The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

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

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 28 Comments →

Postgame notes: “No pie for that”08.16.11

A.J. Burnett knows when to celebrate. He knows when to move on quietly. Tonight he was moving on.

Burnett’s first win since June 29 was good enough. It was good enough to give the lineup a chance to rally. It was good enough to hand a lead to the Yankees lock-down relievers. It was good enough to put the Yankees back into a tie for first place. Burnett scattered singles, got a few key outs and walked just one batter.

“Maybe a cupcake,” Burnett said. “No pie for that. You’ve got to do a lot better than three runs in five and two-thirds to get a pie.”

Fair enough. Really, this outing wasn’t much different than the seven winless starts that came before it. Burnett had his one bad inning, and he was rarely overwhelming, but this time the Yankees scored enough runs. Burnett wasn’t happy to come out of the game in the middle of the sixth, but Joe Girardi wanted to matchup against a lefty, and Burnett seemed to realize he was in no position to argue.

“You can’t fight City Hall,” Burnett said. “Skip’s got a reason for everything. The way I look at it is we’ll build from this one, start pitching a little better and give Skip some confidence. The bottom line is, the better I pitch, the longer I’m going to stay out there.”

Derek Jeter said Burnett should be “real pleased” with this start, and Girardi said it was a chance for Burnett to feel like he’s contributing.

Burnett gave up 10 hits, but none went for extra-bases. He walked only one batter, but that was with the bases loaded. He got a win, but didn’t pitch through the sixth. It was enough to put the Yankees back in first place, but it probably wasn’t enough to quiet the frustration with the pitcher who’s supposed to be the Yankees go-to No. 2 starter.

“I think a lot of times when players are evaluated, I think the salary is one thing that’s always thrown into the mix,” Girardi said. “And that’s understandable. I understand that. With a high salary is always high expectations, but there’s been some games here that he could have won that we didn’t necessarily score runs. What’s fair in life and unfair, everyone’s going to have a different opinion, but I think he’s thrown the ball better than some of the outcomes he’s had.”

Here’s Burnett.

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• The Red Sox didn’t play tonight, so the two teams are once again tied at the top of the American League East.

• Hey look, it’s a scoreless inning by Mariano Rivera! After three straight rocky outings, the Yankees closer pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to seemingly put himself back on track. “That doesn’t matter,” Rivera said. “We won the game. That’s the most important thing. It feels good. You just want to be there, just go out there and pitch.”

• Another good night for the top of the Yankees lineup. Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter reached base six times and drove in five runs. Jeter had the biggest hit of the night with a two-run triple in the sixth. “We were leading the whole way, then they scored three, but we answered right back,” Jeter said. “I think that’s important. It probably relaxes A.J. a little bit. I don’t want to speak on his behalf, but I would assume so. You’re probably not feeling too good to give up the lead, but then we come right back.”

• Was Jeter thinking triple off the bat? “To be quite honest with you, I hit it and then I lost it in the scoreboard,” Jeter said. “The scoreboard is lit up pretty well. I saw Gardy going, so I just kept going. No one told me to stop.”

• This was Jeter’s 2,391st game, passing Lou Whitaker for the 17th-most games among players who spent their entire career with one team.

• Gardner is hitting .500 (7-for-14) against the Royals this season.

• Mike Moustakas was hitting 4-for-50 against left-handers this season. That’s why Girardi went to Boone Logan instead of letting Burnett finish the sixth. “The struggles that he’s had against left-handers, that’s the time to use my lefty because I know that I have the seventh, eighth and ninth guys if I want to go to them,” Girardi said.

• Another nice game for Jorge Posada, who drew a walk and had the single that started that pivotal three-run sixth.

• The Royals like to run, but the Yankees threw out two runners trying to steal and got another out on a pickoff. “Russell can really throw the baseball,” Girardi said. “And you take your chances when he’s behind home plate.”

• Burnett got two big double plays, the first of which came on a changeup. The second came on a fastball inside to Eric Hosmer. That’s certainly one of the biggest pitches of the night. “Confidence in the fastball in,” Burnett said. “I got it inside him a little and Robbie was able to make that play that not a lot of second basemen make. I threw some good changeups to righties all game. Billy (Butler) had a good swing on a changeup, but what can you do? It was a good pitch and he took it over there; that’s baseball. I have to learn to live with those things and that’s why I was able to get out of that inning.”

