8/20/2013 11:21 P.M. ET
With MRI negative, Nunez returns for nightcap
By Bryan Hoch and Josh Vitale / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Infielder Eduardo Nunez was not in the Yankees' lineup for Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Blue Jays, but he was back in action for the nightcap.
Nunez finished Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Blue Jays 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
The shortstop left Sunday night's 9-6 win over the Red Sox with tightness in his right hamstring, which he sustained during a feet-first slide into first base after hitting a sixth-inning single.
Jayson Nix -- who replaced Nunez on Sunday -- was the starting shortstop, batting eighth, for Tuesday afternoon's game won by the Yankees, 8-4.
"[Nunez] had an MRI [on Monday], and it came back negative," manager Joe Girardi said. "There's still tightness in there."
Girardi initially said he was "not sure" Nunez would be able to return for Tuesday's nightcap, but the infielder started at shortstop and batted seventh.
With Nunez in the lineup, Girardi shifted Nix to third base and moved Alex Rodriguez from third to designated hitter.
"Nuney's kind of the one that's going to determine who plays, in a sense," Girardi said after Game 1. "Nuney probably never thought he'd have that kind of power in him. He's kind of going to determine who plays in the second game."
Ichiro one hit away from 4,000 lifetime
NEW YORK -- When Ichiro Suzuki came up to bat with two outs in the ninth inning of Tuesday afternoon's 8-4 Yankees win over the Blue Jays, the Yankee Stadium crowd began chanting his name. The outfielder was one hit away from reaching 4,000 for his career between Japan and the United States, and the 40,208 fans on hand were looking to witness history.
Ichiro didn't get hit No. 4,000 in the opener of the Yankees' doubleheader -- he grounded out to first base -- and he never got a chance to reach the milestone in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Ichiro did play in Tuesday's nightcap, but he didn't get an at-bat. He entered the game in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch-runner for first baseman Mark Reynolds, who walked to lead off the inning. Ichiro moved to second on shortstop Eduardo Nunez's sac bunt and stole third not long after, eventually scoring on third baseman Jayson Nix's walk-off single.
"Ich did a good job of stealing the base," manager Joe Girardi said. "It changes everything for them. They have to bring the infield in. It puts more pressure on the pitcher. It changes it, when you have a runner on third with less than two outs."
Entering Tuesday's first game with 3,997 hits, Ichiro knocked a double in the third inning and a single in the seventh to get within one hit of 4,000. Only two players -- Pete Rose and Ty Cobb -- have reached 4,000 exclusively in the Major Leagues.
Ichiro had 1,278 hits over eight seasons in Japan, and he has 2,721 hits over 13 years in the Major Leagues, tying Lou Gehrig for 59th on the all-time list. Ichiro is batting .274 with six home runs and 29 RBIs this season.
"I'm excited to get a hit every time," Ichiro said. "And if my name is in that lineup [at some point] tonight, I'm definitely excited to get those at-bats so I can get some hits."
"I didn't have 4,000 hits in my whole career, and you can go back to Tee Ball," said Girardi, who accumulated 1,100 hits over his 15-year Major League career. "To me, it's an unbelievable feat. He's some kind of hitter."
He'll likely have a chance to get his 4,000th hit on Wednesday against Blue Jays right-hander R.A. Dickey.
"It's not just the 4,000; it's that you're getting a hit in a game," Ichiro said. "If you don't produce, you're not going to play in games. Producing in games is what's good for me. Four thousand is just as important as any other number, for me."
Cano 16th with 200 homers as a Yankee
NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano became the 16th player to hit 200 home runs in a Yankees uniform on Tuesday afternoon, sparking the Yankees' comeback in an 8-4 victory over the Blue Jays in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
"It means a lot," Cano said. "As a kid, you always dream to be able to hit one. Then, to hit 200, it means a lot to me. Right now, we're in a situation where we need to win games. It's good to hit 200, but it's great to get a win."
With the Yankees trailing, 4-0, in the third inning, Cano stepped to the plate with one out and runners on second and third. Cano hit a 93-mph fastball from Blue Jays starter Esmil Rogers over the center-field wall and into Monument Park, cutting Toronto's lead to one run.
"That's special," manager Joe Girardi said. "Two hundred home runs is a lot of home runs, and obviously, he's got a lot of career left in him. He had a big day, and he got us right back in the game with that three-run homer."
Cano finished the afternoon 4-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored. He entered the nightcap having hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games. With 23 homers this season, Cano has reached the 20-homer plateau for a fifth straight season.
With two more home runs, Cano will tie Bill Dickey (202) for 15th place on the Yankees' all-time list.
Girardi vocal before Dempster's suspension
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi did not feel the need to take his comments much further on Tuesday, following Major League Baseball's announcement of a five-game suspension and fine for Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster. The Yankees' manager believes he has already made his feelings quite clear.
