7/24/2014 6:20 P.M. ET
Unprecedented power for 'aggressive' Gardner
By Bryan Hoch and Jake Kring-Schreifels / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- It's not a huge surprise to see Mark Teixeira leading the Yankees with 17 home runs this season, or to find power hitters Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran following him with 10 apiece. But it might be surprising to see Brett Gardner's name right there with them.
For the first time in his Major League career, Gardner has totaled double-digit home runs, having hit a career-high 10, the most recent of which came off Yu Darvish in Wednesday night's rain-shortened 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
"I thought it was possible that he would hit double digits," said manager Joe Girardi. "I would never expect him to be a guy in the 20s. But I did think double digits because I've seen his power. I've seen him in BP; I've seen him certain days that I thought it was possible."
Gardner has provided most of his pop out of the leadoff spot and has quickly grown into one of the Yankees' most versatile threats. He entered Thursday leading the team in triples with six and had 17 stolen bases, trailing only Jacoby Ellsbury, and he was tied for third on the team in RBIs (41).
Throughout his college and Minor League career, Gardner never hit more than five home runs in a season. His highest total came with the Yankees last season, when he belted eight. What's been the difference?
"Just being a little more aggressive," Gardner said after Wednesday's victory. "[I'm] trying to continue to work on my swing with [hitting coach Kevin Long], being more aggressive at the plate and taking my 'A' swing."
Yanks land lefty Capuano from Rockies
NEW YORK -- The Yankees continued to stay busy on the transaction front Thursday, acquiring left-hander Chris Capuano from the Rockies in exchange for cash considerations.
Capuano, 35, was signed as a free agent by the Rockies on July 4 and made four starts between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.79 ERA.
Earlier this year, the veteran lefty went 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA in 28 relief appearances for the Red Sox before being released.
Right-hander Chris Leroux was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
Capuano has a career record of 74-84 with a 4.28 ERA in 266 games (209 starts) over 10 Major League seasons with the D-backs (2003), Brewers (2004-07, '10), Mets (2011), Dodgers (2012-13) and Red Sox (2014).
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that the team is actively looking to upgrade the roster, both significantly as well as with smaller incremental transactions.
Already this month, New York has acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy, left-hander Jeff Francis, infielder Chase Headley and now Capuano, while releasing outfielder Alfonso Soriano.
Cashman prioritizes adding bat before August
NEW YORK -- The reformulated Yankees rotation has performed better than Brian Cashman would have anticipated, and the general manager said that he'd prefer to focus his attention on acquiring a big bat as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
"It's weird," Cashman said in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "Our pitching has been drastically altered because of the injuries, and despite losing four out of five starters and all that stuff, our pitching has survived -- surprisingly -- to this point. I think our offense should be better.
"It still feels like the pitching needs more help, but honestly, the offense has been consistently poor throughout the entire year. The answer has to be an offensive piece, I guess."
The Yankees believe they upgraded their infield this week by acquiring Chase Headley from the Padres, but they could also use a right-handed-hitting outfielder. The Twins' Josh Willingham makes some sense as a potential trade target, as does the Rangers' Alex Rios.
Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have been constants in the Yankees' outfield this year, but 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki has faltered with regular playing time, and the team still isn't sure if Carlos Beltran will be able to return to defensive duty this year because of a bone spur in his right elbow.
Cashman also said that he does not see homegrown 23-year-old Rob Refsnyder as the answer to help a lineup that produced 395 runs through its first 100 games; entering Thursday, only the Astros (394) had scored fewer runs among American League teams this season.
Refsnyder has enjoyed some buzz at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he had a .301/.401/.497 slash line entering play on Thursday, but Cashman said that he does not believe Refsnyder would represent a significant upgrade over Brian Roberts at second base right now.
"He has a chance to be the second baseman of the future, maybe as early as next year," Cashman said, adding that if Refsnyder does see any big league time in 2014, it would likely be in the outfield. "If we can avoid it, I don't think we'd get the impact over the next two months that people would think. That jump from Triple-A to the big leagues is larger than it's ever been."
Tanaka feeling only marginal improvement
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka is still reporting discomfort in his right elbow, 10 days after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection, but the Yankees are still hopeful to have the right-hander return to the big league mound this season.
Tanaka was diagnosed with a small tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament earlier this month. Three doctors recommended a six-week rehab program instead of having Tanaka undergo Tommy John surgery.
"He's improved, but he still feels it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "On a daily basis, it decreases, so that's good. But it's not good that he's still feeling it at this stage. We just go day by day and week by week, and we'll adjust accordingly. Right now, it's too early to call."
The Yankees have said that Tanaka would have three weeks of rest from throwing, so he would likely attempt to resume playing catch in the first week of August. After that, Tanaka would have to go through the gauntlet of bullpen sessions, batting practice and then Minor League rehab games to get back to the big leagues.
"We've got to wait three weeks to see where he's at," manager Joe Girardi said. "Then we'll probably start to have him play catch and see if he's going to be a pitcher for us. You've got to let things heal. Things don't heal overnight."
With Teixeira still hobbled, DL stint possible
NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi said that the Yankees will likely make a roster decision regarding injured first baseman Mark Teixeira by Friday.
Thursday's series finale against the Rangers was the fourth consecutive game out of the starting lineup for Teixeira, who has a mild strain of his lower left lat. After Sunday's 3-2 win over the Reds, Teixeira underwent an MRI exam that revealed the injury.
"It's just seeing how he feels after three or four days," Girardi said. "Then we'll decide if we think it's going to be the near future that he would play or we're going to need the 15-day [disabled list]. If it's going to be 12, 13, 14 days, it probably makes sense to get a player here."
Besides receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection on Monday from Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad, Teixeira has just been resting, hoping to heal quickly.
"I don't think tomorrow's the day," Girardi said on Thursday. "But obviously, you want to feel that there's progress and that he feels better to start doing some stuff. We felt that we'd give him three days without really doing much but treatment, and then we'd see where we're at."
• Because of rain in Tampa, Fla., Michael Pineda's simulated game was moved indoors on Thursday morning. The rehabbing right-hander threw 30 pitches, facing no hitters. He will progress to throwing three innings or 45 pitches against hitters in five days.
• Derek Jeter was out of the Yankees' lineup on Thursday; Girardi said that it was a regular day off and that if it had been a night game, Jeter probably would have played.
• On this date in 1983, the Yankees and Royals played the infamous George Brett "Pine Tar" game. The Yankees' 4-3 victory was only temporary, as the game ended in protest and was resumed on Aug. 18, when the Royals completed a 5-4 win.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.