Tag: Sonny Gray

Greg Bird Activated; Ronald Torreyes Optioned to SWB

The Toe-Night Show moves to Scranton, at least for now.

We all knew Greg Bird was coming back today. Yankee manager Aaron Boone told Mike Francesa as much during Thursday’s off-day. He also mentioned that the team had not quite figured out who was going to be demoted to Triple-A when the slugging first baseman returned.

“It’s something that we’ve had a lot of conversations about,” Boone said before Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. “We are still mulling it over; we just met a little bit ago to work through things and what we think the best way to go is. It leads to a difficult decision, not a simple one, not an obvious one. It’s something, frankly, that we’re still kind of working through.”

That decision has been made, and it must not have been easy. The Yankees demoted fan-favorite utility infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and activated Bird as expected. Torreyes was hitting .339/.349/.435 with six doubles in 62 at-bats this season. His value came from his ability to hit for contact even without much playing time, as well as suit up at any non-first base infield position and even in the outfield corners.

It’s worth noting that last season, where Torreyes played in 108 games and Bird in just 48, that Bird had an OPS+ of 84 and Torreyes’ was just 81. Bird actually managed to contribute more offense despite having 166 fewer plate appearances. That’s because of Torreyes’ 153 hits as a member of the Yankees, a whopping 83.7% of them have been singles. Out of Bird’s 69 hits as a Yankee, just 47.8% have been singles.

Bird brings some badly needed lefty power to the Yankees lineup. Lefty hitters have only hit 18 home runs for the Yankees this year, and 11 of those have come from Didi Gregorius. When healthy, the 25-year-old Bird does quite well against lefties. His OPS is actually 69 points higher against southpaws than righties, which is impressive for a young player.

The Yankees choose to keep Tyler Austin and A.J. Cole around, who were my top candidates for a demotion upon Bird’s return. Austin will likely platoon at first until Bird is ready to play everyday, as well as get some at-bats as a designated hitter when the Yankees face a tough lefty. With the Yankees struggling to get consistent innings from Domingo Germán and Sonny Gray, it makes sense to keep an arm like Cole’s around in case of mop-up and/or long relief situations.

I wouldn’t expect Torreyes to be gone long, as the Yankees likely will not want to rely on Gleyber Torres as their sole backup shortstop. While the decision to send Torreyes down must’ve been tough, it makes the most short-term sense for this team. It’s not like they abandoned him on a deserted island. Torreyes had the most flexibility because of his minor league options and I see him continuing to contribute in the Bronx this season.

Tommy Kahnle to Return Friday; Greg Bird on Saturday

Badly needed reinforcements are headed to the Bronx, as key contributors RHP Tommy Kahnle and 1B Greg Bird are set to be activated from the disabled list during the upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Aaron Boone provided the information in a radio interview with Mike Francesa.

The bullpen proved overworked in an ugly loss Wednesday in Texas, where the Yankees’ offense scored 10 runs but were bested by 12 from the Rangers. Tommy Kahnle will provide extra length as he serves as another arm Boone can trust in a high-leverage situation. Kahnle last pitched April 12 in Boston, before a concerning velocity drop led the Yankees to discover his right shoulder tendinitis. That likely explains his unsightly 6.14 ERA (5.69 FIP) as well as astronomical 9.8 walks-per-nine rate. So far on his rehab assignment, Kahnle has allowed two earned runs in five innings of work.

Greg Bird returns to a first base position that has actually been handled well in his absence. The 25-year-old did not make the trip north for the Yankees’ opening series in Toronto due to another surgery on a small bone spur in his right ankle. Doctors removed a coin-sized calcium deposit from the joint. Yankees first basemen have combined to hit .238/.296/.431 with nine homers and 33 RBIs to this point in the season, so they have the luxury to ease Bird back into things. I would expect the Yankees to demote an extra reliever (likely A.J. Cole) so that they can keep both Tyler Austin and Neil Walker on the active roster. On his rehab assignment, Bird has slashed .205/.367/.436 with three home runs. He likely will play one more game with the RailRiders Friday in Scranton.


Gary Sánchez, who left Tuesday night’s game with calf cramps and did not start in Wednesday’s game, will likely start behind the plate as normal to catch Luis Severino in Friday’s series opener. He’ll get at least the half-day-off Saturday as Sonny Gray will start.

