Yankees Pregame Notebook: Banged-up Yanks look to avoid sixth straight Subway setback
RHP Shawn Kelley has been placed on the disabled list with a sore back, and with Carlos Beltran (aggravated bone spur in right elbow) and Ichiro Suzuki (sore lower back) both unavailable, the team had to call up outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A.
Just another day and another move in a suddenly injury-plagued season reminiscent of 2013, manager Joe Girardi said, but there's no use in crying about it.
"You have to fight through it. No one's going to feel sorry for you, so you have to fight through it and find a way to get it done," Girardi said prior to Tuesday's game. "We had a lot of practice with that last year, so we're used to it."
A lot of the banged up players are veterans, and that includes Mark Teixeira, who will be the DH tonight. Teixeira had most of Monday off to try to stem some lingering soreness in his legs,
"A lot of our banged-up guys aren't old - and Ichiro would probably say he's middle-aged - but those are some of the things you have to deal with," Girardi said. "When you get older, your body doesn't bounce back or heal quite as quick, so you have to be somewhat cautious with guys."
Girardi was cautious with Teixeira on Monday, telling him not to run too hard if he could help it when he was sent up to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, and the same applies tonight even though he'll have multiple at-bats.
"I talked to him today, and asked him if he was running slow last night because he was hurt or if he was just being cautious - he said he was being cautious, so that's good," Girardi said. "I said just be smart today, and if there comes a point where I feel I need to pinch run for him, I will."
On the mound, the Series shifts tonight from veterans Hiroki Kuroda and Bartolo Colon to some youngsters, as Zack Wheeler and Vidal Nuno - who both made their major league debuts last year - will get the nods.
Nuno went 6 1/3 innings in his last start, and even though that was his longest career outing in the bigs, Girardi has to hope he gets similar or even better length out of the lefty tonight, because the bullpen is just as banged up as the rest of the team.
With Kelley on the DL and Almonte up to replace him, the Yankees technically have a six-man bullpen, although Alfredo Aceves will once again be available and the combo of Adam Warren and Dellin Betances will also be back - and possibly pressed into long service again.
"(Without Kelley) I will probably just back Warren up to the eighth inning and slot Betances into the seventh, but I could use either for four or five outs if need be," Girardi said. "Any time you lose someone it's a blow to your bullpen, but when you start talking late-inning guys, it puts a little more responsibility on Warren and Betances. Those guys will have to step up, but they've done it all year for us."
The skipper also says that David Robertson could be a multi-inning option, as he was going to use the closer for a four-out save if needed yesterday, but he has to be careful with that too, even if Robertson hasn't pitched since Friday.
"If he doesn't pitch for a while, we put him in a game; we don't like our guys to go too long (without pitching)," Girardi said. "But that's the balancing act, not knowing when you're going to need him two or three days in a row. That's the issue that you run into."
And so, in Girardi's mind, it's another day of do what you have to do and hope for the best, which for the Yankees means snapping a five-game losing streak to their cross-town rivals.
A few other notes prior to Game 2 of the Subway Series:
-CC Sabathia was being examined by Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday afternoon, but there was no new news to report, nor was there any further resolution on who will start in his place on Thursday, as the skipper said that "if anything, it's probably a bit foggier."
-Hiroki Kuroda wasn't spectacular on Monday night, but Girardi stopped short of calling it a bad start: "He had a great start out in Anaheim and didn't necessarily have a bad start last night. He's a guy we know we have to be somewhat careful with, and we know we're not going to push him too far very often. He's just as important as any other guy, and his last two starts have been steps in the right direction for me."
-When asked if Kuroda could have gone more than six innings last night, though, Girardi was very candid: "We just felt that he was done at that point. I guess I could've sent him out there a little longer, but his last start he went 107 or 108 pitches and then he seemed to get tired. He was starting to get up in the zone a little bit, so I felt it was time to get him out."
-Last word is the skipper's response when asked if he is dwelling on the fact that his team has lost five straight to the Mets: "Not really. You just have to go out and try to win the next day. A lot of these guys weren't even here last year so they weren't part of the rivalry, so it's a one-game streak to them."