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Zelous Wheeler called up, Yangervis Solarte optioned to Triple-A

Yangervis Solarte, who was a bright spot for the Yankees through the first seven weeks of the season but has been mired in a terrible offensive funk since, didn’t make it to the charter flight yesterday.

With just three hits in his last 41 at-bats, Solarte has been replaced on the active roster by Zelous Wheeler, who was in camp this spring with the Yankees and has been with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Here is the news release from the Yankees:

Following Wednesday’s game, the Yankees optioned INF Yangervis Solarte to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Earlier today, the Yankees signed INF Zelous Wheeler to a Major League contract and selected him to the 25-man roster.

To make room for Wheeler on the 40-man roster, INF Dean Anna was designated for assignment.

Kevin Long: “I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it”

Kevin Long emerged from the coaches’ room after Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Rays, prepared to face the music after the Yankees’ season-high fifth straight loss and their ninth in the last 11 games.

The Yankees were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday, and though situational hitting has been one of their major concerns of the summer, it has been more difficult than anticipated to make progress in that department.

“You’re always focused on trying to do the little things, trying to score runs and trying to move runners and trying to get guys in,” Long said. “So that’s always a focus.”

Here is a rundown of the group interview that Long conducted in the Yankees’ clubhouse:

On the current issues with the Yankees’ hitters: “You’re obviously not scoring runs and you’re going to put some pressure on yourself. You’re going to try to do a little bit more. The guys are certainly well aware of what’s going on and they’re putting forth as much effort as they can. Just sometimes things don’t go the way you want them or you planned them.”

On being surprised by this, given the names in the lineup: “Yeah, it’s a little surprising. Certainly. You expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform, and at the end of the day and at the end of the year, you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you that they’re doing everything in their power to try to correct it. I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it, and we’re just going to stay at it. There’s no simple formula. The work is positive and we’re working in the right directions. It’s just been tough.

What can a hitting coach do in this situation?: “You certainly can’t yell, scream or do any of that. It’s more about just staying the course and keep looking at video or maybe working on their swing or tee work, or doing flips or doing extra BP, all those things that you would normally do. Certainly that is something that we’ve really focused on and even you get away from that sometimes and you just see the ball. That’s all Beltran’s doing these last four games, and he’s been really good the last four games, so if he can continue to swing the way he has the last four. It looks like Brian McCann made a positive move today. You have to look at those things and you have to try to move forward on those, because we can’t get anything back that has already happened.”

On Yangervis Solarte needing to make adjustments: “When Solarte was swinging the bat well, he was very aggressive and he was swinging with authority. He’s just a little bit inbetween and a little bit unsure. We looked at his video and he’s a little hard to his front side and he’s just a little tentative. We’ll just stay at that.”

“I don’t think they’re pitching him any differently. He has taken some walks and for the most part swung at good pitches, but I’m sure he’s feeling it, just like a veteran would. He’s a rookie so someone like that will probably put a little more pressure on himself than maybe a veteran would.”

Encouraging signs from the rest of the lineup?: “Obviously, the top three have been pretty good all year, Jeet, Gardner and Ellsbury have swung the bat well. Ichiro has been pretty consistent all year. Teixeira has hit some home runs, driven in some runs. I think the biggest two we’re talking about is if McCann can do what he did today and Beltran — that’s four good games in a row where he’s really had good quality at-bats.

“We’ve kind of changed his routine and changed what he’s done as a DH to try to help that process become really active with him inbetween innings. Walking around, talking about things instead of just sitting in the video room and maybe thinking about an at-bat. So that’s been one adjustment that I think has moved in a positive way for us. So again I just hope that he continues on what he’s doing and McCann today was very positive.”

On Brett Gardner hitting for more power: “Gardy’s made adjustments every year he’s been in this league. He’s basically picked up where he left off last year. He’s an extremely confident individual who continues to get better and better, he’s a very aggressive hitter in the zone. He’s not late. He attacks fastballs and he doesn’t miss them. I think the consistencies of his mechanics in his swing have enabled him to this little power surge that we’ve seen.”

Ever think that maybe this is just what you have?: “It’s about winning games, and we need to do whatever we can to win games. Obviously offense has been an issue all season. These guys understand it, I understand it. We’ve got to turn it around somehow and you’ve got to believe the guys that are in the room, they’re the only guys that can turn it around. Again it’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from not wanting to do it, it’s just one of those things where we need these extra 80 games for guys to prove themselves. McCann is on a mission, Beltran is on a mission. Everybody needs to pick it up a little bit, including the Gardners, including the Ellsburys, and then these guys that have underperformed — they need to pick it up as well.”

