With a bigger, sturdier brace protecting his right knee, CC Sabathia threw a four-inning simulated game this afternoon. Assuming no unexpected setbacks, the plan is to have him come off the disabled list to rejoin the rotation on Wednesday.
Less than two weeks ago, Joe Girardi was talking about the possibility of Sabathia’s season being over. Today he was talking about revisiting a six-man rotation down the stretch.
“We weren’t sure what we were going to get when we saw the MRI,” Girardi said. “And the good thing is the MRI came back basically the same as it’s been, which allowed us to proceed forward. And he felt better and felt comfortable wearing the brace, which allowed us to move a little bit faster. So I am surprised.”
The new brace is thick, the kind of thing you often see on players who have had elbow or knee surgery. It has a joint that bends with the knee but otherwise stays thoroughly secure. Previously this season, Sabathia was wearing a tight sleeve. It was restrictive, Sabathia said, which might have been the point, but it became a problem.
“That other brace, it was just a little too restricting,” Sabathia said. “This one gives me a little more range of motion and stops right before I can hyperextend, so I feel comfortable with it (pitching) and running around getting bunts and that kind of thing. … I think the brace kind of holds my knee in one spot, not letting me get that grinding feeling, twisting and turning. I tested it as much as I could, and I let a lot of them go, so I felt pretty good.”
Sabathia faced Dustin Ackley, Rico Noel, Austin Romine, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. That’s one left-handed hitter and four righties, which might have been the point. Sabathia said his biggest test was throwing fastballs inside to right-handers. Something about that was problematic with the old sleeve, but those pitches were comfortable this afternoon.
“I don’t feel (knee pain) at all on any pitch,” Sabathia said. “Before, I felt it on a couple of pitches here and there in the bullpen, here and there playing catch. Throughout this whole last 10 days of playing catch, I haven’t felt it one time with the brace on.”
With that, the Yankees are prepared to put Sabathia right back into their rotation. If he comes back on Wednesday, he will have missed just 16 days. He will also come back just in time to give the Yankees a sixth starter exactly when they will need one in order to give the entire rotation an extra day of rest.
“Physically, we’ve had concerns all year,” Girardi said. “And we’ve kind of done this (spot starter routine) all year. Sometimes we didn’t know who was going to make the start to break it up, but if everything is OK, we know. … The whole thing is to make the knee more stable and for him to feel like he can do what he needs to do. He can let it go without having fear that something might pop up. Hopefully it works.”
• Mark Teixeira stood on his own as he spoke to reporters in the Yankees’ clubhouse this afternoon, but when he walked away, it was on crutches without weight on his bruised right leg. “There’s a progression now,” Teixeira said. “I basically went from crutches to trying to run last time. Now that we know it’s a lot worse than first expected, there’s going to be a build-up from jogging to walking to running and making sure I can do everything.”
• Confident you’ll play again this season? “One hundred percent,” Teixeira said. “There’s no permanent damage. It’s just a really bad bone bruise, worse than we first expected. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully we have two months of the season left so there’s plenty of time for me to get healthy and come back.”
• Putting Teixeira on the disabled list wipes out any chance of getting him back in the lineup before the weekend, but the Yankees knew that wasn’t going to happen anyway. By putting him on the DL, they could bring back Nick Rumbelow a little bit earlier without waiting a full 10 days since he was optioned.
• Was the original injury worse than expected, or did trying to play through it make the injury worse? “Playing on it didn’t make it worse,” Teixeira said. “It just didn’t allow it to heal. That’s kind of the thing that we always knew, that, hey, you’re not going to make it worse by playing on it, but it just didn’t have a chance to heal. That’s why I’m back on the crutches, really letting the whole thing calm down and start from scratch. … Sometimes it takes more than 24 hours to get the full picture. We kind of went with our best guess the first time. We underestimated it a little bit. That’s the way it happens sometimes.”
• Probably goes without saying, but the Yankees are not pulling anyone out of the rotation when Sabathia comes back. There’s only one more scheduled off day the rest of the season. “We’ll insert him in here to give everyone an extra day’s rest,” Girardi said.
• A lot of attention on Stephen Drew’s bat these days, but you know who else is really hot? His double play partner, Didi Gregorius. “I think that Didi has grown up a lot in these five months,” Girardi said. “Playing every day, playing against lefties, allowing his talent to come out, gaining confidence each month, refining his swing; all of that. It’s your hope when you have a young player that it’s a transition that continues to go up and that’s what we’ve seen.”
Associated Press photos
The Yankees expected to have Mark Teixeira back in the lineup on Friday. Now it’s three days later, and Teixeira is still not ready to play.
