Yankees pregame: All about the drugs • 06.05.13
Most of the questions at Joe Girardi’s press conference were about the latest PED scandal that is rocking baseball, especially since Alex Rodriguez is caught up in it.
Girardi said he hasn’t spoken to A-Rod today.
“When I talk to him, it will strictly be baseball stuff and rehab stuff like it always has been,” Girardi said.
“My concern is about the game and the game being clean and the game just being good. I had hoped that we were through it, but obviously maybe we’re not. We’re going to find out. But we’ll let MLB handle it.”
Girardi was asked how the team will be affected if A-Rod is suspended for 100 games, which is the plan, according to ESPN.
“We’ll cross that bridge,” Girardi said. “This is in MLB’s hands. For me to speculate doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Girardi was asked how he’s dealing with the issue in regard to the Yankees involved, including Francisco Cervelli.
“Being in New York, you’re always going to have things that come up,” Girardi said. “Some of it is going to be speculation, some of it’s not. You deal with it. You deal with it as time goes on and make sure that players focus on the field. I think our guys are really good at doing that. There are a lot of expectations that players have to deal with here. There’s a lot of different things that players have to deal with on a daily basis to play the game, and I think guys are really good at handling that.
“I’m always concerned about my players. And I’m concerned about guys on other teams, too, how they handle situations and how they deal with it, how it affects maybe a rehab. But my focus on them is doing whatever I have to to help them get ready. You try to put them in a good place. Right now, it’s in Tampa for Alex to get ready. Hopefully that will build up to games. But that’s my focus. My focus is not on what MLB is investigating and all of that. And I don’t want to get caught up in that just because, in a sense, they’re going to handle it. I’ll let them handle it. I’ll continue to assist our players in getting ready any way they can. But he’s in Tampa getting ready and that’s what we want him to do.
“I think the game is always bigger than one individual, 10 individuals, a hundred individuals, a thousand individuals. This game has gone on for a long period of time. I think the important thing is you try to learn from everything that happens in the game, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. You try to learn. That’s how I try to get by it and through it and however you want to talk about it.
“This is a great game and I love this game and I want what’s best for this game,” Girardi added. “I think baseball is trying to do that as well. Unfortunately there are some things that you go through in all sports that sometimes is not what’s best for the sport. But you’re going to get through it. … This game has a long history and it’s a great game and it will continue to be a great game.”
Lyle Overbay is in right for the third straight game and Ichiro Suzuki is sitting at the start. Girardi said it’s partly about giving “our guys a day off in a long stretch. We’re going at it night game after day game, long day yesterday. So it’s just a good way to give Ich a little break and he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”
Mark Teixeira has driven in seven runs with two homers in the last two games.
“Tex is a great RBI guy and that’s what he’s doing,” Girardi said.
Yankees postgame: Tex takes a step • 06.04.13
But after going 1 for 9 with a walk and seven strikeouts in his first three games back after returning from the March wrist injury, Teixeira finally made an impact, sending a grand slam over the right-field fence in the third. It gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead that Andy Pettitte lost, but they recovered nicely in this 7-4 win over the Indians.
“We needed this win,” Teixeira said. “We’ve had a rough enough streak the last week and a half, two weeks as it is. That grand slam was good for me and good for the team.”
Joe Girardi thinks it’s going to “take Tex some time to catch up.” He also said: “Tex is an RBI machine and we need that.”
Teixeira said his wrist is holding up well so far, but he also doesn’t think getting up to speed is an instantaneous process. He finished 1 for 3 with a walk.
“I know it’s going to take me a few weeks to get back in the rhythm of playing every day and seeing big-league pitching every day,” Teixeira said. “But this is a good first step.”
Andy Pettitte felt like he ran out of gas in his first game back after the trapezius problem. He lasted just 4 2/3, giving up three runs in that fifth and four total. He said he doesn’t plan to cut back on his between-starts routine, thinking he needs that much throwing in order to be strong enough to have success. He usually has two bullpen sessions between outings.
Lyle Overbay, meanwhile, says he’s up for more action in right. He ran in to catch the one chance he had.
“I survived,” he said. “I felt relaxed.”
Photo by The Associated Press
Ivan Nova really hasn’t had too many good moments since the first half of last season, but the 26-year-old righty was one of the bright lights on an otherwise dark night for the home team at Yankee Stadium Wednesday.