On his early expectations for this offense: “I don’t know — obviously more than what we’ve done. Are we capable of scoring 4-5 runs a game? I would say so. Even when we had the powerful offenses, I would think four runs a game was kind of that mark that you shoot for. Jeet said it a bunch of times: let’s win innings, try to score every inning. You start there instead of trying to maybe put up a four spot or five spot all in one inning.”

On drastic changes: “Oh, we’ve done all kinds of stuff. You always make adjustments and always make changes. Nobody here probably even saw what Brian McCann did today. If you just look at his stance, look for a toe tap today and see if you see one. That’s one of those things where if you look at video, you can say see, ‘Whoa, he did make an adjustment.’ You’ll see those adjustments from guys as they go along. They’ll continue to make those adjustments to try to help themselves be more consistent.”

Teixeira, Ellsbury out of Yankees’ lineup

Mark TeixeiraMark Teixeira was out of the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday after having fluid drained from his left knee, but manager Joe Girardi said that he expects the first baseman to be ready to play on Thursday against the Twins at Target Field.

Girardi said he is not concerned about the issue knocking Teixeira out of the lineup for an extended period. Teixeira had the knee drained after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Rays.

“He’s played with this,” Girardi said. “We really believe he’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

The Yankees’ lineup was also without Jacoby Ellsbury; Girardi said that Ellsbury is “kind of beat up” and needed a day off leading into a road trip that will take the team to Minnesota, Cleveland and Baltimore before the All-Star break.

“He should be back in there tomorrow, too,” Girardi said. “He’s just overall sore, a little bit sore all over. He needs a day.”

Girardi used Kelly Johnson at first base and slotted Ichiro Suzuki in center field, marking Ichiro’s fourth game in center field this year. Girardi said that he chose to do that instead of disrupting Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano.

“I just decided that you move one guy instead of moving all the guys around, you know?” Girardi said. “Ich has been mostly playing right. Soriano has been mostly playing right, and Gardy’s been mostly playing left.

“So instead of moving all three guys or moving two guys to a different position, you move one. And you put your two fastest guys. They’re probably going to have a lot of right-handed hitters so you put your two fastest guys there.”

  •  Derek Jeter was in the lineup on Wednesday, a day game after a night game, and manager Joe Girardi said that he will have to pick a spot to give the 40-year-old shortstop a breather in the near future.

    “He’s going to get (a day off) here soon,” Girardi said. “He swung the bat good again last night. As long as his body feels good, and I feel he’s moving around, I’m going to keep playing him. He’s been productive for us. I’ll pick a day here pretty soon, though.”

Brian McCann “frustrated” by performance, Joe Girardi says

Brian McCannBrian McCann was not in Tuesday’s lineup, getting a day off after catching all 12 innings in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Rays. After that contest, McCann offered a harsh assessment of the first 81 games with his new team.

“Horrible,” McCann said. “I feel good behind the plate, but swinging the bat I need to get better.”

The Yankees made McCann their first big target of the winter makeover, seeing him as a perfect fit behind the plate, but McCann entered play on Tuesday batting .221 in 74 games. Joe Girardi has noted that McCann’s home runs (nine) and RBIs (36) are passable, but the Yankees manager believes that McCann has been bothered by his average.

McCann came into 2014 as a .277 lifetime hitter. His .642 OPS is the lowest among the 11 big league catchers with enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title, trailing the Astros’ Jason Castro (.655).

“His RBI totals aren’t too bad. His home runs aren’t too bad and I think he’s done a really good job with our pitching staff,” Girardi said. “When he looks at his average, I’m sure that he’s frustrated and knows that he can do better. I don’t want to just focus on one aspect of the game, because he has driven in some big runs for us and he has done a great job with our staff. He needs to remind himself of that too.”

Girardi again expressed confidence that McCann will “figure it out” and get his numbers to their expected levels. He said that he was not sure if McCann is having more trouble than anticipated adjusting to New York.

“It’s hard to say. I didn’t have a real history with him before, had not seen him much before because he was in the National League,” Girardi said. “I know he’s a guy that expects greatness every day and expects to get three hits every day, and a shutout every day. He takes a lot of pride in what he does. Sometimes you can take that a little bit too hard. I’m sure everything involved – you talk about coming to a new town, coming to a new contract, learning all these new pitchers, it can be difficult.”

McCann said after Monday’s loss that while the first 81 games haven’t gone as expected, he sees good things ahead.

“We just have to keep grinding,” McCann said. “I have faith in myself and I think we’re going to swing the bats better.”

Yanks add Jim Miller to bullpen

Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees made the following roster moves:

· Signed RHP Jim Miller to a Major League contract and selected him to the 25-man roster from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
· Transferred LHP CC Sabathia to the 60-day disabled list.
· Optioned RHP Jose Ramirez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Also, Sabathia’s rehab start has been moved up to tomorrow night with Double-A Trenton. It had originally been announced as Thursday.

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