08/31/10 11:50 PM ET
Thames a seamless fit with A-Rod out
Recent surge of homers comes at most opportune time
By Bryan Hoch and Tim Britton / MLB.com
Thames entered play on Tuesday having homered in five consecutive starts and belted six homers in all against the Blue Jays, White Sox and A's to help the Yankees cover their power bases while Alex Rodriguez is on the disabled list.
"I'm just trying not to miss my pitch," Thames said. "You just can't give away at-bats. You never know how the game is going to go, especially here at the Stadium. Balls can get out of here in a hurry. You have to make sure you have good at-bats."
Thames has proven himself among the best offseason imports among a crop that has largely floundered, with the likes of Nick Johnson, Randy Winn and Chan Ho Park having run their course in the Bronx. Thames had to win a job during Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, and he has made the Yankees appear wise for selecting him.
"He's swung the bat for us all year long, really well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We lost him for a while with the hamstring injury, but he's come back and adapted to DHing really well with the way he's swinging the bat."
Thames has accumulated 10 homers and 58 RBIs in 151 at-bats, wowing even his most productive teammates.
"That was good," Cano said of Thames' fifth-inning homer on Monday. "That's a guy that we need in the lineup when we don't have A-Rod."
With Lance Berkman scheduled to return from a rehab assignment on Wednesday, the Yankees will have a decision to make regarding their designated hitter slot. For his part, Thames isn't surprised that he has happened upon a power groove.
"I'm playing a little more," Thames said. "Every year I've been playing, at one point in time every season, I've run into something like this. It's just more at-bats consistently and hitting the ball pretty good."
-- Bryan Hoch
Despite 16th win, Hughes lacks feel
NEW YORK -- After his fifth and final inning during Tuesday's 9-3 Yankees win over the A's, Phil Hughes waited at the top step of the dugout for the rest of his defense and expressed his apologies and his gratitude.
"I was embarrassed for myself, so I can only imagine how frustrating it was for guys who were battling at the plate to sit out there and watch that," Hughes said of yet another outing that he classified as a "battle." "I couldn't get my mechanics down. I was all over the place. We'll take the win and try to fix whatever's going on."
Hughes has used the word "battle" a lot to describe his starts during the season's second half, and it never appeared more apt than on Tuesday night. Standing on the mound without what seems like a primal component of pitching -- command of his fastball -- Hughes still limited the Athletics to two runs on four hits in five innings in picking up his 16th win of the season.
"I think he's been a little bit off, and we need to get him back on track," manager Joe Girardi said. "He had no command of his fastball and only gave up two runs in five innings. He found a way to get through it, and that's a positive thing."
Hughes' infamous innings limit took another minor hit on Tuesday, with the right-hander lasting only five frames. Hughes now has 149 1/3 innings on the year, with the Yankees likely wanting to keep him around 170-180 innings by the end of the regular season.
"We didn't waste a lot of innings today," Girardi joked afterward.
For a time, it wasn't clear that Hughes would last even that long. Through three innings, he had thrown as many balls as strikes in piling up 62 pitches. He went to a three-ball count on nine of the first 19 batters he faced, walking five of them. It was the third time this season he walked five, and second in succession.
"It's probably mechanics," said Hughes, although unsure of any further specifics. "Standing over the rubber, it feels like -- tonight especially -- everything was different on every pitch. I couldn't get in a groove. The couple times I did make a couple of good pitches in a row, it left me and I had to try to find it again."
Both Hughes and Girardi said that it is not a fatigue issue.
Aside from surrendering a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout, though, Hughes was able to hold Oakland off the board. The A's were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against him.
"He knows he didn't have his 'A' stuff tonight," said Nick Swisher, who hit a two-run homer in support of Hughes. "The one thing about it is -- and what makes all of us extremely happy is -- he went out there and grinded it out, every pitch and every batter. That's what you want. You want heart from your pitchers."
Hughes, in other words, battled. Although he's getting kind of sick of it.
