Yankees activate Bryan Mitchell off 7-day concussion DL

(David Banks/Getty)
(David Banks/Getty)

Earlier today, the Yankees announced they have activated right-hander Bryan Mitchell off the 7-day concussion DL. He takes the roster spot of Nick Goody, who was sent down following Wednesday’s game. The Yankees still have a normal seven-man bullpen and four-man bench.

Mitchell, 24, has been out since taking a line drive to the face eleven days ago. He escaped with only a small nasal fracture, which, in the grand scheme of things, was only minor damage. Mitchell could have suffered much more serious facial fractures or eye damage. He got lucky.

The Yankees had Mitchell throw a 30-pitch simulated game Tuesday and everything went well. He healed up so well and so quickly that the team didn’t even bother to send him on a minor league rehab assignment. Mitchell is still stretched out and able to work as a long man and/or spot starter.

The 7-day concussion DL comes with all sorts of protocol. Mitchell had to pass baseline testing and the results had to be approved by MLB before he could be activated. That all happened, obviously. Mitchell’s been pretty good for the Yankees this year (3.86 ERA and 3.26 FIP in 21 innings), so it’s good to get him back so soon after such a scary moment.

Game 125: Game One

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

It’s a new season. The short 38-game sprint begins tonight. The Yankees and Blue Jays are tied atop the AL East with identical 69-55 records, so the best team from this day forward will win the division. Everything that happened in those first 124 games is relatively meaningless. It’ll have no impact on the race from this day forward.

The postseason odds at FanGraphs give the Blue Jays a better chance to win the AL East (54.9% to 44.0%) because the projection systems like their roster better, but to hell with that. The Yankees have that fighting spirit and have been exceeding expectations for about two decades now. This team was supposed to be old and out of the race about eight years ago. It hasn’t happened yet. No reason to think it will now. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Ivan Nova

Another nice day for baseball in New York. The sky is blue, the clouds are poofy, and there’s a nice little breeze to offset the Freddy Garcia-esque mid-80s heat. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch locally on YES and nationally on MLB Network, depending where you live. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: In case you missed it earlier, CC Sabathia (knee) does not need surgery … Bryan Mitchell (face) threw a 30-pitch simulated game with no problems. The Yankees will figure out the next step in a day or two after they see how he feels. Mitchell could pitch in a minor league game next … Dustin Ackley (back) expects to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton on Thursday.

Game 123: Andy Pettitte Day

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees retired No. 20 and dedicated a plaque in Monument Park in honor of Jorge Posada, and today they’ll do the same for Andy Pettitte. No. 46 is officially coming out of circulation. This weekend honoring two all-time great Yankees continues today with Andy Pettitte Day.

Pettitte is arguably the best starting pitcher in franchise history and I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t love Andy. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts (2,020) and is third in innings (2,796.1), wins (219) and pitching WAR (51.6). Andy is certainly the team’s best starter during the expansion era, if nothing else.

Hall of Famer? I’d say Pettitte is borderline at best. He is a five-time World Series champ and was a rotation stalwart during the most recent Yankees dynasty, but his candidacy will be hurt by his performance-enhancing drug ties. Either way, Andy’s going into Monument Park, and deservedly so. Monument Park was built for guys like Pettitte.

Just like yesterday, fans have been asked to be in their seats by noon for the pregame ceremony, though the actual ceremony probably won’t start until 12:15pm or 12:30pm ET or so. YES will have the whole thing, as always. As for this afternoon’s game, here is Cleveland’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a bit cloudy in New York today and there is some rain in the forecast, but not much. Nothing that will ruin the ceremony or cause a postponement. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the ceremony and the game.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) did some light running and took batting practice for the first time since the foul ball. It seems unlikely he will play tomorrow … Bryan Mitchell (face) threw a bullpen session. He could make a minor league rehab appearance next, then come off the DL … Alex Rodriguez is healthy. Joe Girardi said he is trying to “refresh” him with two straight days off.

Roster Update: Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment a few days ago, has been unconditionally released. He’ll probably hook on somewhere and serve as an extra lefty bench bat in September.

