girardi said, and could give three innings if necessary — and they’ve added Sergio Santos, who signed a minor league deal earlier this month.

“I’ve been healthy now for quite a while,” Santos said. “And I feel good. Just super excited about this opportunity. … I think the roles will kind of get dictated with some innings, and once I get out there, and see how I do.”

Santos had a shoulder issue a few years ago that helped derail what had been a promising start to his big league career. The Yankees clearly think he has something left, but Girardi said he’ll be a bit cautious about thrusting Santos into big situations.

“We’ll try to get him in slowly,” Girardi said. “We’re seeing right-handers, so we’re going to need him. He’s a guy that has closed and had some success and we have to get him back on track. He’s got a swing and miss slider, but you have to get in counts to be able to use it.”

Santos said he’s felt good all year. Clearly there are reasons he was available — this is not a sure thing, and Santos seems to realize that — but the Yankees have looking for someone to be what David Carpenter was supposed to be. Sounds like Santos will get a chance to prove himself one way or the other.

“I think if I can come and establish what I know I can do, and hopefully what the Yankees believe I can do, it’ll be a good fit,” Santos said.

Jacob Lindgren• Lindgren was in the clubhouse this afternoon, but left about an hour before batting practice. He got into seven games and had some good moments, but he also made some costly mistakes and didn’t seem to reliably execute the way the Yankees would like. “He did OK,” Girardi said. “For a guy that was drafted last June, he did OK. Obviously there were some pitches he’d probably like to have back, but you can see the talent is there. It’s just a little more consistency from him.”

• Why Ramirez over Lindgren? “Jose’s fresher, number one,” Girardi said. “We’ve used Lindy the last couple of days, recently. I don’t know if I have (Chris Capuano) today, you lose Esmil, your other long guy, so we felt we better get some guys that can give us a little distance.”

• Sounds like Jacoby Ellsbury will report to Tampa next week only if the Yankees think he’s basically ready to start playing in games. “I said our hope is that he’ll stay in Florida,” Girardi said. “That’s our hope. If he’s not ready, he won’t. If we feel that he’s ready after Miami, we’ll leave him there. If he’s not, we’ll have to change our plan.”

• The plan is to stay on rotation this next turn through, without using a sixth starter. That means Michael Pineda is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday when the Yankees return home.

• Ivan Nova is scheduled for 85-90 pitches in tonight’s Triple-A rehab start.

• Scranton/Wilkes-Barre added a third catcher to the roster today, which seems to be a reaction to Austin Romine being hit by a pitch to the head yesterday. Romine is relatively fine — no concussion, tests came back clean — but it was still pretty scary. And it certainly looked intentional after back-to-back first-inning home runs by Rob Refsnyder and Kyle Roller. “I actually texted him today,” Girardi said. “He says he’s OK. He says he feels a little sore where he got hit, doesn’t have concussion symptoms; I guess the tests came back well. I was nervous when I saw the video of it, but he says he’s doing OK.”

• Does Girardi plan to always pinch hit for Mason Williams against left-handed pitchers? “Some of it depends on the score,” he said. “(Last night) I knew that if he got on, we’d bring the tying run to the plate. It depends how early it is. We knew their closer was left-handed. There were a lot of things that went into (pinch hitting Chris Young last night).”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Williams’ defense a deciding factor in big league call-up06.12.15

Mason Williams

Almost exactly five years after he was drafted, three years after he emerged as arguably the best prospect in the entire farm system, and one year after he fell flat in Double-A, Mason Williams found out he was being called to the big leagues and had one overwhelming reaction.

“I started sweating a lot,” he said.

After a miserable .593 OPS in Trenton last season, the Yankees maintained enough faith and hope to put Williams on the 40-man roster this offseason. After he hit .317/.407/.375 in a 35-game return to Double-A early this season, the Yankees pushed Williams to Triple-A. And after he hit .321/.382/.432 in a 20-game Triple-A debut, the Yankees brought their speedy young center fielder to the big leagues.

WilliamsThey could have recalled Ramon Flores, who played well in a roughly two-week audition, but they liked the way Williams fit the roster for an upcoming 20-game stretch.

