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.

Martin Prado: “I think everybody dreams to play for the Yankees”

Martin PradoMartin Prado is on his way to Boston’s Fenway Park, where the Yankees plan to use him as their starting right fielder beginning on Friday. Arizona dealt the veteran to New York in exchange for Minor League slugger Peter O’Brien and either a player to be named later or future cash considerations.

Thanks to MLB.com’s Adam Lichtenstein and Steve Gilbert, who are with the D-backs in Arizona and passed along Prado’s reaction to the trade.

Reaction: “I was getting a haircut, and I saw a missed call, and I called back, and it was [Arizona GM Kevin Towers] just letting me know I got traded to the Yankees. I wasn’t surprised. There’s a lot of trade rumors and stuff, but i wasn’t paying attention to that. And it finally happened, and I think it’s just hard to believe how quick I got traded from the Braves and now I got traded again, but that happens. This is a sport where it’s a business, and you never know where you’re going to be next year or the next day.”

“There’s way harder things out there in life than being traded to another team.”

Memorable moments in Arizona: “The support of the fans and how they were willing to let me know how, even in the struggles and bad times or good times, they were there every day. … I felt like in the short period of time, I was part of this family. Unfortunately, I’m heading a different way.”

Hearing from any Yankees: “The only call I had was Brian McCann. I played with him in Atlanta. We chatted for a little bit.”

Being in a pennant race: “I’m just looking forward to trying to find myself in a good position to play baseball. I felt like I’ve been up and down all this year, so now in a new place, we’ll see how things are going to go.”

On the Yankees: “I think everybody dreams to play for the Yankees. And I never expected that in my career.”

On playing outfield: “It happened to me in the past. I played outfield. … I don’t think there’s something that surprised me. Whatever they got me to play, whatever they want me to play, I have to be there, and I’m going to be there for my teammates.”

The anatomy of a rare Yankees-Red Sox trade

Stephen DrewIt takes a specific set of circumstances for the Yankees and Red Sox to pursue a trade together, something that the American League East blood rivals haven’t dared to do since 1997.

As the most marketable pieces of the Red Sox were shipped away on Thursday, their clock rolling ahead to 2015 with Jon Lester, John Lackey and Andrew Miller leaving town, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wondered if he could get in on the action.

Swapping text messages on Thursday afternoon with Red Sox counterpart Ben Cherington, the clubs quickly hammered out the terms of a deal: infielder Stephen Drew and $500,000 would go to the Yankees in exchange for infielder Kelly Johnson. New York will be responsible for the remainder of Drew’s salary, approximately $5 million.

“The Drew stuff happened today,” Cashman said. “I threw an idea Boston’s way when they started moving and shaking as much as they were. Once they declared themselves the way they did, I floated a text Ben Cherington’s way and we worked really quickly off of that.”

Cherington said that the Yankees were not the first team to inquire about Drew, but the timing was right.

“We had talked to a handful of teams about Drew — teams we thought that might be in need of a shortstop — and it just so happened the Yankees were the team that fit and it fit for them,” Cherington said. “It sounds like he might play a little bit more second base there than short, but we just worked it out today. That one happened obviously late and was the last thing we did.”

The Yankees and the Red Sox had not completed a trade since Aug. 13, 1997, when New York re-acquired catcher Mike Stanley and infielder Randy Brown in exchange for pitcher Tony Armas Jr. and a player to be named later (pitcher Jim Mecir). The Red Sox later flipped Armas to the Expos as part of the Pedro Martinez deal.

Because the Red Sox are looking ahead to next season, the history between the clubs did not raise any red flags for Cherington, who said that he hopes Drew will play well in pinstripes.

“No, given the circumstances –look, we hope it helps them,” Cherington said. “I like Stephen, we all like Stephen. He’s a good player. It hasn’t worked out the way any of us wanted it to, certainly the way I wanted it to. Hope it works out for him there. The Yankee thing wasn’t an issue in that particular conversation.”

