Who will vanish when "Houdini" is activated?Robertson's return means curtains for one bullpen arm
“He’ll be activated Friday … unless he decides to carry a box down the stairs, then we’ll have to see.”
Those were the facetious words of Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Wednesday night, uttered while confirming that the “he,” set-up man David Robertson, would be activated from the disabled list prior to Friday’s series opener with the Nationals in Washington.
Alluding of course to the Spring Training mishap that cost Robertson some time during the Grapefruit League schedule, Girardi told the world that after coming through Tuesday’s rehab outing with flying colors, the Yankees’ “Houdini” would be back up to his old tricks this weekend.
For Robertson, that day can’t come soon enough. He rejoined the team on Wednesday, and in speaking to the media, said that “I feel like I've been gone forever,” saying that his 30 days on the disabled list have been “a long time to wait.”
“The waiting to get out there was the toughest part for me, because they’re like, ‘Everything’s so slow with an injury like this,’ and you want to just, once you feel good, you want to be right back in there,” Robertson said Wednesday. “It doesn’t work that way. I felt good for a week and I had to test it and make sure.”
But for the seven men currently active in the Yankees’ bullpen, the next 30 hours could feel even longer than Robertson’s 30-day absence did…because Thursday’s off day will be, at least for now, the last in pinstripes for one of them.
But just who will have to go “do well” in Triple-A for now? When asked Wednesday, Joe Girardi said that while the decision won’t be made until Friday in all likelihood, but whoever it is will be indeed be missed.
“The guys down there have done a tremendous job stepping up for us in innings that they’re not used to necessarily pitching, so yeah I think we’ve done a good job,” Girardi said. “Actually I think we’ve thrived a little bit in a sense. Those guys have done well.”
David Phelps and Cody Eppley, who specifically “has been tremendous” according to Girardi, seem to be the leading candidates; both have pitched well, but Eppley was the one who came up when Robertson went on the DL (which means natural progression sends him back down now), and with the rotation having pitched so well as of late, nominal “long reliever” Phelps hasn’t made an appearance since June 2, when he pitched one-third of an inning in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to Detroit.
Someone has to get squeezed out in the numbers game for now, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that whoever it is will likely get a chance to come back and contribute again sometime this summer. After all, it was Eppley himself who was “voted off the island” in favor of a returning Andy Pettitte last month…and came back just six days later to be a key cog in the Robertson-less bullpen.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES
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