New York Yankees: Travis Hafner

Hafner up, CC to 60-day

September, 25, 2013
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NEW YORK -- The Yankees activated designated hitter Travis Hafner from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday.

To make room for Hafner on the 40-man, they placed CC Sabathia (Grade 2 left hamstring strain) on the 60-day DL (retroactive to Sept. 21).

Hafner (shoulder) has not played since July 26, though the Yanks have hardly missed his .205 batting average.

Girardi: A-Rod has been 'pretty good'

August, 14, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that A-Rod's been an upgrade so far for the Yankees this season.

Before Rodriguez made his debut on Aug. 5, Yankee third baseman had combined to hit an MLB-low .215 with just four homers and a league-low 32 RBIs.

In seven games, A-Rod is hitting .259 with a homer and four RBIs.

Joe Girardi was asked to assess the performance of Rodriguez, who missed the first four months of the season following hip surgery and a quad strain.

"I think he's been pretty good. I think he's swung the bat pretty well," Girardi said. "We've seen him make some good defensive plays. He made a great play the other night going to his right. I've been pleased."

MLB has suspended Rodriguez for 211 games for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and attempts to impede baseball's investigation into Biogenesis.

Rodriguez has appealed the suspension and is playing during the appeal process.

NO RETURN DATE FOR JETER: Girardi reiterated that the injured Derek Jeter will return to Tampa this weekend when the Yankees travel to Boston.

Jeter (calf) is eligible to return Sunday against the Red Sox, but the team will make that decision. The Yankees likely won't rush Jeter back as he's landed on the DL twice during his first five games.

Jeter took batting practice, fielded ground balls and ran for the second straight day on Tuesday.

HAFNER HEALING: Travis Hafner (rotator cuff) said he's improving as he rehabs from a right rotator cuff strain.

"Have ways to go but strengthening it up," Hafner told ESPNNewYork.com. "Once it gets to the point that I can start a hitting program, I'll do it."

Hafner, who went on the disabled list retroactive to July 27, is currently doing shoulder strengthening exercises, but is not participating in baseball activities. He believes he'll be checked by a doctor Monday when the Yankees return from their road trip.

The veteran does not expect to return before September, but believes he will be back with the Yankees this season. Hafner is hitting. 205 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs.

"So far the rehab has been really good, I've improved every day," Hafner told ESPNNewYork.com. "As long as I keep that up, I'll be able to come back with a good amount of time."

BROOKLYN'S BETANCES WILL PROBABLY END UP IN PEN: Girardi said he expects Brooklyn product Dellin Betances will end up in the bullpen. The Yankees drafted Betances, a Grand Street HS standout, as a starting pitcher, but he has excelled as a reliever this season. Betances tossed 30 scoreless innings with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Girardi added that things can change.

RANDOLPH AND YOGI: Ex-Yankee player and Met manager Willie Randolph had an interesting relationship with Yankee legend Yogi Berra.

Randolph said in an interview on YES' CenterStage show (to air Wednesday night) that Berra would visit him at Shea Stadium while he was managing the Mets and offer tips.

"Yogi used to come and sit in my office, and we'd just sit there and talk baseball. For him to come to Shea and sit in the office with me and talk to me about the game, 'Hey, Shorty, you doing this wrong ... Shorty, what about this guy?' He calls me Shorty, I don't know why. I'm taller than he is. He's a midget, and he calls me Shorty. 'How you doing, Shorty?' It meant so much to me," Randolph said. "That was just unbelievable [that] he would do that."

Hafner out of lineup, sore shoulder

July, 27, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Yankees designated hitter Travis Hafner is not in Saturday's lineup after injuring a shoulder during Friday's game against the Rays.

He was scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday morning. It remains to be seen if he will be available off the bench.

Hafner went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Friday's 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay.

"I was told after his last at-bat," manager Joe Girardi said Saturday, when asked when Hafner suffered the injury. "He has not complained of a shoulder, he has not been getting treatment really on his shoulder, so I don’t know if it was one swing yesterday, or what. But it leads me to believe it was one swing."

Hafner, 36, has been injury-prone in recent years, playing in less than 100 games in four of the past five seasons. In 81 games this year, he is batting .205 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs.

