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Ichiro carving his own niche with '14 Yanks

A tough decision looms, as the Hall-bound outfielder has again proven his worth

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NEW YORK -- It's Feb. 19, before the start of Ichiro Suzuki's final season of a two-year, $13 million contract with the Yankees, and he's fielding a barrage of questions from reporters.

They're asking him how he's going to fit on a team with five other outfielders on the roster. They're asking if he's angry about it, if he'll make the squad, if he's thought about being traded, if he'd prefer to play somewhere else -- somewhere he knows he could play regularly, like he always has.

"I'm not going to fall for questions like that," says Ichiro, too wise for the press entering his 14th Major League season. "I'm going to have to find a place for myself, but I've worked hard this offseason. ... Hopefully, those things will come together."

Cut to six months later, and Ichiro, as he has done his whole career, has found a place for himself.

Take Aug. 24, for example. Brett Gardner had a sore ankle. Jacoby Ellsbury needed a day off. The Yankees were facing dominant White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, so manager Joe Girardi penciled Ichiro into center field for just the second time all season, making him the only left-handed hitter in the lineup, batting the veteran eighth.

Sale carved through New York's order until the sixth inning, when a few errors and walks turned a shutout into a collapse. With the Yankees down by a run and the bases loaded, Ichiro -- as he always does -- extended his right arm, slightly altered his sleeve and lined an 84-mph first-pitch changeup into right-center field, plating the go-ahead run.

It was the first RBI by a left-handed hitter off Sale since last August, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. After the game, Ichiro needed no interpreter to respond, "Amazing."

The adjective might be appropriate for most of Ichiro's 2014 season, if not his entire career. With about half as many at bats as he had 2013, he's hitting .285 with a .327 on base percentage, his highest OBP since 2010. His .358 batting average versus lefties qualifies as amazing, too, thanks to how long his bat stays in the hitting zone, which allows for one-handed singles like the one he hit off Brett Oberholtzer in mid-August.

Ichiro_swing

To cynics, Ichiro's improved numbers have merely been the product of good luck, coming in the form of sputtering and eventually dismissed veterans (Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson) and injuries (Carlos Beltran). But even as he competes for time now with Martin Prado and Zelous Wheeler, Ichiro hasn't so much been a last resort as a player to lean on throughout the season.

"When he hasn't played, he's been a very good pinch-hitter for us," said Girardi of Ichiro, whose contract with Yankees expires after the season. "If he doesn't play, you have that speed element on the bench. The fact that we've been able to play him all over the place has been helpful."

Just how helpful will be an item on general manager Brian Cashman's list of offseason decisions to address. But considering the group of injury-prone players above the age of 30 that the Yankees field, the durable Ichiro, 40, might be worth another short-term investment.

"I don't really view him as a part-time player," said fellow outfielder Gardner. "He's obviously capable of playing every day. One thing he brings every day is he plays real good defense, and it's something that probably gets overlooked a little bit. Even as he's gotten up there in age, he still plays really good defense."

That's been on display sporadically this season, albeit not as prominently as during Ichiro's days in Seattle. The statistics aren't particularly glowing for him in right field, specifically according to advanced metrics like defensive runs saved (0) and ultimate zone rating (-.1), which factor players' range and arm strength, resulting in one measurement relative to league average. For reference, so far this season, Atlanta's Jason Heyward leads all outfielders with 34 defensive runs saved, though Gold Glove Award winner Adam Jones accounts for only two.

Ichiro's speed on the basepaths (11 stolen bases) down the first-base line (22 infield hits) also translate to the field, where he routinely makes running catches like his grab of a ninth-inning gapper off the bat of James Loney after he replaced Beltran in right field on Aug. 17.

Ichiro_catch

The reality is that Ichiro's power, now mostly only displayed in batting practice, continues to dwindle. More hits -- like an Aug. 26 chopper up the middle that moved him past Hank Aaron on the all-time singles list -- are the result of speed and pinpoint bat placement. Another season with the Yankees, however, will likely be met with more platoon situations. It might mean the club won't be as patient after a poor month (like his .224 July average) as it was this season, when he rebounded with a .352 average in August.

Ichiro_aaron

Choosing to return with the Yankees may delay Ichiro's pursuit of 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball, a feat that may be easier for him to achieve on a National League club, though it's something Ichiro -- currently at 2,824 hits -- says he's not thinking about.