Instead of holding out more hope, the Yankees have sent Teixeira back to New York for more tests on his sore right leg. Teixeira hurt himself fouling a ball off his leg two weeks ago and has started only one game since. Joe Girardi said this afternoon that Teixeira will not play during this Boston series. Rosters will expand tomorrow, but for tonight, the Yankees will be short-handed.
“We’re not happy with where it’s at,” Girardi told reporters.
Teixeira is the Yankees’ leader in OPS (.906) and home runs (31). He ranks top three on the team in on-base percentage, walks and RBI. Greg Bird has been an encouraging young replacement, but his .255/.339/.412 slash line doesn’t have nearly the explosive power of Teixeira’s .255/.357/.548.
There’s also a matchup issue in play. Although Bird has handled both lefties and righties in his minor league career, the Yankees are a left-leaning lineup as it is, and Teixeira brought some switch-hitting balance. He has been much better against right-handers this season, but generally has been better against lefties in his career.
Without Teixeira, the Yankees don’t have a strong right-handed option at first base. Bird is a lefty (so was Garrett Jones), and now the Yankees are considering Alex Rodriguez as a first-base option for Wednesday when they face another left-handed starter.
Even when rosters expand, there’s not an experienced first baseman who hits right-handed in line for a call-up. Tyler Austin has played some first, but he’s stuck in Double-A and seems unlikely to join the team. Dustin Ackley has played some first, but he hits left-handed. Jose Pirela has a little first base experience, but he’s been there only once this season.
UPDATE, 5:33 p.m.: Brian Cashman said pregame that he would prefer to have Chase Headley at first base ahead of Rodriguez. I suppose that opens the possibility of Headley at first, Refsnyder at second and Ryan at third (or Pirela at second or third) against lefties.
Hard to make up for losing a player like Teixeira in any circumstance. Pressure might fall to the other middle-of-the-order hitters — not necessarily the replacement at first base — to pick up the offensive slack.
• From Meredith Maarakovits: CC Sabathia threw a regular bullpen today. It was his first time since going on the disabled list, and he’s expected to throw one more bullpen before facing hitters.
• Brian Cashman said pregame that the Yankees see Sabathia as a starter, not a reliever, when he comes off the disabled list.
• Girardi mentioned this weekend that he was considering the idea of Rodriguez at first base against a lefty. He’s not doing it today, but could use him at first base on Wednesday. Just my own opinion, but it might make more sense to wait until Wednesday to make that move when rosters have expanded and it’s easier to pull Rodriguez out of the game after the Red Sox go to their bullpen.
• As he’s said since Spring Training, Rodriguez told David Lennon that he’s willing to play wherever Girardi wants him to play, though Lennon notes that Rodriguez sounded “less than enthusiastic” about playing first again. Rodriguez really does seem to have grown to like the regular DH role. It’s kept him healthy so far, and he’s clearly found some success with that routine.
• Jon Heyman reported today that the Yankees put in a claim on closer Dave Robertson. That sort of thing isn’t unusual, and it’s little surprise that the White Sox pulled Robertson back without making a trade.
• Carlos Beltran is one double away from 500 for his career. His 30 doubles this season lead the Yankees and rank eighth in the American League. The only American League outfielder with more doubles is Michael Brantley, who has more than anyone at any position in the Majors this season.
Associated Press photos
The second opinion on CC Sabathia’s sore right knee was basically the same as the first. Another trip to another doctor revealed nothing Sabathia and the Yankees didn’t already know.
“It’s just arthritic,” Sabathia said. “It’s just a bad knee, like we knew. I think getting this rest will help.”
There’s no surgery planned, and Sabathia hopes that rest and rehab will get him back on the active roster as soon as he’s eligible to return from the disabled list in roughly two weeks. Of course, the specifics of Sabathia’s return are thoroughly up in the air and subject to change.
Will he be a starter? Is he better off in the bullpen at this point? Can he be reliable enough to have a spot in the postseason?
“I think we just have to see what his body can physically handle at this point what that knee can handle,” Joe Girardi said. “And then you try to make some decisions. … The thing is you hope it calms down, you rehab it, you strengthen it and you hope that he can be a player for us sometime in September. And you’re really not gonna know until you go through everything but it was better than what the alternative news could have been.”
Simply getting Sabathia off the disabled list won’t answer the bigger questions about his long-term health, durability and effectiveness. Even Sabathia himself acknowledged that for now his protocol is only designed to get him through another month (another two months all goes extremely well). At some point, though, he’ll have to tackle bigger issues.
“I think this is stuff that’s going to get me through the season,” Sabathia said. “I think what’s going to keep me pitching for years is just proper rehab and making sure that I go out and keep working and making sure everything is strong and going out and making sure my body’s good, I guess.”
