Yankees aren’t ready to concede anything
The math of standing eight games out of the division lead with 43 games to play suggests, as Shawn Kelley stated late on Wednesday in Baltimore, that the Wild Card could be a more attainable goal than chasing down the division title.
But Kelley was quick to state that no one in the Yankees’ clubhouse would consider catching the Orioles to be out of reach, and captain Derek Jeter has repeatedly pointed out that the Yankees can still take hold of their own destiny in the race.
“We still play everybody,” Jeter said. “You know me; I’ll tell you, if you win your games, you don’t have to worry about anything. You worry about things when you don’t play the guys in front of you. We play [the Orioles] eight times. We play the people that are in front of us.”
Baseball Prospectus, which calculates playoff odds on a daily basis, pegged the Yankees as having only a 2.8 percent chance to win the division as of Friday morning. BP also didn’t love the Yanks’ chances of simply making it to the postseason, offering a 4.8 percent chance of winning a Wild Card.
“Obviously you’re closer in the Wild Card than you are in the division, but we still have plenty of games left with Baltimore,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Our goal will be to win the division and we’ll continue to fight for that, but at the very least, you want to make the playoffs.”
Girardi said that there is no reason to speak to his team about keeping the right mindset; he said that his players understand what is at stake. They can take their cues from Jeter, who certainly does not want his final postseason memory to be his shattered ankle in the 2012 American League Championship Series.
“You worry about things you don’t have control over,” Jeter said. “We have control over what happens. We’re not making it easy on ourselves, but we still control it.”
Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to throw 25 pitches off of a bullpen mound on Saturday at Tropicana Field, which will mark the right-hander’s first time throwing from the rubber since a July 8 start against the Indians.
Tanaka is continuing to rehab a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament, and the Yankees are hopeful that he will be able to make it back for two or three starts at the big league level in September. Saturday’s session will consist of 25 fastballs.
“I still think it’s early to tell, but we’re getting through each step,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Hopefully tomorrow goes well and we can move to the next step.”
Tanaka threw long toss and performed fielding practice from the mound on Friday afternoon, and said that actually throwing off the mound will be an crucial step in his recovery.
“I think so,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “If I can’t throw the way I want to throw on a mound or in a bullpen, then there’s no way I’ll be able to throw that in a game. So, definitely the bullpen will be important.”
Three doctors recommended that Tanaka attempt to rehab the ligament tear instead of rushing to have Tommy John surgery. Girardi said that he hopes the process will pay dividends.
“That’s why we’re going through it,” Girardi said. “Obviously you’ve got to find out if it’s the proper thing to do and if his arm going to hold up. You’d hate to shut him down the whole year and then go through it next year. Everything has been positive so far. He said he feels good, but you really don’t ever know.”
Brian McCann has rejoined the Yankees in Florida after spending the Orioles series in New York, recovering from a mild concussion.
McCann participated in on-field activities on Friday, performing catching drills and taking batting practice, and could be activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Saturday.
“I’m really happy with the way today went as a whole,” McCann said. “Now it’s a matter of seeing how I feel in an hour, seeing how I feel in two hours. I’ll know more tonight.”
McCann said that he started to feel better after three days of rest. He was hit by a foul tip in an Aug. 8 game against the Indians at Yankee Stadium.
“I never thought that I would ever come out of a game from a foul tip,” McCann said. “The way it hit me, it’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever been hit.”
Chase Headley has played 62 straight errorless games at third base going into play on Wednesday, marking the second-longest active streak in the Majors. The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval has the lead, at 67.
On this date in 1955, Mickey Mantle homered from both sides of the plate for the second time in his career in a 12-6 Yankees victory at Baltimore.