The tarp just came off the field and it looks like there’s at least a chance of starting tonight’s game on time. I thought there was no chance just a few hours ago, but Joe Girardi said he’s been hearing that the game will probably be played.
On to big picture news.
Alex Rodriguez ran the bases today. He did his usual batting practice and fielding drills, but it’s the running that’s most significant. Girardi said Rodriguez is still on track to begin a rehab assignment this weekend — either Friday or Saturday, Girardi said — and it’s a good bet that he’ll be with the Yankees next week on the road.
“I don’t know if Monday is realistic,” Girardi said. “Part of it probably depends on where he starts and how he feels in those next couple of games. But I think next week is realistic.”
Girardi said he’s not sure how many rehab games Rodriguez will need.
“I guess theoretically it could be one, but you can’t really say,” Girardi said. “You don’t know how he’s going to feel and you don’t know if he’s going to have his timing. You don’t know if he’s going to feel stable on his knee running the bases. You can’t just throw a random number out there. When he’s ready, we’ll have him back, I can tell you that.”
• Phil Hughes starts Saturday. Freddy Garcia starts Sunday. For now, the Yankees are sticking with a six-man rotation. “I don’t know how much longer we’ll stick with that,” Girardi said. “Obviously we’ve got the split doubleheader in Baltimore and we have to be prepared for that too.”
• Could either Hughes or Garcia be available out of the bullpen? “We’d probably stay away from them,” Girardi said. “If we had to, yes, but our bullpen is in pretty good shape.”
• Sergio Mitre is going for a second opinion after being diagnoses with a pinch nerve in his shoulder. An MRI showed no structural damage, but a nerve problem is causing Mitre to lose considerable arm strength (fastball velocity suddenly dropped by about 6 mph, he said). The second opinion is determine whether surgery is necessary, but Mitre is going into it believing he has ”90 percent” chance of surgery. How long he’s out depends entirely on how quickly the nerve recovers.
• According to the latest AP update from Tampa, Pedro Feliciano threw 42 pitches in the bullpen today and is scheduled for live batting practice on Friday. Even so, Girardi said Feliciano is still a longshot to pitch for the Yankees this season.
• Other Tampa updates via the AP: Ramiro Pena started swinging a bat… Damaso Marte threw a 32-pitch bullpen… Mark Prior pitched in another rookie league game.
• Once again out of the Yankees lineup, Jorge Posada seemed just as frustrated today as he was after he and Girardi had their conversation on Sunday. Posada spoke only briefly. “You wouldn’t expect any player to be necessarily happy if he’s taken from a role,” Girardi said. “I was a full-time catcher and reduced to less catching. I didn’t like it. I just kept working at it and trying to get better. As a player, that’s really the only thing you can do – be prepared and when you get your chance, perform and do the best you can.”
• Russell Martin’s mustache is no longer the worst Yankees look of the year. A.J. Burnett has gone with totally blonde hair. It’s… a curious decision. Martin literally offered a no comment on the situation, but he did laugh a little when I brought it up.
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Maicer Izturis 3B
Peter Bourjos CF
Jeff Mathis C
Associated Press photos
Prior and Soriano taking steps forward • 07.14.11
The Yankees will make one move today, officially putting Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list and adding someone to fill the roster spot. The list of candidates is long. It’s possible to make a case for Greg Golson, Chris Dickerson, Brandon Laird, Jorge Vazquez, Kevin Russo… but whoever gets the call-up, they’re likely to fall into secondary role while Eduardo Nunez gets the bulk of the starts at third base.
As for future moves, two injured relievers took positive steps forward yesterday. Here’s the latest from The Associated Press down in Tampa.
The converted reliever said it was a step in the right direction Wednesday after allowing an unearned run and one hit over two innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees against Atlanta minor leaguers.
In his first outing since pitching on April 18 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Prior threw 24 pitches with a fastball that reached 90 mph.