It really does feel like guesswork. The Yankees know the problem, the question is what to do about it. Sabathia said that, short of simply not pitching, there’s really nothing he can do to fix the issue. The trick is figuring out how to deal with it. For now, he has no plans to continue babying the knee. When he comes back, Sabathia said, he’s going to be pitching at full force despite the obvious risk. He won’t be holding back like he was earlier in the season.
“It’s not that time for that,” Sabathia said. “That’s why I wanted to make sure I’m healthy and hopefully this rest will allow me to do that.”
For now, Sabathia said he simply wants to get back and find a way to be helpful in the short term. The long term will be an issue worth addressing in the winter. Even if he’s in the bullpen, Sabathia said, he simply wants to pitch again this season.
“Helping this team in any way I can is what I’m here to do,” he said. “If that means pitching out of the bullpen, then it is what it is. I’m not here to make that decision. That’s not (a decision) for me to make. If I’m healthy enough, I know I can start on any team. Let them make the decision.”
• After last night’s game, Mark Teixeira told Girardi to plan on having him in the lineup. It’s a good time to get him back because Dallas Keuchel is holding left-handed hitters to a .137/.167/.198 slash line this season. “We talked last night and he said, ‘Pencil me in,’” Girardi said. “And I said, ‘I’ll pencil you in.’ Saw him today, said ‘I’ll pencil you in, you go through everything and if something comes up and you feel like you need another day, take it.’ But the plans are for him to play.”
• How will the Yankees use Greg Bird now that Teixeira is back? “In Atlanta, obviously there’s pinch hit possibilities there,” Girardi said. “If you decide to give Alex a day off, maybe you DH Tex. If you give Tex a day, (Bird will play). We have a long stretch coming up. After this six, I think it’s 30 out of 31, so you’re going to have to spell the guys once in a while.”
• Dustin Ackley plans to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton on Thursday. I can’t imagine him being activated before rosters expand on September 1. Ackley said he expects his return to depend entirely on how he’s playing and feeling.
• Chase Headley’s surprisingly bad defensive season continued with his 20th error last night. “I think the last six weeks he’s played a lot better at third,” Girardi said. “I think the errors have not come at a rapid pace for him. He made a tough play yesterday and threw the ball away but I feel good about Head there. It’s just for whatever reasons he’s made a few more errors this year but he continues to work at it.”
• The Yankees have four left-handed hitters on the bench, obviously in reaction to Keuchel’s incredible success against left-handed hitters this season. Righties have a .606 OPS against the Astros’ ace, which isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than the lefties who have a .365 OPS against him. One bright spot: Keuchel hasn’t been overwhelming on the road. He has a 1.35 ERA at home this year, but a 3.65 ERA on the road.
Associated Press photos
CC Sabathia’s season might be over.
The Yankees today put Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list, and manager Joe Girardi acknowledged he’s not sure Sabathia will pitch again this year. An MRI revealed no new damage in his surgically repaired right knee, but the existing damage has obviously become a bigger problem this late in the season.
“It’s been maintenance all year long for us,” Girardi said. “We knew that going in, and we knew it could rear its ugly head. There were times where he had some shots before and was able to pitch and it didn’t seem to be an issue. But we knew it would take a lot to get him through the season, and yesterday was the first day that we had to pull him out.
“I didn’t necessarily think that we’d get to 24 starts before we had to pull him out of a game. I wasn’t sure of that going into spring training. I felt like we were pretty lucky up until yesterday.”
Sabathia said yesterday that he only recently started pitching with full force on the mound. He knew he was risking a setback, but the results when holding back simply had not be good enough. He let it go for a few starts and wound up on the disabled list.
Girardi said he was aware Sabathia had been trying to balance a need to protect his knee with a need to pitch well.
“I think it was extremely gutsy what he tried to do every fifth or sixth day,” Girardi said. “He knew if he gave everything he had, there was a better chance the knee would rear its ugly head. And if he gave a governor, he knew his stuff wasn’t quite as good as if he gave everything he had physically. So it was a balance for him that I think was difficult.”
For now, the plan is to give Sabathia rest and treatment. He won’t make the upcoming road trip to Atlanta and Boston.
“When we get back, we’ll see where he’s at,” Girardi said. “Is it possible that he doesn’t pitch the rest of the year? It’s a possibility.”
• With Sabathia on the disabled list, the Yankees will scrap their plan to have a six-man rotation going forward. Essentially, Michael Pineda will take Sabathia’s spot and the Yankees will have a five-man rotation — plus occasional spot starts — in the month of September. “If you have to be creative to give the guys an extra day, you can because you’ll have more guys in the bullpen,” Girardi said.