The clubs, partners in the legendary Dec. 1919 sale of Babe Ruth, have made just two other deals since George M. Steinbrenner’s 1973 purchase of the team. In March 1986, the Yankees traded outfielder Don Baylor to Boston for outfielder Mike Easler, and in Sept. 1994 the Yankees purchased reliever Scott Bankhead from the Sox.

“One of our two teams has to be in a playoff mode, and the other – in my opinion – has to be rebuilding to some degree. That’s obviously what happened on the last one that our franchises did,” Cashman said. “There’s a great deal of respect between the Red Sox and Yankees, both of our sides. It’s an amazing rivalry, but [we're] certainly very careful when we do business with each other. That’s an obvious statement.”

 


Brian RobertsBrian Roberts played 91 games for the Yankees this year, marking his highest total since 2009, but had produced just two hits in his last 17 at-bats and was held out of the lineup for the team’s last two games going into the Trade Deadline.

The Yankees plan to designate Roberts for assignment to create room for Stephen Drew on the active roster. With 348 plate appearances this season, Roberts’ Yankees tenure will end two plate appearances shy of a $250,000 bonus, but Cashman said the incentive was not a factor in the decision.

“No. Bottom line, it’s all just based on evaluations,” Cashman said. “We’re taking on money [in Drew and Martin Prado]. I had to go to ownership to ask to take on money. Somebody’s performance bonuses — by doing deals where you’re adding to your roster and taking on payroll in a significant way, it has nothing to do with somebody’s roster bonuses.”

Roberts, 36, posted a split line of .237/.300/.360 with five homers and 21 RBIs after signing a $2 million contract in January. Roberts already collected $350,000 in incentives, tied to reaching 250 and 300 plate appearances.

Cashman said that he was appreciative for the contributions from Roberts and Johnson, who was swapped to Boston for Drew.

“These guys, I thank them for their effort and what they brought, and I’m sorry to see them go,” Cashman said. “But at the same time, we’re trying to improve our club. In Drew’s case and Prado’s case, they’re going to assist us as we move forward, and reinforce and improve our chances. It’s just the nature of the beast.”


The Yankees had already expressed reluctance to rush infield prospect Rob Refsnyder to the big leagues, and Thursday’s Trade Deadline deals will help keep the 23-year-old with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“I’ve been pretty consistent about Refsnyder, that my intention is to have him play his year out at second base,” Cashman said. “I have played a little bit with him in the outfield just in case we had to pull that rip-cord, but now I’ll have him focus solely on second base the rest of the way.”

Refsnyder has posted a split line of .298/.404/.494 in 46 games at Triple-A, with seven homers and 20 RBIs, after starting the year with Double-A Trenton. A fifth-round selection in the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Cashman has suggested that Refsnyder could be the Yankees’ starting second baseman in 2015.

“I’ve been pretty consistent and reluctant to bring him up,” Cashman said. “I’d rather him play the whole year out and prepare potentially to take a shot at the roster next year.”


Michael Pineda’s first Minor League rehab start is scheduled to come on Sunday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Syracuse. Pineda is scheduled to throw four innings and 60-65 pitches, and could need three rehab starts before being big league ready.

Yankees acquire Stephen Drew, Martin Prado

Aiming to spark their stagnant lineup and increase roster flexibility for a playoff drive, the Yankees crossed the finish line on a pair of swaps in advance of Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, acquiring Stephen Drew from the Red Sox and Martin Prado from the D-backs.

New York also claimed reliever Esmil Rogers on waivers from the Blue Jays in a flurry of activity that bumped up against the 4 p.m. ET cutoff. Drew will take over as the starting second baseman and Prado is primarily being viewed as a right fielder.

“I think we’re going to compete. I think we’re improved,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “We’re going to find out if it’s enough or not.”

