And younger left-handers like Tyler Webb, James Pazos, Jacob Lindgren and even Manny Banuelos could be on the way to the New York Yankees.
New York Yankees
The Yankees allowed Thornton to go to the Washington Nationals on a waiver claim Tuesday, a move that will save them about $4 million and give general manager Brian Cashman flexibility for this year and next. Thornton was signed through 2015, and the Yankees believed they could better allocate that money elsewhere.
The Yankees quickly replaced Thornton on the roster with Hill, a 34-year-old journeyman who was released by the Los Angeles Angels last month. Hill and David Huff are the two left-handers in what is now a nine-man bullpen, but more changes are coming.
For one thing, the Yankees need someone to start Friday in place of the injured David Phelps, and manager Joe Girardi suggested it will be one of his long relievers (he didn't say which one). For another, the Yankees don't plan to stick with a 13-man pitching staff.
Beyond that, it's likely that one or more of the young lefties will get a chance at some point this season, possibly even before rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Cashman said Tuesday that Webb, a 24-year-old who has climbed through three levels of the Yankees' farm system already this season, is the closest of the young pitchers to being ready for the big leagues. Webb recently moved to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, while Pazos is at Double-A Trenton and Lindgren (this year's top draft pick) has now moved to Trenton, as well.
Banuelos has been a starter through his minor league career, but Cashman wouldn't rule out bringing him to the big leagues as a reliever.
Dellin could close: With David Robertson unavailable because he has pitched each of the past three days, Girardi wouldn't commit to a closer for Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Tigers. Dellin Betances, who has been brilliant in the eighth inning but whose only save came when he entered a game in the eighth and got six outs, is one possibility.
"Dellin is someone I feel could do it," Girardi said.
Tanaka's progress: Girardi said Masahiro Tanaka experienced no issues in his second day of playing catch. Tanaka made 50 throws Tuesday from 60 feet. He's scheduled to take Wednesday off, then play catch again Thursday.
Joba's look: Girardi exchanged greetings Monday with former Yankee Joba Chamberlain, and yes, he noticed Joba's new look (how could you not?).
"His beard is quite large," Girardi said. "I asked him if anything gets lost in it."