Shawn Kelley’s horse head: “I’ve got to wear it until we don’t win any more”
The Tigers just announced that tonight’s game will not start on time. No estimated start time has been given First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET, so while we wait out the rain delay, here’s a peek into what’s cooking for tonight’s yankees.com notebook:
The Yankees’ newest good luck charm arrived special delivery, when Shawn Kelley’s travels around the Internet led him to stumble across a frightening rubber horse head. He laughed, then forked over his credit card information.
Placing the horse head atop his uniform, Kelley surprised his teammates last Thursday by sprinting onto the outfield grass for stretch. The bulging eyeballs, the flaring nostrils and furry mane had the Yankees howling, and it all coincided with the start of a five-game winning streak.
“I just thought they were fun,” Kelley said. “I just decided to wear it out for stretch that day, and we won that game, so — you know baseball. I’ve got to wear it until we don’t win any more.”
The purchase that might be helping to turn around the Yankees’ season was delivered by Amazon.com, Kelley said, where the masks are currently selling for under $20 plus shipping.
“You’ve seen those things for a while, popping up in the crowd somewhere,” Kelley said. “I actually saw somebody one time on water skis with one on. I always laugh. I think it’s funny when I see somebody with a horse head on. I giggle. I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to get one.’ Just for fun.”
Kelley said that the rubber mask, which the team is calling “Seabiscuit,” can get very hot, and that the visibility leaves something to be desired.
“I can’t see, that’s the only thing,” Kelley said. “I have to look out the nostrils and I can’t see really good. I just heard everybody giggle. I need like a GoPro [camera] on it.”
Brett Gardner said that his bruised right ankle is showing signs of improvement, and the Yankees outfielder is moving closer to returning to the lineup.
Gardner said that he planned to test his ankle on Tuesday by running for the first time since he sustained the injury on a foul ball on Saturday against the White Sox.
“I don’t have any idea how it’s going to feel, but I know it feels a whole lot better than it did yesterday,” Gardner said.
Gardner hit in the cages for a second consecutive day, having also taken swings on Monday in Kansas City. He had wanted to run the bases during batting practice, but rain forced the Yankees and Tigers to do their hitting in the underground cages at Comerica Park.
“He’ll try to get out there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “My concern was he said he felt better but he needed to run. Gardy’s pretty tough and Gardy’s played through a lot, which made me believe that it’s probably not 100 percent, which it might not be for a while.
“This extra day will probably do us some good. My concern is that he favors it or that he gets out there and he can’t run, and then I’ve got to make a change. It can just really mess things up.”
Derek Jeter has been spending more time as a designated hitter of late, and while the retiring Yankees captain would prefer to be wearing his glove out to shortstop, he has been satisfied with staying in the lineup.
Tuesday marked Jeter’s fourth DH assignment of August, coming after he had been asked to DH only four times in the first four months of the season. Jeter points out that though he hasn’t done it much during his career, he did serve as the Yanks’ DH 25 times in 2012.
“Because of injuries, Carlos [Beltran] had to DH, so I haven’t really thought about it,” Jeter said. “My job is to come here and when I’m in the lineup, play. I like to play every day. I like to play shortstop every day. Everyone is aware of that, but I get it.
“I understand it. We’ve had a long stretch here. I think we only have a couple of more days off and then we have another long stretch at the end of the year.”
Girardi said that the lengthy stretches without an off-day, as well as upcoming matchups against left-handed pitching in which Jeter will be expected to play, factored into his thinking.
“We have a lot of lefties coming up the next five days after today where he’s going to play, so try to give him a little blow when I can,” Girardi said. “And I thought today was probably a good day. Two plane flights in two days, and as I said, we have day games after night games, so we’re going to need him in there a lot.”
Jeter’s numbers have sagged of late. After batting .277 through the first four months of the season, he entered play on Tuesday batting just .209 (18-for-86) in August, with a .227 on-base percentage and a .267 slugging percentage. Jeter’s last extra-base hit was a double on Aug. 11.
Girardi said that he does not believe there are any physical concerns with Jeter, but suggested that Beltran’s return to part-time outfield duty may allow the Yankees to have Jeter serve as the DH more often.
“I’m in the mode that I’m just taking it day by day, but with Carlos being able to go into the outfield once in a while, it gives me more flexibility to do this,” Girardi said.
Seven Yankees prospects have been added to the preliminary rosters for this year’s Arizona Fall League, which were released on Tuesday.
Right-handers Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder and Alex Smith, infielders Greg Bird and Eric Jagielo, and outfielders Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge have all been selected to play this fall with the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Four of the seven players are currently ranked among the club’s Top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com: Jagielo (No. 3), Judge (No. 5), Bird (No. 11) and Austin (No. 15). Jagielo and Judge were first-round selections by the Yankees in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
In addition, the Yankees will be sending Class-A Tampa hitting coach P.J. Pilittere to Scottsdale, where he will serve in the same capacity. There is also a roster spot reserved for a Yankees catcher to be announced.
Players from the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Pirates and Giants organizations will comprise the Scorpions roster, and the 32-game Arizona Fall League schedule begins on Oct. 7.
Masahiro Tanaka threw a bullpen on Tuesday at Comerica Park in preparation for his simulated game on Thursday, the next checkpoint of his rehab progression. Tanaka is aiming to return to the big league mound in mid to late September.
Mark Teixeira returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Tuesday after sitting out Monday’s game at Kansas City with tightness in his left hamstring.
“I think you’re always going to watch it a little bit,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think the day off probably helped, and we just tell him to play smart. I mean, he did play smart the couple of days that he had it, so he’s just going to have to continue to do that.”
On this date in 1960, the Yankees hit five home runs in a 7-6 victory over the Indians, including Yogi Berra’s 11th inning blast off Bobby Locke to win it. It was Berra’s second homer of the day; Elston Howard, Mickey Mantle and Moose Skowron also went deep.