The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Pitching matchups at Tampa Bay04.17.15

Adam Warren

RHP Adam Warren (0-1, 1.69)
RHP Nate Karns (1-1, 4.97)
7:10 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 7.00)
RHP Jake Odorizzi (2-0, 0.61)
7:10 p.m., FOX Sports 1

RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 5.11)
1:10 p.m., WPIX

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “Turns out, Stephen Drew was the guy for that job”04.13.15

Stephen Drew, Caleb Joseph
Brett Gardner went to the plate twice after being hit by a pitch in the first inning, and each time he tried to bunt for a hit. He said Joe Girardi kept asking whether he was alright, and Gardner kept assuring him he could still play. Even so, Gardner could feel in the on-deck circle that he wasn’t quite 100 percent. He could swing, just couldn’t swing very well.

Drew“I kind of halfway lied to (Girardi) and told him I was good,” Gardner said.

In the seventh inning, though, Gardner could see his at-bat requiring something more than a bunt single. He told Girardi that he was still fine to play defense, but if his spot in the order came up with runners on base, Gardner might not be the best guy to take a good swing and drive them in.

“Turns out,” Gardner said. “Stephen Drew was the guy for that job.”

Drew’s second home run in as many days was a big one, a go-ahead grand slam with two outs in the seventh. It was the third grand slam of his career, his second ever pinch hit homer, and the first pinch hit grand slam against the Orioles since Jorge Posada in 2001.

“Joe gave me a heads up before, pretty much the inning before, kind of to let me know, hey, get loose,” Drew said. “I was ready. … Laid off some tough pitches, some close ones. Got a 3-1 count in a good situation. Tried not to do too much. Put a good swing on it, and it worked out for the best.”

That’s two wins in a row for the Yankees, and two pretty good wins at that. It’s also two pretty gratifying homers for a guy who couldn’t hit a lick last season. The Yankees have been happy with Drew’s at-bats since late in spring training, and he’s starting to get some regular-season results the past two days.

“It’s one of those things where I feel a little more comfortable trying not to do too much,” he said. “Trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I know what kind of player I am, and I’ve done it for a long time, so in regards to that, it definitely helped with the at-bats in spring training and taking it into the season.”

GardnerGardner was also hit by a pitch in the right wrist last week during the home stand. He said this one was only about a half inch away from the previous spot. It sounds doubtful that he’ll play tomorrow.

“Kind of wait and see,” Gardner said. “Just a day-to-day thing. I’m just glad that the x-rays look good. We’ve got a wrap on there for tonight, keep the swelling down and hopefully I feel good tomorrow.”

X-rays were negative, so there’s some good news on the wrist.

“The good thing is they’re negative,” Girardi said. “Will he play tomorrow? That’s a question. We just have to wait and see how he feels. He got hit in the right wrist and, yeah, I’m concerned about him. I’m glad it’s not broke. I don’t know what we’ll have the next few days.”

Michael Pineda• Nine strikeouts and no walks for Michael Pineda, who really seemed to pitch much better than five earned runs would suggest. “I feel pretty good,” Pineda said. “It’s a really good game. But it’s one pitch, you know? Jones, made adjustments. My fastball’s high, and he got a homer. I try to continue to hold the game, and make a pitch.”

• That one pitch was the fastball that Adam Jones hit for a two-run, go-ahead home run in the sixth. Pineda had struck out Chris Davis to nearly get out of the jam, but he tried to elevate a fastball against Jones, and Jones got plenty of it. “He’s really good hitter, you know?” Pineda said. “For me, I try to change the eye (level), and try to throw my fastball high, and he makes adjustments and he got it.”

• Speaking of good pitching performances, Andrew Miller got a five-out save. It was the third save of his career and his second save of the season. He said that this time he and Dellin Betances didn’t really have defined hitters to focus on. He didn’t exactly know he’d be the closer today, but he was ready for it. “I don’t think what we’re doing is traditional at all, so that’s not really surprising,” Miller said. “It’s just the way it worked out today. Dellin and I hadn’t really pitched the last couple days. I think both of us knew coming in that if this type of game was played, we would have to throw more than our usual 15-20 pitches, and we found a way.”

