Yankees recall Chad Moeller, shift Nick Johnson to 60-day DL

Via Jack Curry, the Yankees have recalled catcher Chad Moeller from Triple-A Scranton to help carry the load while Jorge Posada is out with a hairline fracture in a his foot. Nick Johnson was shifted to the 60-day disabled list to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. The 35-year-old Moeller was signed to a minor league deal at the end of Spring Training to mentor top prospect Jesus Montero in Scranton, and he’s hit just .207-.233-.310 in limited playing this year.

You probably remember Moeller from his 2008 stint with the team, when he hit .231-.311-.330 in 103 plate appearances. Frankie Cervelli figures to get the majority of the playing time behind the plate now, and I assume P.J. Pilittere will take Moeller’s spot in SWB.

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Rosenthal: NJ to undergo surgery

According to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, Nick Johnson will undergo surgery on his right wrist. The Yanks’ erstwhile DH will be out until at least July as he recovers from the procedure. Over the weekend, we reported that the odds on Nick’s needing surgery were around 50 percent, and apparently, his wrist did not respond to a cortisone shot. Johnson, off to a slow start during his second stint for the Yanks, was hitting .167/.388/.306 before the injury, and the Yankees will now turn to Juan Miranda and a rotating list of veterans to fill the designated hitter hole. The Yanks’ lineup, as I wrote last week, is better off with a set DH, and I have to wonder if Brian Cashman is at all tempted to kick the tires on this guy.

For Nick and the Yankees, a wrist injury is both not surprising and very disappointing. If one major injury has plagued Johnson throughout his injury-plagued career, it has involved his right wrist. He missed the entire 2000 season with a right wrist injury and had surgery on the same wrist in 2008. He also suffered a left wrist injury in 2002 that carried over to 2003. Without strength in his bottom hand, the left-handed Johnson may find it hard to hit for much power if he returns later this summer.

Update (4:15 p.m.): Making this news official, the Yankees have confirmed surgery for Johnson. He’ll undergo the procedure tomorrow, and the team anticipates that it will be at least four to six weeks before Johnson resumes baseball activities. “This is not a quick fix,” Joe Girardi said to reporters. “This is going to be a while.”

Injury Updates: Chan Ho Park & Nick Johnson

Finally, some good injury news. Prior to this afternoon’s game, GM Brian Cashman confirmed that Chan Ho Park would be activated off the disabled list in time for tomorrow’s game. He’s been on the DL for just about a month with a hamstring issue, but apparently he’s good to go after make two rehab appearances (one in Extended Spring Training, one in Triple-A) last week. With Al Aceves on the shelf for the foreseeable future, getting CHoP back is going to be a nice boost to a bullpen that been pretty shaky before the 8th inning.

Meanwhile, the news for Nick Johnson isn’t as promising. He received a cortisone shot in his wrist, and there’s only a 50% chance that it’ll take care of the inflamed tendon. If it doesn’t, he’ll have to go under the knife, which means 4-6 weeks before he could even pick up a bat. They’ll know whether he needs surgery or not within ten days or so. Just putting it all together, Johnson might not be back until August if he has surgery since he’ll need time for a minor league rehab assignment and what not.

Johnson to miss several weeks with inflammation

Via Marc Carig, an MRI revealed tendon inflammation in Nick Johnson‘s right wrist. He received a cortisone shot, and is expected to miss several weeks according to GM Brian Cashman. Hopefully several weeks translates into two to four, and not say, six to eight. Once Juan Miranda heals up (he took a pitch off the elbow a few days ago, and hasn’t played since), I expect that he’ll come up for his first extended look at the big league level.

Yanks have a bit of an injury mess

In the past few days the Yankees have had to deal with a number of injuries. Most of them have been mild in nature, but that still causes problems for the roster. In fact, mild injuries can cause more problems than DL trips in some cases, because the player is not available and there is no one to take his place on the roster. Right now the Yankees have three players nursing injuries who won’t hit the DL, so that’s three inactive roster spots. It can make managing the lineup and bullpen a bit tricky.

The Yankees do have options, though, and will likely make a number of moves during the next few days to keep their roster up to speed. The moves will include recalling an infielder tomorrow, and then probably an outfielder early next week. They’ll need an extra OF if Marcus Thames is going to take more reps at DH. Let’s start with what they’ll do tomorrow.

Send down: David Robertson or Boone Logan. Recall: Kevin Russo

Marc Carig reports that the Yankees have scheduled no tests on Robinson Cano‘s knee, so chances are he’ll just sit out a day or two. The Yanks could probably get by with just four infielders, but it’s probably advisable to have a backup. Kevin Russo makes the most sense, since he can play all infield positions and is already on the 40-man roster. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t happen tomorrow.

