Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK — Mark Teixeira thought being limited to 15 games last season due to two wrist injuries would lead him to find the ‘fountain of youth”.

Instead, the veteran first baseman has encountered the fountain of nagging injuries.

The latest is a grade-one lat strain in his back and the Yankees believe it will keep him sidelined for three to four days.

“I think if we were concerned, really concerned, we’d put him on the DL right away,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re hoping that after three or four days he feels OK and we’ll get him back in there.”

Monday marked the 22nd game that Teixeira has missed. In his first three seasons with the Yankees (2009-2011), Teixeira missed a combined 16 games.

This year he was on the DL for two weeks with a hamstring injury. Additionally he has missed time with back, knee and groin ailments.

“I thought the year off last year would kind of give me a fountain of youth,” Teixeira said. “And it’s just made me rusty. I’ve used that word a few times this year; that’s the way it feels. It’s been something. Every game, it’s something. I was dealing with the hamstring early, the knee, back — it’s really frustrating — not to mention the wrist, which is obviously something I’ve been dealing with. That’s life.

You have to grind through things. I’ve been grinding pretty well all season. I’m still happy with the way I’ve played when I’m healthy. I just need to get healthy again.”

Teixeira said the injury cropped up sometime last month when the Yankees were in Oakland. He was able to get through it by playing but during the four days off with the All-Star break, that was when it worsened leading to a PRP injection Monday night by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad.

“That’s kind of what happens when you shut down for a little while,” Teixeira said. “The blood’s not flowing, you don’t have that adrenaline pumping through your body and it becomes worse. I think that’s what we saw this weekend. … When the pain ratcheted up, it was one spot. I could tell Doc, ‘Listen Doc, this spot’s killing me. Let’s take a look at it.’ That’s when we found the strain.”

Teixeira is hitting .231 while leading the Yankees with 17 home runs and 48 RBIs. Since the Yankees left Oakland on June 15, he is batting .213 (23-for-108) with six home runs and 16 RBIs.

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 50-48

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Rangers (RHP Nick Martinez, 1-6, 5.10 ERA) vs. Yankees (RHP Chase Whitley, 4-3, 5.10 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

–1B Mark Teixeira missed his 22nd game of the season Monday with a grade-one strain of his lower lat muscle in the back. Teixeira said that he first starting feeling something during the Yankees’ series in Oakland from June 13-15 but was able to play through it. He felt it get worse during the four days of inactivity in the All-Star break and an MRI revealed the strain. The Yankees believe that Teixeira should be only out for three to four days but he also was getting a PRP shot from team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad before Monday’s game.

–RHP Shane Greene made his third career start and allowed four runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He also made three errors, becoming the first Yankee pitcher to do so since Tommy John had three on the same play against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 27, 1988.

–RHP Chase Whitley will look to reverse a negative trend Tuesday night when he faces the Texas Rangers. Whitley was 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his first seven starts but is 0-3 with a 12.86 ERA in his last four. Whitley last pitched in New York’s rain-shortened 3-1 loss at Baltimore on July 13 when he allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.

–CF Jacoby Ellsbury hit his eighth home run in the fourth inning and that gave him hits in six straight at-bats. Over his last four games, Ellsbury is hitting .500 (8-for-16) with two home runs, four RBIs and three stolen bases.

–3B Zealous Wheeler made his first start at third base at Yankee Stadium on Monday night and had two putouts. His first chance was a ground ball by Texas 1B J.P. Arencibia and he fielded the ball near the foul line and made an off-balance throw from foul territory.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It was an ugly game on our part. Our defense was bad and we didn’t swing the bats particularly well.” — New York manager Joe Girardi after a loss to Texas on Monday.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–1B Mark Teixeira (grade-one strain of lower lat) miss the July 21 game. The Yankees believe that Teixeira should be only out for 3-4 days, but he also received a PRP shot from team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad on July 21.

–RHP Michael Pineda (right teres major muscle strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 6, and he was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL on June 3. He was suspended the previous 10 days after he was caught using pine tar on the mound. He played catch from 60 feet May 10. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session May 18. He faced live hitters May 24 and threw 28 pitches. Pineda threw two innings May 27 in an extended spring training game. He was scratched from a simulated game June 1. He had a throwing session canceled after an MRI found some inflammation in his right shoulder. He played catch June 28 and June 30. He began playing catch from 90 feet July 5. Pineda threw a bullpen session in Tampa during the All-Star break. He will throw live batting practice the week of July 21-27 and could progress to rehab or simulated games. An August return is possible.

–RHP Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn ligament in elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list July 9. The Yankees will try to rehab the injury, but if that fails, Tommy John surgery has not been ruled out. The first step in the rehab process was a platelet-rich plasma injection into the elbow July 14.

–LHP CC Sabathia (fluid in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 1. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but the knee was swollen and causing Sabathia discomfort. He had the fluid drained from the knee, and he was given cortisone and stem-cell injections. Sabathia threw bullpen sessions June 18 and June 21. He threw 35 pitches in a simulated game June 24. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on June 28. Sabathia threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on June 30, and he started for Double-A Trenton on July 2. He experienced renewed knee swelling July 3, and the Yankees acknowledged that he was unlikely to return this season. After seeing three doctors, the Yankees announced July 18 that he will have season-ending surgery to clean up the inflammation and swelling. The surgery is set for July 23 and will be performed by Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

–RHP Ivan Nova (ulnar collateral ligament tear in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 24. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 29.

ROTATION:

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Brandon McCarthy

RHP David Phelps

RHP Shane Greene

RHP Chase Whitley

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

RHP Dellin Betances

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP David Huff

LHP Jeff Francis

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

Francisco Cervelli

INFIELDERS:

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Kelly Johnson

INF Zelous Wheeler

INF Brendan Ryan

INF Yangervis Solarte

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Brett Gardner

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

RF Ichiro Suzuki

DH Carlos Beltran

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Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

For the New York Yankees, another non-playoff season appears to be a strong possibility.

At least it does if the offense cannot pick it up consistently to support a pitching staff missing 80 percent of its projected rotation while using rookie starting pitchers in 45 games.

The fact that the Yankees are within striking distance in the American League East is because that while they’ve treaded water, no one ahead of them has become consistently hot.

However, no team can rely on that factor and eventually the Yankees will have to develop a hot streak. It will have to be one that goes beyond last month’s four-game winning streak and stretch of 10 wins in 14 games.

If that is going to happen, the Yankees will need to hit better than a team that barely hits over .250 and improve on their struggles in many clutch situations.

That means Brian McCann will have to do better than the .239 average he has produced so far. It also means than when Carlos Beltran returns he will need to do better than the underwhelming .216 average.

To achieve all of that, the Yankees will also have to play better at home. They have won 18 of their first 41 home games, start the second half with an 11-game homestand and play a major league-leading 40 home games after the break.

Getting all those components to click is their mission and if the Yankees are going to be a playoff team, it must happen.

“It’s a little surprising,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “Certainly you expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform and at the end of the day, at the end of the year you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you they’re doing everything in their power to try and correct it and I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it and we’re just going to stay at it. There’s no simple plan. The work is positive and we’re working in the right direction. It’s just been tough.”