“Thinking about moving forward, 20 days in a row, with Mason being a pure center feielder, a true center fielder, at some point going to have to give Gardy a day or two off,” Joe Girardi said. “We could have put Chris (Young) out there as well, but we just liked the way Mason was playing.”

As an added bonus, this means the Yankees will have used the Jacoby Ellsbury injury as a window to get a first-hand look at Williams, Flores and Slade Heathcott — three of several left-handed, speed-first, on-the-verge outfielders in the system.

“Mason has really pushed himself into the mix,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “As Heathcott did before him, and Flo did. So we certainly encourage our guys down there, when we have to make a phone call and have a need, you want the manager to be able to say, this is the guy you want. And a lot of the guys have come up and helped us. And hopefully, Mason will do the same.”

Just six months ago, Williams wound have seemed a long shot to be a part of that mix. Even when the Yankees put Williams on the 40-man, it was with an acknowledgment that he hadn’t hit well enough to be on the big league radar (there was mostly a fear that his defense, speed and left-handed bat could stick as a fifth outfielder; too great a possibility to risk losing out on his upside if/when things came together). So what exactly clicked for a player who’s always shown talent, and showed results earlier in his career?

“Last year, failing the whole year, I would say (was a learning experience),” Williams said. “Last year for me, that’s what clicked. I learned a lot. Just understood how to not put myself back in the same situation. It really helped me.”

Jacoby Ellsbury• Jacoby Ellsbury ran on the field at roughly 60-percent effort this afternoon. Just the next step in his steady progress from the sprained knee that’s had him on the disabled list since May 20. “The good thing is he felt good again today,” Girardi said. “Our plan is to leave him in Florida after we go to Miami. He’ll go to Tampa and hopefully shortly after being in Tampa and working out some days, he’ll be back in some rehab games.”

• Cashman wouldn’t give a definite timetable on it, but he said he expects Ellsbury back before the All-Star break.

• Dellin Betances is the Yankees’ new closer, and Justin Wilson will be the primary setup man. Sounds like newly recalled Chris Martin could fit into the seventh-inning mix with Chasen Shreve. “He will help us probably in the later innings,” Girardi said. “If we feel it’s a matchup for a right-hander. As we’ve said all along, our lefties get lefties and righties out, and we’ll use that, but at some point he’ll be in the back end like he was before.”

• Sounds like Brett Gardner will go back to being the everyday left fielder, letting Williams and Young platoon in center kind of like when Heathcott was up here. “I think it’s probably most important that (Williams is) as comfortable as we can make him as a young player,” Girardi said. “… And it might tax Gardy a little less moving back to left than being in center.”

• The Yankees will have CC Sabathia start tomorrow and Adam Warren start on Sunday. If the rotation were to stay on turn, it would Warren on Saturday, but Girardi said the Yankees liked the idea of giving him an extra day of rest. “We’re getting in an area where Warren hasn’t been at this level either, the amount of innings he’s getting to,” Girardi said. “I thought if we could give him the extra rest, it would be good.”

• It’s a few days away, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect Alex Rodriguez to play the field in Miami. He might in a late-inning, double-switch situation, but there are no plans to have Rodriguez start either of those two games.

• Few minor league moves: As expected, new second baseman Tony Renda is currently listed on the online Trenton roster (after being acquired in yesterday’s David Carpenter trade). In Triple-A, Jonathan Galvez has been released and utility man Ali Castillo — who had a great winter and was off to a strong start in Double-A — has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A.

Associated Press photos

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Cashman talks Ellsbury, Pineda, A-Rod, Nova and Tanaka06.06.15

Brian Cashman

Yesterday afternoon, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman stepped onto the field to watch a little bit of batting practice. While he was there, he talked to the media for a while. Nothing particularly new came out of it, but the GM did hit on a number of topics that really matter to this team right now, so here are a few highlights:

On the recovery of Jacoby Ellsbury
“We had a timetable. I don’t think we talked about it too much publicly. He was going to be in one of those lineman-looking braces for three weeks. He’s been doing running and stuff in the brace, I think, with some low-level resistance. Obviously doing a lot of strength work. He’s been working his tail off to make sure his quads and his hammys and everything else are not falling behind. … My update through yesterday is he’s busting his tail and doing a lot of functional stuff, but he’s got to have that brace on for three weeks total and he’s just past week two.”