• Specifically, Bryan Mitchell will move into the bullpen once he’s healthy and cleared to come off the concussion disabled list. “Basically in long relief,” Girardi said. “We’ll still use him as a guy that could pitch out of the bullpen and give us a little distance.”
• Mark Teixeira took batting practice and fielded some ground balls this afternoon. He said swinging the bat felt much better today than it felt yesterday, and the ground balls were fine, but running is still a probably. Girardi said he would check with Teixeira to determine whether pinch hitting would be a possibility. Teixeira said he feels for the first time like he could pinch hit, but he obviously wouldn’t be able to do much running the bases.
• Sounds like today’s drills were encouraging for Teixeira — “Hitting was a lot better; fielding ground balls was a lot better,” he said — but that’s not the concern at this point. It’s running that continues to be a problem. “Once I can run close to normal, then I should be able to play,” he said. “… If I’m running at 50 percent, I’m no good at first base and no good at the plate, running around the bases.”
• Teixeira said doctors originally told him he’d likely need a week, and he’s now missed a week. Girardi said he fully expects Teixeira to be available by Friday when the Yankees will want a full bench for a National League series. If he’s not able to play by Friday, the Yankees will have to really consider putting him on the disabled list. “If I’m not (ready by Friday, I’m very disappointed,” Teixeira said. “I want to play tonight. I want to play every night, but it’s just not quite there yet running.”
• Chris Capuano was scheduled to start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight. Instead, he was brought back to New York to yet again serve as basically an emergency long man. What a weird year that guy’s had.
Associated Press photos
Two days before baseball’s trade deadline, a previously unattainable asset is suddenly on the table for the Yankees to consider.
Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowski told multiple reporters today that Detroit is ready to reboot. That means outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is on the market. It means closer Joakim Soria is on the market. And perhaps most tempting for the Yankees, it means David Price is on the market.
“I think he’s going to make a difference wherever he goes,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has previously vowed to keep his top prospects. He’s made it clear the Yankees are open for business and looking for upgrades, but just last week he said that a big splash — and Price would certainly qualify as a big splash — seemed unlikely, mostly because Cashman doesn’t want to surrender his top prospects, most of whom are playing in Triple-A, one step from the big leagues.
“That may very well take us out on some of the high-end stuff,” Cashman said.
Is Price enough for a change of heart?
Through most of his career, Price pitched in Tampa Bay, the small-market team that became a thorn in the Yankees’ side while Price was at the top of its rotation. He had a 3.13 ERA through six-plus seasons with the Rays, and when he was put on the trade market last season, the Yankees never had much of a chance. Trades within a division are rare, especially marquee trades involving high-end prospects and big-name veterans. The Rays instead shipped Price to Detroit with a year and a half left on his contract.
This season, Price has pitched to a 2.53 ERA and yet another All-Star Game selection. He’ll be a free agent after this season. He’s the kind of rental that could shift a playoff race. Question is, at what cost?
“Obviously when you’re a pitcher of that caliber, there’s a lot expected of you,” Girardi said. “We’ve seen it in the past. Sometimes they’ve been called hired guns, things like that. But he’s an outstanding pitcher, and an outstanding human being. It’s interesting to follow, and as we near Friday, we’re going to know in the next 48 hours if he remains a Tiger.”
• Even though he won’t be available for at least three days, Diego Moreno remains on the Yankees’ roster. When pitchers come up and provide long relief like that, we often see them shipped right back to Triple-A the next day. It seems Moreno was simply too good to send away. “It stuck out, the way he pitched,” Girardi said.
• Just a personal observation: If Moreno gets four days off, he’ll be available as a just-in-case option the next time Ivan Nova starts. It doesn’t seem the Yankees are overly concerned about Nova’s arm fatigue last time out, but Moreno could give them an alternative should Nova have any problems.
• Of course, the Yankees had to add a fresh arm somehow, and so they designated Chris Capuano for assignment. “Cappy has been a starter his whole career,” Girardi said. “And it seemed that he wasn’t getting consistent work and he was having a hard time with it. He’s such a routine guy and he’s such a professional. It was a difficult decision. Hopefully he sticks around and stays with us. We’ll have to wait and see. We just decided that we were going to go in a different direction. He’s been a starter most of his career. It just seemed hard for him.”
• It’s easy to say the Yankees should have cut ties with Capuano a long time ago, but really, he fit his role pretty well. Basically, his value was that he had no value, so the Yankees could jerk him around into different jobs and go a full month while giving him only 4.1 innings of work. They could use him or not use him, and when he was no longer useful, they could cut him with no second thoughts. Is that worth $5 million? Maybe not. But it’s not my money.
• Mark Teixeira is healthy, just not playing. “This was a planned day off,” Girardi said.