"It's never fun to pitch like that," Hughes said. "You'd like to go out and have an easy one. Everyone says, 'Way to battle.' Well, I don't want to battle every time. I want to get a good one every once in a while."
-- Tim Britton
Berkman may be Yanks' next roster add
NEW YORK -- The Yankees plan on making a few additions to their roster on Wednesday.
With the start of September allowing for the expansion of Major League rosters, manager Joe Girardi said the Bronx Bombers might be issuing a few more home pinstripes for Wednesday night's game against the Athletics.
"There's a pretty good possibility we'll see some new bodies here tomorrow," Girardi said after Tuesday's 9-3 win. "I talked with [general manager Brian Cashman] right before the game. I haven't had a chance to talk to him since I came in, so as far as any exact names, I don't have those right now."
At the close of Tuesday's game, the Yankees had cleared out three additional lockers in the clubhouse.
Two players who already have lockers in the Bronx could be headlining the callups. Lance Berkman, who went 0-for-3 in his second rehab game for Double-A Trenton on Tuesday night, planned to be back in pinstripes so long as all went well.
"We'll just have to see how he feels and how he's doing, and then we'll make that decision," Girardi said before Tuesday's game.
The Yankees will also make a decision on whether right-handed reliever Alfredo Aceves is ready to return to the big leagues. In his latest rehab appearance, on Monday night, Aceves allowed one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings. Out since mid-May with a strained lower back, Aceves has given up runs in each of his past three rehab appearances.
Girardi said the Yankees will explore the possibility of adding an extra player in both the outfield and infield. If they want to bring up a third catcher, however, they'll need to first make room for him on the 40-man roster, perhaps by sending left-handed reliever Damaso Marte to the 60-day disabled list.
The Yankees' roster decisions are complicated a tad by Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's success, as the affiliate has clinched a berth in the International League playoffs.
-- Tim Britton
No change to Yanks' plan for Vazquez
NEW YORK -- Following Javier Vazquez's superb relief performance on Monday night, manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees still haven't made any alterations to their rotation. Vazquez replaced starter Dustin Moseley, who labored through 4 1/3 innings against the Athletics.
"Right now, we're on schedule," Girardi said on Tuesday. "We're worried about tonight, and if we have to do something, we'll do something."
Vazquez was shifted to the bullpen after an Aug. 21 start against the Mariners in which he allowed four runs in just three innings. In two relief appearances since, though, the right-hander has given up only two runs on four hits in nine innings. He picked up the victory on Monday, marking his Major League-leading 11th consecutive season with at least 10 wins.
"Javy has thrown the ball extremely well his last two outings. There's no hiding that fact," Girardi said, adding that the Yankees haven't yet discussed the possibility of Vazquez taking Moseley's turn in the rotation.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Vazquez's effort on Monday was the renewed life on his fastball. Vazquez's departure from the rotation was preceded by a drop in velocity, but against Oakland, he hit as high as 92 mph on the radar gun and averaged better than 89 mph on his fastball.
"The last three or four times, it has had more life," Vazquez said on Monday. "It's late movement. You can just feel that the ball has some at the end."
-- Tim Britton
Left-hander Andy Pettitte, fighting a left groin strain, is scheduled to throw another bullpen session before Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game. Pettitte is hoping to sit down in the middle of the session to help simulate an inning or two. "I'd like to progress a little bit, but I also want to be careful," Pettitte said. If all goes well, the lefty said his next step could be throwing batting practice. ... Five Yankees farmhands were announced on Tuesday as participants in the Arizona Fall League. Right-handers Craig Heyer and George Kontos, catcher Austin Romine, infielder Corban Joseph and outfielder Brandon Laird are listed as members of manager Don Mattingly's Phoenix Desert Dogs. ... Left-handed reliever Damaso Marte is still working on strengthening exercises, and there is no timetable for his return. ... The Yankees entered Tuesday having scored first in six of their past eight games. The Bronx Bombers have scored in the first inning in eight of their past 13 contests. ... Marcus Thames is the first Yankees player to homer in five consecutive starts since Alex Rodriguez did so in September 2007.
-- Tim Britton
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.