On the decision to have Michael Pineda skip a start
“We’ve just been talking through it. Tanaka obviously got a time out because of the injury he had, so with the off days that we’ve had, it was: all right, let’s try to make a decision here at least on this front end. There’s other avenues to do it if you got a full complement (and) everybody’s healthy. You can always play with a six-man rotation if Nova’s back and everybody’s in line. We’re just trying to find ways to manage it properly so everybody keeps that full tank of gas and doesn’t have fatigue set in too easily, because once fatigue sets in, injuries can happen.”

On the idea of six starter when Ivan Nova is healthy
“It just depends on time of year, how things are functioning, who’s experiencing what. There’s no strict plan as much as (trying to) find ways at times to give people blows is basically what we’re going to try to do. But how we’re going to do it, we’re not sure just yet. … (Nova)’s going to have one (rehab start) in the Florida State League. If that goes fine, he’ll go to Scranton, weather permitting, and at that point we’ll evaluate. I guess it’s possible (he could be back this month). We did build him up to 75 pitches in extended spring so we can keep him on the clock if we feel it’s necessary, or we can pull him if we need him.”

On the dependability of Alex Rodriguez as an everyday player
“It was unpredictable what we were going to get. I could throw out there about the DH spot, it’s not as demanding and we all know that, but I didn’t have any expectations, let alone playing every day as a DH or being productive. He’s been very, very impressive and obviously helpful.”

On lingering foot concerns with Brian McCann
“I’m just thankful every test was negative. (The wrong orthotic) is more likely than not what was causing the issues. We’ll just swap it out and we’ll be able to go on from there and forget that it happened.”

On lingering elbow concerns with Masahiro Tanaka
“I can only speak for myself; I don’t think about it any more. I just think about if he is going to perform. In his last start, given how it was in his two rehab starts, I just wanted him to be productive. I knew he was around an 85-pitch count, so I didn’t know if we were going to be deep in the pen or not. My God, he was tremendous. I wasn’t worried about health. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: McCann relieved by foot diagnosis06.05.15

Brian McCann, Steven Souza Jr.

When Brian McCann talked about his sore right foot on Wednesday, the concern was obvious in the tone of his voice. His answers were short. His delivery cautious. He’d been unable to stay in a crouch that afternoon, and it takes a lot for McCann to admit he can’t play.

So when he slipped into that MRI machine yesterday, he was worried. Today, he’s relieved.

No plantar fasciitis. No Lisfranc injury. The arch of McCann’s foot is like a set of bad eyes, and it’s prescription has changed. McCann was given a new set of orthotics. He caught a bullpen session today just to test them out and declared himself ready to play.

“I had the same old (orthotics) for the last three years,” he said. “And the arch on my foot has changed. I needed to get new ones. Once it got inflamed, it was harder to calm down. … I think this will take care of it.”

Losing McCann would have been a significant blow to both the lineup and the pitching staff, but the Yankees are hopeful they’ve made it through this scare while only losing McCann for eight innings.

Joe Girardi posted a late lineup today because he wanted to make sure McCann could catch with no problem. After catching a pen, McCann said he was good to go.

“It only flared up when I caught,” McCann said. “Walking around it didn’t flare up, but once I got in my squat and moved around (it hurt). That’s what we’ve been waiting for today. Went out there and didn’t flare up.”

Jacoby Ellsbury, Joe Girardi• Jacoby Ellsbury has started going light baseball activities. He did a set of 10 40-yard sprints at about 50-percent effort. He also took dry swings in the cage and played catch. “He is obviously getting better,” Girardi said. “I don’t have a date when he’ll be a player for me, but it’s better than when we left because he wasn’t doing anything like that.”

• Carlos Beltran’s foot is still sore after that foul ball on Tuesday. The expectation is that he’ll be available to pinch hit, but he’s out of the lineup for a second game in a row. “The concern that you have there, besides it being really sore, is that he favors that and hurts something else,” Girardi asid. “We’ll shoot for tomorrow.”

