The good news from the bullpen is that Mariano Rivera feels great and says his previously sore left groin is 100 percent.
The not-so-good news, delivered today by Joe Girardi, is that David Robertson has been experiencing stiffness in his right elbow for the past 10 days to two weeks. He’s been shut down until he sees Dr. James Andrews, the specialist in all injuries to athletes, presumably in his Birmingham, Ala., office.
Robertson said he’s not worried. “It’s a concern of mine,” Girardi said, noting Robertson’s “ability to get strikeouts (has been) about as good as anybody in baseball.”
Robertson has struck out 54 batters in 36 1/3 innings since May 26. With 61 K’s in 41 innings overall, he ranks first in average strikeouts per nine innings among AL relievers who quality (at least 40 innings).
This could be encouraging: Robertson has been pitching well, with his usual (or higher) velocity, even with the lingering stiffness. Girardi called that “interesting and unusual.”
For now Girardi is without one option in the bullpen, something a division leader with a nine-game lead can live with in September. On a night when Girardi would use Robertson to give Hughes or even Bruney a night off, he’ll now look to Aceves, Albaladejo, Coke or Marte. “We have a little less flexibility and (fewer) weapons,” Girardi said.
Always optimistic, Girardi is hopeful that Robertson — whom he called “a huge part of our bullpen” — will return relatively soon and contribute in October.
Tino Martinez: I spotted him today at the stadium and he says he’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll ask 10 questions (or so) of Tino that are representative of the ones you submitted back in May. And the Q&A will be posted on the blog by Thursday.
Reminder: I’ll be chatting at 6:45 p.m. tomorrow until first pitch. Hope you can join me!
Thank you: For reading and for the birthday wishes. Very nice.
The Yankees’ fantasy football draft took place last night at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. There was nearly perfect attendance as some players picked their teams and others watched, and all enjoyed the show put on by league commissioner Eric Hinske.
Hinske, apparently, had a comment for nearly every draft pick — mostly indicating to his competitors that they had just made a terrible selection. He also watched the clock. Owners had two minutes to make their picks; those who duplicated a pick already made — because they were immersed in research instead of paying attention — were fined $100. There were five of those miscues.
Hughes had the first overall pick, selecting Adrian Peterson. Bruney, last year’s runner-up, went with Maurice Jones-Drew. And Hinske picked DeAngelo Williams third. Last year’s winner, K-Long, selected a bunch of his hometown Cardinals, beginning with Larry Fitzgerald eighth overall.
A few people have asked about Jeter’s involvement. He was a late addition to the league, asking to join Hinske’s team. Hinske was prepared to go it alone but accepted the Captain’s offer.
“He just wants to be on the winning team,” Hinske said.
The players are having a lot of fun with this, and some spent a long time in research before the draft. We’ll have plenty on the draft and the fantasy league in the coming days.
Hideki Matsui: He indicated today after hitting in the cage that his knees feel “great.” (No translator needed.) The Yankees training/medical staff has done a great job managing his knees this season and draining his knee on a couple of occasions. Tonight, he plays in his seventh consecutive game. If he doesn’t get a day of in Baltimore tomorrow or Wednesday, he’ll surely get one in the four-game set on the Toronto turf.
Alfredo Aceves: He won his ninth game yesterday and today he took a liner off his left — left — biceps during BP. Aceves stayed on the field for the entire batting practice. In the meantime, a bruise had formed. He said he was fine.
Phil Hughes: He’s going to love seeing this: Peterson just scored on a 75-yard run on the first play from scrimmage against the Texans.
Michael Kay: He has a heaping spoonful — emphasis on heaping — of peanut butter on a plastic plate in front of him. That Atkins diet has to be a ton of fun, doesn’t it?
Let’s just say Sergio Mitre hasn’t exactly instilled confidence as a fifth starter. In three innings, he gave up seven hits, five earned runs, faced seven full counts. And threw 75 pitches.
