The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Postgame notes: “There is some concern there”09.23.11

Bartolo Colon hasn’t won a game since the beginning of August. He has a 5.09 ERA with a .298 opponents batting average since the all-star break, and he’s lost his past four decisions.

The lightning might be out of the bottle.

“When we went into this year, we weren’t sure how many innings we could get out of him,” Joe Girardi said. “There is some concern there, so we’ll continue to evaluate as we move forward… It’s location, it’s movement and it’s some velocity, as well. That’s why there are concerns.”

Colon seems baffled. He said he never looks at the scoreboard to see velocity, and the fastball seems to be coming out of his hand the same as it was earlier this season. Girardi, though, said the Yankees reports have his fastball a couple of miles per hour slower. Girardi doesn’t believe Colon is hurt, and Colon himself said he feels just fine.

“I feel the ball coming out of my hand well,” he said. “For some reason (it’s not as good). I don’t see anything different, I just need to continue working hard to go back to the way I was before.”

The Yankees will have CC Sabathia pitch a simulated game on Sunday, lining him up to start Game 1 of the division series. Girardi said the rest of his rotation is TBA. Earlier this season, Colon seemed to be the Yankees second-best starter, and at times he still looks like a viable option, but his past two outing have lasted a total of seven innings.

“When I pitched against Anaheim (two weeks ago), I threw the ball and had the movement on the ball and the velocity,” Colon said. “There’s no question that I’m going to get it back.”

Here’s Girardi’s postgame press conference.

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• Girardi said that no one who came out of tonight’s game was removed because of injury. Colon came out because he was ineffective. Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira were removed because the game was out of hand.

• CC Sabathia on the decision to throw a sim game instead of make another start: “I want to be on five days going into Game 1, so we’ll do it on Sunday… I think it will be fine. I’ll throw the simulated game, probably 45 pitches, then I’ll be ready to go on Friday.”

• Girardi left open the possibility of using only a three-man rotation in the first round. “It’s possible that you could go with three-man because only one guy would have to pitch on short rest,” Girardi said. “Sabathia, of course, said he would have no problem with that.

• Colon’s explanation of why he fell down in the first inning: “The pitch that I threw to Longoria, I threw the ball and I landed on my heel. My cleat got stuck.”

• The Yankees tied their season-high with 14 strikeouts. They had four players strike out at least twice, including Jorge Posada, who matched his career-high with four strikeouts (this was his sixth career game with four Ks).

• The Yankees also matched their season-high with four errors. It was the fourth time they had four errors in a game this season. In the previous four seasons, they had a total of four games with four errors.

• The Yankees used 16 different pitchers during this four-game series. Only Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes didn’t pitch.

• Ramiro Pena snapped an 0-for-28 with his sixth-inning single. He had another hit in the seventh. All told, Pena has a hit in two big league games this season, tonight and June 15 in Texas. Both were two-hit games.

• Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances both made their big league debuts. The last time two Yankees pitchers made their debuts in the same game was April 20, 2004 against the White Sox (Alex Graman and Scott Proctor).

• Yes, Proctor pitched in this game as well. Random.

• Derek Jeter had his first two-error game since June 2, 2007. It was the 14th two-error game of his career.

• Jesus Montero now has a hit in 10 of his first 14 career games. He went 3-for-3 and reached base in each of his five plate appearances.

• Really impressive start for Rays rookie Matt Moore, who was starting a big league game for the first time. “The young man has good stuff,” Girardi said. “Eleven strikeouts in five innings. I think we saw as high as 97, a 3-2 changeup. He’s got outstanding stuff.”

• An ugly game for the Yankees, and Girardi said it’s easier to move on because of what happened yesterday. “We got down a lot,” he said. “Our guys tried to chip away and we had some opportunities, it was just too much.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “Don’t know what version we’re going to get”09.17.11

When Alex Rodriguez came back from knee surgery, he was immediately inserted back into the cleanup spot. This time, coming back from his sprained thumb, Rodriguez is sliding down a spot to fifth in the order.

“It’s more that he’s just missed time,” Joe Girardi said. “Really, he hasn’t played much in the last two months, so I figured we’ll just keep Robbie there for right now, and if Alex gets going, we can adjust our lineup as we see needed.”

Rodriguez plans to play with a ring of tape around the handle of his bat, and that ring will keep his top hand from driving into his sore thumb. He tried it yesterday and liked the results.

