Joe Girardi was at Yankee Stadium this morning, joining David Cone and broadcaster Michael Kay along with more than 250 volunteers to help the USO create comfort packages for active duty service members.
While taking a 10-minute break from the assembly line, Girardi met with several reporters for a wide-ranging discussion, touching upon many of the topics that will develop over the weeks to come. Here are some of the highlights:
On general manager Brian Cashman saying he is ‘open to anything’:
“I think we’re always trying to figure out ways to improve the club. Sometimes it’s not necessarily through the free agent route, it can be through trade routes. We had some success in the trades that we made last year in acquiring Didi [Gregorius] and acquiring Justin Wilson and how big of a role that they played in our club. I think we’re going to continue to look at that. Obviously I like the guys on our club. I love how hard they played for us, but the goal is to win and win a World Series. I think when you talk about that, you’ve got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club.”
On needing a right-handed bat if they don’t retain Chris Young:
“I think balance is extremely important in a lineup. Obviously we had switch-hitters in the lineup. We lost a big one in Tex down the stretch. That was something that hurt us against left-handed pitching. I think a right-handed bat can help.”
On Brett Gardner’s lingering injuries:
“You can look at it, he got hit in April I believe it was and that’s when it first started. May, June, July were all great, and he comes out and has that day against Toronto. Obviously everyone is dealing with something and you try to balance. It’s like, all these things that come across my desk on a daily basis, you’re saying, ‘OK, is this guy healthy enough to play? We need him out there.’ Those are things that you have to balance. It wasn’t just Brett. There were a number of guys that we had to deal with during the course of the year. Pitchers that we had to deal with, position players. You just try to balance it the best way you can.”
On talking to CC Sabathia:
“I have. He sounds great. Obviously I’m proud of how he stepped up and went and got help. He was pitching really well at the end of the season for us. Hopefully this continues to help and he has a great season for us next year.”
On the chances of Sabathia not being one of the starters:
“If he’s pitching the way he was at the end of the year, I don’t see that. I see him in our starting rotation. Obviously there’s going to be a number of people that are vying for those five spots. We have [Masahiro] Tanaka coming off that little minor elbow surgery that he’s coming off of that we’re going to have to deal with and see where he’s at. We expect him to be back on time. We were in a situation last year where we had to watch innings for certain guys. If he’s pitching well, he’s going to be in our rotation.”
On surprise over Tanaka’s surgery:
“He really didn’t have a lot of treatment on it, no. Guys sometimes, adrenaline can get them through a lot of different things. Like I said, guys are used to feeling some things during the course of the season and they play through it. That’s just the way it is. There’s a number of players at the end of the year that you don’t really hear a whole lot about that go have surgery, just to get some things tidied up. It didn’t keep him from making a start, it was never an issue. It really never came across my desk that he was having a lot of problems. It wasn’t what I expected at the end of the year. I didn’t go into the last week of the season saying I knew he needed surgery, because I didn’t.”
On Alex Rodriguez’s World Series TV experience:
“I think he did a good job. It’s not easy. The first time you do it, it’s actually somewhat stressful. And in an arena where he’s usually comfortable, at a ballpark, it’s a whole lot different when those lights go on and you’re expected to say something that’s insightful and not embarrass yourself, so I think he did a good job.”
On the Mets:
“I think they did a tremendous job, and their young players stepped up and pitched extremely well. Their offense got hot at the right time of the season. You don’t necessarily need motivation from outside sources. Our guys are motivated from within the organization, extremely motivated from within, and that’s why we put the uniform in.”
On if New York is a Mets city now:
“That’s always going to be a debate. Every year that’s going to be a debate. The bottom line is, we live in a great baseball city. That’s the bottom line. You have two teams that, there are high expectations moving forward, which I think is great. The play on the field determines which team is playing the latest and which team is talked about the most.”
On Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base:
“We’re going to have to see how the roster shakes out. I thought Ref did a pretty decent job at the and of the year for us. Especially when he didn’t play for 18 or 19 days, which was really pretty amazing. Lets just see how the offseason goes and we’ll go from there.”
