“Beat up” Brian Roberts getting a couple of days off
Brian Roberts has played in 91 games this season, marking his highest total since 2009, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi senses that the veteran second baseman may be wearing down as a result.
“I think that could possibly be going on,” Girardi said. “He’s been beat up pretty good this year physically. He’s answered the bell every day that we’ve called upon him and he’s played hard for us.”
Roberts has two hits in his last 17 at-bats and has reported some aches and pains, according to Girardi, who said that he plans to give Roberts a couple of days off to see if he can re-charge leading into the weekend series against the Red Sox.
“He’s dealing with soreness that players have,” Girardi said. “Legs get beat up, you hit balls off your feet, shins. It’s all part of it.”
Roberts, 36, has posted a split line of .237/.300/.360 with five homers and 21 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees, having signed a one-year, $2 million contract in January.
Staying in the lineup has financial advantages for Roberts, who has 348 plate appearances and is two shy of a $250,000 bonus. Roberts has already collected $350,000 in incentives, tied to reaching 250 and 300 plate appearances.
The last time Michael Pineda was healthy enough to face a lineup, he was wearing a smudge of pine tar on his neck, an offense that got the right-hander ejected from an April 23 start at Fenway Park.
That is expected to change on Sunday, when Pineda is being scheduled to get on the mound for one of the Yankees’ farm affiliates, targeting a mid-August return to the big league rotation.
“Four innings and 60 to 65 pitches will be his next move,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re not exactly sure where it’s going to be, they were talking about that today, but it wil be a regular game.”
Pineda, who served a 10-game suspension for the pine tar incident and has been on the disabled list since May 6 with a strained teres major muscle behind his right shoulder, threw 45 pitches on Tuesday in a simulated game at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla.
It is likely that Pineda would need three Minor League rehab starts before the Yankees would deem him ready for big league action.
“I think you’ve got to get him to where he can go 90 pitches and you feel good about it, where he’s not fatiguing,” Girardi said. “I think if you get there, then he’s a guy you think about.”
As anticipated, Mark Teixeira returned to the Yankees’ lineup at first base on Tuesday. Teixeira pinch-hit in the eighth inning of Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Rangers, his first game action since July 20 because of a lower lat strain and back spasms.
“Pretty easy; I knew where to put him,” Girardi said. “That didn’t take me long. It was good to see that he woke up today and he felt fine.”
Girardi said that Francisco Cervelli’s performance over the last week, when Teixeira’s injury pressed Brian McCann into duty at first base, offers a reminder that Cervelli can be a serviceable starting catcher at the big league level.
Cervelli has hit safely in a career-high 10 straight games.
“Great job. I said it last year; Cervy’s talented,” Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate, some of the injuries he’s had – broken hand, broken wrist, concussion. But Cervy’s played for us and he’s played well. He’s been thrown into pennant races and everything. We just need to keep him healthy.”
Kelly Johnson, who was placed on the disabled list July 23 with a strained left groin, is expected to be ready for activation in the minimum 15 days. Johnson may be sent on a Minor League rehab assignment to gather at-bats, and it is likely he will see some increased time at second base down the stretch.