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CC Sabathia trying to get the Yankees back on track

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, June 18, 2015.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hello once again on what promises to be a stormy evening here at Yankee Stadium. We should have a thunder and lightning show at some point tonight, but so far everything is on schedule. CC Sabathia and Sean O’Sullivan comprise the pitching matchup as the Yankees try to bounce back from a couple of rough ones against the Tigers and Phillies.

Here are the quick hits you need to know:

Manager Joe Girardi spoke a bit during his press conference about Sabathia’s ongoing adjustments:

“I think he’s adjusted better than he did maybe at the beginning of last year. I still think that every day going out there, it’s a learning process for him in learning how to pitch different. He’s incorporated his two-seamer to right-handers, something he did this year and something he never had to do. It’s picking the right times go use it. I still think he’s adjusting, but I think he understands who he is better than he did a year ago.”

Sabathia is unbeaten in his last four starts, going 1-0 with a 4.37 ERA (22.2 IP, 11 ER).  He has 23 strikeouts and only three walks in that stretch.

Mitchell gives the Yankees an extra long reliever in case they need one, since Ivan Nova is starting tomorrow and Chris Capuano had to be summoned in relief yesterday due to Michael Pineda’s clunker.

Mark Teixeira (stiff neck) is “not quite ready” to play, according to Girardi, though the Yankees hope to have him back in the lineup tomorrow. Girardi said that he is not sure if Teixeira could be used as a pinch-hitter tonight. Teixeira said that he senses some improvement after yesterday’s cortisone injection:

“It’s been an issue for two weeks now. That’s too long, That’s why we got an MRI. Usually if you have a stiff neck, some spasms, they go away after a couple days. After two weeks, you want to get an MRI. It showed some irritation in the joint, so we got it fixed.”

Andrew Miller (left forearm flexor muscle strain) is scheduled to play catch tomorrow.

Brett Gardner is batting .565 (13-23 AB) with three homers over his last five games.

Brian McCann has homered in back-to-back games and is batting .360 (18-50 AB) with 12 RBIs over his last 13 games.

Girardi’s thoughts on Cole Hamels, who starts Wednesday for the Phillies:

“Obviously the challenge is great in facing Cole Hamels. He’s an outstanding pitcher and he’s been an outstanding pitcher for a long time. There’s been a lot of talk about him since the offseason; ‘How many more starts does he have in a Philadelphia uniform?’ Nobody knows. I don’t really get too caught up in it. Could he end up in our division? I guess. There are six divisions he could end up in, so I guess the chances are he could end up in ours. But I’m curious to see him pitch tomorrow.”

Brian McCann feeling better, returns to lineup

Brian McCannNEW YORK — Brian McCann hopes that a new pair of orthotics will help ward off a painful arch condition and allow him to stick in the Yankees’ lineup.

McCann gave the thumbs-up to get back behind the plate on Friday after catching a side session in the bullpen, testing out his new gear. McCann had an MRI taken on Thursday in New York after being forced to leave Wednesday’s 3-1 win over the Mariners in Seattle.

“It only flared up when I caught,” McCann said. “Walking around, it didn’t flare up, but once I got in my squat and moved around — that’s what we’ve been waiting for today. I went out there and it didn’t flare up.”

McCann said that he was worried the condition might have been something that forced him to the disabled list, so Friday’s developments were welcome news for him and the Yankees. McCann said that he has worn the same orthotics for about three years and it was time to get them updated.

“You hope that the orthotics correct the problem,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “From time to time — kind of like a pair of glasses, in a sense – your prescription changes a little bit. And I think a lot of it has to do with being a catcher and being in the position that he’’s in (with) his feet.”

McCann is batting .248 with eight homers and 33 RBIs this season.

Yankees being cautious with Michael Pineda’s innings

Michael PinedaNEW YORK — The Yankees have decided to skip Michael Pineda’s next turn through the rotation, a nod to the right-hander’s escalating innings total.

Pineda, who has hurled 70 1/3 innings in 11 starts this season, is thus not scheduled to pitch until June 12 against the Orioles in Baltimore. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the skipped start is not due to an injury issue.