On the Francisco Cervelli-Justin Wilson trade, one year ago:
“I think one of our strengths of our team was our bullpen and Cervy, if he was here, he would have gotten playing time but then again, Brian McCann would have been our everyday catcher. So, I think it worked out well for both clubs. Justin Wilson was extremely important to us and was a big part of our strength. We felt if we had the lead after six innings we were going to nail it down. And it wasn’t necessarily I couldn’t just shuffle those guys and put them in any order; they all did the job, so, it worked out well for both clubs.”
On Gary Sanchez, and the Yanks’ catching situation:
“I’m watching. My thought is it will be [Brian] McCann and [John Ryan] Murphy, but who knows what’s going to happen in the offseason, what you decide to do. The young man (Sanchez) had a really good year, made a lot of improvements. Played extremely well in the Fall League, off the charts, so I mean it’s something that we’re going to look at. It’s something that if you have an everyday catcher, you have to weigh the idea: do you want him to play once or twice a week or do you want him to continue to develop his traits? That’s something we’ll have to look at.”
On improving for 2016:
“We were one of 10 teams that made the playoffs. You look at our series with the Mets — and I know it’s during the regular season — and Kansas City, we played pretty well against those clubs. Kansas City, obviously, you look at their club, they played extremely well, but there are going to be changes there. So, yeah, I think we have to make a few tweaks and stay out of that one-game playoff so your whole team can take effect.”
On avoiding the one-game Wild Card playoff:
“I think that’s how we thought last year. I don’t think that’s going to change. I never said: let’s just get in. I really wanted to win our division because there are too many things that can go wrong in a one game playoff, that’s the problem. So, it will be to win our division.”
On the bullpen, and any possibility of dealing Andrew Miller:
“You would like to keep everything intact, but I think you have to weigh: does whatever we do make us better? And if we feel it makes us better, I think we have to do it. Yes, that was a strength of our club, those guys pitched extremely well and were dominant and if we had the lead after six innings, we won ballgames. If we feel it would improve our club, I’m sure we’ll try to make a deal.”
It’s Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball, and the Yankees are on the field to wrap up their three-game series with the Orioles tonight here at Camden Yards. Nathan Eovaldi is making his second start for New York. Right-hander Bud Norris, who beat the Yanks in all four starts against them last year, has the ball for Baltimore.
Here are the quick hits from the Yankees’ clubhouse:
- Mark Teixeira has at least one hit and one RBI in each of his last five games. That’s his longest such streak since 2011 (six games, May 24-30).
- That final bullpen spot rotated once more, as the Yankees recalled right-hander Branden Pinder from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Right-hander Joel De La Cruz was in Baltimore for two days and didn’t get into a game, though at least he got a suit out of the deal.
- Brett Gardner said that his right wrist feels better, and though he may have a precautionary MRI tomorrow in Tampa, Gardner expects to be in the lineup on Friday when the Yanks open a three-game series with the Rays. Gardner could pinch-run or play defense tonight.
- Minor League right-hander Wilking Rodriguez was hit with an 80-game suspension for violation of the drug policy. Rodriguez was in Spring Training with the big club.
- Ivan Nova threw 20 pitches of live batting practice yesterday in Tampa and is scheduled to do so again on Friday. Chris Capuano is scheduled to throw live batting practice tomorrow. It is possible that the Yankees could have both pitchers back in early June; Girardi said that Capuano would be “slightly ahead” of Nova.
- Brendan Ryan will accompany the team to Tampa and can start some baseball activities there.
Here are the lineups:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Chris Young LF
Didi Gregorius SS
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 5.06)
Alejandro De Aza RF
Everth Cabrera SS
Adam Jones CF
Travis Snider DH
Chris Davis 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Caleb Joseph C
David Lough LF
Jonathan Schoop 2B
RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 24.00)
Hello from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where the Yankees open a three-game series against the Orioles tonight. This kicks off a stretch that sees the Yankees play 15 of their next 25 games away from the Bronx, and they’ll look to keep the good vibes rolling from last night’s 14-4 pounding of the Red Sox by handing the ball to right-hander Michael Pineda.