• Seems pretty clear that Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew are now in a platoon at second base. Girardi said that’s not entirely true, but it’s basically the case. Ryan might play shortstop occasionally against lefties, but for the most part, he’s going to get his time at second. Won’t Chase Headley need a day off eventually? “Right now, Head feels good,” Girardi said. “I check with our guys to see how they’re doing and if they feel they’re dragging or I feel they’re dragging, then we pay attention, but there’s been no signs by the way he’s swinging the bat or moving around the field that he needs a day, so, I haven’t given him one yet.”
• By the way, that previous Mat Latos trade seems to have stalled. Reports don’t suggest it’s been dissolved, only that it’s taking a while to finalize and might involve a third team.
Associated Press photos
After dealing with some arm fatigue last night, Ivan Nova said he plans to throw his normal bullpen and make his next scheduled start. He’s dismissing yesterday’s issues as little more than a part of the process after Tommy John surgery.
“I’m not hurt or anything like that,” Nova said. “So there isn’t any reason to think that I’m not going to pitch. I already asked some guys that went through Tommy John and they said it’s normal, that at some point you’re going to feel something like it. I’m not worried about it.”
Last night, Joe Girardi acknowledged some short-term concern about Nova’s arm, but he said that concern has diminished now that Nova’s arrived with no additional problems today.
“Probably less (concern today),” Girardi said. “He woke up today and said it was pretty much normal, how he felt was normal after his start. We still have him scheduled to pitch on Sunday. We’ll have him do his bullpen and go from there. I feel OK about it.”
Nova said he immediately reached out to Francisco Liriano, who’s become a close friend of Nova’s. He also talked to Dellin Betances and Nick Goody about the recovery process. He said the fatigue was centered around his triceps, and initially it caused some concern because he’d never experienced it.
“I was worried a little bit,” he said. “But the trainer checked on me, and I asked a couple guys and they said it was normal. There’s not any reason to be worried about it now.”
• Girardi didn’t go into detail, but he said there were conversations to make sure everything is good between Mark Teixeira and Joe Espado following last night’s vented frustration. “The one thing that we want from our players is intensity,” Girardi said. “I think Joe Espada has done a tremendous job, coaching third, coaching our infield. As a player, there are times that I made incorrect reads as a base runner. As a manager sometimes or as a player I’ve said things that I wish I’d maybe stated a little bit different. Everything’s OK. We talked about it, we move on and we learn from it. Things are good.”
• How often do things like this happen in the course of a six-month season (plus spring training, plus potential playoffs, etc.)? “They happen all the time,” Girardi said. “Sometimes people see it more than others, but things happen. You put 40 grown men in a room for 190 straight days, things happen. There’s intensity. There’s emotion. I know as a player there’s been times that I’ve said things and wish, man, I probably could have done that different. But to me it’s all about your heart, where your heart really is. Tex displays a lot of intensity every day he plays, and we understand that.”
• Diego Moreno was brought up because he can give up to 65 pitches if necessary. The Yankees figure they can get about 50 pitches apiece from Chris Capuano and Adam Warren, but if one of those guys falls flat or the game goes extras, they would be in a real bind without an extra long guy. “If we wouldn’t have used Shreve two innings and used Willie (last night), maybe you do it a little bit different,” Girardi said. “But you had to win the game yesterday.”
• Goody was optioned back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He would have been available for only 30-35 pitches, Girardi said. Pretty sure Goody is the third Yankees player to be called up but not get a in game this season (I would still be on Goody getting in a game before the end of the season). Taylor Dugas and Joel De La Cruz were also called up without actually playing.
• Healthy days off for both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.
• Because of the extreme heat, the Yankees did not take batting practice today (they hit inside, but didn’t take regular batting practice on the field). They might not take BP tomorrow either. “Save their energy,” Girardi said. “We’re what, 98 games in? I think sometimes it helps them being off their feet, especially these long stretches.”
• Girardi’s reaction to hearing news of the Troy Tulowitzki trade: “It’s not something I expected because they had Reyes. Obviously he’s another guy that’s extremely dangerous, hits the ball out of the ballpark, middle of the order hitter. But we’ll worry about ourselves. Our guys are playing well, let’s continue to play well.”
Associated Press photos
The video above is Mark Teixeira’s reaction in the dugout after being thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning last night. It was a bang-bang play, and that was the problem. Third-base coach Joe Espada told Teixeira to take it easy going home because there would be no play.
“There was no miscommunication,” Teixeira said. “Joe just told me, ‘Easy, easy,’ which means there’s going to be no play at the plate. It’s just a mistake. … I can get hurt. I’m not expecting a play at the plate. That’s a big run. There are a lot of reasons why that can’t happen.”
Espada took ownership of the decision and said he immediately took responsibility when Teixeira took his anger out by glaring down the third-base line then slamming equipment in the dugout.
