Nova put on DL, but Yankees optimistic
Righty's ankle injury not serious; Chavez has big rehab game
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Girardi isn't particularly sure how Ivan Nova's right ankle injury occurred, or how long he'll be out because of it, but he knows one thing: Tests on the injury Nova suffered Tuesday night came back negative.
"Which is a good thing," Girardi said. "I don't know how long he's going to be down. I'm sure more will be determined today and tomorrow to see how he physically feels, what he can do on that ankle. But it's definitely not what you want."
Nova hurt himself in the second inning of his most recent start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Wednesday.
The injury occurred after Nova tried to field a comebacker -- though it's unclear whether he hurt the ankle while planting himself to field the ball, as a lingering effect to being hit by a grounder there on July 7 or both.
But the fact the 24-year-old pulled up lame, then was immediately taken out after giving up a run in 1 1/3 innings, was a clear indication to Girardi that Nova will at least miss one start.
Girardi just isn't sure if Nova will be out even longer than that.
As a budding prospect who had success as a starter in the Majors this season, Nova wasn't just a fallback option in case one of the Yankees' current starters struggled. He was a prime candidate to pitch in a split doubleheader on July 30 against the Orioles.
That could still happen, since Girardi doesn't necessarily feel Nova would have to pitch another game in the Minors before being called up for an emergency start. But it'll all depend on how Nova feels moving forward.
Nova was 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) for the Yankees, then went 1-2 with a 3.38 in his first three Minor League starts.
Eric Chavez, recovering from a bone bruise in his foot, had an impressive second rehab game on Wednesday, notching four singles in five at-bats while serving as the designated hitter for the Class A Tampa Yankees.
Girardi, who doesn't expect to have Chavez or Rafael Soriano back for the weekend home series against the Athletics, isn't sure when Chavez will play the field, but was encouraged by his latest line.
"The positive thing for me there is that he was able to give you five at-bats, where the foot didn't get sore," Girardi said. "That's the positive thing for me. Obviously the hits are a positive as well, and he's getting his timing back. But that he can continue to run the bases and not get sore, that's important to me."
Granderson banged up after big night
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked to describe Curtis Granderson's night and provided a one-word answer -- "Ouch."
Girardi's center fielder had slammed into Tropicana Field's padded wall after making a lead-preserving catch on Evan Longoria's deep fly ball in the fifth, was drilled right between the shoulder blades by a David Price fastball in the eighth, and fouled a ball off his right calf somewhere in between.
After the Yankees' 4-0 win, Granderson spent a good amount of time in the trainer's room getting treatment.
"The back's the worst thing right now," Granderson said. "But that should be all right, though."
Granderson -- who played a big part in the win with the catch and a first-inning two-run homer -- heavily iced his left foot on Tuesday after being hit by a pitch. The next day, he had plenty of other body parts to worry about -- which could make Thursday's series finale a good time to give Granderson his first day off of the second half.
"It just depends how he feels tomorrow," Girardi said.
"For the most part, I think I'll be all right," Granderson added. "I was able to stay in the ballgame tonight, and we'll see how things go waking up in the morning. But I should be fine, should be ready to go."
Hot streak could move Gardner up in lineup
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Gardner's recent surge may have him back atop Joe Girardi's lineup on a consistent basis.
Gardner came into Wednesday's game against the Rays producing like a prototypical leadoff hitter, with a .640 on-base percentage, six runs scored and six stolen bases in his first six second-half games.
Then, in his first at-bat against Rays starter David Price, he reached on a broken-bat infield single and stole his 16th consecutive base and 30th on the year.
With Alex Rodriguez out, Curtis Granderson providing solid power numbers -- he hit his 26th homer in the first inning to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead -- and Derek Jeter struggling since his magical 3,000th-hit afternoon, Girardi is toying with moving Gardner up in his batting order.
"It's something that you definitely think about," said Girardi, who had Gardner batting ninth Wednesday. "Maybe you get him back up top somewhere, but I don't have any plans. I haven't done it yet."
Girardi said he doesn't really have an issue with stacking two lefties at the top of the order, which is relevant because of the lefty-hitting Granderson's success as a No. 2 hitter all year. But putting Gardner first and Granderson second would involve dropping Jeter in the order, a subject matter Girardi has no desire to speculate on.
Another option, perhaps the most logical at this time, would be to have a top three of Gardner, Jeter and Granderson until A-Rod returns.
But Girardi doesn't look at lineup structure on an individual basis; he sees it as a whole that can be greatly diminished without consistency.
The fact the Yankees came into Wednesday tied for second in the Majors in runs scored might have him a little hesitant to make any drastic changes.
"I think you can get caught up in sometimes trying to catch lightning in a bottle," Girardi said. "You move a guy because he's hot, and then you disrupt your whole lineup just because a guy is hot. I think you can get caught up in that, too. There's something to be said about the consistency of a lineup, and a lot of times, how it all works together."
Jeter came into Wednesday with five singles in 26 at-bats since that memorable 5-for-5 game on July 9. He singled in the first inning and scored on Granderson's homer.
At some point -- whether it's this week, later this season or sometime in the next few years -- Girardi might legitimately consider moving Jeter down in his lineup.
Girardi, who went through this sort of thing earlier this season when he attempted to move Jorge Posada to the No. 9 spot, believes communication is most important in that scenario.
"I think if you ever get in a situation where you have to move a player who's of substantial status, you'd sit down and talk to him before you ever did it and tell him your thoughts and [get] his thoughts and be respectful about it," Girardi said.
Yankees doing their best to adjust to roof
ST. PETERSBURG -- Playing on artificial turf is difficult for a road team that's not necessarily used to it. But the biggest challenge at Tropicana Field may be the reason for that field surface -- the roof.
On certain occasions, as Tuesday night's 3-2 loss showed, it can be tough to pick up fly balls off the white tarp that covers the Rays' home ballpark.
"Sometimes on fly balls, I look up and I can't find them, either," catcher Russell Martin said. "As soon as it's up, if you lose it for a second, you can look back up and you may not find it."
That happened to Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson on Tuesday, when he lost a fly ball during a seventh inning that turned the game in the Rays' favor.
Said Granderson after that game: "I'm not sure if it was the roof or the catwalk, but it blended in real well."
Since the roof can be very similar to the color of a baseball -- though it does darken a bit when the sun goes down -- it has a tendency to camouflage the ball, which could prevent a serious problem for outfielders.
"It is what it is," Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. "It's obviously easier for guys that play here every day, but I'm sure from time to time, guys who play here lose it, too. It's definitely not easy sometimes, but it just depends on where the ball is hit and the height of it, that kind of thing."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.