• You may have noticed Jeter and Burnett talking on the mound after Burnett was pulled. It was a conversation about the way Burnett was holding his glove to hid the ball before pitches. “I asked him to keep an eye on my hand, because I feel at times the way I set, maybe a runner at second can see my grip,” Burnett said. “I made a conscious effort to turn my glove in a little bit. That’s what I had him keep an eye on, and he said he never saw a thing.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 70 Comments →

Pregame notes: “We need him to help us”08.15.11

Joe Girardi said he came into the weekend planning to have Jorge Posada at designated hitter both Saturday and Sunday. That was going to happen with or without Posada’s six-RBI game on Saturday. After a rainout, though, Girardi had no need to rest anyone. The Royals starter has no significant track record against any of the Yankees. Girardi simply chose to put Posada back in the lineup.

“The next three days, we have three lefties, so we’ll see what we do,” Girardi said. “I like the way Jorge swung the bat. He’s going to play, and we need him to help us.”

Even after the big game on Saturday, Posada said he still showed up today and felt the need to check the lineup. He didn’t take it for granted that one big day was enough to earn himself another start.

“You feel pretty good about yourself going home, that’s about it,” he said. “You put yourself in a situation, and hopefully you try to do everything possible to stay in the lineup. I have to look at it like that, now.”

Looking ahead to next year, Posada said he hasn’t put much thought into whether he’ll retire, but right now he thinks he’ll come back for another season. Staying healthy, he said, is the biggest issue, and right now he feels good.

“It’s tough for me to tell you exactly what I’m going to do,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know until the season’s over and I get home and see what happens during the offseason, all the workouts and stuff. I haven’t really thought about it, but I still think that I will right now.”

• Freddy Garcia will try to throw a full bullpen either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the progress of the cut at the top of his right index finger. Girardi said the Yankees have to be careful about when Garcia throws, because if the cut hasn’t healed enough, he could rip it back open and cause a setback. He’ll be slotted into the rotation after the bullpen. Right now there’s no date in mind for Garcia to pitch again.

• Garcia’s been able to throw, he just can’t throw his splitfinger. That one pitch, though, is too much of a weapon to go without it. “Hell yeah,” Garcia said. “That’s a pitch I use a lot.”

• Garcia’s cut is this year’s version of last season’s A.J. Burnett black eye: No one seems exactly sure how it happened. “Stuff in the house,” Garcia said when asked how it happened. Was he cooking dinner? “Something like that,” he said.

• Alex Rodriguez has today off. He’ll travel to Scranton and play Triple-A rehab games Tuesday and Wednesday. At that point, the Yankees will reevaluate. Thursday is the earliest Rodriguez could be back. It could be later depending on these two games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

• Girardi said Rodriguez will play third base the next two days.

• Quite an unusual move: The Triple-A Yankees clubhouse will be closed to reporters before both the Tuesday and Wednesday games. Rodriguez will hold a press conference after the game. I can’t remember ever covering a rehab game when the clubhouse was closed because of the big league player in attendance. I know it didn’t happen with Jason Giambi, and I don’t remember it happening with Roger Clemens.

• For whatever reason, Burnett has been awful in August since he came to the Yankees. “There are pitchers that have some months that aren’t as good as others,” Girardi said. “You hear about it when you acquire them and you understand that. Is there a real reason that you can say he struggles in August? No, I don’t think so.”

• The Royals continue to bring kids up from their minor league system, but Girardi said they’re not necessarily playing a different style of baseball than when the Yankees saw them earlier this season. “They’re still playing the same way,” Girardi said. “They’re aggressive, they’re among the league-leaders in stolen bases and they score runs. Their pitching staff has changed because some people have been hurt. The guy we’re seeing tonight, Paulino, was not on the club when we saw them. They have changed, because they’ve brought some more young kids up.”