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 47-47

STREAK: Lost one

FIRST-HALF MVP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka was mislabeled as a No. 3 starter in the offseason and that claim sounds ridiculous now. Even when the rotation was in place, Tanaka was the best pitcher. Despite missing at least six weeks and possibly more with a partially torn UCL, he was a dominant figure by going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 129 innings. The Yankees went 13-5 in his 18 starts and scored nine runs in the five times they lost with Tanaka on the mound.

FIRST-HALF GRADE: C — The Yankees get a mediocre grade not because of the manager or front office but because of how they played and that’s mostly average baseball. They never made it above five games over .500 and despite spending over $280 million on Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees have not quite gotten the bang for their big bucks yet and might be able to have played better if they had retained Robinson Cano. There have been a few strong individual performances such as David Robertson, Dellin Betances and RHP Masahiro Tanaka, but it has not been consistent with the offense and that has exposed the holes in the Yankees rotation.

PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: 1B Mark Teixeira is pivotal for the hope that the first baseman will stay healthy since his 17 home runs represent the most consistent power threat so far. He will need to be joined in that department by C Brian McCann, who has 10 home runs and an underwhelming .239 average. McCann is the latest first-year Yankee to have some early struggles but usually those are over early in seasons. McCann will have to end that soon if the Yankees are going to have a real shot because they’re not paying him $85 million to merely call games behind the plate.

BUY OR SELL: The obvious answer is sell. The realistic answer in knowing how the Yankees operate is that they will attempt to buy unless they begin the second half by completely falling out of both races. General manager Brian Cashman has already said he’s ready to rock-and-roll and it’s certain he means more than just acquiring Brandon McCarthy and Jeff Francis. The Yankees may not have the prospects to go big-game hunting but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try.

INJURY STATUS: Like many teams, the Yankees don’t make excuses for injuries but there’s no doubt it’s significant for why they are a .500 team. The biggest blow is RHP Masahiro Tanaka, who may not pitch the rest of the year, but losing CC Sabathia is also a significant blow. Even in his diminished state of velocity, Sabathia can provide distance and not tax a bullpen that usually starts working in the sixth and sometimes the fifth. Other than Carlos Beltran, the injuries haven’t really hit the offense, but not having the veteran postseason being able to get on track because of finding his timing after returning has hurt as well.

TOP PROSPECT: The Yankees top positional prospects are at some of the lower levels but a name that keeps popping up is Rob Refsnyder. Refsnyder was the team’s fifth-round pick two years and has soared through the system by hitting near or above .300 at four different levels. He has moved from outfield to second base, but the Yankees are sorely in need of power from the outfield, that they moved him back this week. If they don’t acquire a right fielder, it seems possible Refsnyder might get a chance.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The talent is in that room. We just need to play better. It’s a lot of different places. You can look at almost every phase and say we need to play better. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.” — Yankees manager Joe Girardi

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–OF Carlos Beltran (broken nose, concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to July 9. Beltran did some exercising July 11 and did not experience any issues. The Yankees expect to activate him July 18.

–RHP Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn ligament in elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list July 9. The Yankees will try to rehab the injury, but if that fails, Tommy John surgery has not been ruled out. The first step in the rehab process will be a platelet-rich plasma injection into the elbow July 14.

–LHP CC Sabathia (fluid in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 1. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but the knee was swollen and causing Sabathia discomfort. He had the fluid drained from the knee, and he was given cortisone and stem-cell injections. Sabathia threw bullpen sessions June 18 and June 21. He threw 35 pitches in a simulated game June 24. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on June 28. Sabathia threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on June 30, and he started for Double-A Trenton on July 2. He experienced renewed knee swelling July 3, and the Yankees acknowledged that he is unlikely to return this season. He is going to see at least one other doctor, starting with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

–RHP Michael Pineda (right teres major muscle strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 6, and he was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL on June 3. He was suspended the previous 10 days after he was caught using pine tar on the mound. He played catch from 60 feet May 10. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session May 18. He faced live hitters May 24 and threw 28 pitches. Pineda threw two innings May 27 in an extended spring training game. He was scratched from a simulated game June 1. He had a throwing session canceled after an MRI found some inflammation in his right shoulder. He played catch June 28 and again on June 30. He began playing catch from 90 feet July 5. According to general manager Brian Cashman, Pineda isn’t likely to return until August if there not any more issues.

–RHP Ivan Nova (ulnar collateral ligament tear in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 24. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 29.

ROTATION:

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Brandon McCarthy

RHP David Phelps

RHP Shane Greene

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

LHP Jeff Francis

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP David Huff

RHP Chase Whitley

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

Francisco Cervelli

INFIELDERS:

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Kelly Johnson

INF Zelous Wheeler

INF Brendan Ryan

INF Yangervis Solarte

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Brett Gardner

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

RF Ichiro Suzuki

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

 

NEW YORK — Joe Girardi knows that Brian McCann‘s .221 batting average jumps off the page and is frustrating New York Yankees fans.

The manager also knows that there are other numbers that fans are not necessarily paying close attention to, including the fact that McCann caught 19 pitchers at least once through his first 80 games this year.

McCann is working closely with the team’s three most significant pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka, David Robertson and Dellin Betances, all of whom are adjusting to new circumstances.

Tanaka is learning how to pitch every five days instead of every seven in Japan. McCann has caught all of his starts, and the 25-year-old right-hander is tied for the American League lead with a 2.10 ERA.

Robertson is the closer for the first time, and throwing to McCann, he is limiting opponents to a .190 batting average.

Betances is being used in high-leverage situations for the first time in the majors, and opponents are batting .114 against him when he is pitching to McCann.

“If you were to look solely at how our staff has done, his RBI totals and his home runs you’d probably say he’s having a pretty good year,” Girardi said. “But when you look at that average, that’s kind of glaring, and I think people say you know what he’s not having the year that he’s capable of. I know he expects more of himself, but some of the important numbers he’s doing a pretty good job at.

“He’s done a really good job with our staff. He’s with our eighth or ninth starter at this point. He had to learn a whole new league.”

McCann, who went 0-for-3 Sunday in the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox, is batting .221 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. His average has not been higher than .250 since April 24, and it has been above .234 since April 27.

“I think he’s at 36 RBIs, and we’re not even at the halfway point,” Girardi said, “so his season has been good. I think he expects more himself, and I think he’s better than a .220 hitter, and I think we’ll see that in the second half.”

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 41-39

STREAK: Lost two

NEXT: Rays (RHP Chris Archer, 4-5, 3.29 ERA) at Yankees (RHP David Phelps, 3-4, 4.35 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

–RHP David Phelps makes his 11th start of the season Monday night against the visiting Rays. Phelps is 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA over his last five home starts. Phelps is coming off two mixed outings against the Toronto Blue Jays. On Tuesday, he allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings at Toronto. On June 19 in a home win over the Blue Jays, he allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings while throwing 115 pitches. Phelps won both starts against Tampa Bay last season, allowing six runs and 14 hits in 13 1/3 innings.

–LHP CC Sabathia felt no issues following his first rehab start with Class A Tampa on Saturday, when he gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings. After throwing 37 pitches to 12 hitters, Sabathia will have a bullpen session this week in New York before making another rehab start with a team closer to New York, probably either Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sabathia has been on the DL since May 11 with an inflamed right knee, and the Yankees feel he needs at least three rehab starts before returning.

