- Brett Gardner (wrist) was going to stay in last night’s game to hit after pinch-running, if necessary. “I was prepared if my spot came up in the ninth to get a normal at-bat and get up there and swing the bat,” he said. Gardner came through several rounds of batting practice just fine and should return to the lineup today.
- Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) threw 20 pitches in his second live batting practice session yesterday. “I’m getting closer. Feels awesome,” he said. Nova expects to throw batting practice two more times next week before getting back into games. Joe Girardi said they’re shooting for May 1st for Nova’s first minor league rehab start.
- Chris Capuano (quad) threw live batting practice Thursday and will do so again tomorrow. Girardi said Nova and Capuano are “pretty close” with regards to their timetable, but Capuano is “slightly ahead.”
- Jose Pirela (concussion) is going through all drills and hit against Capuano on Thursday. He’ll play in an Extended Spring Training game on Monday. Girardi was noncommittal when asked if Pirela will join the big league team once healthy.
- Brendan Ryan (calf) “might” go to Tampa next week to begin going through baseball workouts. It depends how he feels in the coming days.
The Yankees tried and failed to win their first series of 2015 last night, but they have another chance in the rubber game against the Orioles tonight. The last time the Yankees lost three straight series to start the season was that awful 1991 season, when they didn’t win their first series of the year until mid-May. I feel like we’ve said “this is the first time the Yankees have done that since 1991″ an awful lot the last few years.
Anyway, Nathan Eovaldi will be on the mound tonight, making his second start in pinstripes. The first was uneven — Eovaldi showed a big fastball and promising offspeed pitches, but struggled to put hitters away. Then again, everyone’s struggled to put the Red Sox away this year it seems. Hopefully the free swinging O’s have a tougher time with Eovaldi tonight. Here’s the starting lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 3B Chase Headley
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 2B Stephen Drew
- LF Chris Young
- SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
The Orioles are sending right-hander Bud Norris to the mound. He got clobbered in his first start of the season by the Rays, allowing eight runs in three innings. Here is Baltimore’s lineup.
There’s no threat of rain at Camden Yards like last night. It’s cool and cloudy without only a slight breeze. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Brett Gardner (wrist) told Chad Jennings he feels “much better today” and expects to return to the lineup Friday. He is available pinch-run and play defense tonight … Joe Girardi told reporters both Chris Capuano (quad) and Ivan Nova (elbow) are progressing well in their rehab. Capuano could be back within a month.
Roster Moves: The Yankees have called up RHP Branden Pinder for tonight’s game, the team announced. RHP Joel De La Cruz was optioned to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Also, RHP Kyle Davies was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton after being designated for assignment the other day.
According to Marly Rivera (translated article), right-hander Ivan Nova is set to face hitters during a session of live batting practice at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa tomorrow. Nova is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and this will be his first time facing hitters as part of his rehab.
“It feels good, already going to be a year since I’ve faced hitters and I feel a little nervous. I feel great physically. I have thrown all my pitches without any hassle and I am confident that everything will be fine,” said Nova to Rivera. “Right now I do not know how long I’ll keep throwing batting practice. I have to follow the (process laid out) by my coaches … Do not try to do more than necessary. The important thing is to consider the process.”
Nova, 29, had his elbow rebuild late last April and the Yankees have proceeded very slowly with his rehab. Pitchers usually begin facing hitters 8-10 months after surgery and Nova’s at 12 months now. After however many sessions of batting practice, Nova will return to game action, likely Extended Spring Training at first because the conditions are controlled. The Yankees have been saying they expect Nova back in June all along.
The typical Tommy John surgery rehab schedule has been called into question by some — including Dr. James Andrews — within the last few months because it maybe be too aggressive, which could explain why so many players are now having second Tommy John surgeries. Jeremy Hefner, Cory Luebke, Jonny Venters, and Daniel Hudson all needed a second procedure while still rehabbing from the first. Others like Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, and Jarrod Parker needed a second Tommy John surgery with a few years of their first.
Clearly the Yankees are being cautious with Nova and I can’t say I blame them one bit. He could be a significant rotation boost at midseason and also figures to be an important part of the rotation next year, his last season before free agency.
