Now that Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run is in the record books, Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes that the slugger will be able to enjoy the relief of any pressure surrounding the looming achievement.
Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list on Friday with his eighth-inning, pinch-hit home run off the Red Sox’s Junichi Tazawa in the Yanks’ 3-2 win at Fenway Park. Babe Ruth (714) is 54 homers away in third place.
“My guess is, [the pressure] is off and he won’t be answering questions, ‘When is he going to hit it?,’ which is nice,” Girardi said. “The next one is pretty far away, so he should be able to get down to normal business now.”
Girardi said that he was told that Rodriguez seemed to be emotional after the homer. Given the turbulence of Rodriguez’s recent history, including last year’s season-long suspension, Girardi said that he believes Rodriguez’s feelings are genuine.
“To me, the way I look at it is, I think he just appreciates being back on the field so much and the opportunities that he has had in his career,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you want players to take a second and reflect.
“The one thing I always said about Derek (Jeter), I hope he takes time to enjoy what he’s going through. Sometimes when you’re going through it, it doesn’t always seem like so much fun, even if it’s an accomplishment.”
With his next homer, Rodriguez will take sole possession of fourth place from Mays, turning some attention to his countdown for 3,000 hits. Rodriguez entered play on Saturday just 44 hits shy, with 2,956 in his 21-year career.
“I still think that he’ll be asked a lot about it,” Girardi said. “There aren’t a lot of people in the big leagues that have had 3,000 hits, so he’ll be asked a lot about it. I’m sure he’ll think plenty about it, but we also have some time until we get there.”
Jeter was the most recent player to join the 3,000 hit club, homering off David Price on July 9, 2011.
In the first on-the-record comments by a Yankees official regarding Alex Rodriguez’s home run bonuses, general manager Brian Cashman said that the team has the right – but not the obligation – to pay a $6 million bonus for the slugger’s 660th home run.
Because the Yankees believe that the marketing value of Rodriguez’s home run was tainted by his past performance-enhancing drug use and last season’s suspension, the team is choosing not to designate Rodriguez’s 660th homer as a ‘milestone,’ thus denying Rodriguez that payout.
“We have the right but not the obligation, in quotes, and it’s as simple as that,” Cashman said. “If we choose to pursue something, we’ll choose to pursue it. If we choose not to, it’s our right not to. In both cases, we’re honoring the contract.”
Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal signed in 2007 contained a marketing agreement that is separate from his player contract. It stated that the Yankees had the right to designate a ‘milestone’ – valued at $6 million – if Rodriguez tied Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755), Barry Bonds (762), plus another if Rodriguez set the all-time home run record.
“We’re going to follow the contract as we follow all contracts, so there is no dispute, from our perspective,” Cashman said. “We’re going to honor our responsibilities of the contract how it’s been reported, I’m going to turn the page and kick it to people above me.
“And what the contract actually says are two different things. We have the right but not the obligation to do something, and that’s it. And it’s not (if) you do this, you get that.”
Asked about the bonus payout on Friday, Rodriguez replied: “You know, I’m so in the moment right now. I’m really grateful to be playing baseball. Those things will take care of themselves.”
If Rodriguez disagrees with the decision, he has the right to have the case heard by an arbitrator. The Major League Baseball Players Association has said that they are prepared to step in on Rodriguez’s behalf if the bonus payment is withheld by the Yankees.
“The great thing about contracts is that if there are any disputes, there’s mechanisms for anybody who has a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation,” Cashman said. “There are procedures in place to have people determine if there is some misunderstanding. I don’t think that we believe there’s any misunderstanding. I think it’s pretty clear.”
Mark Teixeira was back in the lineup Saturday after being hit by a pitch on the right wrist during Friday’s game.
“I talked to Tex about, if he felt that he couldn’t play today, make sure that he texted me in the morning,” Girardi said. “And he assured me today that he’d be able to play. Last night he felt OK. I think he’s OK. I didn’t get a text.”
Esmil Rogers is usually the Yankees’ long reliever, but Girardi went to him last night in the seventh inning. He can serve as a swingman in that way, Girardi said.
