Yankees Post-Game Notebook: Girardi pleased with Kuroda, Rivera on split squad Saturday

03/16/2013 4:57 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Mariano Rivera was 'a little rusty' but still pitched a scoreless inning Saturday.(AP)
Hiroki Kuroda allowed four runs (only two of them earned) in six innings on Saturday, but after the game, manager Joe Girardi was pleased with his veteran’s performance despite what looked like an underwhelming line.

“I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well; we turned the double play (in the ) and I thought he made some mistakes after that, but he seemed to get back on track,” Girardi said. “We got six innings out of him and I thought he did pretty well.”

Kuroda went six – longer than he had in his previous two Grapefruit League starts combined – because he hadn’t reached his desired pitch count after five; neither he nor Girardi would say what that count was, but his final tally was 68 with 44 of those strikes.

Girardi was also both pleased and intrigued with Mariano Rivera’s seventh-inning appearance on Saturday, one that saw him do a few things uncharacteristic of “The Sandman.”

“He got in a couple of three-ball counts and actually threw a ball in the dirt…he’s a little rusty,” Girardi said semi-facetiously. “Me and Jorge (Posada) were commenting on it, you never see him throw a ball in the dirt. He was just a little rusty.”

Rivera himself blamed it on him rushing his mechanics, but said everything felt good otherwise and he was pleased that he got the opportunity to pitch with a runner on base.

“You need to get work in,” Rivera said. “Most of the time, it’s not going to be like that (with the bases empty), so you have to get your work in.”

Rivera will next pitch in a Minor League game on Monday, Girardi said, while the Yankees have the day off from Grapefruit League action. As for his fellow Core Four mate, Derek Jeter, he played four innings in the field as planned playing five on Friday, and Girardi will ramp that up going forward.

“Next time (Jeter plays back-to-back) I’ll try to maybe go six and five, and just keep trying to increase it,” Girardi said. “We’ll see. I’ve got to see how he’s doing. We’ve got to be somewhat still cautious even though he has that 100 percent (medical clearance).”

Girardi also said that as Jeter’s workload increases, there are a number of things he’ll be looking at in evaluating his Captain’s readiness.

“How he’s moving, how he’s bouncing back the next day, how he’s moving the second day as compared to the first day, how he’s running the bases…those are the things (we have to look at),” Girardi said. “It’s something we still have to be cautious over, especially in these early games. … I think I’m going to be concerned for a while just because of what he went through.”

Other notes from Joe Girardi’s press conference after game one of two for the Bombers on Saturday:

-Outfielder Slade Heathcott was officially re-assigned to Minor League camp, and Zoilo Almonte, who had remained around as an extra outfielder after his official option earlier in the week, was sent back as well. In Heathcott’s case, Girardi said that the young speedster still had some lingering effects of patella tendonitis, and said that Heathcott had to “need to go down there (to Minor League camp) to get healthy and play.”

-On his newest outfielder, Girardi said he thought it was a possibility Brennan Boesch might become available, and praised his past performance in Detroit. “I know Andy Dirks is a guy they like (in Detroit) and those two play kind of a similar role,” Girardi said, “but (Boesch) has a great opportunity here and we hope he’s going to be a good fit.”

-Regarding his plans for utilizing Boesch, Girardi said that an alignment with the neophyte would look a lot like today’s – with Boesch in right field and Ichiro in left – but also said it might not necessarily be a platoon situation against lefties. “He’s had some success against lefties some of the years (he was in Detroit)…obviously the more you play the better you get.”

-In terms of Brett Gardner, who had hit at or near the top off the order all spring, hitting seventh today, Girardi said “don’t read anything into it.” He also said he hadn’t even thought about an Opening Day lineup yet, because he’s still not sure who his final 25 will be.

-When asked about Boone Logan’s statement earlier in the day that he hoped his next outing would come in a game, Girardi was noncommittal. “Let’s just see how he feels tomorrow; I’ll talk to (Yankees pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) and see if he thinks he’s ready to do that,” Girardi said. The skipper was then asked if he thought Logan could pitch through lingering inflammation, to which he responded, “a pitcher can only determine what he can pitch through…I know he threw the ball extremely well, but to me, it’s how he feels tomorrow or the next day.”

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