The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Sunday notes: Command improves for both Sabathia and Hughes03.11.12

Spread across two different spring training sites, separated by a little more than two hours worth of highway, a little less than half of the Yankees projected big league pitching staff got on the mound this afternoon. Phil Hughes faced the Twins in Fort Myers. CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan and Cory Wade faced the Phillies in Tampa.

Their combined line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.

Most of the attention was naturally on Rivera, and that’s probably the way it’s going to be throughout the season. If the expectation is that he’ll retire at the end of the season, then every one of his outings carries a little extra significance. There’s a little added appreciation to every step along the way. Rivera, Logan and Wade each pitched a hitless inning today, but the bulk of the innings belongs to the starting pitchers.

CC SABATHIA
3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

Before the game, Sabathia told Russell Martin that he wanted to work on his two-seamer and his changeup, and those pitches were the focus of the afternoon. Sabathia wasn’t happy with his fastball command last time out, but he was much better this time, and he got better in the second and third innings.

Sabathia: “Felt good. The fastball command was pretty good, the secondary pitches were working. I still got a little ways to go, you know. I still want to work on my two-seamer. But I feel good today… Fastball command (improved). Getting it in on righties, and Russ did a good job making sure we got a lot of those. He called a lot of two-seamers which is something that we’ve been working on all spring. He did a good job of working in things we were trying to do.”

Martin: “He was great. What I liked about him was he had some good velocity. I don’t know how hard he was throwing, but it felt like the ball was jumping out of his hand. And he threw some good changeups. He threw his curveball for strikes. We talked before the game, he wanted to work on his two-seamer a lot and his changeup, I think we did a good job of that today. We threw some two-seamers in for lefties, made them uncomfortable. Locked a guy up with a slider for a puncy. Threw some good changeups down in the zone off his fastball. He was good today.”

PHIL HUGHES
3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Joe Girardi went on the road to see Hughes make his second spring appearance. Last time out, Hughes’ arm strength was much better than at this time last season, and his fastball remained in the low 90s this afternoon. I wasn’t there to see it, but it seems to be another solid step forward.

Hughes: “The cutter wasn’t as good as it was last time, but the curveball was much better. Fastball location was much better, as well. Command-wise, it was a lot better, especially in the second and third innings… It seemed like my fastball was good. It was jumping on hitters a little bit based on the swings I was getting. That was a positive thing. Being able to work out of some trouble with guys on, they put together some good at-bats in the first and I was able to get around those.”

Girardi: “I thought he had everything today. Fastball location was much better, he threw some good changeups, curveballs and cutters. I was very pleased. I thought it was a nice step in a positive direction for him. A lot of times at this point in the first couple starts, I’m focusing on the good things. Knowing that they are rusty, you don’t expect them to have their A stuff a lot of times. You want to see what they’ve got the first couple starts. I was pleased.”

• Girardi said today that Hughes and Sabathia will split their next start, four innings apeice, on Friday.

• Dave Robertson is supposed to get his walking boot off tomorrow, but that’s subject to change depending on how he feels. “If he comes in and he’s walking okay and it’s not too painful, he’ll come out of the boot,” Girardi said. “If it’s still pretty painful, we’ll put him back in the boot.” For whatever it’s worth, Robertson seemed to be walking much more easily today.

• Eduardo Nunez could be in a game as early as Tuesday. “We’ll have him take BP Tuesday, and if he has no problem, I’ll put him in the game,” Girardi said.

• Really nice game by Chris Dickerson here in Tampa. He made a nice running play in center field, had the two-run single that gave the Yankees the lead, and he stayed in a rundown long enough to let runners advance to second and third. I’m still surprised no team thought they could carry him as a fourth outfielder this year. He’s a nice player.

• Russell Martin stole another base today. That’s four steals in five games for the Yankees catcher. “I’m putting a little pressure on Gardy,” Martin said. “That’s all I’m doing.” Might be working because Gardner also had a stolen base today. It was Gardner’s second.

• Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 — and had another hit taken away by a nice catch in center field — in the Yankees 3-1 win against the Phillies. Dickerson, Robinson Cano, Gustavo Molina, Bill Hall, Justin Maxwell and call-up-for-the-day Austin Krum also had hits in the win. … Francisco Cervelli went 3-for-3 in the 5-1 loss to the Twins. Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Gary Sanchez, Jayson Nix and Corban Joseph also had hits in that game, as did call-up-for-the-day Walter Ibarra.

• Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley and Kevin Whelan were able to keep the shutout intact in Tampa. … In Fort Myers, Adam Warren allowed one run through three innigns, but the game unraveled when Graham Stoneburner allowed a solo homer in the seventh inning and Adam Miller gave up a three-run homer in the eighth. All five Twins runs came on home runs.

• Add Dan Burawa to the injured list. Girardi said today that Burawa hurt his ribcage yesterday. “He’s probably down for a little bit,” Girardi said. Burawa seemed to be making a pretty good impression this spring but was still just here to get his feet wet. He’s not realistically in the big league picture this season.

• Once again Girardi said Austin Romine is making steady progress from his sore back, but the Yankees are staying extra cautious. There’s no rush to get Romine into regular duty in spring training. “If he’s a backup here, he’s not going to play every day,” Girardi said. “And if he’s in the minor leagues, he’s going to play every day, so you can work him up to three and four days in a row down there. That’s not a problem. I want to see him playing healthy before we leave; that’s the most important thing.”

• A lot of guys up from minor league camp today, but center field standout Mason Williams wasn’t among them. Girardi said today that he expects Williams to come up for a big league game at some point this spring. Girardi’s never seen him play, but “I’m interested,” he said.

• After fracturing the bone around his eye earlier this spring, A.J. Burnett has returned to Pirates camp. He’s still expected to miss two to three months.

• During a surprise Facetime conversation, Alex Rodriguez, Dave Robertson and Tino Martinez spoke with Stephanie Decker, the mother that lost both legs while protecting her two children from a tornado in Indiana last week.

• Want further proof that Mariano Rivera pretty much sets his own schedule in spring training? Here’s Girardi’s I-have-no-idea answer to a question about what’s next for Rivera after today’s debut appearance: “He’ll probably have some days where he has a couple days off. He might throw an inning, do a bullpen the next time, then throw an inning again. He usually gets his seven or eight appearances in, so he’s got plenty of time to do that. There’s no rush.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 136 Comments →

Pregame notes: Robertson’s status unclear after foot injury03.08.12

Dave Robertson was moving boxes at his Tampa-area home last night when he stumbled down some stairs. Joe Girardi said it was more like he missed one step, not necessarily went tumbling down an entire flight. His right foot felt fine initially but it eventually became sore and Robertson went for x-rays, which were negative. He’s getting an MRI this morning and is currently wearing a walking boot as a precaution and for comfort.

“They were empty boxes,” Girardi said. “They weren’t even heavy boxes. I told to just kick them down the steps next time.”

There is some concern, obviously. Girardi said Robertson wasn’t walking very well this morning, and the official diagnosis so far is a mid-foot sprain. Girardi said there was no swelling, which he’s taking to be a good sign. Because he’s a reliever, Robertson could miss several days and not be at serious risk of missing the start of the season.

Until the MRI comes back, it’s really too early to know how much time Robertson will miss and whether Opening Day is at risk.

• Mariano Rivera threw batting practice this morning and said he expects to make his first game appearance on Sunday. “I’m ready to go,” he said.

• Joba Chamberlain will throw another bullpen tomorrow, and he’ll throw breaking balls for the first time on Sunday. Those breaking balls won’t come off a mound. He’ll throw them off flat ground. He said things are still going well with his rehab from Tommy John.

• Raul Ibanez has seen most of his time in left field, but he played a lot of right field when he was younger and the Yankees want him to be able to play both outfield corners. That’s why he’s in right field today, to get a few reps out there before the season. “I’m pretty confident that he’s going to play it fine,” Girardi said.

• Eduardo Nunez will take batting practice today, but Girardi still not sure he’ll be ready to play tomorrow. There doesn’t seem to be any significant concern about him, just taking things slowly and making sure he’s ready.

