Yankees place Slade Heathcott on 15-day DL with quad strain, call up Ramon Flores

Slade. (Presswire)
Slade. (Presswire)

Earlier today, Joe Girardi told reporters in Oakland the Yankees will place Slade Heathcott on the 15-day DL with a Grade II quad strain. “I can tell you it’ll be longer than 15 days,” said Girardi when asked about a timetable. Ramon Flores has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot.

Heathcott, 24, told reporters on Thursday that the quad has been bothering him on and off since the offseason. I guess the team sent him for tests at some point, which confirmed the Grade II strain. Chris Capuano suffered a Grade II quad strain in Spring Training and was out from early-March through mid-May, for what it’s worth. Heathcott’s not a starting pitcher who has to get stretched out though.

Girardi said that with both Heathcott and Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) on the DL, he’ll use Brett Gardner in center field more often going forward. That makes sense — Chris Young hasn’t hit for about a month now and Flores is best used in left field. Hopefully Flores gets a chance to play like Heathcott, even if he’s only the left-handed half of a left field platoon with Young.

Flores, 23, has hit .294/.389/.425 (140 wRC+) with four homers in 42 games with Triple-A Scranton this season. This will be his first taste of MLB. Donnie Collins says Flores was in the RailRiders’ lineup tonight before being scratched, so chances are he is not with the Yankees and is still traveling out west. I guess they have to play a man short tonight.

Sherman: Yankees to call-up Jacob Lindgren on Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are planning to call-up top relief prospect Jacob Lindgren on Sunday. Branden Pinder, who threw 48 pitches on Saturday, will go down. The Yankees will have to clear a 40-man roster for Lindgren but that won’t be tough. Brendan Ryan is a 60-day DL candidate.

Lindgren, 21, was the team’s top pick (55th overall) in last summer’s draft as a quick-moving reliever out of Mississippi State. He has a 1.23 ERA (1.92 FIP) in 22 innings for Triple-A Scranton this season with a 31.5 K% and a 70.8 GB%. Lindgren’s numbers as a pro are ridiculous: 39.3 K% and 75.6 GB% in 46.2 innings at five different levels. Total domination.

Over the last few weeks, the Yankees have had Lindgren work longer than usual outings with the RailRiders. He’s gotten at least five outs four times in his last five appearances and threw 30+ pitches twice. Lindgren is no lefty specialist — I could see Joe Girardi using him in that role initially just to break him in — but he’s not a long man either. He’s a reliever who can go two innings if necessary.

The Yankees will have four lefties in the bullpen following the addition of Lindgren, but that doesn’t really matter. Justin Wilson and especially Andrew Miller can get righties out as well lefties, and Chasen Shreve‘s split-changeup gives him an effective pitch against right-handed batters too. Lindgren also projects to get both righties and lefties out thanks to his filthy slider.

Non-Miller and Dellin Betances relievers had a 4.09 ERA this season coming into Saturday, and that’s only going up after this afternoon’s debacle. Lindgren might suck too! Relievers tend to do that. But the guys the Yankees had weren’t working and Lindgren might be a solution. It was time to try it. The Yankees need lots more help to right this ship, but Lindgren’s a start.

Update: Chase Whitley to undergo Tommy John surgery

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Monday, 4:36pm: Whitley will indeed undergo Tommy John surgery, the Yankees announced. Team doctor Chris Ahmad will perform the procedure tomorrow. Not unexpected, but damn. Sucks. See you next year, Ace Whitley.

Friday, 6:05pm: Whitley does have a torn UCL, Girardi told reporters this afternoon. No decision has been on surgery yet. He’ll see another doctor in New York first. Capuano will start Sunday and push everyone else back a day.

5:51pm: As expected, the Yankees placed right-hander Chase Whitley on the 15-day DL this afternoon. He has a right elbow sprain, the team announced, which means his ulnar collateral ligament has been compromised somehow. Whitley went for tests today and Jon Heyman hears the initial diagnosis is indeed a UCL tear, so Tommy John surgery is a real possibility. The Yankees haven’t said anything about the exact nature of the injury yet.

