The reconstructed Yankees rotation has performed better than Brian Cashman would have anticipated, and the general manager said that he’d now prefer to focus his attention on acquiring a big bat as the July 31 non-waivers Trade Deadline approaches.
“It’s weird,” Cashman said in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “Our pitching has been drastically altered because of the injuries, and despite losing four out of five starters and all that stuff, our pitching has survived – surprisingly, to this point. I think our offense should be better.
“… It still feels like the pitching needs more help, but honestly the offense has been consistently poor throughout the entire year. The answer has to be an offensive piece, I guess.”
The Yankees believe they upgraded their infield this week by acquiring Chase Headley from the Padres, but they could also use a right-handed hitting outfielder. The Twins’ Josh Willingham makes some sense as a potential trade target, as does the Rangers’ Alex Rios.
Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have been constants in the Yankees’ outfield this year, but 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki has faltered with regular playing time and the team still isn’t sure if Carlos Beltran will be able to return to defensive duty this year because of a bone spur in his throwing elbow.
Cashman also said that he does not see homegrown 23-year-old Rob Refsnyder as the answer to help a lineup that has produced 395 runs through 100 games; only the Astros (394) have scored less among American League teams this season.
Refsnyder has enjoyed some buzz at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he had a .301/.401/.497 slash line entering play on Thursday, but Cashman said that he does not believe Refsnyder would represent a significant upgrade over Brian Roberts at second base right now.
“He has a chance to be the second baseman of the future maybe as early as next year,” Cashman said, adding that if Refsnyder does see any big league time in 2014, it would likely be in the outfield. “If we can avoid it, I don’t think we’d get the impact over the next two months that people would think. That jump from Triple-A to the big leagues is larger than it’s ever been.”
Masahiro Tanaka is still reporting discomfort in his right elbow, 10 days after having a platelet-rich plasma injection, but the Yankees are still hopeful of having the right-hander return to the big league mound this season.
Tanaka was diagnosed with a small tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament earlier this month. Three doctors recommended a six-week rehab program instead of having Tanaka undergo Tommy John surgery.
“He’s improved, but he still feels it,” Cashman said. “On a daily basis, it decreases, so that’s good. But it’s not good that he’s still feeling it at this stage. We just go day by day and week by week, and we’ll adjust accordingly. Right now, it’s too early to call.”
The Yankees have said that Tanaka would have three weeks of rest from throwing, so he would likely attempt to resume playing catch in the first week of August. After that, Tanaka would have to go through the gauntlet of bullpen sessions, batting practice and then Minor League rehab games to get back to the big leagues.
“We’ve got to wait three weeks to see where he’s at,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Then we’ll probably have him start to have him play catch and see if he’s going to be a pitcher for us. You’ve got to let things heal. Things don’t heal overnight.”
Manager Joe Girardi said that the Yankees will likely make a roster decision regarding injured first baseman Mark Teixeira by Friday.
Thursday’s series finale against the Rangers will be Teixeira’s fourth consecutive game out of the lineup due to a mild strain of his lower left lat. After Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Reds, Teixeira underwent an MRI exam that revealed the injury.
“It’s just seeing how he feels after three or four days,” Girardi said. “Then we’ll decide if we think it’s going to be the near future that he would play or we’re going to need the 15-day [disabled list]. If it’s going to be 12, 13, 14 days, it probably makes sense to get a player here.”
Because of rain in Tampa, Fla., Michael Pineda’s simulated game was moved indoors on Thursday morning. The rehabbing right-hander threw 30 pitches, with no hitters. He will progress to throwing three innings or 45 pitches against live hitters in five days.
Derek Jeter was out of the Yankees’ lineup on Thursday; Girardi said that it was a regular day off, and that if it had been a night game, Jeter probably would have played.
It probably wasn’t the two games spent scooping throws in a long-ago high school tournament, but for whatever reason, playing a little bit of first base seems to be agreeing with Brian McCann.
With Mark Teixeira nursing a strained lat, McCann started his second consecutive game at first base on Wednesday. It marked McCann’s fourth career start and ninth appearance at the position, all of which have come with the Yankees this year.
“I feel a lot more comfortable than I thought I would, to be honest with you,” McCann said. “I don’t know why I feel more comfortable over there than I thought, but it’s a good thing.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted that McCann played some first base in high school, but that’s a little bit of a stretch; McCann clarified that he spent most of his time catching, and only played a pair of games at first base. Most of what he is doing now is learning on the fly.
“It’s just going to be pure reaction for me,” McCann said. “But I feel comfortable fielding, picking, whatever I need to do.”
McCann said that he has been borrowing a glove from Kelly Johnson, but he is in the process of breaking in his own model. He said that the physical break is a welcome benefit, compared to the average day of bumps and bruises from catching.
“Absolutely, it might be a way you can keep his bat in the lineup a little bit more, and he doesn’t get as beat up,” Girardi said.
