New York Yankees: Pregame notes

CLEVELAND -- After hemming, hawing and evading Monday night, Joe Girardi made official what should have been obvious after Shane Greene shut the Indians down to two runs and four hits in Monday's 5-3 Yankees win: that the 25-year-old righty will get at least one more start, and probably more than that.

"Shane will pitch on Saturday," Girardi said before Tuesday's game against the Indians at Progressive Field. "Right now, he’s in our rotation. This is what it is through the All-Star break."

Since the break comes on Sunday, Girardi is really only committing to Greene for one more start, against the Orioles at Camden in the second-to-last game before the four-day recess. But unless GM Brian Cashman pulls another starter out of his sleeve, the Yankees' rotation will be Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps, Greene and newcomer Brandon McCarthy, who will start Wednesday, for the foreseeable future.

[+] EnlargeShane Greene
AP Photo/Tony DejakShane Greene earned a second start after shutting down the Indians through six Monday.
To clear space on the roster, the Yankees sent reliever Bruce Billings back to Triple-A Scranton, and will shuffle Chase Whitley, who pitched very well in emergency duty for seven starts before faltering in his last two, to long relief duty.

"We liked what we saw," Girardi said of Greene, who mixed a 96 mph fastball with a 91 mph sinker and a sharp 84 mph slider to earn his first major league win. "We knew he had that potential. He’s got good movement on his fastball. I think that was pretty evident yesterday. They didn’t square up a lot of balls."

Greene, not a talkative type, took the news in stride when Girardi told him as he headed out to do his pregame stretch.

"I'm sure I'll be more relaxed next time," he said. "So that should help."

Not that he needed very much Monday night.

Carlos better: Carlos Beltran reported his leg injury, which really hasn't been given a name, was "much better" Tuesday, although not well enough for him to be in the lineup. Instead, Beltran took pregame batting practice and said he thought he was available to pinch hit tonight and expected to be in the lineup Wednesday.

Playing short: The Yankees have not added a position player since designating Alfonso Soriano for assignment on Sunday, and Girardi said there was no immediate plan to. "As of right now, we’re going to stick with the eight–man bullpen," he said, probably because of all the inexperienced pitchers in his starting rotation. That means tonight's bench is Beltran, Brendan Ryan and Francisco Cervelli, and the manager would hesitate to use his backup catcher unless absolutely necessary.

Alone at the top: Tanaka is the majors' only 12-game winner and tries to become its only 13-game winner tonight. The Yankees are 13-4 in his 17 starts and 32-39 when anyone else starts.

Notes: Keep your eye on the gun

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka is trying to bounce back from just his second loss of the season tonight against the Red Sox, and although the point can be made that he pitched well enough to win in his last outing, allowing three runs in seven innings to the Orioles on June 22, there could be an underlying reason for concern.

Tanaka's four-seam fastball velocity, which has averaged 92.8 mph over his 15 starts and had been clocked at 93.3 in his previous start, a dominant 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, was a season-low 90.9 against the Orioles, according to

While not denying the velocity dip had occurred, manager Joe Girardi tried to downplay it by saying Tanaka had thrown fewer four-seam fastballs in his last start, which might have skewed the results.

This was not only a non sequitur -- it had not been suggested that Tanaka's average velocity on all his pitches was down, which might be skewed if he threw fewer four-seamers, his fastest pitches -- it also raised a chicken-and-egg type question, namely, was he throwing fewer four-seamers because he knew its velocity was down?

Also, is this the reason Girardi was reluctant to skip Vidal Nuno's spot in the rotation last night in favor of starting Tanaka on what for a U.S. pitcher would be a normal five-day cycle? Tanaka, of course, is a mere three months into a new routine after seven seasons in Japan, where he pitched once a week.

According to the Brooks website, Tanaka's average velocity has steadily dropped on all his pitches as the season has progressed. His four-seamer has gone from a peak of 95.02 at the start of the season to where it now sits, at 92.38. Likewise, his two-seamer, or sinker, is down about one tick, and his slider and curve are down about three ticks on the gun. His cutter and splitter, his go-to pitches, remain virtually unchanged.

Variations in velocity can be normal fluctuations based on a lot of different factors, and can be virtually inconsequential. But in some cases, they can be indications of problems to come. Michael Pineda's 2012 shoulder problems were foretold by a drop in fastball velocity, and CC Sabathia's relative ineffectiveness over the past two seasons coincides with a gradual decrease in velocity.

Girardi acknowledged that changes in velocity are a factor he would look at in determining how often to give Tanaka, or any of his other starters, an extra day's rest between starts.

"You can also look at the sharpness of his off-speed stuff," Girardi said. "Is his breaking ball flat? Is it up in the zone? Is his split the same? Does it have the same movement? All of those things you look at and you determine does he need an extra day? Do you need to keep this outing a little shorter?"

