Brian McCann was not in Tuesday’s lineup, getting a day off after catching all 12 innings in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Rays. After that contest, McCann offered a harsh assessment of the first 81 games with his new team.
“Horrible,” McCann said. “I feel good behind the plate, but swinging the bat I need to get better.”
The Yankees made McCann their first big target of the winter makeover, seeing him as a perfect fit behind the plate, but McCann entered play on Tuesday batting .221 in 74 games. Joe Girardi has noted that McCann’s home runs (nine) and RBIs (36) are passable, but the Yankees manager believes that McCann has been bothered by his average.
McCann came into 2014 as a .277 lifetime hitter. His .642 OPS is the lowest among the 11 big league catchers with enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title, trailing the Astros’ Jason Castro (.655).
“His RBI totals aren’t too bad. His home runs aren’t too bad and I think he’s done a really good job with our pitching staff,” Girardi said. “When he looks at his average, I’m sure that he’s frustrated and knows that he can do better. I don’t want to just focus on one aspect of the game, because he has driven in some big runs for us and he has done a great job with our staff. He needs to remind himself of that too.”
Girardi again expressed confidence that McCann will “figure it out” and get his numbers to their expected levels. He said that he was not sure if McCann is having more trouble than anticipated adjusting to New York.
“It’s hard to say. I didn’t have a real history with him before, had not seen him much before because he was in the National League,” Girardi said. “I know he’s a guy that expects greatness every day and expects to get three hits every day, and a shutout every day. He takes a lot of pride in what he does. Sometimes you can take that a little bit too hard. I’m sure everything involved – you talk about coming to a new town, coming to a new contract, learning all these new pitchers, it can be difficult.”
McCann said after Monday’s loss that while the first 81 games haven’t gone as expected, he sees good things ahead.
“We just have to keep grinding,” McCann said. “I have faith in myself and I think we’re going to swing the bats better.”
Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees made the following roster moves:
· Signed RHP Jim Miller to a Major League contract and selected him to the 25-man roster from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
· Transferred LHP CC Sabathia to the 60-day disabled list.
· Optioned RHP Jose Ramirez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Also, Sabathia’s rehab start has been moved up to tomorrow night with Double-A Trenton. It had originally been announced as Thursday.
The Yankees captain would be thrilled to be ticketed for a trip to the Midsummer Classic, and he is keeping his calendar open for the July 15 contest at Target Field. Still, Jeter doesn’t want to jinx anything.
“You know me — I don’t think about that before it happens,” Jeter said on Monday. “I learned that a long time ago. I’ll wait to see what happens.”
With 2,924,686 votes, Jeter is holding off his top challenger, Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox (2,325,527). J.J. Hardy of the Orioles is third with 1,534,547 votes.
For the moment, Jeter would prefer to keep his focus on the Yankees schedule, which he examined on a wall adjacent to his clubhouse locker.
“My plans for the middle of July? I’ll be in Cleveland, Baltimore, then home for Cincinnati and Texas,” Jeter said, skipping over the four blank days in the heart of the month. “Those are my plans right now, as of now.”
Jeter’s reluctance to discuss his All-Star candidacy is rooted in the summer of 1999, when Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox benefited from frenzied online voting to overcome a deficit of more than 30,000 votes, passing both Jeter and the Indians’ Omar Vizquel in the final week.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh, you’re leading,'” Jeter recalled. “Then Garciaparra got like 100,000, 200,000 votes the last day, something like that. After that, I said, ‘I’ll just wait.'”
Updates on the other Yankees in the race:
Catcher Brian McCann (1,624,124) sits in third place among American League catchers and, despite struggling offensively in the first half, could be up for a spot now that AL leader Matt Wieters of the Orioles (2,103,385) is out for the season due to injury. The Athletics’ Derek Norris (1,924,049) is second.
Mark Teixeira (877,468) ranks fifth among AL first basemen, while Jacoby Ellsbury (1,501,306) is currently seventh among AL outfielders. Carlos Beltran (1,292,920) is ninth among outfielders and Brett Gardner (908,921) is 12th.
When Mike Napoli rushed to the visiting dugout on Saturday, celebrating his ninth-inning homer off Masahiro Tanaka, he was unaware that his voice could be heard by the FOX microphones perched near the playing field.
The telecast picked up Napoli shouting, “What an idiot!”, shocked and elated that Tanaka threw him a 96 mph fastball after the Boston slugger had so much trouble connecting with the hurler’s breaking pitches.