He is typically the Yankees' starting DH when they face a right-hander, as they will on Saturday -- Tampa Bay rookie Chris Archer (5-3, 2.76 ERA).

Instead, the newly acquired Alfonso Soriano will be the Yankees' DH, and Vernon Wells will start in left field.

Postgame notes: Five things to know

July, 25, 2013
7/25/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Yankees lost 3-1 to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday for the same reason they have suffered most of their 48 losses this season: They didn't hit.

But you knew that already.

Here are five things you might not have known:

1. Brett Gardner, who thought he had gone 1-for-4 with a run scored, received a pleasant surprise after the game when he learned the scoring had been changed on the sixth-inning play that resulted in the Yankees' only run of the game.

[+] EnlargeBrett Gardner
Layne Murdoch/Getty ImagesBrett Gardner advanced to third on a two-base error in the sixth inning. He scored the Yankees' lone run.
Gardner made it all the way to third when hit hit a comebacker to Rangers pitcher Matt Garza, who first bobbled it, then fired the ball into right field. The play was originally scored a three-base error on the pitcher, but afterward, the official scorer changed it to a single and a two-base error. Gardner grinned when he found out -- "I was only halfway to first when he picked up the ball," he said -- and chuckled when asked how seriously he had considered trying to score on the play.

"Not at all," he said. "I was gassed."

Gardner wound up scoring on Robinson Cano's single to right.

2. Shawn Kelley might have allowed Texas' insurance run on pinch hitter David Murphy's towering eighth-inning home run, but Kelley is also by far the stingiest member of the Yankees' bullpen when it comes to allowing inherited runners to score. He stranded two more Wednesday and has allowed just two of 25 inherited runners to score.

3. This was Joe Girardi's explanation for stopping on the way to the mound to collect Andy Pettitte when he saw Rangers manager Ron Washington emerge from the Texas dugout to argue with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale: "I just wanted to make sure that the hitter wasn't coming back to hit. I wasn't exactly sure what was going on so I'm not going to go out there and signal and maybe he calls the hitter back, something happened, somebody calls time out. I wanted to make sure that the play was standing. Ron Washington came out, he got a hit, what if he calls it back someone that called time out and I go like this."

No, I don't get it, either.

4. Travis Hafner sat for the second straight game against a right-handed starter, although Girardi did send him up to hit for Chris Stewart in the eighth inning. Hafner grounded out to first. His future with this team might be in jeopardy.

5. When Melky Mesa made his major league debut Tuesday night, he became the 46th player to play in a game for the Yankees this season, surpassing last year's total of 45 in just the 100th game of the season. The franchise record is 51, last accomplished in 2008. That mark seems destined to fall this season.

Notes: Robertson loses All-Star vote

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
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David Robertson Elsa/Getty ImagesDavid Robertson lost an All-Star vote to Toronto reliever Steve Delabar.
NEW YORK -- The Yankees will have only two players in next week's All-Star Game at Citi Field: Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera.

Shortly after the Yankees' 8-4 win over the Royals on Thursday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced the winners of the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote. Yankees reliever David Robertson was one of five candidates who could be added to the American League roster, but he lost out to Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar, who finished with 9.6 million votes.

In the National League, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the Final Vote competition with a record 19.7 million votes, outpacing Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig and three others.

Robertson spoke with reporters after the game, but prior to the announcement.

"It's been amazing, the work everyone's done, especially my teammates too, all the fans," Robertson said. "I'm more of a reserved guy, I don't really like the attention too much. It's been tough for me to sort of campaign to try to get votes. I tried to do as best I could, and had a great group behind me, especially the Yankees' PR staff. It's been an interesting experience."

Robertson combined with two others (Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan) for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Andy Pettitte on Thursday. He struck out the side in the eighth inning, allowing just an infield single.

On the season, in 40 appearances and 37 1/3 innings, Robertson is 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He has given up just 24 hits, with 49 strikeouts and 12 walks.

Delabar has made 37 appearances and pitched 41 1/3 innings for Toronto. He is 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA. He has given up 29 hits, with 57 strikeouts and 22 walks.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Catcher Austin Romine was one of three Yankees to have two hits on Thursday, along with Zoilo Almonte and Eduardo Nunez.

