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.”
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.
OAKLAND — Yankees outfielder Slade Heathcott was scratched from Thursday’s lineup against the Athletics due to a sore right quadriceps.
Heathcott was replaced in center field by Chris Young, who will bat eighth against Oakland right-hander Kendall Graveman.
Heathcott is hitting .353 (6-for-17) with one home run and three RBIs in six big league games this season.
Good afternoon/evening from the o.Co Coliseum. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening as the Yankees kick off this four-game series against the Athletics:
Tanaka is en route to meet the club following his second Minor League rehabilitation start on Wednesday at Pawtucket for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and could be slotted to start on Tuesday or Wednesday against the Mariners in Seattle.
“He’s flying here tonight. We’ll evaluate him tomorrow,” Girardi said. “Today he felt fine; we’ll make sure he’s OK. We’ll have a heart-to-heart talk with him, how he feels about where he’s at. Hopefully he can make a start in Seattle.”
Tanaka, 26, has been on the disabled list since April 27 with tendinitis in his right wrist and a strained forearm. He threw 62 pitches in Wednesday’s start, permitting three eared runs and four hits over three innings, and reported no physical issues.
Girardi said that the Yankees’ reports indicated that Tanaka’s slider was good, and that he did not throw many splitters, he made some mistakes with his fastball and split against Pawtucket. Girardi said that Tanaka could be expected to throw about 80 pitches against the Mariners.
“You want him to feel good, number one,” Girardi said. “Number two, you want him to feel comfortable with his stuff, that he feels that he’s ready to go. You don’t want someone going out there if they don’t quite feel that they’re ready to go. In a perfect world, he would start somewhere in Seattle.”
In other injury updates, Girardi said that right-hander Chris Martin (right elbow tendinitis) threw in the bullpen on Wednesday and will join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday for a rehab game.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) threw in an Extended Spring Training game on Thursday in Tampa, Fla., and Girardi said that Nova will probably have one more Extended Spring outing before beginning a rehab assignment.
“Knock on wood, we’re getting healthier,” Girardi said. “We just have to keep the guys here healthy.”
Tanaka’s velocity was a topic of discussion during yesterday’s rehab start, but Girardi said there was no reason to be alarmed by radar gun readings in the mid-80s.
“Those were splits that didn’t have probably a lot of movement,” he said. “His fastball, if you want to know, averaged 91.0. His fastball in his last big-league start, since people love this stuff, was 90.9. He’s throwing harder now.”
The Yankees won’t go to a six-man rotation to accommodate Tanaka’s return, and Girardi said that he hasn’t decided who will be bumped. Adam Warren and Chris Capuano are the likeliest candidates, but Warren in particular has made that a tough decision.
“Let’s just see what happens. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and Tuesday or Wednesday,” Girardi said.
No real update to pass along on Jacoby Ellsbury, who is continuing to rehab his right knee sprain and has not resumed baseball activities.
“It’s not a surgical thing and we don’t believe it’s a 60-day DL thing,” Girardi said. “We believe it’s probably more than 15 [days], but it really depends on how he responds. With the type of player he is, maybe it takes a few days longer than if it was a slow guy that didn’t rely on his legs.”
NEW YORK — Slade Heathcott spotted his name in a Major League lineup for the first time on Friday, drawing the start in center field as the Yankees opened a three-game series with the Rangers.
Heathcott made his big league debut on Wednesday as a pinch-runner, having been summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury on the active roster.
“We’re looking for quality at-bats and to play defense, is what we’re looking for from him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s getting an opportunity to start tonight and I’m kind of excited for him.”
The Yankees’ first-round selection (29th overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, the 24-year-old Heathcott was batting .285 (43-for-151) with 16 runs, four doubles, two triples, a homer and 17 RBIs in 37 games for the RailRiders, appearing at all three outfield positions.
“I started off kind of decent, got going pretty well,” Heathcott said. “Lately I kind of cooled off a little bit, but [it was] more of just realizing I need to get back to the basics. Keep it to that and not try to do too much, don’t try to force things and try to make things happen. Just let the game come to me.”
As Heathcott said earlier this week, his road to the big leagues has been anything but uneventful. His progress was stalled by two surgeries on his right knee, two procedures on his left shoulder as well as a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse.
Despite being removed from the 40-man roster this past winter, Heathcott impressed the Yanks this spring, hitting .333 (11-for-33) as a non-roster invitee, and Girardi said that he sensed increased maturity in Heathcott’s game.
“This spring, he was healthy,” Girardi said. “I had a talk with him about how the most important thing was to stay healthy and to get at-bats. Over the period we’ve had him, he has been hurt about half the time and has not been able to show what kind of talent he has on a consistent basis. The important thing is, he has been healthy and he has played well.”