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.
Hello from inside the dome at Tropicana Field, where the Yankees and Rays will open a three-game series tonight. We’ll have updates from the clubhouse later this evening, including a check on if Kevin Youkilis will be in New York’s lineup after taking Sunday off on the turf up in Toronto due to back stiffness.
Update – yep, Youkilis is in:
Yankees lineup at Rays: Gardner 8 Francisco DH Cano 4 Youkilis 3 Wells 7 Cervelli 2 Boesch 9 Nunez 6 Nix 5 Sabathia LHP
Here is a selection of the information from the Yankees’ official game notes:
AT A GLANCE: Today the Yankees will play the first game of a three-game series at Tampa Bay… is the fourth game of a six-game road trip which also included a three game series at Toronto (went 2-1)… went 4-2 on their recent homestand from 4/12-18 against Baltimore (2-1) and Arizona (2-1)… following this road trip, will return home for a 10-game homestand vs. Toronto (4/25-28), Houston (4/29-5/1) and Oakland (5/3-5).
>Are 9-3 since 4/7 after starting the year with a 1-4 record… are tied for the fourth-best record in the AL.
RECENT RUN: The Yankees have gone 9-3 over their last 12 games dating to 4/7… over the stretch, Yankees batters are hitting .293 (128-for-437) with 26 doubles and 21HR (tied for MLB HR lead), outscoring their opposition 71-40… Yankees starters have posted a 2.85 ERA (79.0IP, 25ER) — fourth best in the Majors and second-best in the AL over the stretch — with 21BB, 63K and an 8-1 record.
GARDY PARTY: OF Brett Gardner has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games since 4/7… over his last 10 games since 4/9, is batting .341 (15-for-44) with 7R, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 1HR, 8RBI and 4BB… has also hit safely in each of his last eight games and with a hit tonight at Tampa Bay, would tie Kevin Youkilis for the longest hitting streak by a Yankee this season (9G, 4/1-12).
COMFY CONFINES: OF Vernon Wells went 7-for-15 with 4R, 2HR and 3RBI over the three-game series at Toronto this weekend (4/19-21)… pplayed in 1,393G with Toronto from 1999-2010, batting .280 (1,529-for-5,470) with 789R, 223HR and 813RBI.
BECAUSE THE NIGHT: Yankees pitchers are 7-2 with a 2.68 ERA (84.0IP, 25ER) in nine night games this season… are 3-5 with a 5.58 ERA (71.0IP, 44ER) in eight day games in 2013.
The Yankees and the Blue Jays are scheduled for their first meeting of the season this weekend up at Rogers Centre, and – not counting their Spring Training battles – the three-game showdown will offer the reassembled Yanks lineup their first up-close look at the Toronto squad, a club that was picked by many to run away with the American League East after leading the division in winter noise.
“We know they’re a team in our division and they’ve been a club that before their additions were tough to me,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They have a lot of guys that hit the ball out of the ballpark, they added some speed and some defense, and they’ve added to their rotation. And the additions to the rotation is experienced guys; it’s not a bunch of young kids. I am curious to see what they look like.”
Here are the probable starters for the weekend series, with the corresponding links to previews and lineup information when available:
Phil Hughes will be on the mound tonight for his third start of the season as the Yankees look to complete a three-game Interleague sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and manager Joe Girardi has a checklist of what he will be looking for from the right-hander.
“I think first and foremost, fastball command,” Girardi said. “He needs to have his off-speed pitches. The last start, he didn’t really have those. It made it even more difficult when he didn’t have his command. He needs to be able to combine all his pitches and work efficiently.”
Hughes has allowed eight earned runs in seven innings to the Tigers and Orioles, a 10.29 ERA. He’ll be opposed by left-hander Patrick Corban, who is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA for Arizona, and Girardi said that having Hughes pitch on normal rest should help.
“I feel better about his start,” Girardi said. “It’s kind of getting normal for him; we’ve kind of had a weird schedule in the beginning. He had the back issue in spring training which halted his spring training, he had to restart, he had to come back early because our bullpen was a little messed up. For him, this has to feel more normal than any start that he’s had.”