Prior has struggled with shoulder injuries and made his previous major league appearance in August 2006. The 30-year old went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts for the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs in 2003.
Also, Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano threw 25 pitches during his second batting practice session since going on the disabled list May 17 because of right elbow inflammation.
Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal with New York in the offseason to handle the eighth inning, but struggled while adapting to the new role. He was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances before the injury.
Left-hander Pedro Feliciano, hoping to avoid surgery for a left shoulder tear, has resumed a light throwing program. Reliever Damaso Marte, coming back from left shoulder surgery, is continuing to throw off a bullpen mound.
Also, the Yankees have finalized a contract with 24-year old Cuban right-hander Reinier Casanova and assigned him to the GCL Yankees.
Associated Press photo of Prior in spring training
Joe Girardi confirmed postgame that Bartolo Colon will start Saturday’s game against the Mets. He also said that Derek Jeter is still on track to being a rehab assignment on Saturday, which would put Jeter on track to join the Yankees in Cleveland early next week. Here’s the latest from The Associated Press in Tampa.
The shortstop said Thursday he will play minor league rehab games Saturday and Sunday at Double-A Trenton and be with the Yankees for a series in Cleveland.
“I feel good now,” Jeter said after working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “I feel a lot better. I’m ready to get out of here.”
The team captain is six hits shy of 3,000. A return next week could put him on track to reach the milestone at Yankee Stadium during a four-game series against Tampa Bay from July 7-10. Then comes the All-Star break, and New York opens the second half with an eight-game road trip.
Jeter had been eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Wednesday but wasn’t ready. His bid to become the 28th major leaguer — and first with the Yankees — to get 3,000 hits has been on hold since he strained his right calf June 13 against the Indians.
“I hadn’t done anything for a couple weeks, so it takes a little while to get loose and get in baseball shape,” Jeter said.
Jeter, who turned 37 on Sunday, is batting .260 with two homers and 20 RBIs. He has 12 extra-base hits in 262 at-bats and a .324 on-base percentage.
Jeter increased his intensity in Thursday’s workout, running from home to first after hitting a ball and also turning double plays. He had 60 swings in batting practice, took grounders and ran from first to third.
“Things have gone well,” said Jeter, who is scheduled to workout Friday in Florida before departing for Trenton.
Also, converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, could throw batting practice Saturday.
Right-hander Rafael Soriano, out with right elbow inflammation, has started long toss sessions.
Associated Press photo
The latest from The Associated Press down at the Yankees complex in Tampa. Sounds like Barolo Colon might be closer than expected.
The Yankees captain, on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right calf, took batting practice on the field for the first time and started a running program Monday.
Jeter took 30 swings in batting practice. He fielded seven grounders on the grass before rain forced a stop. After a brief delay, Jeter returned to the field for three light sprints and some agility-related drills.
“Everything’s good,” Jeter said. “Steps in the right direction.”
There is no date yet for when Jeter, who turned 37 on Sunday, will rejoin the lineup. He’s six hits shy of 3,000, a chase that’s been on hold since getting hurt June 13.
Other Yankees also continued their rehabilitation.
Infielder Eric Chavez, out with a broken left foot, took batting practice with Jeter.
Right-hander Bartolo Colon, sidelined with a strained right hamstring, threw four innings of 15-pitches each in a simulated game.
Colon struck out three and allowed two hits, including one to injured minor league outfielder Slade Heathcott, who was the Yankees’ first round draft pick in 2009.
There have been discussions on whether Colon will need a minor league outing or if he could be ready to pitch against the New York Mets this weekend.
Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano, on the DL with a left shoulder tear, made 15 soft throws off a bullpen mound,
Converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, is scheduled to throw off a mound for the second time in four days on Tuesday.
Associated Press photo
Turning back the clock at Yankee Stadium • 04.18.11
I’ve written this more times than I care to count: The moment Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia, the Yankees offseason went down the tubes. There was one player on the market who perfectly fit the Yankees greatest offseason need, and when he went somewhere else, there was no perfect replacement. The biggest names still on the board didn’t really fit this roster, and Brian Cashman didn’t find a trade he liked.
