New York Yankees: Pre-game notes

Pregame notes: Girardi sees improvement

August, 1, 2014
BOSTON -- Joe Girardi has a new second baseman who has never played second base in the major leagues, a new right-fielder who has played all of two innings there as a big-leaguer, and a new relief pitcher who has not pitched in the major leagues since May 21.

Still, the Yankees manager said, "I'm excited to have these three guys on our club," of Stephen Drew, Martin Prado and Esmil Rogers. "I think we've made improvements."

But then he added the caveat, "Only time will tell."

Girardi inserted Drew right into Friday night's lineup, batting eighth and playing second base -- a position Drew said he has not played since the 10th grade. Prado, an infielder by trade who has played some left field, did not arrive in time to be in the starting lineup. But Girardi said Prado should be available to pinch-hit later on. And Rogers, who was claimed off waivers from Toronto -- he had been pitching for the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo -- is in the bullpen, available to work as needed.

Girardi said he is not concerned about having two players on the field at the same time who are essentially learning new positions because "these moves give us a lot of flexibility. We know what they're capable of doing and it's one of the reasons that we feel right now we can go with 13 pitchers."

As a result, the Yankees will be playing with a three-man bench Friday night -- Prado, Brendan Ryan and Francisco Cervelli. Girardi said having three shortstops on the roster allows him more opportunities to give Derek Jeter days off or DH days. Girardi will also have Ryan take grounders at first base going forward, now that his all-purpose infield backup, Kelly Johnson, has been traded away.

"Obviously, when you make moves like this you lose players that you end up having a relationship [with] and the guys that we had that either got traded, released or sent down, they worked hard and they played hard," Girardi said. "But moving forward, we tried to improve our club."

Mr. Rogers, unfiltered: Asked to assess why he struggled so much with Toronto -- he had a 6.97 ERA and 1.694 WHIP in 16 relief appearances, and allowed five home runs in 20 1/3 innings before being sent down to the minors, where he made seven starts -- Rogers was refreshingly candid: "I think one of the reasons is, when you're bad, you're bad."

He went on to say he struggled with his fastball command, which caused his secondary pitches to be less effective.

"That's my pitch, my fastball," Rogers said. "I think my fastball is my power pitch. And my slider is nasty. When my fastball and my slider command is good, it's all right."

Girardi said the Yankees had their eye on Rogers for a while. "I could use him long or short. Either way," the manager said. "He is built up as a starter, but he has been a guy that they have used for [multiple relief] innings in Toronto, two innings. Our goal is to see if we can get this kid on a roll and he can help us."

Pineda, Tanaka moving forward: Girardi said Michael Pineda will make a start for Triple-A Scranton on Sunday. He is expected to go four innings or 65 pitches. And Masahiro Tanaka will be re-evaluated by team doctors on Monday, which will mark three weeks since he was given a platelet-rich plasma injection in his torn ulnar collateral ligament.

"I'm not sure exactly what he is going to do on Monday," Girardi said. "Obviously when we get home we'll see what the doctors say and what the next plan is for him, but I know he feels much, much better."

Yanks won't miss these two: Girardi was asked how he felt about seeing both Jon Lester and David Price traded out of the AL East.

"There's nothing wrong with that," he said.

In other words, it is what you want.

Pregame notes: Closing time?

April, 10, 2014
NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Red Sox meet tonight for the first of 19 times this season, and for Game 1 of this continuing saga, the Yankees have no closer.

That's right. Mariano Rivera is retired. David Robertson, of course, is on the DL with a groin strain.

And Shawn Kelley, who inherited Robertson's duties on Monday, is not available to Joe Girardi tonight after having worked in three of the past four games, including taking the loss in last night's 5-4 defeat by the Orioles.

A possible replacement for Kelley, Adam Warren, is also not available tonight for the same reason -- three games in the past four nights.

[+] EnlargeJoe Girardi
Bob Levey/Getty ImagesJoe Girardi will have some decisions to make tonight.
So who gets the call if there's a lead to be protected in the top of the ninth tonight?

"We'll have to see where we are tonight," Girardi said.

Meaning, the manager is likely to mix and match along lefty-righty lines. Possible candidates are Matt Thornton, a lefty, Dellin Betances and Shane Greene, both hard-throwing righties, and Cesar Cabral, another lefty who was recalled earlier this week when Robertson went down.

And Girardi said as much as he would like to be able to save Thornton -- the most experienced of the four -- for that spot, he might be needed earlier in the game if a Boston lefty like David Ortiz comes up in a critical at-bat.

"You could have a situation that is a turning point in the game," Girardi said. "So as much as you'd like to save [Thornton] you have to see where we're at in the game and who's hitting."

The way the manager uses his bullpen tonight could determine whether the Yankees start out those 19 games against Boston with a win or a loss.