What a coincidence that Mitre started, and departed early, on the day of the trade deadline. You have to wonder if the Yankees ultimately will regret not addressing their pitching depth before 4 p.m. today.
Or what they’ll do when Joba closes in on his innings limit — a number even he claims not to know — in six starts or so and they preemptively move him to the bullpen.
Or if, perhaps, Phil Hughes is being stretched out before our very eyes. Three of his six appearances in the second half have been for two innings. In three, he has thrown at least 35 pitches. With Aceves recently suffering from shoulder fatigue, Hughes might be the better option of the two should the Yankees need a starter.
For now, the Yankees will hope they don’t need a starter. Mitre’s next scheduled turn, by the way, is the series opener against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Shelley Duncan: He’s absolutely delighted to be here, having become resigned to spending the entire season at AAA. “I can’t tell you how happy I am,” he said between hugs from Joba and Hughes. The Yankees have another roster move to make tomorrow, however, and Girardi talked during pregame about the versatility he would gain by utilizing Ransom and Hairston. You’ve got to think the roster move will be between Duncan and Ransom.
Roy Halladay: It will be interesting to see how he reacts to not being dealt. The Yankees will be the first to find out; he pitches Tuesday against Joba at Rogers Centre. J.P. Ricciardi overplayed his hand, never actually intended to trade his ace — unless the offer was completely ridiculous — or recently got assurance from inside the Blue Jays organization that he didn’t have to make the trade. Or something else. No matter what, the situation played out very publicly — probably to a point where it disrupted the routine-obsessed Halladay.
Ozzie Guillen: He was giddy while talking to Jeter before the game. Now he’s wearing a sweatshirt as he walks to the mound. A sweatshirt. Like Belichick, except Ozzie’s doesn’t look like it was at the bottom of the laundry basket.
Michael Bolton: He’s here. Love him! “Soul Provider” is a great song. CVS sells his greatest hits for $8.99 or something like that. A tremendous bargain.
The Yankees HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) comes to an end tonight, and it’s been quite a week. Last night in particular, after the nearly three-hour rain delay, many players stayed into the wee hours with the kids and young adults from Camp Sundown. And they had a blast, with several saying they stayed much later than they’d intended because they were having so much fun.
One blessing of the long rain delay: the Camp Sundown folks were scheduled to arrive in the second or third inning. Because of the delay, they were able to see the entire game.
Aceves and AJ made music, playing acoustic guitar and singing and, sources say, Cashman joined in the vocals. The on-field carnival was a tremendous success. As the entire week has been.
Mark Teixeira: He’s tied for the AL lead in home runs after launching a(nother) rocket to the second deck in right field last night, on a 3-0 pitch. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that pitchers had gone 3-0 on Teixeira in 16 previous plate appearances this season. He’d walked each time, five intentionally. In other words, no other pitcher dared as Vin Mazzaro did, serving up a pitch over the middle of the plate.
Chien-Ming Wang: He might pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday as he continues to seek the best course of treatment for his right shoulder strain. Wang calls the past year “very frustrating” and fears he won’t pitch again this season. Girardi says the Yankees have to proceed as if Wang won’t be back this season.
Paul O’Neill: He’s joining Kay and Leiter for the balance of the A’s series. He is lucky to have missed last night’s game; O’Neill and two-hour, 43-minute rain delays don’t mix. “That wouldn’t have been real good,” O’Neill said. During the break every half inning, Kay and Leiter sit and sometimes talk, laugh or make fun of each other. O’Neill walks around. He just came back with a hot tea and cookie from the dining room.
Beautiful night in the Bronx. It’s Hope Week at Yankee Stadium, which is a fantastic undertaking by the organization. We could all use a little hope.
Chien-Ming Wang: And that includes Wang, who felt pain while playing an innocuous game of catch this afternoon, his first on-field action since pitching against Toronto July 4. At this point, it will be a bonus if the Yankees get anything out of Wang this season. Girardi said as much. That puts a premium, obviously, on Joba and Andy having better second halves than first halves.
