If you’re Austin Romine, strapping on the catching gear for your first big league start of the season, it has to be a reassuring sight to see Andy Pettitte’s name listed on the lineup card. Romine said he takes pride in going over the scouting reports with a fine-tooth comb, and I have no doubt he’ll be prepared with a back story for every one of the Astros’ hitters.
But still, Pettitte knows what his game plan should be and certainly is comfortable taking the wheel. With the Yankees trusting Romine and Pettitte to figure out the pitch-calling without any interference from the bench, Pettitte’s savvy is a nice fail-safe to have.
“Andy is pretty good about taking other players under his wing and letting them know what he wants to do,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s not going to get flustered out there if they don’t get in a rhythm right away. I think for that it works pretty well.”
Romine said that he spent the weekend catching guys in the bullpen after he was called up on Saturday, including getting re-acquainted with Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. As of a few hours before game time, Romine said he wasn’t feeling any butterflies as he prepared to get behind the plate in a Major League game for the first time since Sept. 2011.
“No, actually I’m really excited. I thought there would be some,” Romine said. “I’m sure when the game starts I’ll be a little more excited than normal. I’m really excited to get out there and take hold of this opportunity.”
Here are the highlights from today’s Yankees official game notes:
AT A GLANCE: Today the Yankees will play the final game of a four-game series vs. Toronto at Yankee Stadium… is the fourth game of a 10-game homestand, which also includes games vs. Houston (Mon.-Wed.) and Oakland (Fri.-Sun.)… matches the Yankees’ longest homestand of the season… went 3-3 on their recent six-game road trip at Toronto (4/19-21, went 2-1) and Tampa Bay (4/22-24, went 1-2)… following this homestand, will begin an eight-game road trip at Colorado (5/7-9), Kansas City (5/10-12) and Cleveland (5/13 single-admission doubleheader – makeups for 4/10-11 rainouts).
>Have won three straight games and can match their season-high four-game winning streak (4/7-12) with a victory today.
>The Yankees’ three-game home winning streak is tied for their season-high (also 4/14-17).
RECENT RUN: The Yankees are 13-5 (.722) since 4/7 after starting the year with a 1-4 record… is the second-best winning percentage in the Majors over the stretch, trailing only Boston’s .737 (14-5)… over the span Yankees batters have the fifth-best batting average in the Majors (.270, 168-for-623) with 28 doubles and an MLB-best 27HR, outscoring their opposition 92-62… Yankees pitchers have posted a 3.18 ERA (164.0IP, 58ER) in the 18 games, the third-best mark in the AL (trailing only Texas’ 2.83 and Kansas City’s 3.09) and the fifth-best mark in the Majors.
PASSPORT CONTROL: The Yankees have won six consecutive home games vs. Toronto…additionally are 15-2 at home vs. Toronto, since 5/24/11, 17-4 since the start of 2011, and 28-11 all-time at the current Yankee Stadium (since 2009)… according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Blue Jays’ record at the current Yankee Stadium (11-28, .282) is the worst mark for any Major League team that has played at least 30 games any current Major League venue.
>With a win today, the Yankees’ would have their first four-game sweep of Toronto since 9/18-21/95 at the original Yankee Stadium.
>Have come from behind to win each of the first three games of this series.
BORDER WAR: LF Vernon Wells is batting .440 (11-for-25) with 8R, 3HR and 6RBI in six games against Toronto this season… in his last 13 games against his former team (dating to 9/19/11) is batting .358 (19-for-53) with 12R, 4 doubles, 5HR, 12RBI and 3BB.… is batting .433 (13-for-30) with 3HR, 4RBI and 6BB in eight day games this season.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: The Yankees are 8-1 (.889) in games decided by two or fewer runs, marking the best such winning percentage in the Majors… are 3-0 in one-run games, and are the last team in the Majors not to lose a one-run game.
