Mark Teixeira took on-field batting practice Monday for the first time since he sustained what the Yankees called a lower lat strain, and the first baseman hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park.
“I’m very happy,” Teixeira said. “The back spasms are gone, which I’ve been dealing with for a long time, so that’s really good. It’s good to see that the treatments worked and the time off helped, so hopefully they won’t come back.”
Teixeira has not played since July 20 against the Reds; he had a platelet-rich plasma injection and at the time, the team said that he would miss three to four days. It has been longer than initially anticipated, but Teixeira has at least been able to avoid the 15-day disabled list.
“I wasn’t expecting all the little annoying things that come up. That’s part of the game,” Teixeira said. “Hopefully this is it, and I have two healthy months to finish the season, but missing a couple of games here, a couple of games there, it’s never fun.”
Teixeira said that last season’s wrist injury made him consider his baseball mortality, and the fact that he could no longer play through injuries that he might have in his 20s.
“I’ve played through so many things. I can’t play through them anymore,” Teixeira said. “That’s just the fact of the matter. The guys ask me, ‘How did you play in Texas for five years, 100 degrees every night?’ I was young. I was a kid. I played through everything.
“You fouled a pitch of your leg, go get ‘em. Strain something in your back, go get ‘em. That’s just the way it is when you’re young. I can’t play through those things (now). I don’t think I would have had to miss games with back spasms.”
Teixeira said that maintenance will be a key for him, and that he’d prefer to play until something hurts rather than take precautionary days off. But it’s pretty much inevitable at this stage that sooner or later, there will be another issue to deal with; as he said with a smile, “Father Time is undefeated.”
“I was very lucky that I could play through those things and stay on the field as long as anybody,” Teixeira said. “But at a certain point, you hit a wall. I hit a wall last year and hopefully I won’t have a lot of these, but if they do pop up, it’s just harder to play through it.”
Joe Girardi has more of an inside track to the Yankees’ trade rumor scene than the average observer, but the manager said that he prefers to give general manager Brian Cashman his space to work, rather than get excited about moves might happen.
“We talk on a daily basis anyway during the course of the day, so it doesn’t really change much,” Girardi said. “I know he’s always trying to improve our club, and I’m not going to keep bothering him and take up his time when there’s things he’s doing.”
Cashman has said that he has more work to do in what has been a busy July; upgrading starting pitching is a focus, but various media reports have also connected the Yanks to discussions of some level for outfielders Marlon Byrd (Phillies), Chris Denorfia (Padres), Alex Rios (Rangers) and Josh Willingham (Twins).
Girardi often says that he has to worry about the 25 players in his clubhouse, but he does regularly communicate his views on the roster and specific needs to Cashman, something that will continue even after Thursday’s non-waivers Trade Deadline.
“I try not to get excited, because as I always say, it takes two teams to really want to do a deal,” Girardi said. “And do I expect it? I never expect to get new people. I always think, ‘This is who we’ve got, this is who has to get it done.'”
The Yankees recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, immediately inserting the 25-year-old to play left field and bat ninth against the Rangers.
It is Almonte’s third stint with the big league club this year, where he has batted .160 (4-for-25) with one homer. Almonte was batting .281 in 75 games at Triple-A, leading the RailRiders in homers (16) and RBIs (57).
In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees designated left-hander Jeff Francis for assignment, reducing the number of active pitchers on the staff to 12.
Francis was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two relief appearances, spanning 1 2/3 innings. He was acquired from the Athletics with cash considerations for a player to be named later on July 11.
Jacoby Ellsbury received a day off for rest on Monday against the Rangers. Ellsbury had played in all 10 of the Yanks’ games coming out of the All-Star break, batting .289 (11-for-38) with a double and two homers on the homestand. He said manager Joe Girardi told him about the day off on Sunday’s flight to Texas.
Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament) stayed back in New York to continue receiving treatment at Yankee Stadium. Aug. 4 will mark three weeks of full rest since the right-hander received a platelet-rich plasma injection.
“We’re still waiting for that three-week mark. Nothing’s really going to change until the three week mark,” Girardi said. “He’s staying back and doing treatment every day. He feels better and better. You just kind of wait to see where you are after three weeks.”