Roberts sits: Dean Anna is making his first Yankee Stadium start tonight at second base, meaning Brian Roberts is taking a seat for the first time this season. But not to worry: The 36-year-old Roberts, who has a history of injury, is fine.

“Brian’s played in every game," Girardi said. "He was on pace to play 162. So I thought I would give him a day off.”

Joe says McCann can: Brian McCann has gotten off to a slow start as a Yankee, going 0-for-12 in the three games against the Orioles and hitting .152 with no home runs and just two RBIs. But Girardi said he is not worried about his catcher adjusting to being a Yankee, not even with a high-pressure Red Sox series this weekend.

"I don't think that he's swung the bat as poorly as his numbers have said," Girardi said. "But sometimes you run into some hard luck. He hit two balls on the screws yesterday and had nothing to show for it. I'm pretty convinced it'll turn around, but I'll pay attention."

Walking wounded: Neither Mark Teixeira (calf) nor Brendan Ryan (upper back) seems close to coming back right now. Girardi said Ryan "may have started some light baseball activity today," but wasn't entirely sure. As for Teixeira, his activity has been limited to stretching and riding an exercise bicycle. No word on when he will be cleared to resume baseball activity yet.

Coming attractions:

The pitching matchups for the rest of the series:

Friday: CC Sabathia (1-1, 7.50) vs. LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 2.51)

Saturday: Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 2.92) vs. RHP John Lackey (2-0, 1.38)

Sunday: Ivan Nova (1-1, 8.68) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (1-1, 9.00)

Notes: Rough flight, sleepless night

April, 4, 2014
TORONTO -- The Yankees thought the worst part of the quick turnaround between Thursday's game in Houston and Friday's in Toronto was going to be the short night's sleep.

But that wasn't the worst of it at all. In fact, it turned out to be a sleepless night for everyone on the team charter when the plane ran into severe turbulence and was rocked by thunderstorms and lightning flashes.

"The first half an hour was OK, and then the next 45 minutes was knuckleball express," Joe Girardi said. "It was about as good as I’ve seen, or as bad as I’ve seen it. Got quite a light show, and it wasn’t below it. The light seemed like it was inside the airplane, the lightning. Needless to say, no one really slept after that."

According to Brett Gardner, the flight attendants told him it was the worst turbulence they had ever experienced. By the time the flight landed, the team cleared Canadian customs and arrived at its hotel, it was 6 a.m.

"It’s not optimal, but it’s part of the schedule and you’ve got to deal with it,” Girardi said.

Comeback kid: Saturday's game marks the return of Michael Pineda to a big-league game for the first time in nearly 31 months; his last start came on Sept. 21, 2011, pitching for the Seattle Mariners against the Minnesota Twins. In his first spring training as a Yankee, Pineda blew out his shoulder and needed major surgery. But he had an excellent spring -- 2-1, 1.20 ERA, 16 Ks and just one walk in 15 innings -- and won the No. 5 starter's job rather handily.

“I had questions," Girardi admitted when asked if he ever doubted whether Pineda would make it back. "When we watched what he went through, there were questions for me when we would get him back and would we get the Michael that we had seen before in Seattle with the good slider, the velocity, and his changeup has obviously improved since then. There were questions in my mind because the surgery that he had was not as easy and there’s not as much success coming back as Tommy John.”

Pineda, however, maintains he always believed he would return to the form he showed as a rookie.

"I know it's two years, but the time has gone quick," Pineda said, snapping his fingers. "I remember my last game [for Seattle] like it was yesterday. That's how I'm feeling now, but now I've learned a little more, pitching in the game, you know? Now I have better pitches. My slider was always good, but now it's better. My changeup is good right now. It's better than before."

Old guys need rest: Girardi had planned to give Derek Jeter this first game off, but after the rocky flight and the late/early arrival, the manager also decided to give 38-year-old Alfonso Soriano the night off, as well as 36-year-old Brian Roberts.

"I had a lineup kind of made up in my mind today, but then I changed it just because of what we went through and what time we got in this morning," Girardi said. "All of these guys will be back in there tomorrow."

Ichiro Suzuki, on the other hand, evidently does not need as much rest; the 40-year-old is back in there tonight after having two hits, including a double, and scoring two runs in Thursdsay's 4-2 win over the Astros.

Pregame notes: Girardi's final home game?

September, 26, 2013
NEW YORK -- To the long list of free agents who could be appearing in their final games at Yankee Stadium tonight, include the manager. Like Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda and a half-dozen lesser lights, Joe Girardi, too, is in the final year of his contract and when asked before the game if he thought he would be back next year, Girardi briefly lapsed into the past tense in the course of deflecting the question.

"That’s something for the offseason. Let’s get through these four days and then I can maybe start to address those questions," Girardi sad. "I’ve said it many times -- I’ve really enjoyed being here as a manager, a coach, a manager, a player, a broadcaster, I love my time here, but that’s not something that’s handled in-season, and I’ll wait til the offseason."