Cashman signed Russell Martin, Pedro Feliciano and Andruw Jones to fill immediate needs, and ownership dumped closer money on Rafael Soriano. The rest of the Yankees offseason was spent on minor league deals with players well past their prime. It was a strategy that was mocked — to put it nicely — but it’s worked out so far.
“One thing to remember is that all of these players were stars,” Billy Eppler told Joel Sherman. “If you are going to do a reclamation project then do it with these types of players because if there is still something there and it comes out, you are getting all or a big part of a star.”
Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have been immediate contributors. It remains to be seen whether they can stay healthy and productive, but they’ve shown enough to suggest there’s still something left in the tank. For low-risk signings, they’ve been better than expected.
Luis Ayala was a surprise addition to the Opening Day roster, and he pitched well as a mopup man. Gustavo Molina went from a zero-chance veteran catcher to a emergency option after injury and disappointment. Mark Prior didn’t make the big league roster, but he’s been promoted to Triple-A and looks shockingly like he might be a legitimate big league option at some point.
Neal Cotts was released after his physical sent up some red flags, Ronnie Belliard was released after it became clear he didn’t have a place with the team, and it remains to be seen whether Kevin Millwood or Carlos Silva can provide anything. At this point, though, Cashman’s low-risk moves have been worthwhile, not worth mocking.
Associated Press photo
Millwood makes second extended spring start • 04.13.11
The Yankees beat writers have left Florida, but The Associated Press is still down there and offers some updates on Kevin Millwood, Mark Prior and Carlos Silva.
Millwood gave up four runs, three earned, and seven hits against Philadelphia minor leaguers. He faced two batters who singled and scored in the sixth to reach his scheduled pitch count.
The 36-year-old Millwood, who was 4-16 last season with Baltimore, felt good after the outing and could pitch for Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Also, Mark Prior expects to pitch again for Class-A Tampa on Wednesday or Thursday. The right-hander pitched on consecutive days for the first time last weekend.
Carlos Silva will have his first on-field workout at the Yankees’ complex on Wednesday. The right-hander agreed to a minor league contract Saturday.
Associated Press photo of Millwood
Girardi’s take on today’s decisions • 03.28.11
A few comments from Joe Girardi about today’s decisions.
Sending Jesus Montero and Austin Romine to the minors
“We thought it was more beneficial for them to play every day instead of maybe just getting a couple starts in the month of April. When you look at those two young guys, we consider them front-line catchers in the big leagues some day. These are two guys that worked extremely hard, and I believe they’ll go down with the correct attitude. There’s got to be disappointment, that’s the bottom line, because you want to be here so bad. They seem to understand and will go down with the right attitude.”
Different decision if they had played better this spring?
“I can’t tell you. I saw improvement out of both of them; a lot of improvement since last year. Montero got more at-bats than Romine. I think Montero is a much better player than what he showed, offensivey. I think he pressed. I told him, ‘When you do come up one day, try to learn from this experience.’ It’s easy to say and it’s hard to do, not to press. You can only do what you can do.
“It’s possible we would have taken one of them, but we want them to play every day. We want when they come up, not to have to go back. These are guys we believe are everyday players.”
Choosing Eric Chavez as the backup corner infielder
“That one’s pretty evident. With the spring that he had, we feel that he’s healthy and we feel that it’s a good bat on a day that we rest Alex or Tex. You’ve got a pretty big bat there. We’re really pleased with what he did.”
Picking Eduardo Nunez over Ramiro Pena as the utility infielder
“We thought (Nunez) had a better spring. He played pretty well in the month of September last year, he’s probably a little bit better of a base stealer, he’s hit more in his career in the minor leagues. He swung the bat pretty good here last year. As I told Nino, this is a decision we’re making now. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way June 1 or May 1.”