Alex Gordon LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Billy Butler DH
Eric Hosmer 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Salvador Perez C
Mike Moustakas 3B
Alcides Escobar SS

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 418 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Rotation drama/Posada delivers08.13.11

So all this time spent speculating about the rotation cut and there’s no decision because Freddy Garcia cuts a pitching finger. Joe Girardi revealed it after the game.

“I think it was a kitchen accident,” Girardi said. “Players shouldn’t use knives.”

Girardi said he has known about this for four or five days, which is about when it happened. Garcia got through a bullpen session without throwing his splitter. But he tried to throw splitters on flat ground today and couldn’t. Girardi said the ball was rubbing against the cut on the side of the finger, so he was scratched from Sunday’s scheduled start. A.J. Burnett is down to start instead.

So the decision is on hold. Girardi would only go as far to name his rotation for the three-game Kansas City series, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia. But is predicting a 70 percent chance of rain for Sunday, so that might impact things again.

Girardi is hopeful Garcia will only miss this one start.

“But obviously we have to make sure it’s healed before we have him even try,” Girardi said. “And he’s going to have throw a bullpen before he tries to pitch in a game. I don’t really see it as being a deep, deep cut. But it’s enough where it effects his split.”

*Girardi said Phil Hughes “mixed his pitches today as well as I’ve seen him.”

Hughes fanned six and walked one, while allowing the two runs and four hits over six. And he was able to block out the swirl about his place in the rotation.

“There are always circumstances with everything,” Hughes said. “It’s hard enough to pitch a big-league game with a clear conscience.”

Jorge Posada, meanwhile, was back in a big way after being benched last Sunday. After five games of sitting, he had a grand slam, two singles and six RBI. Girardi told him afterward he would get another DH start tomorrow. Girardi said Posada is going to play, that he will still get some DH work and maybe some backup work at first if Mark Teixeira is the DH.

“Georgie is very professional,” Girardi said. “That’s the way he’s always been. I knew he was dying to get back in there. I knew that. It’s tough not putting him in the lineup. Georgie and I have a long history together. We were teammates and won together. I think he’s a great player. I think he’s a great man. So it’s difficult because I know how much he wants to play.

“And I want him to have success. That’s the bottom line. We want him to drive runs and do all that. At times it’s been a struggle this year. Sometimes I have to make tough decisions. But I know he was itching to get back in there. Georgie will be 60 years old and he’ll be itching to get back in there. That’s the type of guy he is.”     

Posada passed Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra for sole possession of sixth on the Yankees’ all-time grand-slam list. This was No. 10. It was a very satisfying day for him.

“It’s special,” Posada said. “I got an opportunity to play. It’s tough to sit around. It’s not easy sitting here and everybody’s playing. It’s tough.

“I just have to be prepared for that opportunity. From now on, I have to look at the lineup card and be ready. I haven’t given up.”   

The fans asked for a curtain call after the slam and he popped out of the dugout after Russell Martin’s ensuing single. They have been great to him throughout, and he appreciates it.

“I play for them,” Posada said.

*Curtis Granderson has hit five homers over his last five games. His 33 homers not only tie him for the MLB lead with Jose Bautista, but they are the most by a Yankees center fielder since Bobby Murcer launched 33 in 1972.

*Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 3 as the DH in his second rehab game for Single-A Tampa at Dunedin.

*Out of the gifts Derek Jeter received at the pregame ceremony to honor him for reaching 3,000 hits, the one that stood out the most to him was the 225-pound stainless-steel sculpture of himself that Posada and CC Sabathia commissioned on behalf of the players.

“I really appreciate that,” Jeter said.

“He said, ‘Where am I going to put this at?’ ” Posada said. “I said, ‘You’ve got plenty of room in that house in Tampa.’ “

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 118 Comments →

Posada speaks08.13.11

Jorge Posada just met with us. He’s been buried since getting benched last Sunday in Boston. But he has resurfaced today. Joe Girardi has him as the DH.

“I’m looking forward to being in the lineup again,” Posada said. “I want to do everything I can to try to stay in the lineup.”

Asked if it has been hard to stay sharp while not playing for the last five games, Posada said, “We’ll find out today.”

Asked about Girardi, Posada said. “Me and Joe are fine. We talk. That’s between me and Joe.”