“Just to have the authority to get through the zone the way I’m used to is the most important thing,” Rodriguez said. “I think timing takes a little adjustment, but not as bad as the other thing.”

Whether he has that authority through the zone will determine which version of Rodriguez the Yankees have these last two weeks and into the postseason.

“We don’t know what version we’re going to get,” Girardi said. “We might get the version we had at the beginning of the season when he was healthy. If that version is in there, that’s really good.”

• Girardi said it’s “fair to say” he wants CC Sabathia to start Game 1 of the division series, but right now, Sabathia’s not lined up for that game. Getting him on regular rest for Game 1 seems to require that he start next Sunday on short rest, but Girardi said he hasn’t decided what to do with Sabathia leading into the postseason. “We’ve got to see after his next start how he feels,” Girardi said. “You’re asking a hypothetical question and I can’t answer it, because I don’t know where we’re going to be and I don’t know how he’s going to feel after his next start. Let’s just wait and see after he starts on Wednesday, then we’ll look at Friday and Saturday and decide what we’re going to do.”

• Kind of surprising, but Girardi revealed that Sabathia actually asked for an extra day of rest heading into his Sept. 10 start against Anaheim. “I think pitchers prefer to pitch every fifth day, but we’re in a situation where we’ve had some off-days and we’ve had to (give Sabathia extra rest),” Girardi said. “There was a time he asked for an extra day one time, so we gave it to him. We’re just doing the best with what we’ve got.”

• Part of the reason for starting Austin Romine is the fact he faced Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez earlier this season. “Romine saw this kid in Double-A and hit a couple balls hard off him,” Girardi said. “He’s familiar with him.”

• Speaking of Romine, he was studying scouting reports in the clubhouse long before a lot of players arrived at the ballpark. The kid seems to be doing whatever he can to be ready.

• Girardi said Romine’s not necessarily his regular No. 2 catcher. “I’ll look at that individually each day,” Girardi said. As for the possibility of carrying both Romine and Jesus Montero in the postseason, Girardi said, “We’ll worry about that when we get there.”

• Boone Logan was really sharp for a while, but he’s taken a step back recently. “He’s just not quite as sharp,” Girardi said. “He’s making a mistake and they’re hitting it. He threw some really good sliders to Adam Lind (last night), and the one that he hit, he left it up in the middle. Good hitters are going to put that in play and usually hit it hard.”

• With three straight day games, Girardi said he expects some regulars to get time off Sunday and Monday. “I’m going to rest a couple of the guys,” Girardi said. “It is what it is. We’re going to have to give the guys a little bit of rest. It’s not what we want, but our schedule has just been bad.”

BLUE JAYS
Mike McCoy SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
David Cooper DH
Colby Rasmus CF
Brett Lawrie 3B
Adam Loewen LF
Jose Molina C

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “You have to find out what they can do”09.12.11

Joe Girardi chose today’s starting catcher based on two Double-A games in June. When Phil Hughes was in Trenton for rehab, his catcher was Austin Romine, and so Romine will catch Hughes again tonight in Seattle.

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t start (Jesus) Montero again,” Girardi said. “I just chose to do this because he caught him those times at Double-A… Romine’s been catching longer in his lifetime than Montero, but they’re both works in progress. We’re probably going to see things from them that you may not see in a couple years, just because they’re young catchers. Romine has been considered one of the top defensive catching prospects in baseball, so that’s why I brought him in.”

At this point, the Yankees are looking at Montero and Romine a little differently than expected. Girardi acknowledged today that one of them might have to be the Yankees backup catcher in the postseason.

Today’s MRI on Francisco Cervelli came back negative, but he’s still suffering from concussion symptoms, and the Yankees aren’t sure when they’ll have him back. Russell Martin is expected to be back tomorrow, but his backup is to-be-determined. In some ways, it’s similar to spring training, with Montero and Romine given an opportunity to prove themselves.

“They might be called into duty if we do get to the playoffs,” Girardi said. “You do have to find out what they can do.”

Even before the Cervelli injury, Montero seemed to be opening some eyes with his offense. He was trying to win a roster spot as a designated hitter anyway, now his ability to catch takes on some added importance. That said, the Yankees made it clear on Sunday — when Romine came in as a defensive replacement — that they prefer Romine’s glove behind the plate.

“You think about what we asked them to do yesterday, two really young catchers that had never had a big-league start and neither one had caught in the big-leagues,” Girardi said. “They did a pretty good job.”