Prior to Boone’s interview with Francesa, there was nervousness regarding Sánchez’s health as the team signed catcher Wilkin Castillo out of the independent Atlantic League and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. No word at this point if either of their catchers, Kyle Higashioka or Erik Kratz, are going through any injury issues. Castillo is actually quite versatile as well, logging innings at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. And, yes, he logged 6⅔ innings on the mound for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians in the Pittsburgh Pirates system in 2015.

Earlier today, the Yankees activated outfielder Billy McKinney (left shoulder sprain) from the 10-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Yankees 10, Royals 1: Sonny Shines, Offense Powers 8th Straight Series Win

Even with a “B” lineup on the field, the Yankees crushed the Kansas City Royals with ease in Sunday’s series finale at Kauffman Stadium.

With Clint Frazier and Gary Sánchez stashed on the bench, the Yankees still showed off plenty of power capability. Tyler Austin led the charge, smacking his 7th and 8th homers of the season off Royals’ starter Eric Skoglund. Austin leads all MLB rookies in home runs, which is quite impressive for a player who was not even supposed to make the Opening Day roster. Austin drove in four runs total on the day.

Embed from Getty Images

The ninth inning also turned into a mini-Home Run Derby, where Miguel Andújar hit an impressive home run to the opposite field. Austin Romine, who somehow is hitting .326 after today’s game, then followed with an absolute bomb to center field. Sánchez’s absence was never felt as power was abundant.

Aaron Hicks tripled in a run in the fifth, and Brett Gardner drove in a run with an infield single in the eighth. Ronald Torreyes scored in the eighth also on a wild pitch.

Sonny Gray was the real star of Sunday’s game. The righty dominated the Royals, throwing eight stellar innings of one-run ball. He scattered four hits, walked one batter and struck out five. Gray did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, The Royals scored their one run in the eighth when Hunter Dozier singled, moved to second on an Alex Gordon groundout and then scored on a Jon Jay single.

“I thought his stuff was great and the slider was a really good pitch for him,” Aaron Boone said. “When he’s ahead [in the count], he has the weapons to put people away. That was clear today. The stuff is elite. That’s why we were so optimistic about him even when he was going through some struggles.”

A.J. Cole came in to pitch the ninth inning, getting a fly out and two strikeouts.

Embed from Getty Images


Rehab Update:

Neither Greg Bird nor Billy McKinney played for any minor league affiliates today. Bird is reportedly headed to Triple-A to join the RailRiders for their series opener in Pawtucket on Monday. No word on McKinney, who could remain in Trenton or move to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with Bird.


What’s Next:

Masahiro Tanaka opens up the Yankees’ next series in Texas, where he will face Bartolo Colón and the Rangers.

Game 43: Sonny Aims to Right Ship, Fight Rain, Win Series

Sonny Gray gets the ball in today’s rubber game matinee from Kansas City, where there is a 45% chance of showers at first pitch.

Gray has struggled this season, especially with command of his pitches. He has walked 5.7 batters per nine innings, which is by far the worst rate in his career. Home runs have been a problem too, which he has allowed at a 1.2 per nine rate. His last start saw him regress from two solid outings, where he allowed five runs on nine hits against his former team. Gray is 1-2 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts against Kansas City, but the ERA jumps to 4.15 in Kauffman Stadium.

Facing Gray will be another lefty: Eric Skoglund. It’s been an up-and-down year for the 25-year-old, who has alternated between brilliant starts and not-so-brilliant ones. His last start was a tough luck loss, where he allowed just two runs in 7⅔ innings to the Tampa Bay Rays. His offense, however, could not bail him out. Skoglund has never faced the Yankees before, but has a career 4.95 ERA at Kauffman Stadium.

Didi Gregorius sits again against a lefty starter, as Aaron Boone wants him to “recharge, both physically and mentally, and hopefully he can hit the ground running when we get to Texas tomorrow”. Ronald Torreyes, who’s hitting .392/.404/.510 when in the starting lineup this year, gets another start at shortstop. Despite collecting a double last night, Clint Frazier sits in favor of Brett Gardner in left field. Gary Sánchez gets the day-game-after-a-night-game off, as Austin Romine continues to catch Gray.