Other notes and quotes as the Yankees look for their eighth win in nine games:
- You’ve probably heard plenty about Derek Jeter already, but we’ll go over it one more time here. A CT scan taken today in Charlotte, N.C. revealed a small, new fracture in Jeter’s surgically repaired left ankle, and GM Brian Cashman said that Jeter is now not expected to rejoin the Yankees until after the All-Star break. Jeter won’t need surgery but he needs approximately four to eight weeks for the bone to heal so they can try again.
- In the meantime, Cashman said the Yankees will stick with Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix at shortstop – in part because they’ve done a good job, and also because this isn’t the ideal time of year to go shopping.
- Who would have predicted we’d be debating if Jeter, Alex Rodriguez or Michael Pineda would appear in a game at the big league level first?
- Chien-Ming Wang is making his first Triple-A start of the year tomorrow for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
- The Yankees have outscored their opponents 51-19 over their last eight games. Yankees starters have posted a 2.57 ERA over that stretch.
- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez is throwing out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch.
- On this date in 1923: First game at the original Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth hits a three-run homer as the Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 4-1, which of course is where the whole “House that Ruth Built” phrase started.
A CT scan taken on Yankees captain Derek Jeter has revealed a small fracture in the area of his original left ankle injury, according to general manager Brian Cashman, and Jeter is now not expected to rejoin the Yankees until after the All-Star break.
Jeter traveled to Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday to be seen by Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed his left ankle surgery in October. Jeter is not expected to need a new surgical procedure, just time to allow the bone to heal. Cashman said that could take anywhere from four to eight weeks.
“Derek Jeter has been having obviously issues with the ankle,” Cashman said. “He saw Dr. Anderson today back in Charlotte who is the operating physician and the lead physician on this. They did a new CT scan which revealed a small crack in the area of the previous injury. We have to back off and let that heal. This is obviously a setback. In terms of speculating when we might see Derek back with us, you’d be looking at sometime after the All-Star break.”
Jeter has not played in a game since March 23 and has been mostly limited to taking ground balls and batting practice at the club’s Tampa complex.
Girardi said that Jeter’s visit to Anderson was not scheduled. Jeter worked out on Wednesday in Tampa; asked if there was an injury that prompted Thursday’s visit, Girardi said, “Put two and two together.”
“He is obviously the toughest one we’ve ever had,” Cashman said. “You know when Derek Jeter continues to have issues that don’t go away, you know that means more than just your typical something.”
Cashman said that Jeter will speak to the media next week in New York. He said that Jeter is handling the setback “like a pro.”
“He’s like, ‘I’ll see you in four to six weeks,’” Cashman said. “He’ll never let anyone see any area of weakness or problem. His attitude is, you’re going to see me sooner than later.”
Mark Teixeira saw a doctor yesterday and was cleared to take underwater bat swings in the therapy pool at Yankee Stadium. Since his right wrist came through with no problems, Teixeira is advancing to dry swings – without contact, but also dry in the literal sense – this afternoon, 20 from each side of the plate.
Teixeira still believes he can be back sometime in May, and he plans to be with the Yankees until they go to Tampa. He’ll continue his rehab there, as he is now in the beginning stages of a deliberate process that will go from dry swings to hitting off a tee, hitting soft toss, indoor batting practice, on-field batting practice and then finally game action.
The main concern is how his wrist will respond to the left-handed swings, and it’s too early to even begin worrying about check swings and other elements out of Teixeira’s control. But for the moment, all of the news is positive.
In case you were wondering how a player takes underwater swings, I asked that question. The Yankees have a SwimEx pool behind the scenes at the Stadium; Teixeira said the water was filled about to his chest and then he took swings in there. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Other early notes and news as the Yankees prepare to take on the D-backs:
- Andy Pettitte came through yesterday’s bullpen fine. He’s on track to start Friday.
- This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but Joe Girardi gave his firmest indication yet that Francisco Cervelli is the Yanks’ starting catcher. Girardi said that he plans to keep catching him three or four of every five days. Girardi said that Cervelli’s at-bats have been really good and, as long as he continues playing well, he’ll see more duty behind the plate.
- Michael Pineda threw a 35-pitch batting practice session yesterday in Tampa, split into two parts, and looked sharper than he did in his first two BP sessions. Lefty Cesar Cabral also threw a scoreless inning in an Extended Spring Training game around a Delmon Young single.
