Who stays and who goes? • 06.02.10
It seems likely Jorge Posada will be activated from the disabled list today. “If he’s healthy without any issues tomorrow, he’s probably a player for us,” Joe Girardi said yesterday.
As the Yankees ease Posada back into the lineup, he’ll probably get his first start at designated hitter. Question is, how many more games will he start at DH? Enough to keep Chad Moeller on the roster for a few more days? If Moeller is designated for assignment and Posada suffers a quick setback, the Yankees would need to add Rene Rivera to fill that veteran backup catcher role, and Rivera doesn’t have nearly Moeller’s experience.
Would you consider optioning either Juan Miranda or Kevin Russo in favor of a third catcher?
Does the status of Mark Teixeira — who hurt his foot during last night’s win — affect that decision?
Postgame notes: Winning the close ones • 05.26.10
One week ago, the Yankees were winless in one-run games. After tonight’s wins, their past three victory have been one-run wins.
“If you’re going to win the division,” Mark Teixeira said. “You have to win the close ones.”
There were a lot of stars today, and that includes A.J. Burnett, who didn’t throw a single pitch and still picked up a win.
Target Field has been a tough park for home runs. The Twins have hit 38 homer this season, only 10 of them in their new stadium. The Yankees, though, won today on solo home runs from Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher. Then Mariano Rivera closed out both games for only his second and third saves of the month. All three of those saves, of course, have come in the Yankees three one-run wins.
“I actually thought his stuff was better the second game than in the first game,” Joe Girardi said. “But I won’t make a habit of that.”
Here’s Rivera talking about his day, especially his day compared to his struggles last week. “Everything,” he said. “The ball coming out of my hand. The movement. The location. Everything was better.”
• Andy Pettitte was awesome. Plain and simple. No pitch today was bigger than his eighth-inning cutter to Joe Mauer, getting the MVP to ground into a double play that stranded the go-ahead run at third base. Awesome quote from Pettitte: “It’s a tough situation because he’s such a great hitter. I threw him a ball in the first inning that I didn’t think he could hit and he drives in a run, hit it the other way. You don’t know how he does it. He’s just amazing to watch. He’s like Derek. He can take balls that other hitters can’t handle and hit them the other way.”
• Speaking of Pettitte, he said his changeup was the best it’s been in a long, long time. He was especially happy with his command of the fastball, cutter and change.
• Good line from Swisher about the difficulty of getting a ball out of Target Field: “In this ballpark with the height of the fence, you really have to hit it up in the air. I was talking to a couple of guys on the Twins and they were talking about how balls travel down the line pretty well, but once you get into the gaps, 403 with a 30-foot wall, I’m not going deep over there. It’s not possible for me. I understand that.”
• As early as the seventh inning of the second game, Girardi called down to the bullpen to make sure Rivera knew to be ready. He was going to use him if the Yankees got a lead.
• Finally free to acknowledge the signing of Chad Gaudin, Girardi said he expects Gaudin to move into the long relief role while Sergio Mitre will move into that middle-inning role that Alfredo Aceves filled before he was hurt. Basically, Mitre replaces Aceves, Gaudin replaces Mitre.
• Remember when the Yankees were winning so many games early in the season? A lot of that was due to production at the bottom of the order. Tonight No. 7 hitter Francisco Cervelli walked twice and scored a run, No. 8 hitter Kevin Russo had two hits, an RBI and a run and No. 9 hitter Brett Gardner had a game-tying triple.
• Dave Robertson was hit in the lower back by that first-game line drive. “I probably wouldn’t use him anyway tomorrow because of pitches, but he’s OK,” Girardi said.
• Derek Jeter seems to have found his stroke again, and that includes a home run and a double today. “It’s good to see him get back in his legs,” Girardi said. “I think that’s important when you see him drive the ball like that. That’s a good sign.”
• Juan Miranda pinch hit for Marcus Thames in the second game and positively crushed a ball to center field. “That ball is way out in most stadiums,” Teixeira said.
Associated Press photos of Swisher and Robertson.
