Postgame notes: “Command is the big issue” • 09.17.11
CC Sabathia matched season-highs tonight by allowing 10 hits and four walks. He also matched a season-low by pitching only 5.2 innings.
Since the Yankees went to a six-man rotation at the end of July, Sabathia has made nine starts, seven of them on extra rest. He’s allowed 10 hits in five of those extra-rest starts, something he’d done only once in 23 starts before the six-man rotation became a somewhat permanent situation.
“I don’t think (extra rest has been the problem),” Sabathia said. “I’ve felt great. My arm feels good. My body feels good. It’s just been not executing pitches when I need to. The Lind at-bat, not being able to make the pitch and get out of the inning… Command is the big issue, but my stuff has been there. That’s what’s so frustrating.”
The Lind at-bat was in the fifth, when the Yankees had given Sabathia a 3-1 lead. Sabathia allowed a pair of two-out walks, then he faced Adam Lind with the bases loaded. Lind doubled in all three runs, and when Sabathia loaded the bases again in the sixth, Luis Ayala had to bail him out.
“I still felt good about him getting Lind out,” Girardi said. “Lind hurt us tonight with a couple doubles and a single. I still felt good about it. I thought his stuff was okay, and I thought he’d get him out. He didn’t… I still really believe in (Sabathia). I think he’s going to be great for us and he’ll continue to be great for us. Tonight, he struggled a little bit, but he gave us a chance to win that game. We weren’t able to score after we tied it up 4-4. I still think CC’s going to run off some good starts, I really do.”
Could extra rest be an issue? Sabathia notoriously thrives with less rest rather than more.
“It could,” Girardi said. “He’s going to be on regular rest his next turn, so we’ll get a good chance to see that. That’s just been the way it’s been for us, but we’ll get him on regular rest.”
Actually, to line up Sabathia for Game 1 of the division series, the Yankees might have to pitch him on short rest Sunday against Boston.
“The past couple of starts it’s just been tough, throwing a lot of pitches in a short amount of time. Just frustrating,”
• After batting practice, Alex Rodriguez explained that he spent the day learning to hit with a ring of tape separating his uninjured top hand and his sore left thumb. He believes he’s allowed to use the taped bat during the game. “We’ve never tried it, but Kevin had me split my hands, and after that it felt really good because I didn’t put any pressure on the thumb,” Rodriguez said. “If it goes well — you know how us baseball players are, we just won’t change — it will definitely alleviate any pain on my thumb, because the only pressure I have is when I press down on the point of contact.”
• Rodriguez took a ton of swings today. He did tee and toss with Kevin Long before batting practice, then he took eight rounds of regular BP, hitting with two different groups.
• Girardi said after the game that he still plans to play Rodriguez tomorrow. Everything he saw in BP makes him think Rodriguez will be ready. “I’d like to pencil his name in there,” Girardi said. “I’d actually like to use a pen.”
• Sabathia’s short-and-sweet explanation of what went wrong on the pitch to Lind: “Just got a ball out over the plate. He put a good swing on it. He had been putting good swings all night and got a pitch he could handle.”
• The Yankees have lost six of their past nine games, five of their past six loses have come in one-run games.
• Three days ago, Cory Wade had not lost a game since joining the Yankees. He’s now allowed two straight walkoffs, giving up a walkoff homer on Wednesday and Jose Molina’s walkoff single tonight.
• Boone Logan took the loss after allowing a sharp leadoff double in that decisive ninth.
• Until the ninth, the bullpen had been a bright spot for the Yankees. Ayala got Sabathia out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, Rafael Soriano struck out the side in the seventh and Dave Robertson left the bases loaded in the eighth.
• Eric Chavez hit his second home run of the season… Nick Swisher twice tied the game with two-out hits… Derek Jeter’s 13-game hitting streak ended.
• Brett Gardner stole two bases tonight. He’s been successful in 40 of his past 47 attempts.
Associated Press photos
Just a few days ago, the mounting injuries in the Yankees clubhouse seemed to be a minor issue. A handful of guys were banged up, but none of the issues seemed serious. If anything, most guys seemed to be getting better.
