Quick Hits: Kuroda, Aardsma, Lineup

Good news from Joe Giradi, who says that Hiroki Kuroda is scheduled to make his next start. The pitcher’s hand was grazed by a line drive in the second inning last night, and clearly had some difficulty throwing the ball after. The Yankees pulled him from the game, and we know that we’re just dealing with bruising, but missing a start was still a possibility. Kuroda is scheduled to pitch Monday afternoon against the Indians in Cleveland.

The Yankees have also officially unconditionally released David Aardsma. The reliever was a victim of the 40-man roster crunch, despite completing his recovery from Tommy John surgery successfully. The Yankees could still offer him a minor league deal, but Aardsma was probably pitching well enough to get some looks for major league bullpens.

Finally, tonight’s lineup courtesy of Chad Jennings.
Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Francisco Cervelli C

Andy Pettitte will take the mound against Ryan Dempster as the Yankees look for their first win of the year. The game starts at 7:05 PM and you can catch it on YES or the MLB Network.

It’s Minor League Opening Day!


While the Yankees’ big league club is already a couple games into the season, their full-season minor league counterparts get started today. In a year where the Yankees are already struggling with age and injuries and some of their most promising prospects are starting to get close to the Bronx, it should be a good year to keep an eye on New York’s farm system. If you need a break from the big league games, here are the minors games on tap for MiLB Opening Day, along with some minor league predictions from the crew here and some links in case you missed some of our Spring Training minors coverage.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders v. Pawtucket Red Sox (7:05pm):
After a year on the road, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate kicks off 2013 in grand style. Not only will they finally get to play a game at home, but it will be their first game as the newly christened RailRiders and in the newly renovated PNC Field. Vidal Nuno will get the start for Scranton, who will have a tough job in front of them as they take on last year’s International League Champs, the Pawtucket Red Sox. If you missed our Scranton/Wilkes-Barre preview check it out here.

Trenton Thunder v. Portland Sea Dogs (6:00pm):
The Thunder will be the first Yankees’ affiliate to take the field in 2013, as they kick off their 20th season. Much like Scranton, they will face off against their Boston counterpart, the Portland Sea Dogs. Nik Turley will get the ball for Trenton, who may be the team to watch this season. Their starting outfield featuring Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores and Tyler Austin should have a lot of Eastern League competitors worried. If you missed our Trenton Thunder preview check it out here.

Tampa Yankees v. Lakeland Flying Tigers (7:00pm):
The Yankees, who are the only affiliate to not kick off 2013 with a game against a Red Sox team, boast a couple of players who have graced the first position in various Yankees Top Prospects lists this off-season. Mason Williams will start the year roaming the Tampa outfield, while Gary Sanchez will be behind the plate. With Angelo Gumbs at second and pitchers like Bryan Mitchell and Nick Goody, Tampa should start the year strong. If you missed our Tampa Yankees preview check it out here.

Charleston RiverDogs v. Greenville Drive (7:05pm):
The RiverDogs saw a lot of great prospects work their way through the Sally League last season, yet they ended the season with a disappointing record and short of a playoff spot. This year’s roster may not have quite as many recognizable names (yet), but there is plenty of potential in this crowd. Cito Culver and Dante Bichette, Jr. will garner a lot of attention, but keep your eyes on players like Peter O’Brien, Robert Refsnyder, Gregory Bird, Rafael De Paula and Jose Campos. If you missed our Charleston RiverDogs preview check it out here.

It was so much fun making predictions for the Majors this year, we decided to test our prophetic skills on the Yankees’ prospects. Feel free to give us some of your own predictions in the comments.

MontgomeryTamar Chalker:
Minor league hitter of the year: Ramon Flores
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Zoilo Almonte
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Dante Bichette
Most likely to be traded: Adam Warren
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery

E.J. Fagan:
Minor league hitter of the year: Gary Sanchez
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Angelo Gumbs
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Dante Bichette
Most likely to be traded: Brett Marshall
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Austin Romine

Stacey Gotsulias:
Minor league hitter of the year: Gary Sanchez
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Slade Heathcott
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Dante Bichette
Most likely to be traded: Brett Marshall
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery

Slade Heathcott - Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)
Matt Imbrogno:
Minor League Hitter of the Year: Tyler Austin–continues to pair contact and power in thrilling way.
Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Slade Heathcott–more injuries
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: J.R. Murphy
Most likely to be traded: Austin Romine
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Cesar Cabral (does that count?)

Domenic Lanza:
Minor league hitter of the year: Slade Heathcott
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Rafael De Paula
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Austin Romine
Most likely to be traded: Brett Marshall
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery
Domenic also predicts that he “will have nocturnal emissions dreaming about Angelo Gumbs’ bat speed.” I think we will have to take his word on this one.

