The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Pregame notes: Short-handed heading to Boston08.29.11

Alex Rodriguez jammed his thumb making a play at third base in Minneapolis. He aggravated the injury swinging a bat here in Baltimore. Although an MRI came back clean, the Yankees aren’t certain they’ll have their third baseman at all this week in Boston.

“I think it’s really questionable,” Joe Girardi said. “But let’s just see.”

Rodriguez saw hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser, and Girardi said the Yankees just have to make sure the thumb is ready to go. It bothers him more swinging than fielding, and Girardi doesn’t believe it’s the kind of injury that will linger. Once it’s healed, it’s healed.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are heading to Boston for a key three-game series, and their third baseman isn’t the only concern. Derek Jeter seems better, but obviously he’s a little banged up, and he’s spent a ton of time in the trainer’s room this afternoon. The Yankees bullpen is also short-handed with Hector Noesi optioned to Triple-A to make room for Freddy Garcia.

“It is a little bit (of a concern), knowing how some of the games can get up north,” Girardi said. “With Freddy tonight, it is a little bit of a concern. We’re going to have to deal with it.”

• Noesi has been optioned, and so he won’t be available for a call-up on September 1. Demoted players have to stay in the minors for 10 days. In the case of September, a player has to stay in the minors either 10 days or until the end of that particular minor league season. So Noesi won’t be back — barring injury — until September 6.

• Without Noesi, the Yankees are carrying a six-man bullpen, none of whom is a true long man. Girardi said the bullpen is plenty deep enough for tonight, and he’ll adjust if necessary the next few days. Just a guess, but I’d say this basically assures either Lance Pendleton or George Kontos or one of the Triple-A starters getting an immediate September call-up to fill that long-man void.

• Girardi on Derek Jeter: “He was walking around fine today. Walking a lot better than I would have anticipated wnen I saw him walk out last night. He healed up pretty good, so I can use him in case of an emergency.”

• Both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte have suffered setbacks. They pitched on Thursday, but they felt soreness and have been shutdown. Girardi said it’s still very unlikely that either will pitch in the big leagues this season. If Feliciano ends up having surgery, Girardi acknowledged that it could be career-ending.

• Tonight, Freddy Garcia’s pitch count could be a “a little short” but nothing significant. He’s still pretty stretched out after that one rehab game. “I’m not sure what to expect,” Girardi said. “I feel better that he threw better Monday in Scranton, was able to use all of his pitches and that his finger is healed. But when a guy hasn’t pitched off a mound in a while, you worry a little about control and stamina.”

• Girardi was asked a little bit about September call-ups today, but he wouldn’t give any indication about who they’re planning to promote. He didn’t commit to any specific pitchers or hitters, and didn’t say whether they planned to add a third catcher.

J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Adams 2B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 3B

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 140 Comments →

Random thoughts on the way back home07.22.11

Last time the Yankees played at home, they were still feeling warm and fuzzy in the glow of Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit. Seems like that was three months ago. This eight-day road trip was a long one.

“Obviously you’d like to have done better,” Joe Girardi said. “But after how we started losing the first two, we finished up pretty good and it will be nice to get off the turf and get home for a while. I think we have 10 games in 10 days, and I think our guys are looking forward to that.”

Just a few thoughts before I get back to New York.

• Phil Hughes gets the ball tonight. It will be his first start at home since the start that convinced the Yankees he needed to go on the disabled list. It’ll be interesting to see if that curveball is as good as it was in Toronto.

• Be careful what you wish for at the top of the order. I can’t see Derek Jeter being dropped to the bottom, so moving Brett Gardner to the top only pushes Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher down a spot. As always, I’m of the belief that lineup construction doesn’t matter all that much.

• Also worth considering (as Sweeny Murti pointed out a couple of days ago): In the eight games since the all-star break, Gardner is hitting .517 with a .576 on-base percentage. In the eight games before the break, he was hitting .207 with a .281 on-base percentage. I think he’s the right choice at the top, but you have to accept that he’s a streaky hitter.

• Big spot in the seventh inning, who would you trust more: Luis Ayala, Hector Noesi or Cory Wade? Who do you think Girardi would most trust? I’m honestly not sure the right answer to either of those questions.