Today, the feeling was different. Alex Rodriguez’s thumb injury just won’t go away. Nick Swisher isn’t sure how long he’ll be out. Francisco Cervelli was a late scratch (again). Boone Logan is still not available.
“I’m trying to win, just like I was last year,” Joe Girardi said. “If they can play, and be productive, I’m going to play them. If we feel like they’ll play and not be productive, we might as well let them get healthy so they can be productive. That’s what I have to measure.”
One-by-one, these are the issues the Yankees are dealing with.
This is the same thumb injury that’s bothered him ever since he made the awkward backhanded play in Minneapolis three weeks ago. The Yankees have tried to manage it with occasional days off, but it hasn’t quite gone away, and Rodriguez told Girardi after last night’s game that it was still bothering him.
“I feel like there’s a big difference between being hurt and playing through bumps and bruises,” Rodriguez said. “I can certainly play through bumps and bruises. Even with bumps and bruises, I can do serious damage. But the way I am right now, I don’t think it’s possible.”
Since coming off the disabled list — he injured the thumb the first day back — Rodriguez has hit just .194/.370/.389 with three extra-base hits in 10 games. He went for an additional MRI in New York last week, but Rodriguez thinks it’s actually been getting better, it’s just not fully healed yet.
“We’re trying to get him going, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “If you keep taking these breaks, it’s hard to get going, and that’s the frustrating part.”
The test results could have been much worse. Swisher’s MRI revealed no structural damage, but it did show what Swisher described as “a lot of inflammation.” Girardi called it tendonitis, but the bottom line is this: Swisher is day-to-day, but he doesn’t seem to have a long-term issue.
“It’s a bummer because, right now, you want to be in there every day,” Swisher said. “Everyone is tired, everyone is going through their aches and pains, but you definitely want to try and be out there. Right now, we have relax a little bit. We just need to chill for a couple days.”
Swisher doesn’t seem to have a timetable. He’s going to do treatment today, and what he does tomorrow will depend on how he feels. Girardi expects this to be a smaller issue that Rodriguez’s thumb.
“I think Alex’s thumb might be more of a continual problem,” Girardi said. “Swish is probably just a few days rest of some medicine, some treatment. He should be ok. Tendonitis usually clears up. But Alex, we’ll just have to wait.”
After being run over by Nick Markakis on Thursday, Cervelli has been in the Yankees lineup two days in a row, only to be scratched each time. Girardi said Cervelli has some concussion symptoms, and he was sent for an ImPACT test tonight.
There’s no injury here, but the Yankees are cautious because Jones’ has a history of knee problems, and they don’t want to push him too hard when he’s not used to playing every day. Jones has missed only one day so far this month, so Girardi wanted to give him a day off. That’s why he’s not in right field tonight.
Girardi plans to stay away from Logan again tonight. He’ll also stay away from Luis Ayala, and he has to check with Cory Wade, but Rafael Soriano is available again. Logan hasn’t had more than one day off since August 27, and in that span he’s thrown three days in a row once, and three out of four twice. His velocity has dipped lately, and the Yankees think fatigue and dead arm might be the cause.
Eduardo Nunez was pretty funny when he saw the lineup posted this afternoon. His reaction was a single word that can’t be printed in this space, and he was laughing about it when reporters asked about his first career start in right field.
“I knew if they needed me, I could play outfield, but I didn’t know I was starting today,” he said. “They didn’t tell me… It’s fun. It’s a new experience. I’ll do the best I can.”
Nunez has played right field only once in his life. It was earlier this season in Baltimore, and he caught the only ball hit to him. He played some left field in spring training, and he’s played both corners during batting practice.
“The way he’s swung the bat (was a factor),” Girardi said. “And I liked his at-bats against Haren the last time we played. And it might be something we have to do… Sometimes you have to look at it, and if we’re fortunate enough to get a lead, we can always make a switch.”
Here’s Nunez. At the end of the group interview someone wished him luck. “I need luck,” Nunez said.