After a few hitless games, I’m slightly surprised Boone didn’t decide to rest Aaron Judge in the finale. Giancarlo Stanton could have shifted to right, and Sánchez could have snuck into the lineup as the designated hitter. Just a hypothetical, though.


Royals’ Lineup:

  1. Jon Jay – CF
  2. Jorge Soler – RF
  3. Mike Moustakas – 3B
  4. Salvador Pérez – DH
  5. Whit Merrifield – 2B
  6. Hunter Dozier – 1B
  7. Alex Gordon – LF
  8. Alcides Escobar – SS
  9. Drew Butera – C

 

Yankees 8, Royals 3: Bombers Clobber Five Homers to Even Series

Four balls over the wall, and one that missed by a few inches.

The Bronx Bombers lived up to that nickname Saturday night in Kansas City, as the rain held off to allow the Yankees to even their series with the Royals behind an 8-to-3 win.

Gary Sánchez finally broke out in a huge way tonight, going 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs and a single. The Kraken drove in three runs and scored two of his own.

In the third inning, Aaron Hicks showed off his speed as he smacked his second inside-the-park home run of the season on a fly ball to right field. He is the first Yankee to have multiple inside-the-park home runs in a season since Mickey Mantle in 1958. Gleyber Torres smacked a go-ahead 3-run homer in the fourth to put the Yankees ahead for good. In the top of the ninth, Giancarlo Stanton smacked one into the left-center field fountains, and then Sánchez snuck his second homer of the night over the left field wall.

The Royals rallied for two runs in the third when Alcides Escobar led of the inning with a single and then scored on a Ryan Goins double. Jon Jay then sacrificed Goins to third, and Jorge Soler followed with an RBI single.

They also scored in the fifth, when Goins walked, Jay singled and then Mike Moustakas hit a broken-bat single to right that scored Goins. The Royals almost plated another run, but a strong relay from Stanton to Ronald Torreyes to Gary Sánchez nailed Moustakas at the plate trying to score from first on a Salvador Pérez double.

Hicks, Torreyes and Tyler Austin each managed multi-hit games tonight. Aaron Judge was the only Yankee without a hit.


Rehab Update:

  • Greg Bird: 1-for-3, BB – Bird is headed to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue his rehab stint.
  • Billy McKinney: 1-for-3, BB – McKinney played center field for the Thunder tonight. Played five games there for Trenton in 2017, once in 2016. Unclear if he’s headed to SWB with Bird.

What’s Next:

Sonny Gray looks to rebound from an awful start against his old team, the Oakland Athletics. Gray gave up five runs in five innings May 11, and looks to revert to the pitcher that allowed just two runs over six innings against the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians.

His counterpart will be southpaw Eric Skoglund. In seven starts, the 25-year-old has pitched to a 1-3 record and 5.58 ERA. His last start saw him get a tough luck loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing just two runs while scattering seven hits in 7⅔ innings.

Capital Punishment: Weather in D.C. Derails Series

Mother Nature wins again.

The Yankees and Washington Nationals did not get too far in their two-games series. The teams made it through 5½ innings of 3-to-3 baseball before being forced to suspend the game prior to the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday. The teams planned to finish the suspended game Wednesday evening prior to the regularly scheduled start time of Wednesday’s game.

Fast forward to tonight: none of the 12½ innings of baseball scheduled ended up being played. The threat of further bad weather forced the the completion of Tuesday’s game and playing of Wednesday’s game into a doubleheader on June 18.

“You’ve got to deal with it,” Giancarlo Stanton said to Bryan Hoch. “It’d be worse if we were just sitting around here all day and they banged it. We got good notice. We’ll get a little workout in, get what we need cleaned up and play when the weather is ready.”

Manager Aaron Boone told reporters that Thursday, a mutual off-day for both teams, could not function as a makeup date because of hotel conflicts and a previously scheduled event at Nationals Park.