McCann said that the most challenging part of the position so far have been slight nuances which may not necessarily be noticed by the average observer.
“It’s just knowing where to be, knowing little things about the game,” McCann said. “Doing cutoffs, I may forget to do that. Last night I forgot to follow the trail runner at second. Just doing those little parts of the game over there is different.”
McCann signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees this past offseason, and when he did, the team said that they envisioned him as a catcher deep into the deal. They still do, but McCann said that he’s fine with pitching in at first base, especially given the injuries to Teixeira and Johnson.
“Like I said, whatever’s best for this team,” McCann said. “Obviously with Tex being out, it’s tough, so someone’s got to fill in. I’ll be that guy.”
CC Sabathia had arthroscopic debridement surgery performed on his right knee on Wednesday, and the Yankees left-hander is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician, performed the procedure. Sabathia was limited to just eight starts this season, going 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA, and has not pitched in a big league game since May 10.
Sabathia has struggled the past two years, going a combined 17-17 with a 4.87 ERA. He attempted to rehab with the aid of a stem cell injection, but experienced more knee issues after making a Minor League start for Double-A Trenton on July 2.
While Sabathia was disappointed to learn that his season was ending early, the 34-year-old said that he was relieved to avoid microfracture surgery, a procedure which could have potentially been career-threatening.
“It’s something that I’m going to have to deal with probably for the rest of my life and eventually have a big surgery,” Sabathia said last week. “Right now the goal is to keep playing and this is the easiest way to do it.”
Michael Pineda is continuing to move along the comeback trail. The Yankees right-hander has been scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday, a notable step as he attempts to return to a big league mound.
Pineda threw batting practice on Sunday at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. After a promising start to his season, he has not appeared in a big league game since April 23 because of an upper back strain behind his pitching shoulder.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Pineda is scheduled to throw two innings or 30 pitches. Pineda initially sustained the injury while throwing during his 10-game suspension for pine tar use, then had a setback while on rehab in May.
Masahiro Tanaka has reported some improvement, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, but it will still be another two weeks before Tanaka can resume throwing. Tanaka is in the early stages of a six-week rehab program intended to heal the partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament.
“He did say he feels better, but I don’t think you really know how he’s doing until you get him on a mound and you start going forward,” Girardi said.
Standing within striking distance in the American League East, the Yankees sent a clear message on Tuesday that they intend to push for the postseason, acquiring third baseman Chase Headley in a trade with the Padres.
New York sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed pitching prospect Rafael De Paula to San Diego in the deal. The Yankees also received $1 million to offset the remaining $4.16 million of Headley’s salary for 2014, according to a source.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he had been negotiating with the Padres about Headley for the better part of three weeks, and that the 30-year-old switch-hitter should give the club an immediate boost when he slots in as the everyday third baseman.
“I think he’s a professional hitter and a switch-hitter that can spray it all over the place, and that’s what he’s been doing,” Cashman said. “I don’t think we’re getting a big thumper, but I do think we’re getting an upgrade and a professional at-bat.”
Headley was batting .229 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 77 games with San Diego, but his power was sapped by a herniated disk early in the season. Headley’s performance had improved since receiving an epidural injection in late June; since July 4, he is batting .339 (19-for-56) in 13 games.
“He’s an impact player; he plays great defense,” said Yankees catcher Brian McCann. “He hits in the middle of the order and I think he’s going to benefit from getting out of [Petco Park]. That’s one of the hardest ballparks to hit in; you can crush a ball to right-center field and it doesn’t get to the track.”
The Yankees said that Headley was traveling to join the club on Tuesday after flying from Chicago, where the Padres were scheduled to play at Wrigley Field. Manager Joe Girardi said that Headley was scheduled to arrive around 7:30 p.m. ET and would be available off the bench against the Rangers.
“We feel that he’s in a pretty good place, coming over here,” Girardi said. “He plays in an extremely big ballpark, big ballparks during the course of the season playing in the West. I think this place will help him.”
Headley, who had been the longest-tenured Padres player, told MLB.com in a telephone interview that he was “not surprised” by the deal after being involved several trade rumors over the last few years. He said that it was “bittersweet” to have the day arrive.
“On one hand, there’s not many people in the game who get to play in one organization for as long as I did,” Headley said. “I loved every second in San Diego, all positive memories. But on the same token, I’m excited to move on to a team in a race right now.”
Headley can provide stability at a position where the Yankees were mixing and matching. With Alex Rodriguez suspended, the 27-year-old Solarte made the team as a non-roster invitee and held down the position early before slipping into an extended slump. Overall, he batted .254 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 75 games.
Solarte was sent down to the Minors earlier this month, and though he had been recalled to the active roster, Girardi had recently been giving more playing time at third base to Kelly Johnson and Zelous Wheeler. Cashman said that he was not sure if Solarte’s early-season success had been a mirage of sorts.
“He really saved our bacon early this year,” Cashman said. “When we had a lot of other issues going on this year, he stepped up, and for that we’re thankful. But he was a player that had to be in this situation to get Chase Headley back.”