• Terrific pitching matchup tonight with CC Sabathia and Dan Haren. “Two guys who really know how to use the strike zone,” Girardi said. “They know how to mix their pitches, they know how to throw offspeed behind in the count. When you look at Danny Haren, he’s going to throw a split, a lot of cutters, he’s going to throw curveballs, he’s going to mix his pitches.
• The Yankees have lost three in a row, all by one run. “It could be fatigue,” Girardi said. “That’s the only thing that I could think of. We have not swung the bats very well lately, and maybe we could turn that around tonight.”
• Girardi is hopeful that he’ll have Rodriguez and Swisher back by the end of the road trip. “We’ve got a long way to go this road trip, so I would sure hope so,” he said. “I would hope to have both of them back before that.”
• Swisher on Nunez taking his spot in right: “He’s an athlete. He can do it.”
Maicer Izturis 3B
Peter Bourjos CF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Torii Hunter DH
Mark Trumbo 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Mike Trout RF
Erick Aybar SS
Jeff Mathis C
Associated Press photos
Nick Swisher’s left elbow has bothered him from time to time, but not quite like it did on his first throw from the outfield yesterday.
“I threw it and said, ‘Wow, that didn’t’ feel right,’” Swisher said. “… I know what feels right, I know what doesn’t feel right. After yesterday’s game, I was like man, I’ve got to check this thing out. I don’t like going to the training room man, it’s not my thing. But there are some times. You can’t be a hard head all the time, man, and you actually have to go in there. We’ll just see what they say and figure it out from there.”
Swisher will see the Angels team doctor at some point, probably today. He’s expecting to play tomorrow, but it’s hard to know anything for certain at this point. Joe Girardi called Swisher day-to-day.
During these past three days — when the Yankees had that long rain delay, followed by the four-hour-plus game, followed by extra innings in Baltimore — Swisher actually played all three days, but that’s only after he’d been off on Monday. Girardi said he didn’t believe playing those three games had a real impact on the elbow.
“I think it’s just one throw, really, more than anything,” Swisher said. “I don’t know what it is, so I’m going to see the doctor and find out. So, we’ll see. I’m not nervous about it but I’d feel a lot better if the doctor said ‘hey man, this is what you’ve got. It’s going to be OK.’ Because I’ve never had something like this before. (This is) more sharp pains. Hopefully, it’s just a day-to-day thing.”
• Jesus Montero is getting a designated hitter start against a right-hander today, and Girardi hinted that he might do that more often. “I think you want to see more,” he said. “You don’t want him to sit too long between games, either. You want to get him back in there. He’s swung the bat very well, showed patience and showed the ability to make adjustments.”
• Aside from Swisher, all of the Yankees regulars are in the lineup, but the bullpen is thin beyond Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson. It’s possible, in the next couple of days, that the Yankees will have to move a starter to the bullpen. “We might need someone,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying they won’t start again, but we might need someone in the bullpen. Soriano’s went a bunch of days in a row, Ayala’s went a bunch of days, Wade’s went a bunch of days, Logan’s went a bunch of days. I have Robby and Mo available tonight, but after that, I have to see.”
• If the Yankees don’t get distance out of Bartolo Colon, Girardi said he’s not sure Hector Noesi could be used for a truly extended outing (he threw back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple innings Wednesday). So, if the Yankees need a true long man, Girardi said it would likely be either George Kontos, Andrew Brackman or Dellin Betances. “Could be one of the kids,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of the kids, Betances is here mostly to get his feet wet and get a look at life in the big leagues. He’s active, but unlike Montero, Betances isn’t expected to play a significant role down the stretch. “You never know,” Girardi said. “He might pitch in a game, he might pich great and you might use him more. I don’t have any specific plans for him, in a sense, but we’ll see what happens.”
• Today is Betances’ normal day to pitch, which is why the call-up waited until now. He went to Tampa to throw a regular bullpen after the Triple-A regular season, then spent one day at home in New Jersey before flying to California yesterday afternoon.