“It’s only because of innings,” Girardi said. “This is a guy that has not thrown a lot of innings since 2011. He probably threw [76 1/3] last year; 2011 he threw 171. With these days off, we feel like we can do that without overtaxing the other pitchers.”

The Yankees will have Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren and CC Sabathia as their scheduled starters in this three-game series against the Angels.

Following an off-day on Monday, Masahiro Tanaka and Eovaldi will get starting nods in a two-game series against the Nationals that leads into another off-day.

Pineda has been one of the Yanks’ best starters this season, going 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA. He has struck out 76 with only seven walks.

Yet the Yanks have not forgotten his injury issues, which included surgery on his pitching shoulder in May 2012. Girardi said that a 220-inning regular season workload is out of the question.

“Believe me, I thought all day yesterday, I thought all day on the plane on Wednesday,” Girardi said. “It was something we discussed. In a perfect world, you don’t want to do it. But you have to measure what he’s been through physically, and how many innings he already has.”

Pineda will stay sharp by throwing side sessions during the layoff, and Girardi suggested that the Yankees might try to tinker with Pineda’s schedule at a later point in the schedule as well.

“He’s on pace to throw 220 innings. That’s a big stretch for a guy that just hasn’t done it,” Girardi said. “We have a big break at the All-Star break and you can manipulate some things there. My hope is we don’t have to do it before then. Physically, he feels great.”

Yankees designate right-hander David Carpenter for assignment

New York Yankees relief pitcher David Carpenter throws during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

SEATTLE — The Yankees planned on having David Carpenter handle important seventh-inning situations for them this season, but the right-hander was unable to find his footing that role and was designated for assignment on Wednesday morning.

Carpenter was cut loose in order to clear a roster spot for right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Carpenter, 29, was 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in 22 appearances for New York, including serving up a go-ahead RBI double to the Mariners’ Austin Jackson in the sixth inning of New York’s 5-3, 11-inning victory over Seattle.

“For whatever reason, he never got on a roll for us,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “At times, it was a struggle. He was someone that we expected to be a big part of our bullpen. He worked extremely hard, he was great in the clubhouse. It’s just unfortunate.”

Carpenter was acquired from the Braves along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in a New Year’s Day swap that sent left-hander Manny Banuelos to Atlanta. Carpenter owns a 3.73 ERA in 210 career appearances with the Astros (2011-12), Blue Jays (’12), Braves (2013-14) and Yankees.

“Sometimes it’s puzzling why things don’t happen,” Girardi said. “The guy worked and worked and worked; tried different things. We looked at a ton of different things to see if he was pitching different, sequences and everything. It really wasn’t a whole lot different. The only difference was, he wasn’t having success.”

Trimming Carpenter leaves the Yankees with five left-handed relievers, which is something of an oddity. In addition to closer Andrew Miller, the Yankees are carrying Chris Capuano, Jacob Lindgren, Shreve and Justin Wilson.

“The one thing is, our lefties have been successful in getting right-handers out,” Girardi said. “The bottom line is, if they get right-handers out as well as left-handers, you can deal with it. They’ve been pretty good at it.”


Girardi on Tanaka’s return: “I think there’s two things you look at. You look at his command and you look at the sharpness of his pitches. What you want to stay away from is obviously the long inning for him. Those are the two things we’re going to look at today. He’s probably built up to 80 pitches, 85 at the most. We’ll just watch him.”


Carlos Beltran had an X-ray after fouling a ball off his right foot last night, which was negative. Girardi said that he planned to give Beltran the day off anyway leading into Thursday’s off-day.


Girardi on Lindgren: “We’ve been pretty pleased with what he’s done, the way he’s pitched. He’s faced right-handers and it hasn’t seemed to bother him. He’s got a lot of movement, gets a lot of groundballs. That plays well for our park. Some of these bigger parks, you don’t worry about. But that plays well in our park.”


Girardi on the Triple-A relief options:

“We pay attention. You have some righties that have good stuff. [Jose] Ramirez has been up here. [Branden] Pinder has been up here. [Nick] Rumbelow’s another guy that they talk about. [Diego] Moreno’s another guy they talk about. I’m sure they’ll be watched closely because having all those lefties, I think at some point you’ll probably look for another right-hander, so I’m sure they’ll be watched closely.”