“I think he gives us the ability to use him that way just because of the stuff that he has,” Girardi said. “I felt that, when I brought him in yesterday, depending on how the inning was going to go, that I would use him for up to five hitters probably and then go to (Justin) Wilson after that. But sometimes you have to be careful in close games in those situations, because he was my long guy yesterday. I rolled the dice a little bit, and it worked.”
Alex Rodriguez walked up Fenway Park’s ancient dugout runway on Friday afternoon and spotted a clear spot on the bench, asking a bystander if that was for him. Told that it was, he pushed through a crowd of reporters and took that seat, where he would begin the Yankees’ first trip to Boston of the season.
With Yankees manager Joe Girardi sending out a lefty-dominant lineup against Red Sox right-hander Justin Masterson, Rodriguez’s chase to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list remains paused for at least a few more innings.
“I think in the course of 162 games, Joe is being very diligent about spreading it out,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes it’s tempting to play 10 in a row or 12 in a row – I know I want to, perhaps Joe sometimes may want me to – but he’s much smarter than me, so I trust him.”
Rodriguez said that Girardi sent him a text message about the lineup before the team arrived at Fenway on Friday afternoon. Rodriguez has 659 career homers, one shy of Mays’ lifetime total of 660.
“He’ll wait one day, but I do want to get it out of the way,” Girardi said. “As much as a player you try not to think about it, it’s impossible. The sooner we get it out of the way, the better.”
In 302 at-bats at Fenway Park as a Yankee, A-Rod has hit 14 homers (one for every 21.6 at-bats). Overall, in his career with the Yankees, Rodriguez has averaged one homer for every 15.6 at-bats).
“Fenway’s one of my favorite places to play,” Rodriguez said. “I started my career here when I was 18 years old. It was the first time I put on a big league uniform. I had my parents here, my mother, my brother and my sister. So I have some very fond memories. Say whatever you want about Boston; Fenway and the Boston fans have a great appreciation and love for history.”
Jose Pirela has joined Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and went 1-for-4 with a RBI and a walk against Charlotte on Thursday. He was a candidate to join the big league team earlier this week, but Masahiro Tanaka‘s injury allowed the Yankees to recall infielder Gregorio Petit from Triple-A instead.
Returning from a concussion sustained by colliding with the center-field wall during a March 22 Spring Training game, Pirela is just 2-for-18 in the Minors.
“I think he is doing better,” Girardi said. “It’s something that we have discussed about what we might possibly do with him or not do with him, but obviously I think at-bats are important. He was out a month. You’ve got to get him some at-bats and some real game situations playing different positions.”
Girardi said that infielder Brendan Ryan (right calf strain) batted in an Extended Spring Training game on Friday in Tampa, where the Yankees have scheduled left-hander Chris Capuano (right quadriceps strain) to throw four innings or 60 pitches on Saturday for Class-A Tampa.
“Everything that he’s doing is going in the right direction,” Girardi said. “You think about 60, 75, 90 (pitches) and then you go from there.”
Right-hander Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery rehab) will throw one inning or 20 pitches in an Intrasquad game. Right-hander Jared Burton (oblique) is also scheduled to throw an Intrasquad inning.
After a shaky beginning to his tenure as Derek Jeter‘s successor, both defensively and offensively, the Yankees believe they are seeing some encouraging signs from shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Gregorius has quietly strung together eight hits in his last 29 at-bats (.275) entering Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park and has appeared to slow the game down in the field, where he has been drilling with infield coach Joe Espada.
“His first order of business is defense, and I think we’re starting to see what he can do,” Girardi said. “He’s made some really nice plays, and that’s encouraging. I think he’s going to be productive.
“As a hitter, I’m not saying he’s going to hit 30 home runs, but I think he’s going to do all right swinging the bat. And that has gotten better the last week or so, so just continue to go in the right direction.”