• Brendan Ryan’s rehab assignment has been shifted to Double-A Trenton.

• Ivan Nova will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa on Monday. He will be scheduled for 80-85 pitches. He could be a big league option soon after that. “Right now we have him scheduled for at least two more (including Monday),” Girardi said. “Then we’ll go from there to see where he’s at.”

• No plans to immediate add a right-handed reliever, but the Yankees will almost certainly do that at some point (I guess it could happen when Nova comes back). “As of right now, it is what it is,” Girardi aid. “If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t predict that we would have that many left-handers in there the rest of the season. But right now, it is what it is.”

• Forgot to mention this in the previous post about limiting Michael Pineda’s innings: Girardi said the Yankees don’t have a specific number of innings they’d like Pineda to pitch, they just know that well over 200 is too many. “I have not been given a number,” Giradri aid. “We have not talked a number as an organization. But we know that 220 is out of the question, in our mind, for the regular season.”

• While he’s out of the rotation, there’s some chance Pineda could be available in an extra-inning situation either Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The Yankees won’t plan to use him that day, but if they got into a crazy game, Girardi wouldn’t rule it out. “I think you’d have to say that that’s a possibility if he hadn’t thrown a side that day,” Girardi aid. “He’ll still continue to do his sides, but as we know there’s much less intensity there and you want to keep him as sharp as you can.”

Associated Press photos

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Injury updates: Nova, Tanaka, Petit, Ryan, Martin05.21.15

Ivan Nova

It could be a matter of days before Ivan Nova is ready to begin a legitimate rehab assignment.

After throwing 47 pitches in an extended spring training start on Monday, Nova will get stretched out a little bit more this weekend before the Yankees settle on what exactly he’ll do next.

“They were really pleased with how he did,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he’s got one more down there, on Saturday, and we’ll go from there.”

When Nova does official begin a rehab assignment, it won’t necessarily take a step back to a pitch count resembling the start of spring training. Girardi said these extended-spring starts were designed to get him stretched out so that he could throw more pitches once he got into real games.

“He won’t have to go back to like 15 or 20 (pitches),” Girardi said. “This just allows us, in a sense, to build him up with more starts. When you’re coming off what he is, you want to make sure the command is there, so he should be able to give you a couple starts with a substantial amount of pitches. Whereas if you just did the 30 days (of a rehab assignment), you’d get one at 90.”

A few more injury updates:

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballMasahiro Tanaka
He’s making a rehab start tonight with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Scheduled for three innings or 45 pitches, it seems Tanaka will need at least two more minor league starts before the Yankees would consider him stretched out enough to rejoin the big league rotation.

“It’s a decision that we’ll make after each start when we feel that he’s ready to go,” Girardi said. “I’m not going to put a number on it.”

Jacoby Ellsbury
So far, the Yankees have said only that Ellsbury has a sprained ligament on the outside of his right knee. They haven’t given a grade or any other clue about the severity. Even Ellsbury himself claims not to know for sure. Ellsbury will meet with Dr. Chris Ahmad on Friday, at which point the team will presumably provide at least a few more details.

“This is not doom and gloom,” Girardi said. “It’s just hard to predict. We want him to see our doctors. This is a guy who’s running all over the place. He’ll be ready when he’s ready and hopefully it won’t be too long.”

Gregorio Petit
Hit by a pitch to the hand way back on May 5, Petit still hasn’t even started hitting. He was diagnosed with a bone bruise and no break, but there’s still pain more than two weeks later.

“Hand’s still sore,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you get hit on those bones, and they don’t break, but that bone bruise, they’re painful.”

Martin Chris Martin
Friday will be two weeks since Martin last pitched. He’s been on the disabled list with right elbow tendonitis, but he’s been playing catch and is close to doing something more substantial. He’d become a fairly trusted reliever before the injury, so he could help solidify those middle innings.

“I think he’s supposed to throw maybe a bullpen at the end of the week,” Girardi said. “Saturday or Sunday.”