Game 122: Jorge Posada Day

Jorge Posada is not my all-time favorite Yankee but he is definitely in the top three. A switch-hitting catcher with power, patience, and a fiery attitude? How did anyone not like the guy? Posada is one of the four best catchers in franchise history, and, among all catchers in MLB history, he ranks third in walks (936), eighth in homers (275), ninth in OBP (.374), 15th in OPS+ (121), and 17th in WAR (48.4).

I don’t know if Posada will ever get into the Hall of Fame, he’s a borderline candidate, but he is going into Monument Park this afternoon. The Yankees are retiring his uniform No. 20 and will also honor Posada with a plaque. He helped the team to five World Series titles — he was a key contributor to four of them — and holds several franchise records, including games caught (1,518). Simply put, he is one of the best catchers in both Yankees and baseball history.

The Yankees want fans in their seats by noon for the pre-game ceremony, but, knowing how these things go, the ceremony itself probably won’t start until 12:15pm or 12:30pm ET. Will Derek Jeter make his second appearance at Yankee Stadium since retiring? I have to think so. The whole gang will probably be there. The weather’s great and it should be a really fun day.

As for the regularly scheduled afternoon game, here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    RHP Luis Severino

This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. The Posada ceremony will only be on YES, I believe. MLB Network usually doesn’t carry that stuff. For shame. Enjoy the ceremony and the game, folks.

Injury Updates: Michael Pineda (forearm) will rejoin the rotation Wednesday, Joe Girardi announced. Barring something unexpected, the team will do with a six-man rotation. Predictable … Bryan Mitchell (face) has passed all concussion tests and will throw a bullpen session tomorrow. Geez, sounds like he might be back fairly soon, huh?

Roster Moves: The Yankees have called up Branden Pinder and designated Chris Capuano for assignment, the team announced. Pinder was sent down ten days ago, so the Yankees brought him back as soon as possible.

Game 121: Three-Fourths

Tonight marks the three-quarters point of the season. Well, kinda. I guess the true three-quarters point would be the middle of the fifth inning of tomorrow’s game, but 121 games is close enough for me. The days are starting to get a little shorter, there weather was crisp this morning … it’s starting to feel a little bit like fall, which means time is running out on the 2015 season. These next few weeks should be pretty intense.

The Yankees dropped last night’s series opener against the Indians and, until that ninth inning rally, it was the most nondescript game of the year. Nothing interesting happened whatsoever. What can you do. Can’t win ’em all. The Yankees have still won six of their last eight games and that’s a pretty good pace. I’ll take more of that going forward. Here is the Cleveland lineup and here is the New York lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Very nice day in New York today. Blue sky, nice breeze, and a few clouds. Good day for a game. Tonight’s contest will begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) is getting better but is unlikely to play this weekend … Bryan Mitchell (face) played catch today … Dustin Ackley (back) went through fielding drills and could begin a minor league rehab assignment next week … Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius are fine. Just getting the night off during this long stretch of games.

Game 120: Ivan and the Indians

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The ten-game homestand is off to a pretty swell start. The Yankees just swept the Twins, coming from behind in all three games, and they’ve stretched their lead in the AL East back to two full games. (Three in the loss column!) There’s a lot of season left, but gosh, I would have signed up for being two games up on August 20th back in Spring Training in a heartbeat.

Ivan Nova will be on the mound tonight and although the raw results in his last two starts haven’t been great (seven runs in 12.1 innings), I feel like he’s finally starting to settle into a groove following Tommy John surgery. That last start in Toronto was pretty gutsy. That seems to be a common trait among the starters, these dudes really battle when they don’t have their best stuff. Hopefully tonight goes a little more smoothly. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

It has been a lovely day in New York. Warm but not hot with a nice little breeze, bright blue sky with a few poofy clouds. The sky looks like a Bob Ross painting. I guess that would make them happy little clouds then, right? Not poofy? Anyway, tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) is doing better but he is still not available off the bench. He hasn’t started any baseball activities yet but should fairly soon … Bryan Mitchell (face) could start some physical activity soon. Nothing major yet, just some cardio work, but that’s a good sign.

Yankees have no shortage of candidates for September call-ups this year

Didi and Slade. (Presswire)
Didi and Slade. (Presswire)

Twelve days from now, the Yankees and every other team in baseball will be able to expand their rosters and carry up to 40 active players. September call-ups are somewhat controversial, lots of people don’t like seeing the final month of the season played with different rules, but I’m a fan of expanded rosters. Players get worn down during the course of the season, so the extra bodies in September are welcome.