FOURSIGHT: The Yankees are a Major League-best 13-1 (.929) this season when holding their opponents to four-or-fewer runs… their one loss in such a game this season occurred on Wednesday at Tampa Bay (3-0)… are 13-3 this season when scoring four-or-more runs.
A double whammy for the Yankees here tonight in the Bronx:
- Francisco Cervelli has a fractured right hand and will require surgery. He will miss a minimum of six weeks, the Yankees said. Cervelli suffered the injury when he was hit by a foul top off the bat of Toronto’s Rajai Davis in the top of the first inning.
- Ivan Nova left tonight’s game in the third inning with right elbow pain. He has been scheduled for a MRI tonight.
As always, more updates as soon as we have them.
NEW YORK – Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova exited Friday’s game against the Blue Jays in the third inning with an apparent injury on what has developed into a troublesome night for the home team at Yankee Stadium.
Nova’s final pitch of the evening came on a ball that was hit back up the middle by Rajai Davis for a single. The ball did not hit Nova, but the hurler grimaced and confirmed an injury to head athletic trainer Steve Donohue. Nova gave the ball to manager Joe Girardi, his work done after two-plus innings pitched.
David Phelps relieved Nova on what was a short night for the Yankees’ battery. Catcher Francisco Cervelli lasted just five pitches before he was hit with a Davis foul tip in the first inning, suffering an injury to his right hand. Chris Stewart took over the catching duties for New York.
The Yankees have not yet announced details of either injury, but catcher Austin Romine was lifted mid-inning from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s game against Syracuse, an indication that Cervelli’s injury could be substantial.
The Yankees had been getting early production from Cervelli, who hit his third home run of the season in Thursday’s 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays. He is batting .269 with three doubles and eight RBIs in 17 games.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter addressed the media today at Yankee Stadium, making his first public comments since the team announced that he had suffered a new fracture in his surgically repaired left ankle. The Yankees have said that Jeter is expected to return after the All-Star break, and while the captain said that he isn’t announcing his timetable to get back in the lineup, he has a date in mind that is probably sooner than that.
Here are some highlights from the first part of Jeter’s press conference. We’ll have complete coverage coming up on MLB.com and Yankees.com.
Difficulty of this process:
“It’s been a difficult process. It’s been a frustrating process. Just when you think you’re close to coming back, then you have a setback. It’s part of the healing process. When you get hurt, it’s supposed to take time. It’s supposed to take time when you break a bone. Unfortunately, it has taken more time than I anticipated.”
Any doubt you will come back this season:
“No, no doubt. When you have doubt, that’s when you’re in trouble. I’ve been told this bone will heal and when it heals I’ll be ready to go. It’s frustrating that I can’t magically make it heal sooner than it’s taking, but I have no doubt I’ll be back.”
Idea of timeline:
“I’m not getting into a timeline. The last timeline I set, I didn’t make. I don’t want to disappoint myself or anyone else. Whenever it heals, I’ll be back, I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
When did this happen?:
“It’s the same bone but it’s in a different spot. I’m not exactly sure when I did it. When we took the CT scans before spring training started, the bone had healed. I’m not one to complain about something being sore, so you just go out there and play, which I did. It just never went away. I wasn’t able to run. I wasn’t able to do things that I wanted to do. I had it checked out again and that’s when they found out that it was fractured again. I would assume it has probably been like that for quite some time, but that’s just an assumption. There’s no way to tell.”
March 19 game at Clearwater?:
“I don’t know. Maybe, yeah, but I’d just be guessing. If I was going to assume I’d say yeah, but once again it’s just an assumption. Unless you took the test at that particular time, it’s impossible to know. I knew something was wrong but if it’s not broken, then I’ll play. I guess it was broken.”
Regret setting the Opening Day timeline?:
“No, I don’t. My job is to be ready for Opening Day. I feel like I didn’t do my job. My job was to be ready; unfortunately I wasn’t. No, I don’t regret it, because I think you have to set goals to try to reach those goals. I’m never one to just sit back and have a lot of patience when it comes to anything being wrong. No, I don’t regret it. I regret that the bone didn’t heal, but not setting a date – no.”