• Alex Rodriguez has not swung a bat since being shutdown on Saturday. Girardi said today that Rodriguez might not play against until this weekend’s series in Toronto. “I’m kind of a cage rat over there with Kevin and I can’t even do that,” Rodriguez said. “You sit around patiently (until) it heals up.”

• Nick Swisher is back in the lineup. He said swinging from the left side — like he’ll do tonight against Felix Hernandez — was completely pain-free during a pregame BP session. Swinging from the right side was only slightly painful, more of a slight tug than the sharp pain he was feeling a few days ago. “I just have to stay within myself and not try swing too hard,” he said.

• Swisher’s not ready to play the outfield. He did some throwing pregame and felt fine with shorter throws, but his elbow began bothering him when he stretched it to 120-130 feet. “Just want to make sure we get it all right,” he said. “But first base I think it will be perfectly fine.”

• One last Swisher note: “If I have to get a shot, maybe, to get through this pain toward the end of the season, we’ll go ahead and do that. My biggest thing is I want to be on the field, I want to play, and I’m going to do anything I can to get there.”

• Girardi on Martin: “He’s better. He’s going to come out and throw today and see if he can be an emergency guy for me today, if possible. His thumb is better.”

• Everyone is available in the Yankees bullpen, including Boone Logan.

• Even without Rodriguez in the lineup, the Yankees are sticking with Derek Jeter as the leadoff man, abandoning the use of Brett Gardner in the top spot against right-handers. “Jeet’s been doing a great job, so we’ve just kind stuck with it,” Girardi said.

• Girardi liked the idea of giving Mark Teixeira a half day off. “Unfortunately he got two and a half days off when he got hit in the leg, and I think that kind of rejuvenated him a little bit,” Girardi said. “But this schedule hasn’t done anything for any of our players, so that’s why I chose to DH him today.”

• Girardi on Hughes: “We want some distance from him tonight. He’s going to have to shut them down because of who we’re facing tonight. There’s usually not a lot of runs scored off of Felix, so he’s going to have o be on top of his game.”

• Girardi was asked about calling Romine’s girlfriend on Saturday to finally get in touch with Romine about the call-up. He said the Yankees got the girlfriend’s number from Romine’s agent, and she was apparently very polite when caught off guard by the Yankees manager suddenly calling her cell phone. “She asked me how I was,” Girardi said.

MARINERS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Kyle Seager 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Mike Carp DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Trayvon Robinson LF
Brendan Ryan SS
Michael Saunders CF

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: “I told him, ‘It’s like riding a bike’”09.11.11

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.

Jorge Posada
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.”

Russell Martin
X-rays were negative and Martin was diagnosed with a bruised thumb. After the game, he had it heavily wrapped, but Martin refused to rule out the idea of catching tomorrow.

“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.

Francisco Cervelli
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.

Jesus Montero
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.”

Austin Romine
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.”

Here’s Posada.

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Here’s Martin.

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• 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.”

• Girardi said the decision to go with Posada behind the plate was an easy one. He didn’t want to lose his DH so early in the game, and that would have happened had he gone to Montero.

• 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

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Postgame notes: “He’s not afraid to be here”09.10.11

Jered Weaver was positively dominant tonight. The Yankees scattered two singles and a handful of walks and never got a runner past first base.

Except Jesus Montero.

On a night when the Yankees failed to pickup a game in the standings, it was still hard to ignore the impact of the Yankees young designated hitter. Against one of the best pitchers in the game, Montero went deep for his third home run in as many days. It was his first time starting a big league game against a right-handed starter, and in his first at-bat he lifted a ball over both bullpens.

“He’s not afraid to be here,” Mark Teixeira said. “He’s not afraid to let it fly and if he’s going to be as good as everyone thinks he is, he’s going to have to face a lot of these guys. And he’s showing right away that he’s not afraid of them.”

The pitch was a 1-2 fastball inside, and Montero was looking for it.

“At the beginning of the at-bat, I was looking fastball,” Montero said. “He threw me two good curveballs and then I was thinking in, because I’m a catcher, too. I was thinking fastball in at that moment, and I got the right pitch.”

Joe Girardi said before the game that he wants to see more and more of the Yankees top hitting prospect, and tonight did little to change that opinion. “You continue to look at him,” is the way Girardi phrased it after the game. Bottom line, Montero’s going to keep getting at-bats. He’s going to have a real chance to earn a spot in the postseason.

