A-Rod riding the bench as Yanks arrive at Fenway
Alex Rodriguez walked up Fenway Park’s ancient dugout runway on Friday afternoon and spotted a clear spot on the bench, asking a bystander if that was for him. Told that it was, he pushed through a crowd of reporters and took that seat, where he would begin the Yankees’ first trip to Boston of the season.
With Yankees manager Joe Girardi sending out a lefty-dominant lineup against Red Sox right-hander Justin Masterson, Rodriguez’s chase to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list remains paused for at least a few more innings.
“I think in the course of 162 games, Joe is being very diligent about spreading it out,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes it’s tempting to play 10 in a row or 12 in a row – I know I want to, perhaps Joe sometimes may want me to – but he’s much smarter than me, so I trust him.”
Rodriguez said that Girardi sent him a text message about the lineup before the team arrived at Fenway on Friday afternoon. Rodriguez has 659 career homers, one shy of Mays’ lifetime total of 660.
“He’ll wait one day, but I do want to get it out of the way,” Girardi said. “As much as a player you try not to think about it, it’s impossible. The sooner we get it out of the way, the better.”
In 302 at-bats at Fenway Park as a Yankee, A-Rod has hit 14 homers (one for every 21.6 at-bats). Overall, in his career with the Yankees, Rodriguez has averaged one homer for every 15.6 at-bats).
“Fenway’s one of my favorite places to play,” Rodriguez said. “I started my career here when I was 18 years old. It was the first time I put on a big league uniform. I had my parents here, my mother, my brother and my sister. So I have some very fond memories. Say whatever you want about Boston; Fenway and the Boston fans have a great appreciation and love for history.”
Jose Pirela has joined Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and went 1-for-4 with a RBI and a walk against Charlotte on Thursday. He was a candidate to join the big league team earlier this week, but Masahiro Tanaka‘s injury allowed the Yankees to recall infielder Gregorio Petit from Triple-A instead.
Returning from a concussion sustained by colliding with the center-field wall during a March 22 Spring Training game, Pirela is just 2-for-18 in the Minors.
“I think he is doing better,” Girardi said. “It’s something that we have discussed about what we might possibly do with him or not do with him, but obviously I think at-bats are important. He was out a month. You’ve got to get him some at-bats and some real game situations playing different positions.”
Girardi said that infielder Brendan Ryan (right calf strain) batted in an Extended Spring Training game on Friday in Tampa, where the Yankees have scheduled left-hander Chris Capuano (right quadriceps strain) to throw four innings or 60 pitches on Saturday for Class-A Tampa.
“Everything that he’s doing is going in the right direction,” Girardi said. “You think about 60, 75, 90 (pitches) and then you go from there.”
Right-hander Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery rehab) will throw one inning or 20 pitches in an Intrasquad game. Right-hander Jared Burton (oblique) is also scheduled to throw an Intrasquad inning.
After a shaky beginning to his tenure as Derek Jeter‘s successor, both defensively and offensively, the Yankees believe they are seeing some encouraging signs from shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Gregorius has quietly strung together eight hits in his last 29 at-bats (.275) entering Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park and has appeared to slow the game down in the field, where he has been drilling with infield coach Joe Espada.
“His first order of business is defense, and I think we’re starting to see what he can do,” Girardi said. “He’s made some really nice plays, and that’s encouraging. I think he’s going to be productive.
“As a hitter, I’m not saying he’s going to hit 30 home runs, but I think he’s going to do all right swinging the bat. And that has gotten better the last week or so, so just continue to go in the right direction.”
Here’s a great Andrew Miller stat, courtesy of MLB Network:
Miller last allowed a hit off a slider on August 22. Since then opponents are 0-for-41 with 32 strikeouts against the 167 sliders Miller has spun. They have missed 50 times out of 79 swings during that time frame (63.3% miss percentage).
As you know, Miller is eight for eight in save opportunities. He has not allowed a run while striking out 20 in 11 1/3 innings as a Yankee.