5/3/2014 1:17 P.M. ET
Short bullpen puts pitching pressure on Yanks
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- It's a rare occasion when the media can stump Joe Girardi.
The Yankees manager held court Saturday morning after a 14-inning game Friday night that tested his bullpen and his ingenuity. The Yankees used seven relievers before taking a 10-5 loss, and the question raised was who would have been Girardi's next pitcher.
Chris Leroux took the loss in Friday night's game, and Girardi noted Saturday that he could've thrown as many as 90 pitches. And if that wasn't enough, the Yankees didn't have an answer.
"I don't know what I would've done," said Girardi. "I would've had to figure it out."
The Yankees optioned Leroux to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Saturday and recalled Alfredo Aceves, but Girardi still had to figure out what to do with the rest of his team. Girardi opted against starting Derek Jeter on Saturday morning, and he listened to his gut for the rest of his lineup card.
"I made the lineup before most of the guys got here," Girardi said. "I had in my mind what I was going to do after the game last night. You look at how guys are doing and you try to decide if you feel they need a day off. You look at what the matchup might be in your mind, and that's how you decide"
Girardi said that Jeter likely would've played on Saturday if Friday night's game hadn't gone 14 innings. Yangervis Solarte got the call at shortstop instead. The Yankees will likely have to stay away from relievers Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley for Saturday's game, giving the team a short bullpen.
The Yankees will be leaning even heavier than usual on starter Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday, but Girardi didn't want to raise the expectations any higher than necessary. Yes, the Yankees need Tanaka to pitch deep in the game, said Girardi, but that's what he's been doing anyway.
"It's important, because we'll be without some guys today," Girardi said. "We just need him to go out and do it, but the one thing I don't want him to think is that he has to go out there and pitch nine innings and go away from what he does. He just needs to get people out and we'll take care of the rest."
Aceves' versatility out of 'pen, familiarity appeals
NEW YORK -- Alfredo Aceves wasn't with his teammates Friday night, but he had a short night's sleep for solidarity. Aceves, recalled from Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, said that he got the call at 1 a.m. ET and had to get to the airport by 4 a.m. in order to reach the Yankees on time.
Aceves, who arrived at Yankee Stadium at around 9 a.m., had a 1.98 ERA in three appearances at Triple-A, and he'll replace Chris Leroux in the Yankees' bullpen. Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees are familiar with Aceves from his previous tenure in New York and that he can help in several ways.
"I want him to be a guy we can use in a lot of different areas," he said. "Obviously, today he's our long man just in case we need somebody, but a guy that we could use for two innings or three innings. We can use him in a lot of different ways, and that's the guy that we had before. That's what we want."
Aceves logged a 14-1 record and a 3.21 ERA in 59 appearances with New York in 2008, '09 and '10, and he pitched two scoreless innings in the 2009 World Series win over the Phillies. Aceves next moved to Boston, where he started and closed in a limited capacity over the last three years.
"It's a guy that's extremely competitive," said Girardi. "Sometimes, the competitiveness can get the best of him a little bit. But it's a guy that I really believe knows how to pitch and can help out a club. He was very successful here when we had him, and then he took on some new roles in different places and bounced around a little bit. He took on the closer role, which he had never had before."
Aceves made just 11 appearances in the Majors last season, and the Yankees hope to see the right-hander re-establish himself in familiar surroundings. Aceves, much like his teammates, didn't get to sleep much on Friday night, but he's hoping to earn a good night's rest on Saturday.
"I'm pretty excited," he said Saturday. "We've got long way to keep working."
Girardi focused on Roberts' swing, not stats
NEW YORK -- Brian Roberts may not have the statistics he'd like to see, but he's convinced manager Joe Girardi that he's off to a solid start. The veteran second baseman is batting just .235 in his first 24 games with the Yankees, but Girardi said Roberts' statistics don't necessarily tell the entire story.
"I know the numbers don't necessarily stick out, but if you were to look at all the hard hit balls that he's had, he's swung the bat better than his numbers indicate," said Girardi. "I've had a couple conversations with him, joking about trying to be a little bit smarter where he hits the ball. And it's kind of to get the guy to loosen up a little bit and not put so much pressure on himself."
Roberts spent his entire career with the division-rival Orioles before coming over to the Yankees this winter, and the two-time All-Star is a .278 career hitter. Roberts has been slowed by a litany of injuries over the last few years, and the Yankees just want him to settle in and get comfortable.
"I think sometimes you can look at your numbers and be frustrated as opposed to looking at how hard and how good your at-bats are," said Girardi of early-season statistics. "He can do some good things. I've been pleased with his at-bats. He's not found a way not to hit it at people."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.