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Yanks’ top prospect Severino to make Triple-A debut Sunday

Luis SeverinoLuis Severino, regarded as the Yankees’ top prospect, is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut on Sunday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Norfolk Tides at 1:05 p.m. ET in Moosic, Pa.

Severino, 21, has been rated as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect by The right-hander was 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA in eight starts for Double-A Trenton to begin the 2015 season.

“Obviously, it’s a step closer,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “The way it usually happens is if somebody goes down or somebody struggles, you talk about the guys in Triple-A before you talk about the guys in Double-A. He’s that much closer now, and so we’ll pay attention to what he’s doing.”

While in Double-A, Severino struck out 48 while walking just 10 in 38 innings, permitting a .227 opponent batting average. He was in big league camp with the Yankees this spring, impressing coaches with a live fastball and a solid changeup.

Yanks’ Brett Gardner “more comfortable” in center field

Here are the quick hits as the Yankees prepare to take on the Athletics this evening at o.Co Coliseum. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.27) will be on the mound for New York and right-hander Jesse Hahn goes for Oakland. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET. 

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, right, is congratulated by Alex Rodriguez after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Gardner scored on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

With Ramon Flores in left field making his Major League debut, Brett Gardner gets a chance to return to his natural center field position. Gardner will play there when Flores is in the lineup, but Chris Young could also see reps in center while the Yankees wait for Jacoby Ellsbury to come back.

“I feel comfortable in center,” Gardner said. “I feel more comfortable there than I do in left field. I’ve obviously played left field every day and I’m becoming more comfortable over there, but I feel perfectly normal going back to center field. It doesn’t feel weird or like I’m playing out of position. I feel good.”

Gardner said that he didn’t give much thought to the defensive alignment after Slade Heathcott‘s injury.

“However they want to put us out there — whether C.Y. is playing or Flo, Slade, me, Jacoby, whoever, it doesn’t matter to me. Left field, center field, I feel comfortable,” Gardner said. 

As for Ellsbury, there is no significant update to offer. He is back in New York and has been performing exercises in the Yanks’ swimming pool, but has not resumed baseball activities.

Jose Pirela is spelling Stephen Drew at second base tonight, and while Girardi said that he has not made any decisions about playing time beyond this game, Pirela might be making a better case for duty if he wasn’t hitting .200 (6-for-30). Girardi said that the sparse playing time may be an issue. 

“It’s difficult for young players,” Girardi said. “That’s why a lot of times you see utility guys as older players that have experience because they’re just more familiar with it. You look at his at-bats and see how his at-bats are, and how he looks in the field and you make a judgment.”

Rehabbing right-hander Chris Martin threw one inning tonight for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and could rejoin the Yankees by the end of the week. The Yanks will also have to make a move on Wednesday to accommodate Masahiro Tanaka, and they have a pair of struggling right-handed relievers in David Carpenter and Esmil Rogers.

“We need a right-hander to step up for us to help Dellin (Betances) out in those situations when we don’t have him,” Girardi said. “Even to bridge the gap to those two guys, it’s important that someone steps up.”

Girardi said that he doesn’t mind keeping four left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and Justin Wilson.

“I haven’t really found it to be a problem,” Girardi said. “It’s not very often that you have that, but sometimes you face a club with a lot of left-handers and it can be to your advantage. (The A’s) have got plenty of left-handers in their lineup. Seattle’s got plenty of left-handers.”

Heathcott was placed on the disabled list today and is flying back to New York to be seen by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad. He is expected to miss more than 15 days and perhaps as much as a month. 

Flores joins Yankees in Oakland, making Major League debut

New York Yankees' Ramon Flores, right, fist-bumps manager Joe Girardi after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Yankees took note of Ramon Flores’ potential this spring, impressed by a fluid left-handed stroke that seemed to send the ball a long way with ease. Those good impressions helped promote the rookie to a big league clubhouse for the first time on Saturday.

Flores was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Slade Heathcott, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps. Flores immediately appeared in the Yanks’ lineup on Saturday against the A’s, batting seventh and playing left field.