• Shaky outing for Dellin Betances as the setup man for Miller, but Betances got the huge out he needed when he struck out Davis to end the seventh. “I threw some good (breaking balls) to Davis,” Betances said. “Those are the way I need to throw it to all of them. I thought those breaking balls I threw to him were really good.”

• Girardi didn’t go into detail, but he indicated that using Betances to get out of the seventh and then using Miller for five outs was not exactly the way he drew it up. “I was trying to map it out,” Girardi said. “But it never goes strictly according to plan. I had to rework it a little bit. It worked out, and Andrew did a tremendous job to get the final five outs. He threw the ball very well.”

Didi Gregorius, Adam Jones• And since it’s pretty connected to the pitchers, this is a good time to mention John Ryan Murphy, who had a really great game behind the plate. the faced he went 1-for-3 and drew a walk to help set up the grand slam was just kind of icing on the cake. Just a really great game for him including two runners caught stealing. “Just a tremendous job,” Girardi said. “He threw the ball extremely well. Throwing out Adam Jones in that situation was a huge out. Blocked, I don’t know, 10, 15 balls tonight.”

• Girardi explaining the order and use of pinch hitters in the seventh: “I knew I was going to (use Drew in Gardner’s spot). The thing was, Drew had seen Matusz, so if he brought in Matusz for Ellsbury, I know Drew has seen him and I was more comfortable with that. And Garrett’s got more power, even though it didn’t turn out that way, I was looking for a three-run homer at that time (when Jones hit for Gregorio Petit earlier in the inning).”

• Was Gardner bunting in those middle plate appearances strictly because of his wrist? “Not necessarily,” he said. “It might have had a little something to do with it, but it wasn’t a case of, I wasn’t able to swing the bat.”

• Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4, but he played a solid third base. He’s bounced around a lot the past few days, moving to different positions and different spots in the order. “Not strange,” Rodriguez said. “We have to whatever it takes to win. We have a good team. Joe needs me to move around a little bit, and that’s what I’m willing to do. Last week I took a lot of time early every day, bounced around between third base and first base. I’m excited to be playing every day.”

• With his solo home run tonight, Mark Teixeira tied Lance Berkman for the fifth-most home runs by a switch hitter. Teixeira has 366. Carlos Beltran is fourth on that list with 373. Mickey Mantle has the all-time record with 536.

• Final word goes to Girardi: “They’ve been resilient so far. We didn’t get off to the start that we wanted. We didn’t play very well the first five games of the season, and we’ve played much better the last two two. We’ve had big hits and capitalized on some mistakes the other clubs have made, and we’ve won two games in a row.”

Associated Press photos

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Drew’s grand slam carries Yankees to comeback win in Baltimore04.13.15

Mark Teixeira, Chris Young

Two outs. Bases loaded. Yankees down by two in the top of the seventh. Stephen Drew pinch hitting for Brett Gardner was, perhaps, not the sight you wanted to see coming out of the Yankees’ dugout. Drew, though, delivered the pinch hit grand slam that carried the Yankees to a 6-5 come-from-behind win against the Orioles tonight in Baltimore. Gardner, who’d been hit by a pitch in the first inning, went for X-rays on a stiff right wrist. In his place, Drew delivered his first career hit off Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter. He was 0-for-5 against him before the home run to center field. The grand slam was the Yankees’ third homer of the game — Chris Young and Mark Teixeira also went deep — and it came just a half inning after Adam Jones hit a two-run, go-ahead homer for the Orioles in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Pineda looked sharp most of the game, but he was still charged with five runs through 6.1 innings. He struck out nine and walked none. One of his runs came off Dellin Betances, who had another shaky outing but got a big strikeout against Chris Davis to end the seventh. Andrew Miller got the final five outs for his second save of the year.