Glad they found something?:
“I know my body. I knew something was wrong. I can’t say I’m glad they found something; I wish they didn’t find something, but all the things that we thought it was, it wasn’t. I knew something was wrong. I can play if something is in pain. You guys know I don’t like talking about injuries. You either play or you don’t. I don’t enjoy this press conference here, but I have to talk about it because I’m not playing. I knew something was wrong because it’s not just tendinitis or stiffness. There’s something wrong that was making it unable for me to play. We found out it was because it was broke.”
Think the problem was caused by impatience?:
“I don’t think so, because when I took the tests, I believe I had two CT scans before I actually got on the field and started doing things. Both of them said the bone had healed. Once the bone has healed you can move forward. Something happened. I don’t know what happened, I wish I could explain it. No one can really give me a definite explanation for it but once it heals I’m going to be right back at it and come back as soon as I can. I guess the best way to put it is, I don’t know what happened. I really don’t know what happened. But I don’t think I pushed it too hard. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, but I don’t know.”
The Yankees have shown some resiliency of late, as they did last night in last night’s exciting comeback to topple David Price, Fernando Rodney and the Rays. They’ll try to parlay that into taking two of three in the series tonight at Tropicana Field, as Andy Pettitte heads to the hill for a New York team that is pleasing their manager.
“They’ve done a good job coming back in games during the course of this stretch,” Joe Girardi said. “After getting off to a little bit of a slow start they’ve bounced back very well, so I’m pleased with that.”
Ichiro Suzuki played a key role in the rally last night, singling and scoring the tying run in the eighth inning against Price and then lacing a two-run single to center field in the ninth. For his efforts, and also because the Yanks’ lineup doesn’t have Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells tonight, Ichiro has been bumped to the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Girardi said that, as the Yankees prepare to face right-hander Alex Cobb, there can be a carryover effect from a rally like the one they had in the late innings last night.
“I think it gives you confidence when you’re behind in a game that your guys are going to figure it out if your pitcher can just hold them down, give us a chance to win a game,” Girardi said. “I think it builds character, and they’re good wins. They’re hard fought wins. It’s good for the spirit of a club.”
Pettitte is making his fourth start of the season, and outside of a brief setback with some back spasms, he has looked absolutely vintage. He’s 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and is trying to win his first four starts of a season for the first time in his career.
“He’s such a competitor,” Girardi said. “It’s kind of like Derek [Jeter], in a sense. Nothing really ever surprises you because we’ve seen him do it for such a long time and he’s such a competitor. If you look at one thing he’s really done well, he’s really given us distance. Maybe you don’t quite expect the distance that we’ve gotten out of him in the games, but I did expect him to pitch well.”
Kevin Youkilis is tethered to a table in the trainer’s room at Tropicana Field, his lower back keeping him from making a difference in the Yankees’ lineup. Mark Teixeira is on the bench but unable to make contact with baseballs as he tries to repair his right wrist. We’d imagine Derek Jeter is doing whatever world-famous professional athletes do on a Tuesday night in Charlotte, N.C.
All this means that the Yankees lineup they’ve got going for Phil Hughes against David Price tonight … leaves something to be desired. Joe Girardi believes they’ll find a way to get it done because it’s baseball and anything can happen on any given night, but it doesn’t look all that wonderful on paper. Girardi acknowledged tonight that he’d love to have Youkilis in the lineup, and while he’s at it, he wants the switch-hitting Teixeira and the right-handed Jeter back as well.
“You feel it a lot. You definitely feel it a lot because of what they’ve done against left-handers in their careers,” Girardi said. “A leadoff hitter and a middle-of-the-order hitter, you’ve got those two guys out, that’s something substantial.”
The good news for the Yankees is that Youkilis is expected to return on Thursday, when the Yankees come back to New York and open a series at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks haven’t done much against left-handed pitching this year – their .190 team batting average (42-for-221) is tied for the lowest in the American League and second only to the Pirates’ .169 mark – but Girardi is hopeful that it’s still just a small sample size.