Carlos Beltran (bone spur in right elbow) has increased to throwing at 100 to 120 feet. The Yankees are hopeful that Beltran, currently only a designated hitter, could return to play some outfield after this road trip.
Michael Pineda (strained muscle in upper back) is scheduled to throw three innings or 45 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. The Yankees are hopeful that Pineda can rejoin the big league roster in mid-August.
Chris Capuano has been added to the Yankees’ roster, and manager Joe Girardi announced that the left-hander will start tomorrow against the Blue Jays. Shane Greene will be pushed back to start on Sunday, and Chase Whitley has been bumped to the bullpen.
Capuano, 35, was signed as a free agent by the Rockies on July 4 and made four combined starts with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.79 ERA. Earlier this year, the Springfield, Mass. product went 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA in 28 relief appearances for the Red Sox before being released.
“I’ve started most of my career,” Capuano said. “I took the sixth starter/bullpen role in the offseason with Boston as a chance to go back home. I felt really good the first two months with the routine, and then the last month I struggled in June. My goal is to find an organization that I could get back to starting with and get into a familiar routine.”
Capuano said that if you had told him about 25 hours ago that he’d be starting Saturday for the Yankees, he would have been just as surprised as anyone. Capuano said that his hometown is about a 50-50 split of Yankees fans and Red Sox fans; he grew up cheering for Boston, but his dad, Frank, is a big Yankees fan.
“My dad is ecstatic,” Capuano said. “He’s rooted for wherever I am, but I think his heart is in the right place now.”
Additionally, Mark Teixeira said that he is responding well to treatment, and the Yankees are going to give him another couple days to see if he can avoid the disabled list.
“I got a couple of hours of treatment in already and feel really good,” Teixeira said. “Today was, I think, the best day. We said after the [platelet-rich plasma] shot that we’d re-evaluate after two or three days and I feel good with where I am. We kind of have to take it easy the next few days and hopefully progress to taking full swings here really soon.”
Teixeira said that it’s possible that he could swing a bat today, and Girardi said that they should know more by Sunday. In the meantime, the Yanks are going with a two-man bench — only Zelous Wheeler and Brendan Ryan are available in reserve tonight against the Blue Jays.
The reconstructed Yankees rotation has performed better than Brian Cashman would have anticipated, and the general manager said that he’d now prefer to focus his attention on acquiring a big bat as the July 31 non-waivers Trade Deadline approaches.
“It’s weird,” Cashman said in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “Our pitching has been drastically altered because of the injuries, and despite losing four out of five starters and all that stuff, our pitching has survived – surprisingly, to this point. I think our offense should be better.
“… It still feels like the pitching needs more help, but honestly the offense has been consistently poor throughout the entire year. The answer has to be an offensive piece, I guess.”
The Yankees believe they upgraded their infield this week by acquiring Chase Headley from the Padres, but they could also use a right-handed hitting outfielder. The Twins’ Josh Willingham makes some sense as a potential trade target, as does the Rangers’ Alex Rios.
Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have been constants in the Yankees’ outfield this year, but 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki has faltered with regular playing time and the team still isn’t sure if Carlos Beltran will be able to return to defensive duty this year because of a bone spur in his throwing elbow.
Cashman also said that he does not see homegrown 23-year-old Rob Refsnyder as the answer to help a lineup that has produced 395 runs through 100 games; only the Astros (394) have scored less among American League teams this season.
Refsnyder has enjoyed some buzz at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he had a .301/.401/.497 slash line entering play on Thursday, but Cashman said that he does not believe Refsnyder would represent a significant upgrade over Brian Roberts at second base right now.
“He has a chance to be the second baseman of the future maybe as early as next year,” Cashman said, adding that if Refsnyder does see any big league time in 2014, it would likely be in the outfield. “If we can avoid it, I don’t think we’d get the impact over the next two months that people would think. That jump from Triple-A to the big leagues is larger than it’s ever been.”
Masahiro Tanaka is still reporting discomfort in his right elbow, 10 days after having a platelet-rich plasma injection, but the Yankees are still hopeful of having the right-hander return to the big league mound this season.
Tanaka was diagnosed with a small tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament earlier this month. Three doctors recommended a six-week rehab program instead of having Tanaka undergo Tommy John surgery.