• Girardi expected Betances to be the last September call-up. He said there was talk about calling up Manny Banuelos, but the Yankees didn’t think this was the time to do it. “They talked about him and decided not to,” Girardi said. “They looked at his year and said they weren’t going to call him up yet.”
• The Yankees rotation is not set beyond Sunday. “We’ll wait to see how we get through this weekend,” Girardi said. “Larry and I are still talking about it.”
• I’m sure he doesn’t speak for everyone, but Brett Gardner said he actually feels no different today — after those long three days of rain and extra innings — than he would at the start of any other West Coast trip. “No, not really,” he said. “I feel pretty good, especially after that long flight last night. I feel better today than I expected to. It’s obviously not ideal and something everybody has to deal with.”
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter RF
Mark Trumbo 1B
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Vernon Wells LF
Peter Bourjos CF
Jeff Mathis C
Associated Press photos
Postgame notes: “I have to be happy” • 08.29.11
When Freddy Garcia agreed to a minor league deal this winter, the expectation was that he would eventually fall apart. Sure, he’d won some games with Chicago last year, but he was clearly beyond his prime, and clearly a signing based more on heavy desperation than high expectation.
But here we are, about to flip the calendar to September, and Garcia just keeps getting it done. It’s not flashy — he really is a different pitcher than he used to be — but it’s effective. He hadn’t pitched in a big league game since August 7, but there were no signs of rust. He gave up two hits through six innings and picked up his 11th win.
“That’s as good as it gets,” Joe Girardi said. “He hung one slider to Mark Reynolds and gave us six great innings. I would have signed up for that if someone had asked me what we’d get from him tonight. He was excellent tonight. He knows how to pitch.”
The tendency is to be … what’s the word? Shocked? Surprised? Impressed?
Garcia seems … indifferent. He shrugs off the extra rest without any rust. He shrugs off being 11-7 with a 3.09 ERA. He laughs at the notion that he should have any sort of reaction to keeping his spot in the rotation.
“Of course, I have to be happy,” he said. “I wasn’t pitching for almost three weeks, something like that, but I’m glad to do my job and get a win. We need it… I just try to do my job. Go there and do the best I can. When I pitch bad, I pitch bad. I know most guys, excuse. Go out there and perform. If I pitch good, I pitch good. If I pitch bad, I pitch bad. Nothing I can do. Always, if I’ve got a bad start, I have to put away the bad and think about my next one. I’ve got to be really positive about it.”
The Yankees are planning to cut their rotation from six to five at the end of this week. Joe Girardi has committed to no one being locked into a spot, but he did it tonight.
Will Garcia start again in five days?
“Oh yeah,” Girardi said.
• Nick Swisher has become a beast. His two-run home run tonight was his sixth homer in seven games. He’s up to 21 for the season. “Once you get that groove, you want to continue to keep it,” he said. “That’s all I’m really trying to do right now.”
• Mark Teixeira’s RBI double in the first inning gave him 100 RBI for the season. He now has 30 homers and 100 RBI in eight straight seasons. He’s the only Major Leaguer to have done that in the past eight years. “He’s just a model of consistency,” Girardi said. “You know when the season starts that you’re going to get 30 and 100 from Tex. That’s great as a manager and as an organization to be able to pencil that in.”
• Curtis Granderson keeps scoring runs. Tonight he scored from first on Teixeira’s double, giving him 122 runs for the season. That matches a career-high for Granderson. He still leads baseball in the category, by a lot.
• Derek Jeter said his sore right knee feels considerably better than it did at this time last night. He expects to play tomorrow. “I hope so,” he said. “That’s the plan, but I haven’t done anything. We’ll see when we get there tomorrow.”
• Jeter said he believes he’ll be able to play shortstop. If he’s healthy enough to play, he’s healthy enough to play the field. He had his knee heavily wrapped yesterday, only moderately today.
• It wasn’t a perfect three innings for the Soriano-Robertson-Rivera trio, but it was good enough. Dave Robertson gave up his first home run of the season — snapping a streak of 68.2 innings without a homer — but those three still kept the slim lead intact. Rafael Soriano had an especially dominant inning. “Velocity was great, location was great,” Girardi said. “He’s a big part of this for us.”
