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Clubhouse Notebook: Yankees slowly getting back to health

05/16/2013 6:34 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Ahead of Thursday's game, Joe Girardi sounded optimistic about getting key players back.(AP)
The Yankees and Mariners are set for the rubber match of their series tonight, and it be the veteran Andy Pettitte taking the mound for the Bombers against Seattle substitute starter Hector Noesi.

Noesi, who will be filling in because Aaron Harang was scratched with lower back stiffness, pitched for the Yankees in 2011 and was sent to Seattle in the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda deal, so he is at least a familiar face if a fill-in starter.

However, despite the change and the fallout from last night's 12-2 loss, most of Joe Girardi's pre-game press conference centered around injured Yankees, with the skipper giving updates on a litany of players in various stages of the rehab process.

In terms of his healthy players, the biggest news was the Yankees' recall of pitcher Dellin Betances, who will replace the optioned Brett Marshall on the roster. Betances said he was excited to be back and will fill any role the team needs, but Girardi said the towering righty was recalled because, despite his recent move to the bullpen, he is the most stretched out of anyone available and can give the team length if they need it.

With Vidal Nuno starting the second game of Monday's doubleheader, the Yankees have used all three of their long men - Nuno, Marshall, and Adam Warren - for extended innings this week, and Betances' recent transition will hopefully mean that he has bullpen mentality but starter capacity.

"The hope is there that he can simplify things and be a power arm for you," Girardi said of Betances, "and the biggest difference is in warming up. As a starter, you have a chance to get three or four pitches in your warm-up and there's no rush. As a reliever, however, you might only have one or two hitters to get ready, so you want to have your best two; one is always your fastball, so you have to get that going and then find your second pitch."

As for those on the injured rolls, here's what the skipper had to say:

-Joba Chamberlain, who was in the Bronx today and popped his head into the clubhouse, will throw at least one more time - either in a rehab outing or in the bullpen - because the team feels he's not ready to return just yet, both in terms of physical health and ability to be effective.

"Rib cages are tricky, and a lot of times you'll see guys can throw or swing but they're not at 100 percent, and we don't think he's quite there yet," Girardi said. "That would be my hope (that he needs only one more outing), but we'll let them determine based on what they see."

Girardi added that there was no concern about Joba not being ready, and that there was no timetable or date set for a definite return - only that Chamberlain would catch today (which, judging by a quick pop in to the clubhouse, he may have done at Yankee Stadium) and they would go from there.

-Travis Hafner was going through some tee and toss drills in the indoor cages prior to the game, and said he felt a little better today but wasn't sure when he'd be ready to play; Girardi reiterated that thought, saying he'd see how Pronk felt after hitting in the cages and go from there.

Hafner did come out and hit with the final batting practice group, hitting a pair of prodigious home runs in the process, so it is perhaps possible he could be available if needed off the bench.

-As for those further away, Girardi said that Michael Pineda will throw four innings or about 50 pitches on Friday, either in Extended Spring Training or in an intra-squad game, and the team still sees him as a player sometime during the summer.

"We'll continue to build him up; starters take longer than relievers because you have to build them up to 100 pitches, and for a kid that hasn't pitched in a couple years, that's something we may want to see a couple times to make sure he's physically ready to go every fifth day," Girardi said. "But I expect him tp pitch for us sometime during the summer."

-Ivan Nova, who "felt something" in his left side after a rehab outing last week, is scheduled to pitch in some capacity in Tampa on Monday, and the team has no timetable for him yet, either.

-Of his injured infielders, Girardi said the following: Alex Rodriguez felt good after tee and toss drills this week, but it's still way too early to project a return; Derek Jeter was reevaluated by doctors, who said his ankle fracture is healing nicely, and the Captain should be out of a walking boot shortly; and Kevin Youkilis, who has been doing tee and toss drills, "feels better," and despite taking today off for a scheduled treatment day, he should be ready to take batting practice soon.

-Last word goes to Girardi, who spoke about how his team has thrived to the point of despite all the chaos.

"I've said it all along, but those guys have done an incredible job…you can say what you want about some of the additions we've made, but I'm not surprised at what these guys have done. Did I think many people expected them to do what they've done? Probably not, but these are still talented players that had just had some down years lately. You knew they still had talent, but you weren't sure what you were going to get, and for the most part, they've all played pretty well."

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