Tagged in: Yankees

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has surgery to get pacemaker

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is taking an immediate medical leave of absence after having surgery Wednesday to get a pacemaker, the team revealed.

The team stated Boone’s surgery went “as expected” and that he will spend the night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, to rest and recover. Boone was “in good spirits,” the team said.

General manager Brian Cashman said Boone could return to the team in two to three days.

The 47-year-old Boone, who had open-heart surgery in 2009, said in a statement that he has had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath over the past six to eight weeks. He said further tests in New York before spring training indicated he had a low heart rate, necessitating the surgery.

“My faith is strong, and my spirits are high,” Boone said. “I’m in a great frame of mind because I know I’m in good hands with the doctors and medical staff here. … They are confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.”

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Boone, entering his fourth season as manager of the Yankees, said he looks forward “to getting back to work in the next several days.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition, a 4-1 victory over Toronto in Tampa.

Mendoza, 41, was a minor leaguer mostly with San Francisco and the Yankees from 1997-09 and is starting his 13th season working for the Yankees. He joined the major league staff as quality control and infield coach under Boone in 2018 and succeeded Josh Bard as bench coach for 2020.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good group of coaches here and really good personnel that are going to continue to get these guys ready to play the regular season.”

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “the thoughts of the entire organization are with Aaron and his family” in a statement released by the team.

“Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others,” Steinbrenner said. “Our only priority at this time is Aaron’s health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery.”

Boone played in the major leagues from 1997 to 2009. He was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 shortly before getting traded to the Yankees. Later that year, his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York.

Boone is a third-generation major leaguer; his grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues, and his nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

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New York Yankees agree to deal with LHP Justin Wilson

Left-hander Justin Wilson returned to the New York Yankees after two seasons with the Mets, agreeing Monday to a deal, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Wilson joins a bullpen headed by closer Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, both left-handers. Hard-throwing right-hander Chad Green is joined by side-arming right-hander Darren O’Day, who was signed after the Yankees dealt Adam Ottavino to Boston in a cost-cutting move.

The 33-year-old Wilson was 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 74 appearances for the Yankees in 2015, then moved on to Detroit and the Chicago Cubs before spending 2019 and 2020 with the Mets.

He was 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over 23 appearances last season. He struck out 23 and walked nine

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Wilson averaged 95 mph with his fastball, throwing it slightly more often than on half his pitches. He also throws cutters, mixing in an occasional slider and curveball.

Wilson is a nine-year major league veteran who spent his first three campaigns with Pittsburgh.

His deal with the Yankees was first reported by WFAN in New York.

New York also is also finalizing a minor league contract with catcher Robinson Chirinos, who would report to big league spring training, according to multiple reports.

The 36-year-old split last season with Texas and the Mets, who attained him on Aug. 31. He hit .162 with one homer and seven RBIs in 74 at-bats over 26 matches.

Chirinos also is a nine-year big league veteran who had two homers and three RBIs for Houston in its 2019 World Series loss to Washington. His best campaigns were with Texas in 2018, when he batted .222 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs, and with Houston in 2019, when he hit .238 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs.

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Corey Kluber excited to join Yanks

Limited to one inning in two years, Corey Kluber considers his ability will show with the New York Yankees.

“I consider myself to be healthy at this point. I’m not rehabbing anything or tending to any issues with anything lingering or anything like that,” the right-hander said Thursday, a day after finalizing an $11 million, one-year contract. “I’m basically at a normal stage of my offseason right now.”

Kluber completed his contract on the day AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu finalized a $90 million, six-year contract to remain in pinstripes.

“It’s no secret that I wanted to be back with the Yankees, I wanted to be back in New York. It was frustrating at times because it took so long,” the relieved second baseman said. “I just think the whole free-agent market in general was just slow.”

