By Jon Lane
SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that Xavier Nady has been diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow and will avoid surgery. What began as fear that Nady would be gone for the season has turned into a timetable that could last for 4-6 weeks.
Heyman added Nady could return in a DH role. As I wrote earlier today, the Yankees are very concerned about Hideki Matsui’s knees. Matsui is in tonight’s lineup and batting seventh.
Plenty of time to kill before the Yankees and A’s try it again tonight (My9 HD, 7 p.m.). Skies are overcast but more rain may invade the area later today into tonight.
Yesterday’s rainout allowed me to pay full attention to Game 3 of the Rangers’ first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals. Rather than step on the favored Caps’ throats to the brink of extinction, the Blueshirts decided to form a Conga line to the penalty box. They were outplayed by Washington’s snipers and a 20-year-old goaltender named Simeon Varlamov in dropping a 4-0 decision at Madison Square Garden, where they went 26-11-14 during the regular season. On the road they were 17-19-5 and won the first two games of this series in Washington DC. Go figure.
Back to baseball and the ongoing Xavier Nady watch. While the Yankees are holding out hope their right-fielder will not need surgery on his injured right elbow, the prognosis remains bleak. To date, Nady has undergone at least five tests in which doctors are trying to differentiate between this and injury he suffered in 2001, which required Tommy John surgery. Dr. Lewis Yocum, the surgeon who performed the procedure on Nady’s elbow in ’01, was expected to get the MRI pictures today. Supposedly there were to be sent via e-mail yesterday, but Dr. Yocum isn’t up on 21st century technology, so the Yankees FedExed him the information.
You obviously hope for the best in a situation that is flat-out terrible timing. Nady batted .305 with the Pirates and Yankees last season and becomes a free agent after this season. It makes you wonder how teams will view a veteran who turns 31 in November and whose body of work will be two RBIs in 28 at-bats in seven games. Speaking to a couple of Yankees, they made it clear Nady is appreciated and will be missed. The day after Nady injured his elbow, Nick Swisher painted a big ‘X’ on his arm to let him know his teammates won’t forget him. At the beginning of Spring Training, the two were competing for playing time in right field. The rivalry evolved into a tight friendship.
“Anytime somebody has to go through that it’s tough,” Swisher said. “We all want him to know we’re going to be there for him. Anything we can do to help, we’re all going to do that. You’re talking about losing a tremendous player – not just a tremendous player but an awesome guy.”
“It’s a big loss,” said Brett Gardner. “‘X’ is gone hopefully everybody can rally together and pick up the slack. It drives you a little more when you know your team and your coaches are counting on you.”
Further complicating matters is the fact that Hideki Matsui’s surgically repaired left knee needed to be drained last Thursday, creating a major level of concern about an aging veteran restricted to DH duty, and batting.194 (6-for-31) overall and .083 (1-for-12) with runners in scoring position. This makes you wonder if Matt Holliday will be the Yankees’ top target come July.
I hate to bring this up, but it’s true. Ross Ohlendorf – he and Jeff Karstens were shipped to Pittsburgh before last
season’s trade deadline for Nady and the now flammable Damaso Marte – threw seven shutout innings against the Marlins Monday night and would be better than 1-2 if not for a lack of run support. He had gone 0-5 with a 5.88 ERA dating back to last season before silencing a team that scored a combined 16 runs in its previous two games.
Like the signing of Carl Pavano, you may complain about this now, but you weren’t then. At least four teams were fighting over Pavano in 2004; Ohlendorf and Karstens, two pitchers on the outside looking in, were traded as part of a package for two reliable and proven veterans. It was impossible to foresee Nady getting hurt and Marte becoming a time bomb.
Karstens starts tonight and looks to recover from his 2009 debut in which he walked five in four innings.
By Jon Lane
The Yankees bid farewell to their Spring Training base in Tampa, Fla., this afternoon following their game against the Philadelphia Phillies. CC Sabathia is on the hill for his final tune-up before taking the ball Monday in Baltimore for Opening Day. The team flies back to New York later and will work out at the new Yankee Stadium tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. It’s about time too. I wholly agree with my colleagues Joe Auriemma and Jim Kaat that Spring Training is just too darn long.
Thursday morning marks the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium with a celebratory guitar smash, not a bad way to kick things off. For the record, the HRC sent me its hours of operation:
Non Game Days
11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (for 1:05 games)
11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (other start times)
Phone Number: 646-977-8888
Beginning with the HRC opening, I’ll be on location keeping a diary of the day’s events as well as Friday night during the new Stadium’s first dry run, the exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs. Word has it Cubs fans are equally stoked to see the new place and it’ll be interesting to hear thoughts from manager Lou Piniella (a popular Yankees star and manager in the 1970s and ’80), and former Yankees Ted Lilly, Alfonso Soriano and Luis Vizcaino.
News and notes
Xavier Nady, hit on the left elbow yesterday in Sarasota, Fla., was a precautionary scratch.
According to Peter Abraham, these players have been added to the roster for the Cubs games on Friday and Saturday:
It’s official, Derek Jeter will lead off and Johnny Damon will bat second on Opening Day and beyond.
Former Yankees right-hander Jeff Karstens, traded to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought Nady and Damaso Marte to New York last July, won the final spot in the Pirates’ starting rotation. Good for him. He’s a good guy who though soft-spoken always had something intriguing to say. He’s been vexed by injury, so let’s see what he can do to keep his job secure.
Ross Ohlendorf, another player the Yankees sent to Pittsburgh in the trade, will be the Pirates’ No. 4 starter after a lights-out spring. Ohlendorf posted a sparkling 0.87 ERA and is in position for a breakout season from where I sit.
3:13 p.m. The Yankees released a statement from Joba Chamberlain, who today pleaded guilty to a Nebraska charge of drunken driving and was given probation.
“I am glad to put the legal aspect of this behind me. I made a mistake and hope over time to turn this into a positive learning experience for me and others.”
Chamberlain will rejoin the team tomorrow for the workouts at Yankee Stadium before returning to Tampa., Fla., to pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday. His first regular season start is April 12 in Kansas City.