Never mind last night’s game. Painful as it was, it was just one loss. Far more damaging is the fact that three Yankees were placed on the disabled list after the game.
We knew Chien-Ming Wang was unlikely to make his next schedule start in Detroit on Tuesday and had already been skipped this time through the rotation thanks in part to Monday’s rain-out and Thursday’s off-day. Still, it smarts to hear Brian Cashman say that Wang’s problem is in his hips, a cascade injury of sorts stemming from the broken foot he suffered last June, and that he will need roughly two weeks of physical therapy. It’s not the bit about his hips that hurts—that may be bogus, after all—it’s the bit about the two weeks of physical therapy. Yes, a minimum DL stay is roughly two weeks, but Wang hasn’t pitched in a week, and his DL appearance could have been made retroactive, giving him a week to fix his clearly flawed mechanics and bringing him back after missing just three starts. Instead he’ll miss at least five starts. Add those to the three awful starts he already made, and suddenly Wang’s season is in the 20- to 25-start range at best.
The good news is that the Yankees have Phil Hughes looking very read to take Wang’s place. Hughes is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA and 19 Ks against three walks in 19 1/3 innings for Scranton. If Hughes pitches well in Wang’s stead, the Yankees will have an interesting choice to make once Wang’s ready to return. (Note that the Yankees haven’t officially named Hughes Tuesday’s starter and are currently filling Wang’s roster spot with an extra reliever.)
In addition to Wang, Brian Bruney has landed on the DL with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow. You’ll be excused if you think you’re having deja vu. Last year, Bruney had a tremendous April (1.59 ERA, 11 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 6 BB, 12 K, opponents hitting .175/.292/.350) but broke his foot covering first on April 22 and was out until August. This year he was again dominating in April (3.38 ERA, 8 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 12 K, opponents hitting .111/.172/.148), but woke up with elbow pain on the morning of April 22 and is now back on the DL. The good news is that this year’s injury is muscular and the Yankees hope that a couple weeks off will allow it to heal completely.
David Robertson has been recalled from Scranton to help replace Bruney. Robertson struck out three in a pair of scoreless innings against the Indians in the Yankee Stadium opener, but was optioned back to Scranton the next day as the Yankees though they might need an extra bad with Hideki Matsui’s knees and Mark Teixeira’s wrist acting up. The injury to Wang allows Robertson to return to the team just before his minimum ten days in Triple-A had elapsed. Robertson has not allowed an earned run in eight Triple-A innings, but has struck out 14 against just two walks in those frames.
Joining Robertson in the Yankee pen (as of 5:30 this evening, per Pete Abe) is Mark Melancon (pronounced mel-LAN-son), who hasn’t allowed a run, earned or otherwise, in 10 1/3 innings for Scranton this year while striking out 17 against just three walks. In a perfect world, both will be here to stay, and Steven Jackson, who has been on the 25-man roster since Sunday without seeing action despite the Yankees playing a total of 25 innings over their last two games, will be the man farmed out to make room for Hughes on Tuesday.
The perpetually rehabbing Humberto Sanchez was released to make room for Melancon. It was the obvious move, though a disappointing one as Sanchez went to high school in the Bronx and remained active in the community. He would have made a good story had he made an impact with the Yankees, but he just couldn’t get healthy and the Yankees have too many other quality arms to worry about retaining Sanchez, who turns 26 in about a month.
Finally, Cody Ransom tore his right quadricep on a steal of second base in the eighth inning of last night’s game. With Alex Rodriguez about two weeks from returning, Ransom has been sent straight to the 60-day DL to make roster space for Angel Berroa as the only other infielder on the Yankees 40-man roster had been first baseman Juan Miranda. The 31-year-old Berroa carried his hot spring over to the Triple-A season and was hitting .316/.365/.491 for Scranton. He will start at third base tonight, reigiting the spring-training battle between himself and Ramiro Peña, as one of them is likely to be farmed out when Alex Rodriguez returns in a couple of weeks. Worth noting: Berroa has played just one game at third base in the major leagues prior to today and played just 14 games there in the minors before this season.
Here’s the full Yankee lineup (the Red Sox’s remains the same as last night):
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Hideki Matsui (DH)
R – Angel Berroa (3B)
L – Brett Gardner (CF)
This is the first time Posada will catch A.J. Burnett this season. Pitching behind Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation, Burnett started after a loss in each of his three previous starts and each time helped lead the Yankees to victory. In his last start, however, he got a no-decision after walking seven men against just two strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings (he compensated by allowing just three hits, but two of them were home runs).
Today he’ll be taking on his former Marlins teammate, Josh Beckett. Beckett should have started last night had he not been serving a five-game suspension for throwing at Bobby Abreu after Abreu had called time during Burnett’s windup. Beckett was dominant in his first start of the season, but has been less impressive in his last two starts, putting up this line: 12 IP, 14 H, 8 R (7 ER), 6 BB, 10 K, 5.25 ERA.