A three-time All-Star who turns 35 on April 10, Kluber joins a new-look rotation that contains returnees Gerrit Cole, Deivi García and Jordan Montgomery along with Jameson Taillon, who was acquired from Pittsburgh last weekend after missing most of the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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Kluber won the 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young Awards with Cleveland, going 56-20 over the 2016-18 seasons. He was hit on the right forearm on May 1, 2019, by a comebacker off the bat of Miami’s Brian Anderson and concluded 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts, then was traded to Texas. Kluber tore a muscle in his right shoulder in his Rangers debut on July 26, ending his season after one inning. The injury healed without surgery.

“That was extremely frustrating time for me, but I don’t think I ever got down on myself,” Kluber said. “I think that it’s probably more of overcoming the mental aspect of it as opposed to physical … getting out of that rehab mindset where you’re trying to work through things or feel for things.”

A three-time All-Star who is 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 seasons, Kluber has worked with Eric Cressey, who started last year as New York’s director of player health and performance.

With age, Kluber has been prepared to make variations to his preparation.

“The biggest thing with those adjustments is listening to my body when something is telling you something, you got to listen to it,” he stated. “I think that there are times when you have to be smart and probably not try to have that mentality just to push through, push through, push through. I think that there’s times when you’re going to get in a little more treatment or maybe back off.”

He already has prepared for reporting to the Yankees by shaving his beard to comply with a team rule.

“It feels a little bit naked but I’m getting used to it,” Kluber said.

He is one of a few additions to the Yankees, who traded reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston and have a pending $2.5 million agreement with Darren O’Day, a bullpen switch that helps them remain below the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

In addition, Luis Severino is expected to return at some point this season from Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27 and Domingo Germán is expected back from a domestic violence suspension that caused him to miss last season.

New York said goodbye to Masahiro Tanaka, who revealed Thursday he had agreed to a two-year contract to return to Japan with the Pacific League’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

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Jameson Taillon excited to join Yankees, reunite with Gerrit Cole

As Jameson Taillon’s trade from Pittsburgh to the New York Yankees started to sink in, he thought about reuniting with former roommate Gerrit Cole.

“Every night you get a five-star cooked meal,” Taillon stated. “Even if he’s cooking for himself, he’s going to marinate whatever he’s cooking properly. He’s going to do everything with the perfect execution. He’s going to have a perfect wine pairing for it.”

Taillon, recuperating from his second Tommy John surgery, was acquired Sunday for four prospects. He joins a revamped rotation headed by Cole and projected to include Deivi García, Jordan Montgomery and Corey Kluber, who’s pending $11 million, one-year deal is expected to be finalized this week.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Taillon has not pitched since May 1, 2019. In addition to the elbow operations with New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek on April 9, 2014, and on Aug. 13, 2019, he also had procedures for a sports hernia on July 8, 2015, and for testicular cancer on May 8, 2017.

He was hit on the head by a 105 mph line drive off the bat of Milwaukee’s Hernán Pérez on July 19, 2016, and stayed in the game.

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“When you’re going through it, it doesn’t seem like as much as it sounds. That sounds crazy. But each injury is separate. Each experience is separate,” he said.

Taillon felt he didn’t fulfill the confidence Pittsburgh showed when he was selected with the second overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

He was disappointed the Pirates blew up a group that came through the minors together and admitted “seeing all my good friends get traded in Pittsburgh and to see the direction we were headed … didn’t necessarily light a fire” and he thought a trade “was necessary.”

“I’m jumping into a legendary franchise, a legendary organization,” he said. “I overnight went from a rebuilding organization to a team like the Yankees where I’m stepping in and the only thing they care about is to win. So that’s kind of lit a fire under me.”

When he awoke from his last operation, he decided he needed to relieve pressure on his elbow, putting more work on his legs and shortening his arm motion. He reworked his mechanics with Ben Fairchild, a sports performance manager in Houston who has assisted Andy Pettitte, Mark Melancon, and Anthony Rendon; Pirates director of sports performance A.J. Patrick; Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin; Pirates bullpen coach Justin Meccage and the Florida Baseball Ranch in Lakeland.

He started throwing bullpen sessions last July and got up to about three innings of batting practice. Taillon thinks his fastball velocity is about 95 mph, where it was before the latest injury, and he gained deception. Taillon plans to leave heavily on his four-seam fastball, alternating curveballs and sliders along with occasional changeups.