The Yankees sent infielder-outfielder Kelly Johnson to Boston in exchange for Drew, who will switch clubhouses and join New York for Friday’s game at Fenway Park. New York also picked up $500,000 in the deal from the Red Sox, Cashman said.

Arizona received Minor League slugger Peter O’Brien, plus a player to be named later or cash considerations; O’Brien was ranked No. 9 among Yanks prospects by MLB.com before the deal. O’Brien hit a combined 33 homers this year between Class-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, but has not found a regular position.

Cashman said that the Yankees would designate veteran Brian Roberts for assignment in favor of Drew, and the team will have other transactions to get Prado and Rogers in uniform for Friday’s game. In a minor move, the Yankees unconditionally released infielder Scott Sizemore, who was with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Feeling fortunate to still be in the American League East hunt despite an underwhelming first 100-plus games to their season, the Yankees have been active on the trade front for some time. Much of Cashman’s last month has been spent searching for roster upgrades, both significant and of the incremental variety.

Their focus was initially on securing starting pitching, with the Yankees missing 80 percent of their Opening Day rotation due to injuries, but the July additions of right-hander Brandon McCarthy (in a July 6 deal with Arizona, for left-hander Vidal Nuno) and left-hander Chris Capuano (in a July 24 swap with the Rockies, for cash considerations) shifted the Yanks’ focus to the offense.

Ranked 10th in the American League with 429 runs scored entering play Thursday, New York enjoyed quick returns after picking up third baseman Chase Headley from the Padres earlier this month. They’ll hope for similar splashes from Drew and Prado, the latter of whom will send Ichiro Suzuki back to a bench role.

Drew, 31, was hitting just .176 with a .255 on-base percentage and .328 slugging mark after missing Spring Training and signing with the Red Sox in May. He had 12 hits in his last 45 at-bats for Boston dating back to July 11.

“He’s starting to heat up a little bit now and we hope to take advantage of that,” Cashman said.

Drew has played only shortstop during his nine-year Major League career, but with Derek Jeter installed at the position, the Yankees believe that Drew can make the adjustment to the other side of the infield.

“As we went through our assessments internally with our scouting personnel, everybody was shaking their head, ‘Can he do this, even though he hasn’t done it?'” Cashman said. “The belief system is that he can.”

Prado, 30, was dealt from Atlanta to Arizona in January 2013 as part of the deal that sent Justin Upton to the Braves. Over two seasons with the D-backs, Prado hit .278 with 19 homers and 124 RBIs.

He is under contract through 2016, due $11 million each year. Though he has played just two innings in right field, Cashman said the Yankees expect he can handle it; they could also use Prado at second base, third base and left field.

“That is one of the attractive things about Martin Prado, is that he can play a lot of different positions,” Cashman said. “I think Joe is going to have fun with that.”

Rogers, 28, posted a 6.97 ERA in 16 relief appearances over two stints with the Blue Jays this season before being designated for assignment on July 27. He also saw time at Triple-A Buffalo, going 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 12 games (seven starts).

The Yankees and the Red Sox had not completed a trade since Aug. 13, 1997, when New York re-acquired catcher Mike Stanley and infielder Randy Brown in exchange for pitcher Tony Armas and a player to be named later (pitcher Jim Mecir). The Red Sox later flipped Armas to the Expos as part of the Pedro Martinez deal.

Cashman said that a “unique set of circumstances,” Boston’s fire sale, created an opportunity for the rivals to do business. There could be more moves in store next month; Cashman said that he was not sure how Thursday’s flurry of dealing would affect the waiver market, but in years past the Yankees have been able to obtain useful pieces via that route.

“I can’t tell you how things are going to play out,” Cashman said. “Do I think our club is better right now? The answer is yes, I think we have improved over time, but talk is cheap. We have to actually go out there and prove that, and I’m hopeful that will happen for our fans.”

Will the Yankees get their reinforcements?

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.

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