Brian Cashman has said that he has “more work to do” in preparing the Yankees’ roster for a playoff run, and if the general manager is able to cross the finish line on anything, there could be new faces in the clubhouse on Friday at Fenway Park.
Possibilities continue to float with Thursday’s non-waivers Trade Deadline approaching, and while manager Joe Girardi is keeping an eye on transactions around the league, he isn’t counting on anything as an absolute lock to happen with his club.
“Not necessarily, no,” Girardi said. “There’s less than 24 hours if something’s going to happen. You do expect that there’s going to be some movement in baseball. A lot of times there’s more talked about than actually done. We’ll wait to see what happens.”
Cashman has expressed desires for a big bat as well as a starting pitcher; on the hitting front, the Yankees are known to have touched base about the Phillies’ Marlon Byrd and the Twins’ Josh Willingham. The Rangers’ Alex Rios is also on the block.
There have been links between the Yankees and the White Sox about left-hander John Danks, but it appears that interest in bringing the Padres’ Ian Kennedy back to New York was overstated. CBSSports.com reported Wednesday that the Yankees inquired about Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit.
The Yankees have already added starters Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano, plus infielder Chase Headley, in deals completed this month.
“We talk about things, but I know that he’s very busy this time of year,” Girardi said. “If something gets close, we usually hear about it. I don’t expect an update every hour. That would drive him crazy and he wouldn’t be able to get anything done. So I just let him do his thing. When he calls me, I say, ‘OK.’”
The Yankees have been able to count on the back end of their season most nights this season, which is why it was so concerning to see Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and David Robertson struggle in succession on Tuesday against the Rangers.
Girardi has tried to give his late-inning hurlers rest whenever possible, but with the team playing so many tight games, that hasn’t been an easy task.
“You hope that off days come at the right time, you get some distance out of your starters, and you’ve just got to manage it,” Girardi said. “I’ll manage it like I have the whole year. You know that you can’t overwork them or you’re not going to get the same production.”
Warren took over for starter Brandon McCarthy in the seventh inning, holding a 10-4 lead, but issued two walks and permitted a hit to leave a bases-loaded situation for Dellin Betances, who served up a grand slam to Texas’ J.P. Arencibia.
“Mechanically, I just felt off,” Warren said. “It was really strange. I usually take pride in my mechanics. I just felt out of sync and couldn’t get on top of the ball. Especially in that situation you want to come in and pound the zone, get some quick outs, and I just couldn’t do that.”
Warren and Betances, converted starting pitchers who have made 48 and 47 appearances, respectively, both said that they do not believe fatigue is an issue. Betances pointed out that he rebounded after Leonys Martin’s triple to record two strikeouts around a walk, escaping the inning.
“I feel good, man. I feel great,” Betances said. “It was a tough one for me. It’s going to happen. Even after I gave up that home run, even after the triple, I was able to hold it right there. It could have been worse.”
Girardi said that he does not plan to use the trio of relievers much differently over the final two months of the regular season.
“We’ve been pretty good about giving them the days when we need the days, giving them two days when they need two days,” Girardi said. “[I'm] looking at what they’ve done in the past and having an idea how many innings they’ve thrown, and just trying to manage it that way.”
One day after Girardi said that Brian Roberts has looked “beat up” to him and could use a couple of days off, the veteran second baseman said that he is dealing with normal bumps and bruises, nothing out of the ordinary.
“I hope it pays off, sure. I’m not 20 anymore,” Roberts said. “Nobody wants days off, but you trust the people in charge to make decisions that hopefully benefit everybody. Hopefully that’s what happens.”
Roberts, 36, is batting .237 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 91 games. That is Roberts’ highest games played total since 2009 with the Orioles, a fact that Roberts said Girardi pointed out in their pre-game chat Tuesday.