Brendan Ryan
Having injured his calf in spring training, Ryan has now been through two setbacks, most recently for some level of heat exhaustion. The plan is for him to begin playing extended spring training games this week (he was actually supposed to start playing yesterday, but Girardi wasn’t sure whether that happened). At this point, it seems he’ll need a rather lengthy rehab. It’s been a long time since those spring training at-bats.

“He’s got to get some at-bats,” Girardi said. “He hasn’t had consistent at-bats, so he’s got to get some at-bats.”

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again”05.20.15

Heathcott

On the day he was removed from the 40-man roster this offseason, Slade Heathcott had bigger problems to worry about. He was rehabbing from a second knee surgery, and the early indications were not promising. Finding his way onto the roster was a challenge for another day. In that moment, Heathcott simply needed to find way to get on the field.

“End of November this past offseason, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again, let alone be here,” Heathcott said, while standing directly in front of his first big league locker. “… My rehab still wasn’t coming around. November 26, I didn’t think I was ever going to play again. Got with a guy that I worked out with in Orlando, and three weeks later, I said, ‘I can’t believe it, but I can play in a game right now.’ And it just went forward from there. Now, I haven’t felt my knee since before spring training started. It’s been kind of crazy.”

Released and re-signed to a minor league deal, Heathcott entered spring training with a Double-A roster spot waiting for him. But he performed so well that the Yankees challenged him with a move up to Triple-A. In Triple-A, he played so well that last night he became the first true position player call-up of the season.

The Yankees could have gone with Ramon Flores — whose Triple-A numbers were just as good if not better — but they preferred Heathcott, suggesting they preferred someone who could excel in center field.

“They’re both playing well,” one team executive said this afternoon. “Heathcott’s skill set more closely matches (the) role/usage.”

While Heathcott’s not in the lineup tonight, manager Joe Girardi said he expects Heathcott to get some starts. He wouldn’t commit to a true center field platoon, but that seems likely given Chris Young’s struggles against right-handed pitching. Girardi said he wants to keep Brett Gardner in left field.

“I’ll use (Heathcott) for late innings for defense, and I could use him as a pinch runner,” Girardi said. “But he’s going to get some starts. I’m going to put him in the lineup and see how he does.”

After getting the call late last night — Heathcott was feeding his baby boy when the phone rang — Heathcott admitted he didn’t sleep a wink before catching a morning flight to Washington D.C. He said he tried to sleep on the plane, but he couldn’t. His wife and baby boy will be in the stadium tonight. Heathcott’s path from first-round draft pick to big league call-up has been a rocky one, filled with injuries and off-the-field issues, but at 24 years old and in his seventh season of pro ball, Heathcott says he’s matured in every way. He’s a smarter player on the field, and a better man off the field. He’s also healthy for the first time in a long time.

“Hopefully this can be the start of a lot of things,” he said. “It’s been a long road, but it definitely hasn’t been a boring one.”

Jacoby Ellsbury• Girardi didn’t give any fresh insight into how long Jacoby Ellsbury will be on the disabled list. He said the Yankees will wait until Friday before setting any sort of timetable. “I think until you go through a few days of treatment and see how he responds to that, and he sees Dr. Ahmad,” Girardi said. “We’re just not ready to give you a timetable. It’s not something that requires surgery, so we’re not holding anything that’s doom and gloom. It’s just, you have to see how he responds over the next few days and what Ahmad thinks.”

• If Ellsbury weren’t a runner, Girardi said, a timetable would be a little easier to figure out. As it is, the Yankees have to make sure he’s ready to really run the bases and play center field.

• The injury is specifically located in the ligament on the outside of the right knee. Girardi said it’s an unusual injury given the circumstances. “I’ve never seen it done,” Girardi said. “But we’ve seen Manny Machado tear his ACL taking a swing. It just looked like Jake’s heel got caught in the ground. Sometimes a guy’s spike gets caught. But I’ve never seen it happen like that, with the outside.”

• For now, it seems Carlos Beltran might be the regular No. 2 hitter. “Right now that’s how I’m doing it,” Girardi said.

