The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

A few off day minor league notes04.21.11

Off days seem to work pretty well for minor league updates. There’s not much going on with the big league team on these days, so we might as well look into the minor league system.

Today let’s start in Double-A. Austin Romine is always the other catcher in the Yankees system. He’s not considered one of baseball’s elite like Jesus Montero, and he’s not a raw mega-talent like Gary Sanchez, but Romine is a legitimate prospect his bat is heating up.

He hit a walkoff single on Tuesday, then he homered twice on Wednesday. Romine got off to a slow start in the season’s first week, but in the past five games he’s collected nine hits including a double and two home runs. He has nine RBI in the his past five games after not driving in a run in any of his first six games. His slash line is up to .310/.420/.500.

Of course, in this system, Romine isn’t the only minor league catcher who’s been hitting lately.

Jesus Montero continues to rake for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He had another three-hit game last night, and although he hasn’t homered since April 9 and has yet to draw a walk, Montero is batting .423/.423/.558 through 11 games. Down in Charleston, Gary Sanchez is back from a brief stint on the disabled list and had a hit last night. While Sanchez was out — Josh Norris says it was a sore oblique, of course — J.R. Murphy got some regular time behind the plate and his bat is still going strong with three homers, 13 RBI and a .326 average.

For the immediate future, the catching situation that has the most impact on the Yankees is happening in Tampa, where Francisco Cervelli is supposed to be begin a rehab assignment tonight.

• Kei Igawa is up from Double-A to start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight. Kevin Millwood is coming up from the Double-A roster to start for Scranton tomorrow. As Donnie Collins pointed out, Millwood should have time to make one start after tomorrow before his out kicks in.

• Speaking of Triple-A starters, David Phelps and Adam Warren have turned in back-to-back gems this week. Phelps allowed three hits and struck out six through 6.1 innings on Tuesday night, then Warren followed with eight scoreless innings on Wednesday. Minor league pitchers — and big league pitchers for that matter — occasionally talk about creating a friendly rivalry in which one player’s success helps to spark another’s success. Those two outings could start something like that.

• Jorge Vazquez is up to seven home runs in Scranton, meanwhile Chris Dickerson has started hitting in Triple-A. Eight hits in his past four games has Dickerson’s slash line up to .292/.393/.375. He’s had two doubles and a triple in the past three days, his first extra-base hits of the year.

• Manny Banuelos is back from his blister and made his second start on Tuesday night. He allowed two hits and one unearned run through four innings for Double-A Trenton. Dellin Betances is still on the disabled list in Trenton, but he seems close to a return.

• Good numbers from a name you might not know: Mikey O’Brien, a ninth-round pick in 2008, has a 2.16 ERA with 19 strikeouts through his first three starts with Charleston. He’s walked only three and his production has been pretty steady (his numbers aren’t the product of just one good start), but he has yet to get a win. O’Brien could be building on last season when he had a 2.08 ERA in Staten Island.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 107 Comments →

Igawa: “It was pretty hard for me”03.25.11

Freddy Garcia was long gone by the time Kei Igawa pitched his one inning at the Yankees minor league complex on Thursday. After five days in Japan, Igawa returned this week to get back to baseball.

I“It was pretty disastrous,” he said. “The roads were a mess and when I was home, the water wasn’t running. It was pretty hard for me… I feel relieved that my parents and family were okay. The town is a mess, though, and right now the radiation is a big problem. That worries me a lot.”

Igawa’s hometown of Oarai is on the coast and was hit hard. Not as hard as some of the more northern cities and towns, but hard enough that he has several friends with flooded homes, and the drive from the airport to his home took twice as long as usual.

When the earthquake hit, Igawa got a frantic call from his wife, who is living in Japan.

“She was in a panic,” Igawa said. “That worried me the most.”

When the tsunami hit, Igawa suddenly couldn’t reach anyone. He finally got in touch via email, but he didn’t speak to his wife or parents again until he actually got to Japan.

“To see my wife was a huge relief,” he said. “The house was okay, but the inside was a little shaken and things were broken… I wanted to stay home a little longer, because my family and friends are going through a hard time. But I also had to resume baseball, because that’s my job.”


Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 486 Comments →

Yankees donate $100,000 to Japan relief and rescue03.11.11

I mentioned it earlier, but here’s the official release from the Yankees regarding their donation to the relief efforts taking place in Japan, plus a couple of other notes about the situation and its connection to the Yankees.