• George Kontos will throw a bullpen tomorrow. If that goes well, hell fall back into a regular spring routine and could face hitters within a few days.

• Cole Garner, who’s been shutdown with a sore hamstring, is making today’s trip to Dunedin but he’s not scheduled to play.

• Today’s sides: Graham Stoneburner, Brett Marshall, Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia.

• Tomorrow’s sides: Brad Meyers, Adam Warren, Joba Chamberlain, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Hiroki Kuroda.

• Today’s available pitchers: Ivan Nova, Michael O’Connor, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Cesar Cabral, Dan Burawa, Adam Miller, Ryan Pope, Chase Whitley and Juan Cedeno.

• Today’s second string: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Brandon Laird, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Melky Mesa, RF Chris Dickerson, DH Colin Curtis

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 175 Comments →

Pregame notes: Rivera ready to face hitters03.04.12

All of the days tend to blend together down here, and progress is marked only by minor landmarks along the way. The first full-squad workout is an early one. The first time pitchers face live hitters is another. The first Grapefruit League game is a big one.  

Of course, you can also use Mariano Rivera to mark the passing of time.

There’s the day he shows up (only one day late this year). The day he finally decides to throw a bullpen. The day he begins speculating about when he’ll actually get in a game. And you know you’re well into the spring schedule when Rivera is actually scheduled to pitch.

The Rivera calendar takes another step forward tomorrow, when the Yankees closer faces live hitters for the first time. Rivera will throw early batting practice tomorrow morning with Rafael Soriano. Chris Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli will have the pleasure of trying to hit against them.

Early spring training is officially over.

• Hiroki Kuroda threw a sim game this morning facing Zoilo Almonte and Brandon Laird. Kuroda will make his first spring start on Wednesday.

• On their usual starter’s schedule after pitching Friday, Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner and Brett Marshall are throwing sides today. Warren said yesterday that he expects the starting pitchers to stay on a usual five-day schedule the rest of the way.

• Tomorrow’s sides: Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, David Phelps and Brad Meyers. This will be the first side for Meyers, the Rule 5 pick who’s been dealing with a sore shoulder since the start of spring training.

• George Kontos has played catch the past two days. He’ll go throw regular workouts with no throwing today, then he’ll play long toss tomorrow. He’s progressing as expected from a sore oblique.

• Today’s available pitchers: Freddy Garcia gets the start followed by D.J. Mitchell, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Clay Rapada, Kevin Whelan, Chase Whitley, Juan Cedeno, Adam Miller, Ryan Pope and Dan Burawa. My guess is that the guys after Whitley are backups today.

• Today’s second string: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Jose Gil, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Corban Joseph, LF Colin Curtis, CF Melky Mesa, RF Zoilo Almonte. There’s no backup DH listed.

• Tomorrow’s traveling players (including starter Michael Pineda and reliever Dave Robertson, scheduled to make their first appearances):

Pitchers: Dan Burawa, Cesar Cabral, Juan Cedeno, Brett Marshall, Adam Miller, Michael O’Connor, Michael Pineda, Ryan Pope, Dave Robertson, Graham Stoneburner.
Catchers: Jose Gil, Russell Martin, Gustavo Molina, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez
Infielders: David Adams, Doug Bernier, Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Corban Joseph, Brandon Laird, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Jorge Vazquez
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Colin Curtis, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez, Justin Maxwell, Melky Mesa, Nick Swisher

UPDATE, 9:44 a.m.: How many Phillies starters have you heard of?

Tyson Gililes CF
Scott Podsednik DH
Ty Wigginton 3B
Hunter Pence RF
Domonic Brown LF
John Mayberry Jr. 1B
Michael Martinez 2B
Freddy Galvis SS
Tuffy Gosewisch C

RHP Roy Halladay

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 145 Comments →

Surgery for Mariano?/bleacher tickets going up11.22.11

This has nothing to do with Mariano Rivera’s arm. Anthony McCarron of the Daily News and Barbara Barker of Newsday both reported on Twitter that the Yankees’ closer said at a charity function today that his vocal cords have been issue for a month, that the problem is making it difficult for him to talk and that he could need surgery.