• Ivan Nova is scheduled to make another extended spring training start on Saturday. He threw 47 pitches last time out. Girardi indicated Nova could begin a true rehab assignment after this upcoming start.

• Brendan Ryan was supposed to play an extended spring training game today, but Girardi wasn’t sure whether that actually happened. … Gregorio Petit is still not swinging a bat. His hand still hurts. … Chris Martin is scheduled to throw a bullpen this weekend. He’s been playing catch.

Associated Press photos

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Ellsbury: “They literally haven’t told me anything”05.20.15

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury said he’s still not sure how long he’ll be on the disabled list, and he likely won’t know until he meets with Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Friday. For now, he only knows he has some sort of sprain — he hasn’t been told the severity — in the outer part of his right knee.

“They literally haven’t told me anything,” Ellsbury said. “They put me in a brace and I’ve just been doing treatment all day. I’ll be on the plane tonight, off day tomorrow, go in and do treatment again, and Friday see the team doctor.”

Ellsbury said the injury happened when his spike caught on a swing last night. It was obvious he’d done something awkward on the swing, but the severity wasn’t clear until he was taken out of the game a half-inning later.

“Basically my cleat caught, and that’s basically what happened,” Ellsbury said. “My knee twisted and I kind of grimaced, kind of asked for time a little bit. I went to first base with a walk, and I knew it wasn’t right. I was just kind of hoping it would go away. Got to second. After I ran from first to second, they could tell something wasn’t right. The trainers ran out there. I tried to brush them off, but they still came out there. I told them what happened. Basically, let me run the bases and hopefully it goes away. It really didn’t, so at that point they took me out.”

By the time Ellsbury got to the dugout, he said, he knew he wasn’t in a condition to stay in the game.

“Running the bases, that was just me trying to block it out,” he said. “Just block it out and try to get through it, and hopefully by the time I got to the dugout, everything would have gone away.”

It hasn’t gone away, and while Ellsbury said he can put weight on the knee, he’s been told it would be a significant issue on side-to-side movements. He can’t remember ever having this injury in the past.

“It is disappointing, without a doubt,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something quick. Get back to playing and help the team win. There will still be hopefully a lot of time before the season is over. Until they give me a timeline, I really don’t know. I’m trying to stay optimistic, stay positive. Do everything we can as far as the training room to get this thing back to 100 percent healthy.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Postgame notes: Yankees move forward without Ellsbury05.20.15

Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees just lost for the sixth time in seven days, but the night’s most significant loss just might be Jacoby Ellsbury.

Although Joe Girardi said after the game that an MRI would determine the extent of the injury, the team went ahead and announced that Ellsbury will go on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee sprain. They’ll call up prospect Slade Heathcott to take his place on the roster.

“Is it real serious? I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “But we really won’t know until the MRI.”

HeathcottEllsburyIt’s serious enough to cost the Yankees two weeks of their leadoff hitter and center fielder, and Ellsbury has been one of the elite leadoff hitters in the game this season. He’s currently 10th in the majors in on-base percentage, and he’s tied for the American League lead in steals.

FanGraphs lists him with the highest WAR on the team.

If Ellsbury hasn’t been the Yankees’ best player, he’s certainly been one of them.

“Jacoby is our leadoff guy, gets on base and kind of gets things started,” Brian McCann said. “We’re hoping for the best. I’m not sure what the news is, but we’re hoping for the best.”

Ellsbury had opened the fourth inning with a walk and took second on a ground ball. It was only after he got second that assistant trainer Mark Littlefield came onto the field to check on him. Ellsbury stayed in and scored a run, but he did not return to play defense in the bottom of the inning. The injury itself actually occurred during the at-bat when Ellsbury took an awkward swing at a changeup.

“I saw it when he was hitting so I kind of waited to see what was going to happen there,” Girardi said. “I think he walked and then when he ran to second, he ran kind of gingerly. Then we decided to go out. I went out and talked to him and I said, are you in a lot of pain? He said, no, not really. I said, can you run? He said, let me see, let me get through this inning and let me see. When he got in the dugout, we just said, that’s it.”

