Pregame briefing: Yankees vs. Rays (Game 143)

The Yankees and the Rays will continue their three-game series tonight here at Yankee Stadium, with left-hander Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.46) getting the start for New York opposite right-hander Jake Odorizzi (10-11, 3.84). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET; Yankees TV is on YES and Yankees radio is on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM.

New York has lost four of seven games on this homestand. Carlos Beltran was scratched from tonight’s lineup around 5:30 p.m. ET with soreness in his right elbow.

Here are the highlights from manager Joe Girardi’s pregame session with the media:

How do you keep your optimism against the bleak playoff odds?

“It’s happened before. It’s very difficult, but it’s happened before. You can only control the things you can control, so go control them. And then worry about where you fall later.”

Pitching for Baltimore series…

Brandon McCarthy in Friday’s first game, TBA in second game (could be a bullpen game with Chase Whitley, Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell, etc.). Shane Greene on Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday night.

Brett Gardner update…

“He has the abdominal strain. He’ll be out a few more days at least because that can become something that’s fairly serious. We’re giving him a few more days and we’ll go from there.”

“There’s always concern because of how hard these guys play and the way they play, and speed’s a huge part of their game. Sometimes when you have that type of speed, you’re subject to some injuries. Obviously if you’re a base stealer, you’re going to be subject to more hand injuries and those sort of things. Yeah, it’s a concern, but he has not missed a whole lot of games this year, and he really has played a whole season. He has not been on the DL. I don’t think, if this was (in the middle of) the regular season, I don’t think this would probably be a DL. Not at this point.”

David Phelps update…

“Our hope is to bring him back maybe when we go to Baltimore. He’ll throw a bullpen today. He threw a simulated game, and our hope is to bring him back in Baltimore. He would be in the bullpen, a guy that I could use an inning, inning-plus, then I’d have to give him some days off after that.”

Martin Prado update…

“I don’t want him to do too much running, as I told him. I said, ‘Go through BP, take some BP, see how you feel and we’ll go from there. As I said yesterday, there’s a concern there. I don’t think he’s ready to go, but we’re going to let him take some BP.”

“Our feeling is we’ll get him back, it’s just not today. It’s going to take a few days.”

Masahiro Tanaka update…

“He will throw a bullpen again Friday. He felt pretty good today. He’ll throw in a game Monday in Tampa at the minor-league facility.”

More on last night’s play with Stephen Drew/Rule 7.13…

“I think, to me, the confusion comes for the base runner. I don’t think catchers have changed a whole lot. The confusion comes for the base runner where they’re encouraged to slide. And I understand that, and I’ve said all along I think the intent of the rule is a really good idea, but you worry. You worry about them getting hurt now. And I think that’s the hard part. That’s why I’ve said, let’s go back to the way it was, and if a guy goes out of his way to run over a catcher, you’re suspended.”

Have you told your runners to knock the catcher over?

“If that’s your only choice to score the run. That was allowed last week, two weeks ago. Guys knew that. If that’s your only choice, and you feel that you can knock the ball loose, we’re playing for something. That’s the confusion of the rule. You’re encouraging them to slide, but you also want your guys to play all out and get to a playoff spot. So what do you do?”

How is that different?

“It’s not different. It’s not different. And I’ve told our players, it’s not different. If the guy’s blocking the plate, you’re allowed to run him over. The only thing that was different, in a sense, was if he’s not blocking the plate, don’t run him over, because you are subject to being suspended. The rule, in a sense, for the base runners has not changed. But then again, they’ve been encouraged, we want you all to slide. That’s what the rule was originally going to be, you almost had to slide. But then that became confusing. It will be interesting to see what happens this winter. I’m curious.”

More notes —

Derek Jeter has played in 2,730 games with the Yankees, tied for eighth place on the all-time list of players who have played all of their games with one team…with tonight’s game, he will surpass the Giants’ Mel Ott for sole possession of eighth place all time. 

Over their last six games (since 9/3), Yankees relievers have tossed 20.2 scoreless innings (7H, 3BB, 25K)…marks the longest scoreless stretch by Yankees relievers since a span of 28.0IP from 5/5-15/13 (credit: Elias Sports Bureau). … In their last 17G (since 8/22), have produced a 1.20 ERA (52.2IP, 7ER) and held opponents to a .166 batting average (30-for-181, 12BB, 65K).

Since 8/1, Ichiro Suzuki is batting .342 (25-for-73), the third-highest mark in the AL in that span (min. 70AB).

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