–DH Carlos Beltran was throwing in preparation for an eventual return to the outfield, but that was put on hold after his forearm became stiff. The Yankees have shut down his throwing program for the time being but hope to resume it next week. Beltran did wind up with his third three-hit game of the season Sunday, his first since April 13, also against Boston.

–RHP Chase Whitley was handed his second straight loss after going 3-0 in his first seven starts. In his first game against the Red Sox, Whitley allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings Sunday. Following three consecutive wins, Whitley has allowed 13 earned runs and 19 hits over his past 7 1/3 innings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We’re all going through our issues, there’s no doubt about it, in the division. As I’ve said, it’s probably going to come down to the end and who handles the injuries the best. Obviously, we need to play better. I’m sure every club in our division probably says that at this point. We need to play better. We’re right in the thick of it, and we have an opportunity.” — Manager Joe Girardi, after the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–RHP Michael Pineda (right teres major muscle strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 6, and he was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL on June 3. He was suspended the previous 10 days after he was caught using pine tar on the mound. He played catch from 60 feet May 10. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session May 18. He faced live hitters May 24 and threw 28 pitches. Pineda he threw two innings May 27 in an extended spring training game. He was scratched from a simulated game June 1. He had a throwing session canceled after an MRI found some inflammation in his right shoulder. He played catch June 28.

–LHP CC Sabathia (fluid in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but the knee was swollen and causing Sabathia discomfort. He had the fluid drained from the knee but hadn’t begun a throwing program as of May 14. Sabathia was given cortisone and stem-cell injections. On May 19, Sabathia was informed that if the stem-cell treatment injection worked he would need at least six weeks of recovery time. He threw bullpen sessions June 18 and June 21. He threw 35 pitches in a simulated game June 24. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on June 28. He will throw the second of at least three rehab starts in early July, probably for either Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

–RHP Ivan Nova (ulnar collateral ligament tear in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 24. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 29.

ROTATION:

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

LHP Vidal Nuno

RHP David Phelps

RHP Chase Whitley

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

RHP Jose Ramirez

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP David Huff

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

Francisco Cervelli

INFIELDERS:

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Yangervis Solarte

INF Kelly Johnson

INF Brendan Ryan

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Brett Gardner

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

RF Alfonso Soriano

DH Carlos Beltran

OF Ichiro Suzuki

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK — By the end of this week, free agent Kendrys Morales will be available to teams without costing them a draft pick as compensation.

Whether teams decide to go that route for a first baseman and designated hitter is unknown, but there is clamor for the New York Yankees to be in the market for Morales, who made $5.2 million last season when he batted .277 with 23 home runs and 80 RBIs in 156 games for the Seattle Mariners.

Both New York tabloids ran columns recommending that the Yankees obtain him, with the New York Post running their column a day after first baseman Mark Teixeira left Saturday’s game in the sixth inning with soreness in his right wrist that required a cortisone shot. In Teixeira’s words, it essentially placed him back at “square one” with the right wrist inflammation that kept him out for three games last week.

Teixeira sat out Sunday and likely will miss Monday when the Yankees go against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.

His nine home runs lead the Yankees, whose 48 home runs through May are the fewest through the first two months since they had 42 through May 1996.

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 29-26

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez, 7-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. Yankees (RHP David Phelps, 1-2, 3.28 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

–RHP David Phelps will make his sixth start Monday when the Yankees face the Seattle Mariners in a makeup game of an April 30 rainout. Since allowing four earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in his first two appearances, Phelps has allowed 11 earned runs in his last 36 2/3 innings, spanning 12 outings. Phelps last pitched in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss at St. Louis and he allowed five runs (three earned) and eight hits in six innings.

–RHP Dellin Betances continued his remarkable run of strikeouts by getting five more in two innings Sunday. Betances recorded his 19th multi-strikeout game and 11th game with at least three strikeouts. Over his last nine appearances, Betances has 25 strikeouts for a strikeout ratio of 22.5 per nine innings.

–RHP David Robertson will be eager to return to the mound for his next save opportunity after his ERA went from 2.08 to 4.50 following his second blown save in 14 opportunities. Robertson allowed five runs and two hits while throwing 27 pitches to seven hitters.

–SS Derek Jeter went 1-for-4 and is batting .316 over his last 14 games since May 17. He also is hitting .393 (11-for-28) in his last eight home games.

–OF/DH Carlos Beltran will begin a rehab assignment Monday at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa, Florida. Beltran has been sidelined since May 13 with a hyperextended right elbow that did not require surgery following a visit to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “These are the guys we have and we have to find a way to get it done. We had the bases loaded up and nobody out and were only able to come away with one run. Those are the situations that we really need to capitalize and we weren’t able to do that today.” — New York manager Joe Girardi, after Sunday’s 7-2 loss to Minnesota.

ROSTER REPORT

 

–OF/DH Carlos Beltran (bone spur in hyperextended right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 13. He got a cortisone shot in the elbow May 13 and a second one May 17. He swung a fungo bat May 26. He took 15 swings from each side of the plate with a bat on May 27 in Yankee Stadium. Beltran took 25 swings from each side of plate May 29. He will begin a rehab assignment June 2 at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. If pain returns, surgery might be the next option. An operation could sideline him another eight to 10 weeks.

–RHP Shawn Kelley (back stiffness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 7. After playing catch May 19, Kelley’s back stiffened up again. Kelley likely will need a few bullpen sessions and possibly an inning or more in the minors before rejoining the Yankees. He threw long toss May 27 and a bullpen session May 30.

–LHP CC Sabathia (fluid in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but the knee was swollen and causing Sabathia discomfort. He had the fluid drained from the knee but hadn’t begun a throwing program as of May 14. Sabathia was given cortisone and stem-cell injections with the hope that the condition would get better. On May 19, Sabathia was informed that if the stem-cell treatment injection worked, he would need at least six weeks of recovery time, putting him out until at least July. On May 25 manager Joe Girardi said Sabathia was only doing non-baseball related rehab work, including work in a pool.

–RHP Michael Pineda (right teres major muscle strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 6. He was suspended the previous 10 days after he was caught using pine tar on the mound. He played catch from 60 feet May 10. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session May 18. He faced live hitters May 24 and threw 28 pitches. Pineda he threw two innings May 27 in an extended spring training game. He was scratched from a simulated game June 1.

–C/1B Francisco Cervelli (right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 14, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 15. Cervelli ran the bases May 24, but not at full speed.

–RHP Ivan Nova (ulnar collateral ligament tear in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 24. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 29.

–1B Mark Teixeira (right wrist soreness) was not in the lineup June and is questionable for June 2.

ROTATION:

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

LHP Vidal Nuno

RHP David Phelps

RHP Chase Whitley

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

RHP Preston Claiborne

RHP Matt Daley

RHP Alfredo Aceves

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

John Ryan Murphy

INFIELDERS:

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Yangervis Solarte

INF Kelly Johnson

INF Brendan Ryan

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Brett Gardner

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

RF Alfonso Soriano

OF Ichiro Suzuki

OF Zoilo Almonte

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

untitled

INSIDE PITCH

NEW YORK — David Phelps did not win the New York Yankees’ fifth starter’s spot out of spring training in a competition that included fellow right-handers Adam Warren and Michael Pineda.