"If he gets the opportunity to play every day, he'll definitely [get 3,000] hands down," said Curtis Granderson, Ichiro's locker buddy with the Yankees last season. "That's going to be the key. He's just got to be in a situation where he can play every day, and there's no reason why he shouldn't."

That's for Cashman to ponder. While Ichiro's resume -- American League MVP Award winner, 10-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner -- remains impressive, he's no longer expected to dominate as he once did. Still, he continues to represent Japan in New York with pride, as Hideki Matsui did a decade ago and Masahiro Tanaka does today.

That may mean Ichiro will have to face the same questions from reporters again next February, likely after more months dedicated to workouts and conditioning, repeating that wherever he ends up, he'll "have to find a place for himself," just like he always has.

"He's as prepared as anyone I've ever seen," said Gardner.

"It's a guy I never count out."

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McCarthy surrenders lead as Yanks drop finale

Gardner falls short of the cycle; Jeter 1-for-5 in last game in Toronto

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TORONTO -- The stage was set for Derek Jeter to deliver one last signature moment in his final act north of the border. The Yankees' captain stepped to the plate with two down in the ninth, the tying run on second and a packed ballpark chanting his name. Unfortunately, he came up a bit short.

Jeter hit a weak liner to second for the final out, after Brandon McCarthy saw an early advantage evaporate amid a trio of Toronto homers in a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Sunday's series finale at Rogers Centre.

"Those are the fun situations," said Jeter, who went 1-for-5 in his final regular-season game at Rogers Centre. "You want to be in those situations. I always like those positions. It's tough, we only have so many series left."

Jacoby Ellsbury, who didn't start his second consecutive game due to a sore left ankle, entered with one out in the ninth and delivered a pinch-hit double.

After closer Casey Janssen got the second out of the inning, a capacity crowd of 45,678 screamed Jeter's name as he came to the plate.

Jeter looked at a first-pitch strike before making the final out to cap off the Yankees' second straight defeat. New York dropped two of three in the series and finished its seven-game road trip with a 3-4 mark, after losing its final two contests in Toronto.

"I don't think I have had much success against him," Jeter said of Janssen, whom he is 1-for-18 against lifetime. "He was better than me this time."

Janssen, who recorded his 20th save of the season, said he embraced the opportunity to go toe to toe against the Yankees great with the game on the line.

"I could see the little fairy-tale story being written, but got that out of my head real quick and knew I had to attack him," he said. "[Jeter's] an unbelievable competitor. He's as clutch as they come.

"He's had a heck of a career and I'm glad that Toronto people appreciated him like they did, because he's one of a kind."

For much of the game, it appeared the Yankees were set to take the series. New York, behind starter Brandon McCarthy and the bat of Brett Gardner, was cruising. It all started to unravel, however, during the sixth.

McCarthy carried a 3-0 lead into the inning before his shutout bid was snapped after Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista hit back-to-back homers to make it a one-run game. Bautista has homered in five consecutive games, which is one shy of the Blue Jays' franchise record set by Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001.

The 31-year-old McCarthy's struggles carried into the seventh, as he served up another homer on a 3-2 pitch to Edwin Encarnacion, which tied the game at 3.

McCarthy felt he put Encarnacion away with a 2-2 pitch that was called a ball before he surrendered the game-tying homer.

"That's an at-bat and game-changing pitch, right there, that I need," said McCarthy, who fell to 5-4 with a 2.80 ERA as a member of the Yankees. "I don't even think that's a borderline strike, that's just a strike. It ends an at-bat, you're through the toughest hitters in their lineup and you've got a chance to keep going deeper. That's a pitch you'd like to have."

As much as McCarthy was upset with home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild's call, he put the blame on himself for blowing a three-run lead. He called the full-count offering to Encarnacion "a terrible pitch."

After walking the next batter, Dioner Navarro, McCarthy was lifted in favor of Dellin Betances.

Betances punched out the first two batters he faced, but surrendered an RBI single to No. 9 hitter Munenori Kawasaki that scored pinch-runner Steve Tolleson on a close play at the plate, giving Toronto a 4-3 lead.

McCarthy allowed four runs on five hits over six-plus innings, while walking two and striking out four.