• Gardner, Jeter, Andruw Jones and Jorge Posada have each taken turns as the most anger-inducing Yankees hitter this season. Now it seems to be Mark Teixeira’s turn. He’s also a streaky hitter, and he always talks about waiting for that next hot streak that will turn his batting average around.

• Girardi when asked if he’ll have to eventually take Teixeira out of the No. 3 hole if the batting average doesn’t improve: “He has taken his fair share of walks and gotten on base. That’s the one thing Tex does. Sometimes people look at average a lot. We’re going ot look at on-base percentage too because he does take his fair share. You hit .250 and you’ve got a .370 on-base percentage or .360, you’re doing OK.” It’s a fair point — and Teixeira does have a higher OBP than Cano — but Girardi overestimated the numbers a little bit. Teixeira has a .240 average with a .341 on-base.

• If the Yankees are going to trade for a starter, they really only have a spot for a legitimately elite pitcher. They have plenty of No. 3 types. To find someone obviously better than what they have is going to cost a lot in terms of young players. Maybe it’s worth it, maybe it’s not, but it would be costly.

• I’ve always liked but never loved U2, but I absolutely loved this performance on Letterman. I’m surprised I haven’t broken the internet watching it over and over again the past few days. Say what you will about Bono, but the guy has a terrific voice and knows how to deliver a song.

• Kind of surprised that Eric Chavez was able to get in the field this quickly. Not much to lose there, I guess. The Yankees need to find out before July 31 whether he can help them in the second half.

• Dave Robertson just keeps doing it. Rafael Soriano has a longer track record, and there’s a lot to be said for that, but it’s hard to imagine him coming back and throwing any better than Robertson.

• George Kontos has to get to New York eventually, right? The Yankees could actually use a long man now, and Kontos has 64 strikeouts and a .210 opponents batting average in Triple-A. Also worth mentioning that D.J. Mitchell and Lance Pendleton just put together terrific back-to-back starts.

• Speaking of Triple-A guys: Jorge Vazquez’s numbers have fallen off quite a bit, but Kevin Russo is really hitting again. And if you were waiting for Jordan Parraz to fall off, it doesn’t seem to be happening.

• If Russell Martin really is a Gold Glove caliber catcher, and he keeps hitting exactly like this — low batting average with occasional pop — is he worth bringing back next season? All things considered, isn’t he still one of the better everyday catchers in the league?

• Don’t let the fact that you gave up on Boone Logan in the first half — or that he misplayed a ball three nights ago — keep you from seeing the fact he’s pitching much better. I know I’m usually a glass-half-full kind of guy, but since May 28 opponents are hitting .196 with four walks and 17 strikeouts against Logan.

• There’s still something very fun about talking to a guy who just got his first big league call-up. It was fun when I was covering the minor leagues, and it’s just as fun now that I’m covering the big leagues.

• Martin made the right choice. He put in a good effort and did everything the right way, but the mustache had to go. It was time. It really was, “ugly as (crap).”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 494 Comments →

Pregame notes: “He can just be Derek Jeter again”07.06.11

Ever since it was decided that Derek Jeter would come off the disabled list on Monday, Joe Girardi has planned to give him today’s game off. It seemed like a good mid-point between his rehab games and the all-star break. As of last night, he was still planning to sit Jeter tonight.

Then he talked to Jeter after last night’s game, slept on the decision, and woke up having changed his mind.

“Just from talking to him, I got the sense that he’s thinking about it,” Giradi said. “And he wants to get this done with so he can just go on and be Derek Jeter, not Derek Jeter pursuing 3,000 hits. That’s the sense I got from him. I’m not telling you that’s what he was saying to me, but that’s the sense that I got. I started thinkng about it, you know what, if I was in pursuit of 3,000 hits – which, I was never close to – I don’t know if I’d want a day off to think about it. I’d want to get back out there.”

Girardi said his first conversation was with the training staff, which assured him that Jeter’s calf was fine. Then he talked to Jeter at the stadium. Then Girardi texted with him when he got back to the hotel.