- Derek Jeter progress report from Tampa: More of the same today. Ground balls and batting practice.
- The Yankees have Vernon Wells back in the No. 2 spot and Robinson Cano hitting third with the D-backs set to start lefty Wade Miley tonight. Girardi said his lineups will remain fluid because the Yankees don’t have some of the players they expected to.
- The aforementioned Yankees lineup – Gardner CF, Wells LF, Cano 2B, Youkilis 1B, Francisco DH, Cervelli C, Boesch RF, Nunez SS, Nix 3B, Sabathia LHP.
On nights like last night, when the Yankees played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in tribute to those affected by the tragedies at the Boston Marathon, the music that comes through the public address system at Yankee Stadium can serve as a poignant tribute. Diamond himself tweeted his appreciation to the Yankees for playing the song, which has become a fan favorite at Fenway Park:
Thank you NY Yankees for playing ‘Sweet Caroline’ for the people of Boston. You scored a home run in my heart. With respect, Neil #OneBoston
— Neil Diamond (@NeilDiamond) April 17, 2013
It’s certainly not on the same emotional scale as what we saw last night, but some of the most common requests I have received over the years via e-mail – and, later, Twitter – have been about player music.
For example, we all know Mariano Rivera’s entrance song is Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” (in case you missed it, check out this story I did in Sept. 2011 about why that is), and will be until the day he hangs up his cutter.
The ‘batting stings’ up and down the Yankees lineup, however, seem to change every year and often more frequently than that. I reached out to the Yankees’ scoreboard department last week to try to organize an updated 2013 track listing for the hitters. I tweeted a few out last night and am pleased to pass the full list along to you here. Happy downloading!
Brett Gardner – “Guitar Slinger” by Crossin Dixon
Robinson Cano – “Started from the Bottom” by Drake
Kevin Youkilis – “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy
Travis Hafner – “Symphony of Destruction” by Megadeth
Vernon Wells – “Awesome God” by R. Swift
Ichiro Suzuki – “Drop it Like It’s Hot” by Snoop
Francisco Cervelli – “Pegaito Suavecito” by “Various Artists”
Lyle Overbay – (has not yet selected a song)
Jayson Nix – “No-Leaf Clover” by Metallica
Brennan Boesch – “Blueprint” by Jay-Z
Chris Stewart – “Forsaken” by Skillet
Ben Francisco – “Da Rockwilder” by Method Man & Redman
Eduardo Nunez – “Ella Ta To” by Chimbala
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the families who were affected by the bombings and our respect and admiration go out to the police, medical personnel and first responders who acted so heroically. We stand united with the participants, volunteers, staff and spectators of the Boston Marathon and the people of Boston.
“While we do not comment on safety and security measures at Yankee Stadium, this has always been our top priority and the public can be assured we are working with all levels of law enforcement and our own security personnel to ensure a safe environment.”
To honor those lost and those affected by the recent events in Boston and to pay tribute to the strength and resiliency of the greater Boston community, the Yankees will hold a moment of silence prior to tonight’s game vs. Arizona. In addition, the Yankees will play Fenway favorite “Sweet Caroline” over the PA in between the third and fourth innings.
Here’s a very cool video that is now live on MLB.com, as CC Sabathia, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano discuss Jackie Robinson’s impact and enduring legacy. Today, as you probably know, is Jackie Robinson Day; on this date in 1947, Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier by taking the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. As Major League Baseball has done since 1997, all players on the field today will wear No. 42 in Robinson’s honor.
There may be no big league baseball in New York on this day, as neither the Yankees or Mets are in action within the city limits, but the Yankees will pay tribute by having all of their players wear No. 42 tomorrow. Joe Girardi said yesterday that the teams don’t necessarily need to be on the field to honor Robinson’s impact.
“I think you can honor Jackie Robinson without playing baseball in New York,” Girardi said. “I’ve talked about taking my kids to see the movie. I mean, that’s honoring Jackie Robinson, because I want them to know what this man went through and what his legacy is, and how important he has been to our country. I think there’s a lot of ways that you can honor someone without necessarily playing a game.”
Judging by the weekend box office numbers, Girardi wasn’t alone in planning to see ’42.’ Having seen it recently, I can highly recommend that idea. It’s an excellent film and any baseball fan would enjoy it.