“You know what, it was my call,” Espada said. “I told him to take it easy. I wasn’t expecting a throw. As a third-base coach, I just really try to make sure that some of those guys, they avoid slides and take it easy on their legs. I wasn’t expecting a throw. So it was my fault. I was responsible for that call.”
The play in question came with two outs in the eighth inning. Teixeira was at second when Chase Headley singled to center field. Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin has the most outfielder assists in the majors.
“Two outs. Two strikes. Great jump,” Espada said. “I thought he was going to score easy. … I just try to take care of those guys’ legs. They play every day, it’s hot, I’m trying to avoid a slide or something. I wasn’t expecting a throw, and he threw (him) out.”
After the out at the plate, Headley slammed his helmet to the ground.
“It was frustration,” Headley said. “I got caught up in the moment. I was watching what happened; it’s kind of unexplainable when you’re watching from first. It was just a miscommunication. I wish I hadn’t reacted that way, but I was fired up. You’re never comfortable here. I always feel like they’re in the game; they have a great lineup, it’s a good place to hit. That’s a big add-on run. A little bit of frustration in the moment, but that’s it. It’s over. No big deal.”
Teixeira said there’s no lingering issue between himself and Espada, but it was pretty jarring to see such a reaction, especially such a reaction caught by television cameras and replayed all over the internet. Joe Girardi tried to dismiss the entire thing — “Everything is OK,”he said — but Teixeira didn’t try to talk around the issue. He made it clear that he was upset, and that he was specifically upset with Espada’s instruction to go home easy.
“Joe is great,” Teixeira said. “I love Joe Espada. He apologized and it’s over with. But it’s a big mistake.”
After bouncing back from a rocky second inning and settling in for his first win in more than a month, CC Sabathia revealed a new reason for having this start pushed back three days.
Turns out, he was having his surgically repaired right knee drained of excess fluid.
“We knew that I had to get it drained,” Sabathia said. “And I had the off days coming up, so why not get these young horses out there and kind of let the old man get a couple of days off?”
Sabathia was originally supposed to pitch on Sunday, but the Yankees initially said his start was pushed back so he could work on some things in the bullpen. Sabathia said he had the knee drained after getting home from Anaheim. He said he couldn’t have pitched Sunday after the procedure. He also said this was the second time since spring training that the knee was drained.
“It was just part of our plan of what we were trying to do to stay healthy,” Sabathia said. “I got it drained between the last start and came out today and felt great.”
Ultimately, Sabathia said the extra time off and the drainage helped. He said he felt fresh, and the early problems — when every ball seemed to be a rocket — were the result of poor command and a minor adjustment. He wound up pitching pretty effectively through the middle innings.
“I think just commanding both sides of the plate (made the difference),” he said. “The changeups I was throwing earlier in the game were a little flat. Me and Larry talked about it a lot in-between innings. I just made a little adjustment and the pitch started working for us. It opened up that inside part of the plate and to get some strikes in there, get some early pop-ups, I think definitely helped us tonight. … Put this in the memory bank and kind of work off that.”
Even with the better results after those first two innings — and even though Sabathia said he still felt strong at 88 pitches — Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia in the middle of the sixth inning. There were right-handed hitters coming up, and Girardi clearly didn’t trust Sabathia to keep the A’s to just two runs much longer. Sabathia was predictably frustrated by the quick hook, but he was equally understanding.
“I haven’t proved it,” he said. “Hopefully we get later in the season and I start pitching better late in games and he’ll leave me out there.”
He felt some soreness after last night’s game. He thought it was near the top of the calf, but an MRI revealed inflammation behind the right knee. Headley expects to sit out tomorrow and hopes to play this weekend.
“I don’t anticipate it being anything too serious,” Headley said. “But might be a day or two before we can really get a handle on what it is.”
Headley said he didn’t get any sort of injection, just ice, rest and a compression wrap.
“They said it could be a Grade 1 strain (or) it could be more of a tendinitis type wear and tear, just overuse type thing,” Headley said. “So, with the pain that I feel, that’s more what I expect it to be.”
• This game belonged to Mark Teixeira. A game-tying home run. A second home run to provide a vital cushion. A snagged line drive for a pivotal double play. A leaning catch over the dugout railing. A diving play at the bag to end the eighth inning. And finally a scoop to end the game. “I enjoyed the win the most,” Teixeira said. “If you have a night like that and you lose, it doesn’t mean much. Hitting two home runs is always nice. It’s not easy to hit home runs, so getting two against a tough team is fun.”
• This was Teixeira’s 39th career multi-homer game, his 18th with the Yankees and his second of the season. “All-Star. Comeback Player of the Year. All that,” Sabathia said. “He’s been great for us. Not just the home runs, but how many runs he saves, errors he saves with his glove. It’s good to see him back and healthy and doing his thing.”