“I just put that away and try to do my job whenever they give me the opportunity,” Montero said. “Keep doing my routine every single day. When I’m playing, when I’m DHing, I’m in the cage with Kevin Long. That’s been helping me, keeping my routine every single day… It’s been good, thank God. Tomorrow, I might play again and strike out four times, but it’s been good.”

Here’s Montero.

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• Montero and Bartolo Colon were the bright spots, but ultimately the game was decided by this fact: The Yankees bullpen was terribly thin. Rafael Soriano, Cory Wade and Boone Logan were unavailable, Dave Robertson had been used in the eighth and Mariano Rivera was being saved for a save. That meant Aaron Laffey and Luis Ayala got the call in a tied ninth inning. “Playing all these days in a row and all these tight ballgames, you get into this,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he’s actually planning to give Logan another full day off tomorrow. Logan said he’s not hurt, just going through a “little case of dead arm” and a couple days of rest might help. “My body is great and everything is fine,” he said. “But a couple days off, flushing out the body and letting it rest, it will give me a chance to get my velocity back.”

• Nick Swisher went for an MRI. The results won’t be available until tomorrow.

• Turns out, Bartolo Colon gave the Yankees seven strong innings on an upset stomach. He said he wasn’t feeling well all day, but he still delivered a performance reminiscent of his first half. “What I did today is the location of my sinker was really, really good,” Colon said. “Every time I command that way, I will pitch the same way I was pitching the first half.”

• The only Angels run off Colon came after Derek Jeter’s throwing error in the fifth. “He wasn’t in trouble the entire day until I put him in trouble,” Jeter said. “… It’s a play that has to be made. It’s not a difficult play.”

• Girardi said the Angels simply guessed right on Eduardo Nunez’s stolen base attempt in the top of the ninth. Nunez was brought in to steal the bag, and the Angels pitched out at the right time. “That’s going to happen,” Girardi said. “He was pretty close to being safe, too.”

• Girardi on using Ramiro Pena instead of Nunez to play third base in the bottom of the ninth: “I was probably going to hit Chavy the next inning and put Chavy at third, so that’s what I decided to do. Nino’s played a little more third than Nuney over his career, so I just decided to do it that way.”

• To be clear, Alex Rodriguez is not hurt. He came out strictly to have Nunez run.

• Russell Martin seemed to have a runner picked off at first base in the ninth, but he didn’t throw. “I didn’t get a good grip on the ball,” he said. “If I get a better grip I’ll make an attempt, but a couple of times this year I’ve tried to throw with a mediocre grip and I’ve thrown the ball into right field. In that situation, you don’t want that to happen.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “Hopefully it’s just a day-to-day thing”09.09.11

Nick Swisher’s left elbow has bothered him from time to time, but not quite like it did on his first throw from the outfield yesterday.

“I threw it and said, ‘Wow, that didn’t’ feel right,’” Swisher said. “… I know what feels right, I know what doesn’t feel right. After yesterday’s game, I was like man, I’ve got to check this thing out. I don’t like going to the training room man, it’s not my thing. But there are some times. You can’t be a hard head all the time, man, and you actually have to go in there. We’ll just see what they say and figure it out from there.”

Swisher will see the Angels team doctor at some point, probably today. He’s expecting to play tomorrow, but it’s hard to know anything for certain at this point. Joe Girardi called Swisher day-to-day.

During these past three days — when the Yankees had that long rain delay, followed by the four-hour-plus game, followed by extra innings in Baltimore — Swisher actually played all three days, but that’s only after he’d been off on Monday. Girardi said he didn’t believe playing those three games had a real impact on the elbow.

“I think it’s just one throw, really, more than anything,” Swisher said. “I don’t know what it is, so I’m going to see the doctor and find out. So, we’ll see. I’m not nervous about it but I’d feel a lot better if the doctor said ‘hey man, this is what you’ve got. It’s going to be OK.’ Because I’ve never had something like this before. (This is) more sharp pains. Hopefully, it’s just a day-to-day thing.”

• Jesus Montero is getting a designated hitter start against a right-hander today, and Girardi hinted that he might do that more often. “I think you want to see more,” he said. “You don’t want him to sit too long between games, either. You want to get him back in there. He’s swung the bat very well, showed patience and showed the ability to make adjustments.”

