On Tuesday night, everything was going right for Brett Gardner. He already had a double to drive in a run and a walk so far and helped the team tie the game to give the other team members the chance to get the lead for the ball club. He was in the outfield, watching CC Sabathia pitch into a small jam. CC only needed 1 more out and the Twins only needed one hitter to try to sneak a base hit past the Yankees to get the runs home. Josh Willingham thought that he could be that guy. With the swing of the bat, Willingham lofted a sinking liner to left field. Gardner was on his horses heading towards the ball. He ran faster and faster before getting off his feet, catching the ball and rolling on his side, his face scrunched up with discomfort. He got up, started shaking off his arm and headed towards the dugout before completing his 2 for 2 night with 2 doubles and 2 walks.
After the game, Gardner told reporters it was nothing to worry about. He banged up his wrist and was worried about it for the moment, but as the game went on, the wrist felt better and better. Gardner thought that he had gotten away with something there; he thought wrong.
The next day, he headed towards the batting cages to take his normal BP
swings. He felt great hitting the balls out towards the outfield grass, taking in the smell of Yankee Stadium. He decides to take a break from swinging the bat and decides to return later before the game to take some more practice swings. At around 6:30pm, Gardner went back to take his swings, but as time went on, something felt–off. Gardner had soreness in his shoulder and went to tell Joe Girardi who eventually scratched him out of the lineup. While the game went on, Girardi had Gardner go to the doctor to get an MRI done. The result was a bruised shoulder and a muscle strain. After the 6-5 loss to the Twins, Girardi revealed that Gardner was going to the DL with a muscle strain which resulted in a big blow to the Yankees. The Yankees recalled Cody Eppley (a player that they claimed off of waivers from the Texas Rangers) to give depth in the bullpen.
With Brett Gardner heading towards the DL, the Yankees are now relying on their outfield bench (Ibanez & Jones) to take Gardner’s space while Gardner is gone. Jones and Ibanez aren’t the best candidates to play left field since they are already in their mid to late 30′s and don’t have the versatility to play LF anymore. Girardi also said that the Yankees were willing to use Eduardo Nunez in LF as well to give Nunez more options on where to play the field when a player needs a day off. LF would be a test for Nunez to see if he can play while Gardner is away (and not commit an E-7 every day).
In 2011, Brett Gardner saved 22 runs for the Yankees due to his range and speed in the outfield overall saving 35 runs in his career. The 22 defensive runs tied Austin Jackson who plays center field for the Detroit Tigers. Both players ended up taking home the Fielding Bible Award for their efforts in the outfield. Gardner also had 7 assists in 2011 and already had 1 assist to begin the 2012 campaign.
To put it this way; the Yankees on the bench aren’t Brett Gardner. They aren’t as fast as he is and sometimes don’t read the ball very well off of a players bat. Andruw Jones only had 1 assist for the Yankees in 2011 while with the Phillies, Raul Ibanez had 5 assists but is heading into a regression coming into the season.
Long story short, the Yankees bats are going to need to pick it up and score a lot of runs because the other teams in the league see Brett Gardner not being in LF as a weakness since they consider him a threat. Well, I guess it’s a good thing that Curtis Granderson is a fast center fielder, isn’t it? Get well soon Gardy.
Check out these other great article’s from around the Yankee Blogs.
* An A-Blog for A-Rod is Phrustrated with Phil Hughes.
* Bleeding Yankee Blue asks why not make Nunez and outfielder.
* Bronx Baseball Daily has a story on the Yankees bringing back Jim Leyritz to work for the organization.
* It’s About the Money Stupid takes a look at Russell Martin’s odd offensive start.
* Lady Loves Pinstripes writes how the Yankees are out of Phil Hughes excuses.
* New York Baseball Digest asks where does Derek Jeter’s ascent up the hit chart take him?
* Pinstripe Alley asks what makes a good baseball broadcast?
* River Ave Blues has a great article analyzing Teixeira’s performance as a right-handed batter.
* The Captain’s Blog ponders if Ivan Nova is lucky or good.
* The Greedy Pinstripes writes about whether or not the shift is just a fad.
* The Yankee Analysts asks if Jeter’s hot start will last.
* Yanks Go Yard writes to not bet on DJ4K.
For Raul Ibanez, the end of Spring Training has become a serious matter. After having an abysmal beginning to the Spring, Ibanez knew that he had to pick up the pace, or he just might lose his DH role.
Tonight Ibanez played left field while Curtis Granderson was eased back into the lineup as the DH, a move that won’t happen as much during the regular season. But in his left field Spring Training debut for the Yankees, Raul Ibanez had a good day at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a HR, his second of the Spring.