Right and wrong: The bench • 05.24.10
Hard to tell the difference between the bench and the lineup these days. Francisco Cervelli and Marcus Thames have seen regular playing time most of the month, Juan Miranda is getting regular at-bats at designated hitter and Kevin Russo has been worth a look in left field. Thames has played in more games than Curtis Granderson, and Randy Winn has played in more than Nick Johnson.
What’s gone right?
Cervelli and Jorge Posada have played in the same number of games. Posada has outstanding offensive numbers, but Cervelli still has more RBI. In his oversized helmet and bigger-than-expect role, Cervelli keeps getting big hits in big situations. The Yankees took a chance on him this winter, choosing not to sign a veteran backup catcher, and the faith has paid off and then some.
Unless he’s heading for a Hall of Fame career, Cervelli’s numbers are sure to dip at some point, but he looks like a guy who can hit and certainly catch at this level. And he made the decision easy when the Yankees might have been tempted to rush either Jesus Montero or Austin Romine after Posada’s injury.
Other bright spots: Thames’ offensive production against both righties and lefties; Thames’ walk-off home run; Russo’s first major league start; Miranda showing some power; Pena proving his defense can play anywhere.
What’s gone wrong?
When everyone was healthy, Winn’s primary role was to play right field defense after Nick Swisher’s final at-bat, but occasional duty has been a tough adjustment for the longtime major league starter. Winn has come through in the clutch a few times, but for the year he’s hitting just .213 with a .295 slugging percentage. Both are ugly numbers for a corner outfielder.
If it hasn’t been Winn filling in, it’s been Thames, who’s done more than enough with the bat while continuing to struggle in the field. There will never be a better example than his walk-off home run one night, followed immediately by his game-changing error the next night.
Other problem areas: Pena isn’t expected to hit much, but you’d like to get more than a .211/.244/.237 slash line. Even that’s kind of nit-picking considering Pena’s role on this team and the fact he’s come through more than once. Ultimately, there’s not a lot to complain about on the bench.
Right and wrong: The outfield • 05.24.10
For a while there, it was hard to remember what the real Yankees outfield looked like. Curtis Granderson was on the disabled list, Nick Swisher was fighting through a sore biceps and Ramiro Pena was learning to play right field on the fly. Today, the outfield is coming back together. Granderson is rehabbing in Triple-A, Swisher is back in the lineup and the Yankees have added Kevin Russo, a utility man who actually has more than seven games of outfield experience.
What’s gone right?
Speed and power
Granderson was supposed to add a little of both to the Yankees lineup: He was supposed to run the bases, hit home runs and give the Yankees a dependable center fielder for the next few years. He had that huge home run against Boston, then slowed down and limped onto the disabled list.
Instead, the speed and power have come from Brett Gardner and Swisher. Gardner has been one of the team’s more pleasant surprises, and Swisher has the second highest slugging percentage among healthy regulars (behind Robinson Cano).
Other bright spots: Marcus Thames’ offense; Two home runs from Gardner; Swisher’s improved approach at the plate; Good call giving Russo regular time in the Triple-A outfield this season.
What’s gone wrong?
Hurry back Curtis
Through 80 at-bats, Granderson’s overall numbers aren’t great. He’s hitting just .225 without a ton of power and only seven RBI. But with him on the disabled list, the Yankees have been faced with the choice of Thames’ diminished defense or Randy Winn’s diminished offense. There’s no perfect answer there.
After missing most of the month, Granderson seems close to a return, and the Yankees need him to come back better than he was when he left (three hits in his previous 10 games).
Other problem areas: Thames’ defense; Winn’s offense (except for two or three huge hits); Swisher’s seemed-like-it-would-never-go-away biceps injury; Gardner’s .315 OBP as the No. 2 hitter; Colin Curtis and his high ankle sprain in Triple-A.
Pregame notes: Swisher day-to-day • 05.13.10
Against all odds, the tarp is currently off the field here at Comerica Park. It looks like there might actually be a chance to play this game.