So now the Yankees have to get themselves back on track, and they have to do it without a leadoff hitter who’s been one of their most reliable sources of offense. Heathcott can be an electric player, and Chris Young has been plenty productive as a fourth outfielder, but Ellsbury is difficult to replace.

“It’s not what you want,” Girardi said, leaning on one of his most often-used phrases. “If we are going to lose him for some time, somebody’s got to step up. That’s the bottom line. It’s part of the game.”

Joe Girardi, Jim Joyce• Heathcott is not on the 40-man roster. I assume Chase Whitley will move to the 60-day disabled list to open a roster spot. The Yankees face a right-handed pitcher tomorrow, so Heathcott could be in the lineup.

• Andrew Miller had not allowed a run this year before he gave up that walk-off home run to Ryan Zimmerman. Two outs in the 10th, Miller said he simply made a bad pitch. “I can’t do that there,” Miller said. “He laid off what I wanted to throw him. I have to execute a better pitch in that situation. … Not a fastball up and away. That’s kind of what he hits and I knew that going into it. I just made a really poor pitch. It stinks. I let everybody down.”

• Zimmerman laid off some pitches that Miller thought he might swing at. “Honestly, when he laid off those pitches, I need to look at the lineup and maybe give way to the next guy with Ramos on deck,” Miller said. It was a 3-1 pitch that Zimmerman hit.

• Of course, the home run off Miller was the first blemish in an exceptional season. The reliever who had a worse night, really, was David Carpenter. He also allowed a home run, a game-tying shot by Wilson Ramos. Otherwise, Carpenter’s first inning was fine, but in his second inning of work he put two guys on and the Yankees had to lean on Chasen Shreve for a huge strikeout against Bryce Harper.

• Really, the Yankees did an excellent job against Harper tonight. He had the home run and a walk against Nathan Eovaldi, but each of the Yankees left-handed relievers faced him and got him out. Justin Wilson got him to hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth, Shreve struck him out to leave two on in the seventh, and Miller struck him out in the 10th.

• For Shreve, the Harper at-bat was a big one. He and Harper were teammates in high school and remain close friends. “A lot more serious than I thought it would be facing him for the first time,” Shreve said. “I just tried to focus on the glove, not focus on who I’m facing. Just focus on making pitches.”

Nathan Eovaldi• Really rough start for Nathan Eovaldi. It really wasn’t that bad until the fifth inning, but that fifth was a mess, beginning with a walk, then an RBI double by a pinch hitter, then three straight singles before Wilson bailed him out of trouble. “In the fifth inning I just fell apart,” Eovaldi said. “Walking the leadoff batter after we put up four runs in the fourth, and two more in the fifth, it’s just frustrating, I’ve got to be able to bear down, make better pitches than that and get back to the dugout.”

• Eovaldi allowed two homers in the first inning, but the home run by Harper came on a breaking ball at his feet. “It’s a good pitch down,” Eovaldi said. “But he goes down there and gets that pitch. I’ve got to do a better job of making a better pitch than that one to Desmond. I fell behind, and it’s easy to get on that fastball for a good hitter.”

• McCann on Eovaldi: “It’s about dictating the count. It’s about getting ahead. That one inning he fell behind and that was the difference.”

• Girardi on Carpenter: “He got behind in the count and made a bad pitch. He left it out over the plate, a 3-0 count. He makes some good pitches, then he got behind and he threw one that looked about belt-high down the middle and the kid hit it out.”

• Might have missed it, but Larry Rothschild was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes while Dellin Betances was on the mound. “I turned around at that point,” Girardi said. “I thought I had calmed things down. The next thing I know, he’s gone. … We thought there were some close pitches. It’s part of the game. We yell on a constant basis.”

• Stephen Drew snapped a career-worst 17 game streak without an RBI. He had a two-run single that put the Yankees ahead in the fourth. He hadn’t driven in a run since April 27. … Mark Teixeira’s 12th home run of the year was the 375th of his career, tying Carlos Beltran for fourth-most all-time for a switch hitter.

• Final word goes to McCann: “We’re fine. This is why you play 162 games. You’re going to have ups and downs. It’s a matter of getting out of it. We haven’t played our best baseball here of late, but it’s going to change.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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