For the 2015 Yankees, expanded rosters will be about much more than adding a third catcher or some spare arms for blowouts. They will be in position to add some real weapons to the roster even though most call-ups will be used in limited roles. Still, adding the extra players will be very beneficial. The Yankees have used their depth quite a bit this season and next month they’ll be able to have everyone on the roster at once.

During an interview with YES over the weekend, Brian Cashman said the player development staff has been told to prepare for mass call-ups on September 1st, so the Yankees won’t waste any time. They’re not going to wait for the Triple-A postseason to end or anything like that. The big league team is the priority and the Yankees are going to call guys up as soon as possible. Here’s a breakdown of who we will and could see next month.

Locks To Be Called Up

During that YES interview, Cashman said “any and all” of the relievers who have been shuttled up and down this summer will return in September, and it’s a long list. Caleb Cotham, Nick Goody, Branden Pinder, and Nick Rumbelow are the notables. (Rumbelow is up right now but that could change in a day or two the way things have been going this year.) Those are four extra arms on the 40-man roster who will be able to soak up any miscellaneous innings.

On the position player side, Slade Heathcott and Jose Pirela are safe bets to be called up to serve as the extra outfielder and extra infielder, respectively. Both are still on the 40-man and were up earlier this year — Pirela was sent down due to performance, Heathcott got hurt — and both offer different things. Heathcott adds speed and defense, Pirela offers versatility and another right-handed bat. Heck, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Heathcott snuck onto the potential postseason roster as a pinch-running specialist.

Called Up If Healthy

Lindgren. (Presswire)
Lindgren. (Presswire)

Bryan Mitchell was just placed on the 7-day concussion DL after taking a line drive to the face, though earlier this week Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings there’s a chance Mitchell will be back in the bullpen within a week. That sounds … optimistic. Either way, Mitchell will be on the roster in September if he’s healthy. No reason to expect otherwise. He’s been on the 25-man roster for a big chunk of the year already.

Righty Chris Martin and lefty Jacob Lindgren are both on the Triple-A DL with elbow problems and figure to return in September, if healthy. Lindgren had surgery to remove bone spurs and the Yankees have said they expect him to return this year, so it’s just a question of whether he gets through his rehab in one piece. The nature of Martin’s injury is unknown. We’re just going to have to wait and see whether he’s healthy and able to pitch in September.

The Obligatory Third Catcher

Cashman confirmed the Yankees will call-up a third catcher because duh. Every team brings up a third catcher. The only catcher on the 40-man roster aside from Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy is Gary Sanchez, who has hit a bit of a wall with Triple-A Scranton after crushing the level immediately after his promotion. Austin Romine has had a nice year too, but he’s not on the 40-man roster. My guess is Sanchez gets the call as the third catcher but rarely catches, sorta like Jesus Montero in 2011. (Also, Romine would require clearing a 40-man spot.) That is especially true if the race for a postseason spot goes right down to the wire, as expected. Sanchez might only catch in blowouts or after the team clinches all it can clinch.

Likely To Be Called Up, But Not Locks

There’s really only one player in this category: Rob Refsnyder. He’s had a good year in Triple-A, not a great year, and his brief four-game cameo in pinstripes earlier this year was a bit of a mixed bag. Some good, some not so good. There have been unconfirmed reports floating around that the Yankees were less than enthused with Refsnyder’s attitude during his call-up — not so much that he didn’t work hard, but that he was arrogant and acted entitled — and I suppose the club could keep him down in September as something of a wake-up call. My guess is Refsnyder comes up and takes second base platoon at-bats away from Brendan Ryan. I just wouldn’t put his chances at a call-up at 100%. Maybe it’s more like 95% or so.

Unlikely To Be Called Up

Among the healthy 40-man roster players, the only one who I think has less than a 50/50 chance of getting a September call-up is Tyler Austin. Another righty bat would be neat, but Austin’s had a very rough year and was recently demoted from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton. Players who have struggled like Austin usually don’t get called up unless there’s no other option. There’s a “reward” aspect to being a September call-up, and he didn’t earn this year.