Last night’s 19-inning marathon gave me a hangover. That game was all sorts of awful. If you want to blame the offense, you can do that. If you want to blame the pitching, you can do that too. Defense? Base-running? Blame worthy as well. If you’re the type that needs to assign blame to everything, last night was the perfect game for you. Lots of options.
Anyway, none of that matters now. It’s a new day and a new game and boy would it be nice to see the Yankees pick up a win on Saturday afternoon. Or even just hold a lead. They’ve had the lead for exactly one half-inning out of the 45.5 innings they’ve played in 2015. As best I can tell, no team has had a lead for less time this year. Even the 0-4 White Sox held a lead for one full inning at one point the other day. Here’s the lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Chris Young
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 1B Alex Rodriguez — yup
- 3B Chase Headley
- RF Garrett Jones
- C John Ryan Murphy
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Gregorio Petit
RHP Adam Warren
As expected, the Red Sox activated Joe Kelly (biceps) off the DL so he could make this afternoon’s start. He’ll be on a 90-pitch limit. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was send down to make room on the roster. Here is Boston’s lineup.
It’s a nice clear day in New York but windy as hell. Nearly lost my hat when I went out to get breakfast this morning. This afternoon’s game will begin just after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and Fox Sports 1 nationally. Enjoy.
Roster Move: The Yankees have called up lefty Matt Tracy to bolster their worn out bullpen, the team announced. Tracy was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s good for 80+ pitches if needed. I hope they aren’t. Ivan Nova was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot and Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple-A to clear a 25-man roster spot. Shreve was awesome last night. Unfair game, this baseball.
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:
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.
Since Spring Training officially opened last week, all eyes have been on Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. Well, at least the eyes that weren’t glued to Alex Rodriguez‘s every step. Tanaka and Sabathia are by far the biggest pitching stories in camp since they are both being counted on as rotation anchors and are coming off pretty serious injuries. It has not yet been a week, but so far, so good with those two.
Early in the morning yesterday, before Sabathia threw his second bullpen session of his spring, rehabbing righty Ivan Nova was at the team’s complex throwing his third bullpen as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. It was a relatively light throwing session — 25 pitches, all fastballs — and he’ll likely throw another all fastball bullpen before introducing offspeed pitches. When the team breaks camp in early-April, Nova will stay behind to continue rehabbing in Tampa.
The Yankees have taken it very slow with Nova’s rehab so far — he had surgery in late-April, and according to Mike Dodd’s classic Tommy John surgery rehab article, Nova should have been throwing bullpens by October or November — and that is by design. A lot of pitchers have rushed back from elbow reconstruction in the last year or two only to need another procedure almost immediately. Cory Luebke and Daniel Hudson didn’t even complete the rehab from the first surgery when they blew out their elbows again. Brandon Beachy made it back for 30 innings. The Yankees are playing it safe.
“One good thing, you know you’re not going to be ready in April,” said Nova to Chad Jennings yesterday. “So you prepare yourself to be ready whenever they tell me. I don’t have to be thinking right now that I’ve got to be ready in April, so that’s kind of fortunate. I’m just taking it day by day, and I know that — I believe — a month before they think I’m going to be ready to go to the big leagues, they’re going to tell me. So that’s the time when I’m going to really prepare for that day.”
Because he’s been out of action for so long — Nova made only four starts last season before getting hurt — it’s been pretty easy to forget he exists. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. That doesn’t make him any less important to the team, however. The Yankees have a risky rotation led by Tanaka and Sabathia, so getting Nova back healthy at midseason will be a boost to the starting staff. Hopefully an extra boost, not a “oh goodness we need him back as soon as possible” sort of boost.