That job is now his at least for the next month or so.

After Pineda finishes a 10-game suspension for pine tar use, the Yankees will place him on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his back. The Yankees were relieved that it was not a shoulder or elbow, the two most common places for pitcher injuries and the belief that three or four weeks will allow the injury to heal sufficiently.

That timetable takes the Yankees through the end of May when they have played about 50 games.

So far Phelps has appeared in nine games, spanning 11 2/3 innings. He has allowed five earned runs and 10 hits, struck out 16 and walked seven.

Phelps was supposed to pitch Wednesday, but had his turn skipped due to the rainout. To stay sharp, he threw an indoor simulated game of about 80 pitches in preparation for the start Monday night in Anaheim.

“I think he did a pretty good job as a starter when he’s filled in,” Girardi said. “That’s what I expect him to do.”

Phelps was 6-5 in 22 games (12 starts) with a 4.98 ERA for the Yankees but had his season interrupted by a two-month stint on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. In 2012, he was 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 33 games (11 starts) and made three postseason appearances.

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 15-12

STREAK: Lost two

NEXT: Yankees (LHP Vidal Nuno, 0-0, 6.59 ERA) vs. Rays (LHP David Price, 3-2, 4.75 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

–RHP Michael Pineda will miss three to four weeks with a strained muscle in his back, which is a relief to the Yankees that it’s not a shoulder or elbow injury. Pineda, serving a 10-game suspension for pine tar usage, will be placed on the DL when the suspension is up next week. He injured himself in a simulated game earlier this week.

–RHP David Phelps will fill in during Pineda’s absence. Phelps was slated to start Wednesday but when the game was rained out he threw an 80-pitch simulated game to stay sharp.

–SS Brendan Ryan has been on the disabled list since the end of spring training with a cervical spine nerve injury but will take the next step in the recovery Friday. The Yankees said he will appear in a rehab game for Double-A Trenton and could be a few games away from being activated.

–CF Jacoby Ellsbury hit his 11th career home leadoff home run and his first as a Yankee following three days off to rest a sore left hand. To show how little power the Yankees had most of last year, it was their first leadoff home run since Derek Jeter had one Aug. 21, 2012, at Chicago.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “He didn’t pitch horribly tonight. I tonight was an improvement. I think it’s a step in the right direction.” — New York manager Joe Girardi, on RHP Hiroki Kuroda after a 4-2 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–RHP Michael Pineda (right lat muscle) was injured April 28 in a simulated game at the team’s minor league facility in Tampa, Fla. Pineda pulled himself after the first inning when he felt pain. After the game, the Yankees said that an MRI revealed a grade 1 strain of the teres major muscle, which is in between the lat and the shoulder.

–RHP Ivan Nova (ulnar collateral ligament tear in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 24. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 29.

–RHP Bruce Billings (right forearm strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 27, retroactive to April 26.

–SS Brendan Ryan (cervical spine nerve problem) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He will rehab in extended spring training before rejoining the major league club. He is unlikely to return before May. He played in a simulated game at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., on April 19. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on April 27.

–C/1B Francisco Cervelli (Grade 2 right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 14, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 15.

ROTATION:

LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

LHP Vidal Nuno

RHP David Phelps

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

RHP Shane Greene

RHP Preston Claiborne

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

J.R. Murphy

INFIELDERS:

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Yangervis Solarte

INF Kelly Johnson

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Brett Gardner

RF Carlos Beltran

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

DH Alfonso Soriano

OF Ichiro Suzuk

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK — About two months ago, general manager Brian Cashman tried to downplay Masahiro Tanaka.

He went on radio shows saying Tanaka was a No. 3 starter and then reiterated that at Tanaka’s introductory press conference.

Three starts in, Tanaka seems to be the Yankees’ best starting pitcher. He certainly looked the part Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader, dominating the Cubs by allowing two bunt singles and striking out 10 in eight innings.

Tanaka has 28 strikeouts in three games, the most by a Yankee in his first three starts since current broadcaster Al Leiter struck out 25 in three September starts in 1987.

Leiter was making less than $100,000 when he joined a team in need of pitching after falling seven games behind the Detroit Tigers. Tanaka is in the first year of a seven-year contract that will pay him $155 million.

Perhaps an even better number to gauge Tanaka is his strike percentage. Tanaka has thrown 69.5 percent of his pitches (212-of-305) for strikes.

It’s a number that may get some wows but doesn’t necessarily surprise teammates.

“My reaction is that he has that good of stuff that he doesn’t have to throw a lot of balls because he can throw pitches in the zone,” Shawn Kelley said. “That’s how good he is. I know it’s early, but he’s special.”

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 9-6

STREAK: Won four

NEXT: Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia, 1-2, 6.63 ERA) at Rays (LHP David Price, 2-0, 2.91)

PLAYER NOTES:

–RHP Masahiro Tanaka was dominant Wednesday, allowing a pair of bunt singles while striking out 10 in eight innings. He has 28 strikeouts in his first three career starts, the most by a Yankee who began his career with the team since current broadcast Al Leiter fanned 25 in his first three starts in 1987.

–RF Carlos Beltran was named player of the week for the 10th time on Monday and then homered in the third straight game Wednesday in a 3-0 win in the opener of the doubleheader with the Cubs. He has done that 10 times and this was the first time since April 18-20 for St. Louis.

–SS Derek Jeter sat out Game 1 but played in Game 2 of the doubleheader. Jeter missed the last two games with a minor quad injury but the reason for him not playing both games had more to do with facing a right-handed starter in the afternoon and a left-handed started in the nightcap, manager Joe Girardi said. Jeter said he understands having days off but doesn’t necessarily like them and that he did not tell anyone about his quad.

–C J.R. Murphy joined the Yankees on Wednesday as the primary backup catcher. The team liked what he did last season in 16 games and in spring training, though manager Joe Girardi said it was a close call between him and C Austin Romine.

–3B Scott Sizemore also joined the Yankees after hitting .344 with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes Barre and .316 in 11 exhibition games. He spent most of last season recovering from a left ACL injury but could see some time at first base, at least while 1B Mark Teixeira remains on the DL. In terms of how close he is to recovering from that injury, Sizemore said, “I would say I’m not quite there yet, but I’m 95 percent.”

–2B Brian Roberts missed the doubleheader with back spasms that required a precautionary MRI, which was negative. He remains day-to-day, but the Yankees do not believe it to be long-term.

–RHP Michael Pineda allowed four hits in six innings and is 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA in eight career April starts. Pineda also is the first Yankee to begin his tenure with the team by allowing one run or fewer in three starts since Kevin Brown in 2004.

–RHP Shane Greene was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, three days after he was sent down. Greene was recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on April 9 and spent five games on the big league roster but did not appear in a game. He has yet to pitch above the Double-A level. Greene went 12-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) between Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season.

–1B Mark Teixeira is already in Tampa Bay and the Yankees said he will play three innings somewhere Thursday, though they are not sure where. Teixeira has been on the DL with a strained right hamstring since April 5 and Wednesday he had full batting practice and also ran the bases.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “My reaction is that he has that good of stuff that he doesn’t have to throw a lot of balls because he can throw pitches in the zone. That’s how good he is. I know it’s early, but he’s special.” — RHP Shawn Kelley, after RHP Masahiro Tanaka struck out 10 in eight shutout innings Wednesday.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–SS Derek Jeter (tight right quad) sat out three straight games, returning for the second game of the April 16 doubleheader.

