Brian Roberts spent 13 summers in Baltimore, draped in orange and black, and this weekend marks his first trip back to Oriole Park at Camden Yards since signing with the Yankees. The surroundings are intimately familiar, yet as he surveyed the visiting clubhouse, it also felt strange.
“It’s crazy,” Roberts said. “I don’t know if I walked in here one time in my career. It’s definitely strange to walk by the home clubhouse and come over here, but it’s kind of a new chapter of life. I’m certainly excited to be back; spent the night in my house. It’s good to sleep in your own bed sometimes.”
Roberts said that he has not given much thought to how he’ll be received by Orioles fans, though both Buck Showalter and Joe Girardi said that Roberts deserves to hear a good ovation after contributing to so many Baltimore clubs over his career.
“I’m excited to get back on the field. Certainly my favorite stadium to play in,” Roberts said. “The fans were always great to me and the city was always great to me and my family. I’m not overly concerned with it. You never want to get booed, but at the same time, they’re pulling for their team and I understand that. I don’t expect them to be cheering me on all night.”
The Yankees acquired left-hander Jeff Francis, along with cash considerations, on Friday from the Athletics in exchange for a player to be named later.
One night after he surrendered five runs in 1 2/3 innings to the Indians, New York designated right-hander Jim Miller for assignment. They recalled right-hander Matt Daley from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The 33-year-old Francis was designated for assignment by the A’s after posting a 6.08 ERA over 13 1/3 innings in nine relief appearances. Francis is expected to join the Yankees on Saturday in Baltimore.
“Obviously he’s a guy that was stretched out, but he is not now,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s a guy that’s probably in the 30 to 40 pitch range right now. We’ll talk to him when he gets here and see what he’s been doing the past few days.”
Francis started the year with the Reds, starting one game — giving up three runs on five hits in five innings — before Oakland claimed him off waivers. He has a career record of 70-80 with a 4.95 ERA, and could be used to help out on Sunday in a start that was originally assigned to Masahiro Tanaka.
“I really haven’t seen him pitch a lot,” Girardi said. “I’ll get to know him as soon as he gets here.”
Seeking additional opinions on his injured right knee, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia has cancelled his appointment with Dr. James Andrews and will be seen by two other orthopedic specialists, the team announced on Friday.
Sabathia had been scheduled to see Andrews on Monday. Instead, he has lined up appointments with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister.
It has been suggested that Sabathia may need microfracture surgery in his right knee, which has been said to have significant cartilage damage. Sabathia again experienced inflammation after his second Minor League rehab start, and the Yankees are not sure if he will be able to return this season.
Derek Jeter is scheduled to play in all three games against the Orioles at Camden Yards this weekend, manager Joe Girardi said. Jeter went 2-for-4 in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Indians, registering the 1,000th multi-hit game of his career. Jeter is the sixth player in Major League history to do so, joining Ty Cobb (1,293), Pete Rose (1,225), Tris Speaker (1,059), Stan Musial (1,059) and Henry Aaron (1,046).
Carlos Beltran sustained two small facial fractures in a batting practice mishap on Wednesday afternoon, but the Yankees are hopeful that the veteran switch-hitter will be able to avoid landing on the disabled list.
Beltran was scratched from the starting lineup for New York’s 5-4, 14-inning victory over the Indians after a batted ball ricocheted off a protective ‘L’ screen in an indoor batting cage, striking him in the face.
“You don’t expect that to happen when you’re practicing,” Beltran said. “I had a headache for the whole day. Now it’s getting better. Hopefully tomorrow it will get better and I could be back soon.”
Beltran had some bruising on the bridge of his nose, but relatively little swelling. He said that the Yankees want to make sure that he feels fine on Thursday, and added that there is some concern about a possible concussion.
“I don’t know what the team’s going to do,” Beltran said. “With the concussion things, teams take that serious. Honestly, I don’t feel like I have that. But at the end of the day it’s not my decision.”
Derek Jeter replaced Beltran in the lineup and went 2-for-6 with a run scored. Beltran missed the first two games of New York’s series against the Indians with swelling behind his right knee.
“You can only change the lineup so many times and then you run out of people. It’s difficult,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He felt really good until he did that and then we had to send him for X-Rays and a CT-scan. I have to figure out what we’re going to do.”
Brett Gardner was held out of the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday with what the speedster is calling a lower abdominal strain, an injury that bothered him during New York’s 5-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday.
