A special Saturday good morning Fackers. How you feeling today? Shaking out the cobwebs from a rough Friday? If you are, you're in good company. Not with me of course, but with the Yankees. Except they're not hungover (not to my knowledge at least); it's more like death by a thousand paper cuts for them. Two more injuries last night to add to the ever-growing list of the walking wounded. Let's get you caught up on the comings and goings.
Firstly, before the game, the club made it official: Andy Pettitte will be skipped on his next turn through the rotation. Pettitte wasn't happy about it, and that's understandable. But at nearly 38 years old and with a history of arm problems, there's no need to tempt fate in May. When Pettitte got a little ornery about being skipped due to injury last year, we speculated that it might have something to do with the innings and roster incentives in his contract. His contract has no such clauses this year, so there's question about the lefty's motives this time around.
As expected, Sergio Mitre will make a spot start in Pettitte's stead. However, Mitre will start Monday, pushing Javier Vazquez into Pettitte's slot on Tuesday. The off day on Thursday ensures that Mitre, who threw 29 pitches in 2.1 innings of relief on Wednesday, will make hist start on a full four days of rest. Pushing Vazquez back lines him up to start the first interleague game at Citi Field on May 21st. Vazquez is the most experienced hitter amongst the Yankees' starters, and he's posted fair batting numbers over his career.
As we mentioned in yesterday's preview, Mitre's spot start has left the bullpen a man short. As such, outfielder Greg Golson was optioned out before yesterday's game, replaced by Romulo Sanchez. The big righty has been knocked around through five starts in Scranton this year. He was Scranton's scheduled starter last night; Kei Igawa got the spot start in his stead.
I understand the desire to have a full bullpen for a series at Fenway. However, even before last night's injuries, the Yankees had a short roster with the injuries to Pettitte and Jorge Posada. They also have their three best starters lined up for the series. Is sending out yet another position player in exchange for thirteenth pitcher really the best use of the roster spot?
That question becomes all the more pressing in light of the injuries the Yankees suffered during last night's game. In the fifth inning, Marcus Thames pinch hit for designated hitter Nick Johnson. Not because the Sox brought a lefty into the game, they hadn't. But because Johnson has been battling a sore wrist for sometime and felt that he had no strength in it. As Jay pointed out in the recap, given Johnson's injury history - including missing much of 2008 with a wrist injury - many fans are already calling the Johnson signing a bust. Let's wait at least until his MRI results come in until we start jumping to conclusions.
In the sixth inning, as Josh Beckett's control abandoned him, Robinson Cano took a nasty HBP on the inside of his left knee. He hobbled down the line to take his base, but lasted just a single pinch before he signaled for a pinch runner.
Johnson will be DL'd today. But with Cano likely unavailable, the club will recall another infielder rather than someone to replace Johnson as DH. Scranton infielders Kevin Russo, Reegie Corona, and Eduardo Nunez are all on the 40 man roster. Speculation is that Russo will get the nod and I think that's the right move. Not only has Russo been on fire of late (.357/.400/.548 over his last ten games), he's made appearances in center field and right field over the last week. He's likely the best offensive option of the three infielders at AAA, and with the Yankee outfield still being short in the wake of the Granderson injury and Golson demotion, Russo's versatility could be of value at this point as well.
Once Cano is back to full strength, the extra infielder will likely be sent down in favor of a better bat. That bat will most likely be Juan Miranda, who's hitting .267/.369/.465 at Scranton. However, Miranda has missed the last two games after taking an HBP on the elbow Tuesday. Apparently the injury bug has made it's way to Scranton as well.
I'm sure the picture will be a bit clearer closer to game time. We'll have further updates in the preview.