“He’s improved, but he still feels it,” Cashman said. “On a daily basis, it decreases, so that’s good. But it’s not good that he’s still feeling it at this stage. We just go day by day and week by week, and we’ll adjust accordingly. Right now, it’s too early to call.”
The Yankees have said that Tanaka would have three weeks of rest from throwing, so he would likely attempt to resume playing catch in the first week of August. After that, Tanaka would have to go through the gauntlet of bullpen sessions, batting practice and then Minor League rehab games to get back to the big leagues.
“We’ve got to wait three weeks to see where he’s at,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Then we’ll probably have him start to have him play catch and see if he’s going to be a pitcher for us. You’ve got to let things heal. Things don’t heal overnight.”
Manager Joe Girardi said that the Yankees will likely make a roster decision regarding injured first baseman Mark Teixeira by Friday.
Thursday’s series finale against the Rangers will be Teixeira’s fourth consecutive game out of the lineup due to a mild strain of his lower left lat. After Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Reds, Teixeira underwent an MRI exam that revealed the injury.
“It’s just seeing how he feels after three or four days,” Girardi said. “Then we’ll decide if we think it’s going to be the near future that he would play or we’re going to need the 15-day [disabled list]. If it’s going to be 12, 13, 14 days, it probably makes sense to get a player here.”
Because of rain in Tampa, Fla., Michael Pineda’s simulated game was moved indoors on Thursday morning. The rehabbing right-hander threw 30 pitches, with no hitters. He will progress to throwing three innings or 45 pitches against live hitters in five days.
Derek Jeter was out of the Yankees’ lineup on Thursday; Girardi said that it was a regular day off, and that if it had been a night game, Jeter probably would have played.
It probably wasn’t the two games spent scooping throws in a long-ago high school tournament, but for whatever reason, playing a little bit of first base seems to be agreeing with Brian McCann.
With Mark Teixeira nursing a strained lat, McCann started his second consecutive game at first base on Wednesday. It marked McCann’s fourth career start and ninth appearance at the position, all of which have come with the Yankees this year.
“I feel a lot more comfortable than I thought I would, to be honest with you,” McCann said. “I don’t know why I feel more comfortable over there than I thought, but it’s a good thing.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted that McCann played some first base in high school, but that’s a little bit of a stretch; McCann clarified that he spent most of his time catching, and only played a pair of games at first base. Most of what he is doing now is learning on the fly.
“It’s just going to be pure reaction for me,” McCann said. “But I feel comfortable fielding, picking, whatever I need to do.”
McCann said that he has been borrowing a glove from Kelly Johnson, but he is in the process of breaking in his own model. He said that the physical break is a welcome benefit, compared to the average day of bumps and bruises from catching.
“Absolutely, it might be a way you can keep his bat in the lineup a little bit more, and he doesn’t get as beat up,” Girardi said.
McCann said that the most challenging part of the position so far have been slight nuances which may not necessarily be noticed by the average observer.
“It’s just knowing where to be, knowing little things about the game,” McCann said. “Doing cutoffs, I may forget to do that. Last night I forgot to follow the trail runner at second. Just doing those little parts of the game over there is different.”
McCann signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees this past offseason, and when he did, the team said that they envisioned him as a catcher deep into the deal. They still do, but McCann said that he’s fine with pitching in at first base, especially given the injuries to Teixeira and Johnson.
“Like I said, whatever’s best for this team,” McCann said. “Obviously with Tex being out, it’s tough, so someone’s got to fill in. I’ll be that guy.”
CC Sabathia had arthroscopic debridement surgery performed on his right knee on Wednesday, and the Yankees left-hander is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician, performed the procedure. Sabathia was limited to just eight starts this season, going 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA, and has not pitched in a big league game since May 10.
Sabathia has struggled the past two years, going a combined 17-17 with a 4.87 ERA. He attempted to rehab with the aid of a stem cell injection, but experienced more knee issues after making a Minor League start for Double-A Trenton on July 2.
While Sabathia was disappointed to learn that his season was ending early, the 34-year-old said that he was relieved to avoid microfracture surgery, a procedure which could have potentially been career-threatening.
“It’s something that I’m going to have to deal with probably for the rest of my life and eventually have a big surgery,” Sabathia said last week. “Right now the goal is to keep playing and this is the easiest way to do it.”
