Update: A-Rod has non-displaced fracture in left hand

1:10am: A-Rod suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand and is going to the DL. That’s better than a displaced fracture but still sucks. They won’t know the exact timetable for his return until he sees the doctors in New York on Thursday. Fan-friggin’-tastic. At least this happened before the trade deadline.

12:11am: Alex Rodriguez left tonight’s game in the eighth inning after getting hit by a pitch in the left wrist/hand. He was in obvious pain and was taken out of the game immediately. Updates to follow, but obviously losing A-Rod for any length of time would be very bad.

CoJo doubles twice and Williams homers down on the farm

LHP Nik Turley earned the top spot in today’s Minor League Update. “A huge left-hander at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Turley is actually more of a finesse pitcher who pounds the strike zone with three solid average pitches in his 88-92 mph fastball, curve and changeup,” wrote Kevin Goldstein. “It’s not the sexiest package, but it’s led to a 2.69 ERA with 89 strikeouts over 80.1 innings so far in the Florida State League, and if he can do something like that next year at Double-A, he’s suddenly a very real prospect.”

These West Coast games have me dragging in a bad way, so I’m taking the easy way out tonight…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): 3B Kevin Russo, 2B Corban Joseph (two), and DH Jack Cust all doubled. C Frankie Cervelli had a single and a triple while CF Darnell McDonald, 1B Brandon Laird, LF Kosuke Fukudome, and RF Cole Garner had one single apiece. LHP Justin Thomas threw four scoreless in the spot start while RHP Manny Delcarmen made up for it by allowing four runs in one inning.
  • Double-A Trenton (loss): CF Melky Mesa tripled and 1B Luke Murton doubled to highlight a boring night with the sticks. LHP Shaeffer Hall allowed four runs in 7.2 innings. Definite candidate for the most uninteresting game of the season.
  • High-A Tampa (loss): CF Mason Williams hit a solo homer and walked while LF Slade Heathcott and C Gary Sanchez chipped in doubles. DH Ramon Flores singled as did the rehabbing SS Eduardo Nunez. RHP Joba Chamberlain threw his rehab inning before RHP Jose Ramirez allowed four runs while getting four outs. LHP Rigoberto Arrebato highlighted the relievers with 2.2 scoreless innings.
  • Low-A Charleston (loss): They only had four singles on offense, including two by CF Ben Gamel. C Tyson Blaser and 1B Rey Nunez had the others. RHP Phil Wetherell started for whatever reason and struck out seven in three one-run innings. RHP Will Oliver replaced him and allowed one run across the final six innings.
  • Short Season Staten Island (loss): LF Taylor Dugas had a pair of knocks including a double while 1B Saxon Butler, DH Matt Snyder (two), and 2B Jamiel Orozco had singles. CF Danny Oh tripled as well. RHP Andrew Benak started and allowed three runs in 4.2 innings. RHP Derek Varnadore backed him up by giving up just one unearned run in 3.2 innings.
  • Rookie GCL Yanks (win): C Austin Romine caught a full nine innings for the first time this year, doubling and drawing a pair of walks in his five trips to the plate. RF Tyler Austin played seven innings in the field while drawing a walk and singling in four plate appearances. RHP Zach Nuding allowed two runs (one earned) in 4.2 innings. All three players are rehabbing from injuries. SS Austin Aune continued his hot hitting with a single and a double.

Game 97: The King

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

All of the Ichiro Suzuki hoopla is done and over with, meaning now it’s time to look straight ahead and focus on the task at hand.

Crap. Felix Hernandez is pitching tonight.

King Felix has shaken off a (relatively speaking) slow start to the season to allow one earned run or less in six of his last seven starts. Those didn’t come against scrub teams either, he dominated the Red Sox (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K) and Rangers (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K) during that stretch. You can make a pretty strong case that he’s having a career year as well. The Yankees, meanwhile, are running Freddy Garcia out there. I’m really pulling for that reverse lock, you guys. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
LF Raul Ibanez
DH Eric Chavez
RF Ichiro Suzuki
C  Chris Stewart

RHP Freddy Garcia

Tonight’s game, the final West Coast night game of the season, is scheduled to start a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy if you’re still awake.

Brett Gardner Update: Gardner (elbow) had surgery today and “everything went well,” according to Joe Girardi. They removed the inflamed tissue and shaved down some bone chips. Gardner is definitely done for the season.

Joba throws a perfect inning in latest minor league rehab appearance

Right-hander Joba Chamberlain retired all three batters he faced in his latest rehab appearance for High-A Tampa tonight. He got a fly ball to left, a pop-up to second, and a ground ball to second. No word on his velocity or pitch count, but chances are we’ll get a report before the end of the night as usual.