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

The biggest name among non-40-man players is Aaron Judge, the team’s top prospect. The Yankees added both Refsnyder and Greg Bird to the 40-man early and called them up this year, but they were both performing in Triple-A. Judge has been striking out a ton of late and he won’t be Rule 5 Draft eligible for another few years, not another few months. I would be surprised if the Yankees tied up another 40-man spot by adding Judge. His time will come eventually. Just probably not this September.

Other non-40-man players I don’t expect to be called up in September: Ben Gamel, Brady Lail, James Pazos, and Johnny Barbato. Lail and Barbato just reached Triple-A and there are too many arms ahead of them on the depth chart to add them to the 40-man roster early. Gamel’s had a breakout season and I wouldn’t necessarily put his call-up chances at 0%. Heathcott will fill the “extra lefty hitting outfielder” role though, and I’m not sure the Yankees should clear a roster spot to add another. Pazos could be a victim of the number’s crunch more than anything. There simply might not be any room for another lefty reliever.

The Non-40-Man Wildcard

The non-40-man player who I think has the best chance of being called up in September is Andrew Bailey. He’s working his way back from shoulder surgery and been able to stay healthy for a few weeks now, plus he’s pitched effectively in all sorts of situations (back-to-back days, multiple innings, etc.) in the minors. The Yankees have put a lot of time and effort into helping him rehab these last two years, remember.

Cashman admitted Bailey was recently held out of a Triple-A game in case he needed to be called up to help the tired bullpen, but that didn’t happen. Bailey wasn’t needed. That they’ve already come thisclose to calling Bailey up this month leads me to believe they will bring him to the show once rosters expand. Bailey hasn’t pitched in MLB since getting hurt in July 2013. It’s been a long and difficult road back. Hopefully he stays healthy these next two weeks and gets the call in September.

The 40-Man Situation

The 40-man roster is full right now. It’s actually extra full. The Yankees have four players on the 60-day DL (Sergio Santos, Diego Moreno, Mason Williams, Chase Whitley) and none of them will be ready to be activated in September following their season-ending surgeries. The Yankees will need to clear a spot to call up, say, Bailey or Romine, and there are a few ways to do that.

First and foremost, the Yankees could call up an injured 40-man roster player and place them on the 60-day DL. Martin (elbow) and Domingo German (Tommy John surgery) are two candidates for that move. The Yankees haven’t done the call-up/60-day DL thing often — they did it with Justin Maxwell and Heathcott a few years ago, that’s pretty much it — but it is an option. Not wanting German to accumulate service time is understandable. Martin though? Who cares. Of course, he’d have to actually be hurt to pull this move. Can’t 60-day DL a healthy player.

Figueroa. (Presswire)
Figueroa. (Presswire)

The Yankees could always outright or designate a player for assignment to clear 40-man space. There just aren’t many obvious candidates. Perhaps they’ll decide to cut Chris Capuano again in September since they’ll have all the extra relievers and won’t necessarily need a long man. Cole Figueroa could also get the axe, especially if Refsnyder does get called up and/or Dustin Ackley gets healthy. Martin? He could lose his 40-man spot if healthy as well.

Capuano, Figueroa, and Martin are the three main 40-man casualty candidates. It would be a surprise if the Yankees dropped someone like Austin, Pirela, or Cotham from the roster. Those guys are probably the next three in line, if anything. Aside from Bailey and maybe Romine, the Yankees don’t figure to need any 40-man spots this September, though they could clear two with the call-up/60-day DL move. We’ll see.

* * *

Once September rolls around, the Yankees will obviously add a bunch of pitchers and a third catcher, plus a few extra position players. The extra arms will be a huge help, the bullpen has worked a ton this year, and Refsnyder could really help if he gets those platoon at-bats instead of Ryan. If not him, then Pirela. Also, Heathcott could be a factor as a defensive replacement/pinch-runner.

No one in their right mind is an expecting major impact from a September call-up — guys who do what Francisco Rodriguez did in 2002 are extremely rare — but they can help in limited roles. Those extra pitchers and platoon bats and pinch-runners are valuable in their own way. Given how tight the AL East race is at the moment, every little upgrade helps. September call-ups this year will be about more than resting regulars in blowouts.