Here’s a great Andrew Miller stat, courtesy of MLB Network:
Miller last allowed a hit off a slider on August 22. Since then opponents are 0-for-41 with 32 strikeouts against the 167 sliders Miller has spun. They have missed 50 times out of 79 swings during that time frame (63.3% miss percentage).
As you know, Miller is eight for eight in save opportunities. He has not allowed a run while striking out 20 in 11 1/3 innings as a Yankee.
The Yankees (13-9) lost for the first time in six meetings with the Rays this afternoon, as James Loney’s 13th-inning RBI single off Chasen Shreve drove home the go-ahead run.
Stephen Drew tracked down Loney’s ground ball in shallow right field and his initial instinct was to look to first base, then he threw home too late to get Steven Souza Jr. sliding in — the first scoring in the contest since Chris Young’s game-tying homer in the sixth inning.
“It was just the way it came off the bat,” Drew said. “With where we’re playing him, it’s definitely a tough situation right there, the ball’s hooking. I did the best I could to get to it, and unfortunately just no shot to get to him.”
Michael Pineda started for New York on short notice after Masahiro Tanaka’s injury, holding the Rays to two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Chase Headley and Young homered off left-hander Drew Smyly, but the Yanks were strikeout machines in this one, fanning 16 times in all.
Yankees relievers allowed one earned run over 7 1/3 innings, permitting just Loney’s hit and four walks while striking out eight.
“The amount of innings they’ve had to pitch is incredible,” Joe Girardi said. “You give up the one run today and it beats you. It’s unfortunate. We got a lot of innings out of them today and they did a great job.”
Alex Rodriguez remained stuck on 659 career homers, going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts and hitting into a game-ending double play.
“Definitely, we had plenty of opportunities,” Rodriguez said. “You tip your cap to them, they threw the ball very well. You have to have a short memory, just delete, and enjoy the day off tomorrow and be ready to go Friday.”
This and that
- Dellin Betances appeared to limp off the field after the eighth inning, but the Yankees said that Betances just has a blister on his left big toe and it’s not expected to be an issue going forward.
- Since April 22, the Yankees bullpen has an 0.88 ERA (30.2 IP, 3 ER) and 38 strikeouts.
- Betances has struck out at least two batters without allowing a hit in each of his last six appearances, the longest streak by a Yankees reliever since at least 1914, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Betances has held batters hitless over a career-best 25 at-bat streak.
- The Yanks’ bullpen retired 14 straight after Pineda’s exit.
- Eight of Headley’s nine homers as a Yankee have come at Yankee Stadium.
Up next: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees will begin their second road trip of the season on Friday as they travel to Fenway Park in Boston to open a three-game series against the Red Sox. CC Sabathia (0-4, 5.96 ERA) is expected to draw the start for New York, seeking his first victory in more than a calendar year.
There was disappointment in Masahiro Tanaka‘s eyes on Wednesday morning, according to manager Joe Girardi, one day after the right-hander learned that he will miss at least a month with a strained right forearm and tendinitis in his right wrist.
For the moment, the Yankees believe that Tanaka’s current injury does not represent a precursor to Tommy John surgery, but they recognize that possibility. Tanaka will refrain from throwing for seven to 10 days and is not expected to travel with the team.
“Any time you have to shut a pitcher down, there’s concern,” Girardi said. “With what happened last year, I can’t tell you if they’re related or not, but you’re going to think about it. You’re going to think about a lot of different scenarios. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s not much, but we’ll deal with it either way.”
The Yankees plan to keep right-hander Chase Whitley in rotation, coming off a season debut in which he held the Rays to a run over five innings and picked up the win in a 4-2 victory. To replace Tanaka on the active roster, infielder Gregorio Petit was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“It’s going to be tough,” Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said. “It’s going to be up to us to pick up the slack. Hopefully he comes back healthy and ready to pitch.”
There could be additional help on the horizon. New York also has left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander Ivan Nova rehabbing and aiming to rejoin the club in late May and early June, respectively. By that time, Tanaka could be back on the big league mound, but perhaps not.
“The one thing I’ve tried to stress to our starters is, don’t try to make up for someone else’s absence,” Girardi said. “Just do what you can do.”