“His thing was how much I’m playing just coming back,” Jeter said. “I told him I was fine and that was pretty much the extent of it… He said he was going to sleep on it. He said that from the get go. He just told me what he was thinking, and I told him what I was thinking, and he came to a decision.”

Girardi’s new plan is this: Play Jeter until he gets 3,000 hits.

“If we can,” Girardi said. “So we can get this through with and he can just be Derek Jeter again.”

Here’s Girardi’s lengthy pregame session in the dugout.

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• If Jeter gets three hits in his first three at-bats and the Yankees have a big lead, Girardi said he might get him out of the game and give him a chance to get the milestone at home. “I’m going to manage to win the game,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. I would love for him to be 3-for-3 and we had a big lead, but I don’t know what I would do. I hope I get in that situation that he’s 3-for-3 and we have a big lead. That would be nice.”

• Mariano Rivera felt better today than he felt yesterday, but he’s still not sure whether he’ll actually pitch tonight. “If it’s necessary, yes,” he said. “Knowing Geno and knowing Girardi, they might give me another day. I might take another day.”

• Lance Pendleton was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Phil Hughes. Girardi said he’s hoping to get six or seven innings out of Hughes tonight. “The radar gun is one of the tools you see how much a guy’s stuff is falling off, if you think they’re getting tired,” Girardi said. “I won’t watch (the radar) any different tonight than I would any other night.”

• Triple-A reliever Kanekoa Texeira was released to make room for Hughes on the 40-man roster. “Don’t get that confused with Mark,” Girardi said.

• Get this: Damaso Marte threw a bullpen today. Seriously. That’s what Girardi told us.

• Of course, it’s one step forward and one step back for injured lefties. Pedro Feliciano was shutdown today because of soreness. He’ll be shut down for a week.

• Rafael Soriano threw a bullpen yesterday and will throw another tomorrow. He seems to be progressing.

• No update on Eric Chavez.

• Hughes is not scheduled to pitch again until after the all-star break. Girardi said it will probably stay that way. There are no plans to have him pitch any sort of minor league or simulated game over the break. “He’ll maybe throw a couple bullpens, we’ll see,” Girardi said. “Maybe throw one Friday, throw one Sunday, but we’ll see. No plans.”

• Eduardo Nunez is ready to go.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 49 Comments →

Postgame notes: Six pitches not enough in the sixth06.04.11

The final result looks similar to those two frustrating losses in Seattle — one-run game against an elite starting pitcher — but this one felt very different. It’s not a game the Yankees blew, it’s just a game they didn’t win. It’s easy to look back at the six-pitch sixth inning, or the double that bounced over the wall, or Ivan Nova’s sloppy first inning as possible turning points, but that’s all based on speculation of what might have happened. Bottom line, a very good pitcher shutdown the Yankees lineup tonight.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of making him work,” Joe Girardi said. “But we just didn’t get many hits.”

The Yankees had only three hits, and it’s hard to win with a 3 in the hit column. One thing they did well — beginning with Derek Jeter’s opening 15-pitch at bat — was make Jered Weaver throw a bunch of pitches. They had him at 101 after five innings, but a six-pitch inning let him off the hook a little bit. The top offenders were Robinson Cano and Russell Martin, each of whom made a one-pitch out.

“If the guy gets a hit, no one questions it,” Girardi said. “He’s got outstanding breaking stuff. It’s not a guy you want to get behind in the count too often. The guys took an approach. They tried to jump him, and they didn’t get it done.”

Trying to jump on an early strike. Not wanting to fall behind in the count. Not wanting to take pitches because Weaver usually doesn’t walk too many guys. Every explanation for that six-pitch inning makes sense, but still… With a pitcher like that on the ropes, a six-pitch inning is a bad inning.

“I don’t know if he comes back out if we put 10 or 12 pitches on him, I’m not sure,” Girardi said. “He’s a guy that, you see him throw 120, 125, but I thought possibly that sixth inning was going to be his last inning, but we made some quick outs.”

Here’s Derek Jeter talking a little bit about the approach against Weaver and some other bits of tonight’s game.