Associated Press photo

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Game 7: Yankees at Orioles04.13.15

Michael PinedaYANKEES (2-4)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Chris Young RF
John Ryan Murphy C
Didi Gregorius SS
Gregorio Petit 2B

RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00)
Pineda vs. Orioles

Alejandro De Aza LF
Steve Pearce RF
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Travis Snider DH
Manny Machado 3B
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Everth Cabrera SS
Caleb Joseph C

LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 6.23)
Chen vs Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., PIX 11

WEATHER: Beautiful day in a beautiful ballpark. On a nice day like this, there really aren’t many stadiums where I’d rather watch a game.

UMPIRES: HP Lance Barksdale, 1B Cary Cederstrom, 2B Sean Barber, 3B Eric Cooper

POWER SURGE: With eight home runs in their past four games, the Yankees actually lead the Majors in homers since Thursday. They have nine home runs through six games this season. They didn’t reach nine home runs last year until their 12th game of the year.

GETTING PLENTY OF (GOOD) WORK: The Yankees bullpen is fourth in the American League in both opponents’ OPS (.545) and opponents’ batting average (.178). In six games this season, the Yankees bullpen has a 1.93 ERA.

ON THIS DATE: April 13, 1978 was “Reggie!” Candy Bar Day at Yankee Stadium, and when Reggie Jackson hit a three-run homer in the first inning, the field was showered with candy bars that were given out for free.

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: Home run for Chris Young and it’s a 1-0 Yankees lead in the second.

UPDATE, 7:39 p.m.: Sharp RBI double down the third-base line for Machado. Rodriguez made a diving attempt but couldn’t make the stop (would have been a heckuva play). Now Schoop has followed with an RBI to left field. Looked like Gardner threw him out at second, but the Orioles have asked for a replay. Schoop might have been safe with a good slide.

UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Yep, Schoop is safe. Really nice throw by Gardner, but Petit missed with the tag. Held the glove in front of the bag and Schoop kind of slid around it.

UPDATE, 8:02 p.m.: Pretty decent little charging play by Rodriguez at third helps Pineda get through a scoreless third. It’s still 2-1 Orioles.

UPDATE, 8:06 p.m.: Really, really close play at first. Yankees lost the challenge and Gardner is out. My guess is, if he’d been called safe, that call would have stood as well. Basically looked like a tie to me, so I doubt that’s enough evidence to overturn. But maybe I’m wrong.

UPDATE, 8:09 p.m.: Solo shot by Teixeira ties the game at 2. Would be huge for the Yankees if Teixeira could be a true power hitter again.

UPDATE, 8:18 p.m.: Pineda looks sharp again tonight. Still tied at 2 after four innings.

UPDATE, 8:53 p.m.: Big spot for Pineda here in the sixth. Game still tied at 2, but the Orioles have the heart of the order up with one out and a runner at third.

UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: Big out. Pineda just got Davis to strike out swinging. Two outs now. Sac fly out of the question. Has to get Adam Jones, though.

UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: There’s the big blow. Jones hits a two-run homer on a 3-1 pitch and it’s 4-2 Orioles.

UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.: Stephen Drew just pinch hit for Gardner for some reason and delivered a go-ahead grand slam. The world is a strange place. It’s now a 6-4 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: Another shaky outing for Betances, but he got the big out he needed to keep the lead intact. His strikeout of Chris Davis left the tying run stranded at third (after he allowed a single that brought in one run). It’s now a 6-5 Yankees lead heading into the eighth.

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Pitching matchups at Baltimore04.13.15

Michael Pineda

RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00)
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 6.23)
7:05 p.m., PIX 11

LHP CC Sabathia (0-1, 6.35)
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 1.59)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 5.06)
RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 24.00)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Associated Press photo

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Game 2: Yankees vs. Blue Jays04.08.15

Michael PinedaYANKEES (0-1)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

RHP Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89 in 2014)
Pineda vs Blue Jays

Jose Reyes SS
Russell Martin C
Jose Bautista RF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Josh Donaldson 3B
Dalton Pompey CF
Kevin Pillar LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B

RHP R.A. Dickey (14-13, 3.71 in 2014)
Dickey vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Cold. I don’t like it.