The Yankees also parted with De Paula, 23, who was 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) with Class A Tampa this season. De Paula was ranked No. 15 among Yanks prospects by MLB.com and observers have suggested that he projects as a future big league reliever.
Cashman said that he views Headley, who can be a free agent after this season, as “a rental for two months.” Rodriguez’s suspension will expire after 2014, but with his future uncertain, the Yankees could use Headley’s time in New York as an audition of sorts.
“I can’t predict 2015 and what our needs will or won’t be,” Cashman said. “That’s not what this is all about. We’re all really focused on the remaining push in 2014 and trying to push through with what we’ve got.”
CC Sabathia is disappointed to know for sure that his season is over, but the Yankees left-hander said on Saturday that he is relieved to be avoiding microfracture surgery, which could have put his career in jeopardy.
Sabathia is scheduled to have an arthroscopic debridement performed on Wednesday, cleaning out his right knee. Sabathia said that Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who will perform the surgery, is confident that the hurler will be able to be on the mound by Spring Training.
“He feels good about it and I do too,” Sabathia said. “[NBA star] Russell Westbrook had the same surgery and was able to come back and be fine. Obviously you have to deal with a little bit of swelling here and there, but that’s something I have to deal with.
“My goal was to pitch the next five or six years past this contract and to be able to go out and do that. I’m confident I’m going to be able to do that.”
Sabathia, who turns 34 on Monday, has not pitched in the big leagues since May 10, when he started against the Brewers at Miller Park and experienced swelling in his right knee. An MRI showed what the team called “degenerative changes” in the knee.
He was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA this season and attempted to rehab with the aid of a stem cell injection, but experienced more knee issues after making a Minor League start for Double-A Trenton on July 2.
“I felt like I was on the right path,” Sabathia said. “Waking up that night after, it just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t even come in here and get my workout in and do the stuff that I wanted to do.”
Because of the wear and tear on his knee, there is a possibility that Sabathia will need to have additional arthroscopic procedures down the line. He said that would still be preferable to microfracture surgery, which has produced inconsistent results with athletes.
“It’s something that I’m going to have to deal with probably for the rest of my life and eventually have a big surgery,” Sabathia said. “Right now the goal is to keep playing and this is the easiest way to do it.”
Sabathia said that he should be able to resume activities six to eight weeks after the surgery, but he will be an idle observer as the Yankees fight to claim a postseason spot in the second half.
“It’s not fun, especially the way these guys have been grinding, and wanting to be a part of it,” Sabathia said. “I’ve been doing everything I can to get back out on the field. It’s just unfortunate.
“It’s something I’ve never had to deal with, but I am now. Hopefully this will give me the time to get healthy and come back to be ready to go in Spring Training.”
CC Sabathia’s season is over. The Yankees left-hander has been scheduled to have arthroscopic debridement surgery on his right knee, in the hopes of correcting an issue that limited the workhorse to just eight starts this year.
Sabathia has selected Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician, to perform the July 23 procedure. Sabathia was also seen by Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister before making his decision.
“He’ll get it cleaned up and obviously it will end his season,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Hopefully next year will be a different story.”
Cashman took some solace in that Sabathia is not having micro-fracture surgery, which the hurler had reached out to friend and NBA star Amar’e Stoudamire about; Cashman described this more as a clean-up of what has been diagnosed to be a knee displaying degenerative cartilage conditions.
“It doesn’t mean that’s not off the table,” Cashman said. “I just think that anyone that looks at that circumstance realizes that it’s a bad thing and there is no predictable outcome.”
Sabathia was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA in eight starts this season, making his last appearance on May 10 against the Brewers in Milwaukee. He attempted to rehab the injury but had more knee issues after his second Minor League start on July 2.
Cashman said that Sabathia also has a cyst behind his right knee, and that some consideration was given to draining it and attempting rehab again. Ultimately, the choice was made to go forward with surgery and roll the clock ahead to 2015.
The Yankees’ expectation is that Sabathia should have enough time to recover and have a relatively normal off-season going into Spring Training.
“Because we’re in July, I think he’ll come into Spring Training in theory ready to go,” Cashman said. “Given the number of things that have gone on, we’ll have to be careful with him nonetheless.”
The Yankees have lost 80 percent of their Opening Day starting rotation, with Sabathia and Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) lost for the year. Michael Pineda is rehabbing and hopes to return in August, and Masahiro Tanaka is beginning a six-week rehab program.
Sabathia will turn 34 on July 21. Since signing with the Yankees before the 2009 season, Sabathia is 91-46 with a 3.59 ERA in 169 regular season games with New York, claiming a 2009 World Series ring.
He is in the third year of a five-year, $122 million extension that was agreed upon after the 2011 season; Sabathia will earn $23 million in 2015, $25 million in 2016 and has a vesting option worth $25 million in 2017 that contains a $5 million buyout.