The latest from The Associated Press down at the Yankees complex in Tampa. Sounds like Barolo Colon might be closer than expected.
The Yankees captain, on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right calf, took batting practice on the field for the first time and started a running program Monday.
Jeter took 30 swings in batting practice. He fielded seven grounders on the grass before rain forced a stop. After a brief delay, Jeter returned to the field for three light sprints and some agility-related drills.
“Everything’s good,” Jeter said. “Steps in the right direction.”
There is no date yet for when Jeter, who turned 37 on Sunday, will rejoin the lineup. He’s six hits shy of 3,000, a chase that’s been on hold since getting hurt June 13.
Other Yankees also continued their rehabilitation.
Infielder Eric Chavez, out with a broken left foot, took batting practice with Jeter.
Right-hander Bartolo Colon, sidelined with a strained right hamstring, threw four innings of 15-pitches each in a simulated game.
Colon struck out three and allowed two hits, including one to injured minor league outfielder Slade Heathcott, who was the Yankees’ first round draft pick in 2009.
There have been discussions on whether Colon will need a minor league outing or if he could be ready to pitch against the New York Mets this weekend.
Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano, on the DL with a left shoulder tear, made 15 soft throws off a bullpen mound,
Converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, is scheduled to throw off a mound for the second time in four days on Tuesday.
Associated Press photo
Pregame notes: Concern for Hughes • 04.25.11
Before Phil Hughes went into the bullpen this afternoon, the Yankees were already discussing a date for the rehab start that would follow. They were confident today’s bullpen was nothing but a final step toward getting him back in a game.
After only a handful of pitches, Hughes knew the rehab start would have to wait.
“It was probably after about 10 or 12 pitches,” Hughes said. “The first few felt all right and then it’s just like, nothing there. It’s sort of the feeling you get after 110 or 115 pitches that I normally should feel that way, but it’s just way too soon.”
Hughes will see Dr. Christopher Ahmad, but he said he’s still convinced he’s healthy, just suffering an extended dead-arm period. Dr. Ahmad is supposed to be at the stadium later today, and he’ll check on the situation. Up to this point, Hughes has had no tests.
“He had a history of starting off kind of slow (with his) velocity,” Joe Girardi said. “You kind of go by guy’s history, and we saw him get to 92 the other day. As a starter last year he was 90 to 94 mostly, 90 to 93. You felt like, ok, it’s coming back, it’s coming back. It’s just not repeating itself. He’s not to where he needs to be, but when something like this happens where there’s a setback, there is concern.”
As Girardi pointed out, the Blue Jays have experienced almost the exact same thing with Brett Cecil, and last week Cecil was optioned to Triple-A to try to build arm strength and rediscover both his fastball and his command.
“Guys have taken steps backward after being extended, more innings that they’re accustomed to doing,” Girardi said. “As I said, there is a level of concern here because everything seemed to be going in the right direction and it kind of halted a little bit today.”
Here’s Hughes. It’s easy to hear his disappointment.
• Pedro Feliciano was here today, far more encouraged than the last time we saw him. Dr. James Andrews told Feliciano that he believes this is an old issue that, for whatever reason, just started to bother him. “We’re just going to follow the word Dr. Andrews says from experience,” Feliciano said. “Before he got pitchers that got the same injury – capsule injuries – and he just put them in rehab and it works. Why not do that and avoid the surgery and try to pitch again (this year)?”
• Speaking of pitching again, Rafael Soriano played catch today and Girardi said he would have to check with him before knowing whether he was available.
• Girardi also did not rule out using Mariano Rivera. “You’d like to be able to (avoid using him),” Girardi said. “But he might come in and say he feels great. He’s thrown 30 pitches before and thrown the next day. He had done that. It is early. I think the good thing is he had the four days off before this. You try to be smart about it, but you have to listen to the player too.”
• Who would close if neither Rivera nor Soriano were available? “I could go by matchups,” Girardi said. “I could put Joba there. I could put Robertson there. I could do either one.”
• Lance Pendleton has a name tag above his locker now. Still no name tag for Buddy Carlyle, though.