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• Jeter on his 15-pitch at-bat to start the game: “It was a while. I don’t know how many pitches it was, but it was probably the longest I’ve been up there. I’m not known for being up there too long.” Just a few seconds later, with a straight face, Jeter began explaining that his entire approach tonight was to foul off as many pitches as possible. He was kidding.

• After Jeter flied out to end that opening at-bat, he clearly communicated a little bit with Weaver as he ran off the field. “It was just more of a gesture,” Jeter said. “I’ve known him since he was a teenager, so it was all in good fun.”

• Tonight was a step in the right direction for Ivan Nova. He looked awful in the first inning — erratic, hit hard, gave up two runs — but he settled in a little bit. I still thought, in the fourth inning, that his night wouldn’t last very long, but he gave the Yankees a solid start, much better than last time. “I threw more strikes today,” Nova said. “And I was more aggressive.”

• The line drive back to the mound hit Nova at the very bottom of his glove hand, and pretty much hit all glove. Nova said he’s fine. “I just see the ball right at my face and react,” he said.

• Turns out to be significant that Jorge Posada’s fourth-inning double bounced over the wall. If that weren’t a ground rule double, Nick Swisher almost certainly would have scored and extra run.

• Nova had never faced any of the Angels hitters before tonight.

• Boone Logan was brought in to face a switch hitter tonight. He got two strikes, but he couldn’t put Alberto Callaspo away, giving up a single. “I just thought he missed his spot with that pitch,” Girardi said. “With two strikes, hitters sometimes shorten up a little bit and take a little bit different approach, and you got to be able to make the pitch.”

• The first-inning passed ball was just a fastball that got away from Russell Martin. Nova said they were not crossed up on that pitch.

• The Angels announced that Ervin Santana has been bumped up one day and will start Saturday in place of Dan Haren. Joel Pineiro will start Sunday’s game in place of Santana.

• Jeter was asked if it’s starting to feel like the Yankees are facing one ace after another. “Even if you’re facing guys that may not be big-name pitchers,” he said, “they still seem to get up for us and throw the ball well.”

• Just to be sure, I double checked with CC Sabathia: He didn’t bounce his ceremonial Little League first pitch on Wednesday. Actually, he threw two of them, one to the starting catcher of each team.

• Kind of a tradition here in Anaheim, the team was showing the “Kiss Cam” on the big screen, encouraging couples in the stands to kiss on camera. Finally, the camera cut to a shot of Lance Pendleton sitting next to Dave Robertson in the bullpen. Pendleton leaned in for the kiss. Pretty hilarious.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 103 Comments →

Postgame notes: “He takes it upon himself”05.29.11

The biggest out was the one pictured above. It came on a bases-loaded cutter to Ichiro Suzuki, a guy with outstanding career numbers against the Yankees ace. CC Sabathia attacked him, and got a comebacker. He threw home, started a 1-2-3 double play, and walked of the mound with a fist pump. The yankees were already leading by seven, but it was only the fifth inning, and Sabathia seemed to know he’s just halted the biggest threat of the day.

“He just knows how to pitch,” Joe Girardi said. “When he has to give us distance, he knows what he has to do. He takes it upon himself that, ‘I’m going to go out and do it for you.’ If CC gets in a little jam, there’s no panic to him.”

Maybe it’s no coincidence that the Yankees seem to play their best baseball behind their best pitcher. Sure, they’ve had some stinkers behind Sabathia, but in his past eight starts, the Yankees have averaged more than eight runs. Their four highest-scoring games of the season have been Sabathia starts.

“I’ve got no complaints,” Sabathia said. “I don’t think anybody’s realized it yet, but I know.”

This was a good win. It doesn’t make up for Friday and Saturday, but it eases some of the bitterness. The lineup had a game it could be proud of, and the bullpen got a rest after being overworked the past two nights. Sabathia was two outs away from matching the two-day innings total for A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova.

“We’ve got our big boy on the mound,” Nick Swisher said. “You get one or two runs, you feel like you’re going to win the ballgame.”

Here’s Sabathia.

