The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Pregame notes: Opportunities on the way06.10.11

Joe Girardi said he wasn’t holding out much hope. The Yankees doctors had seen Joba Chamberlain’s MRI results, and the Yankees manager was sure that their diagnosis was correct.

“I was pretty convinced that he was going to have surgery,” Girardi said.

Dr. James Andrews confirmed the diagnosis today, and Chamberlain will have surgery on Thursday. He’s likely lost for a year or so, certainly through the rest of this season and probably well into next season.

A Yankees bullpen that was seen as an overwhelming strength at the start of the spring training schedule now includes only three relievers who were projected to make the team when camp opened — Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson and Boone Logan — and two of those three have been thrust into more significant roles than expected. Now it’s Luis Ayala who seems poised to take a larger-than-expected role. The Yankees will try some young guys, but Ayala’s experience essentially makes him the new Robertson, while Robertson becomes the new Chamberlain (who was already the new Rafael Soriano).

“(Ayala)’s become real important,” Girardi said. “He’d kind of taken Robby’s spot in the sixth, and now he’s going to be moved up to Robby’s spot in the seventh, so he’s become real important for us. He is a guy that has experience. He’s pitched in the back end of games, which I think is important. What we’ve seen from him is he has his good sinker, he comes in and throws strikes and he has a slider. He’s not afraid. He’s been through this before.”

The Yankees are expected to make a move before tonight’s game. We already know Kevin Whelan is on his way from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Once he arrives, he’ll be the first of what could be several internal options the Yankees look at in the late innings, trying to see who else might fit.

“You could see some guys that are going to get an opportunity, and we’re going to see what they can do,” Girardi said. “Obviously, when you start talking about pitching in the back end of games, a lot of times you prefer power arms or a lot of deception, and there’s some young kids down there — and some young kids in Double-A, and you probably even go down further — that have that, and they don’t have the experience. Some of them might get it.”

• Russell Martin texted Girardi this morning to say his back was feeling better, but the Yankees coaching staff told Girardi that Martin’s still not ready to play. Girardi said it’s just tightness. “We are going in the right direction,” Girardi said. “Maybe tomorrow is feasible. Maybe on Sunday. I’m hoping by this weekend we can play him.”

• Without Martin, the Yankees have leaned on Francisco Cervelli, who’s been throwing the ball into center field more often than the throws it to second base. Girardi and Tony Pena have been working with him to fix a mechanical flaw. “It’s similar to with a pitcher,” Girardi said. “If that front shoulder flies a little bit early, that ball’s taking off. And that’s what’s happening with him.”

• Girardi said Martin’s injury do not have him thinking about making a move to call up a catcher. “I think we’re OK for a while just because we do have Jorge in case of emergency,” Girardi said. “It would be different if we didn’t have Jorge.”

• Speaking of Posada, his son is feeling better two days after surgery. “He’s doing good,” Posada said. “He’s doing better.”

• Talked to Damaso Marte for a little while this afternoon. He’s playing catch, but only from about 20 feet. Much beyond that, his shoulder still feels sore. Playing light catch, though, the ball comes out “nice and easy” and Marte is still hopeful that he’ll be able to get himself back at some point after the all-star break.

• On Wednesday, the Indians optioned Shelley Duncan to Triple-A. It goes without saying that I was hoping to see him this weekend. He’s an easy guy to like, and an easy guy to root for.

• The Indians are one of the biggest surprises in baseball, a first-place team expected to finish at the bottom of the AL Central. “They’ve played well,” Girardi said. “They’ve pitched. Offensively, a lot of left-handed hitters. A lot of those guys are switch-hitters as well. They’re a young team that’s played well and they’ve gotten Grady Sizemore back. They’ve gotten huge contributions from Asdrubal Cabrera and there’s some experience there in bringing in Orlando Cabrera which I’m sure has helped out a lot and has helped out these young kids. Hafner, even though he’s been hurt, has had a pretty good year. I mean, this is a pretty good club, and they have some guys that have struggled but they’re still winning.”