“We haven’t seen that many lefties. I still think it’s a small sample,” Girardi said. “We’ve had some people out of the lineup too, which is a problem, but I think our guys are going to hit better against left-handers. Some of the right-handers, I think are going to hit better against the left-handers.”
A few quick updates to share from the Yankees clubhouse as they prepare for tonight’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field:
- Kevin Youkilis is still having treatment on his sore back and is not expected to play until Thursday at Yankee Stadium. Joe Girardi said they won’t ask Youkilis to come to the bench during tonight’s game so he can keep receiving treatment, but Youkilis’ back is supposedly getting better. He did not appear in the clubhouse this afternoon. The Yankees are again playing Jayson Nix at third base and Lyle Overbay at first base against left-hander David Price.
- Mark Teixeira is still taking only dry swings, and said that his right wrist hasn’t loosened up enough to permit him to move on to batting practice. Teixeira said he feels like the wrist is healed, but acknowledges he won’t make it back for May 1st. Teixeira’s initial time frame of the injury was eight to 10 weeks, so May 1st would’ve been about the earliest possible date, but Teixeira still believes he is on track to play in the big leagues during the month of May.
- Ben Francisco has struggled in his role as the DH against left-handed pitching, but Girardi said that he will stick with him, saying that he believes “Francisco has hit some balls pretty decent.” That said, Girardi acknowledges how much the lineup misses guys like Derek Jeter and Teixeira against lefties.
- Brennan Boesch is likely to be in tomorrow’s lineup as Girardi plans to give Vernon Wells a day off.
- Jeter is expected to rejoin the Yankees on Thursday in New York and will talk to the media at Yankee Stadium. Girardi said that he believes Jeter has been fitted for a walking boot on his left ankle again.
CC Sabathia was very frank after his last outing, in which he essentially said that if this is where his velocity is going to be for the rest of the season, he will find a way to win with it.
“I’m hoping some more velocity comes back. If not, we’ll work with this,” Sabathia said. “I don’t know how many starts or innings, but it’s something everybody is going to go through. We’ll see if this is my time.”
The big left-hander is going for his fourth victory in as many starts tonight against the Rays here at Tropicana Field, and he has done it without the mid-90′s fastball that was firmly in his toolbelt when he came to the Yankees in ’09. Sabathia’s velocity then averaged about 94 mph, but these days he’s working more in the 89-90 range.
“One thing we’ve always said about CC is he knows how to pitch, and he has to continue to do that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said today. “His changeup becomes very important,his slider and his curveball and his location with his sinker becomes very important. When you don’t have velocity that maybe you once had, sometimes you don’t get away with some of your mistakes. But he has very good command.”
- Update: Ooh. That didn’t go so well. Ryan Roberts homered, Sean Rodriguez legged out an RBI triple and Yunel Escobar hit a two-run shot as Sabathia allowed four runs in a very shaky first inning. Roberts’ homer was on a hanging 0-2 slider. CC’s top speed in the first inning was 90 mph.
Matt Moore has the ball for Tampa Bay, taking on a lineup that will not include Kevin Youkilis, whose back tightened after taking batting practice.
“He has very good command of his fastball and a very good curveball,” Girardi said of Moore. “So when he leaves one of those fastballs out over the plate, you better not miss it.”
ST. PETERSBURG – Yankees first baseman Kevin Youkilis was a late scratch from the team’s lineup on Monday at Tropicana Field as the veteran’s sore lower back continues to be an issue.
Youkilis did not play on Sunday against the Blue Jays in Toronto because of the back, which he said tightened playing on the artificial turf at Rogers Centre on Saturday.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had Youkilis in his original lineup for Monday, but a change was announced at approximately 6:15 p.m. ET.
Lyle Overbay replaced Youkilis at first base in New York’s lineup against Rays left-hander Matt Moore. Jayson Nix remained in at third base.