In his previous outing against Boston, Tanaka bested Jon Lester, tonight's starter, 9-3, working 7 1/3 innings of two-run, seven-hit ball. Girardi would not commit to allowing Tanaka to go deeper into the game tonight because he has had an extra day; his highest pitch count of the season is 118, thrown in a 7-1 victory against the White Sox in Chicago on May 25. With the Yankees in a stretch of 17 straight games leading into the All-Star break, the manager has said Tanaka's next three starts will be on four days' rest.

"Well, we'll just kind of see how he’s doing, and how his innings, if they’re tough innings, if he’s had a couple of long innings what you do," Girardi said. "I don’t really have a plan in mind seeing as how his next three starts are on regular rest, I have to have him at this many pitches. I’ll just see how he’s doing."

And, no doubt, glancing up at the gun readings.

Sori back in the lineup: Even though Ichiro Suzuki has better numbers (.340 in 53 ABs vs. .316 in 19 ABs) against Lester, Girardi put Alfonso Soriano, who has not played since Tuesday in Toronto, into right field tonight. "Soriano’s got a double and homer in the two games he’s played off him this year," Girardi said.

Soriano, who described himself as "lost" at the plate last week, said he has been feeling better recently and is hoping more playing time will help his bat come alive. He admitted to having trouble "staying positive" through his early-season struggles but said the team's success in spite of a sputtering offense has made it easier to deal with.

"We’re not hitting like we’re supposed to hit, but we have a very good record so that’s a good thing," he said. "Sooner or later, we will hit like we’re supposed to hit and I think everything will be in better shape.”

Pineda threw, CC scheduled: Pineda played catch today in Tampa, although Girardi had no details other than he believed he was supposed to make 25 throws at 60 feet. "So it's not much to get too excited about," he said.

Girardi then laid out the routine Pineda will have to follow to make it back to the Yankees -- barring any more setbacks, of course -- which made it sound like his return is still six weeks away at minimum.

"First you have to extend the catch, get him up to 120 feet, then do some flat ground, then do some bullpens, then do some live BP-slash-simulated games, and then you try to get him in some games," Girardi said. "It takes awhile."

Sabathia, meanwhile, is scheduled to start for the Class A Tampa Yankees tonight. He is expected to work three innings and throw between 40 and 45 pitches. We'll have an update later.
SEATTLE -- The Yankees have been without their set-up man, Shawn Kelley, for more than a month now, but that is likely to change as soon as Wednesday. Manager Joe Girardi said that Kelley, on the DL since May 7 with a lower back strain, was likely to rejoin the Yankees for Wednesday night's second game of this three-game series against the Mariners.

Kelley made the second of two rehab appearances Monday for Triple-A Scranton, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning of relief. Previously, Kelley had thrown 2/3 innings for Double-A Trenton on Saturday, striking out two batters and walking one.

"Everything was fine, so we're expecting him tomorrow," Girardi said.

Presumably, that means Dellin Betances and Adam Warren will move back to seventh-inning duty, and the rest of them -- Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Jose Ramirez and Wade LeBlanc, one of whom will be sent down to make room for Kelley -- will return to mix-and-match middle relief work.

Lack of production "a surprise": There, he said it. Eternal optimist Girardi admitted Tuesday that he expected his revamped lineup, shored up in the offseason by the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, would have performed better than it has. Currently, the Yankees are even worse offensively than last year's makeshift lineup was, having scored just 249 runs (13th in the AL), hit just 51 home runs (tied for 10th in the league) and amassed a puny .382 slugging percentage.

"I thought we would score more runs," Girardi said. "Yeah, we’ve had some injuries at times where we’ve missed some key parts in the middle of the order, and times when key parts in the middle of the order were struggling and made it more difficult to score runs. I don’t think we’ve had six or seven guys hot at the same time. We haven’t had that. We’re due for that, and I’m looking forward to it.”

What is not a surprise is that Girardi still thinks his team will eventually perform as expected.

“These guys have track records and they’re going to work at it," Girardi said. "And I know they will. You look at it today, they’re working on it right now. So I believe it’s going to change.”

Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano were among the Yankees who took early BP this afternoon. Johnson also took some grounders at first base.

Cano questions no fair: Although Girardi was fairly candid about his team's offensive struggles, he pulled up shy of admitting what might seem obvious to some, that his lineup sorely misses Robinson Cano, now a member of the opposing Mariners.

"That's not a fair question," Girardi said.

When pressed about missing the consistency of Cano, who rarely slumps, Girardi said, “He’s still in the prime of his career. I don’t think you’re comparing apples to apples. He’d be young on this team.”

Which is as close as you'll ever get to an admission by the Yankees manager that most of his lineup is, well, past its prime.

No. 2 remaining Number 2: One of the nagging questions about the Yankees lineup has been whether it is time to move Derek Jeter, struggling at .254, down from the two-hole in the batting order. But Girardi shot it down without specifically ruling out an eventual lineup shift.