• Speaking of homerless streaks ending: The home run Garcia allowed was his first after 69 innings without one.
• The J.J. Hardy home run off Robertson was also the first run Robertson had allowed on the road this year.
• The Orioles had not allowed a stolen base in seven games, but Brett Gardner stole one in the fifth inning. Gardner is up to 38 steals for the season.
Associated Press photos
Alex Rodriguez admitted last night that he still feels hesitant on that surgically repaired knee. Taking that into account, the Yankees still plan to bring their third baseman to Minnesota, but they might wait a few more days before activating him.
“Our plans right now are still to bring him to Minnesota tomorrow if everything goes OK,” Joe Girardi said. “We may not activate him. We may have him just go through some things for a couple of days and wait a couple of days to activate him. But our plans are for him to come tomorrow, and we could activate him. We’ll see.”
Girardi said Rodriguez will stick with the plan of playing third base tonight, but it’s entirely possible that he’ll initially DH when he’s activated for the big league roster.
“He said he felt good, but he was just tentative,” Girardi said. “And I don’t really think that’s so abnormal because as I said, he ran probably two or three weeks tentative, and you get used to running a certain way. He’s been this way for probably the last eight weeks now, and he has to get that out of his mind.”
Girardi said he’ll wait until Rodriguez goes through some drills with Kevin Long and visits the Yankees training staff before deciding whether to activate Rodriguez tomorrow.
“A couple of days, if you rush, could cost you a couple of weeks,” Girardi said. “You could end up hurting something else. That’s why we want to take a look at him with our own eyes tomorrow and see how far he is away, and see if he’s ready for tomorrow.”
• Freddy Garcia did not throw his splitfinger today, but the Yankees believe there’s a chance he’ll throw it tomorrow. Girardi didn’t rule out using Garcia for Saturday’s start, but it sounds more likely that A.J. Burnett will start that game and Garcia will be bumped back to Sunday.
• The DL isn’t completely ruled out for Garcia: “At this point, if he can’t make his start Sunday, you could definitely do that because it’s two weeks.”
• When Rodriguez is activated, the Yankees plan to drop a pitcher, but they’ll stick with a six-man rotation through the doubleheader in Baltimore. When Rodriguez is activated, the Yankees will carry a six-man bullpen for a few days. “Going to have to,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of a six-man bullpen: Girardi said he could get two to three innings out of Cory Wade and Luis Ayala, and he believes Hector Noesi would be good for about 50 pitches (probably closer to four innings). Distance might be necessary if the bullpen is short-handed for a few days.
• Girardi said he’ll have to check with his late-inning relievers to determine whether they’re available today. Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera have all pitched back-to-back games.
Alex Gordon LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Billy Butler DH
Eric Hosmer 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Salvador Perez C
Mike Moustakas 3B
Alcides Escobar SS
Associated Press photos
Yankees postgame: Nova mostly super again • 08.11.11
Ivan Nova showed something in this 9-3 win over the Angels. He showed up without his good slider and still was charged with just three runs and five hits over six-plus. Both Nova and Joe Girardi took that as an indication of growth.
“I thought he used his fastball really effectively and got a lot of ground-ball outs and guys played good defense behind him,” Girardi said. “When you don’t have your good stuff and you can do that, that’s a sign of maturing.”
It’s going to be rather hard to take Nova out of the rotation again, considering he leads all major-league rookies with 11 wins. That total also ranks him second on the staff behind CC Sabathia.
Nova is 11-4 with a 3.85 ERA, and he’s 7-0 with a 3.10 ERA over his last eight starts.
“We’ve seen him grow leaps and bounds from what he was last year and how he’s evolved and the way he’s taken ownership of his career and just went out and pitched really well,” Girardi said. “You talk about tough scenarios, the rumors that Phil Hughes is coming back from his injury; pitching in the American League East, a tough division. He’s responded very well.”
Nova kept a good attitude when he was sent to the minors July 3 to make room for Hughes.