Gardner gave the Yanks an early lead, as he turned on the second pitch of the game and sent a fastball from Toronto starter J.A. Happ over the fence in right field for his 16th homer of the season.

Francisco Cervelli singled home a run in the fourth to put New York up, 2-0, before Gardner struck again.

The speedster added a triple in the fifth and came around to score on a throwing error by Jose Reyes. Toronto's shortstop threw the ball high and to the left of third baseman Danny Valencia, which sailed into the Blue Jays' dugout and allowed Gardner to score. Gardner doubled in the seventh, but fell a single shy of the cycle after grounding out to first in his final at-bat in the ninth inning.

Happ struck out six over seven innings before handing things over to the bullpen, which helped the Blue Jays finish August with a 9-17 record in front of Toronto's 12th sellout of the season.

Bench coach Tony Pena was ejected after the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes.

The Yankees have an off-day on Monday before beginning a nine-game homestand against the Red Sox on Tuesday.

"You know what's in front of you," Jeter said. "We need to win games."

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Jeter honored before series finale

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Jeter honored before series finale play video for Jeter honored before series finale

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays presented Derek Jeter with a vacation package to western Canada as a retirement gift prior to Sunday's series finale.

Jeter was handed the gift by Blue Jays players Mark Buehrle and Jose Bautista, and was also given a $10,000 check for his Turn 2 Foundation, established in 1996 to promote healthy lifestyles among youth.

The vacation package -- created by the Blue Jays exclusively for Jeter -- was tabbed as "A Canadian Castle of the Rockies Experience" and is located in Banff National Park in the province of Alberta. It includes a three-night stay for Jeter and a guest at the Fairmont Banff Springs in a 1,500-square-foot royal suite, a helicopter tour of the Rockies, as well as a variety of private lessons.

"I will definitely use that one," Jeter said of the gift.

A montage of Jeter's career highlights was played on the video board, and the fans in attendance gave the Yankees' shortstop a standing ovation -- as they did every time he stepped to the plate throughout the course of the three-game series.

"The way the fans have treated me everywhere I have gone this year is something I never would have expected," Jeter said following New York's 4-3 loss. "It's definitely what I will take out of this last year when it's over with. I have gotten a lot of respect from the fans, and that's what you play the games for -- for the baseball fans. Even if they are not necessarily Yankee fans, they have treated me to long ovations. You appreciate that as a player."

Jeter went 1-for-5 in his final regular-season game in Toronto and finished the series with two hits in 14 at-bats.

"I just like the city," Jeter said, when asked what he will miss most about Toronto. "I have always enjoyed coming to this city. [Its] team has played us especially tough here. So baseball wise, I don't know if I'll miss it that much. I'll definitely miss this city, but I'll be back."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has witnessed a season-long sendoff for one of his star players before. It was just last year that closer Mariano Rivera retired after 19 seasons in the big leagues and was honored by visiting teams the same way Jeter has been. But Girardi hasn't gotten sick of it.

"It has been special," Girardi said of Jeter's farewell tour. "I think fans have shown him the utmost respect, being a visiting player in cities where he gets standing ovations numerous times in the ballpark. I think the fans have treated him well and are appreciative of the way he played the game."

Jeter finished Sunday's contest as the all-time leader in hits, runs scored and games played at Rogers Centre by a visiting player.

The Orioles, Rays and Red Sox are the remaining road teams the Yankees still have games against.

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Greene out to stymie Red Sox in opener

Kelly, Greene on tap in opener of three-game set at Yankee Stadium

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Every game is becoming increasingly crucial for the Yankees as they head into the final month of the season. After losing two out of three in Toronto, their margin for error has become even slimmer.

New York is four games back of Detroit (and behind Cleveland and Seattle) in the race for the second American League Wild Card. The Yankees will begin a nine-game, 11-day homestand on Tuesday when the Red Sox come to the Bronx. Shane Greene will get the ball for New York and Joe Kelly will go for Boston.

Jacoby Ellsbury could be back in the Yankees' lineup Tuesday, after sitting back-to-back games due to a sore left ankle. Ellsbury completed some light running, took batting practice and walked without a limp before Sunday's game. He hit a bloop double while pinch-hitting in the ninth inning of Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

"He wants to play, he's a competitor," manager Joe Girardi said before Sunday's game. "All these guys want to play when they are beat up. That's the way you want players to be, but sometimes you have to help make decisions for them."