“I’m feel I’m still dreaming,” Flores said. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and say, ‘Oh, I’m here in the Major Leagues!’ It’s been seven years in the Minors, working very hard to get here.”

The 23-year-old Flores, a product of Venezuela, had been on a recent tear with the RailRiders, going 15-for-44 (.341) in his last 11 games there. Overall, Flores was batting .294 (47-for-160) with four homers and 15 RBIs in 42 games.

“I think his ceiling is pretty high, offensively and defensively,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can move him around a little bit defensively, but I’ll probably focus on left mostly. Just to give us good at-bats, I think that’s the important thing, and I really believe he has the ability to do that.”

With Flores slotted in left field, Girardi shifted Brett Gardner to center field, where he is expected to play while Jacoby Ellsbury mends a sprained right knee. Chris Young could also see reps in center field.

“I feel comfortable in center. I feel more comfortable there than I do in left field,” Gardner said. “I’ve obviously played left field every day and I’m becoming more comfortable over there, but I feel perfectly normal going back to center field.”

Flores said that he was in the middle of batting practice with the RailRiders when he was informed of his call-up. After spending the night in a Philadelphia hotel, Flores flew direct to the West Coast on Saturday morning, getting to the Coliseum around 11:30 a.m. PT.

With 23 walks against 28 strikeouts at Triple-A this year, Flores said that his plate discipline could help him to succeed against big league pitching.

“What I like to do at home plate is look for a very good pitch to try to connect,” Flores said. “I think that’s what helped distinguish me in the Minor Leagues, because I have a lot of patience and I try to wait for the right pitch. I just try to enjoy the game.”

Searching for answers, Drew heads to the bench

New York Yankees' Stephen Drew reacts after the final out of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Friday, May 22, 2015, in New York. The Rangers won the game 10-9. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Yankees have shown patience with Stephen Drew, searching for deeper numbers to show that his stat line doesn’t agree with his ability. As he was sent to the bench on Saturday, he continues to be puzzled by the trouble in hitting his weight.

Drew yielded second base to Jose Pirela on Saturday against the A’s, offered a day to clear his head in the midst of an 0-for-19 and 1-for-26 skid that has dropped the 32-year-old’s season average to .158.

“I’d like to be doing better up there at the plate,” Drew said. “I’ve got to also just trust my talent and know it’s a matter of time. I’ve had some good at-bats, and the past three days have been frustrating.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi defended Drew after his hitless performance in Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Athletics, saying, “It just doesn’t seem that he gets the rewards that he should when he hits the ball hard.”

One day later, Girardi said that Drew will continue to get opportunities to turn his season around, unwilling to announce any decisions about future playing time at second base. He did allow that there is a possibility that Pirela could earn more reps.

“Anyone can earn playing time,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line in this game, and that’s the way it’s always been. Have we made a position swing? No, not necessarily.”

The Yanks gave Drew a one-year, $5 million contract this past offseason, gambling that his sub-Mendoza line performance of 2014 was a fluke tied to his missing Spring Training while sitting out in a contract dispute with the Red Sox.

Drew enjoyed a more normal spring this year, remaining injury-free while fine-tuning his work at second base and helping to tutor shortstop Didi Gregorius, but the offensive results have not appeared.

Not surprisingly, Drew’s batting average and on-base percentage (.226) are the worst among all qualified big league second basemen; only the Braves’ Jace Peterson (.300) and the Phillies’ Chase Utley (.295) have lower slugging percentages than Drew (.303).

“It’s not the end of the year for me,” Drew said. “People can boo or whatever, the 25 guys that are here are what matters, and winning games is what matters for me.”

Tanaka to start Wednesday, Heathcott to DL

OAKLAND — Masahiro Tanaka will be activated from the disabled list to start on Wednesday against the Mariners in Seattle, manager Joe Girardi said.

Tanaka made two Minor League rehab starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and has joined the team in California. Girardi said the Yankees expect Tanaka to be ready to throw approximately 80 pitches.

Additionally, outfielder Slade Heathcott has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps and will be placed on the disabled list. Ramon Flores will join the Yankees Saturday from Triple-A.


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