Sergio Mitre: He’ll start tomorrow night against the O’s (on My9), and he’s the fifth starter. Meaning, he’s not in the rotation on a start-to-start basis. He’s in the rotation. Girardi says they can count on 100 pitches from Mitre. If he’s up to the job, he would give this team some peace of mind.
Alfredo Aceves: If the Yankees have to resort to using a reliever as a starter, it’s likely to be Aceves not Hughes. Girardi says it would take Hughes 25 days or so to build up starter’s arm strength. It would take Aceves less time. And, let’s face it, Hughes is just so good where he is right now, it’s tough to think about moving him. Maybe impossible.
Adam Jones: The O’s All-Star CF cleans his own shoes. Today he was cleaning his own bats. He figures the clubbies have other things to do. He also had a blast at the All-Star Game — probably his first of many — meeting President Obama and taking groundballs with Jeter before the game. He said the highlight was high-fiving his fellow All-Stars after the win.
The Yankees really do bring out the worst in the Twins, don’t they? A few quick notes as the Yankees conclude their time at the Metrodome and near the All-Star break:
Alfredo Aceves: How do you quantify how valuable he has become? Truly a jack of all trades, which is a supreme compliment for a pitcher. A great read about him by Tyler Kepner in today’s New York Times. Interesting that his preparation sets him apart.
A.J. Burnett: His All-Star break kind of started after last night’s start, but he was at the dome at 7:30 this morning and running steps soon after. And after his start last night, A.J. made a point of seeking out Francisco Cervelli before he left. What did A.J. say? He offered encouraging words and thanked the young catcher.
Bob Lorenz: To answer Lorenz’s question, today is a strange food day. Because it still seems pretty darn early. Kenny reports he had oatmeal at the hotel. Coincidentally, so did we, via room service. The writers are raving about the carved turkey sandwich, sold at a concession stand just steps from the press box. We’re afraid turkey would put us to sleep.
Metrodome: Joe Nathan says the Twins will miss the climate control of the dome and “knowing how much you’ll sweat.” He toured Target Field, the Twins new park, which will open next season, and was very impressed. The Yankees outfielders won’t miss the roof of the dome, which turns some fly balls into an interesting proposition. Johnny Damon wasn’t exactly broken up about having today off.
The visiting clubhouse in Cleveland is kind of like a mini arcade. There’s the Big Game Hunter Pro, aka the Kyle Farnsworth Game. Farnsworth never looked more comfortable than when he was playing that game. And rather scary with the play rifle in his hand. Ramiro Pena appears to have developed quite a fondness for the Farnsworth game. “I love it,” he said, while shooting.
There’s a Nintendo game — an original — and a Cornhole bean bag game, which A.J. and Tomko played in the tunnel leading to the dugout. About an hour in, both were sweating.
Gardner and Bruney regularly do battle on a Tiger Woods video game. The winner gets custody of a Tiger figurine. Today, while sitting at his locker, Gardner painted the figurine green, then hid it from Bruney and swore a couple of us to secrecy. (The green paint on his fingertips might have been a giveaway.) After that, Gardner borrowed Joba’s laser and pointed the little red light at unsuspecting teammates.
Meanwhile, Bruney and CC — tonight’s starter — were playing a Nintendo baseball game on the big screen. (CC might have had more trouble with that game than he is with the Indians.)
And in Posada’s locker sat a framed back page of Newsday from May 17, 2006, when Teixeira — then a Ranger — barreled over Posada at home plate. Teixeira signed the paper, “To Jorge: Thanks for your forgiveness. Now we are best friends! Mark Teixeira”
The first-place Yankees are a fun bunch.