Whitely, 25, left last night’s start in the second inning with an elbow injury. He told reporters after the game that his elbow had been bugging him for a while now, but he didn’t tell anyone and tried to pitch through it. “Tonight (the discomfort) just carried over to the game. I’ve been able to get through it in the game, and tonight obviously you could pretty much tell,” said Whitley to Chad Jennings.

If Whitley does indeed need Tommy John surgery, he would be the second Yankees starter to blow out his elbow on the Tropicana Field mound within the last 13 months. Ivan Nova tore his UCL in a start at the Trop last April and had Tommy John surgery soon thereafter So I guess we can blame the Rays, right? Heyman says Whitley will likely seek a second opinion before having surgery. I’d ask for a second opinion before having my moneymaker cut open too.

In four starts this year Whitley had a 4.19 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 19.1 innings. One start was good, one start was great, one start was bad, and one start was cut short by the injury. Whitley nearly made the team out of Spring Training, but the Yankees opted to send him to Triple-A so they could use him as an occasional spot starter to rest everyone else in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka‘s wrist/forearm injury pushed Whitley into the rotation full-time.

Joe Girardi confirmed Chris Capuano will replace Whitley in the rotation following last night’s game. Capuano threw six innings in his latest minor league rehab start earlier this week as he works his way back from a quad injury, so the timing worked out well. It’s unfortunate he’s coming back under these circumstances though. Girardi isn’t sure when Capuano will make his first start just yet. The Yankees have two off-days next week and don’t need their fifth starter again until May 26th.

For the time being, righty reliever Jose Ramirez has been called up from Triple-A to give the bullpen an extra arm. Presumably he or someone else (Branden Pinder?) will be sent down once Capuano is ready to be activated. There’s no need to activate Capuano just yet, so the Yankees get to carry an extra reliever for a few days. Ramirez, 25, has a 2.95 ERA (2.71 FIP) in 18.1 innings for the RailRiders this year.

Yanks outright Joel De La Cruz, lose Matt Tracy to Marlins on waivers

Tracy. (Presswire)
Tracy. (Presswire)

The Yankees have outrighted right-hander Joel De La Cruz off the 40-man roster, the team announced. He is with Triple-A Scranton. Also, the Marlins have claimed southpaw Matt Tracy, who was called up for a day and designated for assignment as part of that long man revolving door last week. Miami says they’ve optioned Tracy to Triple-A. There are now 39 players on the 40-man roster.

De La Cruz, 25, was with the Yankees for a few days last week but did not appear in a game. I don’t even think he warmed up. He had a 4.44 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 121.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton last season. De La Cruz was the guy the Yankees tried to trade to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano rather than Corey Black two years ago.

The 26-year-old Tracy allowed three unearned runs in two innings in his only game with New York last week. He had a 3.75 ERA (438 FIP) in 151 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last summer. Tracy was an interesting sleeper prospect a few years back but never did that next step in his development. I assume De La Cruz will step into the Triple-A rotation spot Tracy was expected to hold down this year.

Austin Romine clears waivers, outrighted to AAA Scranton

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Here is some slightly surprising news. Catcher Austin Romine has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. Romine was designated for assignment over the weekend after losing the backup catcher job to John Ryan Murphy. He is out of options and had to go through waivers before being assigned to Triple-A.

It appears the Yankees played the timing well. Romine was designated Saturday, giving the team ten days to trade, release, or waive him. They placed him on waivers Monday according to George King, a day after clubs had to set their Opening Day rosters. Teams had already selected their backup catcher and committed to that guy’s contract before Romine hit waivers. Sneaky!

Because Romine has less than three years of service time and has never been outrighted before, he was unable to elect free agency after clearing waivers. He’ll go to Triple-A and play regularly — the preliminary RailRiders roster lists Eddy Rodriguez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher, and I suspect Higashioka will now be bumped down a level — and be the de facto third catch in case of injury.