At a more heated time in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, Napoli’s comment might have sparked a war of words or more, but that does not appear to be the case now. Multiple Yankees said on Sunday that they did not have an issue with Napoli because the comment was intended to be shared privately with teammates.
“That wasn’t a big deal,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “I have no problem with it at all. If everything that was said inside a dugout or clubhouse was public knowledge, no one would ever talk about the game.”
Yoshiki Sato, Tanaka’s public relations representative, said that the pitcher was made aware of the comment late on Saturday evening but that he was not upset by it. Yankees manager Joe Girardi also said that he did not have an issue with Napoli’s words.
“I don’t make much of it,” Girardi said. “It’s yesterday, the heat of the moment, and doesn’t really change the complexion of the game. It doesn’t really change today’s game.”
Girardi added that Napoli’s reputation does not lead him to believe that there were ill intentions with the comment.
“I haven’t seen anything in Mike Napoli where he’s a guy that shows people up, or he’s a guy that degrades people,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, everything is seen now in the world we live in, but I’ve never had the sense that he’s a bad guy. He’s a guy that plays hard and loves to play the game.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that he and his team both have “the utmost respect for Tanaka,” while adding that “the one thing we don’t ever want our players to be is non-emotional.”
Teixeira said that there should never be a reason for players to censor their in-game commentary in or around the dugout area.
“I don’t think it gets over the line, but if it ever does go over the line where too much is shown, then we’ll just have (the microphones) taken out. It’s as simple as that,” Teixeira said.
After Vidal Nuno’s sharp outing against the Red Sox on Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted that he has maintained confidence in all five of the team’s starting pitchers, while also acknowledging that it has been by necessity. There are no replacement options currently in place.
It is Brian Cashman’s mission to change that. Cashman said on Saturday that he continues to actively pursue upgrades to the roster, with the Yankees (41-37) sticking near the top of a very evenly matched American League East.
The Yankees believe they have additions coming later in the year, hoping to get CC Sabathia back after the All-Star break and Michael Pineda in August, but Cashman said that he would prefer not to wait for them.
“I’m looking to make some additions if I can,” Cashman said. “I’d like to try and do things before those guys get back if possible. But I’ve already been trying, so there’s a reason we haven’t done anything. It’s not because a lack of phone calls.”
Starting pitching is believed to be the Yankees’ main priority as the July 31 non-waivers Trade Deadline approaches. Rays left-hander David Price and Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija have been often mentioned as two of the top targets around the league, but observers have voiced doubts that the Yankees have the trade chips to chase either of those elite arms.
There are second-tier pitchers, however, who could interest the Yankees. The Cubs’ Jason Hammel, the Phillies’ Cliff Lee and former Yankee Ian Kennedy – now with the Padres – have been rumored as possible targets, helping a patchwork rotation that has thus far managed to stay afloat.
“We’ve got some guys were asking to do things that weren’t expected to do,” Cashman said. “We’ve had injuries, we’ve had guys that have underperformed. We’ve had some guys that have stepped up to some degree in the absence of some injuries, so we’re keeping ourselves in the mix.
“We’d rather be in a position to excel. Our job is to excel and try and take control and even pull away if possible. We’re not in that taking control, pull-away category right now. We’re just ‘in-the-mix’ category still. So hopefully if I can do my job, I’ll be able to assist us in getting into that higher category.”
Other quick hits from the Yankees GM:
Handling Pineda’s second injury: “We did do something different. The first time, usually when you have a failed rehab you double the down time. So the first time around [he] was shut down for ten days and then got him going. This time we shut him down for 20 days, then repeated the MRI, which showed a trace [of inflammation] left, so we gave an extra week, which takes us to today.”
Pineda back this season?: “Our hope is that if everything goes right, that should be the case. It’s technically a shoulder muscle but not part of any muscle group we’re used to dealing with that’s of concern shoulder-wise. [It’s] really closer to a lat.”
Optimism for Sabathia?: “So far, so good. Just got to get it going, get him stretched out, but so far everything’s gone well for him.”
Rob Refsnyder in Triple-A: “He can hit. He’s still learning the defensive side of second base but he can hit.”
Could Refsnyder come up this year?: “Hard to say. It’s a big transition there to here, but a guy like Chase Whitley’s shown that you wouldn’t bet against anybody coming up here and doing well.”