Yankees add Tomko to bullpen
Robertson optioned; Girardi doesn't hestitate to play A-Rod
BALTIMORE -- The Yankees moved to bolster their bullpen on Saturday, purchasing the contract of veteran right-hander Brett Tomko from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioning right-hander Dave Robertson to the Minor Leagues.
Tomko, 35, had been in serious contention to win a long-relief job with the Yankees in Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, and had pitched exceptionally well as a closer at Triple-A, posting a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings.
"They just said to be ready to pitch," Tomko said. "Whatever role it is, it is. It doesn't really matter, as long as you get out of there and get up here. I'm sure it will play itself out."
With future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera on board, Tomko obviously will not have many save opportunities coming his way. But coming off elbow surgery last year, it was Tomko's idea to close at Triple-A, exposing himself to late-inning pressure situations that could prove useful under big league circumstances.
"He's kind of a guy that can do everything for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He can be a one-inning guy late in the game for us, and he's a guy that we feel can give us two innings. He's not a guy that you would be afraid to pitch in the sixth, seventh or eighth."
Not that the steam-rolling Triple-A club gave Tomko much work as a closer, anyway. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre improved to 23-5 with an 11-5 victory at Louisville on Friday, after which Tomko was told by manager Dave Miley that he had been summoned to New York. Tomko said that the call was bittersweet in a way.
"It was a really tight-knit group of guys," Tomko said. "We had 20 guys go out to dinner our first night in Louisville. We just got in the lobby and said we were going to dinner at 7:30, and whoever wants to come could show up. Then four guys met us later, so we had 24 guys out."
In a corresponding move, right-hander Eric Hacker was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Tomko. Robertson had a 3.86 ERA in five appearances for the Yankees, and Girardi said that he would get more work in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"When you have a young man like that, you want to make sure they're getting some work," Girardi said. "We don't just want to sit him in the 'pen and bring him in a game once every three or four days. That's not going to help him."
In other updates, right-hander Brian Bruney played catch on the field at Camden Yards on Saturday as he makes his way back from a flexor muscle strain in his pitching elbow. Bruney will throw again on Monday at a distance of 90 feet and long-toss before another evaluation will be made.
Alex Rodriguez also appeared in the Yankees lineup for the second successive night, showing no ill effects from his 1-for-4 performance on Friday that included a three-run homer off Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie. Girardi said he checked with Rodriguez early Saturday, but the conversation was brief.
"He got one shot to tell me he wasn't in the lineup," Girardi said. "He said he was great, and I said, 'Great, you're in there.'"
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.