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Aaron Hicks’ brief absence shows how important he’s become — June 20, 2017

Aaron Hicks’ brief absence shows how important he’s become

By George A. KIng III

hicksy

Even though Aaron Hicks was experiencing his first real slide of the season, the Yankees certainly missed Jacoby Ellsbury’s replacement in center field the last three games in Oakland.

“He is an important player for us,” general manager Brian Cashman said Monday of Hicks after the switch hitter was examined by club doctor Chris Ahmad but did not have tests done on his lower left-leg problem. “And he has been great for us so far.”

Hicks left Thursday’s 8-7 loss to the A’s with that leg problem and sat out the final three games — all losses — of the disastrous 1-6 road trip.

Cashman said Hicks is “day-to-day,” and the quicker they get the 27-year-old back, the better, even if he is in a 6-for-26 (.231) slide in his past six games, including seven strikeouts. For the season, Hicks is batting .306 with 10 homers, 36 RBIs and a .968 OPS.

Since replacing Ellsbury, who has been out since suffering a concussion May 24, Hicks is hitting .325 (25-for-77) with two homers, 16 RBIs, 16 strikeouts and a .926 OPS in 20 games in which the Yankees went 11-9.

Without Hicks, who took batting practice on the field Sunday in Oakland, manager Joe Girardi inserted Mason Williams in center field for three games and used Aaron Judge, Chase Headley and Gary Sanchez in Hicks’ No. 2 spot in the order. Williams went 2-for-9 with an RBI in three games against the A’s. Judge, Headley and Sanchez went 2-for-11 in those games with Judge going 2-for-3 with three RBIs Friday night.

“We have missed him,” Cashman said of Hicks. “But we also have missed others. We missed [Aroldis] Chapman and miss CC [Sabathia].”

Chapman returned from the DL Sunday and worked a perfect eighth inning. Sabathia ison the DL with a Grade 2 strained left hamstring he hopes to test off a mound this week.

Greg Bird will have his bothersome right ankle examined by Dr. Robert Anderson on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.

Bird has been on the DL since May 2 and shut down a minor league rehab assignment last week when his foot bothered him. A CT scan and MRI exam did not reveal any signs of significant injury, and Cashman said the bone bruise that landed Bird on the DL has healed.

Bird, who missed the 2016 season because of shoulder surgery and fouled a ball off his foot late in spring training, has played in 12 minor league games for Single-A Tampa and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting a combined .237 (9-for-38) with four RBIs. In 19 games for the Yankees, he is hitting .100 (6-for-60) with a homer, three RBIs and a .450 OPS.

Despite his lack of production, Bird’s absence has left a void in the Yankees’ lineup. He was the No. 3 hitter on Opening Day. Chris Carter has started 38 of the 39 games since Bird went down at first base and has hit .203 (24-for-118) with seven homers, 17 RBIs, an OPS of .704 and whiffed 52 times.


Yankees minor league pitcher Matt Marsh was suspended 50 games, MLB announced Monday, for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Marsh has gone 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA with Double-A Trenton this season after starting the year at Tampa. He was suspended following a second positive test for “a drug of abuse.”

Yankees, Red Sox fighting for star third baseman? —

Yankees, Red Sox fighting for star third baseman?

Mike Moustakas

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) points at Kansas City Royals fans after hitting a solo homerun.

BY JOE GIGLIO

Get ready for an old-school Yankees vs. Red Sox battle for a difference maker.

As the baseball calendar turns its attention toward the midpoint of the season, the buildup to the July 31 trade deadline will be a major talking point for both buyers and sellers.

That includes the Yankees and Red Sox as the fight for AL East supremacy unfolds.

For both teams, third base has been a glaring issue this year. If the Yankees (.668 OPS from 3B) and Red Sox (.564 OPS from 3B) look to upgrade at the deadline, the best available third baseman–Royals’ Mike Moustakas–could result in a bidding war between the rivals, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com.

Moustakas, enjoying a career-best offensive year, is the most intriguing Royal to monitor over the coming days. He could become the subject of a bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox as the rivals chase the American League East title.

The Yankees are considering upgrades at third base, where Chase Headley is having one of the worst offensive seasons of his career. (He’s also committed the second-most errors of any Major League third baseman this year.) Many in the industry have expected the Yankees’ improvement to come from within, thanks to top prospect Gleyber Torres. But Torres injured his left elbow in a Triple-A game Saturday, halting (at least temporarily) his rapid progress through the Minors.

Boston’s need at third base is even more glaring, with the worst OPS at the position (.565) of any team in the Majors. Pablo Sandoval has fallen out of the everyday job, despite having two years and $37.2 million left on his contract after the current season ends. Headley, for the record, is under contract for 2018 at $13 million.

Heading into play on June 19, Moustakas owned an impressive .276/.316/.549 slash line with 18 home runs. With the Royals sitting at 33-35 through 68 games, a sell off could be on the horizon.

The AL East race is likely to come down to the final days of the season, making any one acquisition that much more important in a division that could be separated by just a few games.

No spinning here: Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka has become problem that might not go away — June 18, 2017

No spinning here: Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka has become problem that might not go away

Masahiro Tanaka

by RANDY MILLER

OAKLAND, Calif. — Caution, you are entering a baseball No Spin Zone.

Yes, we know that’s fired Fox News political commentator Bill O’Reilly’s line.

We’re breaking it out again to spill some truth onto what’s going on withYankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who offered up yet another stinker of a start Saturday at Oakland Coliseum.

The Yankees badly needed Tanaka to go deep into this game because their bullpen’s been fried.

They badly needed him to be a stopper because a six-game winning streak has led into their longest losing streak of the season.

His first pitch left the park.

Given a second-inning lead, Tanaka gave up another homer.

Tied in the third, he gave up a third homer in a three-run inning.

By the fifth inning, the Yankees were into their bullpen on their way to a 5-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Five runs over four innings from Tanaka and another Yankees loss?

This season has become a nightmare for Tanaka, who is the one weak link in a starting rotation that otherwise has been a lot better than expected.

This made it five losses in a row for the Yanks and three in three days to a last-place A’s ballclub that plays well at home but has no business being a game away from sweeping a four from a division leader that was baseball’s hottest just a few days ago.

Tanaka let them down yet again and has become a big, big problem for a club that perhaps could do great things this season if their old ace wasn’t giving the Yankees about what Andy Messersmith gave them in 1978, or for younger fans, what Luis Severino gave them as a starter last season.

The Yankees don’t want to admit this, but Tanaka may never be what he was even though he’s just 28.

His fastball isn’t what it was when he left Japan to join the Yankees in 2014, and his arm isn’t the same either because he’s been pitching with a partially torn UCL since September of ’14.

Tanaka was healthy enough and consistently very good last season going 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA that was third best in the league while working 199 2/3 innings.

This spring, he was unhittable pretty much from start to finish in the Grapefruit League. He looked ready to make a run for a Cy Young.

And then came Opening Day.

He stunk in a loss at Tampa Bay, allowing seven runs over 2 2/3 innings.

Since, he’s had outings in which he gave up eight runs over 1 2/3 innings, six runs in three innings, seven runs over 5 2/3, five in five and now five in four.

There have been a few very good nights, especially his three-hit shutout in Boston on April 27, but not enough for someone of his stature.

His problems Saturday were same old, same old.

“Mistakes,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It really comes down to it. A splitter that didn’t do what it was supposed to, a slider didn’t do what it was supposed to. And again it was the inconsistency in the mistakes that he made.”

Tanaka was right saying his three homers allowed were “unacceptable,” but he didn’t seem as dejected as you’d think a supposed ace with a 6.34 ERA and 21 homers allowed over 14 starts would be.

Tanaka even took a bit of a glass-half-full approach to his day because he pitched well enough to strike out 10 and walk just one.

“I felt like I was able to get a couple of strikeouts, which tells you that there’s some bite to the off-speed stuff, so I look at that as a positive,” the Japanese righty said through his translator.

Catcher Austin Romine went this direction, too, saying, “He made two mistakes on a split that didn’t split and a slider that hung up there, If you take that away, he pitched a pretty good game.”

Well, la-dee-da. Three homers allowed and giving up five runs total in just four innings of work is not a pretty good game … for any pitcher.

That first-pitch homer that Matt Joyce hit out in the A’s first trumps Tanaka finishing the inning with three strikeouts in a row.

And it doesn’t really matter how good Tanaka looked striking out the side in a third inning in which Oakland scored three runs on five hits.

“It’s just part of the game,” Girardi said. “You’re always going to have some guys on your club that are usually struggling a little bit. I believe in him. I’ve seen what he’s done the previous three years. We’ll just try to get him ready and get him going.”

They’ve been trying.

It’s not working.

Maybe this is just a really bad stretch that Tanaka is going through and he’ll figure out how to be consistent again.

Based on the Tanaka we’ve been seeing — his inconsistencies with his slider and splitter, his great number of mistake pitches, all the home runs opponents are hitting — the no spinning response would be this:

What you see might be what you get all season long.

Greg Bird still not right and seeing a doctor, says Yankees manager Joe Girardi — June 15, 2017

Greg Bird still not right and seeing a doctor, says Yankees manager Joe Girardi

greg bird

Greg Bird has been on the DL since May 2 after injuring his ankle.

By NYDN Staff

Greg Bird, who has been struggling during his minor-league rehab stint, still isn’t feeling right and is seeing a doctor, according to Joe Girardi.

The Yankees manager announced the news Thursday afternoon while on Mike Francesa’s show on WFAN.

Bird fouled a ball off his ankle in the team’s final Grapefruit League game. He went on the disabled list on May 2.

On Wednesday, Bird went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk in Triple-A Scranton’s 6-5 victory over Rochester in Moosic, Pa.

“The results, they haven’t been great is the bottom line, so we’re trying to get him going is what we’re trying to do,” Girardi previously said. “I’m not there, so I’m not necessarily watching his whole at-bats and how he’s reacting to pitches, but when you look at the numbers, they’re not what you expect from Greg Bird.”

Bird hit 11 homers and posted an .872 OPS during a 46-game stint with the Yankees in 2015, but he missed the entire 2016 campaign due to a shoulder injury.

6 Yankees options (with odds) to replace CC Sabathia, who has strained hamstring — June 14, 2017

6 Yankees options (with odds) to replace CC Sabathia, who has strained hamstring

CC SLOB ATHIA

by Randy Miller

Yankees’ Aaron Judge excited to play in front of adoptive parents and his friends in California — June 12, 2017

Yankees’ Aaron Judge excited to play in front of adoptive parents and his friends in California

By Steven Marcus

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge in the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium on June 9, 2017

California, here he comes.

Aaron Judge is in his home state, where the West Coast will get a closeup of baseball’s hottest attraction. For Judge, who started the day with Triple Crown statistics of 21 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .344 batting average, the trip will represent a homecoming and a chance to see his family and friends.

The AL East-leading Yankees play three games in Anaheim against the Angels, followed by four in Oakland with the A’s.

“I’m excited,’’ Judge said Sunday. “My first road trip last year was to California, now it’s more exciting. They’ll be more people back home, friends from college, it’ll be good to see family and friends who haven’t seen me play for a while.’’

Mention his adoptive parents, Wayne and Patty, and Judge smiles. He was born on April 26, 1992, in Linden, California, about 85 miles from Oakland. He was adopted the following day.

“Some kids grow in their mom’s stomach, I grew in my mom’s

heart,’’ Judge said. “She’s always showed me love and compassion ever since I was a little baby. I’ve never needed to think differently or wonder about anything.’’

Judge, whose adopted brother, John, is an English teacher in Korea, did have a childhood curiosity.

“I think I asked questions when I was 10 years old,’’ he said. “ ‘I don’t look like you mom, I don’t look like you dad, what’s going on here?’ ’’ he asked.

“They told me,’’ of his adoption, he said. “That was it. I said, ‘OK, can I go outside and play now?’ It wasn’t a big deal.’’

While some adopted children may yearn to know their biological parents, Judge said “that has never’’ crossed his mind. “I can’t really relate to it. I have one set of parents, the ones that raised me. That’s how it is.’’

Judge, 25, does understand the longing other adoptees may feel.

“For them, I tell them to be open talk to their [adoptive] parents about the situation,” he said, “what happened, maybe get some answers about it.”

Judge said he may one day seek to help children who are in need.

“At one point in my career, I’m going to start a foundation be a part of something like that,’’ he said.

According to a 2015-16 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are 427,000 children in foster care, 111,820 of whom were waiting to be adopted.

“The orphan population is so large worldwide that we didn’t even know what it is,” said Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption.

Sheila Riccardi, communications director for the Children’s Aid and Family Service of New Jersey, said, “We would love the attention of a huge sports star. Most of the children who come here have suffered a lot of trauma and abuse. It’s not like they were born and they get adopted. Always, something bad has happened for them to be with us. Stories I hear are absolutely tragic. Most of our kids that are in need of a home, they’re older. Kids in foster care by the time they’re nine, they are considered old. So we do work hard to find families.”

Judge’s parents attended a recent series in New York and will be at all of the games on the coast. “I think my dad bought MLB Network,’’ Judge said. “They’re watching every game. My mom does a lot of yard work. She’ll be out in the yard listening to the game.’’

When Judge calls his parents, baseball isn’t the primary subject — his 495-foot home run on Sunday against the Orioles included.

“We don’t talk about it much to be honest,’’ he said. “They say ‘good game,’ stuff like that, but that’s the last thing I want to do when I call my parents is to talk about more baseball. I want to know how they’re doing, how’s the dog doing, what did you do today. ‘’

Judge’s muted reaction to hitting the longest homer in the majors this season merely corresponded to his motto on Twitter: “If what you did yesterday still seems big today, then you haven’t done anything today!’’

 

Who’s Domingo German? Meet newest Yankees pitcher — June 11, 2017

Who’s Domingo German? Meet newest Yankees pitcher

By Brendan Kuty

Source: Yankees to call up Domingo German to start Sunday — June 10, 2017

Source: Yankees to call up Domingo German to start Sunday

domingo germain

New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German (76) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

By BRENDAN KUTY

NEW YORK — Yankees pitching prospect Domingo German is expected make Sunday’s start in place of Masahiro Tanaka, a person with knowledge of the Yankees’ plans told NJ Advance Media.

The person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the move, requested anonymity.

The Yankees pushed Masahiro Tanaka’s scheduled Sunday start against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium to Monday in Anaheim.

German, 24, was 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA in three starts (four games) at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Yankees acquired German from the Marlins before the 2015 season as part of a five-player trade that also brought Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones to the Bronx. The Yankees sent David Phelps and Martin Prado to Miami in the deal.

German is on the Yankees’ 40-man roster.

The Yankees pushed Tanaka to Monday following his struggles this season against the Orioles and in general. The 28-year-old will take a 5-6 record and 6.55 ERA into Monday’s outing. He finished seventh in the American League Cy Young vote in 2016.

The Yankees promoted German to Triple-A from Double-A Trenton on May 18. At Double-A, German went 1-4 with a 3.55 ERA in six starts.

The Dominican Republic native has had a long journey to the majors.

He signed with the Marlins in 2009. In 2014, he played in the All-Star Futures game, striking out a pair of batters.

German needed Tommy John surgery at the end spring training in 2015. He lost his 40-man roster spot at the end of that season but the Yankees re-signed him.

Yankees have a surprising new ace they can count on —

Yankees have a surprising new ace they can count on

By Ken Davidoff

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You ever hear Joe Girardi — or scores of other managers — insist that whoever pitches that day ranks as the team’s ace?

These Yankees have discovered a new twist on that old line, haven’t they? Whoever pitches for them in a given game truly performs like an ace. As long as that contest is not slotted for their actual ace of the prior three seasons, Masahiro Tanaka.

Jordan Montgomery easily prevails in the “most surprising non-ace ace” contest here. And even the rookie’s continued excellence no longer really surprises.

The left-hander put up arguably the finest start of his young big league career Friday night, taming the dangerous Orioles to lead the Yankees to an 8-2 win at Yankee Stadium, their third straight victory in this important homestand against divisional challengers.

“I’m starting to trust myself a little more,” said Montgomery, who agreed this was his best major league appearance “so far.”

“I’m just kind of throwing it in there,” he said, “and whatever happens, happens.”

What’s happening is the Yankees keep plowing forward in what began as a reshaping campaign. At 35-23, they now lead the Red Sox (33-27) by three games and the Orioles (31-28) by 4 ½ in the AL East.