Erik Boland reports that the plan is for Joba to pitch again tomorrow night, assuming he comes through tonight’s appearance fine. It will be the first time he’ll pitch in back-to-back games during his rehab. The other day we heard that he could be activated before the end of the month if he comes through the back-to-back well. Fingers crossed, Joba’s getting very close to returning to the team.

Tuesday Night Open Thread

(REUTERS/Robert Sorbo)

This is it, the final West Coast night game of the season. The Yankees and Mariners will play a matinee tomorrow and after they get home, the Bombers won’t have a flight longer than New York to Tampa for the rest of the year. Pretty sweet. Those mid-September trips out west are always the worst.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing the Nationals again (Dickey vs. Gio) and MLB Network will air the Dodgers and Cardinals (Kershaw vs. Wainwright) a little later on. Talk about those games or anything else on your mind until the regular game thread comes along.

Cashman: Mariano Rivera will not return this year

It was always a long shot, but Brian Cashman officially crushed any hope of Mariano Rivera returning this season during an appearance on MLB Network Radio this morning. “No … He’s not coming back this year and I wish he was, I wish he was, but unfortunately people get excited,” said Cashman.

Rivera, who had surgery to repair a torn right ACL in June, is using a doctor and physical therapist approved by the team. Earlier this month the rehab folks came out and said Mo could return this year because he was going so well, but Cashman called that “unprofessional” and “not a fair reflection of where this player’s at.” He basically accused them of wanting to get their name in the spotlight, which may or may not be true. Either way, getting Rivera back lack in the season was always a pipe dream. At least now we can stop getting our hopes up.

Back Where They Belong: Ibanez, Jones, Chavez

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

As we’ve learned through the years, winning the AL East and eventually a World Series takes an awful lot more than the nine regular position players, five starting pitchers, and a closer. Clubs need not just a strong bullpen and bench, but they also need quality backup backup players in Triple-A. The full 40-man roster is important.

The Yankees have gotten some excellent production from their projected reserve players this season, but they also assumed more prominent roles due to injuries — specifically Brett Gardner‘s. Dewayne Wise filled in admirably for a while but was replaced on the roster by Ichiro Suzuki yesterday. He’s not the Ichiro of old but he does add some sorely needed speed and outfield defense, and perhaps more importantly he relegates those reserve players back into their projected roles.

Raul Ibanez
Gardner’s injury forced Ibanez into left field far more often than we or the Yankees would have liked, but now he gets to return to the platoon DH role he was brought in to fill. Ichiro is going to play left field against right-handed pitchers while Ibanez’s bat stays in the lineup and his glove stays in the clubhouse. Hopefully the extra rest can revive Raul’s bat a bit, because he has tailed off noticeably since that monster start in April…

We’re still going to see Ibanez play the field once in a while since Joe Girardi figures to rest Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher more often down the stretch, especially if the Yankees maintain their big division lead. Once a week isn’t the end of the world but not having to run him out to left day after day is a huge boon.

Andruw Jones
Andruw’s role actually won’t change very much at all. He was and remains the right-handed hitting half of the left field/DH platoon, so whether he subs in for Ichiro in left or Ibanez at DH depends on the day and whoever else is resting. Jones already has just 22 fewer plate appearances against righties this year thanlast, so expect that pace to change a bit. He’ll probably get fewer total plate appearances moving forward that he otherwise would have, but that’s not necessarily a bat thing as long he still takes his hacks against southpaws, either as a starter or off the bench.

Eric Chavez
In terms of playing time, Chavez probably lost the most with the Ichiro pickup. He had been getting regular DH and third base plate appearances — just six fewer plate appearances than last season with two months to go — but now will give Alex Rodriguez a day or two off a week and little more. There will be occasional spot starts at DH and Chavez could spell Mark Teixeira at first base once in a while, plus he’ll be the primary left-handed pinch-hitter off the bench. Given his fragile body, less playing time for Chavez is probably a good thing in terms of keeping him healthy down the stretch and potentially into the postseason.

* * *

I’m hopeful that with Ibanez spending more time at DH, Girardi will be a more open to pinch-hitting for him against tough lefties in the later innings. As the left fielder, a pinch-hitting appearance generally required three players — Ibanez the starter, Jones the pinch-hitter, and Wise the defensive replacement. Now they can replace Ibanez with Jones, leave Ichiro in the outfield, and still have Chavez on the bench in case Andruw winds up facing a right-hander later in the game. Whether or not he’s actually open to doing that remains to be seen, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Ichiro isn’t Gardner but he’s a reasonable approximation, at least in the field and on the bases. The Yankees should use him in a similar way, which means hitting near the bottom of the lineup while sitting against tough lefties. Returning Ibanez, Chavez, and to a lesser extent Jones to their intended roles is a fringe benefit that may have huge dividends if Raul stays fresh and Chavez stays healthy.