David Phelps had the start for the Yankees tonight and did well vs. the Orioles going 5 innings giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits without walking a batter. Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 6th inning, Boone Logan pitched to 2 batters (he got them both) and D.J. Mitchell made a relief appearance tonight going 2 and a third innings all while giving up 1 run.
THE GOOD: Raul Ibanez had a good evening at the plate going 2 for 3 with 1 HR. Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez & Eduardo Nunez all had 1 hit apiece. Of course we have to mention Mariano Rivera here, who has went 28 straight innings without giving up a run (this dates all the way back to 2008).
THE BAD: Derek Jeter went 0 for 4 while Francisco Cervelli went 0 for 2. Defense was also an issue today as Alex Rodriguez had an E-5 and Derek Jeter had an E-6. Rodriguez’s error allowed a run to score.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Philadelphia Phillies will take the 20 minute ride to Tampa to face Michael Pineda & the New York Yankees. The game will start at 7:05pm on YES Network. Pineda will take on a pitcher fighting for a spot in the Phillies rotation, Michael Stutes.
By the way that Hiroki Kuroda was pitching, it almost had the atmosphere that the Yankees were playing a regular season game rather than a Spring Training game. Kuroda’s slider was perfect, he had good fastball command and looked like a true #2 starter.
Hiroki Kuroda went 7 innings giving up 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 6. He did give up 1 HR but he was able to compose himself and didn’t let the homer faze him. Cory Wade pitched an inning but gave up a run while George Kontos pitched the 9th and gave up 2 runs.
THE GOOD: Eric Chavez was the star offensively for the Yankees as he whacked in 3 RBI’s during the game. Eduardo Nunez had 2 hits while Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez & Robinson Cano each had 1 hit apiece.
Swisher Injury Update: Nick Swisher didn’t feel anything in his groin today while getting at bats at the minor league complex. He was 4 for 8 with a double, two walks and a homer. If he comes out good from it tomorrow then we can expect to see him in a game on Friday. Now that news is positively Swishalicious.
Granderson Injury Update: Curtis Granderson had an MRI today and the results came back negative. Girardi has listed Granderson as “day-to-day.”
Signing Update: The New York Yankees announced two signings during the game today. Yankees sign DH Jack Cust to a minor league deal and C Craig Tatum. Yankees believe that Jack Cust will be good insurance for AAA while the Yankees claimed Tatum off of waivers from the Diamondbacks for catching depth.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees head back to Tampa where they will play the Baltimore Orioles tomorrow. D.J Mitchell will get the start while Ivan Nova will pitch in a minor league game. Expect a decision about the Yankees rotation in the coming days.
The Raul Ibanez signing was questioned by a lot of Yankees fans. He has done nothing this spring to prove those people wrong. Ibanez is batting an egregious .054 with only 1 extra base hit in 37 spring training AB’s. As you may have heard me say before I do not take spring training stats very seriously. However, with a player of Ibanez’s age thoughts that he could be in for a long year have to creep into your mind when you see him performing this badly. Now I am certainly not giving up on him or anything, but he will have to be watched very carefully as the season progresses to see if he improves. If he does not he can end up like Randy Winn, whom the Yankees cut in May of 2010 due to his awful play.
The Yankees two main reasons for Ibanez’s poor play is that he is facing lefties in spring training when he will only be facing righties in the regular season. They have also pointed to Ibanez being a particularly slow starter. I have not seen much of Ibanez this spring so it is hard for me to pinpoint the reason for his struggles. Historically, Ibanez’s numbers have been worse in April and May than in the other months so the Yankees do have a point there.
If Ibanez struggles gets to the point where the Yankees have to consider other options they do have some in house options. Andruw Jones is widely known for his ability to hit lefties, but he did hit 5 out of his 13 HR’s last year against righties and had a halfway decent .709 OPS against righties. Eric Chavez would likely be the number one in house option, but he has struggled this spring as well and is often injured. Eduardo Nunez could be another option but he was significantly better vs. lefties last season. As you can see the in house options leave a lot to be desired. There are no outfielders in the minors who are considered major league ready although Justin Maxwell has shined this spring. Also, if you have to use one of the in house options your bench is shortened. Nick Swisher also must stay healthy or this could turn into an even bigger issue. Swisher has been hurt twice now this spring and it better not be worse than the Yankees are letting on with Ibanez looking the way he is looking.