“He said, ‘I just think it’s a good time to give you a couple of days,’” Roberts said. “It’s not my place to argue. I just work here. I’ll play when they put me in the lineup. If Friday is the day, then I’ll be ready to go.”
Brian McCann was out of the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday, with Francisco Cervelli catching. McCann said that it was just a scheduled day off, and manager Joe Girardi said that he planned it this way to give McCann two days off with Thursday’s travel day.
Girardi said that he was giving Ichiro Suzuki a day off for the same reason, playing Zoilo Almonte in right field.
“I’m sure it will probably help all of our guys at this point in the season,” Girardi said. “As I’ve said, we have some age on our team, and you feel that you have to manage it.”
On this date in 2011, the Yankees scored a franchise record 12 first-inning runs in a 17-3 win over the Orioles, sending 16 men to the plate. 13 reached base, with seven singles, two doubles, a homer, a walk and an error.
Mark Teixeira took on-field batting practice Monday for the first time since he sustained what the Yankees called a lower lat strain, and the first baseman hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park.
“I’m very happy,” Teixeira said. “The back spasms are gone, which I’ve been dealing with for a long time, so that’s really good. It’s good to see that the treatments worked and the time off helped, so hopefully they won’t come back.”
Teixeira has not played since July 20 against the Reds; he had a platelet-rich plasma injection and at the time, the team said that he would miss three to four days. It has been longer than initially anticipated, but Teixeira has at least been able to avoid the 15-day disabled list.
“I wasn’t expecting all the little annoying things that come up. That’s part of the game,” Teixeira said. “Hopefully this is it, and I have two healthy months to finish the season, but missing a couple of games here, a couple of games there, it’s never fun.”
Teixeira said that last season’s wrist injury made him consider his baseball mortality, and the fact that he could no longer play through injuries that he might have in his 20s.
“I’ve played through so many things. I can’t play through them anymore,” Teixeira said. “That’s just the fact of the matter. The guys ask me, ‘How did you play in Texas for five years, 100 degrees every night?’ I was young. I was a kid. I played through everything.
“You fouled a pitch of your leg, go get ‘em. Strain something in your back, go get ‘em. That’s just the way it is when you’re young. I can’t play through those things (now). I don’t think I would have had to miss games with back spasms.”
Teixeira said that maintenance will be a key for him, and that he’d prefer to play until something hurts rather than take precautionary days off. But it’s pretty much inevitable at this stage that sooner or later, there will be another issue to deal with; as he said with a smile, “Father Time is undefeated.”
“I was very lucky that I could play through those things and stay on the field as long as anybody,” Teixeira said. “But at a certain point, you hit a wall. I hit a wall last year and hopefully I won’t have a lot of these, but if they do pop up, it’s just harder to play through it.”
Joe Girardi has more of an inside track to the Yankees’ trade rumor scene than the average observer, but the manager said that he prefers to give general manager Brian Cashman his space to work, rather than get excited about moves might happen.
“We talk on a daily basis anyway during the course of the day, so it doesn’t really change much,” Girardi said. “I know he’s always trying to improve our club, and I’m not going to keep bothering him and take up his time when there’s things he’s doing.”
Cashman has said that he has more work to do in what has been a busy July; upgrading starting pitching is a focus, but various media reports have also connected the Yanks to discussions of some level for outfielders Marlon Byrd (Phillies), Chris Denorfia (Padres), Alex Rios (Rangers) and Josh Willingham (Twins).
Girardi often says that he has to worry about the 25 players in his clubhouse, but he does regularly communicate his views on the roster and specific needs to Cashman, something that will continue even after Thursday’s non-waivers Trade Deadline.
“I try not to get excited, because as I always say, it takes two teams to really want to do a deal,” Girardi said. “And do I expect it? I never expect to get new people. I always think, ‘This is who we’ve got, this is who has to get it done.’”
The Yankees recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, immediately inserting the 25-year-old to play left field and bat ninth against the Rangers.