“He’s always been a guy that has responded during the course of time," Girardi said. "People have been ready to say that you should move him, and one year he ended up with 200-plus hits. You can look at Derek in the No. 2 spot, but we’ve had a lot of guys who have struggled. Maybe because of his name, he’s going to be the focus a little bit, sometimes maybe more than other guys, but we’ve had a lot of guys struggle.”

An extra day for the ace: Girardi said the decision not to skip Vidal Nuno's turn in the rotation tonight in order not to disrupt Masahiro Tanaka's every-five-days routine had more to do with somewhat curtailing Tanaka's workload in his first season in Major League Baseball. "He's still working his way into our schedule," Girardi said of Tanaka, who will go tomorrow night. "Whenever we can give him an extra day, we will."
NEW YORK -- When he wasn't answering questions about Targate (AKA PineGate), the TV-created "issue" involving what was on Michael Pineda's palm last night, he was giving updates on his bullpen and two of his three injured players, Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan.

Girardi said he believed Teixeira, out with a calf strain, would be back by May 1. But the news on Ryan, out since spring training with what is officially being called a "cervical spine nerve injury," isn't even close to good. Girardi all but ruled him out for May and hinted Ryan, who had all of 8 spring at-bats, may have to do spring training all over again, which means about six weeks, and that's after he is cleared to resume baseball activities, which still hasn't happened.

"He is going to take some time," Girardi said of Ryan. "He’s doing some light baseball activity. He’s taken some grounders. He's improving but he’s still a ways away from games. So I would think May 1 would be doubtful for him."

"He just started dry swings, some very light baseball activities," GM Brian Cashman said. "You’re talking sometime after May 1 [for his return].”

Thankfully, Yangervis Solarte, hitting .387, and Dean Anna, who hit his first major-league home run in Thursday night's 4-1 Yankees win over the Red Sox, have made Ryan's return less than vital.

Kelley back to closing: With a night to rest, almost all the pieces of the Yankees bullpen are available for use tonight with the exception of Vidal Nuno, who went 3 1/3 innings on Tuesday, and David Phelps, who worked 2 1/3 last night. Girardi said he was "leaning towards" Kelley as the closer tonight, but added, "I'll see where we are in the lineup."

Robertson throws: The real closer, David Robertson, who is on the DL with a left groin strain, played catch for the second time this week and said his next move would be to throw off flat ground before throwing a bullpen or two. He said he is on track to return on April 22, the first day he is eligible to come off the DL.

“The timing of [Robertson’s] injury was worst-case scenario, because as you set sail on your maiden voyage with a whole new bullpen and slots, we weren’t able to even settle into anticipated roles that spring training auditioned for," Cashman said. "But listen, if we can get through the period while Robbie’s down with success, we’ll be better off for it.”

25 is the new 34: Teixeira turned 34 today.

Boston Socks Sabathia: Since joining the Yankees in 2009, CC Sabathia, tonight's starter, is 8-7 against the Red Sox with a 5.03 ERA, his highest ERA against any Yankees opponent. Sabathia was 2-2 in five starts against Boston last year, and the last time he faced them here, on May 13, 2013, he pitched into the eighth inning, allowing one run on six hits in a 4-1 Yankees victory. Sabathia is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA in two starts this season. He beat the Blue Jays on Sunday, going six innings and allowing four earned runs in a 6-4 Yankees win.

Pregame notes: Meet the Yankees

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
TAMPA, Fla. -- At some time today, or maybe tonight, we will learn the Yankees' final Opening Day roster. As always, Joe Girardi will not reveal his choices to the media until he has informed all the players, and there were no clues in the Yankees' clubhouse when it closed a few minutes after 3 p.m.

All the backup infielder candidates were still at their lockers, chatting, laughing or staring into cellphones as a means to kill time. So were the bullpen candidates.

But since this is a business that doesn't wait for someone to tell us the news, here's what I think the final roster will be:


CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Masahiro Tanaka
Ivan Nova
Michael Pineda
David Robertson
Shawn Kelley
Matt Thornton
David Phelps
Adam Warren
Dellin Betances
Shane Greene


Brian McCann
Francisco Cervelli


Mark Teixeira
Brian Roberts
Derek Jeter
Kelly Johnson
Eduardo Nunez
Dean Anna


Jacoby Ellsbury
Brett Gardner
Carlos Beltran
Alfonso Soriano
Ichiro Suzuki

After listening to Girardi speak yesterday, I have a gut feeling he's going to hold onto Greene in the bullpen and send Vidal Nuno to Triple-A to keep him stretched out in case the Yankees need an emergency starter. And the Anna-over-Yangervis-Solarte call is based strictly on the fact Anna is on the 40-man roster, Solarte is not, and whomever gets that spot is only likely to be with the club a week or two until Brendan Ryan comes back. No sense in making a roster move for that.

But we'll see when Girardi finally lets us know sometime tonight. Maybe there'll be a surprise or two.

Here's the lineup for tonight's penultimate -- that's the word of the day -- spring training game, against the Miami Marlins at 7:05 p.m.

