8/17/2014 7:21 P.M. ET
Tanaka plays catch without issue as progress continues
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka played catch on Sunday at Tropicana Field and reported no issues, one day after throwing 25 fastballs off a bullpen mound.
"Real encouraged," manager Joe Girardi said of Tanaka, on the DL since July 9 with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
"That was the first thing I asked; 'How does he feel today?' The fact he went out and played his long toss tells me he feels good. And we'll continue to go forward."
Girardi said that Tanaka is scheduled to throw another bullpen next week, and will be allowed to spin some curveballs in that session. The Yankees are targeting a September return to the big league mound for the 25-year-old rookie.
"He's had no twinges or anything," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "You stay optimistic until you know otherwise. We'll just keep progressing the program as it's set up and just go from there."
Rothschild compared the intensity of Saturday's session to the first day of Spring Training, and said that he was watching Tanaka's facial expressions to see if he was trying to hide any discomfort. Tanaka's mechanics in the bullpen looked smooth, he said.
"It is what it is. You just take it a step at a time and progress with it," Rothschild said. "Would I rather have him had three, four or five starts right now? Yeah. These things crop up; as we've seen this year in baseball too often. You're just not going to know until he gets through it all and he's in games. Even then, you have to keep an eye on it."
Teixeira ties DiMaggio on all-time homer list
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mark Teixeira hit his 361st career home run on Sunday at Tropicana Field, tying Joe DiMaggio for 80th place on the all-time list.
Teixeira's blast was an eighth-inning solo shot to right-center field off Rays reliever Joel Peralta, breaking a tie with Gary Gaetti (360) and helping the Yankees to a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.
"It's always important," Teixeira said. "Anytime you get men on base and have a chance to score runs when your team's not scoring runs, you've got to try to take advantage of it. And we did."
The homer was Teixeira's team-leading 20th of the season, making him the 14th player in Major League history to hit 20 homers in at least 11 of his first 12 seasons.
This is the latest in the year that the Yankees went without a 20-homer hitter since 1995 (Paul O'Neill, Sept. 12) and the latest in a non-strike year since 1992 (Matt Nokes, Sept. 6).
McCann activated off DL, starts in series finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees catcher Brian McCann was activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Sunday, starting behind the plate for the team's series finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
McCann sustained the concussion when he was hit in the mask by a foul tip in an Aug. 8 game against the Indians in New York. McCann went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the Yankees' 4-2 victory, and manager Joe Girardi said that it was nice to have McCann's bat back in the lineup.
"It makes it deeper, and obviously it's a guy that has power," Girardi said. "It's really good to be able to put him back there because any time someone goes through something like he went through, we're always concerned. But he feels good and he's back in there."
Catcher Austin Romine was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to create room for McCann, who has batted .235 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 104 games this season.
"After the first couple innings, I felt it get in game speed," McCann said. "The first couple innings were a little fast on me, but then settled down, and it was just like another game."
McCann said that this was the second concussion of his career; he also sustained one with the Braves in 2008 when he was run over at home plate by Shane Victorino, then with the Phillies.
With Beltran back in right, Jeter slotted at DH
ST. PETERSBURG -- Serving as the designated hitter is not Derek Jeter's favorite assignment in the lineup, but it's still preferable to a full day off for the Yankees captain.
Jeter was in the lineup as New York's DH for a second straight day on Sunday, with Stephen Drew filling in at shortstop. Carlos Beltran played a second game in right field, moving Martin Prado to second base.
"I don't DH much," Jeter said. "You go in the cage between at-bats. That's about it. It's not something that I do a lot of. To be honest with you, I'm not sure how people do it. I just run out of things to do."
This marks Jeter's sixth game of the year as a DH, and the 63rd of his career.
"I'm not thinking too much of it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I figure it's a chance to do it. Turf can be rough on people. We're going to get into another long stretch, so I chose to do it that way."
Girardi said that having Beltran as an outfield option will increase the flexibility in assigning DH days, though he still will play Prado often in right field. There were days that Girardi wanted to give Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury DH days but wasn't able to.
"Now that we've got Carlos in the outfield, we could rotate the DH a little bit more," Girardi said. "I'll still DH Carlos plenty, but felt it was a chance to give Jeet a week where he could catch up."
• David Robertson has converted 20 straight save opportunities since June 5, the longest active streak in the Majors. He is the fifth pitcher in Yankees history to convert 20 or more in a row, joining Mariano Rivera, John Wetteland, Dave Righetti and Goose Gossage. Rivera owns the franchise record with 36 straight saves converted in 2009.
• On this date in 1976, Graig Nettles hit a ninth-inning home run on the first pitch from the Rangers' Tommy Boggs, giving the Yankees a 2-1 walk-off victory at Yankee Stadium. Doyle Alexander pitched a complete game for the Bombers.