The Yankees will have to look for a DH to hit righties in a trade if Ibanez fails. It is to early to really speculate on who that could be. The Yankees have the minor leaguers to get a deal done if necessary. If the RH platoon DH is the Yankees biggest weakness this year it is going to be a successful one. They survived it last year with limited production form Jorge Posada at times. However, the Yankees are always looking to make the team the best it can be and if Ibanez continues to hit like this a change may be in order.
Today was a bit of a somber day for the Yankees. After hearing news that Joba Chamberlain might not come back this season due to a freak trampoline accident, the Yankees were a bit taken aback and worried. Nevertheless, Joe Girardi was able to send Ivan Nova & Hiroki Kuroda on the mound as the Yankees sweeped the split squad games 5-3 vs. the Phillies & 6-4 vs. the Twins.
Let’s start with the Phillies game. Hiroki Kuroda looked sharp throughout the game. He went 5.2 of an inning giving up 1 run on 6 hits, 1 BB & 3 K. David Phelps finished the game, going 3.1 IP with 2 runs on 3 hits. He had no strikeouts but allowed 1 HR. The 2 regulars Brett Gardner & Robinson Cano made the trip to Clearwater (which is 20 minutes from Tampa) and both did pretty well today. Gardner went 1 for 4 with a double & run scored while Robinson Cano went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s & 1 run scored. Francisco Cervelli (who will be the backup catcher to Russell Martin) went 2 for 4 today.
Let’s take a trip to Tampa where the Yankees played vs. the Twins. Ivan Nova was trying to come back from his last outing which we all had to admit wasn’t so good. Nova pitched 7 innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits and 5 strikeouts. Mariano Rivera came in the 8th & Rafael Soriano came in the 9th and of course, two brilliant scoreless innings. Derek Jeter left the game in the 3rd inning, but there was nothing wrong. Girardi just wanted to slowly ease Jeter back into the game. Before today, Jeter had not played since March 14. Ramiro Pena hit a solo shot while Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s. It would be a wacky thought if Nunez didn’t throw anymore errors because of the HBP in the beginning of the Spring.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees are slated for an ALDS rematch with the Detroit Tigers. The game will not be televised or on the radio. On Sunday the Yankees return to T.V to play once again, the Tigers. Coverage will be on YES Network & WCBS.
During the last couple of weeks, the Yankees have done what the other 29 teams in the league have done; prepare for the regular season in Spring Training. We’ve gotten a sense as to what the pitchers have, what the hitters are bringing to the table and the moves that the Yankees are making as the course of Spring Training goes on. So far in Spring Training, the Yankees have made improvements, but at the same time we are questioning some of the moves that were made.
1. Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees
When Jack Curry of YES Network first reported the Andy Pettitte signing, I thought it had to be an early April Fools joke. As he continued on, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, that it was actually real. Another core part of the Yankees had returned. While Pettitte may not be ready until May, this was a good signing by the Yankees during Spring Training, as now they have more depth to the rotation in case someone gets injured or if Michael Pineda gets sent to Triple-A (since he still has options). The question is, will we be able to see Pettitte in the Bronx for his first game of the 2012 season or will he decide that pitching wasn’t what he really wanted and re-retire?
2. Alex Rodriguez‘s offense has returned
Yankees fans were pretty iffy, wondering if Alex Rodriguez was going to be able to come back after he posted not so stellar numbers in the 2011 season due to injury. In Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat, he silenced my doubts. So far in the Spring, Alex Rodriguez has hit 2 HR, 6 RBI’s and is hitting over .300. Not that Spring Training means anything, but so far, Alex Rodriguez is looking good! It would be nice to see Alex keep up the pace when the Yankees play the Rays in 2 1/2 weeks.
3. Phil Hughes keeps having good outings
Phil Hughes is certainly doing all he can to claim a spot in the rotation, and so far he’s doing a really great job. Hughes has 1 loss in Spring Training but other than that, his ERA, his HR number & his BB are pretty sparkling: 1.08 ERA, 0 HR allowed & 1 BB. If Hughes continues pitching the way he’s pitching then there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in the rotation. Again, I know that Spring Training means absolutely nothing (although it means something to Phil Hughes). In 2010, Hughes was 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA. Who walked away with 18 wins in 2010?
4. Bill Hall has impressed
When the Yankees signed Bill Hall to a minor league contract with the invitation to Spring Training, I was pretty excited to watch him fight for a bench spot on the 25 man roster. If I were Girardi, he would get one of the spots on the roster. So far, Hall has played amazing defense, almost looking like Robinson Cano when he plays 2nd base. His bat is coming along as well, having 3 RBI’s under his belt as well as a HR. Hall also has a desire to play baseball and he looks like he’s having fun out there while doing it. That’s the type of player that the Yankees could use on the bench.
