Yankees Pregame Notebook: Staying above .500
To avoid falling to 58-58, the Yankees turn to veteran lefty Andy Pettitte today, who looks to recover from a rough outing in Chicago on Monday night to pull his 7-9 record closer to even and keep the Yankees from falling to the break-even point.
Pettitte is 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA and has pitched just 22 innings in four starts since the All-Star break, and manager Joe Girardi spoke to how Pettitte's own tendency to be hard on himself when he struggles could contribute to his undoing in some starts.
"It could (factor in). I think sometimes you can be too hard on yourself, and you can focus on some of the things that you're not doing instead of some of the things that you should be doing," Girardi said. "Andy's been through rough spells before, but I don't know if he's ever been through this rough of a spell, and I think he can be too hard on himself."
The lineup behind Pettitte once again includes Alex Rodriguez, who is back hitting cleanup and playing third base after a day off Saturday. Girardi said that was just a planned day off, and that A-Rod will likely see more of those than he may be used to in the next couple weeks.
"There was no exact schedule. I thought in the beginning that he might play three or four days in a row and then maybe we'd give him a day, and that's what happened," Girardi said. "We played him three days in a row in Chicago, and I'll look and see when he hits three days here how he's feeling and moving. I'll check in with him every day, but there was no exact plan."
Among the milestones that could happen today is Alfonso Soriano's 2,000th career hit. Soriano is 0-for-9 since recording No. 1,999 in Chicago on Wednesday, and after the outfielder mentioned Saturday afternoon that he may be pressing a little bit, Girardi reiterated his thoughts on career milestones prior to the game Sunday.
"I talk about it all the time: I hate milestones, because players are asked about them all the time and they start to feel the anxiety of getting through it," Girardi said. "It can be troublesome for some players."
Also on the horizon is the 4,000-hit milestone for Ichiro, who has now 3,993 between the U.S. and Japan, and while Girardi again reiterated his thoughts on milestones in general, he did offer a statement on how "incredible" Ichiro's 4,000th hit will be.
"His pursuit of it hasn't seemed to bother him, but we'll see what happens when he gets to 3,999," Girardi said, adding that "it's incredible that anyone can get 4,000 hits in professional baseball. You think about the hits that he's had here (in America) since 2001…he's consistent, he plays every day, and he finds ways to get on base. I love watching him play."
The Yankees will have a short bench for at least the next couple days, as the team recalled RHP Dellin Betances from Triple-A and optioned David Adams to Scranton to accommodate him.
Joe Girardi cited the workload of a bullpen that has pitched almost 24 innings over the last week as the impetus for the decision to add Betances, who is 4-2 with a 1.67 ERA, four saves and 63 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched over 27 total relief appearances since being moved to the bullpen.
The 6-foot-8 righty could be used in a number of situations, but the skipper is confident he can handle whatever is thrown his way.
"I think he's probably simplified things. He's not worrying about his third or fourth pitch so much, and he seems to be more comfortable," Girardi said. "He threw out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League and he had some success, and he's done it (in Scranton)…some guys are just bullpen guys, and feel more comfortable with it."
One other pre-game note from a beautiful Sunday in the Bronx: The Yankees took full field warm-ups and batting practice today, something that is a rarity for Sunday afternoon games, and in those warm-ups, Vernon Wells took some grounders at second base and Robinson Cano took some throws from across the diamond at first.
Adams' optioning means the Yankees have only five infielders, so it appears Girardi is getting some guys reps at unnatural positions in case of a pinch; Cano's inning at shortstop earlier this year was his first-ever appearance at a defensive position other than second base and Wells has played second, third, and first base in 2013 after never making an infield appearance prior to this year, so it truly is a season where anything can happen.