Brett Gardner LF
Jeter SS
Beltran RF
Teixeira 1B
McCann C
Soriano DH
Johnson 3B
Roberts 2B
Suzuki CF

Kuroda RHP

Kuroda will work the first two innings before giving way to Tanaka, who will go the next four at least. No TV or radio tonight but I will be providing live in-game updates via my Twitter feed, @ESPNNYYankees.

Early notes: Ellsbury sighting

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
TAMPA, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury took batting practice on the field before tonight's game against the Pirates, a mild surprise since his name did not appear on the list of batting practice groups posted in the Yankees' clubhouse this afternoon.

Joe Girardi put that down to a miscommunication between himself and coach Rob Thomson, who is responsible for posting the workout groups each day. "Topper just didn't know Ellsbury was going to hit," Girardi said.

Girardi said he still needed to see Ellsbury run at full speed on his tight right calf before clearing him to play, but said a return to the field for Sunday afternoon's game here against the Blue Jays was not out of the question.

"And if not Sunday, then we'll shoot for Tuesday,” Girardi said. The Yankees are off Monday.

Ellsbury took the customary number of swings in the first group along with Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts and Brian McCann, then shagged flies for a few minutes before jogging lightly back to the dugout. He disappeared down into the tunnel, presumably to do his conditioning in the weight room. We'll try to talk to him when the clubhouse reopens after batting practice at about 5:15.

Meanwhile, here's tonight's Yankees lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
McCann C
Alfonso Soriano LF
Kelly Johnson 3B
Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki DH

CC Sabathia LHP

Velocity still an issue?: Sabathia pitched five hitless innings against the Miami Marlins in his most recent outing March 16 in Panama, with the only baserunner reaching on an error. He was effective with his slider and changeup but there were no radar gun readings on his fastball, which had clocked in at around 88 mph in his previous start March 11 against the Nationals in Viera. Sabathia has had a decent spring -- 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts -- but you can bet all eyes will be on that radar gun tonight.

The real Yankees: Tonight's lineup, minus Ellsbury, is pretty much the lineup Girardi will be sending out on a daily basis during the regular season with one slight difference: Soriano, tonight's left fielder, will be the DH once Ellsbury is healthy enough to play again, and Ichiro, who had a big hit in last night's 3-2 win over the Red Sox, will be back on the bench. Ellsbury will be the leadoff hitter and Gardner, who is leading off tonight, will probably be in the ninth spot, where Ichiro is hitting tonight.

Closing time: David Robertson is scheduled to pitch tonight, and since Sabathia will probably be allowed to go six innings or between 85-90 pitches, Robertson is likely to pitch late in a game for the first time all spring. In fact, we may see the new setup/closer sequence, since Shawn Kelley, the potential eighth-inning man, is also scheduled to pitch. Matt Thornton and David Herndon are also available.

The Pseudo-Bucs: The Pirates have just three regulars from last year's team in tonight's lineup: defending NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, 1B Gaby Sanchez and 2B Neil Walker, who is tonight's DH. Also in the lineup is newly-acquired 3B Robert Andino, signed as a free agent in the offseason. RHP Edinson Volquez gets the start.

Back to the Fort: The Yankees make their second trip to Ft. Myers, 135 miles to the south, tomorrow morning to play the Minnesota Twins, and as you might expect, aren't sending too many marquee names aside from starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. On the bus tomorrow will be Gardner, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, Johnson and Zoilo Almonte.

Pregame notes: Hughes out, Romine done?

September, 21, 2013
NEW YORK -- As the Yankees head into the final eight games of their regular season, Joe Girardi and his staff are facing at least one more big decision: Do they send Phil Hughes out to make his next start, or skip him in the rotation for the crucial series against the Tampa Bay Rays which begins Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium?

Well, it sounds very much like if Hughes gets to pitch again at all this season, it will be against the Astros in Houston in one of the final three games of the season next weekend.

Asked before today's game against the Giants if he would keep CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova on rotation -- meaning, lined up to pitch Games 1, 2 and 3 against the Rays, Girardi said, "It's something we have discussed and we have to make a decision pretty quick about what we're going to do."

Which most likely means Hughes is out for the Rays series, probably a prudent decision considering the Yankees are probably going to have to sweep those games to have any hope of slipping into a playoff berth.

Austin Romine passed an ImPACT test last week and was cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion Sept. 10 in Baltimore, but Girardi said he is still not ready to play, and may be done for the season. "After he exercises a little bit, he’s still not 100 percent. So I can’t tell you. I don’t know if he’ll play the rest of the year. I'm not real sure."

Which probably means he won't.

• Same goes for Brett Gardner, whose level of activity since suffering an oblique strain Sept. 12 in Baltimore has been limited to spiking Yankees PR man Jason Zillo's coffee with Tabasco sauce in Toronto the other day. "He’s not really doing too much," Girardi said. "He’ll probably start maybe some light exercises, maybe some turning and stuff. But there’s not a whole lot there yet."