There is both good and bad to that postponement:

  • The Good: the Yankees avoid Max Scherzer, the Nationals’ ace who carried a 1.69 ERA (1.75 FIP) into what would’ve been his start tonight. Plus, the Yankees regain the designated hitter as they open up a three-game series with the Royals in Kansas City on Friday.
  • The Bad: the June 18 makeup date occurs in the middle of what would’ve been a nine-game homestand. The Yankees must play the Tampa Bay Rays on June 17, go to Washington to play those 12½ innings of baseball and then return to the Bronx to take on the Seattle Mariners on June 19. The Yankees will play 17 games in 16 days from June 12 to June 27.

The Yankees won’t reshuffle their starting rotation because of the rainouts. CC Sabathia, who was scheduled to start Wednesday, will start the series opener in Kansas City. He will be followed by Luis Severino on Saturday and Sonny Gray on Sunday.

Aaron Boone indicated that current fifth starter Domingo Germán will be available in relief during the Royals series, since he has not appeared in a game since May 12. According to the Yankees official website, he is scheduled to start May 22 in Texas.


It’s unclear if the Yankees will continue going with a seven-man bullpen and four-man bench in Kansas City. The team recalled Clint Frazier for the Nationals series, and designated David Hale for assignment to gain a roster spot. The Yankees do have an open 40-man spot with Hale in DFA-limbo, and also now have a healthy Giovanny Gallegos at their disposal. Boone told reporters that Gallegos would have been recalled as the 26th man if the Yankees were to play two games Wednesday.

RHP Chance Adams Reassigned to Minor League Camp

The Yankees’ No. 6 prospect will head back to Triple-A.

After coming into MLB camp as a highly regarded non-roster invitee, No. 6 prospect Chance Adams was reassigned to minor league camp Thursday after giving up six earned runs in just 4⅔ innings pitched.

“It hasn’t been too great of a spring for me,” Adams said, per Bryan Hoch. “Just got to let it go, and I have to get better as the season goes on. Nothing really happens too good if you just dwell on what happens. Just got to be focused on the future and let the past go.”

Adams had a fantastic year in 2017 with both Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting an overall 15-5 record and 2.45 ERA in 27 total starts. The former college reliever has the upside to become a No. 3 starter, but needs to focus on harnessing his fastball command, per MLB Pipeline.

The 23-year-old’s time in camp ended with an unpleasant 11.57 ERA, with hitters batting .474 against him. Adams will now focus on returning to the RailRiders rotation in Triple-A, and being prepared if there is a need in the big league rotation or bullpen due to injury.

Many clamored for Adams to make his debut last season amid injury- and performance-related uncertainty in the Yankees’ rotation. The midseason acquisitions of Jaime García and Sonny Gray allowed the Yankees to keep Adams in the minors, however.

Yankees 1, Braves 3: Gary’s Dinger Not Enough

Gary Sánchez hit a line drive home run off ex-Yankees RHP Arodys Vizcaíno, but it was not enough to push the Yankees to victory over the Atlanta Braves Friday in Kissimmee.

Sánchez’s second dinger of the spring came in the sixth inning, as the Yankee backstop managed to tie the game with one swing. It was his second hit of the game after he led off the fourth inning with a single to center field.

The seventh inning doomed the Yankees to defeat. Preston Tucker singled against David Hale, then Charlie Culberson singled to move Tucker to second base. Next, Carlos Franco doubled to right field, where Billy McKinney had an adventure fielding the ball. McKinney ended up committing a fielding and throwing error on the play, allowing two runs to score.

Those runs ended up making the decisive difference in the game. Only one of those runs was charged to Hale as earned.

Offensive Notes:

  • Greg Bird really struggled tonight. He struck out three times in four at-bats, leaving seven men on-base. His Spring Training average dropped below .100 after this game. Spring stats obviously mean very little, but it would be important for the Yankees to get Bird going. “I think he is a middle-of-the-order hitter on a championship team. When we see him healthy and at his best, he will be a guy who will be a real option to hit in the middle of our order,’’ Aaron Boone said to George A. King III in late February.
  • Other than Aaron Hicks‘ bloop single, Gary Sánchez provided the Yankee offense tonight with his solo home run and single. “Gary, for me, he’s one of the most gifted hitters I’ve played with, and I’ve played with some pretty decent ones, as you know,” said Brett Gardner to Coley Harvey, who now covers the Yankees for ESPN. Sánchez just renewed his contract for $620,400 in 2018 since he is still a pre-arbitration player.

