Both Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis played in a rehab game for the Double-A Trenton Thunder on Wednesday, they both played seven innings and went 0-for-2 with a walk, and both are expected to return to the Yankees on Friday, Brian Cashman said.
It’s a little surprising to hear that both are coming back so soon without almost any rehab time at all. However, the Yankees offense has dropped off the face of the Earth recently so they are doing what they feel they must.
The second question is easier to answer than the first so we’ll start there. Yes, absolutely, the return of Teixeira and Youkilis will be big for the Yankees. It might not be as big an impact as some hope though.
The biggest thing will be that Youk’s return gets Jayson Nix out of the everyday lineup (or at least moves him to shortstop). That’s big. The difference between Teixeira, who hit .251/.332/.474 last year, and Overbay, who is hitting .251/.294/.469 this year, isn’t huge though.
Where the difference between Teixeira and Overbay comes in though is in the lefty/righty splits. Overbay has actually hit righties this year much better than Teixeira did last year, but Teixeira is much stronger against lefties, he hit .269/.333/.531 vs. LHP in 2012, which is where the Yankees have really struggled this year.
So starting Friday we’ll see less of Nix, or Brignac, and the team will be better against left handed pitching as well. That should be a help, but the two positions the Yankees have really struggled at are right field, where Ichiro Suzuki has become a liability, and at shortstop.
Ichiro currently ranks 19th out of 20 regular right fielders qualified for the batting title with a .270 wOBA. In the month of May he’s hit a pathetic .222/.241/.321. Shortstop is just as bad as the Yankees rank 25th among all teams at the position with a .260 wOBA.
We also shouldn’t ignore that Vernon Wells has reverted to his old ways with the Angels. After a strong April he has hit just .229/.260/.375 over his last 25 games.
So while getting Teixeira and Youkilis back will be a boost it will not be a huge one. Getting Granderson and Jeter back will be much bigger when that eventually happens.
How the team shakes out on Friday will be interesting. Once the Yankees add Youk and Teixeira they will have five corner infielders and DH’s including Overbay, Adams, and Travis Hafner.
The team could go in several different ways with this. For one thing, they are currently carrying 13 pitchers which is a bit of overkill so sending Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, or Ivan Nova down could clear a way for them to hold on to one of Overbay or Adams. The best bet is for Nuno to go down, but it very likely could be a short stint.
Overbay has been working out in right field and Adams at shortstop, but it doesn’t seem realistic that either will see much playing time at those positions (Overbay said he felt uncomfortable and Adams just doesn’t have the arm strength).
Yankees fans should probably expect to see Overbay stick around, even if it’s just for a few weeks as insurance in case Teixeira or Youkilis have a setback. Adams might get sent down to the minors. He has been impressive though so don’t be surprised if the Yankees DFA Nix instead. That is a long shot though because of Nix’s ability to play shortstop as well.
• Asked if Brian Cashman was looking outside the organization for other shortstop options, he said he doesn’t see it happening and could keep using scrap-heap players like Reid Brignac to fill in until Jeter returns.
Wang has made eight starts in Triple-A so far with a 2.65 ERA, a 4.1 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. However, scouts haven’t been impressed with his stuff that doesn’t have the movement or velocity it once had.
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Photo credit: Mel Evans/AP.