• Despite the Giants starting right-hander Ryan Vogelsong today, Girardi opted to go with right-handed hitting Mark Reynolds at first base over lefty Lyle Overbay, citing the success of right-handed hitters against Vogelsong. He didn't mention Overbay's career line against Vogelsong: 1-for-10 with six Ks.

• Girardi is still hopeful of playing Alex Rodriguez at third base this season, but said it will not happen before Tuesday's game against the Rays at the earliest.

• Nova is 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 11 interleague starts but has never faced the Giants. Same goes for Vogelsong against the Yankees. He is 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 24 career interleague starts. The only Yankee with any numbers against him is former Chicago Cub Alfonso Soriano, who is 5-for-15.

Pregame: Third straight DH day for A-Rod

September, 13, 2013
BOSTON -- On Thursday, Joe Girardi said Alex Rodriguez's left hamstring strain was still an issue, and on Friday night, for the opener of the weekend series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, it apparently remained so, since for the third straight game A-Rod is in the lineup, but not on the field.

Rodriguez will be the DH tonight while Eduardo Nunez plays third base.

"My hope is tomorrow," Girardi said when asked when A-Rod could return to the field. "I really believe I could have played him today. I didn't even ask him. But my plan is to play him there tomorrow."

Over the past two games, Rodriguez has performed well as the DH, homering in Tuesday night's 5-4 Yankees win over the O's and scoring a run in Thursday's 6-5 win. But he seemed to run rather gingerly scoring on Vernon Wells' single in the third inning.

"I think he's just playing it safe," Girardi said. "I think I mentioned to him to just be smart about it. If he needed to run, I think he can run."

• Girardi acknowledged he might be without David Robertson, who got lit up for three runs in the eighth inning Thursday, allowing the Orioles to tie the game, and Mariano Rivera, who appeared in his fourth game in five days and was awarded the win after pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. In that case, Girardi said, "It will probably be closer by committee" tonight.

• Girardi said Austin Romine (slight concussion) felt better today, and did well on his ImPACT test, but was unlikely to play this weekend. "I'm not sure what we have, exactly," Girardi said. "I'll check with him every day to see where he's at, and check with [trainer] Stevie [Donohue] every day to see where he thinks he’s at."

• Girardi said Boone Logan (elbow soreness) "may have turned a corner" and could be available for the Toronto series, but was unable to play catch before tonight's game because a pregame rainstorm kept the infield covered until less than an hour before the scheduled first pitch.

Ivan Nova (triceps soreness) is still scheduled to make his start in Sunday night's series finale, "as far as I know," Girardi said.

• Girardi said he didn't have a problem with Marc Jacobson, the official scorer on Thursday night, awarding the win to Rivera in what was a typical save situation, invoking a rule that denied the win to Robertson, who should have been the pitcher of record, because his outing was "ineffective and brief." Said Girardi: "I'd like to see [Rivera] get a save, but when I woke up this morning, it didn't change my life."

Pregame notes: Nova good to go

September, 12, 2013
BALTIMORE -- For the first time in awhile, the Yankees got some good news out of their bullpen: Ivan Nova went into it, threw some pitches, and came out proclaiming himself ready to make his next scheduled start Sunday night against the Red Sox in Boston.

"They haven’t told me anything but that’s what I’m expecting," said Nova, who left his start Tuesday after six innings with some tightness in his right triceps.

Joe Girardi, too, said, "I think he’s ready to go, I do. Obviously we'll watch him, but this is not the first time we’ve dealt with this in the course of the season, and he's pitched very well for us. To me it's probably a lot of the same of what he's been dealing with, and it's just part of being a pitcher."

Nova is slated to face Clay Buchholz in the series finale.

Alex Rodriguez is the DH for the second game in a row, and Girardi said it was A-Rod's choice not to play third base tonight due to lingering soreness in his left hamstring. "He said he felt better, [but] he didn’t tell me that he felt great, so I just decided to DH him. I think it’s something we’ve got to watch a little bit.”

• It is still not conclusively determined if Austin Romine suffered a concussion Tuesday night when he took a foul ball off his mask in the seventh inning and had to leave the game. Romine, who suffered dizziness after the game, said he has been feeling a little bit better every day since, and was slated to take an ImPACT test, a computerized exam to determine if he in fact did suffer a concussion, during tonight's game.

Boone Logan said his left elbow was feeling a bit better today and would play catch before the game, although Girardi said he wasn't sure if that was the case. The manager did say he believed Logan's MRI had been evaluated by Dr. James Andrews and came back clean. Logan still will not pitch for a few days, at minimum.

• It is unlikely that Mariano Rivera, who has appeared in the past two games and three of the past four, throwing 74 pitches in the process, will be available tonight. Girardi said he would speak to Rivera before the game but didn't sound very gung-ho about using him tonight.

• The Red Sox announced they will honor Mo before his final appearance at Fenway Park on Sunday night. "That should be interesting," Girardi said. "I'm sure he'll get a lot of respect there for what he's done in his career. They have great fans there. I thought I heard some cheers the last time he came in a game there. I think people appreciate what he's done and what he's meant to the game."