Rivera plans to consult with a specialist early next week.

In other Yankees news, the team announced its plan for 2012 ticket costs today. The price of watching a game from the bleachers, for those of you who want an unobscured view, will be rising $5. But overall the cost of more than 70 percent of the tickets will be remaining the same or are going to be cut. Field level outfield seats along fair territory will be reduced from $10 to $35. The Yankees say almost a third of the seats in the house for next season will run $30 or less. And the rest …

Anyway here’s a link to a yankees.com story that reviews the specifics, including info on their new nine- and 12-game ticket plans: http://atmlb.com/vqc6CY

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 632 Comments →

Pregame notes: “You’ve got to win this one”10.06.11

Jim Leyland had a story to tell, and so he sat at the podium before today’s decisive Game 5 and began speaking before anyone asked a question.

“I have an announcement to make,” he said. “This will explain why you think I’m so old and grumpy and messed up. I got a telegram today from a professor from a prominent university. These are my instructions for tonight… I am supposed to pitch Valverde the first five innings tonight, then I’m supposed to pitch Verlander the last three, quote, ‘the seventh and eighth.’ So that’s where we’re at.”

Everyone, you see, has an approach to Game 5.

What interesting is that Leyland and Joe Girardi are approaching this Game 5 very differently. Leyland has shuffled his lineup again, going with the hot hand in Don Kelly at the top. Girardi has stuck with his regulars, whether they’re struggling or not. Leyland has talked about wanting to get through this game with a select group of rested relievers. Girardi has entertained the notion of every key reliever pitching more than an inning.

Mostly, Leyland and Girardi have differed in the way they plan to use their aces.

Leyland says Justin Verlander won’t pitch at all. In fact, Verlander already threw a bullpen this afternoon so that he’s prepared for a possible ALCS Game 1.

“I’m not going to use Verlander,” Leyland said. “I am not under any circumstances… You can argue till the cows come home, I’m not going to do it. I don’t think it’s a wise decision.”

Girardi has told CC Sabathia to be ready. Girardi’s thinks he could throw a “couple” of innings, and he brought up the idea of going to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning, saving Sabathia to get the final few outs if Rivera runs out of gas before the end of the ninth.

“You can’t tell when you’re going to go to that move,” Girardi said. “There’s not an exact scenario.”

But would he be hesitant to use Sabathia, wanting to save his ace for Game 1 of the next round?

“You’ve got to win this one,” Girardi said. “(Otherwise) there is no Game 1.”

Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.

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• What’s the limit or Rivera tonight? “It’s more pitches than anything,” Girardi said. “You start to get around 35, 40 pitches you start to get into a gray area and you start to worry… That might be a situation where you have CC behind him. It could be something like that.”

• Girardi said it’s “very possible” that he’ll use Dave Robertson and Rivera to pitch the final three innings.

• A.J. Burnett is available if this game gets extremely crazy, but right now the plan is to have him in the rotation should the Yankees advance. “I imagine I would start him,” Girardi said. “I haven’t thought that far along, but yeah.”

• Girardi did not give any sort of pregame speech, and he didn’t ask a player or a member of the coaching staff to do so either. “I kind of watch what our guys are doing, and if they need something, they need something,” Girardi said. “I told you, I thought they were very loose the other day going into Game 4. I’ve seen some of the guys now, and they seem loose to me. I didn’t say anything magical to them in Game 4.”

• Today would have been a bullpen day for Sabathia, but he hasn’t thrown one yet. If this game becomes a blowout, and Sabathia starts to get loose, Girardi said that could be nothing more than a bullpen to prepare for the ALCS.

• Leyland explaining his Verlander decision: “One thing you have to remember, he went a little longer than CC the other night. He also was throwing 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning. He’s also thrown a lot of pitches under stressful circumstances. And I also remind you that Scherzer did a pretty good — he has more rest and he did a pretty good job against the Yankees. So Scherzer would be my first guy tonight if I needed a long guy.”

• Despite Leyland’s vow not to use Verlander, Girardi is approaching this game as if Verlander is available. “I know what Jim said,” Girardi said, laughing. “Sometimes circumstances change. You get into a crazy game and he might be the last guy. I’m not saying he’s going to put him in there, but I’m just saying, you get into an 18-inning game, you’re not putting Wilson Betemit out there, you know what I’m saying?”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 358 Comments →

Pregame notes: Bullpen rested for three in a row10.02.11

Joe Girardi had no regrets this morning about using Mariano Rivera last night. The way he saw it, a grand slam would have pulled the Tigers within 2, and Girardi thought it was best to shut the door right then and there.

“He hadn’t pitched since Tuesday, and before that, he hadn’t pitched in a little bit,” Girardi said. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt him. Obviously it helps to keep him sharp. I think you could look at it either way with three more days in a row. But it shouldn’t hurt.”

Ivan Nova pitching into last night’s ninth inning meant the Yankees used only Luis Ayala and Rivera in Game 1. Girardi has said he’s willing to use any of his relievers three days in a row, which leaves him with a full bullpen these next three days. There’s a chance Rivera wouldn’t be available on Tuesday, but Girardi said there’s no doubt he’ll be available tonight and tomorrow.

A full bullpen could be key with Freddy Garcia, who’s built his season on keeping the Yankees in a game for six innings, then letting the relievers takeover. Garcia-to-Soriano-to-Robertson-to-Rivera could be a perfect recipe for the Yankees in Game 2.

“Our bullpen is in very good shape,” Girardi said. “So that sets up really well. Freddy is a completely different look than all of our other pitchers. You can look at all of our other pitchers and say they’re somewhat power guys. Freddy is the one finesse guys we’ve got that’s going to use a lot of offspeed, see some slow breaking balls. It’s a totally different look.”

Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference. It wasn’t very long. We got a little more in the beat writers session.

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• The Yankees are now committed to CC Sabathia pitching tomorrow’s Game 3, and Girardi finally made it official that A.J. Burnett will start Game 4. The only thing that would have kept Burnett from lining up for Game 4 would have been using him in long relief last night. Phil Hughes is the long man today.

• Girardi said the umpires “absolutely” got the call right on Robinson Cano’s double off the top of the wall last night, though Girardi was a little surprised that fans didn’t reach out and pull that ball into the stands. “Usually you see that,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure how far they would have had to reach to get to it. I don’t know how wide that concrete is out there. I’m sure it would have been reviewed either way, so it would have ended up the same.”

• Despite the fact Sabathia just pitched two days ago, Girardi said his pitch count won’t be at all limited tomorrow night. “I don’t think so, just because he threw so few on Friday, and he’s not expected to make another start in the division series,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he’s not second-guessing Ayala after back-to-back rough outings. “He’s pitched really well for us,” Girardi said. “And I think you have to look at his body of work. And he got a ground ball from Avila, then he got another ground ball. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.”

• Hector Noesi and Raul Valdes have joined Ramiro Pena in Tampa. Those three are staying sharp at the minor league complex. Bartolo Colon and Austin Romine are staying with the big league team. Romine is catching in the bullpen to stay with the big league staff.

• Girardi never looked a replay of last night’s play at the plate. He said last night that he was positive it was an out when he saw it live, and he never felt a need to look at it again.

• As someone pointed out, Rivera technically threw the first and last pitch of Game 1. He threw the ceremonial first pitch on Friday, then closed the game on Saturday.

TIGERS
Austin Jackson CF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Alex Avila C
Jhonny Peralta SS
Wilson Betemit 3B
Ramon Santiago 2B

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 60 Comments →

Pregame notes: “I don’t see why it wouldn’t work”09.27.11

It’s been a few days since Joe Girardi approached Mark Teixeira with the idea of moving Robinson Cano up to the third spot in the batting order. The move would have happened sooner, but it’s been a while since Cano, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez were in the same lineup together.