Ellsbury has been the Yankees' most consistent hitter throughout the season and was their hottest hitter during the month of August, as he batted .324 with five homers. On the season, he's hit .288/.348/.435 with 14 home runs and 37 stolen bases.

Kelly, meanwhile, has been much better in his last two outings for the Red Sox after struggling with his command in his first three starts since coming to Boston from St. Louis on July 31. He's allowed just four hits, five walks and two runs over 11 innings against the Mariners and Blue Jays.

Kelly left his Aug. 22 start with a "minor tweak" in his right shoulder and was on a pitch count against Toronto on Wednesday, but he seems to be 100 percent heading into Tuesday's start.

Yankees: Greene looks to continue impressive rookie year
With so many injuries to the Yankees' rotation this season, Greene has stepped up and filled in seamlessly. He will take the mound on Tuesday against the Red Sox, looking to continue his impressive rookie campaign.

Greene limited the Tigers to two runs and five hits over seven innings in his last start to improve to 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA on the year. He fanned eight during that contest, one in which the Yankees rocked David Price for nine straight hits and eight runs in the third inning.

"Sometimes you think, 'Hurry up, I want to get back out there,'" Greene said. "But it's nice when a team can go out there and put up runs like that."

Red Sox: Pedroia will likely miss Yankees series
Although he's feeling better, it's unlikely that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will return from his concussion until this weekend at the earliest, manager John Farrell said Monday.

"He still has some of the symptoms," said Farrell. "So this is clearly a day-to-day thing. We're probably at least another day from any kind of exertion test or any kind of ramping up of the heart rate to see if there's still some residual [symptoms]. But he's sore where the impact took place on the side of the head. As I mentioned the other day, we'll be cautious with this."

Rays infielder Logan Forsythe accidentally struck Pedroia in the face on Saturday while he was sliding into second base. Pedroia's played in all but six games this season, and since the start of 2011, he has missed only 32 contests.

Brock Holt was at second base -- the position he came through the Pirates' system playing -- on Monday. Top prospect Mookie Betts has played second for much of his Minor League career, but with Pedroia there for the long haul, the Red Sox moved him to center field, where he started Monday. He'll likely stay in the outfield, Farrell said.

"No, because it's been quite a while since Mookie has had any reps at second," Farrell said of the possibility Betts moves back to the infield. "He's had a lot on his plate this year with defensive positioning and changes to it and don't want to take him back and forth."

Worth noting
• The Yankees are 8-4 against the Red Sox this season.

• David Ortiz sat Monday against the Rays, but Farrell expects the slugger to be full-go against the Yankees this week.

"We'd kind of earmarked a couple of days on this trip. That was even before he fouled a ball off his foot," Farrell said. "With a left-hander going [Monday], felt like this was the day to give him a day. He'd be fully ready to go through the New York series."

• The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox defeated the GCL Yankees 8-1 Monday to win the league's championship.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Girardi being cautious with Ellsbury's ankle

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TORONTO -- Jacoby Ellsbury was held out of the Yankees' lineup on Sunday for the second consecutive game with a sore left ankle. He was able, however, to go through some baseball activities before the afternoon contest and entered in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter.

Ellsbury doubled off Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen with one out in an eventual 4-3 series-ending loss. The sore ankle was tested on the play, too. Ellsbury hit a blooper to right field that landed between three Blue Jays players, who all attempted to catch the ball.

Edwin Encarnacion fielded the shallow hit on a hop, but his throw couldn't beat Ellsbury to the bag. Ellsbury hustled around first and slid hard into second base in what was his first at-bat since Friday.

"My adrenaline was pumping," Ellsbury said following the game. "I typically don't pinch-hit. ... In that situation, you want to get on base and get into scoring position. Once I saw that ball go up in the air, I knew it was going to take a high hop. There's only one thing I could do -- go for two and hopefully get into scoring position."

Ellsbury said his ankle felt sore but that he was "going as hard as I could run." He was lifted for a pinch-runner after reaching base.

The next step is for Ellsbury to get an MRI once the Yankees arrive in New York on Sunday night to determine the severity of the injury.

