Alex Rodriguez grabbed his glove and dashed across the clubhouse carpet on Tuesday afternoon, an important appointment on his agenda. With Didi Gregorius going through early defensive work at shortstop, the Yankees had requested his presence in a coaching role.
Rodriguez, a two-time Gold Glove award winner at shortstop, offered feedback with infield coach Joe Espada as Gregorius took ground balls and whipped throws across the diamond. Rodriguez said that he sees the natural ability in Gregorius’ game, and that regular practice will be important to iron out the kinks at the position.
“The one thing about playing shortstop that I tried to convey to him was positioning, cadence and also that internal clock that a shortstop needs,” Rodriguez said. “You only get that with preparation and experience.”
Espada said that he approached Rodriguez two days ago to set up the appointment and offer feedback to Gregorius, who has committed three errors and made several other miscues in the field and on the base paths through the first weeks of the season.
“I wanted Didi to hear it from one of his teammates,” Espada said. “He’s a guy that’s played 20 years on that side of the infield. There’s a lot of experience, there’s a lot of knowledge there. I just want Didi to have someone to relate to some of that play on that side of the infield. I thought the session went really well.”
Espada said that the Yankees are trying to help Gregorius anticipate plays better, remaining aware of outs and knowing when to charge the ball and when to stay back. Gregorius said that he thought the workout was helpful.
“Everything he brought up was good,” Gregorius said. “Just really everything like positioning, timing, anticipation and all that stuff.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he believes Rodriguez’s experience could be a helpful asset as Gregorius adjusts to the American League and to New York.
“If you think about Alex, he was a great shortstop that was willing to move over to third,” Girardi said. “He’s played in big markets; he’s played in big games. Alex loves the game. Alex is a teacher by nature, and he also studies the game a lot and just wants to learn. I think it comes natural for him.”
Rodriguez said that he believes by June, Gregorius will look back at these first weeks in pinstripes and feel much more comfortable.
“The abilities are off the charts,” Rodriguez said. “I said that in Spring Training, we saw that in Spring Training. He’s got the things you can’t teach; incredible range, great arm strength. People forget, he’s only been playing shortstop for eight years. The more he comes out, the more he gets experience, the better he’s going to be.”
FINAL SCORE: Yankees 6, Mets 4
The Yankees (11-8) claimed this leg of the Subway Series as Alex Rodriguez hit career homer No. 659 and drove in two runs, helping the Bombers take two of three games from the visiting Mets.
Rodriguez’s first-inning homer off Jonathon Niese moved him within one of tying Willie Mays (660) for fourth place on the all-time list.
“I’ve said it a lot: Willie was my father’s favorite player,” Rodriguez said. “He’s one of my heroes. I’m excited about the win today, I’m excited about the home run. I’m having fun.”
Mets manager Terry Collins said that he was impressed by Rodriguez’s homer, which came on a 2-2 Niese curveball and struck the top of the fence before landing in the Yankees’ bullpen.
“The home run to right-center? That’s how you know he’s dangerous,” Collins said. “When you can still do that at his age — like he said the other night to me, I’ve known him for a long time, he said, ‘I’m humbled to be back playing. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.’ And he’s going to show people that he is a great player.”
The bullpen fired 4 2/3 scoreless innings behind Nathan Eovaldi, as Chasen Shreve picked up his first big league victory and Andrew Miller recorded his seventh save in as many opportunities.
“We just feed off each other,” Shreve said. “Chris Martin came in tonight and helped me out, and I helped Nathan out. It’s one of those things where you pick each other up.”
Eovaldi lasted just 4 1/3 innings, permitting four earned runs and seven hits. He struck out six, but served up a leadoff homer to Curtis Granderson and endured plenty of loud contact.
“We were scoring runs early and it’s frustrating having to go to the bullpen so early, that I couldn’t go further in the game,” Eovaldi said. “But the bullpen has been awesome.”
The Yankees have won three consecutive series, having swept the Rays in St. Petersburg, taking three of four from the Tigers and now beating the Mets in two of three.
“Our goal is to win series, and we’ve done that in the last three,” Rodriguez said. “It’s especially sweet in the Subway Series, to win the series, and especially against a team that’s playing so well.”
“I don’t have a marketing degree, so I’m just focusing on playing baseball.” – Alex Rodriguez, on how homer No. 660 will be celebrated.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 27, 2015
This and that…
- Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) might have been available to play tonight if the game had gone to extra innings, but since it didn’t, Girardi said that he never asked. The Yankees hope to have him back in the lineup tomorrow.
- The Yankees had four doubles in the second inning, the first time they’ve done that since the first inning of a 7-4 win vs. Baltimore on May 21, 2009 (Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Melky Cabrera).
- Jose Pirela (concussion) began a Minor League rehab assignment with Class-A Tampa at Clearwater on Sunday, playing the entire game at DH and going 0-for-4 with a run scored.
- Granderson has 67 home runs at new Yankee Stadium, third in the history of the building. He trails Teixeira (94) and Cano (79).
Up next: Adam Warren will make his fourth start of the season on Monday as the Yankees open a three-game series with the Rays at Yankee Stadium, having swept Tampa Bay in a three-game set earlier this month. Right-hander Nate Karns draws the start for the Rays in the 7:05 p.m. ET contest.
Jacoby Ellsbury spent Sunday afternoon receiving treatment on his tight right hip and will watch the final game of the Subway Series from the bench, as manager Joe Girardi hopes to have the centerfielder’s services on Monday against the Rays.
“He was better. He was going to try today, he went through treatment and he was getting loose, and I just said, ‘You know what? I was going to give you a day off one of these next few days anyway, the next four,'” Girardi said. “I think it’s kind of silly if he would have to leave in the middle of the game so shut him down.”
