NEW YORK -- After Vidal Nuno's sharp outing against the Red Sox on Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted that he has maintained confidence in all five of the team's starting pitchers, while also acknowledging that it has been by necessity. There are no replacement options currently in place.
It is Brian Cashman's mission to change that. Cashman said on Saturday that he continues to actively pursue upgrades to the roster, with the Yankees (41-37) sticking near the top of a very evenly matched American League East.
The Yankees believe they have additions coming later in the year, hoping to get CC Sabathia back after the All-Star break and Michael Pineda in August, but Cashman said that he would prefer not to wait for them.
"I'm looking to make some additions if I can," Cashman said. "I'd like to try and do things before those guys get back if possible. But I've already been trying, so there's a reason we haven't done anything. It's not because a lack of phone calls."
Starting pitching is believed to be the Yankees' main priority as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. Rays left-hander David Price and Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija have been often mentioned as two of the top targets around the league, but observers have voiced doubts that the Yankees have the trade chips to chase either of those elite arms.
There are second-tier pitchers, however, who could interest the Yankees. The Cubs' Jason Hammel, the Phillies' Cliff Lee and former Yankee Ian Kennedy -- now with the Padres -- have been rumored as possible targets to help a patchwork rotation that has thus far managed to stay afloat.
"We've got some guys we're asking to do things that they weren't expected to do," Cashman said. "We've had injuries, we've had guys that have underperformed. We've had some guys that have stepped up to some degree in the absence of some injuries, so we're keeping ourselves in the mix.
"We'd rather be in a position to excel. Our job is to excel and try and take control and even pull away if possible. We're not in that taking-control, pull-away category right now. We're just 'in-the-mix' category still. So hopefully, if I can do my job, I'll be able to assist us in getting into that higher category."
Betances worthy of All-Star consideration
NEW YORK -- When Dellin Betances trots out of the right-field bullpen this weekend, showcasing his high-90s fastball and gaudy strikeout numbers, he won't be thinking of it as an audition for the American League All-Star team.
But with Red Sox manager John Farrell watching from the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium, it very well may be. A high octane arm like Betances' could come in handy if you're trying to win a Midsummer Classic, and the right-hander's performance so far this season has propelled him into consideration for a roster spot.
"I haven't thought too much about it," Betances said. "I'm trying to go out there and do my job. Obviously, it would be a privilege and an honor to participate in that, but you never know. It's hard for a middle-relief guy to get in there."
Not impossible, though -- for example, last year, Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar earned a spot by besting Yankees reliever David Robertson in the AL Final Vote.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he believes the team has players who can help win an All-Star Game, but it is too early for him to personally lobby Farrell about those names.
"Usually they wait a little bit longer to call and ask you if you have any thoughts on who you thought would be valuable to the teams," Girardi said. "It's still a little bit early, just because the fan voting is not done."
After hurling 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Friday, striking out two, Betances owned an eye-popping mark of 14.69 strikeouts per nine innings through his 33 appearances. That's the highest ratio of any pitcher in the Majors, and it could help state his case for inclusion on the AL pitching staff.
"People keep mentioning that, but I'm trying to focus more on helping the team," Betances said. "We've got a couple of weeks left until the break, so I'm trying to focus on that.
"Obviously, I would love to be in it, but that's not what I'm thinking about. Who wouldn't want to be, though? It's an honor for anybody to be in there, and it would be cool to be there for [Derek] Jeter's last year."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Soriano staying positive with Yanks in the race
NEW YORK -- It has been difficult for Alfonso Soriano to maintain a positive attitude during his extended struggles at the plate, but the Yankees' position in the standings has helped him to keep his head in the game.
"Being in the position that we are right now as a team makes it more easy on me, because we fight and we're only [1 1/2] games out," Soriano said before Saturday's game. "That makes my mind a little bit more relaxed, because we're winning and we're not far to first place."
Now in part-time duty for the Yanks, Soriano has been frustrated by his performance this season after providing a jolt to the offense late last year. He said that he has been feeling better at the plate, where he entered play on Saturday with five hits in his last 23 at-bats.
"I just watch the game, hit in the cage to try to not lose my focus," Soriano said. "I know they want me to play one or two games every series, so I want to stay ready for my opportunity. That's what I try to do. It's something different, but I just try to find something to do and not try to think too much."
• Michael Pineda made 25 tosses on flat ground with no issues Saturday at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla. After an earlier setback in his recovery from a strain of the teres major muscle in his upper back, Pineda is essentially starting over with a new Spring Training and is not expected to rejoin the Yankees' rotation until mid-August.
• On this date in 1939, the Yankees hit eight home runs in a 23-2 win at Philadelphia, with Joe DiMaggio and Babe Dahlgren hitting two apiece. The display set a franchise record that the Yankees matched with eight homers on July 31, 2007, vs. the White Sox.