Another save by Mo: Last night, we walked with Mariano from the clubhouse to the team bus. We had to go through the Indians family room and up a flight of stairs. At the base of the steps, a young Cleveland player and his wife were struggling with their baby’s stroller. The player was holding their sleepy daughter and the wife couldn’t manage to lift the stroller on the steps. So Mariano did what a lot of people wouldn’t have — he carried the stroller up the stairs. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the Indians player and his wife. They were completely in awe. Mariano and the couple exchanged some words in Spanish and then he got on the bus.
Aces wild: Had a nice pregame chat with Aceves, who likes to show off a nasty cut on the base of the big toe on the bottom of his right foot. It’s gross. He says it’s not the slightest bit painful. Anyway, he loves his role, even thought it is not defined in any way. He says he wants to pitch every day, doesn’t care if he pitches three innings (as he did last night) or the eighth inning (Girardi likes Aceves’ versatility too much to limit him to one inning on a regular basis) or comes in as a long man (as he did when Joba was hit and left in the first inning against the O’s) or as a starter. He just wants to pitch and he doesn’t complain. He also says his shoulder feels better than ever and is amazed that he has no soreness whatsoever. Then he showed us the toe, so the conversation ended.
Swish-talk: Swisher reports that his dad, who is here, likes his Swish-hawk haircut and his stepmother absolutely loves it. “It’s so easy,” he said. “Just run some water through it, a little gel and it’s done.” He was also delighted when we passed along the message from Polly Tompkins. Delighted!
In response to one of your comments, we talked to Aceves and Girardi about the reliever’s role. Girardi says, yes, he would be interested in using Aceves — and Coke when he’s healthy again — for two-inning appearances. If those two continue to pitch well, it would be an obvious help in building the bridge to Mariano.
Aceves, however, told us he couldn’t do that every time out. Two consecutive games of two innings of work would likely be his limit. Then, he said, he’d need at least a day off. Even today, Aceves said, his shoulder is a bit sore – just normal soreness – after pitching two scoreless innings last night.
So it’s something that’s possible at times, just not every time. Good question.
It’s getaway day, which means everyone is hoping beyond hope for a quick game. It’s also “Ladies Night Out” here at Rogers Centre. Yee-hah!
As we write this, Leiter is rolling his chair over his jacket. Repeatedly. Now he realizes it and is staring down at the blue jacket, which is rather dusty. Especially one of the sleeves. The inning just ended, and Leiter is worrying about having to wear the jacket on postgame and looking dirty. This is the stuff from the booth you don’t see.
Last night’s game went three hours, nine minutes. None of the Blue Jays previous five games lasted longer than 2:34. For whatever that’s worth.
Leiter just asked if we’re writing about him. Yes. We’re also wondering what happened to the Mike and Ike’s.
Swisher’s haircut is creating waves in the clubhouse. It looks a bit like someone took lawnmower blades to his head. Actually, he went to A.J.’s stylist in Toronto – which is another story unto itself. Anyway, in the near future, we will have a Swisher InnerView on “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” and you’ll get an up-close-and-personal look at his hair. We’ll try to give you a heads up. That should be entertaining.
So Jeter’s back, as is Matsui. Bruney should return within a week. Coke could be available tomorrow. Nady plans to swing a bat in the cage tomorrow. Girardi says it’s too early to forecast a return date for either Posada or Molina; Posada is in Tampa, but not yet playing games, and Molina remains in New York.
That’s today’s injury update, brought to you by Benadryl. Or whatever allergy medication we’re taking today.
Leiter just said he didn’t buy more Mike and Ike’s. He also said he read the blog – really, he read it! – and was amused that Mike and Ike’s are so popular. Keep reading, Al. And bring those Mike and Ike’s next time. 🙂
Tomorrow will be Alex’s first game at Yankee Stadium. Something tells us he’ll be very happy to see the home fans after some of the treatment he’s received here and in Baltimore. Sources say the Toronto fans – particularly on Tuesday — have been as unruly as any the Yankees have seen in a while. They were throwing coins into the Yankees bullpen and yelling all kinds of vulgarities. And we thought Canadians were a gentle sort.