What should the Yankees do? • 06.28.13
So what should the Yankees do about their offense? I think they’re going to need more than their injured hitters back after the All-Star break in order to be serious about this season. They didn’t have enough offense last October.
They could use the outside help now. The team is just 12-18 over the last 30 games, going from 30-18 to 42-36. The production from the fill-ins was good enough earlier in the season, but it just hasn’t been steady enough the last month or so. The staff can’t afford to make too many mistakes. And the Yankees can’t always count on running into bad pitching.
“I think we’ve shown that with the guys that are in this lineup, especially early on in the year, we were able to do enough to win games,” Vernon Wells said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers capped a 4-5 homestand. “We just haven’t done that consistently lately.”
The Yankees have been shut out three times this month and seven times overall. They’ve been shut out four times at home already, the most in five years. Derek Holland two-hit them Thursday when they wasted a quality start by Phil Hughes. They had two baserunners to show for their last 20 plate appearances, both on walks. Holland had to throw just 92 pitches. The game was over in just 2:24. (Here’s a link to my story about it.)
Lyle Overbay said the Yankees haven’t been grinding out at-bats lately.
“I think we get into trying to do too much and then it kind of snowballs a little bit,” Overbay said. “We’re not going to be as consistent maybe, but if we get those timely hits, we can be effective. We’re not doing that right now.”
The previous lefty to shut the Yankees out on two hits or less in the Bronx was Matt Young of the Mariners. That was 30 years ago. The Yankees have dropped three in a row and four of the last five when a lefty has started. The bottom three in the order against Holland were rookie David Adams (now batting .179), journeyman Alberto Gonzalez (.188) and rookie Austin Romine (.150). They combined to go 1 for 8.
Robinson Cano was protected in the order by Wells, who played right and struck out all three times, leaving him 11 for his last 93. Cano is down to .276, although he sounded pleased that at least he has been taking more walks.
“We don’t have our main guys,” Cano said. “I’ve just got to go out there and try to take advantage if I get one pitch. … I’m not trying to chase pitches and not trying to do too much.”
Rookie Zoilo Almonte is 0 for 10 in his last three starts in place of Wells in left after going 6 for 10 in his first three starts. Adams is 1 for his last 24. Overbay is batting .258 against righties and .186 against lefties, so a righty bat to platoon with him wouldn’t hurt, especially now that Mark Teixeira isn’t coming back until next year.
The team average is down to .238. There are still 17 games left until the All-Star break, seven games against the Twins, six against the Orioles and four against the Royals. There’s still almost a month until the nonwaiver trade deadline.
When Derek Jeter returns, he will be coming off a twice-broken ankle. He just turned 39 Wednesday. Alex Rodriguez, who had been on the decline, will turn 38 next month. He, of course, is, coming off his second hip operation. There have been conflicting reports about his return. The latest had A-Rod questioning when he would come back this season or if he would come back this season. The MLB Biogenesis investigation and a possible suspension are also hanging over him.
There was a report from csnphilly.com earlier this week that the Yankees have thought about Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, now in the last year of his deal. So is Philadelphia’s Michael Young, who would be more expensive and more appealing. It would figure the Yankees would only want an expiring contract since their goal is to be below $189 million next season.
What should they do?
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees postgame: Hughes deserved better • 06.27.13
“He pitched way too good to get a loss,” Lyle Overbay said.
Hughes had seven days between starts and he put them to good use, working on mechanical issues and taking a step back to collect himself.
“I just felt like the last week or so really helped me,” Hughes said, “just to kind of gather my thoughts for a few days and work on some things on the side. I felt like I had better plan and better mechanics and threw the ball pretty good. … Whenever you’re trying to get through some rough stretches, it helps just to take a deep breath.”
There had been chatter about Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda waiting in the wings with Hughes struggling. But this isn’t his first bout with inconsistency.
“I don’t let the talk creep into my head,” Hughes said.
The Yankees are just 12-18 over the last 30 games, and the sporadic offense has obviously contributed. The Yankees were shut out for the seventh time, including three times this month. They were blanked only six times all of last season.
This time, Derek Holland shut them out on two hits. Do you know when the previous time was that a Rangers pitcher shut the Yankees out on two or less hits? That would be never. It hadn’t happened since the franchise moved from Washington to Texas in 1972. Joe Coleman last did it for the Senators on July 19, 1969.
“I believe we’re capable of scoring runs,” Joe Girardi said.
With this group?
“I think we can, but time will tell,” Girardi said.