–C/1B Francisco Cervelli (Grade 2 right hamstring strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 14 and transferred to the 60-day disabled list April 15. He was hurt beating out a double-play ball April 13.

–2B Brian Roberts (back) underwent an MRI on April 13. The results were negative, and he is day-to-day.

–1B Mark Teixeira (right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 5. He had an MRI April 7, and the results were a grade 1 strain, which is the least severe. He was cleared to begin exercise program April 8 but as of April 11, had yet to start hitting. On April 11, the Yankees said they anticipate he’ll return before May 1. He took batting practice April 13 and April 16 and also ran bases April 16. He was slated to play three innings in a rehab stint April 17. He could return from the disabled list on April 20, the first day he is eligible.

–RHP David Robertson (grade 1 groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 8, retroactive to April 7.

–SS Brendan Ryan (cervical spine nerve problem) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He will rehab in extended spring training before rejoining the major league club. He is unlikely to return before May.

ROTATION:

LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Ivan Nova

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

RHP Michael Pineda

BULLPEN:

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP David Phelps

LHP Cesar Cabral

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

LHP Vidal Nuno

RHP Shane Greene

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

J.R. Murphy

INFIELDERS:

1B Kelly Johnson

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Yangervis Solarte

INF Dean Anna

INF Scott Sizemore

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Brett Gardner

RF Carlos Beltran

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

DH Alfonso Soriano

OF Ichiro Suzuki

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

INSIDE PITCH

HOUSTON — The Yankees designated for assignment infielder Eduardo Nunez, a relative staple as a role player since making his debut in 2010. Nunez hit .260/.307/.372 over 336 plate appearances and 90 games last season, with those plate appearances just shy of his career-high 338 in 2011.

“It’s tough,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “At times, clubs get into roster crunches and sometimes you have to put a good player on waivers. I’ve said all along it’s someone that we’ve been very fond of, a great guy on the clubhouse. It’s tough but we’ll see what happens.”

The advancing age, troubling health history and the overall viability of the Yankees’ infield was a source of discussion during the offseason. Shortstop Derek Jeter, 40, announced his retirement effective the end of this season while first baseman Mark Teixeira, 33, played in just 15 games in 2013 following wrist surgery. Second baseman Brian Roberts, 36, brings an extensive injury history as the replacement for departed stalwart Robinson Cano while Kelly Johnson, 32, manned third base for 16 games last season, the first time in his career that he played there.

The offseason signing of shortstop Brendan Ryan made Nunez expendable, as did the Yankees’ decision to go with Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte as reserves with Ryan on the 15-day disabled list. That flux will put the infield under close observation in the early stages.

“When he (Nunez) was sent down, he played mostly shortstop and didn’t play second and third as much as these other guys,” Girardi said. “Probably the situation that hurt him most would be Brendan Ryan.

“With the experience of a Solarte, who’s played more second and third, and Dean Anna, who’s played all around, we chose to go with those guys.”

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 0-1

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Yankees (RHP Hiroki Kuroda, 2013: 11-13, 3.31) at Astros (RHP Jarred Cosart, 2013: 1-1, 1.95)

–SS Eduardo Nunez was designated for assignment on Tuesday, giving the Yankees 10 days to trade, release or outright Nunez to the minor leagues. Nunez hit .260/.307/.372 over 90 games and 336 plate appearances last season, but with the offseason signing of SS Brendan Ryan, he slipped down the depth chart. His lack of positional versatility led to his being beaten for the final reserve spots by Yangervis Solarte and Dean Anna.

–SS Brendan Ryan was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a cervical spine nerve problem. Ryan was limited to four appearances during spring training before being sidelined for good. The Yankees don’t anticipate Ryan returning before May and, when he does, he will open the season in extended spring training before joining the club.

–INF Yangervis Solarte was signed to a major league contract and selected to the 40-man roster on Monday, filling the void left when SS Brendan Ryan was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Solarte made his first career Opening Day roster after hitting .429 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 24 spring training games as a non-roster invitee. He led the Yankees in hits and tied for the lead in games and RBIs.

–LHP CC Sabathia became just the 12th pitcher in Yankees history with 1,000 strikeouts, reaching the plateau with six strikeouts against the Astros. Sabathia has amassed 1,002 strikeouts since joining the Yankees in 2009. Immediately ahead of Sabathia on the club’s all-time list are Roger Clemens (1,014), Al Downing (1,028), Bob Shawkey (1,167) and Mariano Rivera (1,173).

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It got out of hand early. I mean I’ve got 34, hopefully more, starts left. I’m definitely not going to pitch like I did tonight in the first two innings. I know I can pitch. I love to get guys out. I feel great, so no, I’m not going to beat myself up over this.” — LHP CC Sabathia, who allowed six runs in the first two innings of Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Astros.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–CF Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right calf) was injured March 14. He missed nearly two weeks of spring games, but he played Opening Day.

–SS Brendan Ryan (cervical spine nerve problem) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. Ryan was limited to four appearances during spring training before being sidelined for good. The Yankees don’t anticipate Ryan returning before May and, when he does, he will open the season in extended spring training before joining the club.

ROTATION:

LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Ivan Nova

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

RHP Michael Pineda

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP David Phelps

LHP Cesar Cabral

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

CATCHERS:

Brian McCann

Francisco Cervelli

INFIELDERS:

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Brian Roberts

SS Derek Jeter

3B Kelly Johnson

INF Yangervis Solarte

INF Dean Anna

OUTFIELDERS:

RF Carlos Beltran

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

LF Brett Gardner

OF Ichiro Suzuki

LF/DH Alfonso Soriano

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

The SportsXchange

INSIDE PITCH

The last time the New York Yankees went on a comparable holiday shopping spree, they won the World Series in 2009 after missing the playoffs the previous season.

The franchise’s lone title in the past 13 years came after the Bombers opened the checkbook that previous winter, spending more than $400 million to import starting pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, first baseman Mark Teixeira and outfielder Nick Swisher, all key components of their 27th championship club.

Another rare playoff whiff in 2013 resulted in even more lavish spending over this past offseason. Only time will tell if the result of the nearly $500 million spent by owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman — on big-ticket free agents such as catcher Brian McCann, outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, among other smaller signings — will help the Yankees get back to October and advance once they get there.

There is never time for a transition year the Bronx, but the star power that left the Yankees after the team went 85-77 last season perhaps exceeds the players imported to replace them.

Closer Mariano Rivera, baseball’s all-time saves leader, and left-hander Andy Pettitte, baseball’s winningest postseason pitcher, both retired. All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano took the unusual career path of leaving the Yankees for bigger riches elsewhere, signing a $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. And three-time MVP third baseman Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the entire season for violating Major League Baseball’s policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs.

“I think it is probably the biggest transition I’ve been through,”

manager Joe Girardi said during spring training. “When I sit and look around at the people that we’ll run out Opening Day this year compared to last year, in a sense, you’re going to have a different first baseman, a different second baseman, a different shortstop, a different third baseman, a different left fielder, a different center fielder, probably a different right fielder and a different catcher.”

