Brian Heyman here for Chad today. Mark Teixeira isn’t in the starting lineup. He missed two games after injuring his left wrist July 29 when Boston was here last time and then aggravated it with a dive the next game against the Orioles. It was sore and inflamed then, and it’s sore and inflamed again.
“It’s something he’s been battling since he hurt it the first time,” Girardi said. “It got to the point where we’re going to have to give him some time off again. I don’t think that it’s a long-term problem, but we’ve just got to get through this. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more than a day.
“I’ve been managing it. There’s a lot of things that go on in there that people don’t always know.”
Teixeira didn’t rule out another cortisone shot down the road if it doesn’t improve. He had one the first time.
“The wrist is a little sore, same thing I had two weeks ago,” he said. “We’ve played 14 days straight. So it’s gotten sore the last few days. We just want to give it a day or two to calm down a little bit.”
The object of the alleged mutiny the last time the Red Sox were in town met the media. Manager Bobby Valentine didn’t delve into specifics about the Yahoo! Sports report earlier this week that many of his players had a meeting with management to complain about him and that some didn’t want to play for him anymore.
“It’s been a real challenging year, a lot of things going on,” Valentine said. “I don’t know if it’s been more than I expected, but it’s been challenging.
“Just the way we like it,” he added with a smile.
Valentine took some blame upon himself for 58-61 record, saying he was very disappointed with the bottom line. And he took an indirect swing at the starting pitching, which has mostly underperformed.
“I don’t think any one thing explains the record or where we are, other than I haven’t managed some situations as well as they should’ve been managed,” Valentine said. “When you talk about the pitching, the only thing the pitching has kind of stressed us on is that we’ve played an abnormal amount of games where we’ve been behind early. That might not statistically be true. It seems it. I think it stressed the offense. Our offense has been challenged at times, and when it’s challenged and stressed, it’s been less fun that normally.”
David Phelps fills in again for CC Sabathia tomorrow in Game 2 of the series. Girardi thinks he can go 90-95 pitches after going 78 in the last start.
The Yankees got lucky. A dropped line drive was very nearly a triple play, but a routine throw sailed into right field, and instead the inning coming to abrupt end, it was just getting started. Down by one run in the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs and the heart of the order coming to the plate.
From that moment, the Yankees seemed unable to take advantage of anything.
They twice had the bases loaded with less than two outs and couldn’t get the ball out of the infield. Dave Robertson had Jose Bautista picked off between first and second and made the first error of his career. Three other relievers pitched three scoreless innings, but the Yankees stranded runner after runner, including a pair of leadoff walks.
“You can’t say we didn’t have our chances,” Nick Swisher said. “Because we had a lot of them tonight.”
The at-bats that truly hurt were the four with the bases loaded. Aside from Derek Jeter, who struck out on a pitch out of the zone — “I chased a bad pitch,” he said — the other three bases-loaded attempts were decided on one pitch.
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez had their chances after that fifth-inning error. Both swung at fastballs inside. Teixeira popped his up. Rodriguez rolled his into a double play.
“He just threw a good inside fastball,” Teixeira said. “I didn’t get the head out… Just a bad at-bat.”
Swisher’s chance came immediately after Jeter’s strikeout. An error and two walks had loaded the bases, and Swisher went to the plate looking for a fastball. He got one, and he sent a routine grounder to first.
“It had more sink than I expected,” he said. “Just rolled it over.”
Here’s Robertson speaking after the game.
And here’s Joe Girardi.
• Another big game from Robinson Cano who was 2-for-3 with two walks and two home runs. It was his seventh career multi-homer game, and his first since one year ago to the day (April 29, 2010 in Baltimore).
• Robertson said his mistake was a simple matter of not setting his feet. He was thinking about Rajai Davis at third base and tried to turn quickly to throw to second. “That split second where I didn’t turn to set my feet, then I threw it into center field, it cost us some runs,” Robertson said. “… I screwed up tonight. There’s no one else to blame except me.”
• The two runs charged to Robertson were his first runs of the season.
• Scary moment in the third inning when Teixeira hit a sure single up the middle, only to see Ricky Romero catch it before it hit Romero in the head. “I’m glad I didn’t (get a hit), really,” Teixeira said. “I’m glad he caught it. If he doesn’t get his glove up there, it might have been ugly.”
• Freddy Garcia said he didn’t have a good feel for the ball tonight. “I just couldn’t throw a strike,” he said. This was easily his worst start of the year — five walks, 12 base runners in five innings — but he really did a nice job limiting the damage. Two home runs drove in the only runs on his watch.