He was working in the long-lost game against the Mets, entering for the fifth with the Yankees trailing 8-1. He allowed just one run and five hits with six strikeouts and only one walk across the final five innings of the 9-4 loss.
“I was throwing a lot of strikes and I was aggressive,” Nova said. “It’s a good one.”
In the eighth, he struck out the side, getting Ike Davis, Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada swinging.
“The curveball was really good,” Nova said. “Once I get ahead, I go with my curveball. That’s my strikeout pitch.”
Nova knows he has to prove that he’s worthy of being put back in the rotation after posting a 6.48 ERA over four starts and then spending April 27 through May 23 on the DL with triceps inflammation and a back problem. He pitched into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th inning and earned the win last Saturday at Tampa Bay in his first relief outing after returning. This second outing brought his ERA down from 6.11 to 5.16.
“I’m really excited about the way I’m pitching,” Nova said. “The way I pitched today, I’m pretty happy with myself.”
It would certainly be a boost for the Yankees if he can pitch like this consistently and regain the form when he went 16-4 as a rookie in 2011 or 10-3 in the first half last year.
Also, here’s the link to my story on last night’s game. The Yankees have scored just nine runs in the four-game losing streak. Here are updates on Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson. And I spoke with Lyle Overbay and he’s loving his time here and wants to stay no matter what the role after Teixeira’s return.
Photo by The Associated Press
Yankees pregame: injuries and the roster • 05.29.13
Of course, the Yankees’ pregame chatter had much to do about injuries. Both Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis played seven innings in the field and both went 0 for 2 with a walk in their first rehab game with Trenton today. Barring anything hurting after tomorrow’s rehab game, both are expected back for the start of the Red Sox series here Friday night.
Joe Girardi isn’t exactly sweating over messing up the chemistry. He called that talk “kind of strange.” Just bring back those bats, so he can balance out the lineup, especially vs. lefties.
“We’re so left-handed dominant,” Girardi said. “We’re running up six lefties in a row tonight, seven out of nine. (Their return) changes our lineup a little bit, makes it harder to navigate through. But it’s also experience and a lot of production that we’re bringing back.”
Curtis Granderson had a pin placed in his broken knuckle today.
“The surgery does not change (anything),” Girardi said. “It’s basically four weeks of inactivity and then you go from there. You can’t expect him to go four weeks of inactivity and be in a game the next day. So the healing process, the time doesn’t change. They just decided it was better to put a pin in there. Four weeks, he’ll start doing rehab.”
Girardi confirmed Andy Pettitte is expected back early next week if his trapezius is feeling OK, and he talked about cutting back from 13 to 12 pitchers. The Yankees will probably need two roster spots Friday and then one for Pettitte. So Vidal Nuno, who will start for Pettitte tomorrow night, figures to be one of the guys going to make room for Teixeira or Youkilis.
I spoke with Lyle Overbay when the clubhouse opened and he’s hoping to stay, even in a reserve role. And he should stay considering he’s second on the team in RBI with 29, nine of them driving in the go-ahead run. So it could come down to David Adams vs. Reid Brignac Friday. Your thoughts? And Nova for when Pettitte comes back? Hard to send down Preston Claiborne or Adam Warren with how they’ve pitched. We’ll see.
Also, Derek Jeter is on the field playing catch.
The newest new guy is here. Joe Girardi has Reid Brignac in his lineup (although it’s raining right now at 11:30). He’s down to play short and bat eighth. He arrived in town last night after being acquired Saturday from the Rockies, who had designated him for assignment after he batted .250 with a homer and six RBI in 29 games. Brignac said he was a little disappointed and upset when the Rockies dumped him and excited when the Yankees picked him up.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” Brignac said.
Brignac is 27 and he knows this division rather well, having been with the Rays for all or parts of the last five seasons, primarily parts. He gives the Yankees a lefty-hitting option at short. He can also play third, second and the outfield.
“Just to be a very good shortstop out there when he plays and to add offensively,” Girardi said of his expectations. “I’ve seen him have some big days. I’ve seen him have some good years. I think there’s some good talent there. So we’re going to see what he can do.
“I think he’s a really good defender. I think he’s got a little pop in his bat. This ballpark might play well for that.”
Chris Stewart is available in an absolutely-need-you situation after tweaking his groin rounding third on Thursday night, but he still won’t be starting behind the plate for at least a few days.