Girardi is in the final year of a three-year contract that pays him a reported $2.5 million a year. The Yankees went to the ALCS in the first two years of his contract, but this year will miss the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 seasons, both times on Girardi's watch. GM Brian Cashman has said he wants Girardi back next year, but with the possibility that Dale Sveum will be fired by the Chicago Cubs, creating a vacancy at Girardi's former team and home town, the Yankees may have some competition for his services.

Girardi was asked if, like the looming free-agents, he had wondered if this would be his last game at Yankee Stadium. "I kind of did that one other time," he said. "I remember bringing my son to the ballpark here, to the old ballpark, thinking it might be my last time ever in Yankee Stadium. Lo and behold I was there a lot more years after that. So I don't necessarily think like that anymore."

-- Girardi said he thought tonight would be more difficult for Mariano Rivera than his celebration day was on Sunday. "I think it'll be more emotional for Mo tonight than it was on Sunday because we were still playing for a playoff spot," Girardi said. "You knew that we still had days left in Yankee Stadium. I think today will be a little bit different. I think that it will be tough on him."

-- Another player who may have played his last game at Yankee Stadium is Alex Rodriguez, who asked out of Wednesday night's game after telling Girardi his "legs weren't great." So the manager held him out of tonight's game. "I haven’t had a chance to talk to him, but when a guy comes out of the game the day before, the chances of my putting him in the next day probably aren’t too good. He’s been battling the calf, the hamstring, issues all year."

-- Girardi refused to address reports that the Yankees and Robinson Cano are far apart on money for a new free-agent contract after his current one runs out on Sunday. "That's not something that I discuss," he said. "You're asking me to speculate what's going to happen this winter and it doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense. I think the Yankees have shown interest in Robbie Cano. I don't think there's any doubt about that. As I've said with trades and free agency, it takes two to tango."

Pregame notes: Alfonso sore but playing

September, 15, 2013
BOSTON -- The Yankees averted another major loss in their lineup tonight when Alfonso Soriano told Joe Girardi his sprained right thumb felt well enough for him to play in tonight's crucial game against the Red Sox.

"It's not normal, but it's OK," Soriano said after testing the thumb with some swings in the indoor batting cage. Soriano will play tonight with a padded thumb guard on his right hand to cushion some of the vibrations off the bat.

"If it's not September and we not be in the race, I'd take a couple more days off," Soriano said. "I think we're in the race and it's not time to take a day off. I just want to do the best I can and help the team to win."

Since joining the Yankees on July 26 in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, Soriano has hit 15 home runs and driven in 47 runs, more than any other player in baseball. His presence in the lineup is widely credited with improving the Yankees' offense, not only because of his production, but because of the protection he provides Robinson Cano, who generally bats ahead of him, in the lineup.

"I didn't think anyone could have imagined it," Girardi said. "If you put his numbers out there, he's going to drive in 160 runs and hit 60 home runs. Those are pretty incredible numbers if you put him at that pace. It just hasn't been his offense; it's been his defense, it's been him running the bases. There's been so many things that he's done for us, I don't think any of us imagined it would probably be this much."

-- As expected, Alex Rodriguez is the DH again tonight, and Girardi still isn't sure if he'll be ready to play the field when the Yankees open a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday after Monday's day off.

"It's kind of day by day," Girardi said. "I figured I wouldn't even ask him today because we have the day off tomorrow and I still haven't seen him run real good. We'll see where we are Tuesday."

-- Boone Logan is not with the team, having flown down to Pensacola today, where his ailing left elbow will be examined tomorrow by Dr. James Andrews. Logan has not pitched since Sept. 6 at Yankee Stadium, when he allowed a game-tying grand slam to Mike Napoli in a game the Red Sox went on to win, 12-8.

-- Mark Reynolds is getting another start at third base tonight, replacing Eduardo Nunez, who has not played there since allowing a playable ball to get past him in Friday night's game, which eventually led to Jarrod Saltalamacchia's grand slam home run in the Bosox's 8-4 win. Girardi said Nunie's benching had less to do with that play -- it was scored a base hit but Girardi said Nunez could have made the play -- than the play of Brendan Ryan at shortstop.

"Ryan is playing extremely well," Girardi said. "We're just kind of staying with the hot hand. He's playing really good."

-- Girardi said Phil Hughes will start Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays in Toronto, but would not rule out the possibility of another tag-team start, with Hughes going the first three before giving way to David Huff, as they did Thursday night in Baltimore.

"I'll do whatever we need," Girardi said. "But if I need Huff a lot tonight or on Tuesday, I'll change my approach."

-- Back on August 10, Girardi had said he thought the Yankees would have to win another 35 games, for a total of 93 wins, to secure a playoff spot. But now, with the teams in front of the Yankees playing inconsistently -- both Texas and Tampa Bay lost their games before the 8:05 p.m. start of tonight's series finale with the Red Sox -- Girardi said he thought the Yankees might not need quite so many wins.