But Romine was hitting just .132 on the season coming into the game. It was just his third multihit game of the season.

Romine credited doing some extra work in recent days, as he has taken early batting practice. "Getting back to the basics -- short, compact swing," Romine said.

BRUISE BROTHERS: Travis Hafner sat out Thursday's game after suffering a contusion on his left foot working in the batting cage during Wednesday night's game. Brett Gardner was not in the starting lineup either after being hit by a pitch in the right shin Wednesday and suffering a contusion. But Gardner did pinch-hit in the eighth inning, flying out to center field.

After the game, manager Joe Girardi was asked about those two and their potential availability for Friday night's series opener against the Twins.

"Well, I think I’ll have Gardner for sure," Girardi said. "I’m not sure about Hafner."

And of course, we'll be waiting to hear the status of Derek Jeter, too.

Pregame notes: Gardner, Hafner on bench

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
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NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter is in the Yankees lineup Thursday for the first time this season, but Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner are not.

Gardner suffered a contusion on his right shin after being hit by a pitch Wednesday night, and Hafner suffered a contusion on his left foot working in the batting cage during Wednesday's game. Both went for X-rays, which were negative. But manager Joe Girardi decided to sit them Thursday, at least at the start. It remains to be seen if they will be available off the bench.

"I'll see after they go through some treatment, how they feel later today, moving around a little bit," Girardi said. "But I didn’t think either one were starters today."

Gardner was in the Yankees clubhouse Thursday morning during the period reporters were allowed inside. He wasn't sure of his status for Thursday's game, either.

"To be honest, I don’t know yet. I can't answer that," Gardner said. "I have to get some treatment and get it loosened up. My legs are a big part of my game, and if I can’t run, there’s no sense in playing. Hopefully I’ll be able to run."

On the bright side, the injuries to Gardner and Hafner prompted the Yankees to bring back Jeter at least a day earlier than they had originally planned.

Jeter will serve as the Yankees' designated hitter Thursday. Ichiro Suzuki moves over to center field, in place of Gardner and Vernon Wells slots in at right.

BACK IN THE GAME: After starting just one of the team's previous five games, Wells is in the starting lineup Thursday, and batting cleanup.

Wells went 2-for-2 on Wednesday after Hafner was forced to exit the game. He is 10-for-20 in seven games in July, after batting just .133 in the month of June. And he is 9-for-27 (.333) in his career against Kansas City's starter on Thursday, Ervin Santana.

ON THE MOVE? Eduardo Nunez returned to the Yankees just five days ago after missing two months with an oblique injury. He has started four of the past five games at shortstop, and will play at short again on Thursday with Jeter serving as DH.

But Jeter will be back at shortstop as soon as Friday, so what do the Yankees do with Nunez?

General manager Brian Cashman re-opened the possibility of Nunez playing other positions on Thursday.

"I think he's an option based on whatever the other alternatives are," Cashman said. "Obviously we've run him over [at third base], and we've also had him in the outfield. I just think that comes down to a feel from [Girardi's] perspective and the staff's perspective. We believe that he's a shortstop, but because of his athleticism he can play all over."

Nunez is batting .211 with no homers and 7 RBIs in 32 games (31 starts) this season. He has made three errors in the field.

In his four years in the big leagues, Nunez has also started games at second base, third base, left field and right field.
Robinson CanoJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesRobinson Cano tied Thurman Munson for 18th place on the all-time Yankee hit list on Tuesday. He also struck out with a man on second and two out in the eighth to snuff out the Yankees' last real chance to tie the game.
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi was asked after Tuesday night's 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals if he felt as if the Yankees needed to add a bat at the trade deadline.

Here was his response: "That’s something that remains to be seen. I'm asked that question on a yearly basis. What you’re asking me to do is to put down the guys in that room. I’ll never do that."

When the question was put to him another way -- "Do you still believe the answers to your team's problems are in your clubhouse?" -- Girardi said this: "I feel like these guys can get it done. I'll always believe in them. That’s the bottom line. That’s who I am. I believe that we can get it done. We’re going to have to score some more runs, there’s no question about that but I believe we can do that."

Loyalty is an admirable trait. Blind loyalty is something else again.