“I have told him that tomorrow maybe we’ll start some tee and toss and see where he’s at in that situation, moving around,” Girardi said. “He’s still a guy who I would not hesitate to put in there if I had to, but I figured if you can get one more day in a sense, where it gives you almost 36 hours, let’s take it, take advantage of it. I don’t know if he would play Tuesday, but I want to know that he’s better so we could make a decision. He does feel better; he told me.”
Girardi said Kevin Youkilis is making progress in rehab from his back problem, hitting off a tee and against soft tosses and taking grounders. Girardi also said the news on Mark Teixeira’s comeback from his wrist problem is good.
“He’s been taking BP,” Girardi said. “He’s doing actually really well. We’re encouraged by what he’s doing. There has to be probably a next step here pretty quick where he starts to see some live BP or some simulated games.”
Yankees pregame: Grandy off center? • 05.05.13
The Yankees had seemed to have passed on moving Curtis Granderson from center to left after he broke his right forearm in his first at-bat of his first exhibition game and missed spring training. But Joe Girardi today opened up the possibility again that Granderson may not be in center when he returns, that Brett Gardner may stay there.
“We’ll decide that as time goes on,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about Grandy; we just want to get him healthy. People have asked me a lot about, ‘When Grandy comes back, what are you going to do with your outfield if you have three guys who are playing pretty well?’ I said, ‘Well, Grandy is going to play. He’s a big part of our offense.’ But as we’ve seen around here, a lot can happen in a couple of weeks.”
Later, Girardi added, ‘We might toy around with some other things (for Granderson), left, right, other things. He’s getting reps everywhere right now.”
But that isn’t happening with Gardner next to him.
“That’s not my concern,” Girardi said. “My concern is how he reacts in all the different spots.”
Granderson has been playing extended spring games. And, of course, he had to get hit by a pitch Saturday in the arm. But this was in the triceps, according to Girardi.
“From what I understand, he’s OK. He’s kind of picking up where he left off,” Girardi said about him getting hit again.
The minor-league complex in Tampa will be packed with rehabbing major leaguers with several others set to join Granderson, including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
“I know there’s a lot of big people there,” Girardi said. “I understand that. But that’s not going to be the focus of my day. The focus of my day is the people in this room right now and winning the game.”
David Robertson played catch for the second straight day. He plans to test that lower left hamstring again Tuesday prior to the game in Colorado, throwing on flat ground and then throwing a few pitches off a mound if that goes well. He said he just has a little tightness now.
“I don’t see why I can’t be ready,” Robertson said.
Andy Pettitte struggled without his signature cutter in his last start, against the Astros. Girardi doesn’t expect that to be a problem today, against the A’s.
“I’ll be completely shocked if it’s not there today,” Girardi said.
Mark Teixeira has been cleared to swing a bat today, albeit not with a ball coming toward him. He plans to take about 20 swings from both sides of the plate. It’s a step. He had swung underwater in a mini-pool here at Yankee Stadium yesterday.
There are several boxes that need to be checked off in this comeback from the partial tendon sheath tear in his right wrist.
“So it’s dry swinging today,” Teixeira said. “And then the next box would be tee. The next box is soft toss. Then it’s indoor batting practice. Then it’s outdoor batting practice. And then after that, you can do outdoor batting practice for a few days, where you go from like 20 swings to 30 to 40. So that’s the natural progression.
“But as long as there’s no issues, I’ll be able to make those next steps. If there’s soreness, I’ll take a step back. That’s where that eight to 10 (weeks) comes in. There’s two weeks wiggle room. I want to be back as soon as possible. But I have to be smart about it.”
Teixeira plans to travel with the team to Toronto after this Arizona series and then on to Tampa for the next one, which begins Monday night. The plan is for him to stay in Tampa and continue the progression if things continue to go well.
Teixeira has been hoping to return the first week of May. He admits there’s a little less pressure on him to try to speed up the process with the team playing well these days.
“If we were 2-10 right now, I think everybody would be saying, ‘Hey, Tex, when are you back? When are you back? When are you back?’ ” he said. “But all of us have stepped up and have done a great job. You look at what the team is doing right now, I can’t be more proud of how we’ve played. So it’s going to allow me to heal, which is what I need to do.”
Andy Pettitte is healing, too. In fact, he seems healed after those back spasms led to him being pushed back twice. The 40-year-old lefty threw a bullpen for the second straight day, this one shorter than yesterday’s. He pronounced his back good to go for the start Friday night in Toronto.