Nick Swisher is out of the lineup today, but he said his left biceps feels much better today than it did yesterday.
“I feels great right now,” he said.
Right now the plan is for Swisher to take the day off, get some treatment — ice and massage — and possibly return to the lineup in the next day or two.
“I’ll see if he’s available,” Joe Girardi said. “He’ll probably visit with the doctor when we come to the park tomorrow. Right now, I’m not too concerned about it.”
Without Swisher in the lineup today, the Yankees are going with Greg Golson in right field.
“If skip needed me today, I’d do what I can out get out there,” Swisher said.
The Yankees other injured outfielder, Curtis Granderson, is still a few days from beginning any sort of activities. Girardi said he’s heard that Granderson is feeling better, but he’s not especially close to a return.
“I don’t think he’s really started to do much yet,” Girardi said.
• Kevin Russo has been optioned back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Juan Miranda. Russo is flying out of Detroit this afternoon.
• Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Chan Ho Park is set to make a second rehab appearance on Friday, pitching in Triple-A. Girardi said it’s possible Park could return to the major league bullpen as early as Sunday.
• Assuming the Yankees play this game, it’s likely Sergio Mitre will spot start on Sunday. “That’s probably what we’ve got to lean toward,” Girardi said. “We’re going to bring someone back on short rest.”
• Of the two starters who pitched yesterday — Phil Hughes and Javier Vazquez — Girardi said he hasn’t decided which one will pitch first next time through the rotation. “I’m not even going to begin to touch that until we get through today,” he said.
• With Miranda in the mix, Girardi said it’s possible that the Yankees could use a sort of platoon DH, with Miranda starting against righties and Marcus Thames starting against lefties. That said, there will still be times when that plan changes so that regular position players can get occasional DH starts.
• The Yankees were planning to call up Miranda on Tuesday, but they changed that plan because of the doubleheader. They wanted to keep Russo for his versatility.
Pregame notes: Injury reports good so far • 05.09.10
Obviously Dallas Braden has become one of the more notorious names in the Yankees clubhouse, but the final outs of his perfect game were on the clubhouse TV here in Boston tonight. Most of the Yankees were on the field for stretch, but A.J. Burnett was watching as Braden hugged a woman assumed to be his grandmother. “Grandma, I love you, but don’t cross my mound!” Burnett said.
As for the events here in Boston, Girardi suggested he’s going to have to start filling out an injury report like a football coach.
Chan Ho park would be out. Alfredo Aceves would be doubtful. Mariano Rivera would be probable.
“I’m going to have to start doing what the NFL does,” Girardi said.
Most of the health news is good today. Rivera hasn’t pitched in a while, but he’s absolutely available. Park is throwing a bullpen tomorrow, which could lead to a rehab outing. Aceves and his bad back are much better today and Girardi is hopeful that Aceves will be available tomorrow.
“If not, we’ll shoot for the next day,” Girardi said.
• Apparently Dallas Braden’s grandmother actually said, “Stick it, A-Rod,” during a postgame interview in Oakland. You can’t make this stuff up.
• Andy Pettitte will return to the rotation on Saturday. He’s scheduled to play catch tomorrow, throw long toss on Tuesday and throw a bullpen Wednesday.
• Girardi said Aceves is not available tonight, but he’s not worried about his bullpen because Romulo Sanchez is available for 100 pitches if necessary.
• You could see Rivera get in tonight’s game, but Girardi’s not worried about the lack of recent work for his closer. “He’ll get plenty of work in the course of the season,” Girardi said.
• Sounds like Park could get in a rehab game as early as this week, but Girardi said he’s not sure how many rehab inning Park would need before rejoining the team.
• Don’t expect any roster moves before the Detroit series. With Robinson Cano back at second base, the Yankees no longer need to carry a second utility infielder, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect to make a move between now and Monday. “Not really anticipating anything right now,” Girardi said. Russo has experience in the outfield and could go out there if necessary.