The New York Yankees announced today that they have donated $100,000 to support rescue and relief efforts following the tragic earthquake in Japan. Of the total, $50,000 will be given to the Salvation Army and $50,000 to the Red Cross, both of which are already working in relief efforts on the ground in Japan.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the terrible earthquake in Japan,” said Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. “We hope that the international community does everything in its power to support and assist the Japanese people in their time of need.”

Brian Cashman spoke with some reporters in Tampa about Kei Igawa’s situation.

“Obviously he has family there and he’s trying to reach out to them,” Cashman said. “He’s trying to find out if everyone he knows is OK and so he’s home doing everything in his power trying to contact people. He’s obviously glued to the TV and trying to find out every which way he can because right now the phones are down as of this morning still. It’s a very difficult time.”

Cashman said he got a call this morning from Mark Newman who told him Igawa was leaving the minor league complex to try to reach his loved ones. Cashman said Igawa has permission to go back to Japan if he needs to or wants to. “No doubt about it,” Cashman said.

I know Igawa’s name is mud within the Yankees fan base, but take it from someone who’s been around the guy a lot the past few years, Igawa is an incredibly nice and funny guy. He’s a bit of a prankster and a goofball, but he was always well liked in the clubhouse. I’m obviously hoping everything is OK for him back home, or as OK as it could possibly be under the circumstances.

“Everybody’s got Japan in their prayers right now,” Cashman said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see and that’s the frustrating thing. I was up all night watching it on TV. I absolutely have a lot of passion and I love Tokyo, love going over there, love the people of Japan. To see the devastation that’s taking place is just tragic.”

Commissioner Bud Selig’s statement:

“All of us at Major League Baseball are thinking of our many dear friends and colleagues in Japan today. Major League Baseball extends its deepest condolences to all those who have been affected, and we have the families and friends of our players as well as our peers and business partners in our thoughts.

“We have been in communication with the members of our office in Tokyo. Through our shared love of baseball for more than a century, Japan is a particularly special place to us, and we are deeply saddened by the disaster that has confronted the nation.

“Major League Baseball will certainly provide aid with the relief efforts in the days and weeks ahead. We will do everything we can to help Japan.”

The Oakland A’s announced some fundraising efforts and released a statement from Hideki Matsui. Here’s the press release from the A’s.

In the wake of the 8.9 earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan Friday afternoon, the Oakland A’s announced today that the team will help raise funds to aid victims of the disaster. The A’s open the 2011 season with a three-game series at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum against the Seattle Mariners and plans are being made to add a fundraising component for Japanese Heritage Day, scheduled for the series’ final game Sunday, April 3.

Details of the benefit game, which will feature Japan’s two greatest modern-day players in Oakland’s Hideki Matsui and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, will be announced at a later date.

Matsui, a native of Ishikawa, Japan and resident of Tokyo in the offseason, issued a statement this morning about the devastation that occurred in the past 24 hours:

“I am deeply concerned and affected by what is happening in Japan. I pray for the safety of all the people that have been affected and continue to be affected by this disaster.”

The A’s said they will be working closely with Hiroshi Inomata, San Francisco’s Japanese Consul-General, and other community leaders in their efforts to support the tsunami victims.

Associated Press photos of Igawa and Matsui, top photo is from The Yomiuri Shimbun via the AP

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 112 Comments →

Friday notes: Jeter showing signs of comfort03.11.11

Derek Jeter had another base hit today, his eighth in the past seven games (seven half games is more like it). I wasn’t in Tampa to see it, but the past week or so, Jeter has stopped slapping everything into the ground and has started driving the ball a little bit. He hasn’t shown much power — his only extra-base hit has been a misplayed triple — but he’s making good, solid contact.

“I think you’re seeing it on how hard he hits the ball,” Joe Girardi said. “I think you see the comfort. You see that he comes back and talks to K-Long (after) every swing, that he felt this or felt that. When you can recognize what you’re feeling, that’s a good sign.”

We all know that spring training numbers mean very little, but Jeter is hitting .333, and at the very least, the Yankees can take that as a sign that Jeter is finding his timing with his adjusted mechanics.

“I think he just needs to get at bats and say golly, I could have waited more, and get to the feeling where it’s OK to wait more,” Girardi said. “It’s just readjusting when he necessarily needs to start something.”

To be fair, I’m not sure Jeter has ever said the word “golly” in his life, but Girardi’s point is well taken.

• Speaking of adjusted swings, Curtis Granderson hit his third spring home run this afternoon in Dunedin. “He showed it at the end of last year,” Giradi said. “He’s been a different hitter since he made that adjustment with K-Long, and we’re seeing it in the spring as well.”