“I think he took it as a challenge that this is the last time you’re going to send me down,” Girardi said.
And this 24-year-old pitcher indeed doesn’t want to see Scranton/Wilkes-Barre again. Nothing personal from Nova for those of you reading in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
“You never want to go back down,” Nova said. “When I got back here, that’s one of the first things I said, ‘I don’t want to go back down.’ It’s not good to have to take a bus eight, nine hours. You’ve got to leave everything you have in the game so you can stay here and don’t go back down.”
*Rafael Soriano has been brilliant since he returned from the DL July 29. Nova left him a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the seventh and Soriano cleaned most of it up in four pitches, allowing just one runner to cross on a double-play grounder and then getting a fly ball. Soriano is now perfect in five innings with five Ks since coming back. Soriano in the seventh, David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth sure looks good on paper.
Girardi on Soriano: “I think he’s really back to himself.”
*Curtis Granderson had his third multihomer game of the season and 10th of his career. His 31 homers are a career-high, surpassing the 30 he sent up for the Tigers in 2009.
“It’s one of those things where I’m happy that I was able to get to that point, but it definitely wasn’t a goal by any means,” Granderson said. “I didn’t go in saying I want to hit ‘x’ amount of home runs. It’s just one of the things when given the opportunity, if I have a pitch to drive, I just want to drive it. If it gets out of the ballpark, great. If not, we’ve got extra bases and we could run from there.”
Granderson and Mark Teixeira (32 homers) are the only teammates in the majors now with at least 30 homers. This was the Yankees’ 115th game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the only Yankees teammates to get to 30 homers in less team games were Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in 1961 and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Actually, Ruth and Gehrig did it three times.
*The Yankees beat Garrett Richards, a significant achievement since they hadn’t won a game against a team with a starting pitching making his major-league debut since May 1, 2004. This snapped a six-game losing streak against those teams.
“I hadn’t realized that,” Girardi said. “In the past, we’ve struggled against guys we haven’t seen a lot of. This year, we’ve been a little different.”
*In the series finale this afternoon, the starters will be Bartolo Colon and Tyler Chatwood.
Day game after a night game, news was predictably light in the Yankees clubhouse this afternoon. A few players were watching one of those racing movies on television — I’m sure it had something to do with driving fast and driving furious — and batting practice was pretty much the same as always.
The only curious situation involves Phil Hughes, who’s next appearance is still a little bit up in the air. He’s definitely available out of the bullpen tomorrow — that would be his normal turn in the rotation — and Joe Girardi said he could probably use Hughes today because his pitch count was so low on Tuesday.
If the Yankees don’t need him tonight, they’ll have to decide whether to kep him available as a reliever tomorrow, or go ahead and have him throw a bullpen in preparation for Tuesday’s start.
“If he’s not going to get in a game today, we could have him throw a side tomorrow if we feel that our bullpen’s in good shape,” Girardi said. “Or we could do it during the game.”
Basically, the Yankees could be playing it by ear well into Sunday’s game. The fact Ivan Nova is on turn for Tuesday gives the Yankees plenty of short-term options with Hughes.
• According to The Associated Press, Alex Rodriguez took 43 swings during batting practice today in Tampa. It as his first BP session since knee surgery, and he also took about 30 swings off a tee and 66 more during soft toss. He also took grounders and increased his running during a 70-minute workout.
• Interesting note from Joel Sherman who says the Yankees were planning to option Ivan Nova after Thursday’s start, but he was so good they couldn’t make the move. Sherman writes that the Yankees could stick with a six-man rotation for a while longer because it lets them rest their veterans.
• Could Rafael Soriano be available in back-to-back games? “He has done it (during his rehab assignment),” Girardi said. “He did it down there. I will check with him today to see how he physically feels and then we’ll make a decision. Let him play catch and do all his things.”
• Girardi on why Francisco Cervelli has worked so well with CC Sabathia: “CC has thrown tremendous all year long. Cervy has a couple of years with him. You can go back to when Cervy caught him in ’09, caught him in ’10 and in ’11. I think that’s helpful where Freddy and Bart he didn’t necessarily see. He didn’t catch a ton of Hughsey. Knows Nova. But I think part of it is the experience he has with CC.”