"It might come down from that a little bit, but I don't think too much," Girardi said. "I really don't. 89 or 90 might do it."

That would mean that the Yankees would have go either 11-2 or 10-3 the rest of the way.

Pregame notes: Phelps is back

September, 14, 2013
BOSTON -- The Yankees added another piece to their battered bullpen for Saturday's game against the Red Sox, reactivating right-hander David Phelps, who had been on the disabled list since July 6 with a right forearm strain. Phelps, who threw one- and two-inning simulated games in Tampa this week, will be limited to relief duty for the remainder of the season.

"He could be extremely important," Joe Girardi said. "He's someone who has experience and is used to coming out of the bullpen because he did it for us in the past. One inning in these type of games could be extremely important, as we saw last night."

Cesar Cabral and Preston Claiborne conspired to give the Red Sox a four-run seventh inning Friday night, which decided Boston's 8-4 victory, and Girardi made it sound as if he would to go Phelps if a similar situation arises today.

"I'm not so sure we have a chance to be patient with him," Girardi said. "He might be thrown right in the fire."

• Same goes for J.R. Murphy. The 22-year-old catcher was thrust into a backup role when Austin Romine got hurt, and is now thrust into the starting catcher's role for Saturday's crucial game with Chris Stewart showing the wear and tear of having caught 90 games this season. This will not only be Murphy's first Major League start, but also the first time he has ever caught CC Sabathia in a game, although Girardi thought Murphy might have caught some bullpens with CC during spring training.

"Sometimes you have to do things," Girardi said. "He hasn’t caught a whole lot of our guys. It’s just something we have to do."

Girardi said if Francisco Cervelli, who won the starting catcher's job in the spring, hadn't gotten hurt, Stewart probably wouldn't have caught more than 60 games this season. "He's had to play a lot," Girardi said. "He's a little beat up, too."

Alex Rodriguez will DH for a fourth straight game today, and as both he and Girardi hinted after Friday night's game, is unlikely to play third base again until Tuesday in Toronto at the earliest. "Girardi even raised the possibility that A-Rod could be a DH for the final 14 games of the season. "We could do that," Girardi said. "You'd like to maybe give another guy a DH day once in a while too, but if it's what we have to do, it's what we have to do."

Girardi said he didn't pinch-run for A-Rod on Friday night in the seventh inning, when his ailing legs failed to carry him home from first on Robinson Cano's bases-loaded double, because of the possibility he would come to bat again in the ninth. "I thought it was too early in the game," Girardi said, adding, "I thought he would move better than he did."

• Sabathia is 10-10 with a 4.62 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox and 4-4, 5.30 at Fenway Park. He did get the win here on August 18, the night of the Ryan Dempster-A-Rod drilling and near brawl, but allowed an unsightly six runs in 5 1/3 innings. Red Sox starter Jon Lester is 10-5 lifetime against the Yankees (4.11 ERA).

Pregame notes: Who's Starting Thursday?

September, 9, 2013
BALTIMORE -- This Yankee season seems destined to end the way it began, with a slew of important players injured and not available to play.

Derek Jeter is doing no baseball activity today although Joe Girardi said, rather unconvincingly, that the Yankees 39-year-old captain could be available "in an emergency," although it's hard to imagine a situation more dire than the one they're already in.

Chris Stewart, who injured the ligaments in his left foot yesterday, is probably not available tonight. Neither is David Robertson (right shoulder tendinitis). And neither, of course, is Boone Logan, who had a cortisone shot in his left elbow on Saturday. And oh yeah, there's no guarantee Mariano Rivera, who blew the save yesterday and worked two innings, will be able to go tonight.

Girardi said Logan is unlikely to be available at all this series. The best hope he could offer was that maybe Logan cold be ready to go by Thursday's series finale here.

-- David Huff, who started and got shelled in Saturday's game against the Red Sox, was back listed among the relief pitchers on today's roster. So was Phil Hughes. In fact, only four pitchers were listed as starters -- tonight's starter, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, who goes tomorrow, Andy Pettitte who goes on Wednesday, and Hiroki Kuroda, who is slated to open the weekend series against the Red Sox in Boston on Friday.

So who starts Thursday? That was supposed to be Huff's day, but after his flameout on Saturday (9 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings), that would appear to be in doubt. But Girardi said that so far, he had yet to make any changes to his rotation.

"We're going to get through these three days and see where we're at," Girardi said. "I'm not saying I'm changing anything, but if we need Huff (out of the bullpen), we need Huff."

-- The Yankees added OF Zoilo Almonte to the expanded September roster today, but since he was up earlier in the season, he does not constitute a new franchise record for number of players used in a single Yankee season. The number stands at 54 different players used this season.