Aaron Hicks went deep twice, including the tiebreaking solo blast in the sixth, and Starlin Castro’s second-inning homer got the Yankees on the board after the O’s took a 2-0 lead in the top of the frame. Gary Sanchez chipped in with a double and single as the Yankees outlasted Baltimore’s young ace Dylan Bundy and then beat up on the bullpen with three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth.

Montgomery, barely on the team’s radar as spring training opened, shut it down after surrendering Jonathan Schoop’s monster two-run homer in the second. He retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced as he established career bests in innings (seven) and strikeouts (eight), giving up only five hits and walking just one. He leads all major league rookies with 61 strikeouts, and the most impressive might have come in the fifth inning Friday. With two outs, former Met Ruben Tejada on third base and the game still tied at 2-2, Montgomery fanned All-Star Adam Jones on five pitches.

“I know he had hit a fastball in the first inning,” Montgomery said, referring to Jones’ single. “I wanted to show that then. I went hard away, went after him with curveballs until he swung at them.”

“We’re giving him smaller bits and pieces. It’s kind of what you do with young players,” Girardi said. “You want to see them clear hurdles. He continues to clear them. We really like what he’s doing.”

Montgomery now owns a respectable 3.55 ERA, placing him third among Yankees starters, behind Luis Severino (2.90) and Michael Pineda (3.39) and just ahead of CC Sabathia (3.66). The Yankees’ widely believed liability has turned into a clear strength. Except for the widely believed anchor of this group, Tanaka, whom the Yankees announced Friday would take an extra day of rest to skip another potential beating from the Orioles and instead try his luck against the Angels at pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

This has been more of a concern than a full-blown crisis because Tanaka sticks out among his group precisely the opposite way of what we expected.

“You can’t ask for any more than what these guys are doing,” Girardi said. “[Severino] is on the mound [Saturday night]. Let it continue. He’s been throwing really well, too. We’ve been in a really important stretch here, so we’ve got a chance tonight to win the first game. We did it. Now let’s go out and try to build on it.”

They have been building on this ambush campaign since the season’s first week, flipping the script and defying conventional wisdom. With so many overachievers here, Montgomery gets easily overlooked in favor of fellow pitchers like Severino and fellow rookies like Aaron Judge.

“It [doesn’t] matter to me,” Montgomery said. “I’m just going to go out there every fifth or sixth day, give them seven or eight. Try to win games.”

An ace like that shall lead them, it seems, four days out of five.

How Chance Adams feels about looming Yankees opportunity — June 9, 2017

How Chance Adams feels about looming Yankees opportunity

chance adams,,

New York Yankees starting pitcher Chance Adams (83) throws a pitch during a rain shortened MLB spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

By BRENDAN KUTY

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Chance Adams knows he’s a step away from the big leagues. He also knows all he can do is put himself in position. The rest is up to the Yankees.

“It’s always been there,” Adams said Thursday. “It’s just, whenever they want to call me up. It’s not really under my control. When they feel I’m ready, they’ll call me up and I’ll do the best I can to help the team win.”

Adams, ranked the Yankees’ No. 7 overall prospect by MLB.com, has made quite the case.

The 23-year-old is 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA through his first five starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The top pitching prospect forced his promotion to the level by dominating Double-A Trenton for the second straight season.

He churned out his worst statistical outing in his most recent appearance. He cruised through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. A three-run home run erased his scoreless evening and a chance at a win.

“Just kind of made a mistake. He made me pay for it. That’s what you get at this level,” Adams said.

While the Yankees don’t currently have a spot in the rotation for the right-hander, one could pop up at any moment.

Example: The Yankees are debating pushing Masahiro Tanaka back a day from Sunday to Monday. Adams would seem like a longshot option considering several factors, but he’s knocking on the door.

One of the reasons he’s close? Improved fastball command. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said it’s one of the biggest differences he’s seen in Adams since Adams’ first major-league spring training months ago.

“I don’t think it’s too bad,” Adams said. “I can’t get it 100 percent of the time but I definitely feel like I’ve hit my fastball spots most of the time.”

But there are things working against him. He’s not on the Yankees’ full 40-man roster, which means they would have to dump someone to add him. The Yankees also have several other starting candidates on the 40-man, such as Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa and Domingo German.

Adams added that he’s been working on his changeup.

As for his Triple-A experience so far, Adams said, “It’s been fine. Just been another level. Doing all right. Could have been better.”