• There was a lot of pregame talk about the job Boone Logan has done lately, including that huge out last night. “I go back to Cincinnati,” Girardi said. “That seems to be when he got on a roll. And I don’t remember when we were there. It think it was in the month of June. I don’t remember. He seemed to really get on a roll there for us, and he’s remained on it, and he’s gotten a lot of big outs for us.”
• Forgot to mention this last night: Austin Romine has been placed on the Double-A disabled list with a sore back.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Aviles RF
Carl Crawford LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Marco Scutaro SS
Associated Press photos
The missing piece of the bullpen puzzle • 08.06.11
Joe Girardi finally threw Rafael Soriano into the fire last night. He waited a full week, pitching Soriano in two fairly meaningless situations before thrusting him into a one-run game at Fenway with first-place on the line.
“This guy’s used to this type of situation,” Girardi said. “… I did ease him in. That was the idea to get him ready as we went forward and we got in these type of games. I wanted to give him a couple of appearances. He got a couple of appearances, basically about the amount of appearances (counting rehab outings) he got in spring training, and I just felt he was ready to go.”
With Soriano ready to go, the Yankees bullpen is in place. Or, as Russell Martin put it, “We seem to have all the pieces of the puzzle.”
I wrote last night that this isn’t exactly the bullpen the Yankees envisioned, and it’s not, but there seems to be the same sort of comfort that the Yankees imagined. The emergence of Dave Robertson and the arrival of Cory Wade have really provided a boost to make up for the loss of Joba Chamberlain. Hector Noesi has become a reliable long man. Boone Logan has settled in as a lefty specialist. Now Soriano is back in the mix, and he looked good last night.
“I think you see the arm speed coming back and the location on the breaking ball,” Larry Rothschild said. “Tonight was a good night for him and this team, to see that.”
As for Soriano, he still doesn’t say much, but last night’s outing seemed to speak volumes.
“I feel much better every, every day,” Soriano said. “The way I pitched today reminded me of the way I pitched in Tampa when I was the closer… I think everybody knows when I signed here, how good the bullpen was going to be, and now you see the results.”
Associated Press photo
Yankees postgame: What’s next for Nova? • 07.31.11
Ivan Nova belongs up here. The rookie is 9-4 with a 4.01 ERA. He gave up just two runs, six hits and one walk while fanning six over seven innings in this 17-3 win over the Orioles in the second game.
Yet his immediate future is unclear. Joe Girardi said the plan for him has yet to be discussed, and he left open the possibility of a short-term six-man rotation. Nova obviously doesn’t want to have to go back to Triple-A. But he said, “That’s a decision I don’t make. Of course, I want to be here.”
He added: “I just thought pitch my game, pitch a good game. If I had to prove something, I did already.”
*Rafael Soriano made a nice return, a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts in the second game, his first outing for the Yankees since May 13.
“I felt really good to be out there,” Soriano said. “Thank God I came back and everything was OK. I was pain free.”
There was one negative.
“The velocity wasn’t there,” Soriano said.
But he added that he thought it would come back with more outings.
*Derek Jeter took a grounder off his finger in the second game, but Girardi thought he would be OK for Sunday’s game.
*That Yankees-record 12-run first in the nightcap included 70 pitches by Zach Britton and Jason Berken.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Britton said. “The game’s over in the first inning. As a position player, I can’t imagine what they’re thinking. They know that there’s no way we’re going to win this game, most likely. So it just takes the winds out of your sails.”
*Robinson Cano finished 5 for 5 with five RBI, the first Yankees second baseman to get at least five hits and five RBI in a game since 1920.
*The Orioles traded first baseman Derrek Lee to the Pirates for a minor-league first baseman.
*The Red Sox reportedly were on the verge of getting righty Rich Harden from the A’s. But then there were reports that the deal collapsed.
*Sunday’s starters are Freddy Garcia and Jake Arrieta.
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