Yankees catcher Brian McCann was activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Sunday, starting behind the plate for the team’s series finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
McCann sustained the concussion when he was hit in the mask by a foul tip in an Aug. 8 game against the Indians in New York. Manager Joe Girardi said that it was nice to have McCann’s bat back in the lineup.
“It makes it deeper, and obviously it’s a guy that has power,” Girardi said. “It’s really good to be able to put him back there because any time someone goes through something like he went through, we’re always concerned. But he feels good and he’s back in there.”
Catcher Austin Romine was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to create room for McCann, who has batted .238 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 103 games this season.
Masahiro Tanaka played catch on Sunday at Tropicana Field and reported no issues, one day after throwing 25 fastballs off a bullpen mound.
“Real encouraged,” Girardi said. “That was the first thing I asked; ‘How does he feel today?’ The fact he went out and played his long toss tells me he feels good. And we’ll continue to go forward.”
Girardi said that Tanaka is scheduled to throw another bullpen next week, and will be allowed to spin some curveballs in that session. The Yankees are targeting a September return to the big league mound for the 25-year-old rookie.
“He’s had no twinges or anything,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “You stay optimistic until you know otherwise. We’ll just keep progressing the program as it’s set up and just go from there.”
Rothschild compared the intensity of Saturday’s session to the first day of Spring Training, and said that he was watching Tanaka’s facial expressions to see if he was trying to hide any discomfort. Tanaka’s mechanics in the bullpen looked smooth, he said.
“It is what it is. You just take it a step at a time and progress with it,” Rothschild said. “Would I rather have him had three, four or five starts right now? Yeah. These things crop up; as we’ve seen this year in baseball too often. You’re just not going to know until he gets through it all and he’s in games. Even then, you have to keep an eye on it.”
Serving as the designated hitter is not Derek Jeter’s favorite assignment in the lineup, but it’s still preferable to a full day off for the Yankees captain.
Jeter was in the lineup as New York’s DH for a second straight day on Sunday, with Stephen Drew filling in at shortstop. Carlos Beltran played a second game in right field, moving Martin Prado to second base.
“I don’t DH much,” Jeter said. “You go in the cage between at-bats. That’s about it. It’s not something that I do a lot of. To be honest with you, I’m not sure how people do it. I just run out of things to do.”
This marks Jeter’s sixth game of the year as a DH, and the 63rd of his career.
“I’m not thinking too much of it,” Girardi said. “I figure it’s a chance to do it. Turf can be rough on people. We’re going to get into another long stretch, so I chose to do it that way.”
Girardi said that having Beltran as an outfield option will increase the flexibility in assigning DH days, though he still will play Prado often in right field. There were days that Girardi wanted to give Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury DH days but wasn’t able to.
“Now that we’ve got Carlos in the outfield, we could rotate the DH a little bit more,” Girardi said. “I’ll still DH Carlos plenty, but felt it was a chance to give Jeet a week where he could catch up.”
David Robertson has converted 20 straight save opportunities since June 5, the longest active streak in the Majors. He is the fifth pitcher in Yankees history to convert 20 or more in a row, joining Mariano Rivera, John Wetteland, Dave Righetti and Goose Gossage. Rivera owns the franchise record with 36 straight saves converted in 2009.
On this date in 1976, Graig Nettles hit a ninth-inning home run on the first pitch from the Rangers’ Tommy Boggs, giving the Yankees a 2-1 walk-off victory at Yankee Stadium. Doyle Alexander pitched a complete game for the Bombers.
Carlos Beltran said that he was given no better than a 50-50 chance of playing the outfield again this season, but that coin flip has worked out in the Yankees’ favor. The veteran will play right field on Saturday, his first appearance there since May 11.
“I’m happy, of course,” Beltran said. “We have been looking forward for this, trying to put my arm in condition to be back in the outfield. It really took a while … right now, I just feel like it’s time.”