• Phil Hughes wasn’t too happy with his outing today in Tampa, but apparently his changeup was good. He told reporters there that he got six of his seven outs with the changeup.

• Ivan Nova came to camp seeming to be a favorite, but now that all of the rotation candidates seem to be pitching well, it’s worth noting that Nova is the only one who can be sent to the minors. Mitre is out of options, Garcia and Colon can both opt out if the don’t make the big league club. “I don’t think (it matters),” Girardi said. “We’re going to take what we feel is the best, gives us the best chance to win.”

• Even with split-squad games, Robinson Cano and Russell Martin didn’t play today. Both had played two days in a row, and both are making tomorrow’s long trip to Viera.

• In his second spring appearance, Rafael Soriano struck out two through a hitless inning in Tampa. Joba Chamberlain followed with a scoreless inning of his own.

• The Yankees lost both games today — 10-3 in Dunedin, 6-2 in Tampa — and most of the damage was done against guys unlikely to make the big league club. Steve Garrison allowed four runs in one inning in the home game, and David Phelps allowed four runs through one inning in the road game. Phelps pitched part of a second inning but couldn’t get an out. That’s when one of his four runs scored.

• Is it just me, or does Phelps look a lot like Ian Kennedy in this picture on the left? He doesn’t really look like him in person, but I did a double take when I saw this picture from today’s game in Dunedin.

• Eduardo Nunez had a double and continues to hit this spring. He’s hitting .385 while Ramiro Pena is batting .174. Those two have been good friends since the very beginning of their careers, and they seem to be taking this as a friendly competition, but right now Nunez is thriving and Pena’s not doing much to hold him off.

• The Yankees have announced that they’ll be donating $100,000 to the relief efforts in Japan.

• Mark Newman told Marc Carig that Kei Igawa has not been able to get in touch with his family.

• Former Yankees Darrell Rasner and Jonathan Albaladejo are playing in Japan. Todd Linden, who was in Triple-A with the Yankees, might also still be playing over there. It’s probably going to be a while before we find out whether everyone is OK. The Yankees have a close working relationship with the Yomiuri Giants. “The players and people and families of Yomiuri are good (according to what the Yankees are hearing), but obviously it’s not true of the people in the country,” Brian Cashman said.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 484 Comments →

Off day notes and links08.05.10

Blue Jays Yankees Baseball

Is it just me, or was this a slower off day than usual? The trade deadline has come and gone, Alex Rodriguez has his 600th home run, everyone is well aware of where the Yankees sit in the standings and a Red Sox-Yankees series needs no additional hype. It’s been a quiet day, in a good way.

Not such a quiet day for the Red Sox.

Kevin Youkilis is out for the year. The team announced that Youkilis will have surgery to repair his thumb tomorrow. He’s expected to be back in time for spring training. The news came one day after Jacoby Ellsbury was activated from the disabled list, and three days after Mike Cameron was placed back on the DL with a lower abdominal strain.

Without Youkilis, Cameron or Dustin Pedroia, here’s the lineup Boston is using the night before coming to the Bronx: Ellsbury CF, Scutaro SS, Ortiz DH, Martinez C, Drew RF, Beltre 3B, Lowell 1B, Kalish LF, Hall 2B. The Yankees could see something similar this weekend.

Some other notes.

• Tim Redding, who had been arguably Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s best starting pitcher, has accepted a contract offer to play in Korea. I’m not sure he had pitched his way past Ivan Nova for a call-up, but he had a 0.69 WHIP during the month of July. That’s insane. Just like Donnie Collins predicted, Kei Igawa was moved into the rotation to fill Redding’s spot. Also, Amaury Sanit is back from his suspension.

• Speaking of guys who used to play for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: Cody Ransom has been designated for assignment by the Phillies and Chad Tracy has signed with the Marlins.

The Royals have designated Jose Guillen. He’s a right-handed hitting outfielder, but if the Yankees had any interest, I imagine they easily could have traded for him instead of Austin Kearns.

Adam Dunn has been claimed off waivers. Jon Paul Morosi writes that the claiming team is unknown, but I find it hard to believe he could have slipped all the way to the Yankees.

Someone finally owns the Texas Rangers, and it’s not Mark Cuban.

• When rounded — like it will be in every statistical listing ever — Mariano Rivera now has a 1.00 career WHIP. Russell Kahn marvels at that number over at Mr. Blogtober. … By the way, Russell calls that post the first of a 954-part series. If I ever claim to have a 954-part series in the works, feel free to smack me right in the head.