“You watch him, he competes,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s able to get the big strikeout when he needs it. He keeps his pitch count down, he attacks the zone with three pitches, holds the runners. He does a good job.”
The O’s counter with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. The Yanks got to town at about 3 a.m. ET this morning following the Sunday night ESPN game, so those hotel blackout shades surely came in handy.
Here’s what you need to know from the Yankees’ clubhouse:
- A-Rod is playing third base for the first time this season as Joe Girardi wants to give Chase Headley a day off. Headley “could use it” after Friday’s 19-inning game and then coming right back to play another two games, Girardi said. Basically, the Yankees just want A-Rod to catch the balls he can get to, but they understand that they’re losing some range in that swap.
- The crowd reaction was largely positive for A-Rod in New York, but that’s expected to change as the Yankees visit Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Detroit on this trip. It’s expected to be similar to what Rodriguez has heard in past years; he mentioned yesterday that nothing could be more vicious than what he heard after signing the massive $252 million deal with the Rangers.
- The Yankees lead the Majors with nine errors through six games. Girardi called it “definitely puzzling,” considering this is a team for whom run prevention was supposed to be a strength.
- Girardi’s reaction to Barry Bonds’ comments, in which he said A-Rod’s 660th homer should be celebrated: “I hope it happens this month. I think we all hope that. I hope he hits, what does he needs, five? I hope he hits six this month. It’d be great.”
- Another day, another long reliever. Today it’s right-hander Joel De La Cruz, who has been summoned from Double-A Trenton. He replaces right-hander Kyle Davies, who replaced left-hander Matt Tracy, who replaced left-hander Chasen Shreve. That all happened in the last four days.
- Esmil Rogers could be available tomorrow, but more likely Wednesday.
- Jose Pirela (concussion) will begin playing in Extended Spring Training games next week. Brendan Ryan (calf strain) could travel with the team to Tampa on Thursday and stay there.
Here are the lineups:
Jacoby Ellsbury cf
Brett Gardner lf
Carlos Beltran dh
Mark Teixeira 1b
Alex Rodriguez 3b
Chris Young rf
John Ryan Murphy c
Didi Gregorius ss
Gregorio Petit 2b
Michael Pineda rhp (0-0, 3.00)
Alejandro De Aza lf
Steve Pearce rf
Chris Davis 1b
Adam Jones cf
Travis Snider dh
Manny Machado 3b
Jonathan Schoop 2b
Everth Cabrera ss
Caleb Joseph c
Wei-Yin Chen lhp (0-0, 6.23)
What happened: Tyler Austin showed off his impressive power, crushing a long solo home run to left field that cleared a seating area and landed in a grass parking area. Austin’s eighth-inning shot off one-time Mets prospect Deolis Guerra lifted the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field.
“Pretty impressive,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Not sure where it landed, but it’s somewhere back there. The cars probably took a little damage. I’d ask for my money back if I parked back there.”
Esmil Rogers started for the Yankees and pitched two scoreless innings around a hit, with one strikeout. Chase Whitley also worked two scoreless innings. Nick Rumbelow struck out the side in the eighth. Garrett Jones went 2-for-2 with an RBI in a return to his old stomping grounds.
What we learned: Rogers said that he was visited at his locker last week by Mariano Rivera. Rogers said that Rivera talked to him about the mental and physical demands of pitching in the big leagues, and also offered some advice about keeping his front shoulder closed. When Rivera tells you something like that, it’s a good idea to listen. Rogers said that he has also been talking to Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez in camp.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to hear from people like that,” he said.
What we’re talking about: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reiterated comments that he made during Derek Jeter’s final weekend as an active player, saying Thursday that he would not recommend that the Yankees hand out the captaincy to another player for the foreseeable future. Jeter was the 16th captain in franchise history, and if Cashman has his way, he will be the last.
“From my chair, it’s not something I think we have to fill,” Cashman said. “From another chair, it might be a different opinion, but I think we have leaders here now. We have a number of different people that are very strong leaders and high-quality individuals. That doesn’t mean you have to put a ‘C’ on it.”