Beltran has a bone spur in his right elbow that will require surgery after the season, but the 37-year-old said that he has been throwing without discomfort.
The Yankees have been playing Martin Prado in right field since his July 31 acquisition from the D-backs, with Beltran limited to designated hitter duties. Beltran’s return to outfield play will increase manager Joe Girardi’s flexibility in putting together lineups.
“You can get more right-handed hitters in there today [against left-hander Drew Smyly],” Girardi said. “You get in long stretches and you can give other guys a DH day. We’ve got some long stretches coming up.”
Though his season stats are not up to expectations, Beltran has seen a jump in his numbers recently, which coincides with the improvement in his elbow. In 26 games since the All-Star break, Beltran posted a split line of .299/.355/.495, with five homers and 17 RBIs.
“I guess in the back of my mind sometimes I get caught up a little bit protecting it,” Beltran said. “At the end of the day, I just have to come and prepare myself and try to do the best I can. Once the game starts, I try not to think about it, but during batting practice and cage work and things like that I try to be smart and try not to do much.”
Beltran said that since his elbow issue is not a secret, he would expect the aggressive Rays to test his arm on Saturday.
“I’ve been playing catch and I’ve been throwing to the bases – second base, for the most part,” Beltran said. “I’ve been making throws where I feel like if that happened in the game, I could do that. It feels fine.”
Masahiro Tanaka threw 25 fastballs off a bullpen mound on Saturday morning at Tropicana Field, reporting no discomfort, and the Yankees right-hander is eager to begin snapping off breaking pitches in his next session.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction, so I feel good about that,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.
Tanaka is trying to avoid surgery to repair a partial tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament. Tanaka said that regardless of the Yankees’ position in the standings, he would want to come back and make a handful of September starts to gauge his progress.
“I think it’s important for the team to fight until the end of the season, so for me, if it would be possible, I’d like to contribute until the end of the season,” Tanaka said.
The Yankees are on board with that idea. Looking ahead to 2015, there is a great deal of uncertainty in their starting rotation, and it would be useful to know if Tanaka can realistically be counted upon.
“I think it’s important that we know that he’s healthy, and I think the only way you’re going to find out is if you get him in games,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Tanaka will travel with the team after Sunday’s series finale, continuing his rehab in New York. He has been an observer for the Yankees’ recent skid.
“Everybody’s doing their best to try to get a W, obviously,” Tanaka said. “So if I get a chance to come back, I’ll be on the same page with everybody else.”
The morale level has fallen in the Yankees’ dugout during their recent slide, according to hitting coach Kevin Long, who believes that several of the team’s players are pressing for results that aren’t coming.
“We need to get back to where we’re feeling good,” Long said. “That was only five or six days ago. These guys are going through a tough time. We’re going through a tough time. I only know one way to get out of this, and that’s to keep fighting, keep working, keep grinding, and I know the guys in this room will do that.”
New York has managed seven runs during the five-game skid, hitting .173 (28-for-161) overall and .064 (2-for-31) with runners in scoring position. They’ve struck out 46 times against eight walks.
“You’re always going to look down when you don’t score runs,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s the nature of the game. Guys are frustrated. I’ve said that guys are frustrated because they know that they’re capable of doing more. We want to play in October, and when you lose, you should be frustrated. You shouldn’t just blow it off.”
Long said that the Yankees’ goal is to be scoring five or six runs a game, which obviously they have not come close to achieving.
”Sometimes the pitching doesn’t allow you do that,” Long said. “Sometimes there’s days when I feel like we really should and we don’t do it. Against a Corey Kluber or [Alex Cobb], it’s understandable that the runs are going to be down.
”Not to throw Chris Tillman under the bus, but he didn’t have his best stuff [on Aug. 13]. That’s a guy where you want to capitalize and take advantage of it…. Some of those other guys we should be able to get to.”