Associated Press photo of Alex Rodriguez. Why a picture of Alex Rodriguez at the top of this post? I have no idea, but he looks like he’s 12 years old in that picture. I think that’s why I went with it.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 152 Comments →

Wrapping it up from Fort Myers03.07.10

Another day, another crooked number for a Yankees opponent. After losing 11-0 to the Twins today, the Yankees have given up 32 runs in their past three games which, spring training or not, isn’t particularly good. Chad Gaudin gave up three runs, the immortal Kei Igawa gave up five and D.J. Mitchell gave up the last three, long after much of the Hammond Stadium crowd had headed for the early-bird specials.

Still, there were no major injuries to report and Joe Girardi got another look at two of his fifth-starter hopefuls. Sergio Mitre “threw the ball pretty decent,” Girardi said, while Gaudin “made a couple of mistakes, that’s all.” Gaudin said the homer he gave up to Jason Kubel was a good pitch that he could have sworn Kubel hit off the handle; Girardi, however, said he thought Kubel “squared him up pretty good.” Either way, the ball got out in a hurry.

Girardi was also pleased with Brett Gardner dropping a bunt down for a base hit. That’s something Gardner has said he’s been working on doing more and his self-critique afterward was that it was only an “OK bunt” – he was hoping to get it past the pitcher but couldn’t get it all the way there. He beat the throw by a half-step anyway. Gardner also talked about how it feels to be back in a playing-time competition yet again, saying, “That’s the way it’s been for me, always – even in college. Ever since I was drafted by the Yankees in ’05, I’ve always been competing for a job. I feel like it makes me better. It makes me work harder, and I’m sure it does the same for the other guys.” Check out the paper (or website) tomorrow for more on Gardner.

Lastly, Girardi said he spoke to Francisco Cervelli and reported that Cervelli sounded “pretty good.” There’s no timetable yet on when Cervelli might return to action but tomorrow’s examination by a neurologist is an important test. If all goes well, he could be back later this week but the Yankees will no doubt be careful.

That’s it from here. Long ride back to Tampa ahead but we’ll be back at it early tomorrow morning.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 491 Comments →

Notes from Saturday03.06.10

Francisco Cervelli will be checked out again on Sunday, and he’ll see a neurologist on Monday. Depending on how those two appointments go, Cervelli could be back in the lineup by the middle of next week.

“Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday, but I’m not going to rush it,” Joe Girardi said.

This is Cervelli’s second concussion in the past four months. He also had one in November when he was hit in the head by a bat during winter ball. He was catching and the batter got him on the left side of his head, right where today’s pitch from Zech Zinicola landed.

Here’s Cervelli talking about his noggin.

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MonteroThat’s Jesus Montero in the picture, but Girardi said this afternoon that his No. 3 catcher is Mike Rivera. If this Cervelli situation proves worse than expected, it’s Rivera who would likely open the season on the Yankees bench.

“He has big league experience,” Girardi said. “He knows what the job entails. That’s why we went out and got him.”

Rivera has been in the big leagues each of the past four years, and he was in the big leagues for parts of three seasons before that. He has a higher career batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage than Jose Molina.

Here’s the Girardi audio.

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• Jorge Posada on A.J. Burnett’s changeup: “He’s starting it down, that’s the big thing. He’s finishing it well. There was one of them that was up, hit off the end of the bat, but I thought he did a great job.”

• Change of plans for tomorrow’s travel squad. Cervelli (obviously) will not go. Instead, Rivera will go to catch Gaudin and Mitre. Amaury Sanit will also not travel after getting in today’s game.

• Another nice outing from Boone Logan, who pitched two hitless innings and retired three lefties: Lyle Overbay, Jeremy Reed and Travis Snider. After his four-up, four-down debut — also retiring three lefties — he’s making a strong case (but a very early case) for a spot in New York.

• Mark Melancon also looked awfully good again today, so did Jason Hirsh. Both finished off strikeouts with good curveballs. Oh, and don’t sleep on Kevin Russo, who had another hit and made a nice diving play at second.

• Dave Eiland confirmed that Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte and Chan Ho Park will each throw a batting practice session on Monday. They are the only pitchers in camp who have not faced live hitters.

• Andy Pettitte has a two-inning simulated game tomorrow morning and will move forward as if he pitched in a real game. “It will count as his first start,” Eiland said.

• If you missed it in the game post, Nick Johnson took batting practice this morning and felt good after. “I took a few swings in the cage,” he said. “Felt loose.”

• I don’t want to make a big deal of it, but Kei Igawa did pitch well yesterday and this afternoon Girardi said he couldn’t rule out the idea of Igawa creating a place for himself as a left-handed reliever. Just throwing it out there.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 388 Comments →

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