Girardi referred to comments he made during a heated news conference after Sunday's 9-6 win at Fenway Park, when he said it was "flat wrong" for Dempster to have thrown at Alex Rodriguez. The manager stated that he would be "really disappointed" if Dempster was suspended in a fashion that might allow him to carry on without missing a start.
The Red Sox have two off-days coming up, so Dempster may not miss any action even if he chooses not to appeal MLB's announcement. Dempster was disciplined for "intentionally throwing at and hitting" Rodriguez in the second inning, according to MLB.
"You just can't throw at someone because you don't like them or you disagree with the way something's being handled," said Girardi, who was also fined an undisclosed sum for arguing with home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora. "They've talked about throwing at people all the time, so you just can't take things into your own hands. It's not right."
Rodriguez was hit with a 92-mph fastball on a 3-0 count in his second-inning at-bat, but Dempster appeared to be throwing at Rodriguez throughout the same plate appearance, including with a first pitch that skipped behind Rodriguez's ankles.
Dempster said he was "trying to pitch him inside." Red Sox manager John Farrell supported his pitcher, saying, "I don't know that he hit him on purpose. I don't think he did." Rodriguez exacted a measure of revenge four innings later, belting a long solo home run to center field off Dempster that sparked a four-run rally.
Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said that he considered MLB's punishment of Dempster to be "light," but he said it would serve the purpose of reminding pitchers around the league that there are consequences if they throw at Rodriguez.
"I know in this situation, I think he should have gotten longer," Sabathia said. "I don't know about anything else, but given that he threw at Alex four times, he should have gotten longer. ... I thought he at least should miss a start, and he's not going to do that. I don't think it does anything."
Sabathia has generally not been shy about enforcing baseball's unwritten code by throwing inside to hitters at times, but he said that Dempster's actions crossed a line, saying that the veteran right-hander would have been wise to stop throwing at Rodriguez after the first pitch.
"It's definitely a different scenario," Sabathia said. "And even with the unwritten code, you don't throw at a guy four times. He violated every code in every way."
Girardi said that he would support any of his players in this situation, regardless of their alleged activities off the field, and he added that Rodriguez's health was a concern in this case.
"One of the reasons I was so upset is you just can't throw [at people]," Girardi said. "That baseball is a weapon. It's not a tennis ball. It's not an Incrediball that's soft.
"It's a weapon, and it can do a lot of damage to someone's life, and that's why I was so upset about it. You can express your opinion and be upset with someone, but you just can't start throwing baseballs at people. It's scary."
Girardi said that he was concerned that if Dempster had been allowed to get away with hitting Rodriguez, other teams may follow suit.
"It just makes him open season for people, and that can't happen," Girardi said. "It's not fair. If a player is suspended for throwing at someone, they're going to get their appeal. Are we just going to throw that out, too? I mean, this is what's been negotiated."
Jeter runs bases during latest sim game
NEW YORK -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is still playing in simulated games, but on Tuesday, he was finally able to run the bases for real.
Jeter took part in a simulated game on Monday in Tampa, Fla., and did the same on Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi said Jeter ran the bases on Tuesday for the first time since the Yankees' captain was placed on the disabled list with a strained right calf on Aug. 3.
"Everything was good today, so we'll see how he feels tomorrow," Girardi said. "I know there's no simulated game, but I know there's a workout planned tomorrow with him running the bases and doing a lot of things. And then we'll go from there."
Jeter, who is in the midst of his third stint on the DL this season, has batted .211 with one home run and two RBIs in five games. He was first eligible to return on Sunday, and while Girardi said there's a plan in place for Jeter going forward, the manager would not reveal it.
It's possible that Jeter could play in rehab games, but Girardi wouldn't say if the shortstop will do so or not. The manager also said he wasn't sure if Jeter would be ready to rejoin the team this weekend in St. Petersburg for its series with the Rays.
"You're asking me to reveal the plan in another way," Girardi said.
• Reliever Preston Claiborne was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to be the Yankees' 26th man for Tuesday's doubleheader. He will be optioned back to Scranton after the nightcap since his recall comes fewer than 10 days after he was originally optioned to the Minors, on Friday, to make room for Mark Reynolds on the 25-man roster.
Claiborne is 0-1 with a 2.88 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 40 2/3 innings with the Yankees this season.
• Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki entered Tuesday's doubleheader three hits from reaching 4,000 for his career between Japan and the U.S. He started in right field and batted second for the Yankees in Game 1.
• On this day in Yankees history, Lou Gehrig hit the 23rd and final grand slam of his career in 1938. His 23 slams are tied with Rodriguez for the most in Major League history.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.