• Garcia left frustrated with himself, but he also left feeling what many Yankees fans must have felt. “With this lineup I know we’re going to score some runs,” he said. “It didn’t happen today, but it’s part of the game.”
• Teixeira said his shoulder wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough. “I still felt it a little bit,” he said. “But it didn’t keep me from swinging, so that’s a really good sign.”
• Alex Rodriguez has had three hits and six strikeouts in the past five games, but Girardi seemed surprised to hear a question about his clean-up hitter struggling the past few days. “It’s what you go through as a hitter,” he said. Girardi said he doesn’t believe there’s any lingering impact from the oblique injury.
• Eleven men left on base was a season-high for the Yankees.
• The Yankees announced tonight that they’ve donated $500,000 to the tornado relief in the southern United States. Of the total, $250,000 will go to the Salvation Army and $250,000 to the Red Cross.
Associated Press photos
Spring decision: Opening Day roster • 02.13.11
It’s one thing to list the Yankees decisions heading into spring training. It’s another to predict which decisions might present themselves in the next month and a half. Someone could be injured. Someone could become available on the trade market. Someone could emerge as a surprising candidate who forces new decisions and hard choices.
We go into spring training with expectations. And we accept that unexpected situations might change everything.
Ultimately, the Yankees most significant task this spring is to prepare itself for the regular season. That means keeping players healthy, getting everyone in game shape and putting together an Opening Day roster.
One day before camp opens, here’s my guess at the 25 players who will break camp heading for New York.
No surprises among the names listed. The most significant lineup decision is whether to keep Jeter in the leadoff spot, and I’ll guess that The Captain will show enough in spring training to earn the benefit of the doubt and the chance to prove last season was a fluke. Not certain it will stay this way — a leadoff platoon between Jeter and Gardner wouldn’t surprise me — but I think the Yankees will open this way.
Francisco Cervelli C
Andruw Jones OF
Eric Chavez 3B/1B
Ramiro Pena SS/2B
If he shows anything in camp, I think Chavez — because he’s a left-handed hitter and because he’s insurance at third base — will be given a chance to open the season with the team. It could be a Morgan Ensberg situation that doesn’t last, but a healthy and productive Chavez fits very well on this roster.
If Chavez is backing up at third base, the Yankees might as well carry the defensive-minded Pena instead of the prospect Eduardo Nunez to get very occasional starts at shortstop. My guess is that player development will be a determining factor in the backup catcher competition. The Yankees will prefer to have Jesus Montero and Austin Romine playing everyday in the minors rather than coming off the bench in New York.
I really wanted to shake up the system here and predict either Hector Noesi making the rotation or the Yankees pulling off a late-spring trade for a fourth starter.
In the end, I decided to go with conventional thinking. I do think Noesi could make a serious run at a rotation spot, and I don’t think a trade is out of the question, but these five are the most logical choices given the current situation. At best, I’m 20 percent confident that this will actually be the Yankees rotation on March 30.
– Romulo Sanchez —
Assuming they’re all healthy, I can’t think of a logical reason any of the first seven pitchers listed would be left out of the Opening Day bullpen. The top six are natural choices, and Mitre is the best fit as the long man (assuming the rotation that I’ve predicted). But I also think a nagging injury could present itself, and given this bullpen depth, the Yankees could convince themselves to be extra cautious. No sense risking anything when there are this many good arms ready to fill a short-term void. That’s why I think Sanchez might sneak into the Opening Day mix if any of the above is even slightly less than 100 percent.
Associated Press photos
Late last season, A.J. Burnett got on a bit of a roll with Jose Molina as his personal catcher, and so Joe Girardi kept the pair together in the playoffs. This season, Girardi has kept Burnett paired with Francisco Cervelli, but those two have not found the same sort of sustained consistency.
This afternoon, Girardi said he’s considering using Jorge Posada to catch Burnett in the playoffs. It’s under such heavy consideration, Girardi planned to have Posada catch tonight’s game before last night became such a grind.
“In the back of my mind, before we went through last night, I was probably going to start him tonight,” Girardi said. “But with the long game, getting in at 3:30 in the morning or 4 o’clock, I just felt that it was probably in our best interest not to. Originally I had plans to start him.”
Posada said he actually expected to start tonight. He had talked to the coaching staff about the possibility and was hoping to be in the lineup. He wants to catch Burnett in the postseason, but he also seemed to respect the idea of sticking with a hot hand.
“If he has a good game today with Cervelli, you have to respect that move,” Posada said.
Girardi more-or-less said Burnett will have one more start this weekend in Boston. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that Posada will catch that game. Girardi said he would want Posada to catch Burnett in the regular season before pairing them in the playoffs.