On the rehab front, Derek Jeter actually drove Alex Rodriguez after their workout from Steinbrenner Field to the nearby minor-league complex, according to The Associated Press. Jeter ran outside for the first time since the second ankle fracture was discovered in April and reported no problems. The AP report stated that A-Rod took simulated at-bats. ESPNNewYork.com reported that Rodriguez basically told the Yankees Wednesday that he wasn’t sure when or if he will be back this season. But Jeter gave a positive review in the AP report.
“He looked good,” Jeter said. “Alex works extremely hard. He’s working hard now to come back.”
Jeter wouldn’t label A-Rod a distraction.
“Why would he be a distraction?” Jeter asked.
Francisco Cervelli, according to the AP, has been doing his hitting indoors. Curtis Granderson is doing range-of-motion exercises. No swinging yet. A minor-leaguer took a swing, though, launching a homer in batting practice that deflected off the clubhouse roof and hit Granderson’s car.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Nunez has setback • 06.04.13
Eduardo Nunez was supposedly feeling good again. But his strained left oblique had other ideas.
“We thought he was ready to go again and he took swings today, and I guess he’s not ready to go again,” Joe Girardi said. “He did a bunch of drills the other day and said, ‘I feel great. Let’s try it again.’ And it didn’t work.
“I think you just continue to rest and then you try it again in a little while.”
This didn’t seem like a longterm thing when it happened. But Nunez has been on the DL since May 12 and that was retroactive to May 6. This game tonight will mark the 28th he has missed while on the DL.
“It’s kind of how the year has went in a sense,” Girardi said. “We thought we’d get him back after a week of sitting him down. He wasn’t ready to go. Obliques are hard. They’re hard muscles to heal sometimes.”
Lyle Overbay is in right for the second straight game after 1,272 at first. Girardi said he wanted to give Brett Gardner a rest, so Ichiro Suzuki will move over to center. But he also said Overbay may be out in right tomorrow, too.
“I don’t think I’m necessarily thinking three or four nights a week,” Girardi said. “When you’re in a long stretch, if you’re going to run a guy out there in a long stretch, you kind of like to do it bang, bang, bang, because he’s kind of in the feel of the game.”
Andy Pettitte made it clear after his start last night he doesn’t want to cut back on his between-start throwing. Girardi indicated he doesn’t have a problem with that.
“One of the things that gives players confidence is when they feel that they are prepared,” Girardi said. “So the one thing I don’t want to stop or hinder is Andy feeling he’s prepared.”
Yankees postgame: Tex takes a step • 06.04.13
But after going 1 for 9 with a walk and seven strikeouts in his first three games back after returning from the March wrist injury, Teixeira finally made an impact, sending a grand slam over the right-field fence in the third. It gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead that Andy Pettitte lost, but they recovered nicely in this 7-4 win over the Indians.
“We needed this win,” Teixeira said. “We’ve had a rough enough streak the last week and a half, two weeks as it is. That grand slam was good for me and good for the team.”
Joe Girardi thinks it’s going to “take Tex some time to catch up.” He also said: “Tex is an RBI machine and we need that.”
Teixeira said his wrist is holding up well so far, but he also doesn’t think getting up to speed is an instantaneous process. He finished 1 for 3 with a walk.
“I know it’s going to take me a few weeks to get back in the rhythm of playing every day and seeing big-league pitching every day,” Teixeira said. “But this is a good first step.”
Andy Pettitte felt like he ran out of gas in his first game back after the trapezius problem. He lasted just 4 2/3, giving up three runs in that fifth and four total. He said he doesn’t plan to cut back on his between-starts routine, thinking he needs that much throwing in order to be strong enough to have success. He usually has two bullpen sessions between outings.
Lyle Overbay, meanwhile, says he’s up for more action in right. He ran in to catch the one chance he had.
“I survived,” he said. “I felt relaxed.”
Photo by The Associated Press
The Yankees are going to give Overbay some action in right, starting tonight. The 36-year-old first baseman played five games there for Missoula in rookie ball in 1999. He played 25 games in left for Double-A El Paso in 2001. He spent much of this spring training playing in the outfield for the Red Sox. And he took fly balls during batting practice the last two days — in left.
“We’ve been forced to be a little bit creative here because of some of the injuries,” Joe Girardi said. “We just feel we’re going to give him an opportunity out there. It also gives us a little coverage for (Mark Teixeira) at first base, if we feel he needs a day off. We’ll see how it goes.”
His outfield glove is being shipped to him. So for now, he’s borrowing Boone Logan’s glove, which was given to Logan by David Robertson, who used it to shag flies.
“I’m 98 percent excited, 2 percent scared; or 98 percent scared, 2 percent excited; I don’t know,” Overbay said. “No, I’m excited. Any time you get out on the field, it’s an opportunity.”