• Girardi once again said the production from Francisco Cervelli has not changed his plans at catcher. He entered the season planning to have Cervelli catch one out of three or one out of four games, and that’s still the plan. “I don’t see that changing a whole lot,” Girardi said.
• Braden’s perfect game was going on during Girardi’s press conference. “I hope he gets it,” Girardi said. “A perfect game’s an amazing feat.”
Game 29: Yankees at Red Sox • 05.08.10
Derek Jeter SS
Brett Gardner CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano DH
Nick Swisher RF
Randy Winn LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena 2B
LHP CC Sabathia (4-1, 2.74))
Career vs. Red Sox
RED SOX (15-15)
Marco Scutaro SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Mike Lowell DH
J.D. Drew RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Bill Hall LF
Darnell McDonald CF
RHP Clay Buchholz (3-2, 2.97)
Career vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 3:10 p.m./FOX
UMPIRES: HP Adrian Johnson, 1B Tim McClelland, 2B Mike Everitt, 3B Andy Fletcher
WEATHER: Rainy and a little bit chilly, though the temperature is supposed to rise a little bit during the game and the rain seems to have pretty much stopped. It’s a pretty hit or miss kind of day.
A GOOD CATCH: Jorge Posada and Francisco Cervelli have combined for a .337 average while playing the catcher position. That’s the best average of any catching-combo in the American League and it’s fractionally behind the Cubs — also a .337 average — for the best in the majors.
THE NUMBERS GAME: Joe Girardi got rid of the number 27 this spring, but it’s been passed on to a pair of call-ups. First Greg Golson had the number, now Kevin Russo is wearing it.
GOOD COMPANY: At 23-years-old, Phil Hughes is the youngest Yankees starter to win his first four decision since 21-year-old Whitey Ford began the 1950 season with a 9-0 record.
UPDATE, 3:24 p.m.: Sorry about my mistake in the previous post. Sam was there for the Cashman interview about Johnson. He called up to the press box to tell me what was said, and I wrote the wrong thing when I typed it into the blog. Johnson has an inflamed tendon, not torn. That’s my bad.
UPDATE, 3:53 p.m.: Look at Ramiro Pena hitting like Robinson Cano. Lead-off double to the monster.
UPDATE, 4:01 p.m.: Isn’t it nice when the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters drive in runs? RBI singles from Teixeira and Rodriguez have given the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.: I’ve watched Darnell McDonald play a whole lot of baseball in Triple-A. He’s not a star player, but he’s not a bad player either. His home run pulled the Red Sox within 2-1.
UPDATE, 4:12 p.m.: Francisco Cervelli was setup inside, but that still looked like a purpose pitch to Pedroia.
UPDATE, 4:16 p.m.: I can’t say for certain that Sabathia meant to hit Pedroia, but I know it just came back to hurt him. Martinez’s two-run home run has put the Red Sox in front 3-2.
UPDATE, 4:32 p.m.: Another big hit by Cervelli, who just tied the game with a single to center. He would have given the Yankees a lead, but McDonald made a good throw and Martinez did a great job blocking the plate to keep Randy Winn from scoring. It’s now a 3-3 game.
UPDATE, 4:51 p.m.: First pitch swinging, Mark Teixeira just went deep to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
UPDATE, 5:03 p.m.: Gazoo! Two-run single by Francisco Cervelli has put the Yankees in front 6-3. Randy Winn was thrown out between second and third, but that’s still a potentially huge swing in the game.
UPDATE, 5:17 p.m.: One strike from an official game and we’re officially in a rain delay. The sky just opened up like you wouldn’t believe. Nothing falling one moment. Absolute downpour the next. The Yankees are up 6-3 with two outs in the top of the fifth. Marco Scutaro is at first and Victor Martinez is at the plate with a 2-2 count. When the umps called for a delay, Sabathia stood on the mound and Cervelli stayed in his crouch for an extra second or two in obvious shock. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pouring, but that did seem like an odd time to make the call.
UPDATE, 5:41 p.m.: The rain has died down. It looks like they’ll be able to keep playing. No word yet on whether Sabathia will stay in the game.