“I think that would be important for us to do that,” he said. “That’s something I was looking forward to doing, but the way we played last night, it didn’t make a lot of sense.”
• Mariano Rivera and Dave Eiland went to work this afternoon to correct a slight mechanical problem that the Yankees believe is causing some command problems. “He’s on the side of the ball a little bit, so it’s not a huge deal,” Girardi said. “They’ll get it figured out quick.”
• Girardi said Eiland noticed the mechanical issue while studying film. Rivera said he’s physically fine, just hasn’t gotten the results lately.
• Right now, CC Sabathia is still scheduled to start tomorrow. Will that change if the Yankees clinch tonight? “That’s something we’ll have to discuss,” Girardi said. “I hope we have to make that decision.”
• Girardi wouldn’t say whether Phil Hughes will pitch again in the regular season. “We’ll evaluate that again when we need to,” he said.
• Brett Gardner has been sitting quite a bit against lefties lately, and Girardi said that’s all to do with Curtis Granderson being hot. He wants to start Austin Kearns, and Granderson has been to hot to take out of the lineup, so Gardner has been the odd man out.
• Interesting note about Mark Teixeira, who’s started to hit a little bit in the past week or so. “I think he’s got that whip back (in his wrist),” Girardi said. He had talked about that he didn’t have quite that snap that he needed.” That’s obviously because of the bone bruise in his hand. As that’s healed a little bit, Teixeira has bounced back.
• Celebration if the Yankees clinch a playoff spot but not the division? “The division is very important to us and home-field advantage is very important to us,” Girardi said. “I left it up to the players, and if they want to celebrate, I respect that. However they want to do it, they worked very hard this year, and they should do what they want.”
UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.:Well, there were no more panic emails waiting for me today, instead only a series of “You screwed up the rotation!” emails. Hard to argue with any of those.
Obviously I goofed and typed A.J. Burnett when I meant Andy Pettitte for Wednesday’s series finale here in Toronto. I obviously haven’t had much of a chance to change it until now, but I’ll make the fix. Sorry for any confusion. If the Yankees were going with Burnett on one-day’s rest, I assure you I would at least give that news it’s own headline.
Anyway, here’s the Blue Jays lineup.
Travis Snider LF
Yunel Escobar SS
A.J. Burnett RF
Vernon Wells CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Andy Pettitte C
Adam Lind DH
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
John McDonald 2B
Associated Press photos of Posada and Rivera
Pregame notes: Planning for the next four • 09.19.10
Joe Girardi created today’s lineup with an eye toward next week. The Yankees come home to a four-game series against the Rays, and then a three-game set against the Red Sox. Girardi did not want to play Alex Rodriguez 13 days in a row, and he wanted to give Mark Teixeira as much of a break as possible. Today, he said, seemed like the best day to give them a break, even though it meant losing two big bats at once.
“You have to be able to separate each guy,” Girardi said. “If you get caught up in not being able to separate each guy, that’s how you can get into trouble. You look at each case individually. Sometimes you have to do it. It’s hard, but as I said all along, you have to be smart about this and make sure these guys are healthy.”
Teixeira has been hurt for a long time now, and Girardi said it’s actually the bruised hand more than the broken toe that worries him.
“I’m hoping to not have to miss any more,” Teixeira said. “I think that’s why we’re giving it today.”
Rodriguez came off the disabled list exactly two weeks ago. You could argue that Rodriguez is hitting really well, which means Girardi is being too cautious. Or you could argue Rodriguez is hitting really well, which means Girardi’s plan is working.
“My thought process is we need him to be healthy, so we have to be smart about it,” Girardi said. “It’s hard to sit him because you want to see him out there every day, but right now that’s not something we can do, and we understand that. The big thing is that we keep him productive when he’s in there, and healthy.”
• Nick Swisher has another game at DH. “We’ll shoot for getting him in the outfield some time this week,” Girardi said.
• Andy Pettitte is scheduled for 80 to 85 pitches. “If we can get six innings out of him I would be thrilled,” Girardi said.
• With Pettitte back, the Yankees seem to have their five-man rotation for the rest of the year. “We’ll let the season dictate what we’re going to do,” Girardi said.
• As of right now there are “no plans” to have Phil Hughes skip another start.
• Although he’s been able to mix-and-match at the back of the bullpen, Girardi acknowledged what was becoming fairly obvious: He has a new setup man. “They’ve kind of settled in a little bit,” Girardi said. “We’ve been using Woody mostly in the eighth. The other guys are kind of interchangeable in the sixth and seventh, including Boone in there.” Girardi said he Kerry Wood as his eighth inning guy will “probably” continue from here on out.
Associated Press photo of Rodriguez