New York Yankees: Chris Nelson

Rapid Reaction: Angels 8, Yankees 4

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
5:06
PM ET


NEW YORK -- Phil Hughes' nightmare of a season continues, the Yankees couldn't take advantage of a not-so-sharp C.J. Wilson and Boone Logan gave up a grand slam late on Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

What it means: The Yankees failed to finish off a four-game sweep of the Angels, but still took three of four and went 5-2 on this homestand. The Yanks are now 62-58 -- in fourth place in the American League East, nine games behind the first-place Red Sox, and 5½ games out in the wild-card race.

The Angels, who improve to 54-66, are in fourth place in the AL West, 15½ games behind the Rangers.

Groundhog day: Hughes pitching at Yankee Stadium is not a recipe for success. Entering Thursday's game, he was 1-8 in the Bronx this season with a 6.18 ERA.

Just eight minutes after Hughes fired the first pitch of the day, the Yankees were trailing. J.B. Shuck led off the game with a single, stole second base and scored on a Josh Hamilton single.

Hughes gave up two more runs in the fourth inning. Erick Aybar led off with a double and scored on a Hank Conger sacrifice fly, and then Chris Nelson blasted a 94 mph fastball into the Yankees' bullpen, making the score 3-1.

Hughes went six innings, giving up three runs on six hits -- that actually qualifies as a good outing for him, especially considering the location. Nevertheless, he fell to 4-12 on the season with a 4.98 ERA. He hasn't won a game since July 2.

Missed opportunities: The good news is, the Yankees pounded out 15 more hits Thursday. The bad news is, they did very little with them.

The Yanks tied the game 1-1 in the third inning, when Brett Gardner smacked a one-out triple and scored on an Alfonso Soriano single (his 14th RBI in a three-day span). But later that inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Vernon Wells grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

The Yankees had runners on base in every inning, with multiple runners aboard in the second and fourth. But they failed to drive any more home until the ninth, when they were down big.

Soriano continued his torrid stretch -- he went 4-for-5 (all singles) and is now 10-for-14 in the past three games. Robinson Cano had three hits, and Alex Rodriguez and Eduardo Nunez had two apiece.

Cano drove in the Yankees' second run, in the bottom of the ninth, with a single after a Gardner walk and Soriano single. Then Wells drove Soriano and Cano home with a two-out double.

The biggest blow: After Shawn Kelley gave up a leadoff double to Mike Trout in the top of the eighth, Joe Girardi called upon lefty Boone Logan to face Hamilton. Logan struck out Hamilton and retired Aybar, as well, but then walked Mark Trumbo (intentionally) and Conger (unintentionally). Next up was Nelson, who drove the second pitch he saw from Logan, an 81 mph slider, into the left-field seats for a grand slam, making the score 7-1.

For Nelson, who played in nine games for the Yankees in May, it was his first career grand slam and first career multihomer game.

In mop-up duty, Joba Chamberlain surrendered one more run, on a Grant Green double and a Shuck single.

What's next: The Yanks are headed to Boston for a three-game series against the Sox, starting Friday night. Andy Pettitte (7-9, 4.62) will pitch for New York, opposed by fellow lefty Felix Doubront (8-5, 3.66), with first pitch scheduled for 7:10.

Pregame notes: Robertson out, Nelson in

May, 4, 2013
5/04/13
11:58
AM ET
For the second straight day, David Robertson will not be available out of the Yankees bullpen.

"I’m still expecting him Tuesday [in Colorado]," Joe Girardi said.

Robertson has a sore left hamstring, an injury suffered on Wednesday while pitching against the Astros.

Adam Warren pitched three scoreless innings of relief on Friday, meaning the rest of the bullpen should be fresh. But without Robertson and Joba Chamberlain, who went on the disabled list on Thursday, it's a relatively inexperienced group.

NEW FACE: Chris Nelson will make his debut on Saturday, batting sixth and playing third base.

The Yankees acquired Nelson from the Rockies on Wednesday, for cash or a player to be named later. The 27-year-old was batting .242, with no home runs and four RBIS, in 21 games (66 at-bats) for Colorado. Last season he hit .301, with nine home runs and 53 RBIs, in 111 games (345 at-bats).

Jayson Nix had two of the Yankees' six hits on Friday night, but will sit on Saturday. "I want to get [Nelson] in the mix," Girardi said. "That’s why we went and got him."

SATURDAY STEW: Chris Stewart will be back behind the plate on Saturday, despite the fact that it's a day game after a night game. And Girardi plans to play Stewart on Sunday as well.

"I’ll get [Austin] Romine probably back in the mix in Colorado," Girardi said. "I could change my mind. But it’s three days, it’s still early in the year, we had a day off on Thursday and we have a day off on Monday."

Romine has started just one game since being called up last week when Francisco Cervelli went on the disabled list.

