The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Pregame notes: Montero all but locked into postseason roster09.25.11

If there were any doubt about Jesus Montero’s roster status, it’s surely gone at this point.

“I can’t envision a scenario where he won’t be on our postseason roster,” Joe Girardi said.

The lingering question has more to do with playing time rather than a spot in the clubhouse. Montero seems to have locked up regular against bats against left-handed starters, Girardi wouldn’t commit to using Montero as his regular designated hitter against right-handers.

If the Yankees play the Tigers in the first round, they won’t see an left-handed starter the entire series.

“It very well could (affect his playing time,” Girardi said. “But every team does have left-handed relievers.”

Montero seemed happy to hear the news. He said he won’t fully believe it until Girardi makes it official — “I don’t want to say, ‘Yes!’” he said — but it’s clear that Montero’s hit enough to feel confident.

“I’ve been doing a good job, thank God,” he said. “Just trying to do my best. I’m helping and doing whatever they want me to do to help the team to win. I don’t decide anything else.”

• CC Sabathia threw four simulated innings this morning, a total of 65 pitches. He didn’t pitch deep enough into his sim game to pick up his 20th win. “Able to work on some things and not be as intense, but get my work in,” he said.

• Sabathia faced Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson and — after an inning — Chris Dickerson. He said he’ll throw a bullpen on Tuesday and be ready for Friday’s postseason opener. He hasn’t started studying scouting reports for either possible opponent. “I faced both teams a bunch of times, so we just have to wait and see,” he said.

• Sabathia on the possibility of pitching Game 4 on short rest: “That’s up to them. I’ve done it before.”

• Girardi said he had not yet talked to Phil Hughes about how he feels a day after yesterday’s bullpen. The Yankees are still hoping to have him pitch in some capacity during these last three games, but they don’t have a game picked for him.

• Girardi said he was not ready to announce any of his Tampa Bay rotation.

• All of the regulars not in the Game 1 lineup will be in the Game 2 lineup. No one is sitting out hurt. “There might be one guy that I use in both games today,” Girardi said. “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t bring in someone late, but I think you have to be smart about it at this point.”

• On using Jorge Posada as the cleanup hitter: “He has a lot of experience against Wakefield,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees have locked up home field advantage because Detroit lost last night, so these last five games are all about getting ready for the playoffs. “It’s something that we worked very hard for during the course of the season,” Girardi said. “And it’s nice because I’ve always said that our club is built around our ballpark. We’ll still going to go out and play hard. It’s not going to change my approach, in a sense, but we’ll be smart with guys these last four days.”

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carl Crawford LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Conor Jackson RF
Marco Scutaro SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Mike Aviles 3B

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 101 Comments →

Pregame notes: “I just thought today was the day”09.18.11

Alex Rodriguez feels fine after yesterday’s return to the lineup, and Phil Hughes said he feels considerably better since Friday’s back spasms. Compared to a week ago, the Yankees seem relatively healthy today, and Joe Girardi said he wants to keep it that way.

Hence today’s lineup.

“The guys have been going so hard,” Girardi said. “I figured we’ve got an important 10 days coming up, try to get them a little bit of a blow. Grandy and Jeet have really struggled against Morrow in their career, and I just thought today was the day.”

Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira — the usual 1 through 3 hitters — are all out of the lineup. Robinson Cano, the usual No. 4, is starting at designated hitter. Girardi said none of those four have complained about injuries, and that’s not what today’s about.

“None whatsoever,” Girardi said. “Just trying to give them a little blow. I think they’re fatigued, as well as some of our other guys, and that’s why we’re going to DH Robbie.”

Girardi plans to have his regulars — most of them anyway — back in the lineup tomorrow.

“The other guys have had a little bit more rest than these three,” Girardi said. “I might not play Al tomorrow. We’ll see about Al, how he physically feels, but I would imagine I’d have most of the guys in there tomorrow.”

• Although Girardi is willing to discuss the idea of having Jorge Posada catch a possible record-breaking save by Mariano Rivera, he seems to be leaning against it. “It’s not something that we’ve done a lot,” Girardi said. “We’ve caught him one time, and the games are important right now. It’s something that we can talk about, but I’m probably going to stick with our catchers. That’s what I’m going to do.”

• A.J. Burnett is flying out of Toronto this afternoon so that he can get to New York the day before his day game start tomorrow.

• The Yankees rotation for the Tampa Bay series:

Tuesday: Ivan Nova
Wednesday: CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes
Thursday: Bartolo Colon

• Girardi said Hughes “continues to improve” and Hughes said he’s certain he would be available for Tuesday if necessary, but the Yankees are going to have him pitch one of those doubleheader games instead.

• Girardi’s not sure whether Hughes or Sabathia will start the first game on Wednesday.

• Girardi’s still not willing to discuss his playoff rotation. “A lot of it will probably, if we’re fortunate enough to get in, be determined by the matchup,” he said. “Until we get there or see how guys are doing, we’ve always said things have sometimes a way of working their way out. So, we’ll see.”

• Some of Nick Swisher’s throws from right field have been at less than 100 percent, but Girardi said that’s by design. “I told him, be smart about it,” Girardi said. “Don’t air it out if you don’t have to air it out. Sometimes outfielder just like to throw, and I just said, ‘If you don’t have to let it go, don’t let it go. Be smart.’”

• As you might have guessed, Rafael Soriano is not available today.

• The Yankees would love for Rivera to break the saves record at home, but if there’s a save situation this afternoon, Girardi said he will absolutely use his closer. “You got it,” Girardi said.

Mike McCoy SS
Eric Thames LF
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind DH
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Kelly Johnson 2B
Brett Lawrie 3B
Colby Rasmus CF
Jose Molina C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 297 Comments →

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 →

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