Michael Pineda is continuing to move along the comeback trail. The Yankees right-hander has been scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday, a notable step as he attempts to return to a big league mound.
Pineda threw batting practice on Sunday at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. After a promising start to his season, he has not appeared in a big league game since April 23 because of an upper back strain behind his pitching shoulder.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Pineda is scheduled to throw two innings or 30 pitches. Pineda initially sustained the injury while throwing during his 10-game suspension for pine tar use, then had a setback while on rehab in May.
Masahiro Tanaka has reported some improvement, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, but it will still be another two weeks before Tanaka can resume throwing. Tanaka is in the early stages of a six-week rehab program intended to heal the partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament.
“He did say he feels better, but I don’t think you really know how he’s doing until you get him on a mound and you start going forward,” Girardi said.
Standing within striking distance in the American League East, the Yankees sent a clear message on Tuesday that they intend to push for the postseason, acquiring third baseman Chase Headley in a trade with the Padres.
New York sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed pitching prospect Rafael De Paula to San Diego in the deal. The Yankees also received $1 million to offset the remaining $4.16 million of Headley’s salary for 2014, according to a source.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he had been negotiating with the Padres about Headley for the better part of three weeks, and that the 30-year-old switch-hitter should give the club an immediate boost when he slots in as the everyday third baseman.
“I think he’s a professional hitter and a switch-hitter that can spray it all over the place, and that’s what he’s been doing,” Cashman said. “I don’t think we’re getting a big thumper, but I do think we’re getting an upgrade and a professional at-bat.”
Headley was batting .229 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 77 games with San Diego, but his power was sapped by a herniated disk early in the season. Headley’s performance had improved since receiving an epidural injection in late June; since July 4, he is batting .339 (19-for-56) in 13 games.
“He’s an impact player; he plays great defense,” said Yankees catcher Brian McCann. “He hits in the middle of the order and I think he’s going to benefit from getting out of [Petco Park]. That’s one of the hardest ballparks to hit in; you can crush a ball to right-center field and it doesn’t get to the track.”
The Yankees said that Headley was traveling to join the club on Tuesday after flying from Chicago, where the Padres were scheduled to play at Wrigley Field. Manager Joe Girardi said that Headley was scheduled to arrive around 7:30 p.m. ET and would be available off the bench against the Rangers.
“We feel that he’s in a pretty good place, coming over here,” Girardi said. “He plays in an extremely big ballpark, big ballparks during the course of the season playing in the West. I think this place will help him.”
Headley, who had been the longest-tenured Padres player, told MLB.com in a telephone interview that he was “not surprised” by the deal after being involved several trade rumors over the last few years. He said that it was “bittersweet” to have the day arrive.
“On one hand, there’s not many people in the game who get to play in one organization for as long as I did,” Headley said. “I loved every second in San Diego, all positive memories. But on the same token, I’m excited to move on to a team in a race right now.”
Headley can provide stability at a position where the Yankees were mixing and matching. With Alex Rodriguez suspended, the 27-year-old Solarte made the team as a non-roster invitee and held down the position early before slipping into an extended slump. Overall, he batted .254 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 75 games.
Solarte was sent down to the Minors earlier this month, and though he had been recalled to the active roster, Girardi had recently been giving more playing time at third base to Kelly Johnson and Zelous Wheeler. Cashman said that he was not sure if Solarte’s early-season success had been a mirage of sorts.
“He really saved our bacon early this year,” Cashman said. “When we had a lot of other issues going on this year, he stepped up, and for that we’re thankful. But he was a player that had to be in this situation to get Chase Headley back.”
The Yankees also parted with De Paula, 23, who was 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) with Class A Tampa this season. De Paula was ranked No. 15 among Yanks prospects by MLB.com and observers have suggested that he projects as a future big league reliever.
Cashman said that he views Headley, who can be a free agent after this season, as “a rental for two months.” Rodriguez’s suspension will expire after 2014, but with his future uncertain, the Yankees could use Headley’s time in New York as an audition of sorts.
“I can’t predict 2015 and what our needs will or won’t be,” Cashman said. “That’s not what this is all about. We’re all really focused on the remaining push in 2014 and trying to push through with what we’ve got.”