Gardner said that he was examined after the game, fearing a hernia. A doctor confirmed that was not the case, and Gardner said that he should be able to be in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale in Cleveland.
“It was bothering me during the game,” Gardner said. “I just really felt it yesterday. I actually had a bad stomach bug three or four days ago, so I didn’t know if maybe it had something to do with that. The more the game went on, the more I felt that it wasn’t necessarily my stomach.”
Girardi said that Gardner was dealing with dehydration over the weekend against the Twins. Gardner said that head athletic trainer Steve Donohue advised him to take a full day off without swinging or running.
“It’s a little strain or aggravation,” Gardner said. “I actually feel a lot better today than I did last night after the game, so that’s a very good thing.”
With Masahiro Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list, the Yankees’ starter for Sunday at Baltimore is now listed as TBA. Girardi suggested that Chase Whitley would be an option to draw the start, and that he could use his bullpen liberally in the game.
“It’s the last four days before the break and you’ve got a lot of days off,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of different things. It’ll really depend on the next four days.”
Michael Pineda, one of the four members of the Yankees’ Opening Day rotation currently on the disabled list, is still just playing catch in Tampa, Fla. and is not expected to be big league ready until mid-August at the earliest. Girardi said that Pineda is scheduled to throw a bullpen near the end of this week.
On this date in 2011, Derek Jeter became the 28th player all-time to record 3,000 hits, accomplishing the feat with a third-inning solo home run off Rays left-hander David Price at Yankee Stadium.
Brian McCann’s first few months in a Yankees uniform have not lived up to his expectations, but the veteran catcher isn’t on board with the idea that he might just not be cut out to play in New York.
McCann awoke on Tuesday to a few text messages alerting him to a story in the New York Post, where Braves coach Terry Pendleton was quoted as saying that he thinks McCann “will never be comfortable” as a Yankee.
“I read the article. I disagree,” McCann said. “I absolutely love it here. I’ve got off to a slow start, but I absolutely love it here.”
Pendleton told the newspaper that he believed that McCann would wind up with either the Yankees or the Rangers this offseason. McCann jumped at the Yankees’ offer early in the winter, inking a five-year, $85 million pact.
“New York is not Brian,” said Pendleton, who said he thought McCann would be more comfortable in Texas. “That’s my opinion. I knew if he chose New York, there would be more than he expected or knew about. He’ll never be comfortable with that.”
Despite his Georgia roots, McCann said that adjusting to life as a Yankee has not been difficult.
“I really haven’t noticed a big difference,” McCann said. “It’s still baseball. It’s still you put a uniform on, you go out and put your best foot forward. That’s what I’m doing.
“It just hasn’t gone quite like I wish it would, but at the same time, we’ve got a whole half of baseball left. We’re in a pennant race and those are the things that I’m focused on.”
Pendleton said that he believes McCann’s contract has been “hanging over his head,” with his $17 million average annual salary ranking as the largest issued to a free agent catcher.
“Not at all,” McCann replied. “Not one bit.”
Pendleton also said that McCann has become a pull hitter over the last three or so years, but believes that he will be able to relax and get back to what he is capable of doing. McCann recently changed his batting stance, eliminating a toe-tap.
“If I’m sitting here hitting .300, this isn’t a story,” McCann said. “But I’m not, and at the same time, I feel like I’ve gotten some mechanical things ironed out. I’m back to attacking the baseball, and the last four or five games I’ve felt like myself.”
McCann said that he last spoke to Pendleton during Spring Training, and that he had not decided if he would call the former big league infielder to talk about the story.
“The only part of the article [that bothered me] that I’m not a New York guy, that’s the only part that I didn’t like,” McCann said. “I absolutely love it here and it’s been great so far.”
Carlos Beltran said that the swelling behind his right knee has improved, but the Yankees switch-hitter remained out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday.
Beltran said that he could be available to pinch-hit, and that the Yankees were looking at Tuesday as a ‘safety day’ before getting him back on the field. Beltran has been limited to duty as a designated hitter since hyperextending his elbow in April.
“I woke up feeling better,” Beltran said. “I’m going to go hit BP and do everything today, just to go through the whole program. But I feel a lot better. Just being able to wake up feeling better, I feel good.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he hopes to have Beltran in the lineup on Wednesday.
Shane Greene celebrated his first big league victory on Monday, hurling six innings of two-run ball in a 5-3 win over the Indians, and it earned him another start. Greene is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Orioles in Baltimore, with Chase Whitley moved to bullpen duty.