• Yankees DH Travis Hafner struggled through another horrendous night, striking out in all three of his official at-bats, once with runners at first and third in the first inning and again leading off the ninth. His fall from grace has been stunning -- from .318 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in April to .181 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in the two and a half months since -- and Girardi said before the game the thought of replacing him in the lineup has never crossed his mind, probably because he has no real alternative.

Hafner, for his part, said the shoulder injury he suffered in mid-May, which required a cortisone shot, was not the reason for his decline, although he conceded it may have messed up his mechanics for a brief time.

Instead, he ascribed his struggles to inconsistency. "At times I feel great up there," he said. "But I'm not able to keep it going on a consistent basis."

That's where Hafner is wrong. Since May 1, he's been consistently awful.

Brett Gardner snapped a couple of negative streaks Tuesday night. For the first time in 16 games, he didn't strike out, having already made the Yankees' all-time record for consecutive games with at least one whiff his very own in Monday's 5-1 loss. And his bunt single leading off the Yankees' first inning also snapped an 0-for-16 skid that began over the weekend against the Orioles. He also scored the only Yankees run of the game, his 49th of the season, to pull within one of team-leader Robinson Cano.

• Cano picked up his 1,558th hit as a Yankee with his first-inning RBI single, which tied him for 18th place on the all-time Yankee hit list with Thurman Munson. Cano did not appear in the postgame clubhouse to discuss the milestone. Or, for that matter, his strikeout with a man on second and two out in the eighth which snuffed out the Yankees' last real chance to tie the game.

• Royals starter James Shields, who did not allow a hit aqfter the second inning and retired the last 13 Yankees he faced, won at Yankee Stadium for the first time May 20, 2010, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Shields' lifetime record against the Yankees improved to 3-9.

First-inning failure haunts Yankees

July, 9, 2013
7/09/13
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NEW YORK -- The math just didn't add up right to Joe Girardi.

"Any time you put up four hits in an inning, you think you're going to get more than one run," Girardi said of the Yankees' first inning in its 3-1 loss to the Royals on Tuesday. "We put a bunch of singles, and [James Shields] gave up one hit the next six innings, and we didn't do much off him."

[+] EnlargeLyle Overbay
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesLyle Overbay struck out with the bases full in the first.
The Yankees missed on a golden opportunity to break open the game, scoring just one run in the first inning despite an offensive barrage. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead behind four hits and loaded the bases with one out but couldn't plate anything more in their third straight loss.

"We felt like we could get back into it," Yankees first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "He just located real well and didn't give up many mistakes. We couldn't get anything going."

The Yankees came out on fire against Shields with three straight hits to the start the game, including an RBI single by Robinson Cano to go up 1-0. The one run they plated in the first three batters matched the total they had produced in each of their previous two games.

After a strikeout by Travis Hafner, Zoilo Almonte laced a soft single to right. Ichiro Suzuki rounded third, but third base coach Rob Thomson held him, playing it safe instead of testing right fielder David Lough's arm. Lough has a respectable four outfield assists this season.

"I'm expecting to score any time there's a hit, but rounding third obviously I can't see the play," Suzuki said. "All I can do is go off what the coach tells me to do."

Girardi said he thought it would have been a "bang-bang" play but was OK with the decision.

"It's a tough call," Girardi said. "It's an instant call you have to make, and I didn't have a problem with him not sending him."

At a time when the Yankees are struggling offensively, and perhaps need to be more aggressive on the basepaths, the call to play it safe ended up backfiring as the Yankees couldn't get a clutch hit. With the bases loaded and one out, Overbay struck out and Cain made a fantastic running grab to rob Eduardo Nunez of a potentially bases-clearing hit.

"I think [we were] what anybody would be in that situation: disappointed," Suzuki said. "How you guys would feel would be the same feeling that we have, too."

After a blazing start, the Yankees' offense went missing the rest of the night. Over the final 23 outs, they managed just one hit and had a total of three baserunners over the final six innings. Given a chance to tie the game in the eighth inning, Cano struck out to end the frame with the Yanks down 3-1.

Failing to produce in that first inning limited the Yankees with one run for the third straight game.