Taillon was inspired watching former Pirates teammate Daniel Hudson overcome two Tommy John operations and strike out Houston’s Michael Brantley for the final out of the 2019 World Series for Washington. Taillon looks forward to getting the big league playoffs for the first time with the Yankees.

“New York’s one of those organizations where it’s all about winning. From what I’ve heard, nothing else matters in that clubhouse,” he said.

“It’s a group of guys trying to make each other better, trying to push for October. And I mean, seriously, ever since I got the news that the Yankees are where I was headed, I can’t stop thinking about that. I’ve heard Yankee Stadium in October is just absolutely incredible.”

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Voit, Torres homer as Yankees beat Rays 5-1 to force Game 5

The New York Yankees staved off playoff elimination after taking down the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.

Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres each hit home runs for the Yankees, who benefitted from stellar pitching all night. Starter Jordan Montgomery tossed four innings of one-run ball before giving way to the bullpen, which tossed five no-hit innings and permitted just one baserunner on a walk.

The Rays had a chance for a big third inning after putting runners on second and third with no outs, but they could only score one run off a Brandon Lowe RBI groundout.

Tampa Bay had just three hits on the night. New York and Tampa Bay are tied at two games apiece in their best-of-five series. New York took Game 1 by a 9-3 score before Tampa Bay won the next two games 7-5 and 8-4.

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New York’s pitching left much to be desired in Games 2 and 3.

The infamous Game 2 featured the Yankees opting for an opener strategy and starting 21-year-old Deivi Garcia, who permitted one earned run in one frame before giving way to starter-turned-long reliever J.A. Happ. 

The southpaw proceeded to allow four earned runs in two-and-a-third innings, and the Yanks eventually lost 7-5.

In Game 3, starter Masahiro Tanaka arguably found himself on the wrong end of strike zone luck but ultimately permitted five earned runs in just four innings of work en route to an 8-4 loss.

Facing elimination in Game 4, the Yanks needed a strong start from Jordan Montgomery and a stellar bullpen outing to beat the pesky Rays, and they collectively got the job done.

Despite a shaky third inning, Montgomery was largely fantastic and wiggled his way out of potentially precarious situations.

He allowed a leadoff first-inning single but soon induced a double play.

In the fourth inning, Montgomery put runners on first and second with two outs, but he got Kevin Kiermaier to ground out and end the frame.

The Yankees’ collective pitching efforts have now led to a Game 5 where they’ll start staff ace Gerrit Cole, who has far and away been the team’s best and most consistent pitcher. He’ll be opposed by Rays ace and left-hander Blake Snell, however, in a match that looks like a low-scoring nail biter on paper.

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Arozarena leads Rays in 8-4 victory over Yankees

Randy Arozarena homered for the third consecutive game and Kevin Kiermaier and Michael Perez also went deep for the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the New York Yankees 8-4 Wednesday night to move within one victory of reaching the AL Championship Series for the first time in 12 years.

New York’s Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer off rookie Shane McClanahan to center field in the eighth inning to become the first player with a home run in each of his team’s first five games of a single postseason. Stanton has six homers in those five games. McClanahan made his major league debut in Game 1 on Monday night.

The Rays took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Division Series. Game 4 is Thursday night at Petco Park, which has yielded 16 home runs in three matches — nine by Tampa Bay.

The Rays are looking to advance out of the ALDS for just the second time. They reached the 2008 World Series before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Arozarena, a 25-year-old rookie from Havana who’s nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” is having a breakout postseason. He homered off Gerrit Cole in the first inning of Game 1, a 9-3 Yankees victory, and off rookie Deivi García in the first inning of Game 2, a 7-5 Rays win.

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He hit a shot deep to left leading off the fifth Wednesday night to chase Masahiro Tanaka and give the Rays a 5-1 lead.

Arozarena went 3 for 4 with a walk.

He leads all players in the postseason with 12 hits in five games. He went hitless in five postseason plate appearances in 2019 for St. Louis, which traded him to Tampa Bay in January.