The 2014 season also will be the last for perennial All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter, who will be honored in every road stadium — as Rivera was last year in his own farewell tour. The Captain announced his pending retirement just before the start of spring training after missing all but 17 games last season with ankle and other leg injuries.

As Girardi referenced, Teixeira, the returning first baseman, appeared in just 15 games last season due to wrist surgery. Second baseman Brian Roberts and third baseman Kelly Johnson open the year as the other new starting infielders, while successful setup man David Robertson has the unenviable task of replacing Rivera, who was the Yankees’ closer since 1997.

“I know some of these guys were in the mix last year, but it’s different,” Girardi said. “I do believe as far as a manager, this is the biggest transition I’ve been through with players from top to bottom. As far as pressure, I wouldn’t really consider it pressure, but I think it’s important that I get to know these guys and how they react in different situations and what makes them comfortable. How you push them and don’t push them. I need to learn a lot of new faces fairly quickly.”

NOTES, QUOTES

–RHP Michael Pineda earned the No. 5 starter job with a strong camp, as he posted a 1.20 ERA through 15 innings. The former All-Star missed the past two seasons due to shoulder surgery after he was acquired in 2012 from Seattle. “Everybody is excited because they know I’ve been working hard for the last two years and I want to go back to the majors,” Pineda said.

–RHP Masahiro Tanaka cost the Yankees $175 million in salary and posting fees over the winter. However, the team continues to temper expectations on the pricy Japanese import, pegging him to start the fourth game of the season April 4 in Toronto. “We feel we have a lot of quality,” GM Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News. “We feel better about our pitching today than we did before camp started. We had to see certain stuff from some guys, and we’ve seen it.”

–CF Jacoby Ellsbury sustained a calf injury March 14 and missed the next two weeks, but the $153 million man believes he will be ready for Opening Day in Houston on April 1. “I have been running the last few days very hard. I feel very confident,” Ellsbury told the New York Post after playing in a minor league game March 25. “I feel I could hop in there and play right now and be ready to. I feel I will be ready.”

–SS Derek Jeter, entering his final season after missing all but 17 games last year with assorted leg injuries, was batting just .143 during spring training through March 26. “I’m not really too worried about it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It is spring training. He was off for almost like a year and a half. He feels better at the plate. He says his timing, he feels, is closer. I’m not too worried about it. … Guys have been through spring trainings like this before. I remember a lot of times going through spring training and not getting a lot of hits, and you start off hot as crazy. There’s really no reason to waste them at spring training.”

–C Francisco Cervelli, who served a 50-game suspension last season for violating baseball’s drug policy, reportedly had the inside track for the backup catching job behind Brian McCann with a .417 spring average through March 26. “He came into spring training extremely prepared and he has played well. He has done everything you could ask him to do,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He is playing at the level he was before he got hurt last year. He is a good kid and plays hard and does the things I want him to do. He really cares about this game.”

QUOTE TO NOTE: “A hundred fifty-five million for a No. 4 starter? Must be nice. I thought he was at least a No. 3.” — A major league scout to the New York Daily News, after the Yankees announced Japanese RHP Masahiro Tanaka ($155 million in salary and $20 million in posting fees) will begin the season as the No. 4 starter.

ROSTER REPORT

ROTATION:

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1. LHP CC Sabathia

2. RHP Hiroki Kuroda

3. RHP Ivan Nova

4. RHP Masahiro Tanaka

5. RHP Michael Pineda

With LHP Andy Pettitte retiring and RHP Phil Hughes leaving to sign with the Minnesota Twins as a free agent, the Yankees flexed their financial muscles in an otherwise so-so free agent market for pitchers to import Tanaka. He will open as the No. 4 starter despite going 24-0 last season in Japan and costing the Yankees $175 million in salary and posting fees.

The rotation still is riddled with questions, beginning with Sabathia, whose velocity was down throughout training camp after going just 14-13 with a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 32 starts in his age-33 season. Kuroda, now 39, also faded late in 2013, finishing with an 11-13 mark.

Nova had a strong camp, and he begins as the No. 3 starter, while one-time All-Star Pineda also made the rotation after missing the past two seasons following shoulder surgery.

BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP David Phelps

LHP Cesar Cabral

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Dellin Betances

The Yankees had no bigger edge against their opponents over the past two decades than they did with RHP Mariano Rivera, whose five-year wait for the Hall of Fame started after he finished his illustrious career with the most saves (652) and best postseason ERA (0.70) in baseball history.

The Yankees believe former setup man Robertson possesses the stuff and the proper makeup to make the transition to the closing role, but replacing Rivera figures to be a daunting challenge, particularly for someone with just eight career saves. Rivera’s absence also will affect the rest of the bullpen, with Robertson likely leaving the eighth-inning void to Kelley and Thornton.

LINEUP:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. SS Derek Jeter

3. RF Carlos Beltran

4. DH Alfonso Soriano

5. 1B Mark Teixeira

6. C Brian McCann

7. 2B Brian Roberts

8. 3B Kelly Johnson

9. LF Brett Gardner

The Yankees took a spread-out approach to replacing departed 2B Robinson Cano and suspended 3B Alex Rodriguez, adding a dynamic leadoff hitter, Ellsbury; a huge upgrade behind the plate, McCann; and a dependable corner outfielder known for postseason heroics, Beltran.

If Soriano can continue producing as he did following a midseason trade and if retiring captain Jeter and returning first baseman Teixeira regain their form after an injury-plagued 2013 campaign, the Yankees’ order still has a chance to be one of the deeper and more diverse lineups in baseball.

RESERVES:

C Francisco Cervelli

OF Ichiro Suzuki

INF Eduardo Nunez

INF Dean Anna

Cervelli, suspended for 50 game last season for his part in the Biogenesis PED scandal, had a strong spring showing to vault ahead of young backstops C Austin Romine and C John Ryan Murphy for the job as McCann’s understudy. Teams can do worse than Suzuki — a future Hall of Famer — as a spare outfielder. Anna likely will be on the roster temporarily as a backup infielder until SS Brendan Ryan (back) is ready to come off the disabled list.

MEDICAL WATCH:

–SS Brendan Ryan (pinched nerve in back) was injured in mid-March. He is likely to open the season on the disabled list.

–CF Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right calf) was injured March 14. He missed nearly two weeks of spring games, but he expects to be ready for Opening Day.

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

6 hours ago                             The SportsXchange
                                        

INSIDE PITCH

The New York Yankees had an eventful few days in Panama in mid-March, celebrating the career of retired closer Mariano Rivera and letting him show them around his homeland.

Aside from getting no hits in one of their two exhibition games against the Miami Marlins, the Yankees also experienced a symbolic moment for their 2014 team and beyond. Baseball’s all-time saves leader threw out the ceremonial first pitch to David Robertson, the former teammate now entrusted with replacing the best closer in history.

“Just passing the torch,” the 44-year-old Rivera said afterward. “Knowing that you’re having an end and a beginning, it’s wonderful that it happened in my hometown.

“It was a lot of fun. This is definitely a different experience,”

Robertson told the New York Daily News. “You can tell the fans are excited to be here, excited to see Mo. To be able to catch his first pitch was pretty awesome. Not too many people can say they did that.”

Rather than sign a proven closer during their nearly $500 million offseason spending spree, the Yankees turned over the job Rivera owned since also being promoted from the setup man role in 1997 to the 28-year-old Robertson.