• Aside from Swisher, all of the Yankees regulars are in the lineup, but the bullpen is thin beyond Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson. It’s possible, in the next couple of days, that the Yankees will have to move a starter to the bullpen. “We might need someone,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying they won’t start again, but we might need someone in the bullpen. Soriano’s went a bunch of days in a row, Ayala’s went a bunch of days, Wade’s went a bunch of days, Logan’s went a bunch of days. I have Robby and Mo available tonight, but after that, I have to see.”

• If the Yankees don’t get distance out of Bartolo Colon, Girardi said he’s not sure Hector Noesi could be used for a truly extended outing (he threw back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple innings Wednesday). So, if the Yankees need a true long man, Girardi said it would likely be either George Kontos, Andrew Brackman or Dellin Betances. “Could be one of the kids,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of the kids, Betances is here mostly to get his feet wet and get a look at life in the big leagues. He’s active, but unlike Montero, Betances isn’t expected to play a significant role down the stretch. “You never know,” Girardi said. “He might pitch in a game, he might pich great and you might use him more. I don’t have any specific plans for him, in a sense, but we’ll see what happens.”

• Today is Betances’ normal day to pitch, which is why the call-up waited until now. He went to Tampa to throw a regular bullpen after the Triple-A regular season, then spent one day at home in New Jersey before flying to California yesterday afternoon.

• Girardi expected Betances to be the last September call-up. He said there was talk about calling up Manny Banuelos, but the Yankees didn’t think this was the time to do it. “They talked about him and decided not to,” Girardi said. “They looked at his year and said they weren’t going to call him up yet.”

• The Yankees rotation is not set beyond Sunday. “We’ll wait to see how we get through this weekend,” Girardi said. “Larry and I are still talking about it.”

• I’m sure he doesn’t speak for everyone, but Brett Gardner said he actually feels no different today — after those long three days of rain and extra innings — than he would at the start of any other West Coast trip. “No, not really,” he said. “I feel pretty good, especially after that long flight last night. I feel better today than I expected to. It’s obviously not ideal and something everybody has to deal with.”

ANGELS
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo 1B
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Vernon Wells LF
Peter Bourjos CF
Jeff Mathis C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 167 Comments →

Postgame notes: “Definitely something I can work with”09.02.11

The conversation came between starts, some time between A.J. Burnett’s nine-run debacle in Baltimore and his got-the-job-done start tonight in Boston.

“When we talked, it was basically me telling him what I’d seen through time,” Larry Rothschild said. “I don’t want to get into details of the conversation. I said, ‘Look, you might not like what I say, but here’s what’s out there. Here’s where I think we have to go.’ And he was great. Really good… I give him a lot of credit for what he did tonight.”

This was the first time since June 29 that Burnett allowed fewer than three runs in a start. He lasted just 5.1 innings, but he made only one critical mistake tonight, and that was the two-run homer to Dustin Pedroia. Other than the first two batters in the fourth, he didn’t let a runner past first base until the sixth.

“I felt pretty comfortable for the most part, new gig and all,” Burnett said. “I was just really relaxed out there tonight and went one pitch at a time. I didn’t miss over the plate a lot. I missed over the plate basically twice, both to Pedroia. My misses were down and even though I was behind on a lot of guys, they weren’t able to square a lot up because of that.”

Burnett’s new “gig” is a slight change to his mechanics. He’s changed where his hands start — both in the windup and out of the stretch — and there’s less of a turn in his delivery.

“Minor changes,” he said. “But major to a guy who’s been pitching the same way for 11 years. I looked at it with an open mind and it felt good… It’s definitely something I can work with. I felt real comfortable out there. I’ve only really been working on that for three days. I’ve been pitching the same way for 11 years, so it’s a big change, but as the game went on I felt more comfortable.”

No sense painting this as the start of a turnaround. It’s one start after two months of disappointment, but it was a glimpse of the reason Burnett got that five-year contract in the first place. He can be a good Major League starter, and the Yankees best-case scenario doesn’t involved finally dumping Burnett to the bullpen. It involves getting Burnett pitching well again.

“We need A.J.,” Russell Martin said. “And I think Larry had a big part in it, just simplifying a couple of the things in his mechanics just to get him consistent in his delivery. And then from there it was just him executing pitches, and we were on the same page for the most part of the game. It was good for him to fill that role against a really good lineup.”

Final word from Rothschild: “The one thing that he’s done is competed all along. Even in the toughest games, the toughest circumstances, he’s competing. That’s a pretty good place to start.”

Here’s Burnett.