"Stewie's always been a guy that can handle a pitching staff, that's the bottom line," Girardi said. "That's what we've asked our catchers to do, to handle our pitching staff well. And he's familiar with these guys. I want Austin to get familiar with them, so we can get him in the mix more, but it takes a little time. Stew's always been a very good defensive catcher."

Stewart's also performed well at the plate thus far this season, batting .270, with 10 hits in 37 at-bats.

Nelson's defensive numbers a concern

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
1:45
PM ET
Fair warning, Yankees fans: Chris Nelson is going to be most valuable for his bat and likely not for his glove.

Based on the samples of data we have (and we’ll acknowledge they’re not large), Nelson’s defensive numbers are not good either at third base or second base. The best thing we can say about them is that they're a little bit better than Eduardo Nunez'.

Nelson was credited with -18 Defensive Runs Saved in 647 innings at third base with the Rockies last season, the worst tally in the majors. Amazingly, another Rockies third baseman (Jordan Pacheco) rated second-worst at -13.

Nelson’s issue last season was fairly simple to grasp -- he didn’t turn batted balls into outs. Baseball Info Solutions charts a stat known as “Revised Zone Rating” which looks at how often a player turns outs on balls that others at his position turn into outs more than half the time.

Nelson’s Revised Zone Rating was .638, second-worst among third basemen, and 80 points below the major-league average of .718.

In 157 innings this season, Nelson’s rating is about the same -- .640, though thus far he’s only been charged with -1 Defensive Runs Saved.

If the Yankees play Nunez and Nelson together on the left side, they may be living dangerously. Nunez, though he’s looked a little better in the field, has been charged with -6 Defensive Runs Saved and has a Revised Zone Rating at shortstop of .612 this season. The major league average at that position is .802.

The numbers aren’t better for Nelson at second base. In just under 400 career innings at that position, Nelson is credited with -12 Defensive Runs Saved. But the likelihood of Nelson playing there with the Yankees is slim to none.

Unless there are more injury issues to deal with in the future.
The Yankees acquired Chris Nelson from Colorado on Wednesday night because they needed someone who can play third with Kevin Youkilis now out.

"He is a filler guy," an AL scout said Thursday morning. "He is an extra guy. He can't hit with enough power to be a regular third baseman. His value as a utility man is hurt because he can't play short."

But Nelson is a good fit for the Yankees at the moment when you consider what is available in the marketplace. They predominately just need Nelson to backup Jayson Nix.

Nelson, 27, was the ninth overall pick in the 2004 draft, chosen three picks before Jered Weaver went to the Angels and 14 selections prior to a young righty out of California named Phillip Hughes.

Nelson was billed as "a smaller version of Gary Sheffield," according to a scouting report on MLB.com. Nelson made it to the big leagues in 2010 and 2011, but only had an OPS in the 600s.

In 2011, he had an OPS of .810, but he was much better in the Colorado air with a .911 OPS compared with .709 on the road. Six of his nine homers did come away from Coors.

This season, rookie Nolan Arenado, the Rockies' top prospect, made Nelson available. Nelson had a .600 OPS so far and nowhere to play. So now he is an upgrade over Corban Joseph, who is much more of a second baseman than a third baseman.

Yankees acquire Nelson

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
11:07
PM ET
The Yankees have acquired Chris Nelson from the Colorado Rockies for cash or a player to be named later. Nelson, 27, hit .242 for the Rockies this season. He made 19 starts at third base. He will give the Yankees depth there behind Jayson Nix.

Corban Joseph will likely be sent down, but Joe Girardi said no decision has been made. At the moment, the Yankees have moved Francisco Cervelli to the 60-day DL to make room for Nelson on the 40-man.

In 2012, Nelson hit .301. His .344 average (62-for-180) led all NL third baseman after the All-Star Break. He was the ninth pick in the 2004 draft. Here is the press release:

The New York Yankees tonight announced they have acquired infielder Chris Nelson from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later.

Nelson, 27, appeared in 21 games with the Colorado Rockies this season before being designated for assignment on April 28, batting .242 (16-for-66) with one double, two triples and four RBI. He made 19 starts, all at third base, committing three errors in 48 total chances. He is a career .279 (172-for-616) hitter with 33 doubles, six triples, 13 home runs and 73 RBI in 212 games over parts of four seasons with the Rockies (2010-13). Selected by Colorado in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, the utility infielder has made appearances at third base, second base, and shortstop, combining for a .947 career fielding percentage.

He spent his first full season in the Majors in 2012, batting .301 (104-for-345) with 21 doubles, three triples, nine home runs and 53 RBI in 111 games with the Rockies. His .344 (62-for-180) batting average following the All-Star break led all National League third basemen.

In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, C Francisco Cervelli was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146