"We've had opportunities, so it's not like we're not getting those opportunities. We're just not getting that key hit, and everybody is guilty of it," Overbay said. "It's a matter of kind [of] zoning in and making sure that we have good at-bats. If we have good at-bats and don't come through, so be it."

Pregame notes: Hafner safe at DH

July, 9, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Travis Hafner started the 2013 season on fire, hitting .318 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. It certainly looked as if Brian Cashman had pulled off a major coup and the Cleveland Indians had made a huge mistake.

But since then, Hafner's production has gone steadily downhill. In May, he hit .179 with two homers and eight RBIs. In June, he hit .174 with four homers and 10 RBIs. So far in July, he is batting .200 with no home runs and two RBIs.

All told, Hafner has just 30 hits in 166 at-bats (.181) since April 30, with six home runs and 20 RBIs. His slugging percentage, which was .667 in April, fell to .299 in May, and his OPS has been cut in half, from 1.104 in April to the mid-.500s in May, June and July.

Still, when asked today if he was considering a change at DH, Joe Girardi said, "As of right now, it hasn't crossed my mind."

[+] EnlargeTravis Hafner
Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesTravis Hafner's job is safe -- for now.
The obvious concern is that Hafner, 36, has been playing hurt; he has an extensive injury history and was limited to just 66 games in 2012 due to knee and back issues. In mid-May, Hafner had some shoulder soreness that sent him to the MRI tube, but the test came back negative and he missed just a handful of games.

“He says [the shoulder is] fine. He has not complained about it," Girardi said. "I know for him, since we’ve had him, it’s always a maintenance program. He was complaining about it when he was hurt and he has not complained about it."

Still, something has changed drastically with Hafner between April and now, something that the manager has been unable to identify.

“It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why he’s struggling, but he is," Girardi said. "We need him to hit. We need this guy to hit, so we’re doing everything we can to get him going.”

Hafner is back in the cleanup spot tonight against James Shields, against whom he has four hits in 21 career at-bats (.190).

-- Rumors that Derek Jeter would be activated for tonight's game against the Royals turned out to be unfounded. Jeter has the night off but will play tomorrow night for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Girardi repeated the Yankees' position that they need to see Jeter play at least two back-to-back games in the field before even considering to reinstate him. Still, Girardi refuses to rule out the possibility that Jeter could return to the Yankees before the All-Star break begins after Sunday afternoon's game with the Twins.

"The real thing is to make sure that he’s ready, because you don’t want him to end up pulling something because he’s hurt," Girardi said. "We brought (Eduardo Nunez) here maybe a little before we expected to bring him because of an injury, so anything is possible. We want to make sure his legs are in shape; that he doesn’t tweak a hammy or tweak a calf or something just because he hasn’t played a lot. We’re expecting him to play.”

And asked how long he could wait before deciding whether to activate Jeter, Girardi said, "Sunday."

-- CC Sabathia goes for win No. 201 tonight, facing a team he has beaten 18 times in 28 decisions throughout his career, with a 3.26 ERA. CC beat the Royals in Kansas City on May 4, but hasn't faced them at Yankee Stadium since July 22, 2010, when he earned the win in a 10-4 Yankees victory, allowing three earned runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings.

--Royals starter James Shields always had problems with the Yankees as a Tampa Bay Ray, and his career record against them is 7-15 with a 4.46 ERA. He pitched well against the Yankees in his first start as a member of the Royals, but took the loss in a 3-2 Yankees win at Kauffman Stadium on May 11. Yankee Stadium has been especially cruel to Shields; he is 2-9 with a 5.31 ERA in 13 career starts in the Bronx. Robinson Cano loves hitting against him. He is 31-for-79 lifetime (.392) against Shields with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

Yankees' offense is scary bad right now

June, 21, 2013
6/21/13
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NEW YORK -- Even when the Yankees do score runs these days, it’s ugly.

Don’t be fooled by that 8-3 final score. The Yanks looked just as anemic against the Rays on Thursday as they looked against the Dodgers the night before.

The Bronx Bombers -- and we use that term loosely -- had just six hits against Tampa Bay. Five of them were singles -- two of the infield variety. The only extra-base knock? A ground-rule double by Lyle Overbay in the seventh inning.