“He has to be the best baseball player on earth right now,” Rays starter Tyler Glasnow said after Tuesday night’s victory. “What he’s doing is phenomenal.”

Kiermaier hit a three-run shot into the home run deck in right off Tanaka with no outs in the fourth to make it 4-1. Joey Wendle was aboard on a leadoff single and Willy Adames on a walk.

Perez hit a two-run shot to left off Chad Green in the sixth. Kiermaier was aboard on a leadoff double. It was the 11th home run by a No. 9 hitter this postseason, the most all-time.

Charlie Morton got the win after holding the Yankees to two runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two in winning his fifth straight postseason decision.

Tanaka took the loss after permitting five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. He struck out four and walked one. The Yankees loaded the bases twice in the third inning and got only a sacrifice fly by Aaron Judge. Aaron Hicks hit an RBI double in the fifth.

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Manager Aaron Boone will turn to rookie Deivi Garcia to start Game 2 for New York Yankees

By taking the mound in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, rookie Deivi Garcia will make history.

The 21-year-old Dominican-born pitcher will become the youngest player to make a postseason start in New York Yankees franchise history (at 21 years and 140 days).

Despite only six major league starts under his belt, manager Aaron Boone said he opted to go with Garcia due to the maturity he has displayed this campaign.

According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, the only other 21-year-old to make a postseason start for the Yankees was Whitey Ford in Game 4 of the 1950 World Series (21 years, 351 days).

“We deliberated on that a lot over the last several days,” Boone stated Monday ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS at Petco Park in San Diego.

“Masa [Masahiro Tanaka] will now go in Game 3. So just like slot and Deivi in between [Game 1 starter Gerrit] Cole and Masa was the way we wanted to go.

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“I think the way he’s pitched, and the way he’s handled himself and handled every situation so far. I felt like I wanted to go this way a couple days ago but wanted to continue to flesh it out because we could. Ultimately today, this morning, decided this is the way I wanted to go. I just felt [we had] a lot of good options there, [different] ways we could have gone. I don’t worry about him not being able to handle it, mentally, emotionally and all those things and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

The rookie right-hander concurred.

“Super excited,” Garcia said of his reaction upon hearing the news from Boone. “When they finally told me that I was going to get the ball for Game 2, what can I say? Just so excited about it. At the same time, very thankful for the opportunity and I will try to go out there and do the best I can.”

Tuesday’s start will also make Garcia the fifth-youngest player in American League history to make a postseason start, and the youngest player born outside the United States to make a playoff start in the AL.

Overall, only Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Julio Urías (20 years, 68 days) and Fernando Valenzuela (five times) were younger in making a postseason start among players born outside the U.S. Garcia, who stated he idolized Hall of Fame starter Pedro Martínez growing up in the Dominican Republic, reiterated that it was an honor to make pinstripes history.

Including a subpar outing at Fenway Park, Garcia finished the coronavirus-shortened 2020 regular campaign with a 4.98 ERA in 34⅓ innings pitched.

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Longtime MLB catcher Francisco Cervelli announces retirement

Longtime MLB catcher Francisco Cervelli is retiring from baseball, he announced on Instagram. Cervelli said he is hanging up his spikes because it’s time to “put my health before my career.”

The 34-year-old had seven documented concussions throughout his career, including one that ended his 2020 campaign in August. “Today, I retire happy and fully satisfied, because I gave my heart and soul to this wonderful game,” Cervelli wrote.

“I am retiring because the time has come to put my health before my career. For a long time, I put baseball first, through countless concussions and injuries, because this game was my life; my whole world. But it’s clear to me now that my future holds so much more. For the first time in a long time, I know my health and wellness needs to be the leadoff. It’s time.”

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Cervelli initially signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old international free agent out of Venezuela in 2003.

An infielder as an amateur, he moved behind the plate in pro ball and reached the big leagues in 2008.

Cervelli spent 2008-14 with New York, mostly as a backup catcher, before moving on to the Pirates (2015-19), Braves (2019), and Marlins (2020).

Pittsburgh gave Cervelli his first extended opportunity as a starting catcher and he blossomed, hitting .270/.368/.384 with 25 home runs in 416 games from 2015-18.