Pregame notes: Which CC will we see, see?

September, 4, 2013
NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia has won three of his past four starts, but really has only pitched well in two of them. His most recent time out, Sabathia allowed five runs in 5-2/3 innings but the Yankees went on to beat the Orioles, 8-5.

And two starts before that, Sabathia allowed six runs in 5-1/3 innings to the Red Sox, but he wound up with the win on the night Ryan Dempster turned Alex Rodriguez into a target and a rallying point for his team. So to say Sabathia's problems are behind him would be something of a misstatement.

Tonight, Sabathia takes an 18-4 lifetime record and 3.63 lifetime ERA vs. the White Sox into the series finale, although the only time he has faced the White Sox this season, he had to settle for a no-decision after allowing three runs in 7-1/3 innings at the Cell on Aug. 7 in a game the Yankees wound up losing, 6-5.

Before the game, Joe Girardi was asked on what he based his continuing belief in CC's ability to be effective for his team in their crucial final 24 games of the season. "I’ve seen a lot of good innings from him," Girardi said. "It seems a lot of times like it’s one inning that gets away from him. I think his sinker has been better, I think his changeup has been better, his velocity has actually increased a little bit. And I’ve seen some really good innings out of him. We need to see more of that."

• Girardi dropped A-Rod to sixth in the batting order tonight against righty Erik Johnson, who is making his major league debut, but the manager said it was only to break up the lefties in his lineup.

• The Yankees are 16-6 since the Girardi Doctrine was delivered on Aug. 10. That was the day the manager said his team needed to win 93 games to make the playoffs. By his math, the Yankees will need to go 19-5 the rest of the way to assure themselves of at least one game in October. They enter play tonight 2-1/2 games out of the second AL wild-card spot, and better yet, they trail just one team, the Tampa Bay Rays, who have lost five of their past six. The Rays play the Angels, who they beat last night to snap a five-game losing streak, in Anaheim in a 10:05 p.m. start.

Pregame notes: Reynolds All-Purpose Wrap

August, 28, 2013
TORONTO -- The Yankees have used a lot of different players at a lot of different positions, but until last night, they had used only two second baseman -- Robinson Cano, and four times when Cano was the DH, David Adams.

And then, suddenly, they needed three second basemen in one game -- Cano, who left in the first inning after being hit by a pitch; Eduardo Nunez, who lasted until the top of the ninth, when he was forced to leave with a knee injury, and Mark Reynolds, who finished up and even turned the game-ending double play.

Well, Reynolds -- who has played all of three innings at second in his entire career -- is the starting second baseman tonight now that Nunez was a late scratch after pregame warmups.

"I’m comfortable there," Reynolds said. "I came up [at second], played in the Fall League there, a lot in the minor leagues there. Whatever they need, I’ll be ready to go."

Joe Girardi, who has used Reynolds at third and first so far, calls him "Mr. Everything."

• Girardi said the Yankees are still on rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles at home, meaning Phil Hughes is still scheduled to make his start on Sunday. But Girardi left open the possibility that that could change. "We could address it," he said, "But right now, that's what I have."

• Girardi, who gave Alex Rodriguez a day off after playing two straight games on the Tropicana Field turf -- which has a conventional skin infield -- is starting A-Rod for the third straight game on the Rogers Centre turf, which covers the infield except for small sliding boxes. "Well, I mighta done something different today if we were not in the situation we’re in," Girardi said.

• Girardi said Michael Pineda, who was shut down a couple of weeks ago after experiencing some shoulder soreness, would throw a side session in Tampa, but David Phelps, who has a sore right forearm, has yet to throw a ball. It is highly unlikely either of them will be among the September callups when rosters expand on Saturday.

• Slightly better news about Travis Hafner (shoulder) and Zoilo Almonte (ankle). Girardi said both have progressed to "tee and toss," and would move on to live batting practice later this week. Almonte had a minor setback when he needed to have four wisdom teeth pulled, but Girardi said he expects both to be recalled in September.

Hiroki Kuroda is 4-1 with a 3.03 ERA lifetime versus the Blue Jays, including eight shutout innings against them at Yankee Stadium in May. Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond has never faced the Yankees.
TORONTO -- If Alex Rodriguez hits his 650th home run and no one notices, did it really happen?

Well, it did happen Monday night, but there was no mention of it at the Rogers Centre on Monday night, or in Joe Girardi's postgame press conference, or from A-Rod himself, who left the clubhouse following the Yankees' 5-2 loss without speaking to reporters.

And even Tuesday, Rodriguez virtually had to be blocked from leaving the clubhouse so the beat crew could lob a few softballs at him about the milestone.

"It's hard to reflect on it right now," Rodriguez said before the Yankees-Blue Jays game, the second of this three-game series. "We're in the middle of a pennant race and we need wins like oxygen right now. I think at some time, there will be a time and a place to appreciate that. But it's probably not right now."