The hard-throwing righty emerged as one of the game’s best setup relievers over his six seasons with the Yankees, posting a 2.76 ERA and an eye-popping 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings over 339 career appearances.

However, the Alabama native has just eight career saves, and you never know how a pitcher will handle the ninth inning until he is asked to do it regularly.

From Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” as the new entrance music, the Yankees are about to find out.

“I’ve tried to soak up all the knowledge I can from (Rivera). He’s shown me a lot over the years,” Robertson told the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s good to know that he believes I can do it. I believe I can do it, and it’s nice to know that someone who’s got 600 saves thinks that I have the capabilities to do it.”

NOTES, QUOTES

–OF Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees’ new $155 million center fielder, was injury-prone throughout his career with the Red Sox. Thus, he took no chances when he felt a right calf strain during camp, sitting out a second straight Grapefruit League game March 18 against his former Boston teammates. He wasn’t expected to play until March 21 at the earliest. “Just something I want 100 percent before I step on the field,” Ellsbury said. “It’s not one of those things where I try it on the field and see how it is. I’ll know when I’m on that field that it’s already 100 percent.”

–RHP Michael Pineda emerged as the clear front-runner for the Yankees’ No. 5 starting job with an impressive spring after missing the past two seasons following right shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old, acquired from Seattle in 2012, allowed no runs and struck out five in 4 1/3 innings (60 pitches) in a March 18 start against Boston. He tossed nine scoreless innings in his first three outings. “It doesn’t look like a guy that’s coming back from a serious injury,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he’s getting stronger when he goes out. I think his command was better today — a lot better than the other day. Another good step for him.”

–LHP CC Sabathia had to go all the way to Panama to rediscover his mojo after an alarming start this spring. He tossed five no-hit innings against Miami on March 16 in the second game of the Yankees’ visit to retired closer Mariano Rivera’s native country. Sabathia, who admitted that he “sucked” in his previous outing, retired 15 of the 16 Marlins he faced. “As critical as I was of myself last time, I don’t want to get too excited about pitching well,” Sabathia said. “It is still spring training and I’m still working on stuff. I was just frustrated last week. This feels good, to go out and put this behind me. I have two starts left. I’ll be ready for April 1.”

–SS Brendan Ryan knows he might be the most-booed backup in baseball this season. Whenever he is manning shortstop for the Yankees, it will mean retiring icon Derek Jeter is not. “It’s a slippery thing,” Ryan told the New York Post. “I relate to the fans a lot. I still pinch myself. Here I am: I’m insurance to THE Derek Jeter. That’s pretty special. It’s something I’ll tell my kids about. Whether there’s a tremendous amount of glory or not, I think the experience will be super, super special. Something I’ll never forget.”

–1B Mark Teixeira believes his surgically repaired right wrist, which limited him to 15 games last season, passed every test this spring. “No problems. I haven’t had any problems all spring,” Teixeira said. “I feel good, I feel really good. I told you guys, I feel really good about my wrist. I feel like it’s getting stronger and it will continue getting stronger all year. And that’s the exciting part. It’s not like this is as good as it’s going to get. It’ll keep getting stronger all year.”

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–3B Kelly Johnson will start out the season as the primary replacement for suspended 3B Alex Rodriguez, even though he played only 16 previous games at the hot corner in his big-league career. The converted second baseman is taking a crash course every day during spring training with infield coach Mick Kelleher, according to the New York Daily News. “I think he’s going to do a good job,” manager Joe Girardi said of Johnson. “I’ve liked what he’s done. I don’t really have a lot of concerns about it.”

–LHP Manny Banuelos, a former top prospect working his way back from Tommy John surgery, was optioned to minor league camp March 16, but he is shooting for a call-up to the Yankees at some point this season. “I think I’m going to make it if I stay healthy,” Banuelos said. “I think it’s the best thing. Like they say, I’ve got to make progress. … It’s about time and about comfort. Go to the minor leagues — I don’t know if I’ll start in Double-A or Triple-A, whatever, just keep pitching. Get all my pitches to where I can help the team.”

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Just do a line of honey out to the parking lot (and) the bees would maybe follow it and leave us alone.” — 1B Mark Teixeira on the Yankees’ game against the Boston Red Sox on March 18 being delayed for seven minutes by a swarm of bees.

ROSTER REPORT

PROJECTED ROTATION:

LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

RHP Ivan Nova

RHP Michael Pineda or RHP David Phelps

Pettitte (retired) and RHP Phil Hughes (free agency, Minnesota Twins) are gone, prompting the Yankees to flex their financial muscles in an otherwise so-so free-agent market for pitchers to import 25-year-old Tanaka, who went 24-0 last season in Japan. The rotation still is riddled with questions, beginning with Sabathia, who lost a noticeable amount of weight after going just 14-13 with a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 32 starts in his age-33 season. Kuroda, who turned 39 just before camp opened, also faded late in 2013, finishing with an 11-13 mark. Nova is the No. 4 starter, but one-time All-Star Pineda might be the X-factor after missing the past two seasons following shoulder surgery.

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Preston Claiborne

RHP David Phelps or RHP Dellin Betances

The Yankees had no bigger edge against their opponents over the past two decades than they did with Rivera, whose five-year wait for the Hall of Fame started after he finished his illustrious career with the most saves (652) and best postseason ERA (0.70) in baseball history. The Yankees believe setup reliever Robertson has shown the stuff and the proper makeup to make the transition to the closing role, but replacing Rivera figures to be a daunting challenge, particularly for someone with just eight career saves. Rivera’s absence also will affect the rest of the bullpen, with Robertson likely leaving the eighth-inning void to RHP Shawn Kelley and veteran LHP Matt Thornton.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. SS Derek Jeter

3. RF Carlos Beltran

4. DH Alfonso Soriano

5. 1B Mark Teixeira

6. C Brian McCann

7. 3B Kelly Johnson or 3B Eduardo Nunez

8. 2B Brian Roberts

9. LF Brett Gardner

Cano has been a fixture in the middle of the lineup for nine seasons, averaging 24 homers, 97 RBIs and a slash line of .309/.355/.504 over 162 games in his career. The Yankees took a spread-out approach to replacing Cano and suspended third baseman Rodriguez, adding a dynamic leadoff hitter in Ellsbury, a huge upgrade behind the plate in McCann and a dependable corner outfielder known for postseason heroics in Beltran. If OF Alfonso Soriano can continue producing as he did following a midseason trade and if retiring captain Jeter and returning first baseman Teixeira return to form after an injury-plagued 2013 campaign, the Yankees’ order still has a chance to be one of the deeper and more diverse lineups in baseball.

TOP ROOKIES: No one should be expecting a perfect 24-0 season from Tanaka, which was his record last season in Ratuken’s run to the Japan Series championship. But after an outlay of $175 million in salary and posting fees, the Yankees really need Tanaka to produce better than the “No. 3 starter” label GM Brian Cashman recently projected the 25-year-old righty to become over the next seven seasons in the Bronx. No other rookies are expected to immediately play key roles in the Yankees everyday plans to start the season, although former starting prospect Dellin Betances could compete for a spot in the bullpen after a late-season transformation to a reliever produced decent numbers at Triple-A.