Pitching Notes:

  • Sonny Gray was fantastic on the mound in his 3⅔ innings of work. He struck out three, walked one and only allowed one hit.
  • Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holder each contributed one scoreless inning of work tonight. Each pitcher struck out two batters. Both are looking to make the Opening Day roster in the front end of the bullpen.
  • The Yankees were bested tonight by a product of their own organization. Anyelo Gómez, who was credited with the win, was selected by the Braves out of the Yankees organization in the Rule 5 draft. Roster Resource projects him to stick with the Braves in the front end of their bullpen. If he does not, the Braves must return him to the Yankees.

Tomorrow’s Game:

The Yankees welcome the Mets into Steinbrenner Field for another Subway Series preview game. The Yankees won the first edition in Port St. Lucie, and send Luis Cessa to the mound Saturday against Matt Harvey. Cessa had been scheduled to start March 7 at the Mets, but had been scratched for Domingo Germán because of a stiff neck.

Game 14: Off to Disney World

No TV, just radio tonight.

The Yankees bring their team (minus nine players) to Kissimmee tonight, taking on the Atlanta Braves inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. Champion Stadium hosts a matchup between big league righties Sonny Gray and Julio Teherán.

The team continues to look at Billy McKinney, as he starts in right field tonight after his go-ahead grand slam against the Mets Wednesday. Fellow 40-man outfielder Jake Cave gets the start in left field. Gleyber Torres starts at second base, while Miguel Andújar continues his quest for the third base job.

The Yankees list RHP Jonathan Holder, LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP J.P. Feyereisen and RHP David Hale as probable relievers against the Braves.


Braves Lineup:

  1. Ender Inciarte – CF
  2. Charlie Culberson – SS
  3. Freddie Freeman – 1B
  4. Tyler Flowers – C
  5. Nick Markakis – RF
  6. Ryan Schimpf – 3B
  7. Christian Colón – 2B
  8. Preston Tucker – LF
  9. Lane Adams – DH

Phillies 3, Yankees 4: Miguel’s Magic

The first walk-off of the year!

With two strikes and two outs against him in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, Miguel Andújar came up huge against the Philadelphia Phillies. His walkoff solo home run propelled the Yankees to their fourth straight spring victory Monday night in Tampa.

Andújar is in the thick of the intense infield competition for the Yankees. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, and immediately roped a double that knocked in his main competition at third base, Brandon Drury. That hit tied the game. Then, after Gleyber Torres and Mark Payton were unable to connect against Ranger Suárez of the Phillies, Andújar lined a 2-2 pitch out to left for a game-winner.

Sonny Gray started the game in excellent shape. He worked around two singles to throw two innings of shutout ball, striking out two. Things began to unravel once Chance Adams came in to relieve Gray. Shoddy control allowed Carlos Santana to drive in a leadoff walk with a sacrifice fly in the third.

Ben Heller took over after a scoreless inning from Jonathan Holder. He eventually walked the bases loaded with one out, and then hit Phillies’ catcher Jorge Alfaro to force in a run.

The Yankees answered in the bottom of that frame. Drury walked, Billy McKinney reached on a fielding error by first baseman Matt McBride, then Tyler Wade knocked Drury in to cut the deficit to 2-to-1. Andújar’s double in the seventh tied the game.

Another Yankees run came in the eighth. Erik Kratz and Tyler Austin walked, then designated hitter Jorge Saez (pinch-hitting for Giancarlo Stanton) singled Kratz in to give the Yankees a 3-to-2 lead. Austin was thrown out trying to score by left fielder Jesmuel Valentin.

Cody Carroll was tasked with getting the last three outs, but he was unable to without squandering the lead. He got the first two outs, but Scott Kingery deposited a solo home run out to right field to tie the game again at 3.

Andújar took care of the Phillies from that point, going from two strikes and two outs to the first walk-off hero of this young season.


Tomorrow, the Yankees take a trip west to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium tomorrow at 1:07 p.m. Chad Green will get the start coming off an incredible season out of the bullpen. His counterpart will be RHP Marco Estrada.