The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


A few notes and links: Right-handed outfielders and one left-handed reliever01.21.13

Just a few quick notes from this cold Monday.

• The Yankees have signed outfielder Thomas Neal to a minor league contract. I believe it was Josh Norris who first pointed out that Neal’s twitter page described him as a member of the Yankees organization (that’s where I first saw it, anyway), and today Brian Cashman confirmed the signing. That’s one more right-handed outfield bat to put in the mix. Neal got into nine games for the Indians last season, and he’s put up pretty good minor league numbers. He’s primarily played the outfield corners, with a little bit of time at first and in center. Neal was designated for assignment and eventually released when the Indians signed Nick Swisher.

• Speaking of the Indians — and speaking of right-handed outfielders — Cleveland has agreed to minor league deals with Ben Francisco and Ryan Raburn. Both could have been cheap, fringy options for the Yankees bench. I especially like Raburn, who has a lot of defensive flexibility and has actually hit pretty well against lefties in his career.

• Speaking of minor league deals, the Mets have signed lefty Pedro Feliciano. The veteran signed a two-year deal with the Yankees before the 2011 season, but a shoulder injury kept him on the disabled list through the entirety of the contract. He’ll return to the Mets, where he pitched — probably too much — before signing with the Yankees.  

• Down in Trenton, the Thunder have announced that they’re installing a big video board at Arm & Hammer Park. That’ll be a nice addition down there.

• In his new gig over at CBS Sports, Mike Axisa takes a look at the core of the Yankees determines that the current cornerstone of the franchise isn’t Robinson Cano (contract expires too soon), Derek Jeter (face of the franchise, but not necessarily the roster keystone), or Alex Rodriguez (more problem than solution at this point). Mike writes that it’s CC Sabathia who the Yankees seem to be building their team around. It’s good stuff, as always. Congratulations to Mike, who I’ve gotten to know a little bit over the years, and who does terrific work with Joe, Ben and the rest of the crew over at River Ave. Blues. He’ll be a nice addition to that CBS blog, and thankfully he’s not abandoning RAB.

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Postgame notes: One that got away09.15.11

The Yankees are paying attention to what’s happening around them. They were well aware that tonight was a chance to increase their lead in the American League East, and they were well aware that they had their chances to win.

“You want to win this one,” Robinson Cano said. “Especially because the Red Sox lost today.”

The Yankees had just four hits tonight and got their only run on Nick Swisher’s home run. It wasn’t enough offense, even on a night when the pitching staff was tremendous except for two costly mistakes.

The wild pitch
Two outs, runners at the corners in the third inning, Nova threw a curveball to Miguel Olivo. It nearly hit the batter, shot past Russell Martin and let the Mariners take a 1-0 lead.

“It was a curveball that fell out of my hand a little bit, and I couldn’t get it down,” Nova said. “I didn’t give Russell Martin a chance to catch it. That happens. I don’t want that to happen to me, but it’s going to happen.”

Martin never really had a chance to stop it.

“It’s a curveball that backed up and that’s the one thing you can’t really predict as a catcher,” Joe Girardi said. “You can anticipate down, down, block the ball, block the ball, but that one backed up and it happens.”

The home run
Cory Wade pitched out of trouble in the 11th, but the first batter he faced in the 12th was Luis Rodriguez, who already had two doubles. The 2-1 pitch was a changeup, and Rodriguez hammered it to right.

“It’s rough,” Wade said. “Everybody’s going out and contributing and did what they needed to do, and it came down to me and I made a mistake.”

The changeup has been a good pitch for Wade, and he didn’t second guess the pitch selection. He just missed his spot.

“I threw the pitch essentially right down the middle of the plate,” Wade said. “He gets paid to hit, and he did exactly what he’s supposed to… Nova shut it down for, I think, seven innings, and everybody came out of the bullpen and threw the ball really well. It’s just unfortunate that I had to be the lone wolf to go out there and struggle a little bit.”