What else: CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Dellin Betances were among the pitchers throwing simulated games back in Tampa. Joe Girardi said that all of the reports were positive and that pitching coach Larry Rothschild was encouraged. … Girardi said that it was nice to see a young player like Tyler Wade get a hit in big league camp. Wade, a 20-year-old shortstop, singled in the ninth inning. He played last year at Class-A Charleston. … Carlos Beltran will make his spring debut Friday against the Pirates at Steinbrenner Field, playing right field. Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to DH in that night game.
One more thing: I wandered into the Pirates’ clubhouse, where there are ex-Yankees galore, and caught up with Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli said that it was “a little weird” to be traded, but he started feeling at home during the Pirates’ FanFest and that “now it feels like I’ve been here for a long time.” Being teammates with Chris Stewart and A.J. Burnett has helped, too.
“My career’s not done, yet. I did what I could there,” Cervelli said. “I tried, but injuries, I had the opportunity with Chris in 2013 and I got hurt. Now I’ve got a second chance. But I think the Yankees were the best thing that ever happened in my life. My foundation, the way they treat us since the minor-leagues – win, win, win, win, win; that was the mentality. I think they prepared me and I’m ready for this job.”
Cervelli said that he still speaks with Carlos Beltran, but hasn’t talked to Alex Rodriguez — not really surprising, considering they crossed paths in the Biogenesis investigation that resulted in Cervelli’s 50-game drug ban. Cervelli called his 2013 season “a nightmare” and said he looks at it as a learning experience.
“I learned about life,” Cervelli said. “Don’t rush any decision you want to make.”
Injury report: Brendan Ryan (back) rode a stationary bicycle back at Yankees camp on Thursday, according to Girardi.
What they said: “I don’t think there’s any one guy that’s going to step up and do that (replace Jeter). That’s a guy that can’t be replaced. Whether it’s on the field or off the field, his leadership qualities and the things that he accomplished in his career, especially at such a young age. We’ve got a lot of guys in here that might not have been with the Yankees for a long time, but have a long time in the league. They’re good teammates and good leaders. I think we’ve got a good group of guys in here that get along really well. I think it’s going to be a fun year.” – Brett Gardner
Hello from Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees and Orioles will play the first game of their four-game series this evening at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Yankees are still mathematically alive, so this series has meaning, but it looked as though it might carry a whole lot more a month or two ago when the Yanks were talking about mounting a run for the division crown. The Orioles can clinch home field advantage in the AL Division Series tonight, so that’s something.
You can watch on YES or listen on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM.
Yankees lineup: Gardner 8 Jeter 6 McCann 2 Young 7 Headley 5 Cervelli 3 Drew 4 Ichiro 9 Pirela DH Pineda RHP
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 22, 2014
Other updates from the Yankees clubhouse:
- The Yankees have claimed outfielder Eurys Perez on waivers from the Nationals, and he’ll be with the team tomorrow. Perez gives the Yanks another bench player who can play all three outfield spots and pinch-run, which could come in handy since Jacoby Ellsbury’s hamstring is keeping him out of action. Girardi said that Ellsbury still has some blood at the top of the hamstring, so he’s unable to run.
- The Yanks designated left-hander Josh Outman for assignment in a corresponding move; on his way out the door to make room for Perez. Outman stopped by Derek Jeter’s locker and asked for three autographed baseballs.
- Jose Pirela will make his Major League debut tonight as the Yankees’ designated hitter, meaning the Yankees will have used 57 different players in 2014. That shatters the club record of 56, which was set all the way back in 2013… and that tells you a lot about these last two years. If Perez gets in, they’d have used 58.
- Masahiro Tanaka was “all smiles” today, according to Girardi, and that means he is on track to pitch Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
- Mark Teixeira (right wrist) had a cortisone injection, his third of the year, and hopes to be in the lineup tomorrow against Baltimore.
- Carlos Beltran (elbow) is still feeling discomfort and probably isn’t available tonight.
- CC Sabathia (right knee) played catch on Monday, the first time he has done so since having knee surgery in July … at least, officially. Sabathia admitted he has been playing catch and tossing around a football recently out of boredom, but at least now he doesn’t have to sneak around.