Last year Jeff Zimmerman ran some numbers on performance before and after Tommy John surgery and confirmed that yeah, pitchers tend to struggle immediately after having their elbow ligament replaced. Their ERA increases 5.8% relative to projections, their walk rate increases 5.0%, and their strikeout rate drops 4.4%. It’s not until two years after surgery that they really get back to being themselves. Using that info, here’s a quick and dirty look at Nova’s projected performance for 2015:
|2013 Actual Performance||3.10||19.8%||7.5%|
|2014 Actual Performance||8.27||12.5%||6.3%|
|2015 ZiPS Projection||4.08||19.6%||7.2%|
|2015 ZiPS + TJS Penalty||4.32||18.7%||7.6%|
Nova has been a perfectly league average pitcher overall so far in his career (career 100 ERA+!) though it’s been a roller coaster. He’s had some great years and some really bad years, including his brief four-start cameo in 2014. ZiPS, unsurprisingly, pegs him as a true talent league average pitcher for this coming season (99 ERA+) but it doesn’t know he had his elbow rebuild. Add in the Tommy John surgery penalty from Zimmerman’s research and he’s a projected below average pitcher, more like a 93 ERA+ guy.
What does that mean? Not a whole lot, really. I just think it’s important to remember the road back from Tommy John surgery can initially be a little bumpy. Pitchers on average have seen a slight performance dip, but each pitcher is a little snowflake that is different than everyone else. Thanks to the team’s conservative approach to his rehab, Nova could shake off the usual pre-Tommy John issues and return in June, picking up right where he left off in 2013. That would be sweet. Or maybe the performance dip hits him extra hard. We’ll find out when he gets back.
Personally, I hate relying on players coming back from major injury, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. New York’s rotation is what it is and I am comfortable saying with great certainty they are looking for upgrades at all times. Hopefully one pop up at some point. “Chris Capuano, fifth starter” is really “Chris Capuano, just keep us afloat until something better comes along.” That sometime just might end up being when Nova returns in May or June (likely June). Hopefully not, but it’s possible.
“I know they expect big things from me,” said Nova to Bryan Hoch yesterday. “I know I’ve had an up and down career so far, but I know what I’m able to do. I just have to put things straight and hopefully by the time I have everything in line, I can contribute to the team and win some games.”
Joe Girardi held his annual start of Spring Training press conference this morning, and, as you can imagine, there were a ton of Alex Rodriguez question. But thankfully, there were some actual baseball questions too. It was a nice change of pace. “Name tags are an option,” joked Girardi because of all the new players in camp.
Video of the press conference is above. Here’s an abridged version and some thoughts.
- On the apology letter: “A person’s approach is the way they feel most comfortable doing it, whether that’s how you or me or anyone else would have done it … I think he apologized to the game. Steroids have hurt this game. It has changed the way we look at a lot of things … (The apology) was Alex’s choice and it was the way he was comfortable doing it and we’ll deal with it.”
- On balancing workload and preparation: “I think you’re talking about him possibly DHing on a lot of days in Spring Training. That’s not quite as taxing as playing everyday in the field. He’s going to need to get his a-bats.”
- On possibly playing first base: “That will be a conversation I have when he gets here. I want to see his face (and his reaction). He said he’s willing to do whatever he can to help us.”
- On expectations: “I haven’t really put any numbers on it. I said this earlier: I think it’s fair to give him a fair number of at-bats before you start to judge where he might be at just because he’s played 44 games in two years and did not play last year, and I think it’s going to take him a good part of Spring Training just to get his timing down.”
- On being a distraction: “One of the things I learned in 1996 when I came here is this is a different place. It’s different when you put on a New York Yankees uniform. You are with one of the most recognizable companies in the world. That’s part of the gig here … For the new players that are here, they’re going to get it right away … If you’re with the New York Yankees you need to learn how to deal with situations like that.”
Girardi also said the Yankees could opt to send A-Rod to minor league camp some days so he could get more work in. Minor league camp is pretty informal, he could leadoff every inning and get way more at-bats then he could in regular Grapefruit League games. Long story short, Girardi has no idea what to expect from Alex on the field and they need to see him in camp before finalizing any plans.
These press conferences are usually a little light and upbeat, especially early in Spring Training, but Girardi seemed pretty serious when asked about A-Rod being a distraction. His answer about players needing to be able to deal with it while playing for the Yankees was firm. He didn’t beat around the bush. Girardi knows it’s going to be a distraction and he expects his players to deal with it like professionals.