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• There was certainly not a sense of satisfaction in the Yankees clubhouse tonight, but it was certainly more lively than it had been the previous 48 hours or so. “I think these past couple of games have been really hard on us,” Swisher said. “Definitely not the way we would have liked them, but I just think that just goes to show the tenacity of this team to be able to come back today, especially after a late game last night, come in here today, no batting practice, everyone’s in the cage early, getting their swings in. Just that mental focus we had today, and really just did a tremendous job out there.”

• The big hit of the night belonged to Andruw Jones, who had his second double of the season with a two-out, three-run base hit that broke the game open in the third inning. “I thought that was the real turning point in the game,” Girardi said. “For him to get that (double) with the bases loaded and two outs, 5-0 is sure a lot better than 2-0. We wanted to ride CC a long time today because of our bullpen, so I thought that was huge.”

• Sabathia leads the Major Leagues in wins since his debut in 2001. He’s now won 163 games since then, breaking a tie with Roy Halladay who’s won 164. In his past three starts, Sabathia has pitched 25 innings with a 1.80 ERA. He’s won all three of those starts.

• The Yankees hit a home run within the first two innings of every game this series (Teixeira on Friday, Cano on Saturday and Swisher tonight). Of course, this was the first time an early lead actually lasted to the end.

• Swisher hit his third home run of the season, all of which have come against left-handed pitchers. He hadn’t homered since May 7.

• Swisher talked a little bit about his home run, but he also talked about falling behind and eventually drawing a walk against right-handed reliever Jeff Gray. “It was just a nice step in the right direction,” he said.

• Mark Teixeira has a six-game hitting streak and a five-game RBI streak. In his past 10 games, Teixeira is hitting .262 with six home runs and 13 RBI.

• Another scoreless inning for Lance Pendleton, meaning every Yankees reliever got into this three-game series. Pendleton still hasn’t been charged with a run.

• Curtis Granderson went 3-for-5. He’s hitting .455 in his past five game.

• Eduardo Nunez had an RBI triple (which ended with a not-so-graceful slide into third). He also managed to play an entire game without making a bad throw. After not having an RBI in April, he has seven RBI in May.

• Every Yankees starter had a hit, but only Granderson had more than one.

• The Yankees have not been swept by the Mariners since May 3-5, 2002 in old Yankee Stadium. They haven’t been swept in Seattle since 1996.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 138 Comments →

Pregame notes: Concern for Hughes04.25.11

Before Phil Hughes went into the bullpen this afternoon, the Yankees were already discussing a date for the rehab start that would follow. They were confident today’s bullpen was nothing but a final step toward getting him back in a game.

After only a handful of pitches, Hughes knew the rehab start would have to wait.

“It was probably after about 10 or 12 pitches,” Hughes said. “The first few felt all right and then it’s just like, nothing there. It’s sort of the feeling you get after 110 or 115 pitches that I normally should feel that way, but it’s just way too soon.”

Hughes will see Dr. Christopher Ahmad, but he said he’s still convinced he’s healthy, just suffering an extended dead-arm period. Dr. Ahmad is supposed to be at the stadium later today, and he’ll check on the situation. Up to this point, Hughes has had no tests.

“He had a history of starting off kind of slow (with his) velocity,” Joe Girardi said. “You kind of go by guy’s history, and we saw him get to 92 the other day. As a starter last year he was 90 to 94 mostly, 90 to 93. You felt like, ok, it’s coming back, it’s coming back. It’s just not repeating itself. He’s not to where he needs to be, but when something like this happens where there’s a setback, there is concern.”

As Girardi pointed out, the Blue Jays have experienced almost the exact same thing with Brett Cecil, and last week Cecil was optioned to Triple-A to try to build arm strength and rediscover both his fastball and his command.

“Guys have taken steps backward after being extended, more innings that they’re accustomed to doing,” Girardi said. “As I said, there is a level of concern here because everything seemed to be going in the right direction and it kind of halted a little bit today.”

Here’s Hughes. It’s easy to hear his disappointment.

