After Aceves' setback, Yanks plan tests
Righty forced to abruptly cut short his throwing session
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yankees right-hander Alfredo Aceves suffered a setback while tossing on Tuesday at the club's Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., and will be sent for further tests.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Aceves completed about six or seven throws on flat ground before feeling discomfort in his lower back, cutting his session short.
Aceves has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 12 and also missed time during Spring Training with the lower back issue, which he believes to be a bulging disc problem.
"I thought there was improvement -- he was bouncing around better," Girardi said. "But he felt something. That's the thing about a back; you never know when it's going to act up. It's not what we wanted."
The Yankees have mixed and matched to cover for the absence of Aceves, who started the season as a long reliever and was 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 appearances before going on the shelf.
"There's no doubt we miss him," Girardi said. "He does fill a couple of different roles."
Vazquez a go for Thursday's start
MINNESOTA -- Yankees right-hander Javier Vazquez threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday at Target Field and felt no discomfort, proclaiming himself ready to make his scheduled start on Thursday against the Twins.
"Everything just felt normal," Vazquez said.
Vazquez said that he used his complete repertoire in the session, his first since suffering a bruised right index finger while attempting to bunt against the Mets in the seventh inning of Friday's 2-1 win at Citi Field.
The right-hander got the sacrifice down on his second attempt, then peeled off his batting glove to discover his finger was bleeding. The Yankees wrapped it in bandages, which Vazquez removed on Monday.
Vazquez has endured a troubling start to his second tour in pinstripes, but he logged a win in a May 17 relief appearance against the Red Sox and was pitching a one-hitter through six innings against the Mets when he was forced to leave. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he was looking forward to getting Vazquez back on the mound.
"I think it's important, because he wants to get in a routine and know what he's doing," Girardi said.
For Gardner, luck evening out
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brett Gardner is the first to admit that not all of his at-bats have been terrific lately, but it is not a fact that worries him. When Gardner was getting hits with regularity, he was getting a little lucky there, too.
It's all part of the ebb and flow of the season, Gardner said, but unfortunately the speedster is in one of those dry patches. Gardner went 0-for-13 with an RBI and a walk over the weekend against the Mets and entered play on Tuesday hitless in his past 15 at-bats overall before singling off Scott Baker in the top of the first inning.
"It's just one of those things where you don't get hits," Gardner said. "I might be pressing a little bit, striking out more than I have been. Probably my pitch selection hasn't been as good -- I'm trying to make some things happen.
"For the most part, I feel comfortable at the plate. I'm just hitting balls right at guys. If a couple of balls get by the third baseman and go down the line for a double, everything is going well still."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he is leaning away from shaking Gardner out of his No. 2 spot in the lineup, though there are no promises when Curtis Granderson is expected to come off the disabled list on Friday. Nick Swisher could assume the two-hole then, but in any event, Girardi is counting on Gardner producing.
"He just hasn't gotten any hits for the last couple of days," Girardi said. "It's what every hitter goes through. He played basically every inning of that stretch that we had. Sometimes when you do that, you're going to run into little hiccups. I don't anticipate it's going to last."
Last year, Gardner won the starting center-field job out of Spring Training but lost it to Melky Cabrera due to a sluggish start. Gardner didn't take any chances this April, hitting .323 (21-for-65), which has helped patch over the recent drought.
"I think it's always important to get off to a good start," Gardner said. "There are going to be ups and downs through the course of a season. It's such a long year, you can't stay consistent the whole way through. When things aren't going well, you just try to get out of it as soon as possible."
Plans to build statue humble Yogi
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yogi Berra has admitted that there are only a couple of statues he really likes -- one of Mickey Mantle in Oklahoma and another of Stan Musial. And now that the Hall of Famer is about to be immortalized with his own, he has one wish.
"I just hope this looks like them," Berra quipped, according to The Associated Press.
Berra will be the subject of a statue sculpted for placement in front of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J. Photos shown on Monday to the AP were of a muscular Berra kneeling in the on-deck circle, gazing upward while holding two bats.
"It looks great," the 85-year-old Berra said. "I didn't know I looked that good."
While many pictures were considered as the guide for the bronze statue, museum director Dave Kaplan said the rendition came from a 1950s Sports Illustrated photo. Sculptor Brian Hanlon told the AP the pose combines Berra's talent on the field, his spiritual presence in the locker room and his impeccable behavior off the field.
"His neck and his hands are just ripped," said Hanlon, who said it would take him six to eight months to sculpt the statue in clay before it is sent to a foundry to be bronzed. The cost will be between $100,000 and $125,000.
Yankees head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, who has been battling throat cancer, has traveled with the team to Minneapolis and is resuming his regular duties. Monahan also worked the three Subway Series games this past weekend at Citi Field. ... Curtis Granderson, sidelined with a left groin strain, is on track to rejoin the Yankees on Friday from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Granderson was scheduled to play seven innings on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and play again on Thursday. ... When Granderson is activated, Brett Gardner will return to left field. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he was not yet sure who would fill the No. 2 lineup spot. ... Jorge Posada, out with a fractured right foot, is still wearing a boot and will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.