On Priorities In Camp
- The rotation: “I think getting the rotation ironed out, seeing how all these guys fit and how it affects the bullpen guys who will begin Spring Training as a starting pitcher, who can possibly push their way into the rotation.”
- The lineup: “Figuring out our batting order I think is something important. There’s some people we don’t know exactly where they’re at.” (Meaning A-Rod, physically.)
- Picking a closer and possibly using co-closers: “I think you could do that. Would you like to iron it out? Sure. I think you have to see how people react in those situations. A number of guys I think are capable of closing, but I think (both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller) are more than capable.”
- Competition in general: “I think there’s probably a little more open competition (than most years). I’ll try to reiterate to our players on a constant basis you’re not going to impress me the first day of camp, not going to impress me first week of camp.”
Girardi mentioned most of the competition in camp will be for specific roles and not necessarily roster spots. Aside from the last bullpen spot, the roster is mostly set right now. They have just to figure out who goes where in terms of the batting order and bullpen, specifically.
These are the sort of things that can’t be ironed out until the very end of camp too. Early on, players need to get their timing back and get back into the swing of playing. They’re not — or shouldn’t be, anyway — trying to put up big numbers the first few weeks of camp. After a few weeks of games the coaching staff will be better able to slot people into roles. Right now, they have to focus on getting ready. Late-March is when Girardi has to put together the roster puzzle.
On The Rotation
- On CC Sabathia: “Until you really get him into the rigors of pitching every fifth day, and possibly going three or four turns on regular rest, you’re not really sure how that knee is going to fare. We feel good about it and we feel good about where he’s at.”
- On Masahiro Tanaka: “I think you can say the same thing about Tanaka. What he’s went through is not really uncommon. There have been a lot of pitchers who have pitched a substantial amount of time (with the same injury) before something had to happen.”
- On keeping tabs on Tanaka in the offseason: “They would communicate through (head trainer) Stevie Donohue. I would keep in contact with Stevie and see how Masahiro was doing. Its difficult because he’s not pitching in games in the offseason. A lot of us feel great in the offseason. It’s the second week in camp we start to feel sore.”
- On Nathan Eovaldi: “We expect him to be one of our starters and be extremely productive and mature as a pitcher and develop as a pitcher. (He’s a guy) who can be a workhorse for you and give you valuable innings. We expect him to be a big part of our rotation.”
- On a potential six-man rotation: “It’s something that we will talk about. As far as having a six-man rotation all the time, no. But if you get into long situations where you play 18 games in a row, could we inject a (sixth starter) to give the guys extra rest. Absolutely.”
Girardi also mentioned they are pleased with Ivan Nova‘s progress during his rehab from Tommy John surgery and there are no restrictions for Tanaka’s spring work. He’ll prepare like any other season. He didn’t say if the same is true for Sabathia because no one asked.
It was pretty clear from his tone that Girardi knows there is a lot of injury risk in the rotation and guys might not make it through camp in one piece. He also seems to know it’s pretty much out of his hands. The team followed doctor’s orders with Tanaka and Sabathia and if they say they’re healthy, they have to proceed accordingly. I like the idea of mixing in the occasional sixth starter earlier in the season much better than a straight up six-man rotation too.
- On leadership without Derek Jeter: “I think within a clubhouse you can have one person who is considered the leader, but I think there are fractions of that as well (meaning a bullpen leader, a rotation leader, etc.) … I think you’ll have guys step up in different areas. I think there’s enough veteran presence and leadership qualities that guys will just handle it.”
- On expectations: “I think you come into Spring Training every year with the goal to win and be the best you can be as a club. There are a lot of things we need to iron out. Probably more than I can remember. Some of it because of injury and some of it because of new faces. I think this team has a chance to be really good.”
- On other teams in the AL East: “Oh I think you obviously pay attention to what other teams are doing. What you realize over a 162-game schedule is there’s a lot of things that have to go right for you to be the winner at the end … Sometimes just everything pretty much goes according to plan.”
Yeah, the Yankees are due for one of those years where everything goes pretty much according to plan.