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 413 Comments →

Pregame notes: Rodriguez on track to return next week08.09.11

The tarp just came off the field and it looks like there’s at least a chance of starting tonight’s game on time. I thought there was no chance just a few hours ago, but Joe Girardi said he’s been hearing that the game will probably be played.

On to big picture news.

Alex Rodriguez ran the bases today. He did his usual batting practice and fielding drills, but it’s the running that’s most significant. Girardi said Rodriguez is still on track to begin a rehab assignment this weekend — either Friday or Saturday, Girardi said — and it’s a good bet that he’ll be with the Yankees next week on the road.

“I don’t know if Monday is realistic,” Girardi said. “Part of it probably depends on where he starts and how he feels in those next couple of games. But I think next week is realistic.”

Girardi said he’s not sure how many rehab games Rodriguez will need.

“I guess theoretically it could be one, but you can’t really say,” Girardi said. “You don’t know how he’s going to feel and you don’t know if he’s going to have his timing. You don’t know if he’s going to feel stable on his knee running the bases. You can’t just throw a random number out there. When he’s ready, we’ll have him back, I can tell you that.”

• Phil Hughes starts Saturday. Freddy Garcia starts Sunday. For now, the Yankees are sticking with a six-man rotation. “I don’t know how much longer we’ll stick with that,” Girardi said. “Obviously we’ve got the split doubleheader in Baltimore and we have to be prepared for that too.”

• Could either Hughes or Garcia be available out of the bullpen? “We’d probably stay away from them,” Girardi said. “If we had to, yes, but our bullpen is in pretty good shape.”

• Sergio Mitre is going for a second opinion after being diagnoses with a pinch nerve in his shoulder. An MRI showed no structural damage, but a nerve problem is causing Mitre to lose considerable arm strength (fastball velocity suddenly dropped by about 6 mph, he said). The second opinion is determine whether surgery is necessary, but Mitre is going into it believing he has  “90 percent” chance of surgery. How long he’s out depends entirely on how quickly the nerve recovers.

• According to the latest AP update from Tampa, Pedro Feliciano threw 42 pitches in the bullpen today and is scheduled for live batting practice on Friday. Even so, Girardi said Feliciano is still a longshot to pitch for the Yankees this season.

• Other Tampa updates via the AP: Ramiro Pena started swinging a bat… Damaso Marte threw a 32-pitch bullpen… Mark Prior pitched in another rookie league game.

• Once again out of the Yankees lineup, Jorge Posada seemed just as frustrated today as he was after he and Girardi had their conversation on Sunday. Posada spoke only briefly. “You wouldn’t expect any player to be necessarily happy if he’s taken from a role,” Girardi said. “I was a full-time catcher and reduced to less catching. I didn’t like it. I just kept working at it and trying to get better. As a player, that’s really the only thing you can do – be prepared and when you get your chance, perform and do the best you can.”

• Russell Martin’s mustache is no longer the worst Yankees look of the year. A.J. Burnett has gone with totally blonde hair. It’s… a curious decision. Martin literally offered a no comment on the situation, but he did laugh a little when I brought it up.

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

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 61 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.

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 106 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 →

Second-half question: Did May 14 change Jorge Posada’s season?07.11.11

Even if you don’t know the exact date off the top of your head, you know exactly which day I’m referring to. It was perhaps the most bizarre day of the season — the day Jorge Posada couldn’t take it any more — and it might have changed everything for the better.

“Going back to that day, I’m not proud of (what happened) and you guys know that,” Posada said. “The way the relationship with me and Girardi and me and Cashman (was affected), I feel a lot more comfortable where I’m at. It doesn’t really matter (where I hit), I’m happy.”

Of course he’s happy. Since backing out of the lineup on an otherwise random Saturday in the middle of May, Posada has hit .291/.361/.444. Until that day he was hitting .165/.272/.349, and his slugging percentage that was only that high because of an early April home run binge. Since venting his frustration, Posada has gone from an absolute drain on the lineup to a productive hitter.

Because of his contract and because of his history with the franchise, the Yankees had little choice but to stick with Posada this season. They’re in a similar boat with Derek Jeter. They needed something to turn Posada around, and hitting rock bottom might have done it.