Ellsbury went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to the Mets and made a highlight reel catch in the fourth inning, charging to the gap in left-center field for a sliding grab near the warning track that robbed Eric Campbell of an extra-base hit.
“His hip got a little tight yesterday,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if it’s from one of his sliding catches that he irritated it on, but I just decided, let’s give him today and I’ll give him about 48 hours to see if he could play tomorrow.”
Chase Whitley is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start on Tuesday as the Yankees will incorporate a sixth starter to their rotation, part of a strategy in navigating a stretch that sees them play 30 games in 31 days.
Girardi said that the team is planning on having Adam Warren start on Monday against the Rays and then will summon the 25-year-old Whitley for Tuesday’s game, giving Masahiro Tanaka an extra day before he takes the ball on Wednesday.
“Now, could something happen to change that? Yes,” Girardi said. “I don’t know what it would be, but those are our intentions.”
Whitley had a strong spring but was sent to the Minors so he could continue starting, allowing him to be stretched out for this opportunity. In three starts for the RailRiders, Whitley is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA, allowing 13 hits, six walks and 13 strikeouts in 17 innings.
Girardi’s take on Stephen Drew‘s season so far: “From the plate, he’s been productive and he’s had some really big hits for us during the course of the season. I look up and I’m shocked when I see what he’s hitting (.176), because I think he has swung the bat a lot better than that. I think those numbers will continue to go up as time goes on because I think his at-bats have been pretty good.”
Could Alex Rodriguez be pressing as he sits two homers shy of tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list?
“I haven’t sensed it. I thought he hit some balls really well in Detroit,” Girardi said. “It’s not the easiest park to hit balls out in. Trying to pick left-center and center is probably not a good idea there. I haven’t sensed it yet, but if it was, I’d sit down and talk to him.”
Some numbers from the Yankees’ media relations crew: Mark Teixeira leads the Majors in Isolated Power (.475), is second with eight homers and tied for second with 18 RBIs.… with 12 extra-base hits, holds the AL lead and is third in the Majors… with a .729 SLG, is fourth in the AL and fifth in the Majors… with a 1.085 OPS, is fifth in the AL and eighth in the Majors.
Of his 15 hits this season, 12 have gone for extra bases (4 doubles, 8 homers) … 11 of his first 12 hits this season were extra-base hits, joining Adam Dunn (6 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers for the Reds in 2005) as the only Major Leaguers since 1900 to have at least 11 of their first 12 hits go for extra bases, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Brendan Ryan (calf strain) is scheduled to begin playing Extended Spring Training games next week, Girardi said.
FINAL SCORE: Mets 8, Yankees 2.
The Yankees (10-8) had their four-game winning streak snapped as CC Sabathia remained winless in four starts this season, allowing seven earned runs in five-plus innings.
“It sucks,” Sabathia said. “I just want to try to help the team win and I haven’t been able to do that my three, four times out, whatever it’s been. This one stings a little more because I didn’t give us a chance at all.”
Joe Girardi said that Sabathia’s location cost him today, but he didn’t want to make too much of one start. This was clearly the biggest clunker out of Sabathia’s four starts thus far. Brian McCann, however, said that he saw plenty of positives still in play.
“Honestly, I think you can go back and look at his four starts and he has been really good,” McCann said. “He had one inning his first start and today didn’t go as we thought, but all in all, we love where he’s at.”
Mark Teixeira hit his eighth homer of the season, tying Seattle’s Nelson Cruz for the league lead. 12 of Teixeira’s 15 hits have been for extra bases, and he got his second single of the season this afternoon on an excuse-me roller to the left side against the shift. On that topic…
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 25, 2015
Oh, hey, this Matt Harvey guy is pretty good. He finished one out shy of a complete game and gassed Alex Rodriguez with a 98 mph fastball for a ninth-inning strikeout. Color A-Rod — who grew up as a Mets fan — impressed with Harvey, who grew up as a Yankees fan:
“Wow. As good as advertised, no doubt about it,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a horse. He’s got four plus pitches, throws them all for strikes, great demeanor out on there on the mound. The Mets are in good shape. He’s a cornerstone for them.”
Up next: The Yankees and the Mets complete this leg of the Subway Series on Sunday. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 3.12) takes on LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 1.50) at 8:05 p.m. ET (ESPN).
Hello from Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees have won seven of their last eight games going into this afternoon’s 4:05 p.m. ET showdown with the Mets. The Yankees took last night’s Subway Series opener by a 6-1 score and send left-hander CC Sabathia (0-3, 4.35) to the mound today against Mets right-hander Matt Harvey (3-0, 3.50).
The Sabathia-Harvey showdown is one with plenty of sizzle, but at his Stadium locker yesterday, Sabathia essentially offered a yawn. He knows Harvey a little bit from running into him at NBA games, but he’s focusing on the Mets’ hitters, not the man on the mound.
“The people that know me here know I don’t get excited about facing another pitcher,” Sabathia said. “It’s really just the lineup.”
The weather is nice and warm out in the bleachers, and a little cooler behind the plate in the shade. There should be another good crowd on hand. Joe Girardi said that he thought the Subway Series atmosphere seemed strong last night.
“I’m sure it will be the same way today,” he said. “There’s a lot of anticipation for this game and what Matt has meant to the Mets, and the start that he is off to. I imagine it will be pretty loud today.”
Here are the lineups:
Curtis Granderson RF
John Mayberry Jr. LF
Lucas Duda 1B
Michael Cuddyer DH
Daniel Murphy 2B
Eric Campbell 3B
Juan Lagares CF
Wilmer Flores SS
Kevin Plawecki C
Matt Harvey RHP
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chris Young RF
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS
CC Sabathia LHP