Catcher Brian McCann (concussion) was eligible to be activated from the seven-day disabled list on Saturday, but the Yankees have decided to give him at least one more day to continue workouts.
Manager Joe Girardi said that he thought McCann looked “kind of lethargic” going through catching drills and batting practice on Friday, which was likely related to resting for several days after sustaining the concussion in an Aug. 8 game against the Indians.
Right-hander David Phelps (inflammation in right elbow) is scheduled to resume throwing during the Yankees’ upcoming homestand. Phelps has been on the disabled list since Aug. 4.
Right-hander Andrew Bailey (recovery from right shoulder surgery) has had setbacks while rehabbing in Tampa, Fla. and is not expected to be able to help at the big league level this year, Girardi said. Bailey signed a Minor League deal with the Yanks in February.
On this date in 1948, Babe Ruth passed away at the age of 53. Ruth’s body was laid in state at the entrance of Yankee Stadium for the next two days. On this date in 2006, the Yankees broke ground on the construction of the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.
The math of standing eight games out of the division lead with 43 games to play suggests, as Shawn Kelley stated late on Wednesday in Baltimore, that the Wild Card could be a more attainable goal than chasing down the division title.
But Kelley was quick to state that no one in the Yankees’ clubhouse would consider catching the Orioles to be out of reach, and captain Derek Jeter has repeatedly pointed out that the Yankees can still take hold of their own destiny in the race.
“We still play everybody,” Jeter said. “You know me; I’ll tell you, if you win your games, you don’t have to worry about anything. You worry about things when you don’t play the guys in front of you. We play [the Orioles] eight times. We play the people that are in front of us.”
Baseball Prospectus, which calculates playoff odds on a daily basis, pegged the Yankees as having only a 2.8 percent chance to win the division as of Friday morning. BP also didn’t love the Yanks’ chances of simply making it to the postseason, offering a 4.8 percent chance of winning a Wild Card.
“Obviously you’re closer in the Wild Card than you are in the division, but we still have plenty of games left with Baltimore,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Our goal will be to win the division and we’ll continue to fight for that, but at the very least, you want to make the playoffs.”
Girardi said that there is no reason to speak to his team about keeping the right mindset; he said that his players understand what is at stake. They can take their cues from Jeter, who certainly does not want his final postseason memory to be his shattered ankle in the 2012 American League Championship Series.
“You worry about things you don’t have control over,” Jeter said. “We have control over what happens. We’re not making it easy on ourselves, but we still control it.”
Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to throw 25 pitches off of a bullpen mound on Saturday at Tropicana Field, which will mark the right-hander’s first time throwing from the rubber since a July 8 start against the Indians.
Tanaka is continuing to rehab a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament, and the Yankees are hopeful that he will be able to make it back for two or three starts at the big league level in September. Saturday’s session will consist of 25 fastballs.
“I still think it’s early to tell, but we’re getting through each step,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Hopefully tomorrow goes well and we can move to the next step.”
Tanaka threw long toss and performed fielding practice from the mound on Friday afternoon, and said that actually throwing off the mound will be an crucial step in his recovery.
“I think so,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “If I can’t throw the way I want to throw on a mound or in a bullpen, then there’s no way I’ll be able to throw that in a game. So, definitely the bullpen will be important.”
Three doctors recommended that Tanaka attempt to rehab the ligament tear instead of rushing to have Tommy John surgery. Girardi said that he hopes the process will pay dividends.
“That’s why we’re going through it,” Girardi said. “Obviously you’ve got to find out if it’s the proper thing to do and if his arm going to hold up. You’d hate to shut him down the whole year and then go through it next year. Everything has been positive so far. He said he feels good, but you really don’t ever know.”
Brian McCann has rejoined the Yankees in Florida after spending the Orioles series in New York, recovering from a mild concussion.
McCann participated in on-field activities on Friday, performing catching drills and taking batting practice, and could be activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Saturday.