UPDATE, 6:02 p.m.: Here comes the grounds crew. Looks like we could be close to getting started. Unless they’re just dumping the tarp.
UPDATE, 6:04 p.m.: Scheduled to re-start at 6:20.
UPDATE, 6:19 p.m.: Alfredo Aceves is getting loose in the bullpen. Looks like he’ll be the guy on the mound for the Yankees.
UPDATE, 6:25 p.m.: Little later than promised, we’re playing again. One hour and 14 minutes on the delay.
UPDATE, 6:37 p.m.: Have to give him credit. That was quite the turn by Pedroia.
UPDATE, 6:51 p.m.: Alfredo Aceves is the latest Yankee to go down with an injury. This has gotten absurd.
UPDATE, 7:16 p.m.: Teixeira hits his second home run of the season, then Swisher singles in Rodriguez. It’s now 8-3 Yankees. We could see Romulo Sanchez tonight.
UPDATE, 7:27 p.m.: Aceves has a stiff lower back. That’s a lingering problem for him. Doesn’t sound good.
UPDATE, 7:32 p.m.: For a while Dave Robertson was having a solid season with numbers exaggerated by a few really bad outings. At this point, though, he’s clearly struggling. Joba Chamberlain is in to face the middle of the order with one out and runners at first and second.
UPDATE, 8:00 p.m.: The Red Sox have outfielder Jonathan Van Every getting loose in their bullpen. It’s reached that point.
UPDATE, 8:03 p.m.: Kevin Russo in for his major league debut. He’s at second and Ramiro Pena has moved to third.
Pregame notes: Cano back in the lineup • 05.08.10
Robinson Cano is back in the Yankees lineup.
After hitting in the cage this afternoon, Cano proved healthy enough to play and so he’s taken Marcus Thames’ spot as the Yankees designated hitter. He’ll bat in his usual No. 5 spot.
When the lineup was originally posted, Cano was out but Girardi warned that the lineup was subject to change.
“Keep it in pencil,” Girardi said.
Cano said he woke up with some soreness after being hit by a pitch last night, but he was moving pretty well this morning. He said there’s a little bit of swelling, but it’s not bad.
“I don’t know (about playing today),” Cano said before he went to the cage. “I have to check first. I haven’t done anything, but I feel good.”
• “I believe Nick (Johnson) is in an MRI tube right now,” Girardi said during his pregame interview. A little while later, the Yankees announced that the MRI revealed a inflamed tendon in his right wrist. Johnson is expected to miss several weeks and will stay in New York for treatment.
UPDATE: That’s my bad. Sam was there for the Cashman interview, told me what was said and I screwed up writing it. It’s an inflamed tendon, not torn.
• Jorge Posada said it’s the rain here in Boston that is keeping him out of today’s lineup, but Girardi indicated that he never planned to have Posada play today. “My plan all along has kind of been on tomorrow,” Girardi said. “He had a Grade 1 strain. Most guys don’t come back (from that sort of injury) before a week.”
• Posada will most likely DH tomorrow. “I don’t think catching is going to be a problem, I really don’t,” Posada said. “They want me to DH first and then catch, so I think I’m going to DH tomorrow.”
• When Posada is back in the lineup, it’s likely Nick Swisher will become the Yankees regular No. 2 hitter, leaving Brett Gardner free to run at the bottom of the lineup. “It’s easier for him to run more down further in the lineup,” Girardi said.
• Assuming Johnson is out for a while, Girardi said it’s more likely that he’ll rotate his designated hitters rather than stick with a new full-time DH. He was asked about the idea of making Posada the regular DH, but Girardi didn’t seem high on the idea.
• Kevin Russo found out after last night’s Triple-A game that he was getting his first major league call-up. His first call was to his mother in Colorado, and he got into Boston late this morning. He was drinking a cup of coffee in the clubhouse, and asking how to get onto the field. He’s played third base, shortstop, second base, center field and right field in Triple-A.
• Want to make CC Sabathia laugh before a start at Fenway? Just put an Eddie Murphy movie on the TV in the clubhouse.