The Yankees (39-33) have now lost seven of nine and have scored just 15 runs combined in those seven defeats.

[+] EnlargeRobinson Cano
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIThe Yankees had just six hits in Thursday's opener.
"We’re in a little funk right now, and we need to get out of it," center fielder Brett Gardner said.

The Yanks were facing a tough pitcher in Matt Moore, who was 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA in the first two months of the season. But he'd been awful in his first three starts of June, giving up 19 runs in 12⅓ innings and losing all three.

Moore was better on Thursday -- at least in the Yankees' eyes.

"He’s got a fastball that’s 93, 94, 95 [miles per hour], but it plays up a little harder than that. And he's got a real good breaking ball," Gardner said. "When he’s able to command his pitches and throw strikes, he’s as good as it gets."

The Yankees did score three runs off Moore in the fourth inning -- but it was the weakest three-run inning you'll ever see. They had just one hit in the frame, a leadoff single by Reid Brignac. Gardner and Jayson Nix both walked to load the bases with nobody out. Brignac scored on a wild pitch, Gardner scored on a sac fly and Nix scored on a groundout to short.

Not exactly an offensive explosion.

Joe Girardi shook up the lineup, using Travis Hafner, even though the Yanks were facing a lefty. Hafner went 0-for-4, dropping his batting average on the season to .216 and his June average to .128.

Vernon Wells went 0-for-3 after going 0-for-7 in Wednesday's doubleheader. He's down to .221 overall, and .107 this month.

"I think the biggest thing is just getting good at-bats, and I don’t think we’ve done that consistently like we were," said Overbay, who was 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. "It seems like we’re just kinda swinging at their pitches and not ours."

Girardi defended his team, saying the slump does not stem from a lack of effort.

"We got guys that are working their butts off," the manager said. "And, unfortunately, we haven’t been scoring a lot of runs lately, and it’s cost us some games. But these guys are working, and they’re doing everything that we’re asking them to do."

The truth is, this team hasn't been very good offensively all season. The pitching has carried the way. The Yanks have the fourth-best team ERA in the American League (3.75), but they're 12th in runs scored (276) and second to last in team batting average (.239).

Why? Because they have a bunch of stars on the disabled list and are relying on guys like Hafner and Wells -- once very productive major league players but on the decline for some time.

Remember, Hafner batted just .228 for the Indians last season, and Wells hit just .230 for the Angels.

So, should we really be surprised?

The Yankees’ pregame notes Thursday touted the team’s 22-0 record when scoring five or more runs this season. That's the best record in the major leagues.

But they've now had more than twice as many games -- 50 -- in which they've scored four runs or fewer, and they're just 17-33 in those games.

There could be plenty more to come.

Yanks have gone ice-cold on offense

June, 3, 2013
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The only thing uglier than the weather Sunday night was the Yankees’ offense.

Yes, they were facing Clay Buchholz -- 7-0 with an AL-best 1.73 ERA entering the game. And yes, they only had five innings to work with before the game was called due to torrential downpours. But the Yanks mustered just two hits in a 3-0 loss to the Red Sox.

Ichiro Suzuki hit an infield single in the second inning, and Austin Romine hit a ground ball that found the hole between the first and second basemen in the third. That was all the production the Bronx Bombers mustered off Buchholz.

"It just looked like his location was outstanding, with all his pitches," manager Joe Girardi said.

"He was sharp," said Travis Hafner. "He was not just throwing four pitches for strikes, but he was putting 'em on the corner."

[+] EnlargeCano
AP Photo/Kathy WillensThe Yanks continued to slump in Sunday's 3-0 loss.
The Yankees (31-25) are still six games over .500. But they've now lost seven of their last eight games, and their offensive numbers of late are rather alarming.

The Yanks have scored just 12 runs combined in those eight games. They have been held to four runs or less in nine consecutive games now -- their longest such stretch since 2005.

They are now 11th out of 15 teams in the American League in runs scored on the season (223) and 12th in team batting average (.246). And they have gone 20 consecutive innings without an extra-base hit.

Some of the early-season surprises are coming back to earth. Hafner is now 1-for-17 in the past eight days, while Vernon Wells is 3-for-26.