Leaving Mark Prior in Tampa
“We’re going to leave him in Tampa just because of the weather. It’s the first time he’s ever relieved. Eventually, you want him to get to where he can give you more than one inning and go back-to-back. The weather is much more predictable here. It’s warmer for a guy that has never had to be on somewhat of a time limit when he warms up, so we thought it was beneficial for him to be here. It took him a little bit by surprise, but he understood the reasoning. I don’t think he thought he was going to A-ball. We told him the reasons why and as soon as the weather gets better – at least reasonable – we’ll move him.”
Finding a replacement for Pedro Feliciano
“That decision may not be made until Wednesday night because you wait to see what shakes out. You have (Luis) Ayala, and (Steve) Garrison as well, so if it’s one of those two, they’ll probably fly up on Wednesday.”
There’s a obvious problem with basing spring training decisions on spring training results: The results don’t mean much.
Right now, Freddy Garcia seems to be the worst of the Yankees four back-of-the-rotation candidates. Two bad starts in a row have pushed his spring ERA to 5.93, almost double that of any of the other three candidates. Tonight he breezed through the Blue Jays lineup once, then struggled his second and third times through.
“I’m not going to make too much of one start,” Joe Girardi said. “But obviously you have to continue to make pitches in this league, there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes you have to change patterns and sometimes you don’t, but the quality of pitches have to always be there.”
So what to make of this start and this spring? Garcia has been a notoriously bad spring training pitcher. He was brutal last year, but still gave the White Sox a reliable back-end starter. Today Garcia allowed a sixth-inning home run to a left-handed hitter, and Girardi said he might have brought a lefty from the bullpen if this were a regular-season game. Earlier in that inning, Garcia allowed a double over the head of Eduardo Nunez, who was playing out of position in left field.
“If Gardy’s out there, that’s maybe three outs and he only gives up three runs and we’re not asking these questions,” Girardi said.
Fair enough, but there are still questions to answer, and the Yankees are running out of time to answer them. Before today’s game, Brian Cashman said that a decision will have to be made sooner rather than later, but Girardi wasn’t so sure. He said every candidate will get one more start before anything is finalized.
“Obviously you’d like to be able to set guys up as soon as you could, but if we feel like we still have evaluations to make, we’ll make them,” Girardi said.
• As he’s said more than once this spring, Cashman once again said that he doesn’t expect to add a starter before Opening Day.
• Garcia’s outing would have looked a lot better without David Cooper’s two-out, two-run homer in the sixth (which was crushed, by the way). Garcia said the pitch was a slider. He wishes he’d thrown a changeup. “Last inning, two outs, 3-2, base is open, I should throw a better pitch,” he said.
• Mariano Rivera pitched another hitless inning, this one with two strikeouts. He’s pitched three innings this spring, allowing one hit and striking out five.
• Mark Prior also pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and Luis Ayala pitched a scoreless inning with no strikeouts. When the game went 10 innings, Ryan Pope got two outs and Steve Garrison got the third on a deep fly ball.
• Girardi said he’s not sure when Joba Chamberlain will get in a game. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Girardi said. However, it appears Boone Logan will pitch tomorrow. “His back spasms were much better,” Girardi said.
• Eduardo Nunez started in left field and made one great running catch at the warning track, but he misplayed another ball hit to deep left and it bounced off his glove for a double. Nunez said he had trouble dealing with the sun on the double. “Nuney made one great catch and he got turned around on the other,” Girardi said.
• Robinson Cano hit his first spring home run, while Alex Rodriguez extended his spring hitting streak to 12 games. Rodriguez has a hit in every one of his starts and he’s batting .412/.459/.912 with four home runs.
• Another good day for Derek Jeter, who went 3-for-4 with a double that was his second extra-base hit of the spring. The other was a kind of flukey triple. He’s batting .351 with two strikeouts and two walks. He also got his first stolen base today.