Romine, 26, is a career .204/.247/.281 (41 wRC+) hitter in 181 big league plate appearances and a .243/.303/.365 hitter in 445 career Triple-A plate appearances. The various stats say he’s been a quality pitch framer and ultimately his value comes from his defense, not his bat. Glad to see Romine’s still around. Catching depth is always a good thing, especially when they already know the pitching staff.

Yankees finalize Opening Day roster with latest round of roster moves

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

3:25pm: The Yankees have officially announced their Opening Day roster. It is exactly as presented below. No surprises.

10:00am: The Opening Day roster has been slowly coming together over the last several weeks, and yesterday afternoon the Yankees made the roster all but official with their latest round of moves, including Austin Romine being designated for assignment. Here is the 25-man roster the Yankees will take into the regular season tomorrow:

CATCHERS (2)
Brian McCann
John Ryan Murphy

INFIELDERS (7)
Stephen Drew
Didi Gregorius
Chase Headley
Garrett Jones
Gregorio Petit
Alex Rodriguez
Mark Teixeira

OUTFIELDERS (4)
Carlos Beltran
Brett Gardner
Jacoby Ellsbury
Chris Young

STARTERS (5)
Nathan Eovaldi
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Masahiro Tanaka
Adam Warren

RELIEVERS (7)
Dellin Betances
David Carpenter
Chris Martin
Andrew Miller
Esmil Rogers
Chasen Shreve
Justin Wilson

DISABLED LIST (4)
Chris Capuano (quad) — retroactive to March 27th
Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) — retroactive to March 27th
Jose Pirela (concussion) — retroactive to April 2nd
Brendan Ryan (calf) — retroactive to April 1st

Pirela was placed on the 7-day concussion DL while Capuano, Nova, and Ryan were all placed on the regular old 15-day DL. Petit takes Romine’s spot on the 40-man roster, which is full. The Yankees can transfer Nova to the 60-day DL whenever they need another 40-man spot since he’s not expected to return until June. Romine, Petit, and the DL assignments were the moves announced yesterday.

Despite those injuries, the Yankees made it through Spring Training as the healthiest team in the AL East, just as we all expected. The rest of the roster is pretty straight forward. Warren was named the fifth starter a few days ago and it was clear Shreve and Martin were going to make the Opening Day roster once Chase Whitley was optioned to Triple-A. Joe Girardi is planning to use Betances and Miller as co-closers to start the season, which is pretty cool. Hopefully it works as planned. Carpenter and Wilson figure to be the sixth and seventh inning guys.

As always, the 25-man roster is going to change throughout the course of the season. Quite a bit too. Petit figures to be replaced by Pirela or Ryan, whoever gets healthy first, and those bullpen spots belonging to Shreve and Martin could be revolving doors given the team’s relief pitcher depth. That includes Capuano, who could wind up working in relief if Warren fares well as the fifth starter. For now, this is the group of Yankees to start the new season.

Yankees designate Austin Romine for assignment, John Ryan Murphy wins backup catcher job

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The backup catcher competition is over. The Yankees have designated Austin Romine for assignment, the team announced following this afternoon’s game. “He had a tough spring. You wish the best for the kid,” said Joe Girardi according to Ryan Hatch.

Romine, 26, is out of minor league options, meaning he couldn’t go to Triple-A without passing through waivers. The DFA gives the Yankees more time to figure things out — they now have ten days to trade, release, or waive Romine. If he clears waivers, he can go to Triple-A as a non-40-man roster player.

The move means John Ryan Murphy will be Brian McCann‘s backup to start the season, as expected. The writing has been on the wall since last season. Although Romine spent most of 2013 with the Yankees, Murphy got called up last year when Frankie Cervelli got hurt and then again as the third catcher in September.

The 25-man Opening Day roster is set, for all intents and purposes. The Yankees just have to make it official. Murphy will be the backup catcher, Gregorio Petit the backup infielder, and Chasen Shreve and Chris Martin the sixth and seventh relievers in the bullpen.