5. Gardner aims to be consistent
During Spring Training, Brett Gardner had one thing in mind that he would like to do this season; he would like to be more consistent. The good news with that is Gardner has done multiple things to work on his game. He has seen Kevin Long where the both of them had worked on his swing, he was spotted trying to bunt baseballs into a white bucket by the second baseline after practice & he likes to lead the Yankees in running drills. Can you blame him? The man loves to run. When this translates into a game, Gardner’s defense is still consistent. He has flashed the leather over the last couple of games and has shown arm strength. He also seems to start to get his hitting together and getting on base more often. Yep, Gardner is looking in great shape coming into Spring Training this year, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 100% healthy coming into the Spring unlike in 2011 when he was coming off of wrist surgery.
1. The injury list
No manager wants to go into the clubhouse early in the morning to ask his players how they are feeling and the answer he gets is something that he wouldn’t expect. That’s the kind of spring Joe Girardi has had so far. Girardi has had to deal with injuries from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eduardo Nunez, David Robertson…the list goes on and on. Luckily all of the players that I listed, don’t have serious injuries. But still as a manager it’s frustrating to go through the spring trying to get your guys healthy and because they are a bit rusty, something hurts. Hopefully the Yankees won’t have a lot of injuries to deal with this season.
2. Was the Pineda for Noesi/Montero deal a mistake?
During the offseason, Brian Cashman made a big splash by trading away #1 prospect Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda. Now as we are watching in Spring Training we are wondering if the trade was such a big splash after all. Along with Russell Martin, Michael Pineda has been working on his change up which isn’t the problem; it’s his fastball. Pineda’s fastball’s velocity last year was 95-98 MPH. This year when he came into camp he would hit 94 MPH on the radar gun occasionally but would periodically hit 91-92 MPH. That’s a dip in velocity, the same issue that Phil Hughes had last year. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi aren’t concerned about it, but should we really be concerned?
3. Raul Ibanez‘s horrid Spring
The Yankees signed Raul Ibanez in the offseason to be their DH after Jorge Posada retired this past offseason. So far, we aren’t seeing what we paid for. Raul Ibanez is hitting .071 this Spring with only 2 hits and 7 K’s. Couldn’t the Yankees have just paid Jorge Posada to come back 1 more year and he would’ve hit better in the Spring? I’m not going to give up on Ibanez just yet, but he isn’t getting off on the right foot with Yankees fans.
4. Ivan Nova‘s poor outings
Coming into Spring Training, Ivan Nova looked as if he was to be the favorite to get a spot in the rotation. At first when Nova wasn’t pitching all that great, we assumed that it was just some rust. But as time went by, we realized that it wasn’t exactly rust, and that Ivan Nova was having trouble on the mound. Nova so far this Spring is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He’s pitched in 8.2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 9 hits. Girardi said that he was going to start observing the pitchers in the rotation around this time, so this should be where Ivan Nova picks his game up. If he keeps having outings like this in Spring Training & the regular season then he’ll get a one way bus ticket to Scranton.
If Joe Girardi’s competition for the rotation spots started already, then Ivan Nova certainly didn’t make his case tonight as the Yanks were defeated 6-3 vs. the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota. Nova went 4 innings but gave up 5 runs on 7 hits with 4 strikeouts.
David Phelps pitched 2/3 of a inning without giving up a run, Clay Rapada faced 1 batter and retired him, D.J Mitchell gave up 1 run on 2 base hits and George Kontos who was in his first outing since coming off an injury had a perfect scoreless inning.
Brett Gardner was the star defensively for the Yankees, getting a double play at 1st base from center field. He also went 1 for 3 and swiped his 4th bag of the spring, tying himself with Russell Martin for the most Yankees stolen bases in Spring Training. Eduardo Nunez went 1 for 3 as well as Mark Teixeira.
Robinson Cano left the game in the 6th inning after being hit by a pitch. He had x-rays done which came back negative. We’ll see how Cano’s hand is doing tomorrow.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow, their first of 2 this Spring. Yankees will be back in action on Tuesday as they face the Pirates at GMS Field. The game will be televised on YES at 7:05pm.
Before the game, the Yankees had some great news. Eduardo Nunez returned after missing 2 weeks with a bruised hand, Nick Swisher‘s MRI returned negative meaning that he’s okay to play and Russell Martin is slated to travel tomorrow with the team to Sarasota. So you would imagine that all of the good news that the Yankees had today would translate into today’s game. If you thought so … you were correct.
Hiroki Kuroda pitched 4 innings of 1 run ball, showing everyone why he is the Yankees #2 starter. Mariano followed with a scoreless inning, Cory Wade had 2 scoreless innings, Boone Logan gave up 2 runs in his inning of work and Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless inning, but it wasn’t easy.