“Everything was good last night,” Pettitte said. “I felt so good, I threw another one today. So we’re ready for Friday.”
Yankees postgame: Seeing triple • 04.12.13
The postgame buzz mostly revolved around the 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play that the Yankees turned in the eighth to help preserve their 5-2 victory over the Orioles.
“You’re not going to see things like that happen in a crucial moment,” Joe Girardi said.
Let’s recap: The Orioles started the inning against CC Sabathia with singles by Alexi Casilla and Nick Markakis, bringing up the potential tying run. Then Manny Machado grounded to Robinson Cano, who threw to Jayson Nix for the force on Markakis at second.
Next came the key moment. Instead of throwing on to first for the double ball, Nix fired to Kevin Youkilis at third.
“It’s better to have the lead runner out,” Nix said.
Casilla was tagged out by Youkilis in a rundown. Then Youkilis threw to Lyle Overbay at first with Machado straying.
“I knew right away we’ve got a triple play,” Youkilis said.
Overbay fired to Cano at second for the tag on Machado. That makes three. The Yankees couldn’t contain their glee, especially Youkilis.
“When stuff like that happens, you feel like you’re back playing Little League again,” Youkilis said.
It was the Yankees’ second triple play since 1969 and first in the Bronx since 1968. They had one three years ago in Oakland, also helping Sabathia out of a jam.
“Any time you get a triple play, you’re fired up,” Sabathia said.
There was another key moment, though. How often are you going to see Adam Jones drop a fly ball? Not too often.
“He’s one of the best center fielders in the game,” Sabathia said.
But he dropped Vernon Wells’ drive to the track with the bases packed and two outs in the seventh. The 2-2 game became a 5-2 game on the error.
“The chances of that happening are slim, slim, slim, but we caught a break,” Girardi said.
“I don’t dwell at all on Adam’s play because he’s spoiled us with such a high level of play in center field,” Buck Showalter said. “That’s why it gets everybody’s attention. He’s special. I’m real glad he’s on our side.”
The Yankees were glad to have Sabathia on their side again — eight innings, two runs, eight hits, nine Ks, no walks.
“I thought he was brilliant,” Girardi said.
Sabathia, in his second straight strong start, threw 102 pitches, only 28 of them balls.
“I know his velocity isn’t what it used to be, 95, but I tell you, he’s really using his changeup and slider to get guys out,” Kevin Youkilis said.
Mark Teixeira had his wrist examined by Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser. It was expected that Teixeira would be cleared to start swinging a fungo bat. He was not.
“He wants me to get a little stronger before I swing,” Teixeira said. “All good news. I’m just not swinging yet.”
Teixeira doesn’t think this changes the timetable for his return too much. He still hopes to be back the first week of May.
Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day after suffering a bruised right wrist when he was drilled by Miguel Gonzalez in the second.
Brian Heyman here joining the season in progress.
So Robinson Cano is batting second in the series finale against the Red Sox, after Brett Gardner and before Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner.
“Just to try to break up some of the left-handers we have,” Joe Girardi said. “We decided to take a look at this … just to try to make it not so easy on the other teams.”
Cano has seen the Red Sox play a shift. Girardi said it’s the first time he has seen it against him.
“Robby’s a guy who can hit the ball the other way,” Girardi said. “We’ll how it works it out.”
Hiroki Kuroda said he wouldn’t do any long-tossing today to test that bruised right middle finger, the one that got hit by the Shane Victorino line drive Tuesday night.
“I spoke to the trainer,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “He suggested I shouldn’t throw today so I can try to throw my bullpen tomorrow.”
Girardi said Kuroda is still scheduled to make his next start, and that’s Kuroda’s intent. But he also said he won’t know until after that bullpen session in Detroit.
“I have to say it doesn’t feel normal,” Kuroda said. “I feel a little discomfort.”
Mark Teixeira is still shooting for a May 1 return.
“I hope it’s a possibility,” Girardi said. “He’ll have to go through some spring training. … I don’t want to rush him.”
Tuesday night, Vernon Wells hit a three-run homer and had his first three-hit game since last Aug. 11 when he was with the Angels.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” Girardi said. “In left field, he looks comfortable. He looks like he’s relishing his time here.”
It’s only the third game, but Girardi thinks this is an important game after the Yankees dropped the first two of the season.
“I don’t think anyone wants it to go too far,” Girardi said.
