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Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Pregame: Phelps OK, Joe looks for answers

By Wallace Matthews

NEW YORK -- The Yankees got a rare bit of good news today when an MRI of David Phelps' pitching arm showed no ligament damage in the sore forearm that caused him to be placed on the 15-day DL last Saturday (retroactive to July 5). Phelps said the arm "feels great" and expects to be reactivated soon after the team returns from the All-Star break on July 19 in Boston.

"It's back to the way it felt before, so I don’t expect to be out long," Phelps said.

Phelps said the pain was in the muscle of his right forearm below the elbow, which he said was pain-free. He would be eligible to come off the DL on July 20, but will throw two bullpen sessions between now and then to be sure he is fully recovered.

• Despite the Yankees' three-game losing streak and their season-long inability to score many runs, Joe Girardi has expressed his faith in his lineup on a practically nightly basis. But he let his true feelings slip briefly at this afternoon's pregame interview session, when he was asked if he had considered a lineup shakeup to jump-start the sluggish offense.

"What would you suggest?" he shot back at the questioner.

The meaning was clear: In spite of the fact that there isn't a single .300 hitter in his lineup and his everyday DH, Travis Hafner, is hitting .217, Girardi really has few alternatives.

For instance, tonight Girardi's bench consists of Vernon Wells (.237, no home runs since May 15), Travis Ishikawa (.105, with two singles in 19 ABs all season), Alberto Gonzalez (.194, 0 HRs, 4 RBIs) and Austin Romine (.132).

So he was right to answer that question with one of his own. What would you suggest?

• Hafner, who has struggled mightily since the end of April, hitting .159 (30-189) in May, June and nine games in July so far, has terrific numbers in a very small sample against tonight's KC starter, Wade Davis: four hits in eight career at-bats. "He has to battle his way out of it," Girardi said. "We know he's capable of doing it. He's had some success off of Wade Davis and maybe today turns it around."

Ivan Nova, tonight's starter, is 1-1 in his two career starts against the Royals, but his ERA is an unsightly 11.88. Nova has allowed at least seven earned runs in each of those two starts and has not lasted longer than 5-1/3 innings in either. Davis, the former Tampa Bay Ray, is 2-4 with a 5.01 ERA in 12 career starts against the Yankees. The Yankees trounced him in K.C. on May 10, scoring seven runs in five innings off him in a 11-6 Yankees win. Davis has not beaten the Yankees since July 30, 2010, at Tropicana Field as a member of the Rays.