It is Almonte’s third stint with the big league club this year, where he has batted .160 (4-for-25) with one homer. Almonte was batting .281 in 75 games at Triple-A, leading the RailRiders in homers (16) and RBIs (57).
In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees designated left-hander Jeff Francis for assignment, reducing the number of active pitchers on the staff to 12.
Francis was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two relief appearances, spanning 1 2/3 innings. He was acquired from the Athletics with cash considerations for a player to be named later on July 11.
Jacoby Ellsbury received a day off for rest on Monday against the Rangers. Ellsbury had played in all 10 of the Yanks’ games coming out of the All-Star break, batting .289 (11-for-38) with a double and two homers on the homestand. He said manager Joe Girardi told him about the day off on Sunday’s flight to Texas.
Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament) stayed back in New York to continue receiving treatment at Yankee Stadium. Aug. 4 will mark three weeks of full rest since the right-hander received a platelet-rich plasma injection.
“We’re still waiting for that three-week mark. Nothing’s really going to change until the three week mark,” Girardi said. “He’s staying back and doing treatment every day. He feels better and better. You just kind of wait to see where you are after three weeks.”
Carlos Beltran (bone spur in right elbow) has increased to throwing at 100 to 120 feet. The Yankees are hopeful that Beltran, currently only a designated hitter, could return to play some outfield after this road trip.
Michael Pineda (strained muscle in upper back) is scheduled to throw three innings or 45 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. The Yankees are hopeful that Pineda can rejoin the big league roster in mid-August.
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.
You can sense a shift in the excitement level when Derek Jeter approaches, walking up the tunnel to the dugout, spikes clacking on concrete. The photographers begin throwing elbows and jockeying for position, reporters ready their microphones, and even some of the players seem to jerk their heads around and pay closer attention.
It’s still the American League and the National League, playing for home field advantage in the World Series, which is a big deal. Yet this sure feels a lot like a midsummer celebration that is going to revolve around Jeter, something that he still doesn’t seem sure about. To Jeter, they’ve all been special.
“I’ve always enjoyed All-Star Games,” Jeter said. “This is a game that I truly have always looked forward to. I’ve appreciated the time that I’ve had here. It’s kind of difficult to say I’ll try to enjoy it more because I don’t know how much more I can enjoy it.”
The media crush around Jeter’s table this afternoon made Dellin Betances shake his head and laugh. A first-time All-Star, this is all new to Betances, but even someone in their first hours on the floor can tell that there’s a different energy here.
“Oh man. Watching him in his last year, this is amazing,” Betances said, with a laugh. “I’m honored to be here. It’s a great experience getting to meet these guys and know them a little bit. For me, just being here with Jeet’s last year, I’m honored to be here.”
This Midsummer Classic, marking Jeter’s 14th All-Star selection and his ninth fan-elected start, figures to be different than those that preceded it. Jeter will be in the spotlight from the first pitch on, with Red Sox manager John Farrell slotting Jeter to lead off for the American League.
“It’s a rare and unique opportunity,” Farrell said. “At the same time, we are able to celebrate a player who is not only a champion, but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to.”
Here are some assorted reactions from All-Stars in both leagues about Jeter’s final trip to the Midsummer Classic:
Mike Trout, Angels: “I would just turn on the TV and knew he was the best player. Just the way he carried himself; he isn’t out there talking smack, he’s just letting the championships speak for him.”
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: “It’ll be neat. Jeter’s been my role model, watching him as a kid, competing against him, seeing him from a young player, to now an older player playing in his last All-Star game, it’s going to be an honor. It’s something I’ll always remember, taking the field and playing against him.”
Johnny Cueto, Reds: “It’s amazing actually seeing him right now. I think he can still play. He wants to go home and be with his family. He deserves to retire. I think he’s one of the greats of all time.”