Offense appeared today as the first 3 batters in the lineup (Gardner, Granderson & Cano) all scored the 5 runs on the board. Gardner had 2 walks, a stolen base, a strikeout, a ground out and 2 phenomenal catches in the outfield. Yep, not a bad day for the speedy left fielder. Granderson doubled Gardner home in the first followed by an Andruw Jones RBI single shortly after which put the Yankees up 2-0, but the Robinson Cano 3 run blast was really a 3 run blast. The ball left the ballpark and gave the Yankees a 5 run lead for the time being.
WHAT’S NEXT: With Derek Jeter out of the fold, Brett Gardner will get his second start in a row as he, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira & Russell Martin head to Sarasota for the Baltimore Orioles night game. The game is at 7:05pm on MLB Network. Ivan Nova will get the start.
The New York Yankees (2-1) were unable to sweep the Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) in a three game set, but the main story wasn’t about the score; it was about Michael Pineda.
Coming into the game, the Yankees knew that Pineda had been working on his change-up since he plans on being a viable part of the Yankees rotation but Pineda didn’t need the change-up to get hitters out. Pineda had 2 scoreless innings of 1 hit ball and striking out two batters.
When asked if Pineda was nervous, he responded with, “Hell no.” Love the enthusiasm Michael.
The only for sure Yankees major leaguer Brett Gardner was the key offense at the time; scoring on a triple & an error in the top of the 6th inning. Afterwards, the Phillies offense piled up on HR’s and the rest was history.
Eduardo Nunez suffered a hit by pitch during the 5th inning and was immediately taken out by Joe Girardi. Nunez traveled back to Tampa to get X-Rays on his wrist to make sure that his wrist wasn’t broken. Nunez was diagnosed with a wrist contusion (bruise) shortly after leaving the game. There will be more news on Eduardo Nunez’s injury in tonight’s Spring Training report.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees are set to take on the Pirates tomorrow. Unfortunately the game is not televised BUT if you have an MLB.TV subscription then you can listen to the game on Pirates radio! The Yankees will be back on television on Wednesday.
Joe Girardi has definitely learned to relax more since his 1st year as Yankees manager when the Yankees missed the playoffs. He was way too uptight, testy with the media, and had to many rules. That attitude got him canned in Florida despite winning manager of the year, although you can blame that more on the craziness of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria than Girardi. Entering his 5th season as Yankees manager he has improved greatly in these areas. He still constantly tweaks with player rotations during the season , which can get irritable. However, due to the age of the team he is managing he doesn’t have much choice.
Girardi has a great bench and should utilize it. He has to utilize it because he has guys on his team that need days off. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter definitely need lots of rest during the year so they are fresh and healthy for the stretch run. Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez are great options off the bench to replace them. In the outfield Andruw Jones is a great 4th outfielder and you are not loosing a whole lot when he is in the lineup. Joe Torre did not have the bench towards the end of his tenure that he did at the beginning so he did not use it often. Girardi has a great one so why not utilize it? It is a 162 game season and you can’t just put the same lineup out every game. In the bullpen Girardi is a by the book or in his case by the binder manager. He will very rarely go against what the matchups in his binder say. I think he does need to go with his gut more often and what he his eyes tell him about what the pitcher is doing. However, I think managing the bullpen is probably his greatest strength as a manager. He will never pitch a guy until his arm falls off like Torre did. Torre pretty much killed the careers of Scott Proctor, Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Quantrill, and Tom Gordon by pitching them until their arm’s almost fell off. Girardi will never pitch a guy more then 2 days in a row. It is good that he has such a deep bullpen that it is easy for him to do that. Girardi is willing to trust everybody in his bullpen while Torre only trusted a selective few. This not to suggest Girardi is in Torre’s league as a manger don’t get me wrong, but it is one thing he did better. There is nothing wrong with Girardi’s in season competition. It should keep everybody on edge and make everybody raise their game. If players do not raise their game when challenged by another player then it is on them and not on the manager.
I am a bigger Girardi fan than a lot of fans are. People do not realize that managing the Yankees is a difficult job and not anybody can do it. Sure you are handed an extremely talented team last year but managing the egos, media, fans, and expectations can be really stressful. You try being the person to tell Derek Jeter he needs the day off or the one to bench Jorge Posada last season. I think Girardi does a really good job. Sure I and pretty much everybody else would like to see him make more decisions based off feel for the game but nobody is perfect. It will be intriguing to see how Girardi continues to evolve as a manager.