- Last Updated: 12:32 PM, May 31, 2012
- Posted: 2:54 AM, May 31, 2012
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Russell Martin said plate umpire Laz Diaz punished him last night for arguing balls and strikes early in the game.
Martin likes to keep his arm loose by throwing balls to the pitcher after a ball goes out of play. But that wasn’t the case last night with Diaz.
“He told me I had to earn the privilege,’’ a confused Martin said after the Yankees’ 6-5 win over the Angels. “That was strange and mystifying. He was punishing me.’’
Even when Martin got hit by a ball under the chin and needed a minute to collect himself, he said Diaz wouldn’t let him throw the ball to Rafael Soriano.
“I feel like he was trying to get me [thrown out], but it wasn’t going to happen,’’ Martin said.
As with all pitchers, the Yankees have concerns about Andy Pettitte. He will be 40 in two weeks. He sat out all of last year. And in 2010 he battled groin and back problems.
And while Pettitte needs to get his fastball velocity consistently to 89-90 mph to create separation from his other pitches, the veteran lefty isn’t among the Yankees’ rotation concerns even if he is far from satisfied with what has unfolded in four starts.
“I have to get better,’’ Pettitte said after a Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Angels. “That’s all there is to it.’’
While the Yankees live in a “now’’ universe where every pitch is a referendum on whether the arm is good enough or not, scouts say Pettitte can’t be judged accurately until much later.
“It might take until the end of August to see what the real deal is,’’ a talent evaluator who watched Pettitte give up five runs and nine hits in seven-plus innings. “It’s the end of spring training or early April for him.’’
Considering Phil Hughes is 4-5 with a 5.64 ERA and has given up 63 hits in 52 ²/₃ innings, he isn’t showing a top-of-the-rotation act the Yankees hoped to have seen by now.
Hiroki Kuroda is 4-6 with a respectable 3.96 ERA but has been wildly inconsistent and has allowed 85 baserunners (21 walks; one hit batter and 63 hits) in 61 ¹/₃ innings. And he is 37.
Ivan Nova, who picked up his sixth win last night, suffers from the same problem Hughes and Kuroda do: too many baserunners.
So, based on the numbers of others and the fact that he is 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA and has given up less hits (27) than innings pitched (28 ¹/₃), you could make the assumption that Pettitte has vaulted past Kuroda as the No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia.
Nevertheless, be careful.
“What he is right now is a fifth starter because it’s early for him and he didn’t compete last year,’’ the scout said. “Everyone wants to put him ahead of Nova and the other guys. He might be later because his is so smart and competes, but not yet. You have to see him late to see if he did get the magic back.’’
Brett Gardner may never be an All-Star, and the Yankees value his talent more than most organizations. But until the speedy left fielder returns the DL, the Yankees lineup won’t be complete.
Though Gardner is making some progress in Tampa coming back from a strained right elbow, there is no timetable for him to begin a second minor league rehab assignment.
Raul Ibanez has done a solid job helping to replace Gardner in left but the soon-to-be 40-year-old lefty swinger has probably played a bit more in the outfield than manager Joe Girardi anticipated in spring training.
Lately, Ibanez has slowed and entered last night’s action in a 5-for-24 (.208) slide across six games and had driven in one run.
Since Gardner went down on April 17, Ibanez, 40 Saturday, has started 19 games in left and five in right.
“In my mind I figured he would play the outfield one or two times a week, maybe three times in two weeks to give guys breaks,’’ Girardi said of his mindset in spring training.
Signed to be the DH against right-handed pitching, Ibanez was hitting .261 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.
Since Gardner, who is working out in Tampa, hasn’t been given a date when he will begin a second minor league rehab assignment.
Robinson Cano participated in hitting coach Kevin Long’s pull drill Wednesday afternoon. With a screen cutting the plate in half, the hitter can’t do anything else but pull Long’s flips from about 20 feet away.
The drill is popular with other Yankees, but Cano is by far the most active participant. It paid off with Cano hitting a two-run homer.
The Yankees started Wednesday night's game against Angels right-hander Ervin Santana 0-11 in games when they didn’t homer.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, they were the only team in the majors who hadn’t won a game in which they didn’t homer.
David Robertson continues a throwing program in Tampa but hasn’t been assigned a date when he will start a rehab assignment. Robertson has been out since May 11 with a left rib cage injury.