Yankees Pregame Notebook: Bombers hoping for a happy getaway

07/02/2014 11:45 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury goes down on strikes on Tuesday night against Tampa Bay's David Price.(AP)
A late report time and no on-field batting practice meant a quiet Yankees clubhouse Wednesday morning, but there was a lot going on as the Bombers prepared to close out their homestand and their series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Both Mark Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury are out of today's lineup, and Teixeira's absence is a result of having fluid drained from his left knee following last night's loss. Manager Joe Girardi expects it to be only a one-day absence, but

"He's been playing with a little fluid on his knee for a few days; we talked about it yesterday and we got it drained last night," Girardi said, "but he's we really believe he'll be fully fine and back in there tomorrow."

As for Ellsbury, today's day off is just his third of the year, and it's also expected to be just a one-game absence given due to "overall soreness."

"Ells is just kind of beat up and sore overall, and needs a day off. When a guy needs a day he needs a day, but he should be back in there tomorrow," said the skipper.

With Teixeira leading the team in homers and RBI and Ellsbury the leader in steals and owner of the second-best batting average on the squad, missing both could be a huge blow to the lineup - but as Girardi has said, it's got to be a team effort either way.

"It is what it is, and someone else will have to come up with some big hits today," he said.

That hasn't happened much as of late for anyone, but the skipper insists all his team can do is keep trying.

"You continue to work and you continue to talk, but there's no magic formula; (hitting coach) Kevin (Long) continues to work with the guys on their swing, and you go from there," Girardi said. "You continue to work and you try to give the guys that you believe are going to be the most productive the consistent at-bats, and eventually it's going to change."

With Ellsbury out, Alfonso Soriano will get a rare start against a righty and Girardi has decided to go with Ichiro in center field, keeping Brett Gardner in left to avoid moving too many parts and solidifying the defense against a lineup that's expected to be righty-heavy against southpaw Vidal Nuno.

"I just decided to move one guy instead of everyone; both Ichiro and Soriano have mostly been playing right and Gardy's been mostly playing left," Girardi said, "so instead of moving two guys to a new position in a sense, you're moving one. They're probably going to have a lot of right-handed hitters in the lineup, so you put your two fastest guys in the front."

In the infield, all three of the second/third base troika will play, with Kelly Johnson manning first base in Teixeira's absence, Brian Roberts at second and Yangervis Solarte at third. Roberts will play his 73rd game today - four short of the 77 he played last year, which is his most since 2009 - and when the skipper was asked about the second baseman's play so far, he was very positive.

"I think he's played pretty well and been pretty consistent for us," Girardi said. "I think his at-bats have been consistent and he's hit the ball harder than his average indicates."

And as for stalwart Derek Jeter, the skipper said he will be getting a day off soon, but he's happy with both the way The Captain has held up defensively and the way he's looked in the box.

"He's done a really good job. We had the one issue early on with the tight quad, but he's really held up well," Girardi said. "He swung the bat good again last night, and as long as his body feels good and I feel he's moving around well, I'm going to keep playing him. He's been productive for us."

The skipper hopes it all comes together today, as they try to snap a four-game losing streak - one where they've lost every game by one run - and head to Minnesota on a high note.

A few other notes from getaway day:

-When asked about Ichiro's name being seen as a trade possibility in the internet leak of the Houston Astros' front office database, Girardi said he was unaware of the whole situation, claiming "I've never heard that…that's news to me."

-RHP Jim Miller has arrived and is ready for today's game after being recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The bullpen should be rested as is after Hiroki Kuroda went eight innings last night, but Miller hasn't pitched since Sunday so he could go multiple innings if needed.

-Because they're going on the road, the Yankees will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's jersey retirement and "luckiest man on the face of the earth speech" today, giving away Gehrig bobbleheads to the first 18,000 fans in attendance. Girardi was asked about his and his team's knowledge of Gehrig a couple weeks ago, and we'll give the skipper's response to that the final word:

"I was always aware of his legacy, but when I became a Yankee I investigated a lot more into his life, and what he did in baseball and how he worked in a prison afterwards. You think about someone that understands they may not have a time to live, and when they're done working or doing what they love, you think they might take advantage of some situations, but he ended up giving back to society, which I think is absolutely incredible. I am aware of how great and consistent of a player he was and how he went out there every day, and I think the players in our clubhouse know who he is; I can't speak for other clubhouses because I'm not there, but I think his legacy is felt when you walk in our clubhouse."

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