7/20/2014 1:22 P.M. ET
Veteran Kuroda the last starter standing
By Jamal Collier and Jake Kring-Schreifels / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- When Hiroki Kuroda took the mound for the series finale against the Reds, he did so as the only starter remaining from the Opening Day rotation. Ironically, he's also the oldest, at 39.
"I've thought about that more than once," said manager Joe Girardi. "The last guy standing, in a sense, is the oldest guy."
In another season riddled with injuries, Kuroda has provided consistency, especially at a position that has struggled with it.
That consistency has become a hallmark for Kuroda in his Major League career.
Now in his seventh season, Kuroda only missed significant time in 2009, with the Dodgers, but still racked up 117 1/3 innings. Other than that, he's never started fewer than 31 games in any season, and has pitched more than 200 innings in his last three.
"It just tells you about his conditioning, how he prepared himself on a daily basis during the offseason, that he's done a really good job," said Girardi. "It's probably partly genetic, too. He's been blessed."
But Girardi and the Yanks have helped, making sure their last remaining veteran starter isn't overworked. Eight times this season Kuroda has worked on five days' rest, and once with six.
"We haven't run him over 100 pitches a whole lot this year," said Girardi. "We've given him the extra day when he needs the extra day. I think this is his eighth day today. So we'll do what we can. The other thing is, we're fighting to get in the playoffs, and we're going to have to pitch him."
With David Phelps, Shane Greene, Brandon McCarthy and Chase Whitley filling in for all the injured starters, Girardi is wary of tinkering with how he uses Kuroda in the second half.
"You can maybe push him a little more," he said. "I still think you have to be cautious, because it's kind of like your bullpen. If it gets overworked, then all of a sudden, they're not throwing as well. Well, it's because you overworked him. It's a fine line that we walk."
Return to field could come soon for Beltran
NEW YORK -- Designated hitter Carlos Beltran could start a throwing program soon as he tries to work his way back to playing the outfield this season.
Beltran has been limited to designated hitter duties since hyperextending his right elbow in April, an injury that required a stint on the disabled list. He described the feeling in his elbow since his return as tight but not painful, and insists he feels fine.
Injuries have limited Beltran to 63 games this season, the first of a three-year, $45 million contract he signed during the offseason. Not only did his elbow cause him to miss time, swelling in his right knee kept him out of the lineup for a few days earlier this month, and on Friday he returned from the seven-day concussion DL.
"I'm OK," Beltran said. "I think everyone right now at this point is not feeling 100 percent, but at the same time, it's not time to think about it."
The Yankees would like for Beltran to return to the outfield in order to free up the DH spot in the lineup. Manager Joe Girardi would like to give some players partial days off, among them Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki, both of whom are 40, and Mark Teixeira, who has had his own injury issues.
Beltran started a throwing program in June but was shut down late in the month after he started experiencing some tightness in his forearm.
For now he is still trying to adjust to not playing the field for the first time in his career.
"It is what it is," he said. "I have to come to the ballpark and focus on the things that I can control right now, and right now I'm not playing in the outfield, so I can not be thinking about that. I've got to be thinking about [how] DH-ing is my job, and I need to just focus on that."
• Right-hander Michael Pineda (right shoulder) has thrown one batting practice session and will probably throw another before he takes the next step in his rehab process, which will likely be tossing a simulated game.
Pineda has not pitched since April 23.
• The Yankees on Sunday used the same lineup for the third consecutive day, and with a litany of injuries over the past two years, it's something Girardi has not always had the luxury of being able to do.
"It is nice to be able to run the same lineup out there," Girardi said.
Jamal Collier and Jake Kring-Schreifels are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.