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• The Major League debut of Jesus Montero was rather forgettable. The Yankees top hitting prospect went 0-for-4 with a hit by pitch. In his first three at-bats, he ended three innings with a total of six runners left stranded. But still, it was a debut, and four at-bats mean nothing in the course of a career.

“It means a lot for me, for my life,” Montero said. “Thank God I’m here for the first time and the first opportunity that I got to play in the big leagues. It was amazing for me today. After the first at-bat I feel more comfortable and I hit more well. I didn’t get the base hit, but I hope soon.”

• The big base hit, instead, came from the current Yankees catcher. Martin’s two-run double in the seventh turned everything around. Up to that moment, the Yankees had stranded 12 runners in the first six innings. “We just couldn’t seem to get the big hit off of Lester,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s a strikeout guy, so he’s going to sometimes have the bases loaded and get out of it. We got him out early, got him out after five and we were able to capitalize on some scoring chances after we got him out.”

• Terrific at-bat by Andruw Jones to start that seventh inning. His walk came after 14 pitches. Everyone in the clubhouse seemed to mention it at least once. Jones tied a career-high with three walks in the game, something he hadn’t done since 2006.

• Also plenty of talk about the Curtis Granderson catch in the sixth. That was a diving play that saved at least one run, maybe two. Might have been the difference in the game. “The Grandy man,” Burnett said. “He can do it all can’t he?”

• Mark Teixeira has a bruised right knee and he’s day-to-day. No x-rays were taken, and no tests are planned, but Girardi said he’s not sure Teixeira will be able to play tomorrow. Teixeira tried to stay in the game, but after playing defense for a half inning, his knee got stiff. “I couldn’t move,” he said.

• Robinson Cano had his team-leading 43rd multi-hit game.

• Derek Jeter played his 2,405th game, passing Mike Schmidt for the 15th-most games played all with same team. He went 2-for-4 tonight and is hitting .347 since coming off the disabled list.

• Boone Logan struck out the only batter he faced for the fifth time this season, the most such appearances in the American League.

• The Yankees lost eight of nine against the Red Sox in the first half, but since the all-star break, these teams are 3-3 against one another. “We didn’t play very well the first nine games against them,” Girardi said. “They beat us up pretty good, but we’ve pitched a lot better against them and our at-bats have been a lot better.”

• Last word on the Red Sox comes from Martin: “It feels good. I’ve been saying the whole time, I don’t think there’s a team better than the other. Every time we play them it’s one of those things where, the team that plays the best that day is going to win. And today we just played a little bit better than them. It’s going to be like that from here on out. If we see them in the playoffs, it’s going to be the same way.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 111 Comments →

Cashman: Waiver deals unlikely for Yankees08.13.11

The waiver-deal deadline is Aug. 31. But Brian Cashman, who stood pat at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, isn’t counting on outside help coming now for the Yankees, either.

“I think … what you see is what you’re going to get,” Cashman said. “It doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be some changes. I highly doubt it. It’s not likely you’re going to see anything between now and Aug. 31 because of the waivers, guys not clearing.”

Maybe they will look in-house and see if Manuel Banuelos can help out of the bullpen before the season is out since they already have too many starters right now. Or maybe they can give him a taste of things here. The 20-year-old lefty is 0-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts since being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He took the loss at Syracuse Friday, allowing three runs, six hits and four walks and striking out three over 5 2/3. He left trailing 3-1 and the final was 7-4.

And what about Jesus Montero? The 21-year-old righty-hitting catcher is batting .283 with 13 homers and 55 RBI in 96 games. He went 2 for 5 with a solo homer Friday. He’s at .289 with three homers and five RBI over his last 10 games.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 112 Comments →

Pregame notes: “Right now I’m sitting on the bench”08.07.11

Here’s the short version of Jorge Posada’s pregeame conversation with Joe Girardi.

“He said he was going to put the best lineup on the field, and he doesn’t know when I’m going to DH again,” Posada said. “So right now I’m sitting on the bench… I’m not happy about it, but right now I can’t do nothing about it. I put myself in this situation.”

That’s the current status of Posada’s steadily diminishing role with the Yankees. He lost the catching job this winter, became a bottom-of-the-order hitter by May, became a platoon player by mid-season, and now he’s on the bench with a .230/.309/.372 slash line. For four months, Girardi stuck with Posada in some regular capacity.

“Chavy came back,” Girardi said. “And Chavy started swinging the bat well. And Nuney’s been playing well. It’s just a chance to get them both in there was kind of the determining factor.”