Meanwhile, Mark Teixeira is 1-for-9 with seven strikeouts since coming off the disabled list on Friday -- including striking out in both of his plate appearances Sunday. And Kevin Youkilis is 1-for-9 since coming off the DL on Friday.

Girardi did not push the panic button after the game.

"It’s just kind of a team-wide thing that we’re going through," the manager said. "We ran into a pretty good pitcher tonight, that’s the bottom line. He threw the ball well, very well, against us. We’re not the first team he’s done that against this year, he’s pitched extremely well. Hopefully tomorrow’s a new day, we come out swinging."

"I think that’s part of baseball," Hafner said. "You’ll have ups and downs throughout the year. But there’s just too much talent here, and it’s only a matter of time before things get rolling again."

The Yankees have now fallen into third place, and the next wave of reinforcements -- Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez -- are a ways away.

This is the group that has to carry the Yankees for the next several weeks offensively. The question is, can they?
Joe Girardi won't come out and say it. It is not the manager's style to anoint anyone until he has to, but it is clear David Phelps is putting a tight grasp on a starting spot in the rotation.

[+] EnlargeDavid Phelps
Debby Wong/USA TODAY Sports David Phelps (2-2) allowed one run over seven innings on Saturday.
"We have always envisioned him as a starter," Girardi said after Phelps' latest strong outing, a seven-inning, one-run, seven-hit, three-walk and eight-strikeout win over the Jays. "From time he came up that is what we have envisioned him as. It is not just that he is able to locate and change speeds. He does all the other little things right, too. ... We like what he is doing."

How could they not? Phelps said he came out a little too geeked up in the first and he got into trouble. After a strikeout, he walked two straight batters. He went on to strike out J.P. Arencibia. With Adam Lind up, Phelps did one of those little things Girardi spoke about by picking off Jose Bautista at second.

When Andy Pettitte comes back, he will return to the rotation, but Ivan Nova is in serious jeopardy of ending up in Triple-A again or, at best, the bullpen.

NOT HAF BAD: Travis Hafner, after missing five games, hit an eighth-inning homer. Girardi thought rest did Hafner's shoulder some good.

"The first ball, he hit a bullet up the middle," Girardi said of Hafner, who finished 1-for-4. "He hit a homer foul. I think you could see there is a difference. The last couple of weeks, he has been playing with a little bit of soreness. There didn't just seem to be the same whip, but it is back."

GRANDY IN RIGHT: Curtis Granderson, playing right field for the first time, had no issues. He caught two balls, including the final out of the game.

Injury Report: Hafner happy with BP session

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:57
PM ET
Yankees manager Joe Girardi provided updates on the team's injured stars before Thursday's game against Seattle. Here's the latest on the injured contingent.

• Yankees designated hitter Travis Hafner's batting practice session Thursday went well and Hafner's hoping he will be back soon. Hafner (shoulder) has missed the team's last three games and is not sure if he can be used as a pinch hitter Thursday. The veteran also did soft toss in the cage prior to the game.

"Everything went really well," Hafner said. "Didn't have any of the issues I had before. I'm really happy with how it went."

With Hafner out, the Yankees have been able to use four of their outfielders regularly in the lineup. When he returns, the Yankees will have to determine who will sit among Curtis Granderson, Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki on the days when Hafner serves as the designated hitter.

• Starter Michael Pineda (shoulder) is scheduled to throw four innings (up to approximately 50 pitches) Friday. Girardi is not sure whether Pineda will be tossing in an extended spring training game or an intra-squad game. The manager reiterated that he expects to have Pineda in pinstripes this year.

"Sometime in the summer we expect him," Girardi said.

Girardi said a key aspect of Pineda's rehab is getting the starter's arm built up to throw 100 pitches. Pineda has not pitched a game in the major leagues the past two seasons after the Yankees acquired him from Seattle in 2012.

“We’ll continue to build him up," Girardi said. "Starters, as you know, take a lot longer than relievers because you have to get them to 100 pitches. For a kid that hasn’t pitched in a couple of years, that’s something you may want to see a couple of times to make sure he’s ready to go every fifth day.”

• Third baseman Alex Rodriguez (hip) did some work in soft toss and off the tee and "felt pretty good the other day doing that," according to Girardi. The manager reiterated the team is expecting him after the All-Star break.