David Aardsma was released. The reliever had been designated for assignment last Friday.
Tuesday notes: Another opportunity for Nunez • 02.19.13
It’s going to be a while before Derek Jeter is ready to play in games, and that means playing time for someone else. Most notably, it means playing time for Eduardo Nunez.
“I can’t kill him,” Joe Girardi said. “I can’t play him nine innings every day, but he’s going to play a substantial amount.”
Nunez and Jeter went through shortstop drills together again today, and the Yankees plan to keep Nunez at short this spring, and there’s little doubt that the Yankees idea of letting Jeter DH against lefties in the regular season leaves a legitimate opportunity for Nunez to get big league playing time again.
“I want Jeter to be healthy again and play how he plays,” Nunez said. “But for now, it’s my opportunity to show I can play every day and show I can play defense. I can do different things than people think I can do. … I feel great right now. My confidence is (high). I know what I can do. I know what kind of player I can be, and that I can be right now.”
Girardi said the Yankees will look for consistency out of Nunez, and that should come as little surprise. Nunez has shown flashes of being a valuable big leaguer — most recently, he played well during his short time playing in Jeter’s place during the ALCS — but his defensive lapses are well documented.
“He has to earn it,” Girardi said. “We’ve got to toy with some different options, but we liked what he did at the end of last year. We know he provides a lot of excitement. Our plans are probably to keep him at short for the most part — we did talk about that — but he does have to earn it.”
Girardi said there’s a chance the Yankees could carry both Nunez and Jayson Nix, but it would leave the Yankees without a left-handed pinch hitter, which they’d like to have. Ultimately, Girardi repeated his familiar promise to carry the best players to make up the best team. Nunez will have a chance to put himself in that group.
“Jeter’s a Gold Glove,” Nunez said. “Cano’s a Gold Glove. (So are) Teixeira and A-Rod. You don’t see too many errors from these guys. When they come to me, I make an error, it’s a big thing. … It was a little bit in my mind, frustration for that, but I thank Jeter, thank A-Rod (and) thank Cano. They talked to me a lot and teach me how to fix that.”
• Here’s Girardi explaining the Phil Hughes injury: “It’s upper back, up here by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple of days. The good thing is he was ahead of where he probably would normally be at this time, which helps. … You’re usually more concerned about the lower lingering. But until it’s gone, it’s going to linger. That’s like a Yogi-ism.”
• Despite being ahead of most of the other big league pitchers, Hughes was not in consideration to start Saturday’s spring opener even before the injury.
• Austin Romine said he’s more or less stopped thinking about his back. He doesn’t really notice it any more. Bascially a week into spring training and Romine’s had no problems so far. He’s very optimistic that he’s gotten past the problem.
• Haven’t heard much about Michael Pineda lately. He said today that his shoulder still feels good, but he’s not scheduled for another bullpen until Friday.
• David Phelps gets the opening start on Saturday, and although Girardi didn’t talk about it today, he’s always made it clear in the past that early spring outings don’t carry a lot of weight. I can’t imagine Phelps is going to feel that way. This is what he said earlier in camp: “I pushed myself a little more in the offseason so my arm is ready a little quicker during spring training because I’m trying to make an impression.”
• Speaking of making an impression, I didn’t see it, but there was some buzz today about Ichiro Suzuki’s behind-the-back catch during outfield drills. I asked Brett Gardner to describe it and Gardner started laughing. “That’s my fault,” he said. “I told him to do it.” Gardner said that Ichiro has a variety of behind-the-back catches that he’ll do every once in while when the team is shagging fly balls. Gardner wanted to see a few today, and Ichiro was up to the task. Girardi said he didn’t see Ichiro do it today, but “I’ve seen him do it before,” Girardi said.
• Mark Teixeira’s last day in Yankees camp is March 2. Robinson Cano’s last day is March 3. After that, those two will join their World Baseball Classic teams to prepare for the tournament.
• Random conversation of the day was with new outfielder Thomas Neal. If a handshake is any indication of a man’s strength, Neal just might be a 40-homer guy. I’m not sure how he uses a cell phone without crushing it. Seriously, Neal said he got some interest from the Yankees pretty soon after being designated for assignment, but he took some time making his decision on where to sign. He decided the Yankees were the best fit, with the potential for a real opportunity.
• Matt Diaz tried to convince me to write a story about his son’s tee-ball team. Seriously. He thinks that group has a real shot this year.
Associated Press photos