"Where the swelling is at is why we want to get an MRI," he said.

Prior to the game, Ellsbury did some light running, took batting practice with the team and wasn't walking with a limp like he had been since injuring the ankle in the ninth inning of Friday night's series-opening win.

He was pleased with how he came out of the morning workout and so, too, was manager Joe Girardi.

Ellsbury was ultimately unable to sway Girardi into penciling him in the starting lineup.

"I was pleading to play," Ellsbury said.

The Yankees have an off-day on Monday, so Ellsbury will get some extra time to recover ahead of Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox.

"The fact that he got better makes me feel a little bit better," Girardi said before the game. "But I'm still concerned."

Girardi's biggest worry heading into the game was how Ellsbury would be able to run the bases. But it appears he passed that test with flying colors.

"He wants to play, he's a competitor," Girardi said. "All these guys want to play when they are beat up. That's the way you want players to be. But sometimes you have to help make decisions for them."

It appears the Yankees dodged a major bullet, as Ellsbury's injury doesn't look to be something that will affect him long term.

"Hopefully, I'll be out there starting after the off-day," Ellsbury said. "[Girardi] knows how much I want to play and contribute."

Ellsbury was New York's hottest hitter in August, finishing the month with a .324 batting average, five homers and a team-high .905 OPS.

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Yankees acquire Roe for bullpen depth

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The Yankees on Sunday acquired right-hander Chaz Roe from the Marlins in exchange for cash. The 27-year-old has been in the Minor Leagues for most of the last 10 seasons but he could join the big league club as bullpen depth when rosters expand on Monday.

Roe has thrown just 22 1/3 big league innings, all in 2013 with the D-backs. He posted a 4.03 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 21 appearances. A first-round pick by the Rockies in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Roe has spent time with the Mariners, D-backs, Rangers and Marlins at the Double-A and Triple-A levels over the last five years.

Right-handers batted just .195 against Roe this season while he was with Triple-A New Orleans. Lefties hit .276 against him. The Yankees acquired lefty Josh Outman, who has limited lefties to a .188 average over his six-year Major League career, from the Indians earlier this week, and the two could fill similar but opposite roles in New York's bullpen.

Roe had 14 saves in 18 tries for New Orleans this season to go along with a 3.66 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 3.42 K/BB ratio.

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Yankees find one hit doesn't take them far

Pineda effective but overshadowed by Toronto pitching in defeat

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TORONTO -- With the way Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison was throwing, Michael Pineda would have had to be nearly flawless on Saturday.

Pineda was stingy for much of the game, but a first-inning mistake when he was ahead in the count was too much for the Yankees to overcome.

Pineda served up a two-run homer to Jose Bautista, while New York's bats were limited to one hit and shut out for the sixth time this season in a 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

"When a guy has stuff like that, sometimes there's not a whole lot you can do as a club," Yankees third baseman Chase Headley said of Hutchison. "You hate to waste an outing like [Pineda's]. That's a good offensive club over there, and he did a great job for us."

The runs came early but not often in front of a packed house of 45,863, the 11th sellout at Rogers Centre this season.

Pineda met Bautista in the first with two outs and one on. He attacked the Toronto slugger with a series of sliders to get ahead, 0-2, before hanging the fourth one of the at-bat, and Bautista didn't miss it.

Bautista provided the game's scoring when he crushed Pineda's offering over the fence in left field for his 28th homer of the season, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead. The right fielder has homered in four consecutive games, marking the second time in his career he has accomplished the feat.

"I tried to make a good pitch to him, a good slider down in the dirt," Pineda said. "Instead, it was right in the middle."

Pineda settled in after that, retiring 14 of the next 16 batters he faced before allowing a one-out single in the sixth.

The right-hander ran into more trouble in the seventh and was lifted after allowing a pair of hits to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. But he was bailed out by righty Shawn Kelley, who retired the next three batters and kept the deficit at two runs.

Pineda allowed two runs on seven hits over six-plus innings and fell to 3-3 on the season. Of his three losses, two have come against the Blue Jays. He didn't walk a batter for a second consecutive start, and he struck out three.

"Another great outing," catcher Brian McCann said of Pineda's performance. "This is what we've come to expect from him every time out."