“I’m really happy with the way today went as a whole,” McCann said. “Now it’s a matter of seeing how I feel in an hour, seeing how I feel in two hours. I’ll know more tonight.”
McCann said that he started to feel better after three days of rest. He was hit by a foul tip in an Aug. 8 game against the Indians at Yankee Stadium.
“I never thought that I would ever come out of a game from a foul tip,” McCann said. “The way it hit me, it’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever been hit.”
Chase Headley has played 62 straight errorless games at third base going into play on Wednesday, marking the second-longest active streak in the Majors. The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval has the lead, at 67.
On this date in 1955, Mickey Mantle homered from both sides of the plate for the second time in his career in a 12-6 Yankees victory at Baltimore.
The 10 fastballs that Masahiro Tanaka fired across the flat ground of Camden Yards’ outfield grass on Wednesday afternoon may not seem like much, but they represented another important step as the right-hander works to return to the mound this season.
Tanaka ramped up his velocity from the stretch position to make the tosses, his first at that effort level since sustaining a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament in a July 8 start against the Indians in Cleveland.
“It’s feeling really good,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “Really, I didn’t feel anything special compared to just regular tossing. I thought everything went well.”
Tanaka still needs to advance to throwing bullpens and batting practice, then facing hitters in games, but said that feels no pain in his elbow. Tanaka believes that it is possible he will make it back to the big leagues in September.
“I think I have a chance, if everything progresses the way I want it to and we want it to,” Tanaka said.
Each session without discomfort is encouraging to manager Joe Girardi, who said that Tanaka will have a scheduled day off from throwing on Thursday and then will get back to work in Florida on Friday.
“I think once you start seeing him in games, whether it’s a rehab game or a regular game, you’ll have a better idea really of where he’s at,” Girardi said.
Girardi said that he is keeping the light on for Tanaka to tack a few more starts onto what had been an extremely promising rookie campaign.
“That’s our hope,” Girardi said. “We wouldn’t be going through this if we didn’t expect him to pitch for us. Our hope is he’ll pitch in September.”
The Yankees announced an edit to their pitching rotation on Wednesday, slotting Hiroki Kuroda to face the Rays on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Kuroda had initially been skipped altogether after Tuesday’s rainout against the Orioles, with Chris Capuano listed to make Sunday’s start.
Girardi explained that this will still give extra rest to Kuroda, who last pitched on Aug. 10 against the Indians in New York.
“We’re trying to stay proactive so he doesn’t fatigue down the stretch here,” Girardi said.
Kuroda is 7-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 24 starts this season and tired down the stretch last year, when he was 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA in his final eight starts. He said that an extra day here or there could make a difference for him.
“It’s really hard to rest during the course of the season,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “When I’m in the season, it’s hard to feel rested. I’m glad that the team or the manager was considerate about giving me a rest.”
Kuroda, 39, said that he has made one small concession to last season’s August and September tailspin; he has decreased the number of pitches in his side sessions between starts by about 10 pitches, hoping to save those bullets for games.
Girardi said that the Yankees’ decision to give Kuroda some extra time is more of a preventative measure than based upon signs of wearing down.
“I think it’s really based on what happened last year,” Girardi said. “I know his last start wasn’t great, but the starts before that have been really good. Like I said, we’re trying to stay proactive, we’ve talked about it. I’ve been asked about it 1,000 times. So we’re trying to be proactive.”
The Yankees believe they will be able to activate catcher Brian McCann from the seven-day concussion disabled list when he is eligible on Saturday, Girardi said.
McCann sustained what the team called a mild concussion when he was hit by a foul tip in an Aug. 6 game against the Indians, and was placed on the disabled list the next day. McCann will join the team for their series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
“He’ll be there Friday,” Girardi said. “He’ll go through BP and so far I think he feels good. He’ll be back when we can take him back.”
Girardi said that McCann resumed baseball activities on Tuesday and hit again on Wednesday in New York, and has already passed the Major League Baseball-mandated ImPACT test to play in games.