Girardi kept saying that the Yankees are going to “try some different things,” but asked flat out if Posada is no longer in the mix to be a regular designed hitter, Girardi said, “correct.” At-bats could be even harder to find when Alex Rodriguez comes back, but Girardi said Posada’s roster spot is safe. He doesn’t anticipate losing Posada to open a spot for Rodriguez, and he believes the team can afford to carry a limited DH-type on an already thin bench.

“Jorge has a lot of pride and respect for what he’s done,” Girardi said. “You could see the disappointment and understand that, but at this time I felt we had to do what I did today.”

Here’s Girardi speaking a lot about the Posada situation.

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• Girardi it’s “very feasible” that Rodriguez could begin a rehab assignment on Friday, and should line him up for a return to the team during the next road trip. “Today, he did his tee and toss, he took regular BP and he took ground balls where he moved a little bit,” Girardi said. “He’s starting to do things that would get you to the point where he’s getting closer to a game. The last thing to come would be the sprinting and running the bases, and he’s still going to have to do that before he gets into a game.”

• Girardi did not dismiss the idea of calling up Jesus Montero to get some DH at-bats, but it sounds like he would be hesitant to carry Montero as the team’s backup catcher. “Bringing up someone who’s 21 and trying to learn a new staff in the middle of a season is not easy to do,” Girardi said. “That’s more of a concern about bringing in a new catcher than necessarily, is he ready to catch at this level? And I don’t care if he’s a veteran. This is the time of year you want your pitchers familiar with your catchers, and vice versa.”

• The Yankees still don’t have a pitcher lined up for Thursday’s game. Girardi said they’re planning to give CC Sabathia an extra day, meaning he’ll likely start Friday against Tampa Bay. Thursday’s starter would be either Ivan Nova or Bartolo Colon.

• Phil Hughes is available as a reliever tonight, but Girardi said his bullpen is pretty well rested and Hughes would probably be used only in extra-innings or if Freddy Garcia had to be pulled after only an inning or two.

• It’s no longer raining in Boston, but the clouds are rolling in and the sky looks really threatening. The radar’s not great. Could be in for a long night.

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Carl Crawford LF
Josh Reddick RF
Jason Varitek C
Marco Scutaro SS

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 77 Comments →

Yankees at the break: Designated hitter07.13.11

The Yankees made the decision this winter. Jorge Posada had been their catcher for more than a decade, but injuries were adding up – and so were the years – and so Posada’s days behind the plate were finished. In the final year of his contract, Posada made the transition to full-time designated hitter.

First half
Not sure there’s much sense rehashing the whole thing because I’m guessing you know the story. By mid-May, it wasn’t only Posada’s days as a catcher that seemed over. His days as an everyday player also seemed to be quickly coming to an end. He was bumped to ninth in the order, frustration boiled over, he asked out of the lineup and he’s been a better hitter ever since. Posada hasn’t bounced back to his all-star form, but he’s become a productive hitter in the bottom half of the Yankees lineup.

Second half
Wouldn’t have said this two months ago, but at this point it seems Posada will remain the Yankees everyday DH through the rest of the season. Obviously Alex Rodriguez will get some DH starts once he’s off the disabled list, but Posada has become productive enough to keep getting regular at-bats. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Yankees if Posada could regain some of that early season power.

The minors
Sometimes you set up a format for posts like this, and then realize that one category doesn’t really apply to a certain position. Jesus Montero is the prospect that’s most often mentioned as the Yankees DH of the future, but the Yankees don’t develop any real prospect strictly as a DH. The Yankees have minor league hitters. They all play a position. They all could be a designated hitter at some point. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. Let’s move on.

One question
How often should Rodriguez DH when he gets back?
Joe Girardi has tried to give Rodriguez and Derek Jeter occasional DH starts all season, but now that both have been injured this season – and now that Eduardo Nunez has proven he can be a productive big league hitter – he might be tempted to give the left side of his infield a few more half days off. Of course, that would be even easier if Eric Chavez were healthy again.

The future
Should be interesting. The Yankees won’t necessarily want to kick Posada out of the organization, but it’s clear that they no longer see him as a catcher, and that DH spot might be better used to give veteran players a breather or to give Jesus Montero regular at-bats. They might be able to construct a roster that has room for Posada, but they might also decide it’s time to say thank you and move on.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 144 Comments →

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