UMPIRES: HP Jim Reynolds, 1B Jerry Meals, 2B Paul Schrieber, 3B Fieldin Culbreth

FAST STARTER: Alex Rodriguez singled in Monday’s opener, marking the 10th straight season opener in which he has hit safely (2003-08, ‘10-12, ‘14), including all nine Opening Days he has played in as a Yankee. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankee to have as long a streak was Lou Gehrig, who hit safely in 12 straight Opening Days from 1926-37.

ON THIS DATE: It was on April 8, 2003 that Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut, helping the Yankees to a 7-3 win against the Twins.

UPDATE, 7:15 p.m.: There’s a 1-2-3 top of the first for Pineda.

UPDATE, 7:35 p.m.: Teixeira just hit right-handed against Dickey and doubled to left.

UPDATE, 7:51 p.m.: Three straight hits to open the third inning have the Blue Jays in front 1-0. The RBI came on an infield single up the middle. Gregorius made the diving stop but had to rush the throw and couldn’t get the out. Throw was high.

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Pineda is through four innings with just the one run. Of course, the Yankees have just one hit.

UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: What a bizarre sequence. Runner at first with one out, a chopper went off Teixeira’s glove — he was trying to make a really nice leaping catch — and Stephen Drew almost caught it on the ricochet. Instead, the ball fell for a single, and Drew’s throw to third was wide. That set the stage for a sac fly to right and a 2-0 Blue Jays lead.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: Bloop single gives the Yankees their second hit of the night. A double play immediately wipes the runner off the bases.

UPDATE, 8:52 p.m.: Ellsbury has been on base three times today. Two walks and a single. He just stole a base.

UPDATE, 8:54 p.m.: Sac fly by Beltran and the Yankees are on the board. Three Yankees hits. Two Yankees runs. Just like Monday night.

UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: Chris Young with a pinch hit double. Ellsbury with his second hit of the game. Runners at the corners with no outs for Gardner.

UPDATE, 9:46 p.m.: Bases loaded with no outs, Young just scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2. Beltran still at the plate. Still no outs.

UPDATE, 9:53 p.m.: Hit by pitch to tie the game. Infield single off the pitcher’s glove to take the lead. Weird way to get the offense going, but it’s better than nothing. Yankees up 4-3 in the eighth. Andrew Miller was warming up earlier. Looks like he’ll be the guy to get the save opportunity.

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Pregame notes: “I think what he was meaning to say is …”04.08.15

Masahiro Tanaka

Thought we were finished talking about Masahiro Tanaka’s velocity, health and performance two days after his disappointing Opening Day start? You must be new.

In today’s Daily News, John Harper wrote that the Yankees believe something has been lost in translation in Tanaka’s public comments about his velocity and approach. The widespread perception has been that Tanaka is backing away from velocity because of concerns about his elbow, but the Yankees say that’s not the case, at least not based on their internal discussions with their young ace. Harper wrote that the team planned a meeting with Tanaka to make sure there’s a mutual understanding.

Tanaka“I think what he was meaning to say is, I’m not a flamethrower,” manager Joe Girardi said today. “That’s not how I pitch. I am going to pitch different than some of the guys who throw hard.”

So the decision to throw more sinkers and fewer four-seamers is not because of the elbow?

“From my conversations with him, it’s a strategic thing,” Girardi said. “He knows that his four-seamer got hit some last year, and that really comes down to location. I think the important thing for him is that, whichever one he’s locating better, it’s the one he uses that day for the most part. He is a guy that gets 90 percent of his outs on sliders and splits. The fastball is to kind of setup the slider and the split. He needs to locate. I mean, he got in bad counts the other day. He didn’t really pitch Toronto much different than he did the last time he beat them in June, but he made mistakes and that was the difference.”

The numbers support the idea that Tanaka’s four-seamer was perhaps his worst pitch last season, so there is a non-health motivation in throwing fewer four-seamers. But, of course, given the situation — a slightly torn elbow ligament for such a high-end young pitcher — everything is going to be examined over and over again. Any change is hard to dismiss under the circumstances. From Harper’s story:

Yankee people also say the panic over Tanaka’s velocity is overblown, that his fastball against the Blue Jays, both two-seam and four-seam, were within one mile per hour of the way he pitched last year.