“We still have to produce,” Posada said. “That’s the bottom line. Obviously we want to do better than what we’re doing. We keep looking forward to things. That’s what (Jeter) has taught me and that’s what Joe Torre has taught us and that’s what Joe Girardi has taught us. It’s just a matter of really putting everything behind and looking forward to the next day.”

Posada couldn’t do that on May 14, but he’s been able to do it ever since. Something changed that day, and the second half will determine whether it was lasting or simply a reprieve.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 445 Comments →

Pregame notes: One more day off for Rivera07.05.11

The Yankees are giving Mariano Rivera another day of rest.

Rivera played catch this afternoon and said he still felt some soreness around his right elbow. He’ll be in the bullpen and available on an emergency basis, but the Yankees are planning to stay away from him.

“I feel better today but I think we’ll do another day off,” Rivera said. “I felt it a little bit. I could pitch, yes. Can they use me? Yes. But if I can by for another day, it would be much better, wiser.”

The problem is in the muscle on the back side of Rivera’s elbow, more or less at the base of the triceps. Rivera wasn’t cleared to throw a baseball at all yesterday, so the fact he played catch seems to be a good sign.

“Basically you know your body and those things are going to happen,” Rivera said. “You always have some aching feelings and soreness. I’m not concerned because I haven’t done nothing wrong. I suspect that it’s something that’s going to come and go away the same way that it came… I don’t think I ever felt 100 percent, I think, from the first day I started playing baseball. But if I feel 95 percent, I’ll be playing. Like I said, I can pitch now, but I don’t want to take a chance.”

Without Rivera, the Yankees will once again have Dave Robertson as their closer. Luis Ayala is available tonight, but Girardi is planning to stay away from Cory Wade — who’s thrown three of the past four days — so the bullpen is a little short in the late innings again.

“If we had to I was going to put (Robertson) in that spot (last night),” Giradri said. “I was comfortable doing that, but what it does is it shortens your bullpen, and that can become an issue.”

• Kind of funny: Rivera said if he felt good and thought he should play, he would plead his case to trainer Gene Monahan first because that’s the hardest person to convince. Rivera could start with Girardi, but… “I listen to Geno,” Girardi said.

• In other injury news, Eric Chavez felt some sort of lower abdominal discomfort this morning and is on his way to New York for tests. His lower back problem turned out to be nothing, and he was working out again. He went through a normal workout yesterday, felt good, then work up this morning with the problem. “They said his workout was great yesterday, too,” Girardi said.

• Rafael Soriano is scheduled to throw a bullpen tomorrow. “He’s only thrown fastballs,” Girardi said. “He’s got to throw to some hitters, some BP, and he’s probably got to go on the rehab. I think getting him back after the all-star break, like the first day, I don’t think that’s very feasible. I would hope not too far after that.”

• During this final stretch before the all-star game, Girardi wants to give all his regulars a little bit of rest and today was Mark Teixeira’s turn. “Some of the other guys got some days, and this would be his day,” Girardi said.

• Russell Martin had caught four days in a row, that’s why he’s out of the lineup. Girardi said Martin will probably get one more day off before the all-star break.

• Posada at first? “I feel pretty good,” Girardi said. “It think he’s done a pretty good job over there for us. He seems to know where to be at all times. He’s made some good plays on some ground balls, so I’m pretty comfortable.”

• Girardi said he’ll have to wait and see whether Derek Jeter will be cleared to play tomorrow.

• Pretty good chance Rivera won’t be going to the all-star game. “We’re just going to have to see,” Girardi said. “Depends how he feels. It might be a thing where the three days might help.”

• Any chance the all-star snub adds some motivation for CC Sabathia? “I think CC has enough motivation all the time when he goes out there,” Girardi said. “But it could. He might want to show people, I’m the league leader in wins and I belong on the all-star team, but I don’t think CC ever gets caught up in that.”

Michael Brantley LF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Travis Hafner DH
Carlos Santana 1B
Orlando Cabrera 3B
Grady Sizemore CF
Austin Kearns RF
Cord Phelps 2B
Lou Marson C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 12 Comments →

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