Tanaka’s injury has prompted commentary that the Yankees should have dispatched the hurler to have Tommy John surgery after sustaining a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament last July 8 in Cleveland.
Following that injury, Tanaka was examined by Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad, Los Angeles Dodgers team doctor Neal elAttrache and Mets team physician David Altchek. His results were also sent to noted specialist James Andrews for consultation, and all four doctors recommended the Yankees should rehabilitate Tanaka’s injury using platelet-rich plasma injections rather than rush into surgery.
“I am a manager. I am not a doctor, so I don’t understand the mechanics of all that,” Girardi said. “As I said yesterday, there’s going to be speculation. Are they related? I can’t tell you that. I don’t know; could be, it may not be. It could just be something came up from his bullpen. Who knows? The thing is, we’ve got to deal with it, and we will.”
Petit walked back into the Yankees’ clubhouse Wednesday morning, his equipment bag slung over his shoulder, and said that he never quite made it to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Petit said he spent most of Tuesday on his couch and would have packed up to meet the RailRiders on Wednesday before Tanaka’s injury put him back on the roster.
Brett Gardner and Brian McCann got the day off Wednesday against left-hander Drew Smyly. Girardi said the only pitcher in his bullpen that he’d probably stay away from is Esmil Rogers, who pitched 2 2/3 innings last night.
Girardi said that he wouldn’t mind if Alex Rodriguez hit homer No. 660 this afternoon rather than bringing some extra drama to the weekend series at Fenway Park.
“It just might crowd our clubhouse a little bit more if he doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter either way,” Girardi said. “I’d prefer that he does it with two or three guys on today and gets it over with.”
FINAL SCORE: Yankees 4, Rays 2.
Paced by Brian McCann’s two doubles and three RBIs, the Yankees (13-8) won for the 10th time in 12 games as they remained in sole possession of first place in the American League East for a second straight day. The evening was overshadowed by news that Masahiro Tanaka will miss approximately a month with a strained right forearm and wrist tendinitis.
“Anytime you lose a guy like Tanaka, it’s not good, but at the same time, we’ve got guys that can step up and fill his role,” McCann said. “We hope to get him back soon.”
Chase Whitley was promoted from Triple-A for the spot start and will stick in the rotation after picking up the victory with five innings of one-run, six-hit ball. The bullpen was once again stellar, with Chasen Shreve, Esmil Rogers and Chris Martin combining for four innings of one-run work. Rogers pitched 2 2/3 innings and Martin worked the ninth around a single for his first career save.
“It’s a good experience for me,” Martin said. “I’m used to going in the fifth, sixth, seventh when obviously sometimes the game’s on the line, sometimes it’s not. Obviously in the ninth, to get the final three outs is tough, so it’s a good experience.”
“Last year, I was part of the guys that went down. We lost 4/5 of our rotation. We can step up and hopefully fill the void.”- @CC_Sabathia
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 29, 2015
This and that:
- McCann is in ownership territory of Jake Odorizzi, improving to 10-for-16 (.625) lifetime against the right-hander Tuesday. He has three doubles, a triple and two homers against Odorizzi.
- Yankees pitchers recorded 12 strikeouts, the third straight game in which they have recorded double digits. Their 11 games of 10 or more strikeouts are the most in the Majors.
- Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 and leads the Yankees with eight multi-hit games this season. Since April 22, Ellsbury is batting .429 (9-for-21) with six runs, a double, a homer, three RBIs and four stolen bases in six games.
- Jose Pirela went 0-for-3 tonight at Double-A Trenton. Before the game, Joe Girardi indicated that Pirela is close to re-joining the Yankees, but he is hitless in 11 at-bats over three rehab games.
- The Yankees have won their first five games against Tampa Bay this season, the first time they have done so since 2002.
Up next: Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.86) will slide in to start Wednesday as the Yankees go for a sweep. The original scheduled starter had been Tanaka, who is heading to the DL. Pineda has won his past three starts, including 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Mets on Sunday. Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.86) starts for the Rays.