The 25-year-old Pineda has been strong in four starts since coming off the disabled list earlier this month, sporting a 2.31 ERA with 15 strikeouts and one walk over 23 1/3 innings. On the year, his ERA sits at 2.09, and he has surrendered two earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts, dating back to his rookie year with the Mariners in September 2011.

As good as Pineda was, Hutchison was better, combining with Aaron Sanchez to neutralize the Yankees. Saturday marked the first time New York has recorded one hit in a game since Sept. 4, 2009, also against the Blue Jays.

Hutchison retired 11 straight to start the game, then hit Carlos Beltran with two outs in the fourth. Mark Teixeira followed with a double and Hutchison drilled McCann one batter later to load the bases, but the Yankees were unable to capitalize during what was a rare off inning for Hutchison on the day. The 24-year-old righty escaped the frame unscathed by getting Martin Prado to fly out to center field.

Yankees hitters credited Hutchison with having a deceptive fastball and a tight slider with good downward movement. Teixeira said the pitch he hit for extra bases, which snapped his 0-for-11 skid at the plate, was a hanging changeup.

"It might have been the only pitch he mislocated all day," Teixeira said. "Every pitch he missed, he missed out of the zone. He didn't really miss over the middle of the plate at all."

Hutchison walked two and struck out nine to earn his first win in four starts. Over his last two outings, he has allowed one run and struck out 16.

"We've seen him very good a lot of times, but it's tough to get any better than he was today," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hutchison.

Sanchez struck out three and retired all six batters he faced to help Toronto record its 13th shutout of the season.

The Yankees will conclude their seven-game road trip in Sunday's rubber match with right-hander Brandon McCarthy on the hill against J.A. Happ.

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Tanaka experiences soreness in throwing arm

Yankees consider it a 'minor setback'; pitcher eyes September return

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TORONTO -- The injury-riddled Yankees were dealt another blow Friday when Masahiro Tanaka suffered a setback in his rehab after experiencing general soreness in his throwing arm.

Tanaka, who was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in July, said he's not concerned about it, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi is.

"There's obviously concern, but I think we play it out this week to see where we're at," Girardi said. "He's going to continue to play catch and do some exercises that a pitcher would normally do, and we'll go from there.

"We're going to proceed, and it's either going to be he's healthy or he needs surgery."

Tanaka will head to New York on Friday and undergo strengthening exercises at Yankee Stadium over the weekend with the hopes of pitching again in September. The 25-year-old insists he has felt no pain in his elbow, but rather general soreness throughout his entire arm.

Depending on the severity, a UCL tear often times requires surgery, but Tanaka avoided it when the injury was initially diagnosed and instead went the rehab route. He believes the latest setback could simply be a result of not throwing much over the last month.

"I want to be a little bit cautious," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I haven't been throwing for a couple of weeks and then I started throwing again and built up the number of pitches. I think that's the reason there's a little extra bit of soreness."

Tanaka, who threw 49 pitches in a simulated game at Comerica Park on Thursday, was slated for another simulated game on Tuesday, but Girardi said that has been canceled. It's possible Tanaka could throw his next bullpen in a week, Girardi said. The Japanese right-hander, who is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA over 18 starts, will do some light throwing in the meantime.

While Girardi is concerned about how his pitcher is feeling, he said there are no plans for Tanaka to see any doctors or shut him down. That's because Tanaka hasn't pinpointed an exact location of the soreness and stressed that he hasn't felt any pain.

"When we ask him is there one spot, he does not point to one spot, he just says general soreness," Girardi said. "He wants time to physically catch up a little bit here."

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Yanks opt to rest Ellsbury's banged-up ankle

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Yanks opt to rest Ellsbury's banged-up ankle play video for Yanks opt to rest Ellsbury's banged-up ankle

TORONTO -- Jacoby Ellsbury is hopeful he will be available for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't as optimistic.

"I'd be really shocked if he played," Girardi said following Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays, in which the Yankees were held to one hit. "I think it was wishful thinking on his part [to play Saturday]. He was trying to gut it out, but there was no way."

Ellsbury was held out of Saturday's game with a sore left ankle, but there won't be an official diagnosis until Ellsbury is checked out by team doctors once the club heads back to New York. The center fielder limped into the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre with his ankle wrapped on Saturday morning, a day after he injured it when sliding into home plate in the ninth inning of a 6-3 win over Toronto. A fluoroscope on the ankle following Friday's game came back negative.