MustelierWilliam Tasker:
Minor league hitter of the year:
Ronnier Musterlier – too bad he isn’t doing it for the Yankees like he should be.
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Gary Sanchez
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Austin Romine
Most likely to be traded: J.R. Murphy or Austin Romine
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Thomas Neal

Brad Vietrogoski:
Minor league hitter of the year: Gary Sanchez
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Campos
Prospect who disappoints the most: Rafael DePaula
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: J.R. Murphy
Most likely to be traded: David Adams
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery

Finally, to get you truly ready for the first day of Minor League baseball, here are a few more posts you may have missed:
Are We Systemically Overrrating Yankee Pitching Prospects, Underrating Yankee Hitting Prospects?
The Right and Wrong Ways to Think About Prospect Hugging
IIATMS Top 30 Prospects 2013

Afternoon Links: Cano v. Boras, Gardner’s Speed, And Plate Discipline

Not much Yankee news this afternoon, but we have a couple interesting pieces at least.

Tyler Kepner at The New York Times has some quotes from both Robinson Cano and Scott Boras on the second baseman’s agency change. Not much new is added to the conversation, but at least both sides are being cordial. Even Mark Teixeira chimes in, and explains his own decision to leave the Boras Corporation.

Jeff Sullivan took a look at some batter times to first base yesterday, and found that Brett Gardner was the fastest left-handed hitter going down the line. Yup, he was even faster than Carl Crawford.

Max Weinstein at Beyond The Box Score does the crunching and tries to find a correlation between age and plate discipline. Though the results are hardly significant, there are some really interesting numbers that point to better discipline after a player’s peak years. This doesn’t mean players are developing better eyes, but it’s more likely survivorship bias. Either way, the Yankees have an old team with some very good plate discipline, which is something to think about as you read the piece.

An IIATMS/TYA Public Service Announcement: Line Drives Up The Middle

Attention, pitchers.  Has this ever happened to you?


That’s Hiroki.  He’s 38 years old and he pitches for the New York Yankees.  Last night he found himself in the most perilous position a pitcher can be in.  He had a line drive coming right at him, and as he ducked out of the way he put up his bare hand to try to stop the ball.  In doing so, he made an already dangerous situation potentially more dangerous, both for him and his team.  Hiroki could have seriously injured his pitching hand trying to make a play like that, and in the process seriously injured his team’s chances of maintaining a strong starting rotation and winning baseball games.  Hiroki’s not the first pitcher to do this, but his case brings about the perfect opportunity to remind all pitchers out there about the safe, correct way to handle this situation.

What Hiroki should have done was not even bother trying to put any hand up in the first place.  It was bad enough that he had missed his spot with the pitch and thrown it over the heart of the plate where the hitter can square it up and hit it right back at him.  Exposing his bare hand to a ball coming back at him at that high a speed made the situation worse.  He could have broken his hand, or at least a finger, and he could have changed the trajectory of the ball and cost one of his teammates behind him a chance to cleanly field the ball and record an out.

But in the heat of the moment, pitchers don’t always think with a “safety first” mindset, and that’s understandable.  There’s another option that Hiroki had in this situation, another option that would have been safer, and smarter, than throwing his bare pitching hand up in the air.  What’s that option, you ask?  Why it’s simple; just put up his other hand with the baseball glove on it.  I know, it seems a little odd.  But trust me, a baseball glove can be used for more than just hiding your hand while you adjust your grip on the ball before throwing a pitch, or for hiding your mouth from wandering eyes while you talk to your catcher during visits to the mound.  It’s primary function is actually to catch baseballs, be they hard hit ones or softly hit ones, and it is designed to allow a baseball player to do so safely and correctly.  Had Hiroki remembered this during the play you see above, he might not only have been able to stay in the game, he might have even caught the ball and made an out.

Now Hiroki was lucky.  He only suffered a bruise to his right middle finger.  But not every pitcher is as lucky as Hiroki and that’s why it’s important to always remember these safety tips in a situation like this.  You may think that in a bang-bang, split-second play like the one Hiroki was in that you don’t have time to remember these safety tips.  Well that’s where you’re wrong.  There’s ALWAYS time for safety, even in situations where there might not even be enough time for your brain to process what’s happening.

So, pitchers.  The next time you find yourself in a situation where a line drive is coming right at you, remember these 3 rules:

1) Get out of the way so it doesn’t hit you.

2) Don’t even try to throw a hand up to catch the ball, especially not your bare hand.

3) If you must put a hand up to try to catch the ball, make sure it’s the hand with a baseball glove on it.

Remember these three things and you won’t have to leave a game early with an injury.  This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the men and women at IIATMS/TYA.


(GIF used courtesy of Mike Axisa/RAB.  Other photo courtesy of NBC, probably.)

Red Sox Add Insult To Injury In 7-4 Loss

Hiroki Kuroda was supposed to save us, but we got even more injury news tonight. He didn’t start today’s game particularly strong, but after taking a line drive to the throwing hand in the second inning, he completely lost his control. Kuroda gave up a walk and two hit by pitches almost immediately, and gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead before Joe Girardi gave him the hook. At the moment, he’s being diagnosed with a contusion to his middle finger, but X-Rays are being taken.