The Yankees currently have 13 pitchers, which is two too many. Logan and Robertson pitched last night, so they’re the most likely to go on an optional assignment. Mike wrote about demoting Robertson yesterday. Boone Logan writes about his own demotion every time he walks a batter.

Disabled list: Nick Johnson. Recall: Greg Golson

The Yankees sent down Golson before today’s game, meaning that under normal circumstances he’d have to spend 10 days in the minors. With the injury to Johnson, though, the Yankees can bring him right back. If, as Carig reports, they’ll use Thames at DH, they’ll need a reserve outfielder. Golson is the best option right now.

Possible alternative: Moeller instead of Russo or Golson

Both Golson and Russo are really just emergency options. They’re nice to have around, and the Yankees have the flexibility to keep them around as insurance. They could, however, opt to give Jorge some reps at DH. That way they can get his bat into the lineup without risking his legs by playing him at catcher. That would require a third catcher, which would be Chad Moeller.

This is something I can see happening after the need for Russo expires. Once Cano is back to playing the Yanks don’t need two utility infielders, so Russo will likely head back to Scranton. That does leave a roster spot free. The Yankees could opt to recall Chad Moeller as Francisco Cervelli‘s backup and give Jorge reps against righties at DH. They could even ease him back into catching, making sure that his leg issues really are behind him.

Alternative two: Option Russo, recall Miranda

If the Yankees are prepared to let Jorge return to catching full-time, they could opt to replace Russo with a platoon partner with Thames at DH. I like this just about as little as I like carrying a third catcher. Miranda can back up Teixeira at first, and Thames can play the OF if need be, but neither presents a good option. Then again, with these injuries that doesn’t come as a surprise.

I’d probably support recalling Moeller more, because it provides the added bonus of getting Jorge’s bat into the lineup while making sure his calf is ready for the rigors of squatting for an hour and a half each night. Also, Miranda hasn’t played since May 4, so there might be something there.

Rain? That might help

There is rain in the forecast today, and while I’m not normally one to hope for a washout, it might not be the worst thing in this case. Rescheduling this afternoon’s game as a doubleheader later in the year accomplishes a few things.

  1. It pushes the whole rotation back a day. CC would pitch on Sunday, and then Burnett would go Monday against the Tigers. Vazquez could then go Tuesday as scheduled, followed by Hughes on Wednesday. Could Andy Pettitte pitch on Thursday? I doubt it, but there’s a non-zero chance.
  2. It gives Jorge and Robbie a free day. It sounds like Jorge could catch today, but giving him another day couldn’t hurt, especially if there’s no game to win that day. Cano won’t play today, so a rainout will only help there.
  3. It means no Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

No one likes to see injuries, especially ones to key players. The Yankees have weathered a few trips to the infirmary this year, but they’re in an even tougher spot now. They do have options, though they’re starting to get a bit thin.

Johnson, Cano leave game with injuries

10:36pm: Johnson appears headed to the disabled list. For shame.

10:29pm: Cano’s knee is sore, and he’s day-to-day, but Johnson is going back to New York to have tests performed on his wrist, which is not a good sign at all. There will be a callup before tomorrow’s game; my money is on Kevin Russo given his impressive Spring Training showing and versatility.

8:48pm: As if the Yankees need another injury, Nick Johnson was pinch hit for in the 5th inning of tonight’s game because of a sore right wrist. It’s the same wrist he had surgery on in 2008, which caused him to spend 137 total days on the disabled list.

Meanwhile, Robbie Cano took a fastball off the left knee in the 6th inning, and left the game as well. Jorge Posada missed a handful of games two weeks ago after a similar HBP. We’ll update this post with more info as it comes.

Yanks sweep O’s, improve to 19-8

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

After the Yanks got through seven innings with a 6-1 lead, I thought I’d rest my eyes for the last couple of innings. Unfortunately, the speculation about Andy Pettitte‘s early exit raged, and it kept my attention. I was both glad that I saw the action, but enraged because the Yanks bullpen let Baltimore back into the game. When Al Aceves recorded the final out the O’s had the tying run on base.

Pettitte will likely miss his next start with inflammation in his left elbow, though no one appears to think it’s that serious. Look for the Sergio Mitre Experience on Tuesday against Detroit.

Biggest Hit: Johnson gets it started

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

In a game where one team takes a big lead early, we typically don’t see much fluctuation on the WPA leader board. There was no definitive play in this game, no at-bat that turned things around. The Yanks’ offense got going from the beginning, and Nick Johnson started it all. He got all of David Hernandez’s second offering, sending it all the way into the second deck. The ball left in a hurry, too. It might have been the hardest hit ball by any Yankee this year.

Johnson went 3 for 3 on the day while drawing two walks. He got thrown out at the plate on a close play in the third, but did score in the fourth on Mark Teixeira‘s two-RBI double. It’s too early to say that Johnson has shed his slump, but a day like this can be nothing but encouraging.

