Yankees Pregame Notebook: 'Let's play two'
Rain postponed their scheduled matchup last night, but it will be Masahiro Tanaka on the mound against Jason Hammel in the opener, with the scheduled starters for tonight, Michael Pineda and Travis Wood, dueling in the nightcap; this afternoon's game can be seen on YES with coverage starting at 12:30 p.m. and first pitch just after 1 p.m., with the nightcap - which will include the players all wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson - set to go on My9 at 7 (with pre-game on YES at 6:30).
In Game 1, Tanaka will be pitching on what is now six days rest, and the doubleheader ensures that his next start will come on at least five. That's a bit of a balancing act for manager Joe Girardi, who wants and needs Tanaka to adjust well to the American style of pitching every five days, but this early in the season, it's a little bit of a bonus to be able to not have to do that every turn.
"I hope it's a good thing; we know he's more accustomed to pitching under more rest, but he's also somewhat adapted to our lifestyle of every fifth day, so we'll see how it affects him," Girardi said. "I think with him getting the extra days it's the best of both worlds. You're easing him into our schedule but holding on to his a little bit."
Hopefully, the cold weather today - a forecast high of 45 at some point - won't affect Tanaka as much, but Girardi said that is a concern down the line for his whole team, especially when they have to play twice.
"They pitch in this weather in Japan too; I don't know how it's going to affect him, but I don't think it's completely foreign," Girardi said. "But there is a concern about injuries, about keeping them warm and loose and stretched, having to play one game and then sit for a few hours and play again. You worry about pitchers, about how sometimes pitchers that require a little more feeling don't have the same feel because their hands are cold. You just have to get through it; we have to go through one day of it and then we're going back indoors (in Tampa)."
The lineup for at least Game 1 will not contain either Derek Jeter or Brian Roberts, but Game 2's lineup will likely only have one of them in it. Jeter said he was "fine" pregame while Roberts said his lower back "feels much better" and he could play today, but Girardi wants to stay away as a precaution.
"Derek will play tonight; we have a righty and a lefty against us today, so he goes tonight," Girardi said. "Roberts feels much better, I'd just probably stay away from him today and see where we're at tomorrow."
That could present an interesting situation for Game 2, as Kelly Johnson may get the game off against lefty Wood. So, then, who will play first base?
"I could put Sizemore there, I think I could put Solarte there, and I know I could put Beltran there, but he probably wouldn't be my second choice," Girardi laughed.
As for what happens when the Yankees face a pair of lefties this weekend in Tampa before Mark Teixeira is eligible to return?
"(A lot) depends on Brian (Roberts), because against some lefties he gives me another right handed bat if I want to give Kelly a day off. I think I would probably run Sizemore out there. I have to see how he feels though; he was supposed to play (first) the other day in Triple-A but they got rained out or snowed out."
No matter what, though, Girardi gets the vibe from his team so far that no matter what he asks, they will be up for the challenge.
"This is a team that I get the feeling really can do anything. Where they're playing or hitting doesn't seem to bother them, they just want to play and contribute. That's a good thing for a manager and an organization, because sometimes you have some injuries and you have to adapt a little bit, and they've been very willing to do anything."
A few other notes from the Yankees' clubhouse:
-The Yankees should have two of their injured stars back as soon as possible; Teixeira is already working out in Tampa and should get into a minor-league game this week ahead of a likely Sunday activation, while closer David Robertson "feels great" and should be good to go when eligible for reinstatement Tuesday. Robertson will throw a bullpen Thursday, and if all goes well, should see either a simulated game or a rehab game Saturday and maybe one more after that before joining the team in Boston.
-John Ryan Murphy will surely catch in Game 2, and when asked why Murphy over Austin Romine to replace Francisco Cervelli, Girardi said it was a "close call" but the Yankees "liked what (Murphy) did last year when he came up and what he did in spring training, so we decided to go with him."
-Today will also be Alfonso Soriano's first game or games against his previous team, and he had nervous excitement about it: "I have a lot of friends there and spent seven years there, but I'm back here now and I want to win."
-Because of today's doubleheader, Sunday's starter is, as the skipper said, "Mr. TBA." The Yankees have an off day Monday, but Girardi noted that whoever gets the nod Sunday will depend on bullpen usage over the next four days, among other factors.
-Final word from Girardi in regards to the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field and how he was heavily linked to the Cubs' managerial job this winter: "Obviously (Wrigley) has been a special place for a long time and there's a lot of history there, and for a ballpark to be in existence for 100 years, that's pretty neat. I know they have great fans, and it's a team I grew up rooting for with my dad, so it's a special place…(but) this (New York) is home for me, and has been home for a pretty long time, really, coming back broadcasting, coaching and managing. My family is ingrained in New York and this is our lives. New York was where I wanted to be, and this is where I am."