Victor Martinez, Tigers: “You know what, I think I’m going to cross the line a little bit, but I think Major League Baseball needs to do something with those kind of players like him. They don’t come around often, and he should go to the Hall of Fame as soon as the season’s over. I have a great amount of respect. He’s a guy I always looked up to. He plays the game the right way.”
Todd Frazier, Reds, on standing next to Jeter as a 12-year-old in 1998: “I’m just looking around like a kid in a candy store. I talked to him three years ago. We worked out together in Florida for a little bit. I said, ‘Do you remember that?’ He started laughing. He said ‘Holy cow, don’t tell anybody.’ That’s just the way he is. He’s a happy-go-lucky guy and I can’t wait to see his final All-Star game playing against him.”
Terry Francona, Indians manager: “That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most the next couple of days, to see how he is received. He embodies so much about what is good about game. To be able to watch him in person, I’m really looking forward to that. It’s kind of an honor to compete against him and his team because of the way he goes about things.”
Jon Lester, Red Sox: “It will be pretty cool. I don’t want to age him too much but watching him grow up, obviously the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and having to deal with him all the time … I’m just glad he’s finally done so I don’t have to face him anymore. It will be a cool experience to be a part of this and he deserves everything that he gets and hopefully he won’t get hounded too much and he can actually enjoy it and have fun and really take away some memories from this for him.”
Max Scherzer, Tigers: “It’s going to be awesome. Last year I got the experience of being here with Mariano for his last All-Star Game, and that was an unbelievable experience. The All-Star Game is already cool enough, but to have a legend go out just made it even better. When that happens on Tuesday with Jeter, what he’s meant to this game is only going to make it that much more special for everybody involved – fans, players, everybody. We’ll always remember this.”
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: “He’s kind of been the face of the game for the past 18 or 20 years. It’s always good when you have a guy like that; LeBron in the NBA, we had Brett Favre, now there’s Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers (in the NFL). To have a guy like Jeter, he embodies all that baseball is. He’s a winner, he’s a great player. I can’t have any more respect for a guy. We’re going to miss him and it’s exciting to be here for his last All-Star Game.”
Robinson Cano, Mariners: “I can’t wait for that. He’s a guy I love. The way he was with me when I was in New York, he was a great teammate; one of the best, maybe the best ever that I’ve had. I can’t wait to be able to spend time with him today.”
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: “It’s going to be great. I had the chance to do it last year with Mariano. It’s going to be a great experience. I look forward to today and tomorrow to talk to him, try to steal something from him so I can be a better baseball player.”
Ron Gardenhire, Twins manager: “He’s one of these guys who is what baseball is all about. He’s the probably the most professional guy. He’s in the community and has always handled himself really well. And also, he’s a winner. He’s brought championships to that baseball team over there and the whole package. He’s just a guy who makes everyone around him feel good. That’s what leaders do. We’ve had guys like that like Puckett. They always make everybody feel good around you.”
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: “It will be very special, his last one is going to be awesome. Hopefully there is something dedicated to him and acknowledging him. I was able to play against him in Panama and see that whole atmosphere and just the respect. It’s unmatched. It will be cool to be on the same field again and be a part of it.”
Tyler Clippard, Nationals: “I was in the Minor Leagues at the complex there in Tampa, and as a young kid, probably about 18 or 19 years old — watching him walk around, very much in awe just because it’s Derek Jeter. I think I asked him for his autograph and he was very cordial, very nice about it. It made me feel like I was part of the team, even though I was just a Minor League kid.”
Henderson Alvarez, Marlins: “The fact that I get to be on the same field as Derek Jeter who is here for his last is something that makes me overjoyed, something that is important to me. I just anticipate enjoying it and soaking it all in.”
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays: “It’s been cool. He’s owned me over his career, so I’m not too sad to see him go and get out of the game because it’s a hard at-bat. Obviously what he has done for baseball over the course of his career, he’s the top guy in Major League Baseball on and off the field. So it’s going to be sad to see him go.”