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Honorable Mentions: Swisher’s jack, Teixeira’s double

While Nick Johnson wasted no time in pulverizing a Hernandez pitch, the other half of the New York Nicks characteristically took his time. He watched the first four pitches, leading to a 3-1 count. Hernandez threw a fastball on the outside edge, but Swisher got all of it, rocketing it into the right field seats for the Yankees second run of the game.

Mark Hendrickson came in to relieve Hernandez with two outs in the fourth, which flipped Teixeira to the right side. Hendrickson opened with a curveball that missed high, and then threw another one that crossed the middle of the plate. Tex crushed it to right center, out of the range of fill-in center fielder Lou Montanez. Since there were two outs both Jeter and Johnson scored, which put the Yanks ahead 6-1. At that point they had scored in each of the first four innings.

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Biggest Pitch: Pettitte walks in a run

Elbow issues can wreak havoc on a pitcher’s control. Only 46 of Pettitte’s 77 pitches were strikes, 60 percent. That’s below where usually sits. It resulted in only two walks, though they both proved costly. With one out in the fourth Pettitte battled through an at-bat with Garrett Atkins, throwing seven pitches. The last was a misplaced cutter for ball four. That loaded the bases. It was the first time in 2010 that Pettitte faced a bases loaded situation.

Pettitte then went to work on Matt Wieters, dropping a curve on the low-outside corner for strike one. He then came back with an inside fastball which Wieters fouled off, putting him in an 0-2 hole. After a fastball out of the zone and a fouled-off cutter, Pettitte delivered a fastball up and in, and Wieters couldn’t hold up. Like Burnett the night before, Pettitte had struck out a batter at a crucial moment, with a runner on third and less than two outs.

Nolan Reimold then came to the plate, and Pettitte started him off the same way as Wieters, with a curveball on the low-outside corner for a called strike one. He missed with his next two pitches, both fastballs, before getting a called strike on a low and away fastball. After a foul on and up and in fastball, Pettitte missed low with his next two pitches, a cutter then a fastball, to walk in the Orioles first run. He came right back to finish the Orioles there, and then induced a ground ball double play to end the fifth. He might have been a bit off, but it didn’t seem like anything serious…

Gardner just keeps hitting

Heading into the season many were uneasy with the prospect of Brett Gardner starting in left field. That tends to happen with small guys who don’t hit for power. We’ve seen so many of them flop that we’ve come to expect it. I can’t tell you how many emails I got this winter saying that Gardner was nothing more than a fourth outfielder, and he’d be lucky to stick in that role for a few years. So far, though, Gardner has done nothing but silence his critics.

After his 1 for 3 performance today, which included a walk, Gardner is hitting .346/.430/.432. Of the 40 times he’s been on base he’s attempted 14 steals and has been successful 13 times. He’s cut down on his strikeouts, a good sign for a guy who was overpowered at times last year, and is walking more. He won’t keep hitting at this level, but even if he cools off a bit he’ll be an immensely valuable player for the Yankees this season.

Oh, and he leads AL left fielders in wOBA.

Bullpen meltdown averted

The worst part of this game, clearly, came at the end, when the Yankees’ bullpen allowed four runs in the final two innings. Sergio Mitre, in his third inning of work, left two sinkers up in the zone, and Ty Wigginton crushed the second for a two-run homer. That’ll happen. Mitre isn’t exactly stretched out at this point, at least in terms of endurance. That happens when the pitching staff rarely needs a long man. The damage was minimal, though. Girardi immediately changed pitchers. Marte and Robertson finished off the inning.

Robertson came out to start the ninth, a move I applauded at the time. He hasn’t gotten a chance for consistent work this season, and it shows in the results. With a 7-3 lead and just three outs to go, it seemed like a perfect situation. He retired Garrett Atkins on three pitches to start the inning, but then came trouble. With Matt Wieters batting from his strong side, Robertson delivered six straight fastballs. Why he didn’t go with a breaking ball at any point I have no idea. The last one was thigh high across the middle of the plate, so of course Wieters deposited it in the second deck in right.

The next batter, Nolan Reimold, saw six pitches, five of which were fastballs. The lone curveball was actually a decent offering, dropping low and outside but just below the zone. Robertson then got Reimold to chase a high-inside pitch for strike two, missed high with a fastball for ball three, and then actually ran a pitch off the plate inside. Reimold got out in front of it, though, and crushed it off the foul pole in left. That was it for Robertson, but Al Aceves came on to finish the game.

WPA Graph

Were you worried? The graph says we shouldn’t have been worried. I was worried for a bit, though.

Next Up

The team gets an off-day tomorrow before heading up to Boston. Who the hell approves these schedules? First, second, and last Yanks-Sox series are in Boston. Anyway, it’ll be on YES at 7 p.m. Friday evening. Phil Hughes vs. Josh Beckett.