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• Pedro Feliciano was here today, far more encouraged than the last time we saw him. Dr. James Andrews told Feliciano that he believes this is an old issue that, for whatever reason, just started to bother him. “We’re just going to follow the word Dr. Andrews says from experience,” Feliciano said. “Before he got pitchers that got the same injury – capsule injuries – and he just put them in rehab and it works. Why not do that and avoid the surgery and try to pitch again (this year)?”

• Speaking of pitching again, Rafael Soriano played catch today and Girardi said he would have to check with him before knowing whether he was available.

• Girardi also did not rule out using Mariano Rivera. “You’d like to be able to (avoid using him),” Girardi said. “But he might come in and say he feels great. He’s thrown 30 pitches before and thrown the next day. He had done that. It is early. I think the good thing is he had the four days off before this. You try to be smart about it, but you have to listen to the player too.”

• Who would close if neither Rivera nor Soriano were available? “I could go by matchups,” Girardi said. “I could put Joba there. I could put Robertson there. I could do either one.”

• Brian Costello says Francisco Cervelli will catch for Tampa today and catch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow.

• Lance Pendleton has a name tag above his locker now. Still no name tag for Buddy Carlyle, though.

Juan Pierre LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Brent Morel 3B

Associated Press photo of Hughes

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 75 Comments →

Postrain notes: Hughes’ bullpen has to wait04.22.11

At this point, the Yankees know the drill. They’ve been rained out three times this season, and it seemed every single player who came into the clubhouse from the field this afternoon was asked about the weather. It was still raining. Then it was just barely raining. Then the rain was fairly significant. Then it was more of a mist. All of a sudden, the game was rained out.

“We don’t like it because we know that they’re going to probably be split doubleheaders and that makes it tough,” Joe Girardi said. “It makes it tough on your bullpen and it makes it tough on your guys, but what are you going to do?”

Phil Hughes didn’t like it. He was supposed to throw a bullpen today, a bullpen he was hoping would be his final step toward a rehab assignment. Hughes settled for throwing long toss, and his bullpen has been bumped to tomorrow. He’ll throw 45 pitches — three 15-pitch “innings” — and he’s hopeful that Larry Rothschild will give him the green like to begin a rehab assignment within a week.

“Larry will kind of be the judge of that based on how my bullpen looks and how I feel bouncing back after long toss and throwing,” Hughes said. “If I feel fine and sees enough out of me in the pen and feels like I’m ready to go, then I should be ready for a start.”

Hughes said he really can’t tell much at this point. The Yankees haven’t had a radar gun on him, and even if they did, Hughes suspects there would be a significant difference without his usual game-day adrenalin. Having a radar in the bullpen “would frustrate me even more,” Hughes said. He needs a game to truly know how far he’s come.

Here’s Hughes speaking this afternoon.

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• CC Sabathia will start tomorrow. The Yankees haven’t chosen a starter for Sunday because they want to map out the rotation first. “We want to look at how it affects the whole schedule,” Girardi said.

• No makeup date has been announced, but Girardi has been told it won’t happen this weekend. Tomorrow and Sunday should be one game apiece.

• Girardi indicated that it’s possible Francisco Cervelli will be activated during the upcoming home stand. He’ll DH tonight and catch again tomorrow. “We’ll see how he’s feeling,” Girardi said.”I’m not saying we’ll make a decision, but he’s doing pretty good.”

• Without Hector Noesi, the Yankees don’t have a 100-pitch guy in their bullpen, but Lance Pendleton and Buddy Carlyle can both go three innings or so, and Pendleton could probably go a little longer if necessary. “He’s probably going to be called on to pitch more if you get into these 17 days in a row and 33 in 34,” Girardi said. “We’ve just been in a lot of tight ballgames and have had strategic days off that have allowed us to do what we’ve done. You can’t keep up that pace, because we’re not going to have those days off.”

• Curtis Granderson is obviously swinging the bat incredibly well the past few days, and that earned him a bump up to No. 2 in the lineup. “I thought he got off to a slow start because his spring training was a little bit interrupted at the end,” Girardi said. “He’s been swinging the bat with authority. He’s a pull hitter that fits very well in the No. 2 spot.”

• The Orioles are skipping Chris Tillman this weekend. They’ll start Brad Bergesen tomorrow and Jake Arrieta on Sunday.

