08/24/10 11:20 PM ET
Vazquez to 'pen for now; Nova up Sunday
Rest may reverse veteran's woes; Yanks impressed by rookie
By Bryan Hoch and James Hall / MLB.com
Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced on Tuesday that the team will give the ball to Nova again on Sunday in Chicago for a start in place of struggling hurler Javier Vazquez, who has been bumped to the bullpen for at least one turn through the rotation.
"Obviously, if a guy gets hot, you're going to look at it every time and maybe send him out there every five days," Girardi said. "This gives us a plan through Sunday and some time to talk about it and evaluate what we want to do."
Vazquez had turned his season around after a sluggish beginning, but his August has been rough. Battling diminished velocity, Vazquez is 0-2 with a 8.10 ERA in four starts this month, and he has not made it through five innings in any of his past three outings.
"I'm disappointed, obviously, but I'm also not doing my job, so I understand that part," said Vazquez, who will be available in relief beginning on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays.
Nova showed the Yankees a measure of toughness in his 5 1/3-inning no-decision on Monday, limiting Toronto to two runs -- both coming on a Jose Bautista homer -- and six hits in an outing that also included a benches-clearing incident.
Girardi pointed to a pressure-filled situation during the first inning in which Nova, staring at Vernon Wells with the bases loaded and no outs, could have caved, but the right-hander benefited from a double play and escaped the inning without letting a run score.
"Nova threw pretty well last night, and we think his stuff is even better than what he showed last night," Girardi said on Tuesday.
Girardi said that the Yankees are not inclined to use a six-man rotation, but their hope is that rest will help Vazquez cure what has ailed him in recent outings, as he has fallen behind hitters and struggled to show consistency.
A brief transition to the bullpen helped in May, when Vazquez picked up a one-out win in relief against the Red Sox and proceeded to go 5-3 with a 2.78 ERA in his next 10 starts.
"I think the last time, it was more mental than any other thing," Vazquez said. "This time, it's just that I'm not doing my job. I feel good physically and mentally, but I'm not throwing the ball well.
"The last time they put me in the 'pen, it was only one day, but that one day helped me out a little bit. Hopefully, this time it will, too."
-- Bryan Hoch
Foul off leg forces Swisher out early
TORONTO -- Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher left Tuesday's 11-5 win over the Blue Jays in the middle of a seventh-inning at-bat after fouling back-to-back pitches off his left leg.
With two outs in the seventh, Swisher fouled a 1-2 offering from Jays reliever Casey Janssen off his left knee. Swisher instantly fell to the ground in obvious pain, prompting manager Joe Girardi along with the Yankees' training staff to run to the outfielder's aid. After a couple of minutes of hobbling around, Swisher acknowledged to the staff that he was OK and remained in the game.
Seconds after settling into the batter's box, Swisher fouled another Janssen pitch off his left foot. Though the second blow did not appear to faze Swisher nearly as much as the first, with an 11-2 lead at the time, Girardi jumped out of the dugout and -- almost forcefully -- removed Swisher from the blowout.
"It's part of the game," Swisher said of the unlucky sequence after the game. "When you go out and play every day, some things are going to happen. I feel fine -- it just swelled up a little bit. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning and see how it feels."
Swisher, who has garnered a reputation as a gamer, was optimistic about playing in Wednesday's series finale. He had treatment performed following the game and will have his left knee reevaluated on Wednesday morning.
Brett Gardner, who entered the game as Swisher's replacement, struck out to finish the at-bat.
-- James Hall
'Boss' to be honored in Monument Park
TORONTO -- George Steinbrenner loved the idea of being considered part of the Yankees' ballclub, regularly clapping his hand upon players' shoulders during clubhouse visits and occasionally sitting in on pre-series pitchers' meetings.
During his 37 years at the helm, the late Yankees owner grew into as large a legend as any on-field performer the franchise had seen, and Steinbrenner will be given his rightful place among the Yankees' unforgettable figures in Monument Park on Sept. 20.
A monument bearing Steinbrenner's plaque will be dedicated in a ceremony before that evening's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the team announced on Tuesday.
"We remain profoundly grateful and touched by the many expressions of sympathy and support from so many," the Steinbrenners said in a written statement. "We wish to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers, which we continue to hold close. We are especially appreciative that our family's privacy was respected as we grieved the loss of George.
"We know we will always share George's memory with Yankees fans everywhere, and a monument in his honor to be located in Monument Park will reflect the special connection, appreciation and responsibility that George felt for New York Yankees fans everywhere as they were always uppermost in his mind."
The principal owner of the Yankees since 1973, Steinbrenner returned the storied franchise to prominence both on and off the field and led the organization seven World Series titles. He passed away on July 14 at his home in Tampa, Fla., at age 80.
"He's going to go down as one of the best owners in all of sports, let alone just baseball or in Yankees history," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter. "It's well deserved.
"I think Yankees fans are well aware of what he's done for this organization and what he's brought them. Now, there's going to be a permanent remembrance for people years from now."
The Yankees are also planning a special tribute to Steinbrenner's life and legacy in Tampa before the opening game of Spring Training in March 2011.
-- Bryan Hoch
Within reason, Yanks will restrict Hughes
TORONTO -- The Yankees have attempted to keep Phil Hughes' looming innings limit as much of a secret as possible, refusing for months to identify the exact number that has been targeted as the right-hander's point of no return.
But now that Hughes heads into his scheduled start on Wednesday having clicked past the 140-inning mark, some details have emerged.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged on Tuesday that Hughes probably cannot go the rest of the year without being skipped at least once if he continues pitching the way he has, hurling six innings in four of his past five starts.
"Even if we pitch all the way throughout, it's not like he's going to be up around 200 innings," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I have to manage this as we move forward and see where we're at, but obviously, you hope he goes seven innings every time.
"If that happens, that's a good thing, but then it becomes somewhat of an issue, so you can't predict what's going to happen."
Just 5 1/3 innings shy of his highest single-season total as a professional, Hughes is likely looking at a limit of somewhere between 180-190 innings, although even the right-hander says he is not aware of the exact number.
The Yankees played with the digits in Hughes' last start, on Tuesday, when a nine-run Yankees sixth allowed the bullpen to pick up an inning that might have otherwise come out of Hughes' right arm.
Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said that it is a balancing act to juggle New York's postseason run and Hughes' restrictions, which are still not as severe as the ones that hampered Joba Chamberlain last year.
"It's difficult, but you've got to put his career first," Eiland said. "That's what this whole thing is about. We've got some days off and can do some different things, but coming down the stretch last year, we had the luxury of resting guys and giving them extra days [off]. Will we have that the last month or two weeks? We don't know yet."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Hughes' innings limit applies only to the regular season, and that Hughes "absolutely" would be considered in the discussion to make postseason starts.
"If we're able to accomplish our goal, which is to get to the playoffs, first and foremost, then it's all hands on deck," Cashman said. "I hope we're in a position to have those discussions. We expect to be."
-- Bryan Hoch
Shortstop Derek Jeter didn't start Monday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, having played 17 straight contests, and manager Joe Girardi acknowledged a day later that Jeter was also rested because of irritation behind his left knee. "It doesn't bother him except to slow down [running]," Girardi said. ... Left-hander Damaso Marte, out with left shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. He is unlikely to be activated before Sept. 1. ... Since joining the Yankees, Mark Teixeira has been intentionally walked to load the bases 10 times. The batter behind him has gone 7-for-8 with four grand slams, a walk, a sacrifice fly and 25 RBIs.
-- Bryan Hoch
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.