-- Sabathia is 18-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 29 career starts against the Orioles. Two starts back, Sabathia beat the O's 8-5 at Yankee Stadium, allowing five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Orioles starter Chris Tillman is 3-4 with a 7.43 ERA in nine career starts vs. the Yankees.

Pregame notes: Enter Nova

September, 5, 2013
NEW YORK -- Since July, Ivan Nova has been arguably the Yankees' most reliable starter, winning six of his eight decisions with a 2.08 ERA.

But he has not been in the cauldron of a Yankees-Red Sox game in 14 months. Tonight will be his first start against Boston since July 8, 2012, when he held the Red Sox to two runs, just one earned, and struck out 10 in six innings as the Yankees won, 7-3, at Fenway Park.

That is the kind of performance the Yankees need tonight in the opener of this crucial series, the beginning of a 11-game stretch (four here against Boston, four against the Orioles in Baltimore and three more against the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend) that could decide whether they are a real playoff contender, or merely a September tease.

[+] EnlargeIvan Nova
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesIvan Nova
Nova is by far the Yankees' best chance for a strong starting pitching performance this weekend. Andy Pettitte, who goes tomorrow, beat Boston in his only appearance against them this season back in April, but has been up and down for most of the season. Saturday's game is in the hands of David Huff, who has pitched well in relief since being acquired from Cleveland in May, but has yet to make a start this season and is only making this one because the Yankees no longer feel they can trust Phil Hughes. And Sunday's starter, Hiroki Kuroda, simply looks gassed.

So it us up to Nova to get the Yankees off to a strong start tonight, facing right-hander Jake Peavy. Nova has generally pitched well against Boston; his career mark is 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against the Red Sox. Of the players in tonight's starting lineup, only Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz have any real numbers against Nova, but both are small sample sizes. Pedroia has four hits in eight at-bats against Nova, two of them doubles, and Ortiz is 4-for-13 (.308) with a home run.

To top it off, Nova was just named the AL's Pitcher of the Month for August, going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA. But none of that will mean a thing if Nova doesn't begin his September the same way.

-- Peavy has never beaten the Yankees, losing all four of his career starts to them (3.96 ERA), although he has never faced them with the Red Sox. Peavy last pitched against the Yankees on June 30, 2012, as a member of the Chicago White Sox and took the loss despite fanning 11 in eight innings, in which he allowed four earned runs. At Yankee Stadium, Peavy is 0-2, 5.25, but has K'd 15 in 12 innings. Robinson Cano is 4-for-9 (.444) lifetime against Peavy, and Alfonso Soriano has three home runs off him in 32 career at-bats.

-- The Yankees might be without the services of Mariano Rivera, who threw 15 pitches in getting his first four-out save of the year on Wednesday night. Joe Girardi said he would speak to Rivera after he played catch before the game. If Mo can't go, presumably David Robertson, who had a rocky eighth inning in Wednesday's 6-5 win over the White Sox, would close, although Hughes is available out of the bullpen, too.

-- Injury update: Travis Hafner, on the DL since July 27 with a right rotator-cuff strain, played in a simulated game today in Tampa but is not close to returning. Kevin Youkilis, on the DL since June 14 with a herniated disk that required surgery, was in the clubhouse today -- carrying a backpack! -- but Joe Girardi said he hasn't done anything other than some dry swings. He's even further away than Hafner. Zoilo Almonte, out since July 20 with a sprained ankle, is playing a rehab game tonight in Trenton and might see some action later in the month. And David Phelps, on the DL since July 6 with a forearm strain, will throw a bullpen session in the next couple of days. Girardi said he is a "maybe" for the last week of the season.

Pregame notes: No pen for Kuroda

September, 3, 2013
NEW YORK -- For the first four months of the season, Hiroki Kuroda was the Yankees de facto ace, even if CC Sabathia carried the official label.

But for the past month or so, Kuroda has struggled -- he was 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA in August -- and the Yankees think the 38-year-old right-hander could be suffering from fatigue. So this week, the Yankees took steps to freshen Kuroda for tonight's start against the White Sox, by having him skip his customary between-starts bullpen session.

Although Joe Girardi played it down -- "It's something we do from time to time," he said -- considering how pitchers are always said to be creatures of strict habit, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, it affects Kuroda tonight.

"I wouldn't say it’s exactly the same, but sometimes you skip BP because you feel like your guys need to save their energy for the games, and that’s what we did," Girardi said. "I’m sure he threw enough and he did a little flat ground so it shouldn’t bother him. And you could argue that his last three starts he wasn't real sharp and he was throwing side sessions in between."

Kuroda has allowed 14 runs (12 earned) in his last two starts and interestingly enough, his August slide began with a loss to the White Sox in Chicago on August 6. But he is 2-2 lifetime with a 2.86 ERA against the Chisox, and in his only start against them at Yankee Stadium threw seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, on June 30, 2012.


