ST. PETERSBURG — The Yankees deemed Masahiro Tanaka’s return to the mound to be a success, as the right-hander threw 30 pitches and used his full repertoire in the Tropicana Field bullpen prior to Tuesday’s game against the Rays.
The pitches were Tanaka’s first off a hill since he was placed on the disabled list April 29 with a strained right forearm and tendinitis in his right wrist.
“It felt good, coming out really good from my hand,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “Happy about it.”
“He looked fine. It was a good progression,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He threw all his pitches, had no problems. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Tanaka will have at least one more side session before being cleared for rehab starts, and manager Joe Girardi said that they will wait to see how he feels Wednesday. General manager Brian Cashman has said that Tanaka could be making big league starts in early June, but Tanaka is unsure of his time frame.
“I’ve got to see how I do in my first rehab start,” Tanaka said. “I’ll probably get a feel for where I’m at once I throw that first start. Obviously I have to see how the coaches, manager, see how I do. It kind of all depends on that.”
Also on Tuesday, right-hander Ivan Nova threw 33 pitches, broken into three innings, during an Extended Spring outing in Tampa, Fla. with manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild in attendance. Nova is recovering from Tommy John surgery conducted last April and is expected back this summer.
“He got through the three innings fine,” Rothschild said. “The velocity was good. The location was good, which is unusual for a guy coming back at this point. He spun the ball well; some good curveballs. It’s just building up the stamina now and making sure you get through all the paces. We’re not going to rush it.”
Left-hander Chris Capuano is scheduled to throw 85 to 90 pitches Tuesday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Norfolk and could be close to big league ready.
“He should be, depending on functionality,” Rothschild said. “He’s got to be ready to get people out here and have command of the pitches that you need to get by here.”
Girardi said it is still too early to think about how Capuano, Nova and Tanaka will rejoin the rotation.
“I don’t think you really worry too much about it until you have to make a decision about what you’re going to do because other things can creep up,” Girardi said. “As I’ve said before, sometimes you can waste a lot of energy doing that.”
The Yankees and the Orioles will play the second game of a four-game series tonight at Yankee Stadium, with right-hander Adam Warren (2-1, 4.78) making the start for New York and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (3-1, 2.59) going for Baltimore.
The Yankees have won 15 of their last 20 games, and with a victory tonight would improve to 19-11. That would mark their best 30-game start to a season since 2010, when they opened the year 21-9.
Here are the early notes from the Yankees clubhouse:
Masahiro Tanaka threw from distances of 60 and 90 feet this afternoon, and everything is said to have gone well. This was his second straight day of tossing, and Tanaka will have a scheduled day off tomorrow before picking a ball up again on Sunday.
“Definitely going in the right direction,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.
Stephen Drew got the night off after going 1-for-3 with a double in last night’s 4-3 victory, yielding to Jose Pirela, and Joe Girardi said that it was a scheduled day off for the slumping Drew. Girardi indicated that Pirela — who apparently is nicknamed “Petey” in Girardi-ese — will play second base tomorrow against left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, so that might be an opportunity to rest Didi Gregorius.
Girardi on the upcoming potential Alex Rodriguez milestone of 3,000 hits (he’s 38 shy):
“Well, obviously it’s a ton of hits and you have to have a lot of longevity to come up with 3,000 hits. This is going to be debated for years to come, I’m sure. My job as a manager is to get the most out of my players. My job is not to decide if something is a milestone, an accomplishment. I mean, that’s for baseball people and historians to do. My hope is he gets it fairly quickly, and those hits keep coming and the home runs keep coming and he’s still productive.”
By the way, how good has this start of the season been? If he keeps up this pace, A-Rod would finish the year with 39 homers and 101 RBIs. Now that would be a story.
Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to tonight’s game.
NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez hit the 661st home run of his career on Thursday evening, surpassing Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list.
Rodriguez sent an 83-mph changeup from Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman over the center field fence in the third inning for a solo home run that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The home run was Rodriguez’s seventh of the season.
The Yankees acknowledged the achievement with a brief message on the center-field scoreboard, noting that it was Rodriguez’s 661st homer and that he now stands alone in fourth place. Mays (660) is now fifth on the all-time list.
A-Rod’s homer: http://t.co/XzEAMEZ5wn
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 8, 2015
Rodriguez was summoned from the Yankees dugout for a curtain call, which he acknowledged with a two-handed salute. According to Statcast, Rodriguez’s homer had a ball exit speed of 108 mph and traveled 441 feet, with a launch angle of 23 degrees.
Tillman has had trouble with Rodriguez in the past. Rodriguez entered the night 5-for-10 with three homers against Tillman, and Rodriguez nearly cleared the right-field wall in the first inning with a ball that Delmon Young brought back with a leaping grab for a sacrifice fly.
The Yankees will open a four-game series with the Orioles tonight at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is making his sixth start of the season, with right-hander Chris Tillman on the mound for Baltimore. This is a quick homestand for the Yanks, who will then hit the road to see the Rays, Royals and Nationals.
Here are the quick updates from the Yankees clubhouse:
Masahiro Tanaka made 50 throws at 60 feet this afternoon, his first activity since being placed on the disabled list with a right forearm strain and right wrist tendinitis.
“He’ll throw again tomorrow and then we’ll just continue to progress to where we stretch it out, it becomes long toss, then it becomes flat ground and then it becomes a bullpen,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Tanaka did not speak to reporters today, but he is expected to do so tomorrow. Girardi said that he feels that the Yankees have enough pitching to get by until Tanaka’s expected return in June, noting that Ivan Nova and Chris Capuano are on the mend as well. Capuano is scheduled to throw five innings tonight for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“It would be great to get Tanaka back in the timetable they talked about earlier,” Girardi said. “Then it just gives us a lot more depth, which I think is important over the course of a long season.”