• Another hit for Eric Chavez. He’s now hitting .375 with a .412 on-base percentage.
• Girardi said he’s not worried about Brett Gardner’s calf. All three outfielders got the day off because they had played three games in a row.
• Girardi decided after yesterday’s game to keep Russell Martin out of today’s game. Martin wasn’t hurt and didn’t ask out, but Girardi said he “bounced around a lot” while blocking A.J. Burnett’s curveball, so Girardi wanted to give him a break. If not for all the balls in the dirt yesterday, Martin would have caught today. He’ll catch tomorrow.
• On a related note: Girardi makes every spring lineup several days in advance. Third-base coach Rob Thomson posts the lineup every day, and Thomson passed it along to the PR department before Girardi had a chance to tell him to change it. That’s why Martin was initially announced but later scratched. It wasn’t a late decision, only a late communication.
• Had Garcia not pitched six innings, Manny Banuelos would have pitched multiple innings out of the bullpen. Instead, he’ll pitch Monday behind Bartolo Colon.
• As of right now, Thursday’s off day will be a complete day off. Girardi said the Yankees have nothing planned for any of their players that day.
Associated Press photos of Cano, Rivera and Jeter with Kevin Long
In the bullpen before tonight’s game, Ivan Nova’s curveball was erratic. He’d throw one for a strike, then sail one out of the zone. Without a good feel for his primary breaking ball, Nova started warming up a reworked slider that he hadn’t been using this spring. It was sharp and consistent, and when Nova carried it into the game, he used it on three of his four strikeouts.
“That’s as good as it gets,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s the best pitching performance we’ve had probably in spring training.”
Nova plunked the first batter he faced, then he retired 10 in a row. He pitched six hitless innings tonight, and got 11 outs on the ground. Only one of his last 12 outs was hit in the air. This was Nova at his best. He was locating his fastball down in the zone to generate plenty of routine grounders, and when he had a strikeout count, he was able to go to that reconstructed slider for swings and misses. His fastball and slider were so good, he didn’t throw a single changeup tonight.
“No one seemed comfortable in the box,” Russell Martin said. “He impressed me out there, and I think he impressed himself.”
Nova threw a slider last year, but it wasn’t especially effective, so he tried to learn a cutter. The pitch he meant to be a cutter, actually behaves like the slider he was trying to throw in the first place. Nova calls it a slider, but said he throws it like a cutter and tries to think “cutter” when he uses it.
“My slider is like a new toy,” he said. “I have to start playing with it some time, not too much, but I feel comfortable with all my pitches.”
Coming off a rocky start in his previous outing, Nova made a big impression tonight. All four rotation candidates have shown something this spring, and the Yankees seem happy with all four. But this is certainly the standout performance of the spring, an outing so good Nova was scheduled for only five innings, made it through six, and still had to go to the bullpen to throw 15 more pitches.
“I showed myself how good I am,” Nova said. “I have to keep trusting myself and keep pitching my game.”
• Martin’s knee feels so strong that he’s stopped wearing the protective brace. “I’m not even worried about it now,” he said.
• Rafael Soriano told the Yankees that he didn’t want to pitch against an American League East team in spring training, so he was scratched from tonight’s game and will pitch at the minor league complex tomorrow. I believe that will be their first set of minor league intrasquad games.
• Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch in the hand — apparently it managed to make contact with both hands somehow — but he’s fine. “It’s unbelievable how much that guy gets hit,” Girardi said.
• Boone Logan is scheduled to pitch tomorrow. He was shutdown very briefly early in spring training because of slight elbow fatigue, and he’s since been pitching sim games just so that he didn’t have to go on some road trips (kind of a we-owe-you-one after he went on the road without pitching earlier in the spring). He said he feels great, just hasn’t been in a real game in a while.