-- Derek Jeter is the DH tonight, but Girardi said that was just a precautionary move that he hopes will insure that his 39-year-old shortstop will be able to play most, if not all, of the remaining 25 games.

-- Girardi said the Yankees are still on rotation through the weekend series against the Boston Red Sox, meaning as of now, Phil Hughes will still make his scheduled start against them on Saturday.

-- White Sox starter Chris Sale has been murder on the Yankees, 2-0 in three career starts with a 0.49 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. Sale beat Kuroda on August 6, allowing five hits and no earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.That lineup was without Jeter, however, who has one hit in three lifetime at-bats vs. Sale -- a home run.

Notebook: Captain bound for Canada

August, 25, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Girardi said he still hasn't heard otherwise, so unless something unanticipated happens, the Yankees expect to see Derek Jeter when they arrive in Toronto tonight, fit and ready to play in the three-game series with the Blue Jays that starts on Monday.

Jeter left the ballpark in without speaking to reporters after going 1-for-3 in a game for AAA Scranton Saturday night, and Girardi said he had not spoken to his 39-year-old captain. But from the admittedly sketchy reports he has gotten, Girardi said the plan is for Jeter to be in the starting lineup tomorrow night at the Rogers Centre.

"He’s played three days in a row and from everything I understand he felt pretty good,'' Girardi said.

Asked if he would be "apprehensive'' about how to use Jeter, who has been on the DL three times and has played just 5 games for the Yankees this season, Girardi said, "I don’t know if we can afford to be apprehensive is the thing.''

Girardi said he would proceed through the rest of the season -- there are 33 games left -- under the assumption that both Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, his 38-year-old third baseman, are fit to play every day.

"Hopefully, they'll play a lot,'' Girardi said. "But I’m gonna have to see how they’re doing. There is no schedule for them the next 33 games or whatever we have left for each guy. There isn’'t. I’m just going to go day-by-day, see what I see the night before, and make a decision the next day.''


• Girardi gave Rodriguez the day off because the Yankees are in the midst of a six-game stretch on artificial turf, which is especially tough on aging legs. He said he hopes to be able to play A-Rod all three games in Toronto, but "I'll have to see how he's doing. Whenever we get on this turf six days in a row, it's a concern for some of our guys, and that’s partly because of age. We try to manage them carefully. Sometimes you can run em into the ground and then they’re not productive when they’re playing so you have to pick your days.''

• The Yankees will have to make a player move to accommodate adding Jeter to the roster tomorrow, but Girardi said he did not know who it would be yet. With the yankees carrying 13 pitchers, it will undoubtedly be a relief pitcher, probably David Huff.

• Today's starter, Ivan Nova, is 6-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) vs. TB, and 2-1 at the The Trop, although his ERA is 5.29 here. Rays starter Alex Cobb is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees. Cobb has already beaten the Yankees twice this season, pitching into the ninth inning both times and allowing just two earned runs. His ERA in those two starts is 1.08.

Friday's Yankee lineup

August, 23, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Here is the lineup Joe Girardi is sending out for the opener of this pivotal three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays and their right-handed starter Chris Archer:

Brett Gardner CF
Curtis Granderson DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

Hiroki Kuroda RHP

Lyle Overbay was in the original linuep, batting sixth and playing first base, but became a late scratch when he came down with flu-like symptoms before the game and was replaced by Reynolds.

Pregame notes: Joe not disappointed

July, 31, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- With the Yankees making no trades before the end of baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, you might be tempted to believe that Joe Girardi would be as crestfallen as a kid awaking on Christmas morning to find his parents had re-wrapped all his old, broken-down toys and stuck them under the tree.

If so, you would be wrong.

Girardi said he was neither disappointed nor surprised to learn that as of now, he will have to muddle through the final 56 games of the season with the same old, broken-down roster he has had for the first 106.

"As I've told you, I don’t ever count on anything," Girardi said before tonight's game between the Yankees and Dodgers. "I think about the guys that we have in the room and how we’re going to win with those guys. That’s what we have to go do."

Girardi said he is looking at the acquisition of Alfonso Soriano, the activation of Derek Jeter, and the expected return this weekend of Curtis Granderson as the equivalent of three major trade-deadline deals.

“The big thing is we’ve got to get our guys back," Girardi said. "I think that’s a big part of it. That’s something that we’ve had a problem doing this year, and I feel like if we do that, we can contend.”

And of course, there is always Alex Rodriguez, widely expected to be suspended for an extended period of time, perhaps as soon as Thursday, although Girardi continues to maintain that he expects A-Rod to return and be productive in his lineup this season.

“I think you have to at this point," Girardi said. "Nothing’s been handed down, so I think you have to. We expected to have him back at this point. We don’t have him yet, but I know he’s playing in a simulated game tomorrow, and that’s a step in the right direction.”