Juan Pierre LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Brent Morel 3B
Associated Press photo of Hughes
Postgame notes: “This is just a bad moment” • 04.15.11
Freddy Garcia gets his first start tomorrow, and Bartolo Colon will get a start in the coming day, but Ivan Nova is the guy who left spring training as the Yankees No. 4. He’s the young guy with some upside beyond simply holding down the fort for a month or two. Ideally, Nova is the guy to step up and show the Yankees something more than he showed tonight.
“I know I can pitch, and I can throw strikes,” Nova said. “This is just a bad moment that I have and I just have to keep my head up and keep working hard trying to go back to where I was in spring training… I can’t throw strikes with my fastball right now, and I depend a lot on my fastball. When I don’t have command, especially of my fastball, I don’t pitch too good when that happens.”
Command is what crushed Nova tonight. He made some good pitches in the early innings, but he got only one out and allowed four base runners — two walks, a hit and a hit batter — in the three-run fifth that made the difference. Granted, Dave Robertson’s wild pitches contributed to that inning, but the Yankees pitching in this game hinged on Nova, and for the second start in a row he lasted just 4.1 innings.
It was a start similar to some of last year’s Nova outings. He was OK for a while, but eventually the wheels fell off. Even if the result was the same, manager Joe Girardi said the cause was different.
“I didn’t think tonight was anything like what we saw last year,” Girardi said. “I think tonight was command. The free base runners that he gave up is what got him into trouble, and that’s not something he did a lot of last year.”
Nova was terrific in spring training, and he was pretty good in his season debut. Since then, he’s struggled. Maybe these are the natural ups and downs of a 24-year-old rookie, but the Yankees need him now.
“We do need to get some distance,” Girardi said. “It has to come from different starters. We have to get them all to where they can get there for us.”
Here’s Nova’s postgame interview.
“Impressed,” Girardi said. “He threw strikes. He threw strikes with all his pitches tonight.”
Pendleton got to New York around 6:15. He struck out the first batter he faced, then went on to pitch three hitless innings in a terrific big league debut. There’s a lot of pitching in this organization, and Pendleton’s hardly the biggest name, but he put himself on the radar last season and tonight showed why he was the choice to fill a long-relief role in the bullpen.
“I don’t know what I was envisioning,” Pendleton said. “I’ve got a wife and son and I was more flustered getting them setup and here. We’ve got a dog, getting him somewhere in Scranton to take care of him, probably all worked to my favor that I didn’t have an opportunity to think too much. I couldn’t have written it up any better than this other than I wish we had won. But if we were winning, I might not have pitched.”
• Three innings from Pendleton means he won’t be available for a while, but Girardi said Hector Noesi is available for 100 pitches out of the bullpen, so he doesn’t need to make a move. “I don’t have any plans of making a move right now,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees tied an American League record by grounding into six double plays, all of them against Rangers starter Matt Harrison. It’s a franchise record, and six different batters grounded into the double plays. “It was amazing to watch pressure get put on him, but he made all of his pitches down from his fastball to his slider to his changeup,” Curtis Granderson said.
• Speaking of Granderson, all three of his home runs this season are against left-handers. He said that’s a product of last year’s mechanical changes, which helps his timing against lefties. “Now it seems that, no matter what they happen to be doing, at least I’m down and ready to hit the baseball,” he said. “That’s it. It’s not going to go ahead and be positive all the time, but as long as I’m ready to hit the baseball I’ve got a chance.”
• Granderson hit a total of four home runs against left-handed pitchers last season.
• One of the walks and two of the wild pitches in that game-changing fifth inning were charged to Robertson. “You make some wild pitches, it just compounds the problem,” Girardi said.
• When the media got into the clubhouse several minutes after the game, Larry Rothschild was still at Nova’s locker. Nova said the message was one of confidence, telling him to keep his head up and keep working. “We just have to keep watching the video and find out something,” Nova said.
• Pendleton is following the little-used road that Dave Robertson took to New York: He’ll join the Yankees big league roster without having ever been invited to big league spring training.
• Pedro Feliciano was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Pendleton on the 40-man.
• For whatever it’s worth, Nova said the weather didn’t affect him.