• The Yankees allowed only one hit tonight. Of all people, it was Mariano Rivera who gave it up. Rivera, Mark Prior and Dave Robertson threw scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
• First time seeing the full lineup and the Yankees beat the Orioles 10-0. The O’s were using a series of relievers tonight, and the Yankees everyday players accounted for eight RBI.
• Mark Teixeira had two doubles tonight, giving him seven for the spring. Teixeira took a lot of extra swings this winter, and so far it seems to be paying off with production he hopes to carry into April. “Every indication is he’s going to do fine and get off to a good start,” Long said. “The amount of work he’s put in, that helps. Now you start to build muscle memory at a much earlier time than he’s been accustomed to, and a lot of that is going to sink in. I think he’s going to be more comfortable from the get-go.”
• Alex Rodriguez hit his third spring home run, a no-doubt shot to left-center. He’s really been swinging the bat well this spring.
• The only non-everyday Yankees to have a hit tonight were Eric Chavez — of course — and Jesus Montero.
• Francisco Cervelli was able to play catch while wearing his protective boot today.
• Here’s Joba Chamberlain speaking about his oblique injury: “I don’t know the severity of what’s going on,” he said. “I know how I feel and what I can do. There’s nothing that I can’t do. I played catch the day after it happened. We’ll err on the side of caution now instead of trying to be aggressive. During the season, we’d still probably take the two days to make sure it didn’t linger the rest of the year.”
• How productive can Robinson Cano be? “I wouldn’t be surprised if Cano hit 40 home runs,” Kevin Long said. “He hit 29 (last year). Could he hit 40? Why not? It’s a big number – and not something that’s a goal – but could he do it? I don’t think there’s anybody standing here that thinks he can’t.”
• There was one guy in the Yankees clubhouse who doubted that number. it was Cano himself. “No chance,” Cano said. “Maybe if you put an extra half-season… To be honest, that’s not in my mind. I don’t think I’m a home run hitter. Most of my home runs are line drives. I don’t want that kind of thing in my mind. If it hit it, thank God, but it’s not on my mind.”
• Just saw this tonight: Curtis Granderson is doing his NCAA Tournament challenge. It’s a chance to donate $10 to his foundation and get a chance to win some prizes. Not sure how much time is left to sign up. I just found out or would have posted earlier. (thanks to Matt for the email heads up)
Associated Press photos
CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon each pitched six scoreless “innings” this morning. They faced the same series of four minor league hitters over and over again — two righties and two lefties — with Austin Romine taking occasional at-bats here and there.
“I threw some changeups to lefties, backdoor my cutter,” Sabathia said. “It was good to work on that stuff and not have to worry about really worrying about the result.”
Sabathia said the best part of the day might have been working with Russell Martin, talking about things pitches and strategies while he was still on the mound facing hitters. For Colon, it was a day to continue working on his slider, keeping it in to left-handed hitters.
“Whenever you go out there to pitch, in your mind you’re pitching and you think the stadium is packed,” Colon said, using Tony Pena as his translator.
• Joe Girardi said he expects Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman to each get at least one more outing in big league camp before being sent down.
• The Yankees will probably use all of their regulars in tomorrow’s night game. As for the lineup, Girardi wouldn’t give us an exact order. “We might do some things, we might play around with some things,” Girardi said.
• Sergio Mitre is throwing a bullpen tomorrow, meaning he won’t pitch in Thursday’s game. But Girardi said his level of concern is still very low. “The trainers thought (a bullpen) was the best thing to do,” he said.
• Joba Chamberlain had an MRI yesterday but continues to tell the Yankees that he feels pretty good. “Functionally I think he’s fine,” Girardi said. Even so, it’s going to be a few days before Chamberlain pitches. There is no plan in place for when exactly he’ll pitch next.
• Mark Prior threw today and is feeling better. Girardi said it’s best not to go into detail about Priors symptoms yesterday, and I’ll take his word for it.
• Francisco Cervelli is off crutches. He came in for treatment today.
• Next four Yankees starters: Ivan Nova on Wednesday, followed by Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia.