So Jason Giambi left the game today with sore left groin. So he made it through four and a half games before the injury bug bite. Not bad, Jason. Not bad. The Yanks have him listed as day-to-day even though Giambi says he feels OK. I doubt he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.
Despite throwing a successful 75-pitch outing against Minor Leaguers on Sunday, Andy Pettitte’s prospects in the early going this season look bleak. The Yankees pitching depth, it seems, will be tested early.
According to reports out of New York, Pettitte’s back did not respond well at all to the weekend outing, and the Yanks believe he could be out for as long as two months. To make matters worse in the eyes of fans, the Yankees plan to replace Pettitte with the much-maligned Kei Igawa who, just a few hours ago, was named the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Opening Day starter.
The Yankees all of a sudden find themselves with a little bit of a pitching problem. While Chien-Ming Wang will retain his place at the front of the rotation, the four pitchers behind him are anything but a given. Mike Mussina will slot into the second starter position, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career and had a shaky Spring Training. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, two youngsters who may struggle at times, will follow Mussina, and Igawa will pick up the rear.
When word of Pettitte’s injury came down, I, like many of you, probably turned your thoughts to the ace in the hole the Yanks seem to carry in their bullpen. Wouldn’t Joba Chamberlain be a much better choice than Kei Igawa? Right now, the Yankees seem unwilling to move Chamberlain out of the pen. They fear that he’ll be used too much too soon and will reach his innings cap before the Yanks need to call on him in October.
While the rained out Opening Day and subsequent 7:05 p.m. rescheduling of the game took some of the damper out of the festivities that surround the start of the season, this news casts a veritable pall over what is usually a joyous time of year. This time, Roger Clemens won’t ride to the rescue. All of a sudden, the Yanks are left with a hole, and Johan Santana sure looked good in his Mets debut.
But the Yanks have overcome adversity before, and they still have the makings of a championship team. Maybe Kei Igawa can step. Maybe he can pitch effectively. That is, after all, why they play the games. And, oh yeah, Happy April Fools Day.
Kat O’Brien notes that Jeff Karstens will start the season on the DL after straining his groin today. Having recently recovered from a similar injury, I can tell you that those take a while to heal. Meanwhile, I guess this means that either Darrell Rasner or Kei Igawa will win a spot in the bullpen. I think the Yanks would be better off with Ohlendorf or Patterson, but the tradition of having a long man — while seemingly foolish — seems to be carrying the day. We’ll know more soon.
The AP reports that Andy Pettitte threw a successful bullpen session this morning and is now on target to start the third or fourth game of the season. To keep a retroactive DL stint an option, Pettitte will face Minor Leaguers on Saturday or Sunday depending upon how his back responds to today’s pitching. Mike Mussina will, in all likelihood, start game two against the Blue Jays.
In other pitching news, the Yankees have apparently claimed Felix Heredia off waivers from the Reds. With the minors stocked with better arms, I shudder to think why.
Update by Joe: As many have pointed out, this seems to be a technical error on ESPN’s part. Rest assured, there is no Heredia redux.
Via Chad Jennings, JB Cox returned to game action Tuesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery, throwing fastballs and sliders (no changeups) in a minor league game. Cox will give it another go on Friday, and said he expects to start the year with High-A Tampa before heading up to Triple-A Scranton when the weather warms up. Oh boy, the kids are gettin’ healthy.
Tyler Kepner tells us that Jason Giambi asked out of the Yanks’ trip to St. Petersburg today, citing a minor lower back issue. The Giambino has been known to aggravate his back in the past, especially when manning first base. He’s been doing this a lot during the spring. Hopefully, a day or so of rest gets him back on track.
Via Mike Rose filling in for Kat O’Brien:
Andy Pettitte has been scratched from his start Wednesday with minor muscle irritation in his left forearm on the outside of the elbow.
Manager Joe Girardi heavily emphasized that the ailment is minor. Pettitte is not being sent for any tests, and Girardi said he would start if it were the regular season. In fact, Pettitte pushed to make the start Wednesday against the Rays.
“They’re extremely cautious here, and I guess it’s a good thing,” Pettitte said.
Pettitte said he first felt the irritation after his last bullpen session while playing catch. He said he was not concerned or would have stopped pitching. However, he told the Yankees what he was feeling and Wednesday morning they told him they would skip his start. The Yankees are treating the elbow with hot and cold bath, light microcurrent therapy, massage and stretching.
I’m sure this has nothing at all to do with throwing a Minor League pitcher out there to bear the brunt of the Cervelli retaliation. Nope. Nothing at all.
In all seriousness, Pettitte should be fine, but that elbow is always a red flag.