• My old friend Mike Ashmore caught up with Kevin Millwood in Trenton, where Millwood is making a Double-A start on Sunday. “(The arm strength) still probably has a little ways to go,” Millwood said. “But it’s definitely closer than it was when I got here.”
Associated Press photos
Pedro Feliciano had an MRI this winter before he signed with the Yankees. It showed no problems. When he got to spring training, he pitched with no pain and no cause for concern. In his fourth spring outing, he allowed one hit and struck out the other three batters he faced. It seemed to be another good sign, but that’s the day Feliciano first felt something in his shoulder.
“That day that I pitched, I remember I threw long toss with Soriano and I was fine,” he said. “I did my short toss and everything, then in the bullpen I was fine. After I got my first out, I got a single bloop to the righty and then I got my two strikeouts. I got the last two outs, but it wasn’t me. That inning was weird. I’ve never had that, so I thought it would go away. That’s why I kept pitching, but the next day was bad.”
Initially, Feliciano thought it was just unexpected soreness. When it lingered, he initially labeled it a triceps issue. Gradually, the diagnosis shifted closer to the shoulder, and yesterday he found out that there’s a small tear in his shoulder capsule. Feliciano believes it’s a new injury, one that happened that day in Florida, not over time at Citi Field. He wonders if it’s connected to all the weight lifting he did this spring.
Bottom line, Feliciano will see Dr. Andrews on Monday for a second opinion, but he’s expecting to have surgery. The Yankees are expecting the same. Brian Cashman called it a “very obvious” diagnosis, and surgery will keep him out all year.
Even if Andrews says surgery is not necessary, Feliciano will still be out several more weeks leaving the Yankees without their primary left-handed reliever, the guy they gave two year, $8 million this winter. The Yankees were well aware of Feliciano’s workload with the Mets, but they thought this was a risk worth taking.
“He was definitely abused over there,” Cashman said. “But we knew that.”
Here’s Cashman. It’s worth a listen. He talked for about 20 minutes about the Yankees own history of overusing pitchers. Cashman said he spoke to Joe Torre about it several times, asking that he not go to the same guys over and over again, and he seems happy that it’s no longer an issue with Joe Girardi.
• For now, the Yankees are going to stick with Boone Logan as their only left-handed reliever. There’s no one in the system they’re considering calling up at the moment, and Girardi said he doesn’t expect to find a lefty on the market right now.
• The most obvious left-handed addition might be Andy Sisco, but Cashman said Sisco’s fastball in Scranton hasn’t been what it was when the Yankees saw him this winter. Sisco might be an option down the road, but Cashman said he’s not an option right now.
• Here’s Joe Girardi on the bullpen without Feliciano: “The bullpen is what it is. We believe that we have right-handers that are capable of getting left-handers out. At this point, Pedro has to make a decision on what he’s going to do. It’s disappointing. We were counting on him to be a big left-hander out of our bullpen. Boone Logan stepped up for us last year, and he’s going to have to do it again.”
• The Associated Press reports that Major League Baseball is leaning toward expanded use of instant replay next season.
• Both Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos have been placed on the Double-A disabled list because of blisters. Cashman said he believe it’s because the seams are smaller — not as raised — on minor league baseballs, which might have been an issue for Betances and Banuelos shifting from big league spring training to the minor league season.
• In other minor league injury news, Josh Norris reports that Gary Sanchez is headed for the disabled list in Charleston. Not sure why.
• Obviously today is a pretty big start for Phil Hughes, as big as a third start of the season can be anyway. Both Girardi and Cashman said Hughes has generally been slow to generate velocity, that it usually doesn’t come until a little later in the season. Last year was an exception to the rule. Girardi said he still considers the velocity a secondary issue. “I wasn’t getting so caught up in it,” he said. “It comes down to locating the ball and changing speeds.”
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Adam Jones CF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Matt Wieters C
Cesar Izturis SS
Associated Press photo of Feliciano
Pregame notes: Bullpen gets a true long man • 04.13.11
Hector Noesi said his first phone call was to his mother. Informed last night that he had been called to New York, Noesi phoned home to pass on the good news.
“She can’t talk on the phone really, she was so excited,” Noesi said.
Noesi will be a long man in the Yankees bullpen. It’s a role Luis Ayala sort of filled, though he was never a natural fit. Ayala had always been a short reliever in his career. Noesi has been a minor league starter.
In theory, adding a true long man adds some flexibility in the way the Yankees use Bartolo Colon. When Colon made the roster, Joe Girardi talked a lot about his ability to be an Alfredo Aceves-type reliever, capable of multiple innings or key one-inning bursts. It’s easy to imagine Colon’s fastball playing up in that sort of three-out situation.
“I think it’s something he could definitely do and it’s something, if the opportunity presents itself, I will not be afraid to use him in that type of situation,” Girardi said. “Maybe one inning, two innings. You could shorten his stints a little bit and maybe use him a little bit different just because we’ve got another true long guy… No matter how you use (Colon), I think he’s going to throw the ball well, but the thing you have to be careful about is a couple of days in a row, especially early on here.”
Tonight: A.J. Burnett
Thursday: Phil Hughes
Friday: Ivan Nova
Saturday: Freddy Garcia
Sunday: CC Sabathia
• Girardi said there is so far nothing new on Pedro Feliciano.
• Girardi said the other pitcher discussed for a call-up was Steve Garrison, but the fact Garrison pitched on Tuesday knocked him out of the running. “We felt that Noesi was more on turn and could give us some distance,” Girardi said. “We’ve been using our right-handers against left-handers anyway and we’d stay with that.”
• To be fair, it’s never out of the question for a minor league starter to be suddenly pulled from a start so that he can be called up. Trenton has Kei Igawa and Cory Arbiso with rotation experience, so they probably could have made a change if they really wanted to call-up Garrison. I’d say the fact he’s in Double-A also played a role here, but that’s just my own speculation.
• Noesi will wear No. 45.
• Given the Josh Hamilton injury — he’s on the disabled list after hurting himself on a head-first slide into home — Girardi said he talked specifically to Brett Gardner about it this afternoon. Players are always taught not to slide head first into first base or home plate, but there are times when they seem unable to help themselves. “You’re taught not to slide head-first, but your instinct sometimes takes over with your aggressiveness and you do it,” Girardi said.
• Girardi acknowledged that Derek Jeter is hitting a lot of balls on the ground, but he hedged with the fact that Jeter’s never really been a fly ball hitter. As I’ve written, I’m actually onboard with Girardi’s stance that it’s far too early to make any sort of definite judgment. “It’s probably a little bit of timing is all it is,” Girardi said.
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Adam Jones CF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Matt Wieters C
Robert Andino SS
Associated Press photos
The Yankees will make their first minor league call-up today. Luis Ayala is going on the disabled list, and Enrique Rojas reports that Hector Noesi will be the replacement in the Yankees bullpen.
There weren’t many options for the Yankees to choose from, but Noesi makes good sense. He last pitched on Saturday, made three Triple-A starts last season and made his way into Baseball America’s top 10 Yankees prospects this season. Highly touted for his command, Noesi walked 28 batters in 160.1 innings last year.
As a minor league planning bonus, calling up Noesi would open a Triple-A rotation spot for Kevin Millwood.
All other 40-man pitchers came with obvious reasons not to call them up.
Dellin Betances: In Double-A. Seems unlikely he’d jump all the way to New York.
Andrew Brackman: Started for Scranton yesterday. Wouldn’t be immediately available.
Steve Garrison: Started for Trenton yesterday. Also would not be immediately available.
Jose Ortegano: On the Triple-A disabled list.
Ryan Pope: On the Triple-A disabled list.
Of the pitchers not on the 40-man, the only one who jumped out at me as a strong option was lefty Andy Sisco. I thought he might make sense as a second lefty who could pitch multiple innings. He’s pitched three innings in Triple-A this season, allowing no hits and one walk while striking out four. His last outing was two innings, he was effective — but wild — in big league camp, and he has 151 games of big league experience.
Then again, the Yankees would have needed to open a 40-man spot for Sisco, and unless today’s MRI on Pedro Feliciano shows a serious problem, there wouldn’t be an easy or obvious way to create an opening.
Pedro Feliciano said he never felt pain during today’s throwing session, but he did feel a slight “pinch,” and that made him feel like something might not be quite right. Feliciano said his arm is usually very loose, and that pinch made him feel like “it wasn’t my arm.”
When he met with the doctor later — after he initially talked to the media — Feliciano spoke up about the pinch. The doctor then prodded near his shoulder, and Feliciano felt the same problem as before.
“I was so happy, jumping all over to play catch,” he said. “And then I came back, not sad, but I just came back with not the result that I want.”
This will be a more thorough MRI, and Feliciano is obviously disappointed. He’d never been on the disabled list before this season, and obviously you have to wonder if his workload with the Mets is finally catching up to him. But that’s an issue for another day. For now, the Yankees have to figure out how much longer they might be without him.
“It’s a concern because we were hoping after these two weeks that he would be able to take the next step, then the next step,” Joe Girardi said. “We’re just not there yet.”
• Luis Ayala has a strained lat. He felt it after Saturday’s game, and it was still tight on Sunday so he was tested today. He’ll go on the disabled list tomorrow. “Instead of saying that he might be back in 4-5 days, we’re just going to be smart and make sure we have enough pitching,” Girardi said.
• Is it possible the Yankees will use that roster spot to call-up a second lefty? “It’s a consideration,” Girardi said. “But we’ll probably take who we feel will help us the most right now.” Steve Garrison’s name obviously jumps to mind, but otherwise there’s not really an obvious candidate.
• Tomorrow’s game will not be a doubleheader. The Yankees have not announced a makeup date for tonight’s rainout. They will play single games Wednesday and Thursday.
• Speaking of which, A.J. Burnett will be bumped back to start tomorrow and Phil Hughes will pitch on Thursday. The Yankees haven’t set a rotation beyond Thursday. It’s possible Freddy Garcia could be skipped again on Friday to let Ivan Nova make that start, but it’s not certain.
• The Yankees have games the next five days, so Garcia should get a start during this home stand at some point.
• No problems with Alex Rodriguez, who had to skip Sunday’s game because he was sick. He was in the lineup, and he was still scheduled to play up until the moment the game was rained out. “He was good,” Girardi said. “He was smiling today; it was good to see him smiling, because he wasn’t smiling Sunday.”
• If you’re looking for good news on Feliciano, he said the two weeks off weren’t a complete waste. The doctor said his arm was legitimately stronger than when he left spring training. “It’s stronger from the bands and the weights and the treatment,” Feliciano said. “But he wants to see more deeper what’s in there with the MRI.”
• From the meaningless information department: Dave Robertson has moved lockers, moving just a few feet to the corner of the clubhouse. He was on Boone Logan’s right, now he’s on Boone Logan’s left. Said he just felt like taking that locker instead. Fair enough.
Associated Press photo of the rainy stadium
The rain has started falling again here at Yankee Stadium.
The sky cleared for a while and there seemed to be some hope that the Yankees would play tonight — and that might still be the case — but it’s certainly taken a turn in the past 15 minutes or so. When A.J. Burnett heard reporters making small talk with Phil Hughes about the possibility of a rain out, Burnett emphatically said the Yankees would play tonight.
Joe Girardi said the Yankees would probably push all of their starters back a day if they’re rained out tonight, but that’s not set in stone. I have to assume that means Freddy Garcia would be skipped again, but Girardi didn’t go into detail.
“The idea is that you could push everyone back if you have to do that,” Girardi said. “Is that exactly what we’ll do? I don’t know. I try not to get too far ahead, as you know. We discussed it briefly today, but we believe that we’re going to play, so I didn’t put too much into it.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.
• Pedro Feliciano played catch this afternoon, but he was throwing lightly and said the session didn’t really tell him whether he’s fully healed from the triceps injury. That said, he feels good, and he’s going to talk to the doctor later today to get an idea of what’s next.
• It’s been 14 days since Feliciano last threw a baseball. Girardi said that’s a slightly off schedule from what the Yankees expected out of spring training. They were expecting him to take 10 days off. “Today’s a big step because you want him to be able to say that he feels good after he plays catch, and then you go one from there,” Girardi said. “You go at the pace that you can go at but you can’t rush it because you don’t want any setbacks.”
• Girardi talked to Alex Rodriguez yesterday and said he was fairly certain he’d have his third baseman back in the lineup today. “I talked to him a little bit yesterday and suspected that he would be fine today,” Girardi said. “He said he was good to go.”
• The plan is for Russell Martin to have a day off on Friday when Freddy Garcia is scheduled to start. Of course, that could change if tonight is rained out.
• Phil Hughes usually throws two sides between starts. This time he threw only one because he’s been doing more long toss to try to build arm strength. “If it’s not there I still have to find a way to pitch,” Hughes said.
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Derrek Lee 1B
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Luke Scott LF
Adam Jones CF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Matt Wieters C
Robert Andino SS
No surprise, Phil Hughes remained a hot topic of discussion during today’s pregame press conference. There’s really nothing new — the Yankees still believe it’s a matter of arm strength — but Joe Girardi did bring up one aspect that Hughes himself mentioned in passing yesterday.
Last season, Hughes didn’t make his first Major League start until April 15. He stayed behind in Tampa to continue pitching in exhibition games after the Yankees broke camp, and in the last outing or two before he finally came north, Hughes’ velocity was lower than usual. The return to form might have been a matter of Major League adrenalin. It might have been a matter of recovering from a sort of dead-arm period. It might have been a matter of gaining the proper arm strength.
“This is a kid that made his first start last year April 15 and his velocity creeped up a couple miles from what it did in spring training,” Girardi said. “I know his velocity has not been there this year. Does it have to do with the increased work last year? Does it have to do with it’s just taking him a little time to get going? I can’t tell you. There’s nothing to lead us to believe that something is bothering him because he hasn’t said anything.”
Girardi said the Yankees still have no plans of sending Hughes to a doctor because right now — aside from the velocity — there’s no sign of trouble, either medical or mechanical.
“There are guys that really get into their legs (when they pitch),” Girardi said. “There are other guys who don’t, who just have that natural gift of being able to throw a ball hard. For Hughesy, he’s somewhere in between that, and I’m not going to panic about his velocity. I’m not. I believe it’s coming back. I can’t give you a date. I’d like to be able to say it will be back this day, but I believe it’s going to be there. Right now he’s scuffling a little bit, and I don’t want to throw away what this kid did last year and all of a sudden say I’m really concerned. Yeah, I want to get him on track and he’s important to us, but I believe it’s coming back.”
• That said, Jorge Posada is off to a strange start. He has three home runs, but he has only one other hit. Some of that is because of the adjustment to DH, Girardi said, but most of it is simply the ebb and flow of being a hitter. “When he hit those couple of home runs we thought he had it,” Girardi said. “It’s just part of the game. In our game there are so many ups and downs, to me the big thing is that mentally you stay on the same plane all the time and you don’t get caught up in it.”
• Russell Martin has played in every game this season, but as Girardi pointed out, he has yet to play more than four games in a row. He was supposed to have a day off on Wednesday, but that game was rained out. “The schedule has played favorably for him to play every day,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said he considered putting Chavez in the field, but right now he’s confident that Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira feel fine. “I think physically, they’re good and their bodies are recovering fine right now,” Girardi said. “Maybe if it’s a little later in the season, I might change my mind.”
• Girardi said it’s possible Bartolo Colon could be available tomorrow, but it’s more likely he won’t pitch again until after Monday’s off day. Freddy Garcia is available as a long man today.
• Kind of like what he said about Hughes, Girardi said he doesn’t want to “throw away” what Boone Logan did last season. The Yankees have seen Logan be effective as the No. 1 lefty, and right now they have little choice but to trust that he’ll get going again. “Boone is our left-hander out of the bullpen that’s going to need to get left-handers out,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of lefties, Pedro Feliciano will see the doctor when the Yankees return to New York. If that checkup goes well, he could be cleared to begin throwing. Feliciano has indicated that he does not believe it will take him very long to get ready.
• Francisco Cervelli has been taking batting practice, running in a pool and doing light agility drills in Tampa. Girardi still believes he could have his regular backup catcher by early May.
• I thought Girardi did a nice job addressing the Manny Ramirez retirement: “Any time that this comes up, it’s kind of a black eye for baseball in a sense,” he said. “It’s sad. We keep trying to put this behind us, this era that they talk about, and it just keeps resurfacing. We have trials coming up, we have what happened with Manny, and it saddens me. You want the game to be clean and gone about the right way. We went through a time period that it didn’t happen.”
Associated Press photos of Hughes and Posada.
Also, Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues is a Bob Dylan song. For whatever reason I thought of it when I was writing that headline.
Joe Girardi has settled on one lineup decision: Derek Jeter will bat leadoff against left-handed starters. “You can bank on that,” Girardi said.
Who bats leadoff against right-handers remains up in the air.
Jack Curry reported today that the Yankees will open the season with Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot. I’m sure Curry’s right, but Girardi said he hasn’t settled on a lineup against right-handed pitchers.
“It’s something we’ll talk about on the plane,” Girardi said.
The Yankees face Justin Verlander on Thursday, and won’t face a lefty through the entire opening series against Detroit. The fact Girardi stuck with Gardner in the leadoff spot through the final two weeks or so of spring training seems to be a pretty good sign that he’s leaning that way for the regular season, but he’s said he won’t set anything in stone until Thursday.
“We’ll find out in a couple of day,” Gardner said. “I’m not worried about it.”
Gardner hit .260 this spring. His nine walks were tied with Jorge Posada for the team lead. Jeter hit .304 and struck out only three times. In the final weeks, he seemed to be driving the ball more often, and Girardi said that’s what stood out to him about his shortstop.
“Some of the balls that he’s pulled with authority,” Girardi said. “I’ve noticed that he seems to get to that better now, and I think it’s something that pitchers are going to have to think about. Everything he used to try to shoot the other way, and he would pull some breaking balls. I’ve seen him pull some heaters with authority. People are going to have to decide whether the risk is worth it now.”
• Pedro Feliciano might be out longer than two weeks. Girardi said Feliciano has been shut down for 10 days and is likely to be out at least three weeks. “He’s going to have to play catch and long toss and flat ground then get off a mound and then throw to hitters,” Girardi said. “I think you’re looking at at least three weeks.”
• Feliciano, Damaso Marte and Colin Curtis are all traveling with the Yankees to New York. They’ll all be checked out in the City, but they won’t necessarily stay with the team for their rehab work.
• Girardi made it clear that if Curtis Granderson isn’t able to open the season, Chris Dickerson is the next in line to take that roster spot. If Granderson does open the season, though, the Dickerson will open in the minors.
• Every healthy Yankees reliever pitched today. Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson pitched in a simulated game at the minor league complex. Rafael Soriano and Bartolo Colon combined for a hitless inning and a third in the big league game. Even 12th reliever candidates Luis Ayala and Steve Garrison pitched today.
• In his final spring start, Freddy Garcia went 4.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out three. The one run came on a home run by Brennan Boesch.
• Meaningless spring information: Colon started the spring opener, and he threw the final pitch in today’s finale.
• Garrison faced four hitters today. He retired the two right-handers — including a strikeout of Jhonny Peralta — but both lefties singled. Ayala faced three hitters. Magglio Ordonez doubled, Miguel Cabrera grounded out and Victor Martinez flied out.
• Phil Hughes allowed one run through five innings at the minor league complex today. Granderson and Dickerson faced Hector Noesi and some other minor leaguers in their sim game. Thank you to Donnie Collins for the information.
• Austin Romine hit his second spring home run. The two homers came in back-to-back games. The Yankees only other extra-base hit was a double by Andruw Jones, but the Romine homer push the Yankees to a 2-1 win.
• Girardi was asked today if he might be more willing to pinch hit for his catcher this season because he has Jorge Posada as an emergency option. “It’s probably something I would be somewhat reluctant to do,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli is no longer wearing his protective boot. “I don’t think it’s out of the question to have him May 1,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of Cervelli: “He asked me if I wanted (the boot),” Girardi said. “I said no, I don’t.” Only Cervelli would ask if someone else would like to keep his protective boot.
Associated Press photos of Jeter, Garcia and Rodriguez