“I told Joe, not only am I for it, I think it’s a great idea,” Teixeira said. “Obviously, left-handed, my average isn’t where it should be, and Robbie’s had a great season. He’s hot – he’s really hot – and why not mix it up against a righty and hit him third… I think that’s the plan (for the playoffs). I think we’re going to see how it works, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.”

Chances are, the Yankees are going to stick with this lineup into the postseason, but only against right-handers. Girardi said he’s “leaning” toward going back to the old alignment against lefties. Teixeira is still a good all-around hitter against left-handers, and Girardi likes the idea of splitting lefties Cano and Curtis Granderson.

“The thing about managing here is that we have a lot of really good hitters,” Girardi said. “We have a lot of guys who could hit third in other lineups. You try to space it out, try to make it difficult for teams to navigate through. We’re moving Robbie to the three-hole against right-handers and it’s something we could do against lefties, too.”

Teixeira said he’s been working with Kevin Long on changing his approach against right-handers. He’s squared up his stance a little bit, and he’s trying to use the whole field a little more. He admitted that the right-field porch at Yankee Stadium became a little too tempting and got him into some bad habits after his strong 2009 season. Now the defensive shift is frustrating him, and Teixeira is trying to correct the problem without losing his power.

“You don’t want me to turn into a slap hitter,” he said. “But at the same time, I think if I use a little bit more of the field – a little bit more of center field – some of those balls will start falling. I can’t get a ground ball hit left-handed right now. That’s not good for your average, so I need to kind of focus on keeping the ball up the middle and trying to use all of the field… I’m greedy. I want to have it all. I want to get back to being a high-.200s (or) .300s type hitter with the same amount of home runs and RBIs, and I think I can do that again. Actually, I know I can do that again.”

Girardi also admitted that it’s been hard not to notice that teams have been pitching around Cano lately, and that played a role in this decision.

“Hitting in the third spot, it’s a lot of responsibility,” Cano said. “You have to do everything right. You’re going to get pitches to hit because you’ve got a guy behind you that they don’t want to face, either. It’s a situation now where I’m going to get better pitches, so I have to continue doing what I’m doing right now. That’s not going to change my mindset. I’m going to keep playing my game and swing at strikes.”

Here’s Teixeira. He was good talking about his struggles and his attempts to fix them.

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• Major League Baseball has announced that the first game of the Yankees division series will be an 8:37 p.m. first pitch on Friday. The other American League division series will be a 5:07 start, but of course the Yankees got the late game.

• If the Red Sox and Rays have to play a tiebreaker, that game will be at 4:07 p.m. on Thursday.

• Derek Jeter has a standard day off. “He’s played the last three days in a row and I just thought I’d give him a day off,” Girardi said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

• Actually, Girardi said he expects to have most of his regulars in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s regular season finale.

• Still no Yankees starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game. Girardi said it depends on who pitches tonight. It could be almost anyone.

• Regardless of the score, Girardi definitely plans to use Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano tonight, and he’ll probably pitch Mariano Rivera. He wants to get them into tonight’s game, then rest them tomorrow and Thursday.

• The Yankees coaching staff met with Brian Cashman today to talk about the postseason roster. “We do have some of the answers, but we don’t have all of the answers,” Girardi said. “We threw a lot of ideas out there. It’s something we have to chew on for a little bit. We have time. Some of it depends on who we play, but we did make some progress.”

• One thing that has been decided is that the Yankees will carry an extra position player in the division series. Girardi said the Yankees will carry 11 pitchers at the most, and they might carry only 10.

• Still no official decision on whether the Yankees will carry three or four starters in the division series, but Girardi said it’s “very possible.”

RAYS
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 300 Comments →

Between-game notes: “Why not give him a good headache?”09.25.11

Does one good start in an ultimately meaningless game mean anything?

Since joining the Yankees three years ago, A.J. Burnett had never beaten the Red Sox. He had a 7.36 ERA in two previous starts against them this season, and let there be no doubt, they were certainly playing for something this afternoon. It might have been a meaningless game for the Yankees, but it meant something for the Red Sox.

Did it mean anything for Burnett?