A-Rod will play a Class A minor-league rehab game in Tampa tomorrow, but beyond that Girardi could offer no real timetable for his return. “He’ll do a simulated game tomorrow and they’ll see where he’s at tomorrow," Girardi said. “He did go through the full 20 days of rehab and got plenty of at-bats, so I wouldn’t expect it would be as many as that.”

• Granderson, who played with the Double-A Trenton Thunder today, is expected to travel to San Diego during tomorrow's off-day and be activated for Friday night's series opener against the Padres.

With Granderson returning soon, the Yankees will have a glut of outfielders, so Girardi said he was considering giving both Soriano and Vernon Wells some drills at first base in anticipation of possibly starting one of them in place of Lyle Overbay against tough left-handers. Tonight, Overbay is sitting against Clayton Kershaw, because, Girardi said, "Lefties hit about .100 against him."

Actually, it's .136, and righties don't fare all that much better, hitting .198. Still, Girardi is starting the rigty-hitting Brent Lillibridge at first.

• This will be only the second career start for Hiroki Kuroda against his former teammates. On June 19, Kuroda beat the Dodgers, 6-4, in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, allowing two runs in 6-2/3 innings.

• Kershaw is making his second career start against the Yankees, throwing seven innings of two-run ball but earning a no decision the last time the Yankees were here in 2010. Kershaw is leading the major leagues in ERA (1.96) and since June 26 is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA.

Pregame notes: Nunie back to 3rd?

July, 30, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- What a difference a couple of days makes. With the return of Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix (from the DL), and the acquisition of Alfonso Soriano, it is a vastly different Yankees lineup that Joe Girardi will send out tonight against the Dodgers tonight than we saw even a week ago in Arlington, Texas.

And with the uncertainty surrounding Alex Rodriguez, there may be a new look to the infield soon, too, because starting today, Nunez will be taking grounders at third in preparation for possible starts there in the (near?) future. Although right now Nix is the "everyday third baseman" -- and this season, seven players have started at third and even Vernon Wells got some time there -- Girardi would not rule out the possibility that Nunez, designated a shortstop last year by the Yankees, might see some action at third this season, especially if A-Rod gets set down by MLB for his role in the Biogenesis affair and the Yankees fail to acquire a third baseman at the trade deadline.

"There’s nothing etched in stone," Girardi said. "Third base has kind of been a revolving door a little bit. [Nix] is going to get his share of playing time there, and we’ll move him around like we always did. And I want to see [Nunez] work out there a couple of days before we do anything."

In other news:

-- Derek Jeter will get his second start at shortstop this season -- he started there in Sunday's game against the Rays -- but Girardi said his 39-year-old captain will get a fair share of DH games worked into his schedule, with either Nunez or Nix playing SS.

“He will have some DH days and some off days, but at this point in the season, we don’t necessarily have the luxury of working guys in slowly," Girardi said of Jeter. "I think we have to just go day-by-day and see where he’s at.”

-- Curtis Granderson, who has appeared in just eight games all season after suffering two broken hands from errant pitches, will play a couple of rehab games for the AA Trenton Thunder beginning tonight, and could re-join the Yankees over the weekend in San Diego. Girardi seemed optimistic that adding Granderson along with Jeter and Soriano would solve some of his team's offensive woes this season; they are at or near the bottom of the AL rankings in many categories they once dominated.

"When you get Curtis back, that should add some thump to it," Girardi said. "I’m not asking him to come in and hit homer after homer, but we know what he has the ability to do. It should make our lineup deeper.”

-- Girardi was asked the obligatory "Is Alex coming back?" question, and gave a fairly predictable response: "We have him scheduled for a rehab on Thursday, a game somewhere if everything goes OK. If we didn't think he was going to be with us, we wouldn't do those things."

Girardi could offer no prospective date, however, for A-Rod's return to the Yankees.

-- Andy Pettitte (7-8, 4.39) has lost his last two games, and five of his last seven decisions, but he pitched well in losing a 3-1 game to the Rangers in Arlington last Wednesday. Pettitte has only faced the Dodgers five times in his career, and only once as a Yankee, but has never lost to them (2-0, 3.94 ERA). He has not faced the Dodgers since June 27, 2010, when he allowed five runs in five innings and took a no-decision in an 8-6 Yankees victory. As a hitter -- remember, no DH tonight -- Pettitte has a career .139 BA with a home run and 13 RBIs in 194 career at-bats.

-- Zack Greinke is 2-4 with a 6.35 ERA in 11 games against the Yankees. The last time he faced them, on June 28, 2011 at Yankee Stadium as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Greinke allowed seven runs in just two innings.

Pregame notes: Joe knows nothing

July, 24, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The names Alex Rodriguez and Dr. Michael Gross were all over the news today, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi was unable to provide any further information on quad-gate, the controversy swirling around the true extent of A-Rod's injury and whether or not he is ready to return to big-league action.