• Cano was hobbling quite a bit in the clubhouse, but x-rays were negative and he seems fairly certain that he’ll play on Friday. The pitch in the 12th inning hit him right in the side of the right foot. “I knew it was a lot of pain, but I didn’t think it was broke,” he said. “… We can do ice treatment tomorrow and be ready to go Friday.”

• Girardi said the plan is still for Alex Rodriguez to play on Friday. Rodriguez came through fielding drills with no problems.

• The Yankees hit several balls hard tonight, but they never got much going against Jason Vargas. Obviously they made a mistake trying to score Andruw Jones in the third, but Girardi seemed more focused on deep fly balls that didn’t quite get out of the yard. “Think about the ball Grandy hit, the ball Tex hit,” Girardi said. “We hit some balls good. I thought we were patient on Vargas, I thought the guys put good at-bats. I thought he just located well. They made him work, we just didn’t get hits.”

• Nova came out of the game after 87 pitches. Although he acknowledged it was the right call to bring in Dave Robertson, he also felt strong enough to keep going. “I threw 80 something pitches,” he said. “So I was feeling really good. I think if we got two more runs, at least a run or two more, I think I can finish the game. But unfortunately, we don’t hit today, and I’ve got to be out of the game.”

• Speaking of the decision to pull Nova, Robertson did it again, getting out of the eighth with a shallow fly ball and a strikeout to strand runners at the corners. “I’ve always said he has the ability to strike people out,” Girardi said. “You can bring him in tough situations and he did it again tonight.”

• The Yankees were held to one run or less for the 16th time this season, and the third time in their past six games. They are 4-10 in extra innings this season.

• Derek Jeter extended his season-high hitting streak to 13 games and is batting .368 in his past 29 games, since August 11. He’s hitting .346 in his past 46 games, and he’s hitting .332 since returning from the disabled list on July 4.

• This is Jeter’s 16th consecutive season with 150 hits, tying Pete Rose for the second-longest 150-hit streak in baseball history. Hank Aaron has the record with 17 straight.

• Swisher has eight home runs in his past 19 games dating back to August 23. He his just five homers in his first 60 games this season.

• Girardi didn’t know Pedro Feliciano had surgery until reporters told him about it after the game. “I would be surprised if he pitched next year,” Girardi said. “But I’d have to hear the details.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Short-handed heading to Boston08.29.11


Alex Rodriguez jammed his thumb making a play at third base in Minneapolis. He aggravated the injury swinging a bat here in Baltimore. Although an MRI came back clean, the Yankees aren’t certain they’ll have their third baseman at all this week in Boston.

“I think it’s really questionable,” Joe Girardi said. “But let’s just see.”

Rodriguez saw hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser, and Girardi said the Yankees just have to make sure the thumb is ready to go. It bothers him more swinging than fielding, and Girardi doesn’t believe it’s the kind of injury that will linger. Once it’s healed, it’s healed.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are heading to Boston for a key three-game series, and their third baseman isn’t the only concern. Derek Jeter seems better, but obviously he’s a little banged up, and he’s spent a ton of time in the trainer’s room this afternoon. The Yankees bullpen is also short-handed with Hector Noesi optioned to Triple-A to make room for Freddy Garcia.

“It is a little bit (of a concern), knowing how some of the games can get up north,” Girardi said. “With Freddy tonight, it is a little bit of a concern. We’re going to have to deal with it.”

• Noesi has been optioned, and so he won’t be available for a call-up on September 1. Demoted players have to stay in the minors for 10 days. In the case of September, a player has to stay in the minors either 10 days or until the end of that particular minor league season. So Noesi won’t be back — barring injury — until September 6.

• Without Noesi, the Yankees are carrying a six-man bullpen, none of whom is a true long man. Girardi said the bullpen is plenty deep enough for tonight, and he’ll adjust if necessary the next few days. Just a guess, but I’d say this basically assures either Lance Pendleton or George Kontos or one of the Triple-A starters getting an immediate September call-up to fill that long-man void.

• Girardi on Derek Jeter: “He was walking around fine today. Walking a lot better than I would have anticipated wnen I saw him walk out last night. He healed up pretty good, so I can use him in case of an emergency.”

• Both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte have suffered setbacks. They pitched on Thursday, but they felt soreness and have been shutdown. Girardi said it’s still very unlikely that either will pitch in the big leagues this season. If Feliciano ends up having surgery, Girardi acknowledged that it could be career-ending.

• Tonight, Freddy Garcia’s pitch count could be a “a little short” but nothing significant. He’s still pretty stretched out after that one rehab game. “I’m not sure what to expect,” Girardi said. “I feel better that he threw better Monday in Scranton, was able to use all of his pitches and that his finger is healed. But when a guy hasn’t pitched off a mound in a while, you worry a little about control and stamina.”

• Girardi was asked a little bit about September call-ups today, but he wouldn’t give any indication about who they’re planning to promote. He didn’t commit to any specific pitchers or hitters, and didn’t say whether they planned to add a third catcher.

ORIOLES
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Adams 2B
Nolan Reimold LF
Robert Andino 3B

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Rodriguez on track to return next week08.09.11

The tarp just came off the field and it looks like there’s at least a chance of starting tonight’s game on time. I thought there was no chance just a few hours ago, but Joe Girardi said he’s been hearing that the game will probably be played.

On to big picture news.

Alex Rodriguez ran the bases today. He did his usual batting practice and fielding drills, but it’s the running that’s most significant. Girardi said Rodriguez is still on track to begin a rehab assignment this weekend — either Friday or Saturday, Girardi said — and it’s a good bet that he’ll be with the Yankees next week on the road.

“I don’t know if Monday is realistic,” Girardi said. “Part of it probably depends on where he starts and how he feels in those next couple of games. But I think next week is realistic.”

Girardi said he’s not sure how many rehab games Rodriguez will need.

“I guess theoretically it could be one, but you can’t really say,” Girardi said. “You don’t know how he’s going to feel and you don’t know if he’s going to have his timing. You don’t know if he’s going to feel stable on his knee running the bases. You can’t just throw a random number out there. When he’s ready, we’ll have him back, I can tell you that.”

• Phil Hughes starts Saturday. Freddy Garcia starts Sunday. For now, the Yankees are sticking with a six-man rotation. “I don’t know how much longer we’ll stick with that,” Girardi said. “Obviously we’ve got the split doubleheader in Baltimore and we have to be prepared for that too.”

• Could either Hughes or Garcia be available out of the bullpen? “We’d probably stay away from them,” Girardi said. “If we had to, yes, but our bullpen is in pretty good shape.”

• Sergio Mitre is going for a second opinion after being diagnoses with a pinch nerve in his shoulder. An MRI showed no structural damage, but a nerve problem is causing Mitre to lose considerable arm strength (fastball velocity suddenly dropped by about 6 mph, he said). The second opinion is determine whether surgery is necessary, but Mitre is going into it believing he has  “90 percent” chance of surgery. How long he’s out depends entirely on how quickly the nerve recovers.

• According to the latest AP update from Tampa, Pedro Feliciano threw 42 pitches in the bullpen today and is scheduled for live batting practice on Friday. Even so, Girardi said Feliciano is still a longshot to pitch for the Yankees this season.

• Other Tampa updates via the AP: Ramiro Pena started swinging a bat… Damaso Marte threw a 32-pitch bullpen… Mark Prior pitched in another rookie league game.

• Once again out of the Yankees lineup, Jorge Posada seemed just as frustrated today as he was after he and Girardi had their conversation on Sunday. Posada spoke only briefly. “You wouldn’t expect any player to be necessarily happy if he’s taken from a role,” Girardi said. “I was a full-time catcher and reduced to less catching. I didn’t like it. I just kept working at it and trying to get better. As a player, that’s really the only thing you can do – be prepared and when you get your chance, perform and do the best you can.”

• Russell Martin’s mustache is no longer the worst Yankees look of the year. A.J. Burnett has gone with totally blonde hair. It’s… a curious decision. Martin literally offered a no comment on the situation, but he did laugh a little when I brought it up.

ANGELS
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Maicer Izturis 3B
Peter Bourjos CF
Jeff Mathis C

Associated Press photos

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Rodriguez keeps moving forward08.08.11

The latest from The Associated Press in Tampa about Alex Rodriguez’s rehab from knee surgery. The last paragraph provides a most unexpected update on Pedro Feliciano (remember him?).

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has stepped up his workouts while recovering from knee surgery.

There’s still no timetable, though, on when he’ll rejoin the team.

Rodriguez had Monday’s session moved from the Yankees’ minor league complex to their spring training site at George Steinbrenner Field because of rain.

A-Rod took part in a situational hitting drill during a 57-pitch batting practice session. Rodriguez says his progress so far is “thumbs up.”

Rodriguez is hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs. He had surgery on his right knee July 14.

Also, left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano, who hasn’t pitched this season because of a tear in left shoulder, has resumed working off a bullpen mound. He might be ready to throw batting practice next week.

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Pregame notes: “We know what he’s capable of doing”07.27.11

Phil Hughes has made three starts since coming off the disabled list. There was a so-so outing against the Indians, a good start against the Blue Jays and last week’s ugly performance against the A’s.

“I think it’s important for him to bounce back after the last start,” Joe Girardi said. “His pitches just weren’t crisp the last time like they were in Toronto. I think it’s important for him… The trade deadline does not enter my mind when we talk about Phil Hughes, does he solidify (his spot)? That doesn’t enter my mind. The bottom line is we’ve got to get this guy back to where he was last year, and how do we do that, and what’s the best approach? That’s what’s mostly in the back of my mind because we know what he’s capable of doing, and it’s getting him there.”

Hughes seemed to take a significant step forward with his improved curveball and improved fastball command in Cleveland, but those things weren’t evident in his 4.1 innings against Oakland on Friday.

Girardi has talked a lot about Hughes keeping a good downward plane on his fastball, and Girardi brought that up again this morning. Someone asked if swing-and-miss stuff would be a key this afternoon, but Girardi said that’s not exactly the case.

“That was part of what he did last year,” Girardi said. “I look at swings more than swings and misses. Are they squaring the ball up is the bottom line. You can have deception, have guys out front and they hit weak ground balls or weak pop ups. That’s a good sign. To me, it’s the quality of the swing more than the swings and misses.”

• The Yankees decided not to activate Rafael Soriano for today’s game and will likely activate him on Friday. “With him throwing two days in a row, we feel it’s probably best in this situation – because he’s just coming off an injury – to give him two days,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of players on the disabled list, Girardi finally vocalized a truth that’s been pretty obvious for a while now: It’s time to give up on Pedro Feliciano pitching this year. “I would think so, yeah,” Girardi said. As it stands, Feliciano is still in Tampa, and Girardi said he’s “trying” to play catch. “He’s not doing much,” Girardi said.

• Damaso Marte is still throwing bullpens in Tampa, so he actually has some chance of playing some sort of role down the stretch.

• Girardi wasn’t sure when exactly, but Alex Rodriguez will do his early rehab work — taking batting practice and such — with the Yankees rather than at the minor league complex in Tampa. They Yankees have a date in mind that Rodriguez will join the Yankees to begin baseball activities, but Girardi couldn’t remember the exact day.

• The decision not to play Eric Chavez today: “It’s a day game after a night game and Chavy’s played seven out of eight days,” Girardi said. “We want o be smart about this. This is not a guy that we want to lose again.”

• The Yankees still haven’t announced starting pitchers for Saturday’s double header. Bartolo Colon will start one of them, but Girardi said the other game is still TBA. Ivan Nova is available to make the start — Girardi said health is not a concern for Nova — but the Yankees aren’t certain he’ll come up to pitch one of those games. “Just some things we’re talking about that we could do with our rotation,” Girardi said.

Assocaited Press photo

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Pregame notes: Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?07.16.11

From the very moment that Russell Martin suggested the Blue Jays were stealing signs on Thursday, the Yankees have insisted that sign stealing is perfectly fair as long as it takes place between the lines. A player on base reading signs and relaying information is fair game.

This morning, though, Joe Girardi implied that the Blue Jays sign stealing goes behind head gestures from second base.

“I don’t really want to get into it,” Girardi said. “Signs are coveted. Anywhere that you play in the game, you have to protect your signs. Sometimes we have inclinations that things might be happening in certain ballparks that we’re aware of, and we try to protect our signs… I’ve told the guys, there’s things you have to do in certain ballparks.”

This was in response to a question about why the Yankees were using multiple signs last night, even without runners on base. Why would it be necessary to flash multiple signs when there’s no base runner to read them? Asked if there’s a chance the signs are being gathered off the field, Girardi gave a cryptic, “Could be.”

“I’m not accusing anyone,” Giardi said. “I just said we need to protect our signs. You have to take pride in it, and you have to be smarter than the other club when you do things and you have to change things up. You have to be willing to do those things.”

Of course, Blue Jays manager John Farrell denied any sort of off-the-field activity, and brought up the fact that his team is still trying to get above .500 at home. He seemed more confused that anything about the implication.

“Honestly, why that would even come about, I don’t know,” Farrell said. “We play this game to compete and prepare every day, and we don’t look to any other means than what takes place between the lines.”

Here’s Girardi

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• Rafael Soriano is throwing live batting practice today, but Girardi wasn’t sure when. If that goes well, Soriano could be cleared for a rehab assignment next week.

• Girardi said Eric Chavez is also taking steps forward. “He’s taking ground balls, and he’s taking BP, so he’s done okay,” Girardi said. “Hopefully we can get him in a game pretty soon too. I can’t tell you when, but it would be nice to get him in a game soon.”

• Damaso Marte is throwing bullpens now. Pedro Feliciano is playing catch again.

• Russell Martin is sitting because it’s a day game after a night game. Curtis Granderson is the DH to rest his legs on this turf. “This is the third of eight days, and you’ll see us do this a little bit,” Girardi said.

• Lefties have hit Ricky Romero better than righties, so Girardi didn’t want to take either Brett Gardner or Granderson out of the lineup. Could be because Romero has such a good changeup. That pitch is usually helpful in a left-hander neutralizing right-handed hitters (and vice versa).

• Girardi said he’d have to check with Hector Noesi before knowing whether he’s available, but he doesn’t expect Sergio Mitre to be available today. Mitre has struggled the past two nights. “He just doesn’t have the velocity and the sink that he had, and I can’t tell you exactly why,” Girardi said. “We’re looking at things and we’re trying to work on it.”

• Jose Bautista is once again out of the Blue Jays lineup.

• If you haven’t seen it, George King has reported that the Yankees have scouts watching Ubaldo Jimenez, as well as several other potentially available pitchers. As always with Brian Cashman, it’s hard to say whether this is legitimate interest or part of Cashman’s usual diligence in checking every possible option.

• Derek Jeter got a kick out of hearing about Paul McCartney’s “more hits than me” line from last night’s concert.

BLUE JAYS
Rajai Davis CF
Eric Thames RF
Yunel Escobar SS
Adam Lind 1B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Aaron Hill 2B
Travis Snider LF
J.P. Arencibia C
John McDonald 3B

Associated Press photo

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Prior and Soriano taking steps forward07.14.11

The Yankees will make one move today, officially putting Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list and adding someone to fill the roster spot. The list of candidates is long. It’s possible to make a case for Greg Golson, Chris Dickerson, Brandon Laird, Jorge Vazquez, Kevin Russo… but whoever gets the call-up, they’re likely to fall into secondary role while Eduardo Nunez gets the bulk of the starts at third base.

As for future moves, two injured relievers took positive steps forward yesterday. Here’s the latest from The Associated Press down in Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees right-hander Mark Prior is back pitching after missing almost three months because of a strained groin.

The converted reliever said it was a step in the right direction Wednesday after allowing an unearned run and one hit over two innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees against Atlanta minor leaguers.

In his first outing since pitching on April 18 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Prior threw 24 pitches with a fastball that reached 90 mph.

Prior has struggled with shoulder injuries and made his previous major league appearance in August 2006. The 30-year old went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts for the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs in 2003.

Also, Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano threw 25 pitches during his second batting practice session since going on the disabled list May 17 because of right elbow inflammation.

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal with New York in the offseason to handle the eighth inning, but struggled while adapting to the new role. He was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances before the injury.

Left-hander Pedro Feliciano, hoping to avoid surgery for a left shoulder tear, has resumed a light throwing program. Reliever Damaso Marte, coming back from left shoulder surgery, is continuing to throw off a bullpen mound.

Also, the Yankees have finalized a contract with 24-year old Cuban right-hander Reinier Casanova and assigned him to the GCL Yankees.

Associated Press photo of Prior in spring training

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Yankees at the break: The bullpen07.12.11

This was supposed to be the Yankees obvious strength, instead they’ve spent the season plugging holes and moving Dave Robertson into later and later innings. At this rate, he’ll be their designated 10th-inning reliever by mid-August. The Yankees bullpen has held it together despite a series of injuries and a few disappointments.

First half
The problems started when Pedro Feliciano couldn’t break camp. Pretty soon Phil Hughes was hurt, which forced Bartolo Colon out of the bullpen and into the rotation. Then Rafael Soriano went on the disabled list. Then Joba Chamberlain needed Tommy John. If not for Robertson’s all-star performance, the Yankees bullpen would be a mess. Given the situation, though, it’s been pretty good. CoryWade’s been a nice pickup, Luis Ayala has given the Yankees more than they could have expected, Hector Noesi has filled in from minor league system and Boone Logan has finally had some success after a brutal beginning. All things considered, the situation could be much worse.

Second half
At this point, Damaso Marte actually seems closer to a return than Feliciano, but the guy the Yankees really need to get back is Soriano. He would give the bullpen some of the late-inning depth that made it so imposing when pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. Logan’s shown some recent signs of getting himself straightened out, and that could also be huge in the second half (he was certainly crucial in the second half last season). Every year, relievers are among the most discussed trade possibilities, but it’s worth remembering that last year’s bullpen addition – Kerry Wood – had ugly numbers and was coming back from an injury when the Yankees acquired him. You just never know who might make the difference in a bullpen.

The minors
The Yankees have already seen a long line of long relievers up from Triple-A. At this point, George Kontos might have moved to the top of the pecking order. Temporarily lost in the Rule 5 draft this offseason, Kontos has been outstanding with a 2.26 ERA and 59 strikeouts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Back from Tommy John surgery, he seems to have regained a lot of his prospect status. The Yankees also have right-hander Kevin Whelan and veteran lefty Randy Flores putting up good Triple-A numbers. And don’t forget the name Tim Norton. He was terrific before a shoulder injury, and Donnie Collins has reported that he could be back soon.

Beyond the relievers on the verge of the big leagues, the Yankees have had great success with some of the college relievers that they drafted last year. Chase Whitley has already pitched his way to Double-A, Preston Claiborne has a 1.17 ERA and 24 strikeouts in his past 10 outings at High-A, and Tommy Kahnle has a 68 strikeouts and a .194 opponents batting average in Low-A. Ryan Flannery, a 47th-rounder in 2008, has 13 saves and has allowed a total of two walks out of the Tampa bullpen (and this is the second year in a row he’s shown outstanding control). Everyone’s favorite switch pitcher, Pat Venditte, has pitched pretty well in Trenton after a miserable first month.

One question
Is there a new version of Hughes or Chamberlain waiting in the system?
In the past, the Yankees had great success moving Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain out of the Triple-A rotation and into a big league setup role. Could they try a similar trick this season? The Triple-A rotation has been impressive, and guys like Adam Warren and David Phelps have fastballs that might translate to late-inning success. Ivan Nova, too.