• Andruw Jones turns 34 years old tomorrow.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 114 Comments →

Postgame notes: “This is just a bad moment”04.15.11

The back of the Yankees rotation took on more significance today. Phil Hughes is out of the mix for at least two weeks, and the Yankees can’t use CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett every game.

Freddy Garcia gets his first start tomorrow, and Bartolo Colon will get a start in the coming day, but Ivan Nova is the guy who left spring training as the Yankees No. 4. He’s the young guy with some upside beyond simply holding down the fort for a month or two. Ideally, Nova is the guy to step up and show the Yankees something more than he showed tonight.

“I know I can pitch, and I can throw strikes,” Nova said. “This is just a bad moment that I have and I just have to keep my head up and keep working hard trying to go back to where I was in spring training… I can’t throw strikes with my fastball right now, and I depend a lot on my fastball. When I don’t have command, especially of my fastball, I don’t pitch too good when that happens.”

Command is what crushed Nova tonight. He made some good pitches in the early innings, but he got only one out and allowed four base runners — two walks, a hit and a hit batter — in the three-run fifth that made the difference. Granted, Dave Robertson’s wild pitches contributed to that inning, but the Yankees pitching in this game hinged on Nova, and for the second start in a row he lasted just 4.1 innings.

It was a start similar to some of last year’s Nova outings. He was OK for a while, but eventually the wheels fell off. Even if the result was the same, manager Joe Girardi said the cause was different.

“I didn’t think tonight was anything like what we saw last year,” Girardi said. “I think tonight was command. The free base runners that he gave up is what got him into trouble, and that’s not something he did a lot of last year.”

Nova was terrific in spring training, and he was pretty good in his season debut. Since then, he’s struggled. Maybe these are the natural ups and downs of a 24-year-old rookie, but the Yankees need him now.

“We do need to get some distance,” Girardi said. “It has to come from different starters. We have to get them all to where they can get there for us.”

Here’s Nova’s postgame interview.

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Command was Nova’s problem. It was Lance Pendleton’s strength.

“Impressed,” Girardi said. “He threw strikes. He threw strikes with all his pitches tonight.”

Pendleton got to New York around 6:15. He struck out the first batter he faced, then went on to pitch three hitless innings in a terrific big league debut. There’s a lot of pitching in this organization, and Pendleton’s hardly the biggest name, but he put himself on the radar last season and tonight showed why he was the choice to fill a long-relief role in the bullpen.

“I don’t know what I was envisioning,” Pendleton said. “I’ve got a wife and son and I was more flustered getting them setup and here. We’ve got a dog, getting him somewhere in Scranton to take care of him, probably all worked to my favor that I didn’t have an opportunity to think too much. I couldn’t have written it up any better than this other than I wish we had won. But if we were winning, I might not have pitched.”

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• Three innings from Pendleton means he won’t be available for a while, but Girardi said Hector Noesi is available for 100 pitches out of the bullpen, so he doesn’t need to make a move. “I don’t have any plans of making a move right now,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees tied an American League record by grounding into six double plays, all of them against Rangers starter Matt Harrison. It’s a franchise record, and six different batters grounded into the double plays. “It was amazing to watch pressure get put on him, but he made all of his pitches down from his fastball to his slider to his changeup,” Curtis Granderson said.

• Speaking of Granderson, all three of his home runs this season are against left-handers. He said that’s a product of last year’s mechanical changes, which helps his timing against lefties. “Now it seems that, no matter what they happen to be doing, at least I’m down and ready to hit the baseball,” he said. “That’s it. It’s not going to go ahead and be positive all the time, but as long as I’m ready to hit the baseball I’ve got a chance.”

• Granderson hit a total of four home runs against left-handed pitchers last season.

• One of the walks and two of the wild pitches in that game-changing fifth inning were charged to Robertson. “You make some wild pitches, it just compounds the problem,” Girardi said.

• When the media got into the clubhouse several minutes after the game, Larry Rothschild was still at Nova’s locker. Nova said the message was one of confidence, telling him to keep his head up and keep working. “We just have to keep watching the video and find out something,” Nova said.