"I have not spoken with Alex today," Girardi said. "I don't really have anything for you with that. I'm not there and I'm not privy to all of the conversations. I'm still not aware of everything that happened and I'm not going to comment on it."

Asked if he expected A-Rod, who communicated his desire to GM Brian Cashman to be in the Yankees lineup Friday night, to rejoin his team this weekend, Girardi said, "No, I don't, but we'll just see what happens."

And asked if the continuing saga of A-Quad was beginning to wear on his players, Girardi said: "No. When you play for the Yankees there's going to be stuff, outside stuff, that happens, and you've got to be able to shut it out. And I think our guys have done a good job of it all year long."

-- Derek Jeter went through the same drills today that he did yesterday -- batting practice, fielding and running in a straight line -- but will not run the bases until Friday, making it seem unlikely he will return for Saturday's game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

"Nothing is out of the question, but I'm not so sure we'll see him Saturday," Girardi said. "You've got to be able to run at 100 percent, that's the bottom line. To know that there’s no soreness, no pain and that everything works properly."

In other news, rehab assignments galore:

-- Curtis Granderson, who has missed all but eight games of the season due to two broken hands, both from errant pitches, will begin a rehab assignment tomorrow night for the Class A Tampa Yankees, although Girardi could not give a timetable for his return. "I think you have to give him some at-bats to see how he feels," Girardi said. "He hasn't had a ton of at-bats. I think to be fair to him you have to give him some at-bats."

-- Jayson Nix, out since July 2 with a hamstring strain, began his rehab assignment today with two at-bats for the Gulf Coast League Yankees. "No issues from what I understand," Girardi said.

-- David Phelps, out since July 6 with a right forearm strain, threw 61 pitches in rehab start for AA Trenton on Tuesday, allowing two runs on two hits in 3-2/3 innings. "He felt OK," Girardi said. "Probably not as sharp as we've seen him during the course of the season, but I kind of expect that when you haven't been on the mound and you haven't faced hitters in a while. I think we'll see him in New York and he'll throw a bullpen for us on Friday, and then he'll probably go out on another rehab start."

-- Michael Pineda threw three scoreless innings in a start for AAA Scranton, and while Girardi acknowledged said his workload had been cut back, he said it was still possible that Pineda could pitch for the Yankees this season. "I think it's possible to have him," Girardi said. "I think they're trying to manage his innings because he's coming off that shoulder surgery. They don't want him to go over a certain level, that's why you're seeing him back off a little bit. That will increase as time goes on."

-- With Luis Cruz on the DL, David Adams rejoined the team today, but Girardi is starting Brent Lillibridge, who had the game winning hit in Tuesday's 5-4 win, again tonight against the Rangers and Matt Garza. Adams was hitting .309 with four home runs and 16 RBI for Scranton.

-- Tonight's starter, Andy Pettitte, is 11-10 with a 5.21 ERA lifetime against the Rangers, and 2-4 with an 8.22 here in Arlington. he has lost seven of his last 10 decisions to the Rangers dating back to 2002.

-- Garza, acquired by Texas in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Monday, is 1-4 with a 4.48 ERA lifetime against the Yankees, all of which came while he was with Tampa Bay. Garza has not faced the Yankees since 2010.

Pregame notes: Pronk sits

July, 23, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Girardi gave his left-handed hitting DH, Travis Hafner, a rare night on the bench against a right-handed starter, and his reason could not have been clearer: "He's just not being productive," the manager said.

Hafner, who started out red-hot in April (.318, 6 HRs, 17 RBI), has been an ice-cube since, hitting .172 with six homers and 20 RBIs. He's had just two hits all month, and his last home run came on June 25.

“It’s been really frustrating," Hafner said. "It definitely wears on you a little bit. I feel like I can go out there and play at a high level, play like I did the first month. There’s no reason why I can’t do that."

Said Girardi: "I'm not giving up on him."

Only tonight.

--Melky Mesa is making his first major-league start tonight, playing left field in place of Vernon Wells (tonight's DH) because, as Girardi reminds us, "Hughesie is a fly ball pitcher."

-- Aside from having allowed 53 home runs over the last two seasons, the second-highest in MLB, and having the lowest groundball-to-fly-ball ratio of any major-league starter, Phil Hughes, tonight's starter, recently attained a milestone, allowing his 100th career home run (to Mike Napoli on June 1) in the lowest number of innings (691 2/3) in Yankees' franchise history.

Still, Hughes has been good against the Rangers (2-2, 2.08 ERA) and at The Ballpark (2-1, 2.00). He pitched one of his best games of the season against the Rangers on June 27 at home, going eight innings but taking the loss on the day Derek Holland threw a two-hit, 2-0 shutout, a loss that caused Joe Girardi to throw a towel onto the field after the game.

-- Rangers starter Alexi Ogando is 1-1 with an unsightly 10.13 ERA versus the Yankees, although he has not started against them since 2011.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146