Nick Swisher is back in town for the first time since leaving. Not surprisingly, he didn’t want to rehash his criticism of the fans after things got a bit harsh in the punchless playoffs. Life is good for him in Cleveland. Not that it was easy on him departing the Bronx.
“I still have great relationships with everybody over there,” Swisher said. “I knew very early in the offseason that coming back here was not going to be an option. So I had to do my best to step off. Obviously making that step was harder than most things that I’ve done in my life. But that’s kind of part of the game. This is a business. At the time, they were trying to stay under the payroll. But either way, I was so thankful for my opportunity to come over here and play. But being in Cleveland, I could not be more excited. We’ve got a great squad over here. We’ve got a scrappy squad. So far the season has gone pretty good for us.”
Ivan Nova really hasn’t had too many good moments since the first half of last season, but the 26-year-old righty was one of the bright lights on an otherwise dark night for the home team at Yankee Stadium Wednesday.
He was working in the long-lost game against the Mets, entering for the fifth with the Yankees trailing 8-1. He allowed just one run and five hits with six strikeouts and only one walk across the final five innings of the 9-4 loss.
“I was throwing a lot of strikes and I was aggressive,” Nova said. “It’s a good one.”
In the eighth, he struck out the side, getting Ike Davis, Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada swinging.
“The curveball was really good,” Nova said. “Once I get ahead, I go with my curveball. That’s my strikeout pitch.”
Nova knows he has to prove that he’s worthy of being put back in the rotation after posting a 6.48 ERA over four starts and then spending April 27 through May 23 on the DL with triceps inflammation and a back problem. He pitched into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th inning and earned the win last Saturday at Tampa Bay in his first relief outing after returning. This second outing brought his ERA down from 6.11 to 5.16.
“I’m really excited about the way I’m pitching,” Nova said. “The way I pitched today, I’m pretty happy with myself.”
It would certainly be a boost for the Yankees if he can pitch like this consistently and regain the form when he went 16-4 as a rookie in 2011 or 10-3 in the first half last year.
Also, here’s the link to my story on last night’s game. The Yankees have scored just nine runs in the four-game losing streak. Here are updates on Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson. And I spoke with Lyle Overbay and he’s loving his time here and wants to stay no matter what the role after Teixeira’s return.
Photo by The Associated Press
But it helped that Felix Hernandez left after six and they could get to work against the Mariners’ bullpen. It turned out that King Felix tweaked his back in the sixth when he fielded a comebacker and turned and got a force at second. He also took a knee in the calf when he obstructed Lyle Overbay’s path to first in the fourth. The back apparently isn’t a new thing.
“He’s had on and off issues with it, some stiffness back there from time to time,” manager Eric Wedge said. “But he’s managed it well. … I’m hoping that he’s fine, and I think he will be fine.”
That sounds like the outlook for Travis Hafner as well. He underwent an MRI on his sore right shoulder, which he said stems from being hit by a pitch on the last homestand. Joe Girardi said it’s just tendinitis. Hafner called it “probably the best-case scenario.”
“It’s good,” Hafner said. “It just kind of showed some inflammation in the shoulder. I got an injection in it, and hopefully that clears it up and it should be good to go in a couple of days.”
The Yankees have been doing fine without their injured guys, although they got one back with Curtis Granderson’s return for this game. This first-place team is now 25-14.
“I still think we have a lot of really good players, maybe not the names we’re used to having here, but guys who have had big years,” Girardi said. “This group has worked really hard.”
Overbay had another nice game outside of an error that led to an unearned run. He contributed an RBI double in the sixth and the go-ahead sac fly to cap the three-run seventh. He has five go-ahead RBI, tied for second best on the team with Vernon Wells, one behind Hafner.
“He’s had so many big hits and RBI for us,” Girardi said. “… I feel good about when he’s at the plate.”
Back to the obstruction: Overbay would’ve been out at first even without it, but crew chief Jerry Layne said, “Any time the runner is obstructed before first, the ball is dead. He’s awarded first, and any runner that could be forced is awarded (his base).”
CC Sabathia gave up 10 hits but just the three runs, and he struck out 10 in 6 1/3.
“I wanted to minimize the damage and keep the game close enough and give us a chance to win,” Sabathia said.
Granderson went 0 for 3, but he also had a big walk in the decisive rally. And everything went well in left. It was his first regular-season start out there since Oct. 2, 2005, with the Tigers at Minnesota.
Robinson Cano had the tying two-run double. It was the 345th double of his career, which meant he passed Mickey Mantle for solo possession of eighth on the Yankees’ all-time list.
Photos by The Associated Press