“It’s a combination of everything. He did a really good job last night,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Giving Whit a little break will help him and maybe re-energize him as well.”
Greene earned his first Major League win on the same night as Dellin Betances recorded his first Major League save on Tuesday. That marked the third time that has happened involving Yankees pitchers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Al Closter and Fritz Peterson did it in 1971, and Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren did it earlier this season.
Hello from Cleveland’s Progressive Field, where the Yankees and Indians are set to open a four-game series this evening. Here are the quick hits from this evening’s notebook:
Carlos Beltran was held out of the Yankees’ lineup on Monday after the switch-hitter reported mild swelling in the back of his right knee, according to manager Joe Girardi.
Beltran is scheduled to be seen by the Indians’ team doctor at Progressive Field on Monday, but Girardi said that the Yankees have not planned any other tests.
“We’re going to give him a day off. I’ll find out later on if he’s available to pinch-hit,” Girardi said. “He’ll see their doctor today and see what they think. Not a lot, but just a little bit.”
Beltran has eight hits in his last 30 at-bats, raising his average to .216 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 61 games.
“He’s been swinging the bat better,” Girardi said. “Obviously, he’s a switch-hitter that we put between our lefties and has power. He’s a run producer. It is something that we’ll miss tonight. Hopefully we get him back in there tomorrow.”
For Derek Jeter, return visits to the facility now known as Progressive Field will always produce memories of Opening Day 1996, which teammate David Cone would later refer to as Jeter’s “coming-out party.”
Jeter hit his first Major League home run, a fifth-inning solo homer off the Indians’ Dennis Martinez, and contributed a sharp catch on an Omar Vizquel pop-up in the Yankees’ 7-1 victory that afternoon.
“Your first Opening Day is pretty memorable, pretty special,” Jeter said. “I was excited for that day. We got snowed out the day before, so we had to wait a while; it seemed like we had to wait forever to get that first one underway.”
Earlier this year, Jeter said that he ranks that April 2, 1996 contest as one of his two favorite Opening Days; the other was the Yankees’ 1996 home opener, better remembered as the Andy Pettitte snow game against the Royals.
“I like playing here. I like this stadium,” Jeter said. “I’ve always liked coming here and playing. We’ve had some great battles with some really, really good Cleveland teams. They beat us in ’97, we came back and beat them in ’98. I enjoy coming here. It’s a nice stadium and the fans have always been great.”
When Dellin Betances reported to Spring Training, the Yankees had hoped that the hard-throwing right-hander would be able to put it all together, but it was a late March outing against the Blue Jays that made Joe Girardi really believe it was happening.
As Girardi recalled on Monday, a March 23 outing at George M. Steinbrenner Field made the Yanks’ coaches take notice. Betances entered with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, leaving them that way by striking out Jose Bautista looking and getting Edwin Encarnacion to fly out to left field.
“He came in the bases loaded and was dominant,” Girardi said. “I thought, ‘You know what, maybe it’s clicking.’ … You could see that there was deception there and they didn’t see the ball real well off of him.”
Betances was named as one of the Yankees’ three All-Stars on Sunday, joining Derek Jeter and Masahiro Tanaka. He has a 1.61 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 37 appearances, and was selected to the squad by the player vote.
“It’s crazy, man,” Betances said. “I worked hard this offseason, had a lot of guys that helped me. I just felt ready coming into the spring. My job was to make the team, but now to be here on this day, to be an All-Star this year, I’m honored.”
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who was acquired in a trade from the D-backs on Sunday in exchange for left-hander Vidal Nuno, is expected to join the Yankees on Tuesday. McCarthy is scheduled to make his Yankees debut against the Indians on Wednesday.
Girardi said that he believes closer David Robertson (2.93 ERA in 26 appearances, 21-for-23 in save opportunities) deserved to be selected as an All-Star, and Girardi hopes that there is still time for that to happen.
“Obviously there’s always people that have to bow out,” he said. “I’ve said it all along; if you like people that strike people out in key situations, he’s pretty good at it. You take away his one outing against Minnesota, his numbers are as good as anyone’s in baseball. And from a strikeout ratio, even better.”
Right-hander Michael Pineda has progressed to playing catch at 90 feet. The Yankees hope to have him throw from a mound by the end of this week, with a mid-August return to the big leagues standing as his best-case scenario.
Kevin Long emerged from the coaches’ room after Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Rays, prepared to face the music after the Yankees’ season-high fifth straight loss and their ninth in the last 11 games.