• A lot of good plays by Teixeira in this game. He said he thought diving into the bag was the best way to get the out that ended the eighth inning, mostly because he wasn’t sure he could make a safe throw to Dellin Betances covering the bag. “Because of the angle, I would have to be throwing across the runner to throw to him there,” Teixeira said. “I didn’t want to take the chance of Dellin not being able to see the ball or something; I wanted to make sure I got the out on my own.”
• Pretty good play by Teixeira to end the game as well. Gregorio Petit had made a throwing error on the previous play to put the tying run into scoring position, but Petit made a pretty tough play — with help from Teixeira — to preserve the win. “Give Greg a lot of credit,” Teixeira said. “He makes the error, then comes back and makes a really tough play. I just had to stretch a little bit for it, but it was big for us.”
• Last time a Yankees player had multiple home runs in a game was, of course, Stephen Drew. And, of course, Drew’s home run tonight proved absolutely crucial. “It’s a good feeling,” Drew said. “I’ve had good at-bats and no luck. So it’s a really good feeling. You never know how many runs you’re going to need in a game, and tonight we needed it.”
• Drew is still hitting just .179, but he has 12 home runs, the fourth-most on the team. “I mean, you look at stats and you look at how many line drives get caught and it’s pretty crazy,” Drew said. “So for me, I have to keep my head up and keep going because I’m having good ABs, So it’s very strange to say the least. … For me, I’ve swung at good pitches and put good swings on it, just no luck.”
• Andrew Miller on his return from the disabled list: “I actually felt really crisp and really good. He hit a pitch I wanted to throw, though it was clearly the wrong pitch. I feel like I executed pitches, it was just one of those days. Thankfully we got some extra tack-on runs from Stephen Drew and Tex had a great game. At the end of the day, the one thing about having the ninth inning is if you finish with a lead and win the game, it doesn’t matter.”
• Jacoby Ellsbury on his return from the disabled list: I was happy with how it went today. Definitely was pleased. Definitely will sleep good tonight knowing I got through the game. … I’m sure I’ll be a little sore tomorrow. But that’s pretty much the whole season. I don’t know why I’m so beat up, but mentally, prepared to be there tomorrow.”
• The Yankees showed a mid-game video of various player wearing bald caps and urging fans to vote for Brett Gardner for the All-Star Game. Brendan Ryan actually pretended to be Gardner in the video and was hilarious. “He did great,” Gardner said. “I didn’t see the video until out on the field during the game, so I’m not sure I caught the whole thing, but he’s a pretty good actor. He likes the camera. Definitely appreciate all the work they put in, and their standing up for me.”
• By the way, Alex Gordon left tonight’s Royals game with an injury, so Gardner could be named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement. I assume it would come down to him or Yoenis Cespedes. If Gordon can’t play, his replacement will be decided by manager Ned Yost and the league office.
• Final word to Teixeira: “That’s what the big-leagues is all about. If you play every single night, especially as a hitter, you’re going to fail more than you succeed. You can’t let one night carry into the next. You saw it with Dellin tonight, he came in and did a great job 1-2-3. I bounced back after getting pitched really tough yesterday and having a tough night personally, so that’s what you have to do.”
Associated Press photos
With Miguel Cabrera on the disabled list, have Mark Teixeira’s chances of making the All-Star team significantly improved?
The American League’s first base replacement in the starting lineup will be whoever wins the players’ vote. I’m not sure which direction the players will go, but Albert Pujols wouldn’t surprise me. Here are a few to consider, ranked in order of slugging percentage:
Albert Pujols: .265/.337/.557, 25 HR, 53 RBI
Mark Teixeira: .243/.356/.532, 20 HR, 59 RBI
Prince Fielder: .347/.413/.530, 13 HR, 50 RBI
Jose Abreu: .293/.342/.502, 14 HR, 44 RBI
Chris Davis: .237/.325/.474, 18 HR, 51 RBI
Edwin Encarnacion: .233/.325/.459, 17 HR, 50 RBI
Eric Hosmer: .287/.354/.437, 8 HR, 41 RBI
Encarnacion has basically split his season between first base and designated hitter. Pujols, Abreu and Davis have quite a few DH at-bats — and Davis has some turns in right field — but they’ve played first base the vast majority of the time.
Fielder is the one true designated hitter of this bunch, but he was listed as a first baseman on the ballot, and he could make the team simply to give the Rangers a representative (starter Yovani Gallardo and perhaps closer Shawn Tolleson are other possibilities from Texas).
The FanGraphs WAR stat has these guys ranked (in order): Pujols, Fielder, Teixeira, Hosmer, Davis, Abreu, Encarnacion.
