By George A. King III
SAN DIEGO — With less than a month before the July 31 trade deadline arrives, the word circulating through the industry is the Yankees prefer to keep Andrew Miller.
“They are saying no on Miller,’’ a person with knowledge of the situation said. “But there is a lot of time left.’’
If one of the Holy Trinity Of Smoke went to the bathroom lately, the Cubs would follow. Including Friday night at Petco Park, the Cubs have had five scouts following Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman and Miller. Unlike during the last home stand when the Cubs had three scouts, including pro scouting director, Jared Porter, they had only two eyes on the back end of the Yankees’ pen Friday night. The Cubs were joined by scouts from the Rangers and Nationals on Friday night.
It’s believed the Cubs, Rangers and Nationals are the teams most interested in bolstering their bullpens by adding a member of the dominant Yankees pen.
The Yankees have to hope that what happened to Michael Pineda last year doesn’t repeat itself this season following a high strikeout performance.
On May 10 a year ago, Pineda dominated the Orioles by striking out 16 in seven innings of a 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium. That hiked his record to 5-0, lowered the ERA to 2.72 and provided signs the large right-hander had the foundation of a wonderful season in place.
However, Pineda drastically fell apart during the 20 starts following the gem against the Orioles. In those 20 outings Pineda went 7-10 (the Yankees were 9-11), posted a 5.01 ERA, allowed 132 hits and 18 homers in 114 ¹/₃ innings, and batters hit .288 against him.
In the next two starts after the Orioles game, Pineda went 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA and allowed 18 hits (two homers) in 11 ¹/₃ innings.
In order for the Yankees to have a chance to run down the Orioles in the AL East, Pineda must avoid a repeat of last year after his 12-strikeout effort in six innings Thursday against the Rangers in a 2-1 win he didn’t get a decision in.
His next start is against the White Sox on Wednesday in Chicago, and he’s been pitching well lately. Pineda went 1-1 in six June starts (the Yankees were 5-1) with a 2.75 ERA, allowed 27 hits in 36 innings and struck out 49. Opposing hitters batted .201.
Because they spent $17 million during the international signing period in 2014, the Yankees have been limited to not giving a foreign amateur player more than $300,000 to sign last year and this year. Saturday is the first day major league clubs can sign 16- and 17-year-old players.
The Yankees have a little over $2 million total to spend, but that will increase next year when they are out of the limit penalty box.
“We will sign guys,’’ GM Brian Cashman said when asked if his club will be active starting Saturday. “Next year we will be back.’’
Any team that exceeds its bonus pool by 10 to 15 percent, which the Yankees did two years ago, is not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 the following two years.
Players who have at least three years of pro experience and are 23 or older are exempt from international pools.
Carlos Beltran had played 23 games at Petco Park without a homer. It is the only current stadium the switch-hitter hadn’t homered in.
Beltran had homered in 38 different parks. Milwaukee County Stadium and Detroit’s Tiger Stadium are the only shuttered stadiums Beltran played in and didn’t homer. He played three games at County Stadium and six games at Tiger Stadium.
As for the possibility of returning to Petco in two weeks as a member of the AL All-Star team, Beltran said he is focused on getting back from a right hamstring injury.
“Right now that’s the last thing on my mind,’’ the eight-time All-Star said. “If it happens it would be great, but I don’t know what to say.’’
Didi Gregorius has to hope July is as good as June was to him.
The left-handed hitting shortstop batted .337 (34-for-101) with four homers and 18 RBIs in 27 games. It was Gregorius’ highest batting average, most hits and RBIs in any calendar month of his career.
Entering Friday, Gregorius was hitting .373 (22-for-59) with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last 15 games, raising his batting average from .266 to .290.
Yankees batters hit .278 in 27 June games. That was the fourth highest average in the month. The Orioles hit .300, the Tigers .288 and the Royals .284.
Alex Rodriguez had 3,109 hits entering Friday night’s action and needed one to tie Dave Winfield for 19th on baseball’s all-time list.
Aaron Judge was named International League Player of the Month in June for hitting .343 with nine homers and 25 RBIs for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Yankee rookie right-hander Conor Mullee was taken out of the game in the seventh inning when his right hand went numb. The St. Peter’s College product who has had two Tommy John surgeries on the right elbow and another procedure will undergo tests Saturday.
“My hand felt weird. I think it’s more of a circulation thing,’’ Mullee said. “The elbow felt fine and the shoulder felt good. I am hoping it was some weird, freak thing going on. I was trying to grip the ball and it felt numb. I am not sure why. I am getting it looked at, I hope everything is OK.’’