"I haven’t seen where 50s have been celebrated," Girardi said. "Hundreds have, or maybe when you pass a guy who’s in front of you. But it’s not every day you see someone hit 650. But it seems like the hundreds are the ones people concentrate on more."

Rodriguez had been booed, loudly, every time he came to bat Monday night, and in fact, the boos following the home run -- only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays have hit more -- were even louder than the boos that preceded it, which did not seem all that out of the ordinary for an internationally-detested player hitting a homer in a visiting ballpark.

But the milestone itself was pretty much greeted with a collective shrug of the shoulders. Girardi was asked if he thought the non-reaction was a result of all the recent negative publicity surrounding A-Rod's involvement in the Biogenesis scandal and the 211-game suspension, currently under appeal, handed down by Bud Selig.

"It could," Girardi said, "But as I said, I haven’t been around for many guys hitting 650. I don’t remember him celebrating 550."

Just a reminder -- when, and if, A-Rod reaches 660 to pull even with Mays for fourth on the all-time list, the Yankees are contractually obligated to play him a $6 million bonus on top of the $28 million they are already paying him this year.

"I’m sure the fans don’t get really caught up in the bonus," Girardi said. "Many of them probably aren’t aware unless someone writes something."

In other notes:

• Girardi said he was giving Ichiro Suzuki "just a day" against left-hander J.A. Happ, even though it was pointed out to him that Ichiro had excellent numbers against Happ, hitting .625.

"It's only seven at-bats," the manager said. Funny, three days ago Girardi put Suzuki into the lineup against lefty David Price because, he said, "He's had good at-bats against him."

Yeah. Three of them.

• Girardi said A-Rod and Derek Jeter both came out of Monday night's game OK despite playing on the hard Rogers Centre turf, which, the manager said, "Is a little easier on your body than the turf of old." And yet, in the Yankees' clubhouse here there is a handwritten message on the bulletin board: "Remember! No running on the turf!"

• Girardi said he had not given any more thought to removing Phil Hughes from his rotation following Monday's shaky outing. But when the question was put to him another way -- "Will you use the off-day [on Thursday] to readjust your rotation?" -- Girardi said, "We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see what happens, make sure people are OK, and see what we do." So it sounds like that is still a possibility.

• Tuesday night's starter, Andy Pettitte, is 24-13 lifetime against the Blue Jays with a 4.04 ERA. Here at the Centre, Pettitte is 16-6, with a 3.83 ERA, and he is 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA in his past eight starts against the Blue Jays, dating back to 2009.

• Happ is 2-1 lifetime against the Yankees with a 5.46 ERA, and lost to them, 5-3, five days ago at Yankee Stadium, allowing four runs in 5-1/3 innings.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The news on Brett Gardner was good -- he arrived in the Yankees clubhouse without a cast on his right hand after being hit by a Chris Archer pitch Friday night, but his X-ray came back negative. So he's OK to play, only not against David Price.

"Every night that we face a lefty, one of our lefties is going to have to sit," manager Joe Girardi said. "This has nothing to do with last night."

What it has to do with is Gardner's career record against Price -- 2-for-14 (.143) with three strikeouts -- as opposed to Curtis Granderson's, who, in spite of hitting only .196 against Price, has hit four home runs off him. Girardi also cited some "good at-bats" by Ichiro Suzuki against Price, although he has just three at-bats against him with one hit.


Lyle Overbay, who missed last night's game with flu-like symptoms, didn't look too well before this one, either, and Girardi said he was probably not available in any capacity tonight. "He's still having some issues," Girardi said. "He gets a little bit dizzy, and he’s nauseated, so I'm not sure about that one."

• A discussion of CC Sabathia's woes this season came up before the game, and it was suggested to Girardi that maybe his erstwhile ace, who has pitched effectively at more than 300 pounds for most of his career, is now too thin. Sabathia has shed at least 25 pounds this season and kept it off, but the lost poundage seems to coincide with a loss of fastball velocity.

"I don't think so," Girardi said. "It’s not like he's 210 pounds. He's still a big man. He's still strong. I think he's in tremendous shape."

Still, Girardi could offer no concrete reason for Sabathia's struggles -- he is 11-10 with a 4.83 ERA, leads the team with a career-high 27 home runs allowed and has given up more than 10 hits in a game three times this season -- other than to say, "He's had a tough year. There's a lot of things you could say. Could it be this? Could it be that? I think that's just speculation. The bottom line is, his fastball has cut more and his changeup has cut more, and that's what's led to the problems."

Sabathia has always had trouble with the Rays -- he is 11-12 with a 3.76 ERA against them in 33 career starts -- and especially at Tropicana Field, where his record is 3-7 and his ERA 4.39. In fact, since becoming a Yankee, Sabathia has won just four of 22 starts against Tampa Bay and lost 11 times.

• Price is 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA lifetime against the Yankees, but the Yankees beat him here at the Trop on April 23, 4-3, when closer Fernando Rodney blew a save on a two-run single by Ichiro. In nine career meetings with Sabathia, Price is 4-2 and the Rays have won six of those starts.

