Jacoby Ellsbury enjoying results out of leadoff spot
Good evening from Detroit’s Comerica Park, where the Yankees will try to bounce back after last night’s 5-2 loss to the Tigers, hoping to get another roll started after Rick Porcello squelched their five-game winning streak. Shane Greene and David Price comprise tonight’s pitching matchup, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET. We should have a pleasant night for baseball – temperatures in the mid-70s and no threat of rain. Here’s a peek at the early notes:
Jacoby Ellsbury has found one of his best hot streaks of the season, but the Yankees centerfielder won’t connect the dots between those good recent swings and a return to the leadoff spot.
With Brett Gardner hobbled by a sore right ankle, Ellsbury batted leadoff for the fourth time in five games on Wednesday, entering play against the Tigers enjoying a 15-for-34 (.441) clip at the plate.
“He’s done a good job there, and there was never a question what kind of job he would do in that spot,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Gardy did a great job. It was just, I put him there because Gardy was hurt, and he’s done a good job.”
Ellsbury, who has hit three homers in the Yankees’ last two games, said that he was also feeling comfortable hitting third and hasn’t felt much different since coming back to the top of the lineup.
“I think that first at-bat may be the only one, trying to see how the pitcher throws that day, see what he has,” Ellsbury said. “But after that first one as the leadoff hitter, you’re kind of in the flow of the game. It doesn’t really affect you.”
“He’s a great player that’s going to have really good streaks,” Girardi said. “You could say since I put him in the leadoff spot he’s hitting for more power. It’s a small sample, so I don’t make too much of it.”
Gardner returned to New York’s lineup on Wednesday, batting eighth. Girardi said that he wanted to see how Gardner came through on-field batting practice before locking in his batting order, noting that Gardner has struggled against Tigers lefty David Price (2-for-20).
Girardi also said that he wanted to find a way to get Brian McCann’s bat in the lineup, even with Francisco Cervelli catching right-hander Shane Greene. McCann entered play on Wednesday with five hits in 12 at-bats (.417) against Price, including three homers.
“Sometimes you just see some guys better than you do others,” Girardi said.
The Yankees have signed outfielder Chris Young to a Minor League contract, general manager Brian Cashman confirmed on Wednesday.
Young, 30, was released by the Mets last week after hitting just .205 with eight homers and a .630 OPS in 88 games. Young had signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with the Mets and could see time with the Yankees after rosters expand in September.
“Obviously it’s a guy that’s had some success in his career,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s a very good outfielder, it’s a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We’re going to see what we have.”
The Yankees currently have three left-handed hitting outfielders on the roster in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. Young, who has also seen big league time with the D-backs and Athletics over the last nine seasons, has not played since Aug. 7.
Masahiro Tanaka’s next hurdle will come in the form of three simulated innings off the mound at Comerica Park on Thursday morning, and if he gets through that session with no issues, the right-hander’s return will seem much more plausible.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka is scheduled to throw about 45 pitches in the simulated game, and he could be two sessions away from a big league return; the team would need Tanaka to build his stamina to the area of 75-90 pitches before deeming him ready.
“You obviously feel better that it’s going to happen, but I still talk about the intensity of a Major League game compared to a Minor League game or a simulated game,” Girardi said. “Those are the hurdles that you have to go through.”
It is likely that the Yankees would need to create Tanaka’s next outing, as the Minor League schedule ends on Monday and only Class-A Tampa is within striking distance of seeing playoff action. Girardi said that he is remaining cautiously optimistic as Tanaka aims to avoid Tommy John surgery.
“As long as you’re having steps in the right direction, it’s working,” Girardi said. “That doesn’t mean that it’s a guarantee. If you have a setback, it probably means surgery. It’s not like rehabbing a hamstring or something like that where you can have a setback and, ‘OK, we’ve got to sit him down.’ If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”
The Yankees announced on Wednesday that they have pledged $100,000 to the ALS Association, in recognition of those who bravely live with ALS, those who have passed away from the condition and those around the world who have taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge in an effort to raise awareness and funding to find a cure.
In support of the Yankees’ donation, manager Joe Girardi participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday afternoon. Girardi said that he lost an uncle to ALS in April of this year.
“Obviously, it’s been on my mind,” Girardi said.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 27, 2014
In his video, Girardi invited Patrick Quinn of Westchester, N.Y. and Anthony Senerchia of Pelham, N.Y. to be the team’s guests for a future Yankees home game. Quinn and Senerchia were among the first to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Girardi also challenged this year’s Monument Park inductees to take the challenge; Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill and Joe Torre. Torre participated recently in a group event outside MLB’s New York offices, helping raise $16,700 for ALS research.
“I think this is a really good thing that’s been started here and is bringing a lot of attention to ALS,” Girardi said. “It’s a horrific disease in what it does to people. Hopefully all these things that people are doing to raise money finds a cure.”