MEDICAL WATCH:

–CF Jacoby Ellsbury (right calf strain) did not play March 15-19. The ailment was considered minor.

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

Team Report – NEW YORK YANKEES

14 hours ago                             The SportsXchange
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The New York Yankees aren’t really asking Brian Roberts to replace departed All-Star Robinson Cano.

In reality, they spent oodles of money with the hope that newcomers at other positions — catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury — would compensate for Cano’s absence in a deeper and more balanced lineup in 2014.

Roberts, though, will start the season following Cano at second base — where the $240 million Mariner made five All-Star teams and won two Gold Glove awards after arriving in the Bronx in 2005.

“When you play here, even though you’re taking over for Robbie, I still don’t think anyone is expecting or thinks that I have to go out and do a ton,” Roberts told the New York Daily News. “They just want me to be on the field with a uniform on for the most part. The rest is icing on the cake.”

Roberts, 36, made two All-Star teams in 13 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, but none since 2007. Due to various injuries, he managed no more than 265 at-bats in any of the past four seasons, appearing in just 192 games.

“He’s been a featured guy in the lineup for a long time,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He was a pest. Being on this side, there were big situations you didn’t want him to come up.”

Roberts also is relishing blending in among the Yankees’ cavalcade of big names and no longer having to be the face and spokesman for his team.

“It’s just different to be the guy in the back that nobody cares about or knows about,” Roberts said. “I understand that I’m 36 and very few guys are that guy at 36. I don’t really need that, I don’t really have any interest for it, and I don’t care.

“I just want to win some games and have fun playing baseball.”

NOTES, QUOTES

–RHP Masahiro Tanaka pitched in a simulated game March 11, giving up a home run and striking out nine in four innings. The Japanese pitching sensation said he was encouraged by his ability to use his curveball for first-pitch strikes.

Tanaka threw 63 pitches, 49 for strikes, while pitching coach Larry Rothschild and special assistant Trey Hillman watched from behind a screen. Tanaka faced 18 simulated hitters, giving up three hits to a pair of minor-leaguers. At one point, he threw 16 consecutive strikes.

–SS Derek Jeter‘s announcement that he would retire after the 2014 season didn’t surprise longtime teammate Andy Pettitte, who retired for the second time last fall. “We talked obviously a lot about it last year,” Pettitte said. “When we’d be talking, he’d be like, ‘Y’all better retire or I’m going to get out of here before you guys.’ You kind of look at him like, ‘Yeah, right, whatever.’ But I kind of had a feeling. I just saw a little bit of a difference in Derek last year, as far as seeing me and (Mariano Rivera) go through the last year.”

–LHP CC Sabathia, coming off a season in which he posted a career worst 4.78 ERA, saw his fastball top out at 88 mph in his first spring start. “My fastball is what it is. If it gets better, it will. If it’s not, it won’t,” Sabathia said. “I can pitch. I’m fine. As long as I’m healthy, I’ll be good.”

–RHP Ivan Nova, the Yankees’ likely No. 4 starter, had an impressive start to camp, according to manager Joe Girardi and new C Brian McCann. “There is no ceiling on a guy like him,” McCann said. “He can do whatever he wants. If he gets into a groove, he can ride it out for a full season. Certain things click and players take their game to another level. He’s looking really good down here.”

–RHP David Robertson says he is concentrating on getting in his work during spring training, not on replacing retired legend Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer. “Just get back out there and get the feeling back of having players behind you, no net in front of you,” Robertson said after his first spring outing on March 3. “All in all, it was a decent outing. I would have liked to have thrown a few better pitches, but I’ll get another chance.”

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–SS Brendan Ryan, who will serve as SS Derek Jeter’s primary backup and a utility infielder this season, was clipped by a line drive near the base of his left thumb March 5, but he avoided a serious injury. “I was lucky,” Ryan said. “Could have been a much worse spot. Pretty scary, kind of escaped one there.”

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It was a little pressure, because I know the legacy and the man that carried No. 42. But I said, ‘Well, I’m going to take it as a challenge and give my best so I can make Mr. Jackie Robinson proud.’ I took it seriously. And I think I did OK.” — RHP Mariano Rivera, on being the last player in baseball history to wear No. 42. The number won’t appear again after Rivera retired last fall.

ROSTER REPORT

PROJECTED ROTATION:

LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

RHP Ivan Nova

RHP Michael Pineda or RHP David Phelps

Pettitte (retired) and RHP Phil Hughes (free agency, Minnesota Twins) are gone, prompting the Yankees to flex their financial muscles in an otherwise so-so free-agent market for pitchers to import 25-year-old Tanaka, who went 24-0 last season in Japan. The rotation still is riddled with questions, beginning with Sabathia, who lost a noticeable amount of weight after going just 14-13 with a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 32 starts in his age-33 season. Kuroda, who turned 39 just before camp opened, also faded late in 2013, finishing with an 11-13 mark. Nova is the No.4 starter, but one-time All-Star Pineda might be the x-factor after missing the past two seasons following shoulder surgery.

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

RHP David Robertson (closer)

RHP Shawn Kelley

LHP Matt Thornton

RHP Adam Warren

RHP Preston Claiborne

RHP David Phelps or RHP Dellin Betances

The Yankees had no bigger edge against their opponents over the past two decades than they did with Rivera, whose five-year wait for the Hall of Fame started after he finished his illustrious career with the most saves (652) and best postseason ERA (0.70) in baseball history. The Yankees believe setup reliever Robertson has shown the stuff and the proper makeup to make the transition to the closing role, but replacing Rivera figures to be a daunting challenge, particularly for someone with just eight career saves. Rivera’s absence also will affect the rest of the bullpen, with Robertson likely leaving the eighth-inning void to RHP Shawn Kelley and veteran LHP Matt Thornton.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. SS Derek Jeter

3. RF Carlos Beltran

4. DH Alfonso Soriano

5. 1B Mark Teixeira

6. C Brian McCann

7. 3B Kelly Johnson or 3B Eduardo Nunez

8. 2B Brian Roberts

9. LF Brett Gardner

Cano has been a fixture in the middle of the lineup for nine seasons, averaging 24 homers, 97 RBIs and a slash line of .309/.355/.504 over 162 games in his career. The Yankees took a spread-out approach to replacing Cano and suspended third baseman Rodriguez, adding a dynamic leadoff hitter in Ellsbury, a huge upgrade behind the plate in McCann and a dependable corner outfielder known for postseason heroics in Beltran. If OF Alfonso Soriano can continue producing as he did following a midseason trade and if retiring captain Jeter and returning first baseman Teixeira return to form after an injury-plagued 2013 campaign, the Yankees’ order still has a chance to be one of the deeper and more diverse lineups in baseball.

TOP ROOKIES: No one should be expecting a perfect 24-0 season from Tanaka, which was his record last season in Ratuken’s run to the Japan Series championship. But after an outlay of $175 million in salary and posting fees, the Yankees really need Tanaka to produce better than the “No. 3 starter” label GM Brian Cashman recently projected the 25-year-old righty to become over the next seven seasons in the Bronx. No other rookies are expected to immediately play key roles in the Yankees everyday plans to start the season, although former starting prospect Dellin Betances could compete for a spot in the bullpen after a late-season transformation to a reliever produced decent numbers at Triple-A.

MEDICAL WATCH:

No major injuries.