Curtis Granderson, who suffered a fractured right forearm as he was hit by a pitch the first game of spring training, will be called up from the team’s AAA affiliate, the Scranton RailRiders, today. He is one of 10 players currently on the disabled list.
It appears that Ben Francisco is going to be the player who will be designated for assignment once Granderson officially gets called up. Francisco deserves to be the outfielder to lose a spot on the team as he was only hitting .128 with one homer in 39 at bats. He was brought in after Granderson’s injury in spring training, but Francisco has not produced offensively as the Yankees had hoped.
Actually, Vidal Nuno, who pitched five shutout innings in the second game of the doubleheader yesterday, will be sent back down to the minors. Granderson’s return will improve the outfield depth and also mean that Travis Hafner will not have to play everyday at Designated Hitter.
The Yankees will now have four outfielders for three spots. Brett Gardner, (.252 and 5 steals) Ichiro Suzuki, (.254, 8 RBI and 5 steals) Vernon Wells (.299, 9 homers and 22 RBI) and Granderson (.232, 43 homers and 106 RBI) are the four outfielders who will be competing.
In five rehab games with the Scranton RailRiders, Granderson hit .400 with one homer and three RBI. This display proves that there is no point using his solid hitting in the minors instead of with the Yankees. During his game with Scranton on Monday, Granderson went 1-3 while playing left field for the RailRiders.
Wells has proven to be a great find by Cashman since the team desperately needed another outfielder coming out of spring training and he has basically been about to revert to the All-Star form he showed with the Blue Jays. He was injured for most of his time with the Angels.
He has been the team’s center fielder the previous three seasons, and has hit more than 40 homers in each of the past two seasons, so he deserves to play nearly everyday in the outfield. An added benefit is that Granderson played the three outfield positions in AAA, which gives Joe Girardi some flexibility. By virtue of his start to the season, Vernon Wells should continue to play everyday in left field.
That leaves Gardner and Ichiro to split time for the remaining outfield spots. Ichiro currently does not have a hit in his last 12 at bats, which should lead to the speedy Gardner getting more of the playing time. The Yankees also need Gardner to wreak havoc on the base paths like he is capable of doing. The outfield trio of Wells, Granderson and Gardner will give the Yankees a solid mix of power, defense and speed.
The only thing that Granderson will have to try and do is to limit his strikeouts since he had 195 last season.
Granderson will officially be back in the lineup tonight batting cleanup and playing left field.
The Yankees concluded the three game set against the Houston Astros with a 5-4 victory. Mariano Rivera picked up his eleventh save in 11 chances helping the Yankees improve to an impressive 17-10 record on the season.
A sweep of the three game set against the Astros, who are currently 8-20, would have been ideal, but even though the Astros do not have the most imposing offense Andy Pettitte was due for an off game on Monday. He came into the contest with an excellent ERA of 2.22, reminding fans of the way Pettitte pitched earlier in his career, but his ERA now sits at 3.86.
The Yankees currently have a grand total of eight regulars on the DL, which makes it even more impressive that they have 17 wins in their first 27 games. Brian Cashman should get a lot of credit for acquiring players before the team left Florida who have been able to replace the starters in an exemplary manner so far.
One of Cashman’s off-season signings, Ben Francisco, has not worked out like his others so far, but he did hit a solo home run in the third inning that would help the Bronx Bombers take a 4-0 early advantage. Francisco was brought to the Yankees to provide a productive righty bat off the bench, so hopefully his walk and homer will help him be more productive.
Ichiro was the only Yankee with two hits and Robinson Cano hit his eighth home run of the season. That solo homer by Cano was his 185th of his career, which ties Paul O’Neil for 17th place on the all-time list of the storied franchise. Besides Francisco and Cano, the other runs were scored by Ichiro, Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez.
David Phelps, who made his first start of the campaign, as a result of Ivan Nova being put on the disabled list, allowed four runs in 5.2 innings. He fell apart in the fourth inning as he hit two batters and allowed all four of Houston’s runs, but was successfully able to limit any further damage in the fifth inning.
As has happened many times the past few weeks the bullpen was basically flawless. Over 3.1 innings, the trio of Boone Logan, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for four strikeouts, two hits and no runs. This excellent relief pitching should last all season, but is even more necessary while the Yankees are without their offensive stars.
However, Vernon Wells (.298 and 6 homers), Lyle Overbay (4 homers), Travis Hafner (.304 and 17 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis when he was healthy, have performed better than expected and have been instrumental in the team getting off to the start that they have. It seems like Curtis Granderson will return to the Yankees in about two-three weeks after after a rehab stint with about 50 at-bats.
Granderson’s return will present a dilemma for manager Joe Girardi because they will have four quality starters for three outfield spots. It will depend on who stays hot, but Ichiro will likely be put into a platoon as a result of how much Wells is helping offensively.
The Yankees have an off day on Thursday and then conclude the 10 game home stand with a three game series against the Oakland Athletics. It will be their first series of the year agains Oakland who has the seventh best record in the league (16-13).
Update: On Wednesday, The Yankees acquired Chris Nelson, who can play second and third base, from the Rockies for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He was hitting .242, with six runs scored and four RBI so far this season. He is a former first-round pick in 2004 who was recently designated for assignment by the Rockies. He will be able to give Cano or Jayson Nix a day off, which the Yankees were not able to do previously with their injury situation.
One can hope that the opening day starter, CC Sabathia, can repeat his stats from last season, where he picked 15 wins, had a 3.38 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Luckily, Sabathia did not show any signs of losing his stuff or velocity last season. One can also be optimistic that the injured stars on the team – Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes – will not have any setbacks in their recovery or will even return to health in a faster manner. Finally, the Yankees will need to hope that that their very experienced replacements in the Opening Day lineup will be able to perform capably, while not repeating the stats that they put forth last season. In the Opening Day lineup against the rival Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez will be replacing Jeter at shortstop, Vernon Wells will be filing in for Granderson in left field and Kevin Youkilis will be replacing Teixeira at first base (he is also expected to play third base).
Alex Rodriguez is also injured as a result of having to get surgery on his hip, but I don’t consider him a star anymore. Youkilis, who was brought to the Yankees after it was determined that A-Rod would return no earlier than July, could be just as good if he can turn back the clock. Youkilis will hopefully be able to duplicate his performance from 2011 when he hit .258 and drove in 80 runs for the Red Sox.
This is the Opening Day lineup that the Yankees will send out against the Red Sox in the Bronx at 1:05 p.m.
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Francisco Cervelli C