Associated Press photos
For better and for worse, tonight was more of the same for the Yankees. More great starting pitching, more production from the bottom of the order and more players hobbling through the clubhouse or heading for the disabled list.
Tonight it was Robinson Cano and Nick Johnson who left the game with injuries, joining the list of six Yankees who have been hurt in the past seven games. Curtis Granderson is on the disabled list with a strained groin, Andy Pettitte is skipping his next start because of elbow tightness, Jorge Posada hasn’t played since Monday because of a sore calf and Mariano Rivera missed the previous three games with a sore left side.
Now Johnson is heading to the DL with a sore right wrist, the same wrist that was injured in 2008 and cost him nearly the entire season. He said he felt it on a swing during his first at-bat. “I just didn’t get my strength back for the next pitch,” he said.
Joe Girardi said Johnson will go for tests in New York tomorrow. The Yankees will make a move to call-up an infielder — almost certainly either Eduardo Nunez or Kevin Russo — to help them get through a day or two without Cano, who was hit by a pitch on inside of his left knee. Girardi said he doesn’t expect Cano to play tomorrow.
“I can’t tell you anything right now,” Cano said. “I wish I would wake up and feel better and I could play tomorrow.”
Here’s Girardi talking after the game.
I understand the impulse to jump all over Josh Beckett for his command issues in the sixth inning. He hit Cano, nearly hit Francisco Cervelli and hit Derek Jeter. After the Jeter at-bat, CC Sabathia was standing at the top of the dugout screaming. But after the game, you couldn’t find anyone in the Yankees clubhouse who said those pitches were intentional. Jeter didn’t. Cano didn’t. Girardi didn’t. Even Sabathia said “it was just frustrating” and that tonight won’t affect how he pitches tomorrow.
“You want to protect your guys,” Hughes said. “But it’s one of those situations where I don’t necessarily think he’s throwing at anyone. Bases loaded and the lead keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
• Another big start for Hughes, who hung with Beckett early and finished with his fourth win in five starts. Is there any doubt he was the right choice for the fifth spot in the rotation? “Beckett struck out five of the first six hitters and it’s not looking like you’re going to get a lot of runs,” Girardi said. “And (Hughes) just matched him.”
• Look for Marcus Thames to takeover as the Yankees primary designated hitter while Johnson is out of the lineup. “There’s a good possibility he’ll DH tomorrow,” Girardi said.
• Five hits, four runs and two RBI from the Yankees 7, 8 and 9 hitters. That includes two hits and two runs from Randy Winn, who’s started hitting a little bit now that he’s seeing some regular at-bats.
• Jesus Montero was pulled from tonight’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees game after he apparently pulled up lame running the bases.
• By the end of the sixth inning, the only bench player left on Girardi’s lineup card was Jorge Posada. “I looked at Javy Vazquez and said, ‘You’ve played infield, right?’” Girardi said.
• Johnson said there’s no additional concern because of his past problems with his right wrist, but Girardi acknowledged it could be problematic. “Hopefully the MRI just says he has some inflammation in there and you can knock it out,” Girardi said.
• Cano tried to stay in the game after he was hit in the knee in the sixth inning. He went to first base and lasted two pitches before taking himself out. “He said I want to try,” Girardi said. “I said, OK. Let’s try.” There are no tests planned for Cano.
Golson not in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup • 05.04.10
Center fielder Greg Golson is not in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees lineup this afternoon against Norfolk. It’s curious that he’s getting a day off because the team doesn’t have another natural center fielder on its roster. Can’t help wondering if he might be in New York tonight.
Jesus Montero is also out of the Triple-A lineup, but it’s a day game after a night game, so keeping the starting catcher on the bench makes sense.
Without Golson in the lineup, Kevin Russo is getting his first outfield start of the season in center.
UPDATE, 12:37 p.m.: Donnie Collins is reporting that Golson is in New York waiting to be activated. My guess is that he’ll take the place of Mark Melancon, but no move has been announced.