• Pendleton is following the little-used road that Dave Robertson took to New York: He’ll join the Yankees big league roster without having ever been invited to big league spring training.

• Pedro Feliciano was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Pendleton on the 40-man.

• For whatever it’s worth, Nova said the weather didn’t affect him.

My old friend Mike Ashmore caught up with Kevin Millwood in Trenton, where Millwood is making a Double-A start on Sunday. “(The arm strength) still probably has a little ways to go,” Millwood said. “But it’s definitely closer than it was when I got here.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 23 Comments →

Another young guy steals the show in Yankees camp02.28.11

Before the spring schedule started, it was Andrew Brackman who seemed to grab the attention in Yankees camp with his improved command and impressive bullpens. When the spring schedule started, it was Dellin Betances who stole the show with a three-strikeout inning in the second game. Today it was Manny Banuelos who generated some high praise from his teammates and manager, rolling through three big league hitters in a 1-2-3 inning.

“That’s what they want and I did it,” Banuelos said.

The curveball was a dominant pitch this afternoon — “That was breaking really, really good,” Banuelos said — and he used it for two strikeouts, but Banuelos also generated a ground out with his changeup, and his fastball was sitting at 93 mph.

It’s easy to see why the Yankees are excited about their Killer Bs, and it’s easy to understand why some on the outside the organization want to push those three to New York, but the Yankees aren’t going to rush. Just enjoy this for what it is: A small window into the future, and an early indication that the new Big Three just might live up to the hype.

“If they want to send me to Trenton, it’s OK, I just want to try to move up quickly,” Banuelos said. “… I just want to show all the things I can do. I want to show them I can do the work. I can do my job.”

Here’s Banuelos speaking after today’s game.

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And here are a few late-night links:

• Brian Cashman told Wally Matthews that the Yankees aren’t engaged in any trade talks. They specifically are not in talks for Francisco Liriano.

• Matt Eddy says the Yankees released Andy Sisco and then re-signed him, which sort of explains the conflicting reports about the big lefty. Sisco is certainly still in camp, and I guess that’s all that matters.

• Apparently Javier Vazquez’s fastball is at 88 mph for the Marlins. As the Yankees know, that’s actually not the worst-case scenario with him (hat tip to MLBTradeRumors).

• Speaking of former Yankees pitchers: Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton threw a scoreless inning in an otherwise horribly pitched game for the Astros. It was Houston’s spring opener. George Kontos has not pitched in a game for the Padres, but he apparently made a solid impression in the early days of camp.

• If you want to delve into the mind of Phil Coke, here ya go. Fair warning, the mind of Phil Coke is a very random place to be.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 160 Comments →

A few Tuesday night notes and links02.15.11

I don’t really have much to add tonight. I was just reading through some stories online and decided to post some links.

PECOTA predicts A.J. Burnett’s ERA will drop seven-tenths of a run. It naturally predicts another potential Cy Young season for CC Sabathia.

• Of course, there are other Sabathia predictions out there. A source told The Daily News that Sabathia is likely to opt out after this season. We’ll see. My guess is that story will go away pretty quickly, only to resurface in September.

• Astros camp opened today, and general manager Ed Wade said Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton — taken from the Yankees — is primarily auditioning for a spot in the rotation. The other Yankee lost in the Rule 5, George Kontos, is trying to win a relief job with the Padres. He could be in there with Dustin Moseley.

Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope for my friends back in St. Louis. Seriously, every single day I get a text message from someone asking if I know what’s going on with Albert Pujols. For the record, I have no clue. I’ll find out when everyone else finds out.

• Yankees camp is about to get interesting. Curtis Granderson just tweeted, looking for suggestions of which teammate he should prank this spring. There are infinite ways for this to be hilarious. It’s hard to come up with a wrong suggestion.

• Speaking of things getting interesting… Remember when Arcade Fire won Album of the Year despite the fact a lot of the general public had (unfortunately) never heard the album? Now Arcade Fire is selling The Suburbs for less than four bucks. That’s how you celebrate a Grammy!

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 332 Comments →

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