The 30-year-old Ellsbury received treatment on his ankle throughout the majority of Saturday's game and planned to do so back at the team hotel later that night. Ellsbury planned to arrive at the ballpark early on Sunday for more treatment and to test the ankle by going through a series of drills.

"I'm still holding out for [Sunday]." Ellsbury said. "I'm a quick healer and have a high pain tolerance, so I have those things going for me."

Girardi said the injury might have sent Ellsbury to the disabled list earlier in the season, but with rosters set to expand on Monday, that move won't be necessary, even if further tests reveal something more serious than a sprain.

With 28 games remaining, Ellsbury is doing everything in his power to suit up and help his Yankees team remain in the playoff race.

"I realize how important these games are; we obviously need to win," Ellsbury said. "I'm willing to go out there not at 100 percent. ... This time of year, every win is important. I need to be out there.

"Even if I do play [Sunday], it's not going to be 100 percent. All you can do is stay optimistic, but it's obviously disappointing."

The Yankees hoped Ellsbury would be available to serve as the designated hitter when the club arrived at Rogers Centre on Saturday. But the red-hot Ellsbury was ultimately given the day off, a decision he likely would not have made on his own.

"They let me know it would be wise to take [Saturday], just to get that full treatment," Ellsbury said. "It took a little arm twisting."

Girardi wants to get Ellsbury back into the lineup as soon as possible, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Yankees elected to give him some extra time to recover. Toronto's artificial playing surface has a reputation for being tough on the body, and the Yankees are off Monday, so Ellsbury could get three consecutive days to recuperate before New York begins a three-game set at home against the Red Sox on Tuesday.

"I think [we'll] see if he can be a player before [Tuesday]," Girardi said. "He wants to play. You just have to see what he's capable of doing."

Ellsbury has homered in three of his last five games, including Friday's contest, in which he launched his 14th home run of the season and tripled. August has been Ellsbury's best month of the season; he enters Sunday hitting .317 with a .360 on-base percentage and .525 slugging percentage, with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

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Play at home in Toronto gets pair of reviews

Ellsbury out after call overturned, then replay confirms Rule 7.13 wasn't violated

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Play at home in Toronto gets pair of reviews play video for Play at home in Toronto gets pair of reviews

TORONTO -- John Gibbons saved the Blue Jays a run with his challenge during the ninth inning of Friday night's 6-3 loss to the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

The incident occurred with nobody out and a runner on third base. Derek Jeter hit a slow chopper to third and infielder Danny Valencia attempted to get Jacoby Ellsbury, who had reached third on a triple, at the plate.

Valencia's throw to home was a little high, but catcher Dioner Navarro was able to get the tag down. Home-plate umpire Mike Everitt didn't think the tag was applied in time and ruled Ellsbury safe at the plate.

Gibbons challenged the call, and the ruling on the field was overturned. That prompted Yankees manager Joe Girardi to formally request the umpires to review whether Navarro had been blocking the plate.

Crew chief Bill Miller agreed, and they went back to the replay for a second time. Following another review, it was confirmed that Navarro was not in violation of 7.13, which states the catcher must provide a clear lane for the runner.

Girardi disagreed with that assessment, as he felt Navarro's foot was blocking Ellsbury's path to the plate. Girardi said after the game that Major League Baseball is trying to protect catchers, but by doing so there is still some lingering confusion about what the rule entails.

"It has been one of my points of contention of this rule -- when a guy is running basically down the baseline, a straight line, if the guy's foot is on the line, that's blocking the plate," Girardi said. "Everything is here to protect the players and catchers, and I'm all for it. But in that situation, he has no place to slide.

"You are asking him to deviate from his path and maybe slide with his hand. If he gets his hand stepped on, that could be the rest of the year."

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Ellsbury powers Yanks' late charge vs. Blue Jays

Center fielder, who's been hot in August, caps five-run frame with HR

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Ellsbury powers Yanks' late charge vs. Blue Jays play video for Ellsbury powers Yanks' late charge vs. Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Prized offseason acquisition Jacoby Ellsbury has picked the right time to have his best month of the year for the Yankees.

Ellsbury's big August continued Friday, and he helped a surging Yankees team remain in the thick of the playoff race.

