Carlos Beltran nearing return to outfield play

Carlos Beltran has not played the outfield since May 11, but the veteran’s throwing program has advanced to the point where he could be an option for Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

“I think I could probably do it in the real near future,” Girardi said.

Beltran has been limited to designated hitter duties because of a bone spur in his right elbow, but the 37-year-old has said that he would prefer to be able to help out on defense.

The Yankees said that there was less urgency to rush Beltran back into the outfield because of their July 31 acquisition of Martin Prado from the D-backs, but Girardi is concerned about making sure that Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are not fatigued.

“He’s definitely feeling a lot better. It’s something that we’ll talk about pretty soon here,” Girardi said.


Masahiro Tanaka has taken his rehab on the road, making 50 tosses at a distance of 90 feet on Monday at Camden Yards, and the Yankees right-hander is said to be pain-free.

“So far, so good,” Girardi said. “He’s not throwing pitches, but he’s at 90 feet and he let it go a little bit today.”

Tanaka’s next step would be to increase his throwing distance to make some tosses at 120 feet, something that Girardi said could happen as soon as Tuesday.

After that, Girardi said, “I think you start thinking about flat ground and after that flat ground you start thinking about a mound. I don’t have a date for that.”

Tanaka is aiming for a September return to the Yankees’ rotation and hopes to avoid surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.


The Yankees selected right-hander Chris Leroux to the 25-man roster from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday. Following Sunday’s game vs. Cleveland, the Yankees optioned right-hander Bryan Mitchell to Triple-A.


Yankees catcher Brian McCann (concussion) “felt better” on Sunday, according to Girardi. Currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list, McCann could have another concussion test on Tuesday, and may be cleared to resume baseball activity after that.


Monday marks Derek Jeter’s 2,707th game with the Yankees, which ties the Royals’ George Brett for ninth place on the all-time list of players who have played all of their games with one team. Next on the list is the Giants’ Mel Ott (2,730).


The Eastern League announced Monday that Double-A Trenton infielder Greg Bird was been selected as the Eastern League Player of the Week for the period of Aug. 4 – Aug. 10. Bird hit .421 (8-for-19) with two doubles, three home runs, eight runs scored, three RBI, four walks and a 1.000 slugging percentage in six games for the Thunder last week.


On this date in 1929, Babe Ruth hit his 500th career home run off the Indians’ Willis Hudlin at Cleveland’s League Park. Also on this date in 1980, Reggie Jackson hit career homer No. 400 off Britt Burns of the White Sox.

Paul O’Neill’s career celebrated with Monument Park plaque

Paul O'Neill Monument ParkFor a generation of fans, Paul O’Neill will forever be remembered as “The Warrior,” the emotional leader of a Yankees dynasty that celebrated four World Series championships in five seasons.

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.”

Paul O'Neill plaqueO’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.”

Brian McCann placed on seven-day concussion DL

The Yankees have placed catcher Brian McCann on the seven-day concussion disabled list. McCann was struck in the face mask by a Mike Aviles foul tip in the third inning on Friday, and was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that McCann seemed to be feeling “foggy” between innings. Austin Romine has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


With two Minor League rehab starts under his belt, Michael Pineda said that he is ready to rejoin the Yankees rotation, giving manager Joe Girardi a choice to make in advance of next week’s showdown with the division-leading Orioles.

Pineda fired 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Friday evening for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Columbus, showcasing a fastball that sat between 92 and 94 mph as well as a swing-and-miss slider.

“Everything is good,” Pineda said on Saturday. “My pitches are there, my velocity is there. I’m feeling good and I’m happy with that.”

Pineda threw 72 pitches in the outing, scattering six hits while walking none and striking out seven. He said that he has not been told where his next start will be, but feels prepared to face big league hitters.

“I’m feeling great. Everything is normal,” Pineda said.

The Yankees had said that they wanted Pineda to reach 90 pitches in a Minor League rehab start before activating him, but David Phelps’ injury has changed the landscape.

Esmil Rogers pitched well in a spot start on Friday, holding the Indians to a run over five innings. Girardi said that Pineda and Rogers will both have throw days on Sunday, providing the option of handing the ball to either pitcher on Wednesday in Baltimore.

“That’s something that we’ll have to talk about,” Girardi said. “(Pineda’s) next start, he could go to 90, but we’ll sit down and we’ll talk about it.”


Mark Teixeira said that it was “very painful” to attempt hitting off a tee and that he is not able to correctly grip the bat, but the Yankees first baseman is hopeful that he will be able to avoid the disabled list.

Teixeira sustained a laceration to his left pinky finger in Wednesday’s 5-1 Yankees victory over the Orioles, requiring three stitches. He said the cut is healing, but he is still only swinging at about 50 percent.

“The joint is really, really sore, and so whether it was sprained or bruised, we’re not sure exactly,” Teixeira said. “But the joint is really sore. The cut, you just wrap it up and you play. The joint, I can’t grip the bat.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Teixeira took some light batting practice in the underground cages on Saturday and reported some improvement.

“He felt better today; he took swings and felt better, so hopefully it’s not much longer with him and we’ll just take it day by day,” Girardi said.

Teixeira said that swinging would affect him more from the right side of the plate. Girardi said that if it appears that Teixeira would be out for six to seven days, the Yankees would give thought to placing him on the disabled list.

“Right now it’s working, what we’re doing,” Girardi said. “But we’ll just wait and see.”