Cody Eppley came into relieve Kuroda, and immediately earned an inning ending double play to get out of the BB/HBP mess. Girardi left Eppley in for the third inning, but a number of well placed groundballs made it through the infield. Eppley gave up 4 earned runs in his 1.1 inning of work, but he didn’t look that terrible. The right-hander drew 5 ground balls, 1 strikeout, and 1 line drive, but the ground balls just couldn’t find fielders.

Adam Warren came in to relieve Eppley and was brilliant. He allowed two of Eppley’s base runners to score, but he only allowed one of his own runs to score over his 5.1 innings of work. He saved the bullpen and showed his capability at the major league level. Last year, Warren was given a start, and looked completely helpless. This Spring Training, he was equally awful. Tonight’s relief work was a big step in the right direction for a starter who’s already had two successful seasons at the Triple-A level.

The offense wasn’t as bad as we saw on Monday. The Yankees had 9 hits and 2 walks, 11 total base runners, but left 18(!) men on base. Fortunately  Travis Hafner hit the team’s first home run of the year to make things not so terrible. Kevin Youkilis had 2 hits of his own, and Nunez earned himself two singles and a walk. The star of the game was… Vernon Wells?! Wells looked good this Spring, but went hitless on Monday (although he technically hit a double that was called a foul mistakenly). Tonight, he went 3 for 4 with two singles and a big three run home run in the 8th inning. The left fielder is someone to keep a close eye on this April, as he’s made several adjustments, and could be an important piece if he ever gets back to the hitter he was before joining the Angels.

Despite the amount of ground ball singles, the defense had little to do with it. Balls just found holes, and even Kuroda saw his fair share of bloops in the first inning. Chris Stewart wasn’t too impressive behind the plate, although he did catch a popup over the visiting dugout in the 7th. Nunez again made a handful of great plays, showing off his range and a much improved arm. He did boot a ball in the 9th inning, but it was on one crazy hop. I used to cringe when the ball was hit to him, but now I’m thankful that it’s Nunez over Derek Jeter, though he’s no replacement with the bat.

The Yankees play the Red Sox tomorrow at 7:05 PM as they try to avoid the sweep. Make sure you catch the Andy Pettitte v. Ryan Dempster matchup.

Hiroki Kuroda Pulled From Game With Hand Injury

Surprise, another injury alert. During tonight’s game, Shane Victorino hit a line drive up the middle and Hiroki Kuroda tried to barehand it. It seemed to only graze his fingers, and after walking a batter and hitting two, Joe Girardi pulled him from the game. No word yet on the severity, but I’m sure he’s going for X-Rays as you read this. I will update this as soon as word gets out on the diagnosis. Hopefully it was just numbness, and I’m sure the cold weather didn’t help. If it’s broken fingers, things are going to get interesting in a bad way.

UPDATE (8:28 PM): The Yankees are diagnosing Kuroda with a middle finger contusion and sending the pitcher for X-Rays right now. Hopefully it’s just a bruise and nothing is broken. I’m assuming his return time depends on the severity of the bruising, so his timetable could be anywhere from making his next start to a DL stint.

UPDATE (10:50 PM): Joe Girardi says that Kuroda is “OK”, and the finger is just bruised. He’s day-to-day and the team won’t know if he’ll make his next start until later on in the week. Guess that’s good news compared to what we’re used to.

Mark Teixeira Eyeing A May 1st Return Date

Positive injury news! Mark Teixeira met with his doctor on Monday to have his brace removed, and seemed optimistic about swinging a bat earlier than expected. During tonight’s game, Meredith Marakovits reported that the first baseman is now eyeing a May 1st return thanks to the positive news. Teixeira should be cleared to begin swinging after his next doctor’s visit in a little more than a week, and we’ll know more about how realistic his early return stands after that meeting. Getting Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix out of this lineup early would be extremely helpful, since Teixeira’s versatility at the plate and defense at first is sorely missed.

Game Two: Hiroki!


The Yankees took a good beating in their first game of the season, but that was against a tough left-handed starter. As I explained in my post earlier today, the Yankees are weak against southpaws without Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. Fortunately, the team will face very few lefties, and only David Price stands out in that group.

The team will face their first right-handed starter today, Clay Buchholz. Here’s the somewhat improved lineup for tonight’s game.

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

On the mound, we have Hiroki Kuroda. He had a great Spring, and should do great things against this Red Sox lineup. The only problem tonight is the weather, and Weather.com has the first pitch temperature at 43 degrees. Not awful, but with windchill it feels like 34 degrees. It’s only going to get colder form there, so hopefully this isn’t an extremely long game.

The game starts at 7:05 PM, and you can catch it on YES or ESPN2.