Likewise they say the percentage of fastballs he threw — 26 of 82 pitches, if you count the two-seam sinkers and the four-seamers — wasn’t dramatically different from 2014 either.

“I see the way he’s throwing his split,” Girardi said this afternoon. “I see him playing long toss. I just don’t think, if he was hurt, he could do the things that he’s doing. But I think that’s always going to be in the back of everyone’s mind just because that’s the way it is.”

Alex Rodriguez• Alex Rodriguez has good career numbers against Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, but Girardi said he didn’t want to start moving players up and down the lineup after one game. “I’m not going to start changing the lineup already,” he said. “We’re only one day in. A lot of it, I think sometimes, is something that you look over. Sometimes you make some changes, sometimes you don’t, based upon the personnel that’s in there at the time. I thought we could go with the same lineup two days in a row, it’s something a little bit different than what we’ve done the past two years.”

• The lineup will change tomorrow, though. The Yankees face left-handed starters on Thursday and Friday, and Girardi said he plans to use both Chris Young and Gregorio Petit as everyday guys against lefties. They won’t necessary replace the same player each time, but they’ll play against lefties, giving the regulars a chance to sit. It’s a way to add some right-handed balance to this left-leaning lineup. “I would say I will probably do that, try to give guys a day off,” Girardi said. “Maybe one of the outfielders a day off against a lefty, and one of the infielders a day off against a lefty, yes.”

• Didi Gregorius is back in the lineup after being hit by pitch to the elbow late on Monday. “He said he’s fine,” Girardi said. “I’ll watch him take BP and let him go through BP, but he said he felt good so my expectation is that it won’t be an issue.”

• In his fourth season with the Yankees, but only his second year breaking camp with the team, Michael Pineda seems to be an even better pitcher than the Yankees expected when they got him. His health might be worse than expected, but his stuff is better. “He’s much different (than in 2012),” Girardi said. “The first Spring Training didn’t go so well. He ended up getting hurt, and he wasn’t where he needed to be physically. Now you look at him and the ball is coming out well. He’s a much different guy. … He had a pretty serious injury and he has bounced back. I think he grew up a lot through that. I think during that time too his mechanics improved dramatically. It really helped him.”

• Last time Pineda pitched on a cold night in April, he wound up ejected and suspended because of a massive glob of pine tar on his neck. Girardi actually laughed when asked about it today. “I’m sure we’ll have a lot of eyes on him tonight,” Girardi said. “I think he understands, yes. I hope.”

• As expected, there’s no set closer for tonight. “It’s the matchups (that will decide who pitches the ninth,” Girardi said. “It’s the order.”

Associated Press photos

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Is Michael Pineda the Yankees’ best starting pitcher this season?04.08.15

Michael Pineda

Opening Day belonged to Masahiro Tanaka. Game 3 belongs to former Cy Young winner CC Sabathia. In between, the Yankees just might be using their very best starting pitcher in Game 2.

Tonight, Michael Pineda makes his first start of the regular season. He doesn’t get nearly the attention of Tanaka, and he doesn’t have nearly the track record of Sabathia, but after a a brilliant spring training — and after three years waiting to be fully healthy — Pineda really could be the rotation’s most potent weapon.

“I think (having him is) extremely important if you watch what he did for us last year and how effective he was,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We feel good about where he’s at, the way he came into spring training, the way he was ready to compete, the way he threw the baseball. I think pitchers’ injuries are probably the hardest ones to predict, when they’re going to happen. You just kind of keep your fingers crossed.”

When the Yankees acquired Pineda back in 2012, they gave up their best trade chip to do so. Three years later, Jesus Montero looks closer to a bust than a superstar, and Pineda’s the one whose stock seems to be on the rise after three years of frustration.

First, he showed up out of shape for his first Yankees spring training. His shoulder started barking late in camp, he had surgery, missed basically two years while rehabbing, and he finally returned to the big leagues last season only to have yet another shoulder setback.

When he returned in August, though, Pineda was perhaps even better than the Yankees originally hoped. With incredible command and a much-improved changeup, Pineda pitched to a 1.91 ERA in nine down-the-stretch starts. He struck out 44 and walked just four. This spring was more of the same. Through five Grapefruit League starts, Pineda had a 1.42 ERA, a team-high 23 strikeouts and only one walk.

“I’m very happy,” Pineda said after his last spring outing. “It’s what I try to do: throw a strike when I get on the mound and get an out. … It’s good because if you don’t walk too much hitters, you don’t get in trouble. When you walk a lot of hitters, you get in trouble. So, it’s good. Throw strikes.”

Pineda makes it sound simple, and more importantly, he makes it look easy. After three years trying to get and stay healthy, he just might be the very best and most reliable starter on the Yankees’ staff.

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “I’m a better person and a better pitcher”04.02.15

Michael Pineda

Twenty three strikeouts. One walk. Michael Pineda knew he’d been pretty good this spring, but he didn’t know those numbers until a reporter mentioned them in the clubhouse after today’s start at Steinbrenner Field.

“It’s good,” Pineda said, laughing. “I’m very happy for that. I’m not really paying attention, but thank you for telling me about it. I’m very happy because I’m feeling, in spring training today, it’s a really good number. I’m very happy. It’s what I try to do: throw a strike when I get on the mound and get an out.”

Pineda struck out six this afternoon. He walked none, allowed one run and finished spring training with a 1.42 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. There’s been no indication that there’s any lingering problem in his shoulder. Instead, Pineda has looked fully healthy, and fully dominant.

“I think he really just picked up where he left off last year,” Joe Girardi said. “I really didn’t expect a whole lot different because of what we saw last year from him and how well he pitched, but it’s really nice to see it carry over. … I feel really good when he takes the mound. I do. You know he’s going to pound the zone and he’s going to give you every opportunity to win.”

Pineda’s not the only Yankees starter who pounded the zone. Nathan Eovaldi has 14 strikeouts and no walks this spring. Masahiro Tanaka has 13 strikeouts and one walk. Adam Warren: 11 strikeouts and one walk. CC Sabathia: six strikeouts and no walks.

That’s 67 strikeouts and three walks for the rotation.

“It’s good because if you don’t walk too much hitters, you don’t get in trouble,” Pineda said. “When you walk a lot of hitters, you get in trouble. So, it’s good. Throw strikes.”

Easier said than done, but the Yankees have thrived in that regard this spring. And Pineda seems to be leading that charge. If the shoulder issues really are behind him, Pineda just might be the Yankees’ most reliable starter. This spring he’s been their most dominant, looking like an even better version of the guy the Yankees first acquired more than three years ago.

“Every year I’m growing and growing, (becoming) a better person,” Pineda said. “So now I’m a better person and a better pitcher. I feel happy with that.”

John Ryan Murphy, Dellin Betances• Another rocky outing for Dellin Betances who walked two batters but got through his inning without a run. “I’m getting my work in,” Betances said with a laugh. “I’m throwing a lot of pitches, but health-wise I feel fine. I felt a little stronger today. I’ve just got to be able to get that first guy out right away. I can’t be walking the leadoff guy. I got myself into a little jam again but I was able to come out with no damage, I guess. That’s a positive note.”

• Betances said he’s convinced his command issues have been caused by a minor mechanical issue that he’s close to fixing. He said he’s drifting too much, and that’s hurt him. It’s led to walks and pitches up in the zone. He’s expecting to pitch again on Saturday, which should be his final tune-up before Opening Day.

• Still no word on who will be the closer. “That’s one discussion we have not talked a lot about,” Girardi said. “It’s probably something we’ll talk a lot about tomorrow.”

• Speaking of the bullpen, it now looks like the Yankees will carry three left-handed relievers. Obviously Andrew Miller will be used as something more than a lefty specialist, and Girardi said the same is true for both Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve. “Shreve was a starter for most of his career,” Girardi said. “And I trust Justin against both, too.”

• Carlos Beltran did not play today because he had flu-like symptoms. He probably won’t play tomorrow either. “You worry about the dehydration factor,” Girardi said. “My guess is, right now I do not have him penciled in (tomorrow). Everyone who’s had this, we’ve given them two days.”

• Girardi on the decision between Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy: “I think defense has to come first in that situation. Pitchers being comfortable, you want them to be able to work. So we have a tough decision.” The Yankees aren’t expecting to make that decision until Saturday night.

Alex Rodriguez• Pretty good day for Alex Rodriguez at first base. He had to make a couple of scoops and nearly started a double play on a sharp ground ball. “I didn’t realize how involved and alert you have to be on every play (at first base),” Rodriguez said. “Even on that base hit up the middle, I had to sprint to the mound for a cutoff man. Those are things that I’ve never really had to do. A couple times, you find yourself just kind of standing around not knowing what to do and then you kind of go. It’s not really natural.”

• Girardi was clearly happy with the way Rodriguez looked in the field today and said he would not hesitate to use him at first base during the season. Garrett Jones is still the go-to backup, but Girardi said he could also imagine putting Jones in right field and playing Rodriguez at first on days he wants to DH Carlos Beltran and rest Mark Teixeira.

• The first real challenge for Rodriguez came on first-inning a throw in the dirt from Stephen Drew, who was playing shortstop for the first time this spring. “It’s natural,” Drew said, joking that he was trying to make sure Rodriguez got his work in. “It’s just more or less getting throws over there, which I haven’t taken all spring because of Didi. He’s done a good job, and knock on wood, everybody’s healthy and we’re ready to go.”

• The Yankees got their first look at Gregorius Petit this afternoon. He played shortstop and got a couple of at-bats in the second half of today’s home game. “He’s a player that can play anywhere; second, short and third,” Girardi said. “He’s going to give you good at-bats, going to play hard. He can run a little bit. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He got caught in a position where there were a few guys over there that could do the same role that he could, so he became available. We’re happy to have him.”

• As planned, Didi Gregorius played shortstop in today’s road game. He seems past the wrist issue and should be ready for Opening Day. So when Gregorius takes a day off, will Drew or Petit play shortstop? “It’s probably something I need to talk about our scouts with, what’s the best scenario there,” Girardi said.

Robert Refsnyder• Girardi stressed that the Yankees are sending Rob Refsnyder to Triple-A because they expect him to be an everyday guy when he finally gets to the big leagues. “He’s pretty close,” Girardi said. “I think for him, it’s a guy that’s made a position change, really. There was talk about him yesterday, could he possibly be that guy? I think we felt it was more beneficial for him to play every day, finish his development, and when he comes he’s here for good and that he’s an everyday player. Because I think that’s how we envision him.”

• Speaking of guys sent down, a source told me today that the Yankees will have center fielder Slade Heathcott open the season in Triple-A. That wasn’t the plan coming into spring training, but Heathcott has played so well that the Yankees think Heathcott is ready to make the jump. For whatever it’s worth, I also heard that Gary Sanchez has looked very impressive in minor league camp. Apparently the feeling is that he’s taken a giant leap forward.

• Final word goes to Girardi on a day the Yankees very nearly finalized their roster: “There’s a lot of guys in this camp I’ve had to send down that you can’t really tell them they’ve done a lot wrong. And (that includes) even some of the younger kids we played. These guys did a lot of things right, and it is difficult. I still say, it’s the worst part of my job. It’s very difficult for me and I feel for them, because it’s a dream of theirs. Obviously we believe that a guy like Chase Whitley is going to help us at some point this year. We believe that. And you just have to remind him of that. And you just try to talk about where you were last year at this time, and how far you’ve come, and be prepared, because there’s a good chance we’re going to need you at some point.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Injury report from Yankees camp: “There’s nothing major”03.30.15

Don’t worry, this hotel desk is made of wood, and I knocked on it before publishing this post…

The Yankees have a roster overloaded with injury concerns, but with a week to go in spring training, they don’t necessarily have a roster overloaded with actual injuries. Their most significant injury of the spring cost them their fifth starter. Otherwise, they’ve dealt mostly with minor bumps and bruises at the major league level.

“There’s nothing major,” Brian Cashman said yesterday. “You’ve got the little stuff. Well, I guess (Jose) Pirela’s concussion, he could be a disabled list situation if it doesn’t resolve. But again, that’s a timing thing. That’s an unpredictable time frame.”

Here’s a quick injury report on where the Yankees stand on the medical front.

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka
Torn elbow ligament
He’s made every scheduled start this spring and reported no problems with his elbow. His offspeed pitches have looked sharp, and there’s little indication he’s holding back. His next start is tomorrow as a final tune-up for Opening Day.

CC Sabathia
Offseason knee surgery
Just like Tanaka, he’s made every scheduled start. The Yankees kept him on a slow-and-steady schedule early in spring, but now he’s been let loose, and despite rough statistics, his raw stuff has been pretty encouraging. His velocity is up, but consistency remains an issue.

Michael Pineda
Repeat shoulder issues
After missing much of the past three years with shoulder issues, Pineda has shown no signs of injury or weakness this spring. In fact, he just might be their most reliable high-end starter.

Chris Capuano
Grade 2 quad strain
The only issue currently expected to impact the Opening Day roster: Capuano came into camp as the heavy favorite for the fifth-starter role, but he’ll likely miss at least a month of the regular season after hurting himself while covering first base.

Ivan Nova
Tommy John Surgery
A little less than a year removed from surgery, Nova has been throwing full bullpens — including breaking balls — for about two weeks now. He’s still expected back sometime around the first of June.

Andrew Bailey
Shoulder rehab
Got into games later than most pitchers, but he’s pitched well since returning to the field. Bailey missed the past year and a half, but he’s said he feels strong again this spring. Question is whether he has time to go back-to-back and prove he’s capable of breaking camp with the big league team.

Vicente Campos
Tommy John surgery
On roughly the same schedule as Nova, Campos has also been throwing bullpens and continues his rehab in big league camp until his inevitable reassignment to the minor league complex.

Jared Burton
Strained lat
Released and re-signed, Burton came into camp on a minor league deal and got off to a strong start before hurting himself early in camp. The big league veteran began playing catch again this weekend and could become an option during the season.

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury
Strained oblique
Hasn’t played since March 15, but after a weekend of batting practice and other drills, Ellsbury is scheduled to get in a minor league game tomorrow. Fully expected to be healthy in time for Opening Day. Could even play in another Grapefruit League game or two.

Mark Teixeira
Knee contusion
Hit by a pitch at the minor league complex on Sunday, Teixeira was scheduled to have tomorrow off anyway. He’ll basically rest for two days before being expected back in the lineup on Wednesday.

Carlos Beltran
Offseason elbow surgery
Held back very slightly at the beginning of spring training, Beltran has since been on a fairly normal schedule getting most of his time in right field with only a handful of DH days. No sign the elbow is holding him back at all.

Didi Gregorius
Sprained wrist
Looked bad when Gregorius landed on his glove hand while trying to make a diving play on Saturday, but X-rays and an MRI came back negative. He’s now had two days off, and he’s scheduled to have another day off on Tuesday. Expected back in the lineup Wednesday.

Brendan Ryan
Strained back
Arrived in spring training with an injury and didn’t get into a game until March 20. Ryan has since played in seven games, and he’ll play again on Tuesday. He’s seen time at both second and short and is expected to break camp as the Yankees’ backup middle infielder.

Jose Pirela
Slammed into the outfield wall while playing center field last Sunday. Hasn’t played since, and even regular baseball drills have been put on hold while he tries to move past all symptoms. Was having a great spring, but seemed unlikely to make the team even before the injury.

Slade Heathcott
Repeat knee issues
Had knee surgery yet again last season, but Heathcott arrived in big league camp talking about renewed health and confidence, all of which showed in a strong spring during which he seemed to be running well without pain. Sent to minor league camp yesterday.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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