Yankees activate Gardner & Aardsma; designate Pearce & Thomas

The Yankees have activated both Brett Gardner and David Aardsma off the 60-day DL. Although Gardner has been taking batting practice and whatnot, I assume he will be limited to pinch-running and late-game defense duties from here on out. Aardsma is unlikely to see any meaningful innings.

To clear spots on the 40-man roster, both Steve Pearce and Justin Thomas were designated for assignment. Casey McGehee can hit lefties just as well (probably better, actually) as Pearce, but he offers more versatility and big league/pennant race experience. That last part probably doesn’t matter much. I thought the Yankees would keep Thomas as the third lefty for the final week of the season, but I guess Cory Wade built up enough good will last year and earlier this season to keep his job.

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Joba, Aardsma, and lessons learned

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

When the Yankees play the second game of their three-game set against the Twins later tonight, they’ll do so with a new reliever available in the bullpen. Right-hander David Aardsma is set to join the club today after losing more than two calendar years due to injury. An oblique problem sidelined him in September 2010, then a torn labrum in his hip and Tommy John surgery (and a subsequent setback) cost him all of 2011 and all but nine games of 2012. It’s been a long road back, that’s for sure.

Since the Yankees are stuck in a tight division race with only those nine games left to play, there’s very little chance we’ll see the 30-year-old Aardsma in anything more than a low-leverage blowout situation. The eighth inning of last night’s game — the inning Cory Wade was unable to escape — seems like the kind of inning the former Mariners’ closer would be allowed to navigate. Not a particularly close game and with only a handful of outs remaining, not really enough for the other club to mount a legitimate comeback.

“When (Joe Girardi) calls down, or (Larry Rothschild) calls, or whoever does it, and my name is called, I’ll be ready,” said Aardsma yesterday. “And then I go out there and go pitch. I haven’t faced a big-league hitter in two years, but it’s a matter of, I know my stuff’s been good. It’s been playing really well down in Tampa. I know it’s not the same caliber, but I know my stuff is good. Now it’s just a matter of going out there, getting comfortable, and facing hitters. I’m not expecting to go out there in the toughest situation ever — I don’t think they would do that — but they do want me ready.”

Although the AL East crown has yet to be locked up, the Yankees don’t really need Aardsma to be much help this week. Earlier in the season after Mariano Rivera got hurt and Wade imploded? Yeah they needed bullpen help then but opted to wait for Joba Chamberlain. He struggled mightily at first before straightening things out and becoming the fourth wheel in the David Robertson-Rafael Soriano-Boone Logan end-game trio. The Yankees found out the hard way that not everyone coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery can be useful right away, but they got a little lucky with how quickly Joba turned things around.

That same problem — the general ineffectiveness following elbow surgery — could present itself with Aardsma, who really didn’t pitch all that well during his minor league rehab stint. The circumstances are much different though, as he’s just a spare arm for these next nine games and not someone the team is really counting on for an impact. Next year will be  a different story, but we have all offseason to worry about that. I’ll be surprised if Aardsma appears in even three of the next nine games, but even if he does, I think we all learned from Joba earlier this season not to count on him for much right away.

Update: Aardsma will join Yankees tomorrow

5:02pm: Aardsma told reporters that he will be activated tomorrow. I’m guessing Justin Thomas will be the 40-man casualty. I suppose there’s a chance the Yankees will add both Aardsma and Brett Gardner on Tuesday, which would be pretty neat.

4:30pm: Right-hander David Aardsma appears set to join the Yankees at some point this series based on his Twitter feed. Last night he said that today would be a “big day,” and then this afternoon he tweeted out a photo of Target Field. No one ever accused me of being smart, but it sure seems like the Yankees will activate him at some point during the next three days. They’ll have to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate him.

Aardsma, not Feliciano, could still join Yankees this year

Via Joel Sherman, there is still a chance that David Aardsma could join the Yankees before the end of the regular season. He had been pitching in minor league rehab games until the season ended last week, even pitching in a set of back-to-back days. That’s usually one of the final steps before being activated. Aardsma wasn’t pitching all that well following his late-June setback, but his 30-day rehab window expires next weekend. The decision is coming one way or another.

In other news, left-hander Pedro Feliciano is unlikely to join the bullpen before the end of the season. He had been pitching in minor league rehab games as well, including doing the whole back-to-back thing, but he sprained his ankle covering first base in his last outing a little more than two weeks ago. The Yankees used that to reset his rehab clock and we’re unlikely to see him throw a single pitch in pinstripes after signing a two-year, $8M deal last winter.

Aardsma walks a batter, throws scoreless inning in latest rehab outing

In his latest minor league rehab appearance with Double-A Trenton, right-hander David Aardsma walked a batter in an otherwise uneventful inning. The runner was thrown out trying to steal second and the other two outs came on fly balls. Ten of his 17 pitches were strikes.

Aardsma pitched last night, and this was the first time he appeared in back-to-back games as part of his rehab from Tommy John surgery. His 30-day rehab window expires on Wednesday and the minor league season will be over tomorrow no later than tomorrow, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees do with him next week.