The Yankees announced Saturday that they have unconditionally released infielder Brian Roberts, who was designated for assignment on Aug. 1. Roberts batted .237 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 91 games for the Yankees this season.

Masahiro Tanaka, David Phelps to pitch in at Stadium ticket windows

A little double duty for some of the Yanks’ players tonight. This alert from the Yankees:

Yankees players will be interacting with fans tonight at Yankee Stadium at the following times and locations:

· At 5:00 p.m., Yankees pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and David Phelps will be stationed behind the counters at Yankee Stadium Advance Ticket Windows, selling tickets and greeting fans (on E. 161st St. in between Gates 4 and 6).
· At approximately 5:30 p.m., several other Yankees pitchers will be working the registers at the Yankees Team Store behind home plate inside the Stadium.
· Also at approximately 5:30 p.m., Brendan Ryan will be selling programs, yearbooks and media guides in the Great Hall.

David Robertson impressed by Dellin Betances’ breakout season

Dellin BetancesOne of the best compliments that you could give to David Robertson’s season is that Mariano Rivera’s name has not come up very often, but just as much, the new closer has enjoyed watching Dellin Betances’ explosion into a premier setup man.

Even Robertson, having a fine year in his own right, was wowed by Betances’ appearance on Saturday at Fenway Park. The stadium scoreboard clocked two of Betances’ eighth-inning fastballs at 101 mph.

“How could you not have fun watching that?” Robertson said. “He threw 101. Wow! I’m lucky if I hit 93 and he’s pumping it in at 101.”

Betances’ 13.22 strikeouts per nine innings in 48 relief appearances (spanning 65 1/3 innings) are the highest mark in the Majors this season, as the right-hander has learned how to harness his two-pitch repertoire into terrific results.

“I definitely think he’s exceeded [expectations],” manager Joe Girardi said. “We knew he had great stuff. We knew this would be a year he had never really experienced before, in a sense, if he got on a roll. And that’s what he’s done.”

Robertson said that Betances’ electric stuff stands out, but there is still learning on the job. Betances was developed as a starting pitcher before being transitioned to the bullpen in the Minors back in 2012.

“You do have to get used to that workload,” Robertson said. “It takes a little bit of time. Obviously you need to figure out your body first; that was my biggest key. When I’m throwing 70 or 65 appearances a year, some of them come on back-to-back-to-back days, you have to be ready to say when we play catch, just play a little bit.

“You just know that your arm feels good and you can go out there and do the job you’re supposed to do.”


Masahiro TanakaThere will be a significant checkpoint in Masahiro Tanaka’s recovery on Monday, when the right-hander is scheduled to report to Yankee Stadium and could play catch for the first time since his right elbow injury.

Monday marks the three-week point from the date that Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection, which the team hoped would promote healing of his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

“We’ll see tomorrow what everyone wants to do with him, but as we said, three weeks is the mark,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He feels good, so we’ll see what we do.”

Tanaka, 25, saw team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Friday in New York and no issues were reported.

The injury interrupted a terrific debut season for Tanaka, who was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in his first 18 big league starts, earning selection as an American League All-Star. He was hurt in a July 8 start against the Indians in Cleveland, and is hoping to avoid season-ending Tommy John surgery.

When the injury was diagnosed last month, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the best-case scenario of the prescribed rehab program would get Tanaka back on a Major League mound in six weeks.

It seems more likely, though, that Tanaka would return in September if he does make it back to the Majors in 2014. There is a long road ahead; essentially, what would be a second Spring Training for Tanaka.

“It’s not starting all over, because he’s been built up (stamina-wise),” Girardi said. “But it’ll be probably 60 feet, and then 60 and 90, and 90 and 120, then flat ground and bullpen and probably a rehab game.”


Michael PinedaMichael Pineda could be two starts away from re-joining the Yankees’ big league rotation.

Pineda worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings in a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Syracuse on Sunday, scattering three hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

“He threw the ball pretty well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re pleased with the progress that he’s making and we’ll take another step.”

The right-hander, who has not pitched in the big leagues since April 23 because of a strained teres major muscle behind his pitching shoulder, tossed 58 pitches (37 for strikes).

Pineda’s next rehab start will come on Friday for a team yet to be determined, and he will throw about 75 pitches. Girardi said that Pineda would likely make one rehab start after that, increasing to 90 pitches, and then would be considered big league ready.

“At that point, you would feel from a pitch count he’s ready to join us,” Girardi said.


The Yankees were briefly concerned when Betances slipped on the mound in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 6-4 Yankees win over the Red Sox. He was fine, but it probably won’t be the last time you see the 6-foot-8 hurler overstride; Betances said that it can be difficult for him to keep his mechanics intact, but he’s working on it.

“I think I told you guys, it’s going to happen more than once and I’m sure it will happen again,” Betances said. “I slipped a little bit, and I tried to hold myself with the glove and I wasn’t able to do that. I just tried to make it look as good as possible, but it was not good.”


Carlos Beltran entered play on Sunday hitting .375 (21-for-56) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games since July 18, a sign that the discomfort in his right elbow has been manageable.

“I think he’s just being the player that we thought he would be,” Girardi said. “It was just a matter of time, but I’m sure (the elbow) has something to do with that, and maybe getting used to the brace as well.”


On this date in 1959, Yogi Berra connected for his first and only All-Star Game home run. The third-inning blast off the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale helped to lead the American League to a 5-3 victory at Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum.

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