• Tony Gwynn is one of the few players who would know, and he says the last 10 hits are the hardest to get on the way to 3,000. Derek Jeter is 10 away right now. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to get 3,000 hits,” Girardi said. “But I would imagine if I was at 2,990 it would be on my mind. But sometimes things just have a way of working out where it looks like it’s on your mind but it’s really not, or it’s on your mind and it looks like it’s not. I don’t think he’s ever going to let us know, but I’m sure it’s possible.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 517 Comments →

Robinson Cano’s world, plus notes and links01.14.11

Jack Curry went down to the Dominican Republic last month to spend time with Robinson Cano, bringing the YES Network into Cano’s world of offseason training. There’s a preview clip on the network’s website, and it’s well worth watching. Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli have been working with Cano, who basically serves as their hitting coach. It’s a great glimpse into the winter work of one of the Yankees top hitters.

• MLBTradeRumors has an long list of reactions to the Rafael Soriano signing. You’ll find a mix of pros and cons in there. I guess I’d label myself as being somewhere in the middle.

• Doesn’t necessarily mean Andy Pettitte is thinking about coming back, but Jon Heyman has heard that Pettitte has been working out. Heyman has also heard that the Yankees would be willing to trade Joba Chamberlain, but only for a “viable starter.”

The Padres are reportedly close to a deal with Chad Qualls. That signing could impact George Kontos, the Padres Rule 5 pick out of the Yankees organization.

• Former Yankees reliever Jose Veras is reportedly choosing between minor league offers from the Giants, Rockies, Twins, Marlins, Rays and Pirates.

• CC Sabathia’s cousin, infielder Joe Thurston, has signed with the Marlins. He would have made no sense for the Yankees, but I’ve seen quite a bit of Thurston and always thought he was a nice player. Sabathia and Thurston are still doing considerable charity work where they grew up.

• Jordan Bastian predicts that newly married former Yankees fan favorite Shelley Duncan will make the Indians roster out of spring training.

River Ave. Blues looked at the impact of third-base coach Rob Thomson, ultimately coming to the conclusion that, “the Yankees are doing just fine here.”

The Yankeeist has posted an interview with former Yankees catcher and first baseman John Ellis, who played in New York in the early 70s and went on to play for Cleveland and Texas.

Associated Press photo of Cano

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 393 Comments →

Pregame notes: One-more-day kind of thing05.19.10

Yankees Red Sox BaseballNick Swisher said he feels better today than he did yesterday, and he felt better yesterday than he did the day before. He acknowledged this afternoon that the initial problem was a little worse than he indicated back in Detroit.

“Just a one-more-day kind of thing,” he said. “It feels good but there’s still something there.”

When Swisher tried to take some dry swings in the late innings last night — he was anticipating a possible pinch hit appearance — he didn’t feel pain in his biceps, but he could tell it wasn’t quite right.

“This biggest scare for everybody is the swing and miss,” he said. “I have a tendency of swinging a little harder than I should, so they just want to make sure everything is cool.”

Swisher remains day-to-day, and he seems to believe he can be available tomorrow, but we’ve seen Joe Girardi move with precaution when it comes to these sort of injuries.

• Joe Girardi clarified a previous statement to say he wasn’t sure whether Jorge Posada went for an MRI or a bone scan. Whatever it is, it’s a precautionary thing because the foot is taking longer than expected to heal. “We expected him to be sore, and we expected him to be a lot better at this point,” Girardi said. “Because he wasn’t last night, we thought an MRI would be a good thing.”

• Posada “has to be” available as the team’s emergency catcher. If something happens to Francisco Cervelli, Girardi said he would go to Posada before Ramiro Pena behind the plate.

• Nick Johnson is here with his arm in a sling.

• Four names listed for batting practice Group 3: Pena, Posada, Swisher and Granderson. That’s either good news for Granderson or bad news for Pena. I think the Yankees utility man probably wants to stay far, far away from those three. There’s been nothing but bad luck there.

• Sergio Mitre won’t be available until tomorrow, so the Yankees will stick with 13 relievers. As for why he sent down Greg Golson to add Mark Melancon, Girardi said, “We felt we needed the pitching more in case we got into some crazy games, which, it was kind of a crazy game last night.”

• Someone asked if Girardi was worried about Mariano Rivera after two shaky outings in three days. “I haven’t been concerned with Mo since 1996,” he said.

Shelley Duncan is back in the big leagues, called up by Cleveland to take the place of injured Grady Sizemore.

UPDATE, 5:24 p.m.: The Rays lineup.

Jason Bartlett SS
Carl Crawford LF
Ben Zobrist RF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Hank Blalock DH
John Jaso C
Reid Brignac 2B

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 157 Comments →

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