Teixeira’s really having an excellent season, but how many first basemen are actually going to make this team? If Pujols wins the player vote and Fielder is chosen as the Rangers representative, will there be room for Teixeira? Could the league leader in RBI really miss the cut?
Associated Press photo
The Yankees are prepared to carry a six-man rotation for at least a few days.
Ivan Nova will be activated from the disabled list to start on Wednesday. Adam Warren will take his turn on Thursday, followed by the rest of the usual starters. Joe Girardi said, for now, the team prefers to carry the extra starter to give everyone an extra day of rest, but at some point — some point soon — they will cut back to a typical five-man rotation.
“The one thing that we have after this long streak is we have some off days (in early July),” Girardi said. “I wouldn’t anticipate us doing it after we get home from Anaheim.”
A six-man rotation will carry the Yankees through the end of June. On July 1, they’ll basically have to decide whether to have Warren start on an extra day or rest or to pitch Nathan Eovaldi on four days of rest. Scheduled off days mean the Yankees wouldn’t have to pitch anyone else on four days rest until the day before the All-Star break.
How the rotation adjusts in the next week or so is an issue for another day. For now, the Yankees have decided Nova is ready, so they’re taking him off the disabled list a little more than 13 month after Tommy John surgery. His last Triple-A rehab start wasn’t particularly overwhelming — 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K — but the Yankees believe that if Nova is healthy and pitching well, he can help them.
“To be honest, I wasn’t trying to show myself anything,” Nova said. “I was just getting ready. Trying to get my arm healthy and in good shape. I know exactly what I have to do when I go to the mound. Even knowing that you don’t get the results that you want, that stuff happens in the game. I was working hard, getting my arm back and in good shape.”
The Yankees have significant workload concerns throughout their rotation — Warren has basically matched his workload for the past two seasons — so adding Nova could be a boost, but there’s always a wild card element for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John. They’re physically able to pitch a year after surgery, but many say they don’t really feel 100 percent until two years after. Nova was prone to ups and downs even before the surgery, but the Yankees see him as a boost for their often worn-thin pitching staff.
“I don’t think you can ever make too much of what a Major League hitter or pitcher is doing in a minor league situation because it’s just different,” Girardi said. “We just feel that he’s ready to go. No matter how he does Wednesday, I don’t think you could say he wasn’t ready or he was ready. It’s just kind of a feel that we’re using, and we feel that it’s probably important that we inject this sixth starter in right now, in a sense, and that’s why we’re going to do it. … We know what he’s capable of doing, and he’s fairly rested in a sense, so it could mean a lot to our rotation.”
• Mark Teixeira had an MRI on his sore neck, but results weren’t available pregame. The Yankees are hoping this is only a short-term issue that will be reasonably corrected by another day off (he had one last week because of the same issue). “I don’t know if it’s ever really went away completely,” Girardi said. “It’s been going on for about 10 days now. We’ll continue to evaluate, I’m just going to give him a day today.”
• Against a right-handed pitcher, the Yankees have lefty Garrett Jones to easily step into first base. But they face a lefty — Cole Hamels — on Wednesday. “My thought is that Tex will be in there Wednesday,” Girardi said.
• Not that these things are related, but the Yankees minor league affiliates have officially announced that Aaron Judge has been promoted to Triple-A.
• Closer Andrew Miller expects to play catch on Wednesday. That’s just the start of a long-toss program, so he would still be several days away from throwing a bullpen, which would leave him even more days away from coming off the disabled list. As a reliever, though, his arm-strength-building process should be much quicker than it was with Masahiro Tanaka.
• Not much of an update on Jacoby Ellsbury: “He’s going to run the bases again, he’s going to take normal BP with us and go through normal BP,” Girardi said. No word on when he’ll take his next step.
• The Yankees have their go-to guys for the late innings — Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve — and they have Chris Capuano as their long man, then they have three relatively unproven right-handers in Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow and Diego Moreno. Rumbelow and Moreno were just called up today. “Pinder’s the most experienced of my (new) right-handers,” Girardi said. “And it’s just trying to get a feel for the other two as quick as I can. You’d like to put them in a situation where it’s not necessarily high-leverage right away, but sometimes you’re not afforded that.”
• With Danny Burawa and Jose De Paula each making their Major League debuts on Sunday, the Yankees have now used 20 pitchers in June, their most pitchers ever in a calendar month (excluding September). Could climb past that very soon with Rumbelow and Moreno. “Because of some of our concerns about the length that we get, we kind of rotate people in and out here a lot,” Girardi said. “And it doesn’t mean we don’t believe in them; we’re doing it to protect the arms of everyone.”
Associated Press photos