It was a little bit of a surprise to see that the Yankees called up reliever Cody Eppley when Brett Gardner went on the DL with a strained elbow and not another outfielder. Apparently, Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought that they needed a reliever more than an outfielder and is comfortable using a platoon of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez in left field until Gardner comes back.
The short bench does bring up certain obstacles. For instance there is now no backup for Curtis Granderson in center field, but Girardi said he would potentially use Jones or Eduardo Nunez there in the event he needed somebody else out there. Yes, that Nunez will play center field. He has been shagging flies out there during BP in preparation for this.
“Without Gardy being here, the one guy that we probably have to pay the closest attention to is Granderson, because we don’t necessarily have a true center fielder besides Curtis,” Girardi told Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “We’re going to have to check with him as much as we can.”
As for the Eppley, at least for now it sounds like he’s staying.
“I’m pretty comfortable right now with (having 13 pitchers), but my mood could change in a day or two,” Girardi told Jennings. “When I talked to Brian (Cashman), my thought was that we needed a 13th pitcher more than another outfielder.”
For those wondering, why Eppley? He looks like he has decent potential as a reliever. He has a career K/9 of 10.3 and a BB/9 of 2.7. Solid numbers. Even better, this season they have improved to 12.8 and 1.4 respectively (a pathetically small sample size of 6.1 innings). Still, with David Phelps firmly entrenched in the long relief role, a one inning guy like Eppley helps the Yankees more right now than Adam Warren or D.J. Mitchell, who would be more of the multiple innings type right now.
This all leaves the Yankees open to use their rotating DH with Nunez and Eric Chavez taking turns filling in as needed. Expect Chavez to also get at bats as the DH. One final note, Girardi told Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News that Ibanez is technically the emergency third catcher because of his past minor league catching experience. He also played four innings behind the plate for the Mariners in 1999.