Girardi: I won’t move Jeter in lineup
As Derek Jeter heads into the final month of his final big league season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he is dismissing the outside cries for the captain to be dropped in the batting order, expressing confidence in a strong finish.
Jeter’s performance fell off markedly in August, with the 40-year-old posting a split line of .207/.226/.261. That dropped his batting average from .277 to .261, and Jeter posted just four extra-base hits in 26 games, working two walks.
“For the first four months of the year, he was probably one of our most consistent hitters; one of the three most consistent hitters in our club,” Girardi said. “I consider us to be in playoff mode right now, for us, because we obviously need to win games. Throughout his career, he’s been clutch in the playoffs and we’re leaving him there.”
Girardi said that Jeter is “a hot topic always just because of who he is,” but noted that there have been other issues throughout the Yankees’ lineup.
“You look up and down our numbers and there’s a lot of .240s and .230s,” Girardi said. “I’m not so sure why he’s the one that’s necessarily picked on here. As I’ve said, this guy has been a money player his whole career and we need him to be the last month.”
Girardi said that he is not averse to shuffling pieces in the lineup, pointing out that he elevated Martin Prado against left-handed pitching because of his production (.996 OPS) against southpaws. Against righties, Jeter (.634 OPS) and Prado (.624 OPS) have been similar.
“[Jeter] could hit .600 and if the other guys don’t produce around him and through the lineup, then it’s not going to matter what he hits,” Girardi said. “It’s going to have to be a collection of all these guys that can swing the bat extremely well.”
Likely needing to get in the neighborhood of 89 wins to continue playing in October, the Yankees would gladly accept contributions from other corners this month; Mark Teixeira, for one, also had a punchless August that produced a .193/.276/.307 split line.
The Yankees entered play on Tuesday ranked 14th among the 15 American League clubs in runs scored.
“That’s not all Derek’s fault. That’s collectively we haven’t hit,” Girardi said.
Masahiro Tanaka has been cleared to continue his throwing program after playing catch on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
Tanaka, who was sent back to New York last weekend with what was termed general arm soreness, was examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and diagnosed to have “arm fatigue,” according to manager Joe Girardi.
“Every manual test that they did came out really well,” Girardi said. “They just said he had some arm fatigue. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen sometime this week and hopefully he’s ready to do it.”
On the advice of four leading physicians, Tanaka is hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery as he rehabs a partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament. He experienced soreness after throwing a 49-pitch simulated game last week in Detroit.
Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Tuesday, leading off and playing center field, after injuring his left ankle on a slide into home plate. Ellsbury pinch-hit on Sunday and doubled in a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
“I told him, look, if you feel that it’s an issue out there you’ve got to let me know,” manager Joe Girardi said. “If you feel you need to DH a day, you have to let me know.”
David Phelps threw a 25-pitch bullpen on Tuesday, tossing his fastball and changeup, and plans to throw a 35-pitch bullpen on Friday in which he will use all of his pitches. Phelps has not pitched in a game since Aug. 2 in Boston because of right elbow inflammation, and the Yankees plan to bring him back as a reliever.
“It’s not really in my control, as much as I would like it to be,” Phelps said. “We have to take it a step at a time, just play it step by step and make sure everything goes well.”
On this date in 1996, David Cone threw seven innings of no-hit ball at Oakland in his first start since having surgery in May for an aneurysm. On this date in 2001, Mike Mussina came within one out of a perfect game at Fenway Park; Carl Everett breaks up the bid with a pinch-hit single to center field.