The Yankees were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday, and though situational hitting has been one of their major concerns of the summer, it has been more difficult than anticipated to make progress in that department.
“You’re always focused on trying to do the little things, trying to score runs and trying to move runners and trying to get guys in,” Long said. “So that’s always a focus.”
Here is a rundown of the group interview that Long conducted in the Yankees’ clubhouse:
On the current issues with the Yankees’ hitters: “You’re obviously not scoring runs and you’re going to put some pressure on yourself. You’re going to try to do a little bit more. The guys are certainly well aware of what’s going on and they’re putting forth as much effort as they can. Just sometimes things don’t go the way you want them or you planned them.”
On being surprised by this, given the names in the lineup: “Yeah, it’s a little surprising. Certainly. You expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform, and at the end of the day and at the end of the year, you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you that they’re doing everything in their power to try to correct it. I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it, and we’re just going to stay at it. There’s no simple formula. The work is positive and we’re working in the right directions. It’s just been tough.
What can a hitting coach do in this situation?: “You certainly can’t yell, scream or do any of that. It’s more about just staying the course and keep looking at video or maybe working on their swing or tee work, or doing flips or doing extra BP, all those things that you would normally do. Certainly that is something that we’ve really focused on and even you get away from that sometimes and you just see the ball. That’s all Beltran’s doing these last four games, and he’s been really good the last four games, so if he can continue to swing the way he has the last four. It looks like Brian McCann made a positive move today. You have to look at those things and you have to try to move forward on those, because we can’t get anything back that has already happened.”
On Yangervis Solarte needing to make adjustments: “When Solarte was swinging the bat well, he was very aggressive and he was swinging with authority. He’s just a little bit inbetween and a little bit unsure. We looked at his video and he’s a little hard to his front side and he’s just a little tentative. We’ll just stay at that.”
“I don’t think they’re pitching him any differently. He has taken some walks and for the most part swung at good pitches, but I’m sure he’s feeling it, just like a veteran would. He’s a rookie so someone like that will probably put a little more pressure on himself than maybe a veteran would.”
Encouraging signs from the rest of the lineup?: “Obviously, the top three have been pretty good all year, Jeet, Gardner and Ellsbury have swung the bat well. Ichiro has been pretty consistent all year. Teixeira has hit some home runs, driven in some runs. I think the biggest two we’re talking about is if McCann can do what he did today and Beltran — that’s four good games in a row where he’s really had good quality at-bats.
“We’ve kind of changed his routine and changed what he’s done as a DH to try to help that process become really active with him inbetween innings. Walking around, talking about things instead of just sitting in the video room and maybe thinking about an at-bat. So that’s been one adjustment that I think has moved in a positive way for us. So again I just hope that he continues on what he’s doing and McCann today was very positive.”
On Brett Gardner hitting for more power: “Gardy’s made adjustments every year he’s been in this league. He’s basically picked up where he left off last year. He’s an extremely confident individual who continues to get better and better, he’s a very aggressive hitter in the zone. He’s not late. He attacks fastballs and he doesn’t miss them. I think the consistencies of his mechanics in his swing have enabled him to this little power surge that we’ve seen.”
Ever think that maybe this is just what you have?: “It’s about winning games, and we need to do whatever we can to win games. Obviously offense has been an issue all season. These guys understand it, I understand it. We’ve got to turn it around somehow and you’ve got to believe the guys that are in the room, they’re the only guys that can turn it around. Again it’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from not wanting to do it, it’s just one of those things where we need these extra 80 games for guys to prove themselves. McCann is on a mission, Beltran is on a mission. Everybody needs to pick it up a little bit, including the Gardners, including the Ellsburys, and then these guys that have underperformed — they need to pick it up as well.”
On his early expectations for this offense: “I don’t know — obviously more than what we’ve done. Are we capable of scoring 4-5 runs a game? I would say so. Even when we had the powerful offenses, I would think four runs a game was kind of that mark that you shoot for. Jeet said it a bunch of times: let’s win innings, try to score every inning. You start there instead of trying to maybe put up a four spot or five spot all in one inning.”
On drastic changes: “Oh, we’ve done all kinds of stuff. You always make adjustments and always make changes. Nobody here probably even saw what Brian McCann did today. If you just look at his stance, look for a toe tap today and see if you see one. That’s one of those things where if you look at video, you can say see, ‘Whoa, he did make an adjustment.’ You’ll see those adjustments from guys as they go along. They’ll continue to make those adjustments to try to help themselves be more consistent.”