Friday, August 19, 2011

Yankees notes as they get their third baseman back with the team

Alex Rodriguez is in the clubhouse and on the field, but he won’t be in the lineup until Saturday at the earliest.  He is now continuing his rehab but doing conditioning and working on his defense and running.  He feels his swing is fine and that is why he left Scranton.  Interesting thing to watch is that in his time in Scranton he took top hitting prospect Jesus Montero under his wing.  He invited him to Miami to work out in the offseason and the coaches down there are really hoping for him to get called up soon and be happy with the challenge.  They think he is getting bored down in AAA because he has basically conquered the competition. 

“We’re shooting for this weekend, trying to be optimistic about that,” he said. “The one thing that I’m lacking the most is first-step quickness and defense, and opening up my gait and really trying to make good turns going home to second or first to third. Today we did a little bit of that, and tomorrow we’ll have another session.”

“If I felt like hitting was the one thing I felt most behind, it would probably be most productive to be down either in Tampa or Scranton getting a bunch of at-bats,” Rodriguez said. “But this is a situation that’s a little bit rare where conditioning is the most important thing and fielding is the most important thing, and those are things I can do here with our staff.”

Those pregame drills at third base were fairly intense, and Rodriguez went through two different conditioning sessions with strength coach Dana Cavalea. He ran this afternoon — “Opened up my gait as much as I have post-op,” Rodriguez said — and he was planning to doing a spinning session on a weight room bike after his media session.

Joe Girardi didn’t go into detail, but it’s clear that he’s mapped out a loose plan for how to use Rodriguez through the first week or so. It will probably include semi-regular DH games, gradually giving him more and more time in the field.

When he gets back in the lineup, Rodriguez expects to show the kind of power that was missing in the two or three weeks before he went on the DL.

“I’m able to lean back on my swing,” he said. “Kevin (Long) and I worked today, and every swing hurt a lot before going on the DL, so therefore I had to get off my back side and really jump out to the front side and really become more of a handsy hitter. In order to hit for power, you always have to lean back, and that’s the feeling I feel like I’m getting back to.”

Girardi was obviously frustrated and disappointed to learn that he was right and the umpires were wrong last night. He should have protested the game, but he trusted that the umpires — both crew chief Dana DeMuth and home plate umpire Chad Fairchild — knew the Kansas City ground rules better than he did.

“When two separate umpires on two different accounts tell you that, ‘No, that’s what we said, it’s a home run,’ I believe them,” Girardi said. “Maybe I don’t need to be so trustworthy next time.”

Girardi said he told the umpires that Mick Kelleher had been told the opposite — that a ball like Butler’s shouldn’t be a home run — but both umpires told him that they had clarified the rule after talking to Kelleher. Girardi said he won’t be so hesitant to question a similar situation in the future.

“I’ll be protesting every night,” he said.

 Freddy Garcia’s attempt to finally throw a splitfinger was pushed back yet again. At this point, it seems that starting on Sunday is a serious question, and Girardi said it’s entirely possible that Garcia could land on the disabled list. With the move retroactive, Garcia could be activated early next week.

Phil Hughes starts tomorrow and A.J. Burnett on Saturday. Ivan Nova will start Sunday if Garcia can’t make that start.

 Nick Swisher is just getting a half day off at designated hitter. He’s not hurt.  Joe Girardi likes doing this to keep his players fresh.

 Joba Chamberlain is with the Yankees during this series. He showed up because he started a weight lifting program today. “It feels really good,” he said. Everything is on schedule for Chamberlain, and he thinks he could begin throwing, “in a couple of weeks.”

 By the way, Chamberlain had two stomach surgeries this summer. He had his appendix out, and just a couple days later he was still hurting, and doctors discovering infection. Chamberlain was in the hospital for two weeks with a tube in his right side draining the infection. “I would rather have about 10 Tommy Johns than two stomach surgeries,” Chamberlain said. “That was no fun.”

 Chamberlain really does look a little bit thinner than when he left. He said he’s been able to work out some, and he’s been able to stay active outside. He said he feels terrific. “I’ve been tossing around a 5-year-old,” he said. “So I think that’s probably the best rehab you can do.”

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