He also rated well as a pitch-framer and became a fan favorite thanks to his high-energy, hard-nosed style of play. Cervelli was liberated in Aug. 2019 after the Pirates committed to Jacob Stallings behind the plate. Cervelli took a foul tip to the face mask on Aug. 22 this year and was diagnosed with a concussion. He landed on the injured list 15 times in parts of 13 seasons.

Cervelli retires as a career .268/.358/.382 hitter with 605 hits and 41 home runs in 730 games. He won a World Series ring with the 2009 Yankees and banked nearly $40 million in player contracts during his career.

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Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu wins AL batting title

New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu has made batting title history. LeMahieu clinched the American League batting title Sunday and became the first player in the modern era to gain a batting title in each league. He’d previously won the National League batting title with the Rockies in 2016, hitting .348. LeMahieu led MLB in batting average both times.

“Guys don’t win batting titles in both leagues, because you win it in one league, they probably keep you,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly, the 1984 AL batting champ, told reporters following Saturday’s game (NYY 11, MIA 4), including the Associated Press. “It’s a different game nowadays.”

The modern era starts in 1900 and Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty won the batting title in each league at that time. Delahanty won the 1899 NL batting title with the Philadelphia Phillies and 1902 AL batting title with the Washington Senators, but the 1899 batting title is disputed, hence LeMahieu being the first in the modern era.

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The only other player to attain the batting title in multiple official leagues was Pete Browning.

He won the 1882 and 1885 American Association batting titles with the Louisville Eclipse and the 1890 Players’ League batting title with the Cleveland Infants.

LeMahieu, an impending free agent poised to land a significant payday, is the first Yankee to collect the batting title since Bernie Williams hit .339 in 1998. 

Anderson (.335) won the batting title last year and LeMahieu (.327) ended second. This is only the seventh time in history the same two players finished first and second (in either order) in the batting title race in back-to-back years, and the first time since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams did it in 1956 and 1957.

Of course, LeMahieu’s batting title this year occurred in an unusual 60-game campaign as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s difficult to consider it on par with a 162-game batting title. That said, you can only play the schedule you’re given, and every team played the same number of matches. This is baseball in 2020.

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Yankees blow out Blue Jay 20-6, move into 2nd place in AL East

The Yankees have renovated back into Bronx Bombers after a three-week stretch in which they nearly bombed out of postseason contention.

DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit and became the first players at the top of New York’s batting order to have five RBIs the same game, and New York rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays into second place in the AL East with a 20-6 blowout Tuesday night that extended its winning streak to six.

Voit homered twice from the No. 2 slot, raising his major league-leading total to 18. Voit and Aaron Hicks went deep to key a seven-run second-inning burst made possible when right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a pair of flyballs.

“A couple of weeks ago, I don’t think teams were scared of us. And now we’re back to being the Bronx Bombers,” Voit said. “I don’t think people want to play us in the playoffs.”

LeMahieu had four hits and five RBIs, growing his average 13 points to .363. He homered on a 48.7 mph offering from infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB began tracking velocity of pitches in 2008.

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Gary Sánchez hit a three-run homer off Anthony Kay, and Clint Frazier had a two-run shot against Ryan Borucki.

New York has rebounded following a 5-15 stretch that nearly dropped it out of the eight playoff places in the AL and has closed within two games of Minnesota (30-20) for the No. 4 seed — and a first-round series at home. The Yankees (27-21) and Blue Jays (26-21) started a stretch of seven games against each other in the final two weeks.

“Makes for some sleepless nights,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And now as we get more and more guys back and healthy and in the mix, I know we’re capable of amazing things.”

Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela came back from the injured list, and the Yankees could get Aaron Judge back Wednesday. They opened a roster spot after Tuesday’s game by optioning infielder Thairo Estrada to the alternate site.

Stanton was 0 for 4 with a walk as the designated hitter, the only Yankees starter without a hit, after missing 32 matches because of a strained left hamstring.

Urshela had three hits and made several sparking defensive plays at third after missing 11 matches with a right elbow bone spur.

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