Yankees Pregame Notebook: Beltran's back as Yanks close homestand

06/05/2014 11:48 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Carlos Beltran will mostly serve as the designated hitter as he works his way back from injury.(AP)
The New York Yankees are 9-2 in Masahiro Tanaka's starts and 14-6 in day games this year, and they'll hope that trend continues as they look to stem a four-game losing streak in this afternoon's series and homestand finale against the Oakland Athletics (12:30 p.m. on YES).

The big news is that Carlos Beltran is back in the Yankees lineup, as he was activated Thursday morning and inserted into the fifth slot in the order as the designated hitter. Beltran has yet to throw since going down with a bone spur in his right elbow and won't be seeing the outfield anytime soon, but he took his usual amount of swings from both sides of the plate in a handful of extended spring training games, and manager Joe Girardi expects "Belty to be Belty" in the batter's box, at least.

"We expect him to be a good DH for us. We've talked about that we're going to hold off on putting him in the outfield - I'm not sure when we're going to get there - but I expect him to be productive as a DH," the skipper said.

Beltran admitted he hadn't swung and missed or had any check swings while rehabbing, but as Girardi noted, if something happens because of that, it's not something you can predict or even worry about.

"Whenever a guy comes off a rehab, he probably hasn't experienced everything he's going to over the next two or three weeks. Sometimes you may not see something for six weeks; it's hard to predict," he said. "We feel that Carlos is healthy and he feels good, so that's why we brought him back. I can't tell you what's going to happen tomorrow, the next day, or even in 20 minutes when he goes to the cage, but we wouldn't have brought him back if we thought he was only half the offensive player he can be."

If Beltran excels as a DH the team may look at keeping him there longer-term - especially given the team's recent offensive malaise -with Girardi saying "it's something we'll have to evaluate over time."

Today, Beltran will be protecting Mark Teixeira in today's lineup, with Tex playing his third straight game after missing five of the last seven (and part of sixth) because of inflammation in his surgically-repaired wrist. The first baseman seems to have responded well to the cortisone shot he received last week, but as the skipper noted, issues like Teixeira's are always day-to-day even when they're managed.

"I'm not going to put him out there if he's not good; we just need him to bounce back every day, that's the big thing," Girardi said. "Usually when you get inflammation it's over time and not one particular thing that happens, so he just has to bounce back every day."

He's glad to have two of his thumpers back in the middle of the order, but he knows that any time from tomorrow through October something else could creep up that could make him rearrange things again, so he's not going to worry about that.

"I think in this business, in a sense you have to think long term, but you also have to think on a daily basis. I'm not worried about tomorrow. I'm worried about today's game and that's what I'll focus on. My long term thinking is giving a guy a day off here and there or being careful with how much you use your bullpen, but from the day to day, you have to worry about the game today."

Three other notes from an overcast morning in the Bronx:

-Scott Sizemore was designated for assignment to make room for Carlos Beltran's return. Sizemore had been called up earlier this week and appeared in Tuesday's game, going 1-for-3 as the starting third baseman.

-Brian McCann is hitting seventh today, a move Girardi said was simply because a lefty is on the mound, and the skipper said he was pleased with his backstop's recent progress: "I think his at bats were much better in May than they were in April; he hit the ball harder, and he walked more. It's just that we're facing a lefty today, so that's the only reason I moved him down. That's not where I plan to hit him against right-handers."

-Last word is a fun one from the skipper, having a laugh with one beat reporter when he was asked if the team "feels Carlos Beltran is Carlos Beltran" right now: ""I don't know if he has another name, and he looked like the same guy when he walked in the door!"

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