Stephen Drew: “Eventually it’s going to turn around for me”

Here are the quick hits as the Yankees conclude their four-game series against the Athletics here at o.Co Coliseum. Right-hander Jesse Chavez (1-5, 2.44) has the ball for Oakland, facing right-hander Adam Warren (3-3, 3.91), who remains on the bubble as a starter with Masahiro Tanaka set to return on Wednesday.


New York Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew runs to the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Monday, April 20, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Stephen Drew was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game on Sunday, as the veteran infielder searches for ways to escape his season-long slump.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi again opted to start Jose Pirela at second base over Drew, who is hitless in his last 20 at-bats and is batting just .157 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 46 games this season.

“I told Stephen, continue to work,” Girardi said. “He’s trying to work on some things offensively. I’ve always said, whenever you play it’s an opportunity to open someone’s eyes. [Pirela], I thought swung the bat pretty good last night. I’m going to run him back out there.”

Girardi said that the 32-year-old Drew has been “pretty banged up” at times, but that the benching was not injury-related.

“This game sometimes, it’s a humbling game. I know that,” Drew said. “It’s not getting too high or too low, it’s just going out and playing every day. This year has definitely been frustrating at times. Besides these last couple of games, I’ve had some some productive at-bats, just no luck, so eventually it’s going to turn around for me.”

Girardi said that Drew’s average on batted balls in play (BABIP) of .164 indicates that he has not been rewarded when hitting the ball hard. Drew’s overall batting average is the lowest of any qualified Major Leaguer; the second-lowest player, the Angels’ Matt Joyce, is 29 points higher at .186.

“I still think this guy’s too good of a player not to hit,” Girardi said. “We’ve seen him hit a grand slam. We’ve seen him hit three-run homers. We’ve seen him hit the ball out of the ballpark. We’ve seen him impact the baseball. To me, eventually it’s got to even out.”


Brendan RyanBrendan Ryan, who has been sidelined since Spring Training with a right calf strain and subsequent setbacks, started a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Sunday with Class-A Tampa.

Ryan lined a double in his first at-bat for the Yankees’ Florida State League affiliate. Ryan sustained a Grade 2 strain of his calf while fielding a ball in an April 1 exhibition game at George M. Steinbrenner Field, and is currently on the 60-day disabled list.

“Obviously he’s got to get some at-bats, because he really hasn’t had a Spring Training,” Girardi said. “He’s going to need some at-bats, be able to play a couple days in row, lengthy games, because you never know when you’ll be pressed into action for three or four days.”

Coming into the season, the 33-year-old Ryan was envisioned as the primary backup for shortstop Didi Gregorius. A slick fielder, Ryan batted .167 (19-for-114) with no homers and eight RBIs in 49 games for New York last season.


Brian McCann, Chris MartinThe Yankees returned right-hander Chris Martin from his Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday, reinstating him from the 15-day disabled list before optioning him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Girardi said that the club decided to keep the four left-handers in its bullpen – Jacob Lindgren, Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson – to prepare for a three-game series against the Mariners this week.

“He just has to pitch well and get on a roll. As we get some guys back, sometimes it gets a little bit crowded,” Girardi said. “What I would tell him is to be ready. When the phone rings, you want to be the guy.”

Martin, 28, pitched a perfect inning for the RailRiders in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Norfolk, inducing three ground ball outs. He was 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 appearances before being placed on the disabled list May 9 with right elbow tendinitis.


Just a day off for Brian McCann, but it’s tough to take his bat out of the lineup. McCann has a .385 AVG (10-26 AB) with four homers, 12 RBI and seven runs scored during an eight-game hitting streak. John Ryan Murphy is behind the plate. … Girardi waited until he checked with Carlos Beltran to fill out his lineup card. Beltran literally gave Girardi the thumbs-up to play him. … Alex Rodriguez has hit safely in nine straight games, batting .394 (13-33 AB) with five RBI and seven runs scored. His last ten-game hit streak was back in 2012. … The Yankees have lost 11 of their last 13 games in Oakland dating back to July of 2012. … The Yankees are currently the only team in the AL East with a record above .500. … Fun pitching matchup tomorrow in Seattle: Michael Pineda against his former club and King Felix Hernandez for the Mariners.

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