Pregame Notes: Mo needs Larry

August, 12, 2013
NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera said he is not worried after having blown three saves in a row for the first time in his career.

Still, the greatest closer of all time will do what players of much lesser stature have done throughout baseball history. He will consult with his pitching coach.

"Oh, yeah, I will definitely talk to Larry," Mo said, referring to Larry Rothschild. "That's why we have coaches, to tell you what you're doing wrong. Maybe do a little extra work, too."

Mariano said that because his pitches to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, both of whom hit home runs in the ninth inning to tie Sunday afternoon's game with the Tigers, drifted up into the zone, he thought the problems were with his release point and follow-through.

"I finish some and I don't finish the others," he said. "The release point is not consistent. When you leave the ball up, the ball basically don't have nothing. There's nothing there. No life. And we can't afford that."

Mariano converted his first 18 opportunities of the season before blowing his first one against the Mets on May 28. But with the three blown saves over the last six days, Rivera has now blown five of his past 22 save opportunities. Thanks to the late-inning herpoics of Brett Gardner, however, the Yankees have managed to win two of those three games.

Rivera, who had surgery last June to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, said he is healthy and is having no problems with his arm or his knee. He likened what is happening to him now to a car that needs an occasional tune-up.

"It happens every year," he said. "It happens to everyone, pitchers, hitters, and I'm no exception. Baseball is something you have to keep working on. You can't stop. "You stop when you finish."

-- Derek Jeter is still with the Yankees and was supposed to take some "tee and toss," which means hitting off a tee and taking some swings at underhand servings in the cage, before the game. "Then tomorrow I'm going to do some dry swings," he joked. "In the pool."

Jeter is expected to go to Tampa to continue his rehab when the Yankees leave for Boston Thursday night. Asked if he expected Jeter to be reactivated on August 17, when he is eligible to come off the DL, Joe Girardi said, "I'm not sure."

-- Girardi is sure about Travis Hafner, who has been on the DL since July 27 and was eligible to come off today: He's not ready. "He feels better and he's continuing his rehab," Girardi said. "But he's not ready to do baseball activities yet." Hafner may not return to the team before rosters are expanded on Sept. 1.

-- Tonight's starter, Hiroki Kuroda, is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five career starts against the Angels. Since he became a Yankee, Kuroda has started twice vs. the Angels and is 1-0 with a 2.93, but the last time he faced them, on July 13, 2012, Kuroda gave up five runs in 7-1/3 innings and took a no-decision. Angels 1B Mark Trumbo is 3-for-9 vs. Kuroda, and two of those hits are home runs.

-- Angels starter Garrett Richards has faced the Yankees twice (one start) and is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA against them. He made his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium on August 10, 2011, and allowed six runs on six hits in five innings, two of them home runs by Curtis Granderson.

Pregame notes: More aches and pains

August, 3, 2013
SAN DIEGO -- The big news before this one, of course, is the "leg issues" that will keep Derek Jeter out of the Yankees' lineup tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and might even send him back to the disabled list.

But if that wasn't enough -- that and the fact that they have lost eight of 13 games since the All-Star break, have dropped another 2-1/2 games off the pace in the AL East, and their former ace, CC Sabathia, has not been effective in at least month -- there is more bad news for the Yankees.

Now David Phelps, working his way back to the rotation after going on the DL in July with forearm strain, has been scratched from his scheduled start tomorrow for Double-A Trenton with elbow soreness.

“He’s not 100 percent, so we decided to scratch him," Joe Girardi said. "I talked to him today to make sure that he was feeling OK and he said he didn’t quite feel 100 percent. I said, 'Look, this isn’t something we want to mess with, so let’s take a step back, get you evaluated and see where you’re at.'"

• In Jeter's absence, Eduardo Nunez, who the Yankees were going to give a chance to play at third base on a regular basis, moves back to shortstop. Brent Lillibridge plays third tonight and bats seventh.

Chris Stewart, who was packed in ice last night after taking a hard hit in a home-plate collision, is back behind the plate tonight while Austin Romine, who last played on July 26, rides the bench.

• In his second game back after missing 60 games with a broken left hand, Curtis Granderson is the cleanup hitter tonight. After playing left field last night, Grandy is playing right tonight; Alfonso Soriano, the No. 3 hitter, is playing left.

Ivan Nova, who has pitched well in his past four starts (a 2.03 ERA) but due to the lack of offense has just a 2-2 record to show for it, is making his first career start against the Padres tonight. Tyson Ross, the Padres starter, is making his second career start against the Yankees; He took the loss on May 25, 2012, when he allowed six runs and 12 hits in 4-1/3 innings while a member of the Oakland Athletics. He has also made three relief appearances against the Yankees.



Masahiro Tanaka
12 2.51 135 129
BAJ. Ellsbury .286
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 61
OPSB. Gardner .780
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135