Why keep running Stephen Drew (.167) out there? Girardi was asked that question and alluded that there is more than meets the eye with the second baseman, who is coming off a 2-for-18 road trip.
“We look at the at-bats. Obviously, we look really deep into it,” Girardi said. “It’s not just what the average is, and his hits have been productive. I know he’s had a little rough go of it the last 20 at-bats, but I mean, that happens to a lot of hitters. But I told you before that, I thought he hit the ball much harder than what he had, the luck that he had had. He lined out again last night. We’re going to keep running him out there.”
Anyone else like the chances for Alex Rodriguez‘s 661st home run tonight? Rodriguez is a .500 hitter and has a 1.400 slugging percentage against Tillman, homering three times in 10 at-bats.
The Yankees are not planning to use a sixth starter this turn through the rotation. Adam Warren, Chase Whitley and Michael Pineda are listed as the probable starters for the final three games of the Orioles series, so CC Sabathia is tentatively scheduled to take the ball Monday against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Baltimore will start Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris in the final three games of this series.
Brett Gardner (stiff neck) “felt much better today,” Girardi said. Gardner sat out last night’s series finale at Rogers Centre.
Hello from Boston, where the Yankees are trying for their first sweep of a series of three games or more at Fenway Park since August 2006, when the Yankees swept the Sox in five games. The Yankees did sweep the Red Sox in two games in April 2012. First pitch tonight is at 8:05 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Alex Rodriguez sidestepped questions concerning his contract language and the potential $6 million in bonus payments related to his 660th home run this weekend, calling it “family business” that should not be discussed publicly.
“I’m just happy to be playing baseball. [That’s] family business,” Rodriguez said on Sunday. “That’s nowhere near where my energy is these days. My energy is playing the game tonight. Just baseball.”
Rodriguez tied Willie Mays (660) for fourth place on the home run list with his eighth-inning, pinch-hit homer off Junichi Tazawa in Friday’s 3-2 Yankees victory over the Red Sox.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Saturday that the team has “the right, but not the obligation,” to award a bonus to Rodriguez if they determine certain milestones he reaches are “commercially marketable” in the career home runs chase.
Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal signed in 2007 contained a marketing agreement that is separate from his player contract. It stated that the Yankees had the right to designate a “milestone” — valued at $6 million for each occurrence — if Rodriguez tied Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), plus another if Rodriguez set the home run record.
Cashman and Rodriguez both have said that the team is going about the business of competing on the field, together, and that a process is in place to settle any dispute related to the marketing relationship. Rodriguez said that the bonus does not present a distraction for him.
“Not at all,” he said. “My energy from Spring Training has been all about baseball.”
If Rodriguez disagrees with the decision, he has the right to have the case heard by an arbitrator. The Major League Baseball Players Association has said that they are prepared to step in on Rodriguez’s behalf if the bonus payment is withheld by the Yankees.
“I’ve been in a good place for a while now and it’s just fun to be playing baseball,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve learned my lesson.”
The Yankees will continue without the services of infielder Brendan Ryan, who tweaked a hamstring while running in Florida and will be forced to sit for at least another week.
Ryan was envisioned as the Yankees’ backup shortstop, but sustained a right calf strain during Spring Training and has not played in the Majors this season. He was participating in Extended Spring Training games in Tampa, Fla.
With Ryan sidelined, infielder Gregorio Petit could stick on the big league roster, or the Yankees could summon infielder Jose Pirela from his Minor League rehab assignment at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Petit has six hits in 30 at-bats (.200) for New York, with three doubles and five RBIs. Pirela went 4-for-5 with three doubles, an RBI and three runs scored for the RailRiders on Sunday and is 11-for-19 (.579) with a home run, four doubles and four RBIs during his stint with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“I would say he’s probably ready to go,” manager Joe Girardi said of Pirela. “We wanted to get him a few more at-bats when we had that luxury of calling Petit back, and now we’ve got to make a decision of what we want to do.”
In another rehab update, left-hander Chris Capuano pitched four innings with an unearned run for Class-A Tampa on Saturday, marking his first Minor League rehab start as he returns from a Grade 2 right quadriceps strain. Capuano permitted two hits, striking out four without a walk.
Girardi’s take on sitting the sizzling Chris Young in favor of Carlos Beltran, who comes into the night hitting .181 with no homers and eight RBIs:
“It’s difficult. But we believe Carlos is a big part of our offense. Chris had two hits yesterday again, but Carlos had two hits Friday night, too. I hope they get two hits every other day the rest of the year.”
Beltran has four hits in his last 28 at-bats.
Could the Yankees ask more than three outs from Andrew Miller tonight, after Dellin Betances was used in a save situation during Saturday’s matinee?
“I’ll see. I’ll talk to him,” Girardi said. “It’s not something you want to do a lot, but if I felt the situation called for it, and he felt OK, I might consider it.”
David Carpenter seems to have gotten lost in the bullpen shuffle after entering the season as the likely replacement for Shawn Kelley‘s old role. Here’s how Girardi explained that:
“His time is going to come. We know that. The other guys have pitched so well, we’ve kind of went with it. That can go in phases. His time is going to come.’
The Yankees have won twelve out of their past 15 games since starting the season 3-6. They are looking to win their sixth straight road game for the first time since June of 2012 when they won seven straight on the road.