O’Neill spent his final nine seasons in pinstripes, and as the chants of his name echoed throughout Yankee Stadium, it was impossible not to recall the right fielder’s tearful and memorable final home game in the 2001 World Series.
His place in the new Stadium is now secure; the Yankees unveiled a bronze Monument Park plaque to honor O’Neill in a pregame ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
“I hope it came across how big of an honor it is,” O’Neill said. “It was an unbelievable thing, to look behind yourself and see your kids and see your wife, your mom and your brothers here. You just know that you were part of something big here. That, I’m proud of.”
There are seven monuments and now 29 plaques in Monument Park, with O’Neill scheduled to be the final inductee of the summer. Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez and Joe Torre were recognized with plaques earlier this season, and the Yankees plan to celebrate Bernie Williams’ career in 2015.
O’Neill’s mother, Virginia, and his wife, Nevalee, were among the family members on hand for Saturday’s ceremonies. The tribute also included appearances by David Cone, Gene Monahan, Tino Martinez, Torre, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.
“It was a great day just to remember, sitting there talking to Jorge and Tino and Joe Torre and Mariano,” O’Neill said. “These guys go out of their way to come back and that means a lot. You spend every single day with these guys when you’re playing and then you don’t see them for a while, but as soon as you get back together, it’s like you never left.”
O’Neill started his career with the Reds, where he won the 1990 World Series, and his career took a turn with a Nov. 3, 1992 trade to the Yankees for outfielder Roberto Kelly. Torre said that O’Neill became “part of the glue that kept this thing together.”
“This whole group never admired what they had accomplished,” Torre said. “They always kept wanting to accomplish more, which was great for me. They never got tired of winning. A lot of times you win the World Series and say, ‘Oh, I got mine,’ and then you celebrate the rest of your career. But these guys kept wanting to do more.”
A five-time All-Star, O’Neill helped raise the championship trophy in 1996, but he said it was the loss to the Indians in the 1997 playoffs that galvanized the club’s spirit and rallied them to win the next three titles.
“You couldn’t get it off your mind,” O’Neill said. “I think the fear of going through that again helped us unbelievably and that’s why I think we won in ’98, ’99 and 2000.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the first thoughts that come to mind about O’Neill are his competitiveness and constant expectation of success.
“The intensity that he brought; I used to love what it brought out to him and the rest of us,” Girardi said.
There were the good times that O’Neill and his teammates would have playing cards in the back of the plane, and also the unforgettable episodes when O’Neill would inevitably make an out and punish his batting helmet or the water cooler. O’Neill’s golf clubs, Girardi noted, also weren’t immune to a tantrum.
“I laughed,” Girardi said. “I really believe that most players wish they felt comfortable doing that. It’s got to be a great release.”
O’Neill said that if he had a second chance, he might have changed a few things.
“If I had to do it all over again, would I get out of the camera’s view? Absolutely,” O’Neill said. “But at that point in time I wasn’t smart enough to wait and do that. That’s the neat thing about retiring: you look up at the video and there’s no strikeouts, there’s no errors. It’s all good stuff.”
As a Yankee, O’Neill batted .303 with 304 doubles, 185 home runs and 858 RBIs, claiming the 1994 American League batting title with a .359 average. In 2001, at age 38, he became the oldest player in history with at least 20 stolen bases and 20 homers in the same season (since surpassed by Gary Sheffield in 2007).
O’Neill said that he recalls disappointment on the cold November day that he learned his career was detouring to New York, feeling as though he hadn’t played well enough to stay with the Reds. He said that was quickly replaced by a sense of the Yankees’ history, a fabric that O’Neill is now permanently part of.
“Let’s face it: we’re all lucky to play for the New York Yankees, especially at that time,” O’Neill said. “It didn’t take long to feel the tradition and this team. You talk about the perfect time to come here; it started turning around and we started winning, and being part of that is something I’ll never forget.”