• Shortstop Derek Jeter (ankle) was re-evaluated earlier this week and the reports were positive. Jeter, like Rodriguez, is scheduled to return after the All-Star break.

“It’s healing. They see the bone is going back together. They say it’s healing," Girardi said. "I think he’ll be out of the boot sometime shortly and then he’ll go from there. It was good news what we got. It is healing.”

• Third baseman Kevin Youkilis (back) has done some work off the tee and soft-toss hitting. Girardi said he believed Youkilis was scheduled to have Thursday off and receive treatment.

"He feels better," Girardi said. "They're talking about (batting practice) soon for him."

• Starter Ivan Nova (triceps) is slated to throw in Tampa on Monday. Nova was placed on the disabled list on April 27. Nova is 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA and has struggled this season.

Pregame Notes: Hafner, Joba and Tex

May, 15, 2013
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Here are some injury updates, courtesy of Joe Girardi:

Travis Hafner (shoulder) is out for Wednesday, but could be back Thursday.
Joba Chamberlain (oblique) is eligible to come off the DL and might do so on Thursday.
Mark Teixeira's next step is taking some "live BP," which means on the field. At this point, Teixeira (wrist) is just in the batting cage. Girardi won't give a time-table, but it seems apparent Teixeira won't be back until June.

Postgame notes: Hafner day-to-day

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
12:50
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An MRI on Tuesday revealed that Yankees designated hitter Travis Hafner has tendinitis in his right shoulder, but it shouldn't keep the slugger out for more than another day or two.

"It came out as good as we could have hoped for," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees' 4-3 win over Seattle on Tuesday. "He's going to be OK."

Girardi said the Yankees might have Hafner available Wednesday, but the slugger said he thought the plan was for him to return Thursday in the series finale.

"(The MRI) showed some inflammation in the shoulder, got an (cortisone) injection in it," Hafner said. "Hopefully that clears it up and should be good to go in a couple of days."

Hafner believes his injury stems from being hit by a pitch in the shoulder against Houston on April 29. It bothered him a couple of days later on his follow-through and has hung around since. He played in the first game of Monday's doubleheader but has missed the last two games.

The injury-prone veteran has faced shoulder issues before, but he said this is different from the other injuries. Hafner is batting .260 and has six home runs with 18 RBIs in 32 games.

"This is inflammation so hopefully it's nothing serious," Hafner said Tuesday. "Hopefully [I'm] back here in a couple of days."

[+] EnlargeSabathia
AP Photo/Kathy KmonicekCC Sabathia gave up a home run to Raul Ibanez in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 4-3 win.
JUST ANOTHER ONE FOR CC: Facing a fellow Cy Young Award winner in Felix Hernandez on Tuesday didn't get CC Sabathia any more excited for his start.

"It's the same. Every start is the same," Sabathia said of the duel. "It's fun to pitch against him but I don't treat it any different."

While both pitchers received a no-decision, Sabathia had the worse night of the two as he gave up 10 hits and three runs in 6⅓ innings. Sabathia did strikeout 10, but he left with the Yankees down 3-1 and needed the Yankees to rally to take him off the hook.

Sabathia gave up a season-high 10 hits to one of baseball's weakest lineups but managed to keep it close by limiting the damage. Only two of the runs against Sabathia were earned.

"I thought his slider was pretty good tonight, I thought his changeup was decent, I thought he made some really good pitches when he had to," Girardi said. "He kept us in the game and kept us close, gave up the two earned runs. I thought he pitched pretty good."

CLARITY: In the fourth inning, Lyle Overbay reached due to interference from Hernandez, as the starter was standing on the bag as the first baseman approached.

On a grounder to second, Seattle first baseman Kendrys Morales and Hernandez both went to the bag. Morales caught the ball, but Hernandez stood in front of the bag and obstructed Overbay's path, with the first baseman softly colliding into him.

While Overbay was originally ruled out, the umpires huddled and changed the ruling to interference and awarded him first. Home plate umpire Jerry Layne said after the game that any time a player is obstructed before reaching first, the ball is dead and he's awarded first.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.289 8 47 47
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 61
OPSB. Gardner .787
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135