“It’s up to (Joe Girardi),” Burnett said. “I just wanted to come out and give him headaches. I’ve been giving him headaches all year, why not give him a good headache, you know? I got runs early the past month or so and haven’t been able to put it all together, so to go deeper in the game and keep the lead — I still made a couple mistakes to Ellsbury — but for the most part I was able to make pitches when I needed to.”

Burnett pitched 7.2 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits — only Jacoby Ellsbury’s home runs hurt him — and he struck out six. He’s 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in September, but the last time he pitched this many innings with two runs or less was way back on June 13. He walked off the field to a standing ovation.

“There were lots of (goose bumps), lots of them,” Burnett said. “It means a lot, you know. They’ve been rough, but I’ve given them reason to be rough. That makes up for everything, walking off that mound to that ovation is incredible.”

What does it mean for his spot in the postsaeason?

“We’re going to continue to look at it and talk about it,” Girardi said. “And our opponent has something to do with who we’re going to pitch.”

Burnett hasn’t faced Texas this season, but he made two solid starts against the Tigers, and has pretty good career numbers against the current Detroit roster. Interestingly, Freddy Garcia has much worse career numbers against the current Tigers, and he gave up 10 hits — a season-high — against them earlier this season (Garcia has terrific career numbers against the Rangers and pitched six shutout innings against them this year). Is it possible the Yankees would lean toward Burnett over Garcia if they face Detroit in the first round? Girardi wouldn’t go into specifics.

“I’m just hoping I gave him something to think about, you know,” Burnett said. “He’s been nothing but positive toward me the whole season. He came out and shook my hand on the mound, and it was very professional of him. As many times I’ve gone away mad, he knows I’m not mad at him. He can call Cito (Gaston) and ask him how many times I got mad at Cito. He deals with it well, he deals with me well and when he put his hand out there, it meant a lot.”

Here’s Burnett.

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• Cool pregame ceremony to honor Mariano Rivera’s record-breaking 602nd career save. The Yankees kept it a surprise and announced it to the media pregame with strict orders not to announce it on blogs or Twitter. Rivera was given a fireman’s helmet and a huge picture commemorating the milestone.

• Jorge Posada was out there for the Rivera ceremony, and he got his own moment with a third-inning curtain call after his home run. “The fans have been amazing all through my career, but especially this year,” Posada said. “They’ve been very supportive and for them standing after Andruw gets strike one. I didn’t want to interrupt his at-bat. It’s special to hit a home run and even in the last regular season game.”

• This was the first time that Posada hit cleanup since September 28, 2009. he hit his first cleanup home run since April 10, 2008. Of his 14 home runs this season, 11 have come at Yankee Stadium.

• On the home run, Posada scored his 900th career run. His first-inning walk was No. 934 of his career, moving him past Roy White for sole possession of seventh place on the Yankees all-time franchise list.

• The Yankees scored their first two runs without getting the ball out of the infield thanks to bunt singles by Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter. “It had nothing to do with our game plan,” Jeter said. “I’ve faced Wakefield a bunch and I don’t know if I’ve ever bunted off him before. The opportunity presented itself, and I tried it.”

• Jeter’s batting average is up to .300. “I’m not playing for a batting average,” he said. “I’m playing for trying to stay sharp for the playoffs. (Hitting) .300 obviously is better than .200, but I’ve hit .300 before.”

• This is the first time Jeter’s batting average has been .300 or better at the end of a game since he was hitting .333 after the second game of the season.

• The Yankees are an even 16-16 in Burnett’s starts this season.

• Dave Robertson has allowed one run and 11 hits in his past 26 appearances dating back to July 26. He has a 0.35 ERA in that stretch. According to Elias, Robertson has held opponents hitless in his past 21 at-bats with men on base.

• Robertson leads all American League relievers with 99 strikeouts this season. That’s good news for High Socks for Hope.

• Francisco Cervelli went for further tests today but the Yankees haven’t heard back from the doctors.

• Girardi said he’ll probably announce a Tampa rotation after the second game.