The future
The Yankees have Mariano Rivera under contract for one more year, so they don’t have to find his replacement just yet. Soriano can opt out after this season, but surely that’s not going to happen after an injury. Robertson is just now eligible for arbitration, so he’ll still be incredibly cheap. Those are three pretty important pieces coming back next year, and the Yankees should get Chamberlain back at some point next season. There are pieces already in place for next year and beyond. What’s left is for the Yankees to sort through their upper-level pitching depth to decide who can help their rotation, and who’s better suited for a bullpen role in the near future.

Associated Press photos of Rivera and Robertson, headshots of Kontos, Claiborne and Chamberlain

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Pregame notes: “He can just be Derek Jeter again”07.06.11

Ever since it was decided that Derek Jeter would come off the disabled list on Monday, Joe Girardi has planned to give him today’s game off. It seemed like a good mid-point between his rehab games and the all-star break. As of last night, he was still planning to sit Jeter tonight.

Then he talked to Jeter after last night’s game, slept on the decision, and woke up having changed his mind.

“Just from talking to him, I got the sense that he’s thinking about it,” Giradi said. “And he wants to get this done with so he can just go on and be Derek Jeter, not Derek Jeter pursuing 3,000 hits. That’s the sense I got from him. I’m not telling you that’s what he was saying to me, but that’s the sense that I got. I started thinkng about it, you know what, if I was in pursuit of 3,000 hits – which, I was never close to – I don’t know if I’d want a day off to think about it. I’d want to get back out there.”

Girardi said his first conversation was with the training staff, which assured him that Jeter’s calf was fine. Then he talked to Jeter at the stadium. Then Girardi texted with him when he got back to the hotel.

“His thing was how much I’m playing just coming back,” Jeter said. “I told him I was fine and that was pretty much the extent of it… He said he was going to sleep on it. He said that from the get go. He just told me what he was thinking, and I told him what I was thinking, and he came to a decision.”

Girardi’s new plan is this: Play Jeter until he gets 3,000 hits.

“If we can,” Girardi said. “So we can get this through with and he can just be Derek Jeter again.”

Here’s Girardi’s lengthy pregame session in the dugout.

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• If Jeter gets three hits in his first three at-bats and the Yankees have a big lead, Girardi said he might get him out of the game and give him a chance to get the milestone at home. “I’m going to manage to win the game,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. I would love for him to be 3-for-3 and we had a big lead, but I don’t know what I would do. I hope I get in that situation that he’s 3-for-3 and we have a big lead. That would be nice.”

• Mariano Rivera felt better today than he felt yesterday, but he’s still not sure whether he’ll actually pitch tonight. “If it’s necessary, yes,” he said. “Knowing Geno and knowing Girardi, they might give me another day. I might take another day.”

• Lance Pendleton was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Phil Hughes. Girardi said he’s hoping to get six or seven innings out of Hughes tonight. “The radar gun is one of the tools you see how much a guy’s stuff is falling off, if you think they’re getting tired,” Girardi said. “I won’t watch (the radar) any different tonight than I would any other night.”

• Triple-A reliever Kanekoa Texeira was released to make room for Hughes on the 40-man roster. “Don’t get that confused with Mark,” Girardi said.

• Get this: Damaso Marte threw a bullpen today. Seriously. That’s what Girardi told us.

• Of course, it’s one step forward and one step back for injured lefties. Pedro Feliciano was shutdown today because of soreness. He’ll be shut down for a week.

• Rafael Soriano threw a bullpen yesterday and will throw another tomorrow. He seems to be progressing.

• No update on Eric Chavez.

• Hughes is not scheduled to pitch again until after the all-star break. Girardi said it will probably stay that way. There are no plans to have him pitch any sort of minor league or simulated game over the break. “He’ll maybe throw a couple bullpens, we’ll see,” Girardi said. “Maybe throw one Friday, throw one Sunday, but we’ll see. No plans.”

• Eduardo Nunez is ready to go.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 39 Comments →

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