• There’s still no plan in place — or, announced anyway — for Phil Hughes. “We’re going to talk about how we’re going to use him in the next couple of days,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees will finish the season 44-12 in day game, the highest all-time day winning percentage by any team since 1900 according to Elias.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 316 Comments →

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

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

Hence today’s lineup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• The Yankees rotation for the Tampa Bay series:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 241 Comments →

Pregame notes: “Hopefully it’s just a day-to-day thing”09.09.11

Nick Swisher’s left elbow has bothered him from time to time, but not quite like it did on his first throw from the outfield yesterday.

“I threw it and said, ‘Wow, that didn’t’ feel right,’” Swisher said. “… I know what feels right, I know what doesn’t feel right. After yesterday’s game, I was like man, I’ve got to check this thing out. I don’t like going to the training room man, it’s not my thing. But there are some times. You can’t be a hard head all the time, man, and you actually have to go in there. We’ll just see what they say and figure it out from there.”

Swisher will see the Angels team doctor at some point, probably today. He’s expecting to play tomorrow, but it’s hard to know anything for certain at this point. Joe Girardi called Swisher day-to-day.

During these past three days — when the Yankees had that long rain delay, followed by the four-hour-plus game, followed by extra innings in Baltimore — Swisher actually played all three days, but that’s only after he’d been off on Monday. Girardi said he didn’t believe playing those three games had a real impact on the elbow.

“I think it’s just one throw, really, more than anything,” Swisher said. “I don’t know what it is, so I’m going to see the doctor and find out. So, we’ll see. I’m not nervous about it but I’d feel a lot better if the doctor said ‘hey man, this is what you’ve got. It’s going to be OK.’ Because I’ve never had something like this before. (This is) more sharp pains. Hopefully, it’s just a day-to-day thing.”

• Jesus Montero is getting a designated hitter start against a right-hander today, and Girardi hinted that he might do that more often. “I think you want to see more,” he said. “You don’t want him to sit too long between games, either. You want to get him back in there. He’s swung the bat very well, showed patience and showed the ability to make adjustments.”

• Aside from Swisher, all of the Yankees regulars are in the lineup, but the bullpen is thin beyond Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson. It’s possible, in the next couple of days, that the Yankees will have to move a starter to the bullpen. “We might need someone,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying they won’t start again, but we might need someone in the bullpen. Soriano’s went a bunch of days in a row, Ayala’s went a bunch of days, Wade’s went a bunch of days, Logan’s went a bunch of days. I have Robby and Mo available tonight, but after that, I have to see.”

• If the Yankees don’t get distance out of Bartolo Colon, Girardi said he’s not sure Hector Noesi could be used for a truly extended outing (he threw back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple innings Wednesday). So, if the Yankees need a true long man, Girardi said it would likely be either George Kontos, Andrew Brackman or Dellin Betances. “Could be one of the kids,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of the kids, Betances is here mostly to get his feet wet and get a look at life in the big leagues. He’s active, but unlike Montero, Betances isn’t expected to play a significant role down the stretch. “You never know,” Girardi said. “He might pitch in a game, he might pich great and you might use him more. I don’t have any specific plans for him, in a sense, but we’ll see what happens.”

• Today is Betances’ normal day to pitch, which is why the call-up waited until now. He went to Tampa to throw a regular bullpen after the Triple-A regular season, then spent one day at home in New Jersey before flying to California yesterday afternoon.

• Girardi expected Betances to be the last September call-up. He said there was talk about calling up Manny Banuelos, but the Yankees didn’t think this was the time to do it. “They talked about him and decided not to,” Girardi said. “They looked at his year and said they weren’t going to call him up yet.”

• The Yankees rotation is not set beyond Sunday. “We’ll wait to see how we get through this weekend,” Girardi said. “Larry and I are still talking about it.”

• I’m sure he doesn’t speak for everyone, but Brett Gardner said he actually feels no different today — after those long three days of rain and extra innings — than he would at the start of any other West Coast trip. “No, not really,” he said. “I feel pretty good, especially after that long flight last night. I feel better today than I expected to. It’s obviously not ideal and something everybody has to deal with.”

ANGELS
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo 1B
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Vernon Wells LF
Peter Bourjos CF
Jeff Mathis C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 362 Comments →

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