The center fielder homered off southpaw Aaron Loup -- the first career long ball he has surrendered to a left-handed batter -- during a five-run seventh inning to propel the Yankees to a 6-3 series-opening victory over the division-rival Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

"First of all, you have to have power and the ability to hit left-handers," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Ellsbury. "Loup is very tough on left-handers, and we have seen that over the last couple years. For him to hit that homer ... that was, obviously, really big."

Now the Yankees are hoping an injured ankle doesn't sideline Ellsbury for an extended period of time.

Ellsbury, who is batting .317/.360/.525 in August after hitting a homer and a triple in New York's victory, jammed his ankle in the top half of the ninth on a play at the plate and gingerly walked off the field after he was ruled safe. The play was eventually overturned on Toronto's challenge, but the run didn't matter, as closer David Robertson -- who entered with two outs in the eighth -- retired all four Blue Jays he faced to earn his 35th save of the season.

With a 2-for-5 effort against Toronto, Ellsbury recorded his team-leading 43rd multihit game. His 16 RBIs and nine stolen bases in August are the most he has in any month, while the five homers he has hit match a monthly high this season.

The speedy outfielder has been a major spark plug for the Yankees, who improved to 23-16 since the All-Star break.

"His ankle is sore," Girardi said. "He hurt his ankle. I'm not sure what he's going to be for us [Saturday]. I can't tell you that he's going to play. It's frustrating because he's playing so well. We'll have to wait and see."

The Yankees' bats were silenced by Toronto starter Mark Buehrle for much of the contest before a late-game eruption quieted the crowd of 43,318. The Yanks, who entered Friday's contest three games back for the second American League Wild Card, kept pace with the Tigers and Mariners.

With two on and none out in the seventh, Brett Gardner brought home Brian McCann with a double that one-hopped the wall in right, and a throwing error by second baseman Steve Tolleson on the play allowed Carlos Beltran to score, giving New York a 2-1 lead.

Another throwing error later in the frame on a pickoff attempt by Toronto catcher Dioner Navarro allowed Gardner to score and make it a 3-1 game.

Ellsbury then delivered the final blow of the inning once Buehrle exited the contest. The 30-year-old turned on a 1-1 offering from Loup and deposited it over the fence in right field to put the Yankees ahead, 5-1. The two-run homer was Ellsbury's 14th home run of the season and fourth in his last five games. Loup had gone 232 at-bats vs. a left-hander without allowing a homer.

Buehrle was charged with four runs on seven hits over his six-plus innings of work. The lefty, who walked one and struck out four, has won just once in his last 15 starts after beginning the year with a 10-1 record.

The veteran has also lost 11 consecutive decisions to the Yankees and has a career 1-13 record against them.

Derek Jeter, who went 1-for-5 and is playing his final series in Toronto, was surprised to hear how poorly Buehrle has done vs. New York.

"It's not like we're all running to the bat racks because Buehrle is pitching," the shortstop said. "He's got great stuff and he's a competitor. I'm sure he wants the ball when we face him. I think that's just a fluke thing."

Yankees starter Chris Capuano, meanwhile, allowed three runs (two earned) over 6 1/3 innings to collect his first win in seven starts with New York. The left-hander's lone hiccup through the first six innings came with one out in the fourth.

Toronto slugger Jose Bautista crushed a 1-2 pitch into the second deck in left field for his 27th homer of the season to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. It was the third consecutive game Bautista has gone deep, marking the first time he has accomplished the feat since July 1-3, 2011.

Capuano, who snapped a 12-start winless streak, continued to cruise after that until Toronto rallied in the seventh, putting two runs across the board before right-hander Adam Warren retired Edwin Encarnacion with runners on first and second to end the threat.

"I couldn't be prouder to get a win as a Yankee," Capuano said. "It feels really good."

Chase Headley homered in the ninth -- his third with the Yankees and 10th overall this season -- to put New York up, 6-3, and drop Toronto to 7-17 in August.

"We're better hitters than we've been producing as a whole right now, no question about that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Just have to keep battling every day. I don't have any other answer for you, nobody does. Just keep grinding away. What else are you going to do?"

The Yankees won for the seventh time in their last nine games and improved to 3-2 on their seven-game road trip.

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Yankees DFA Hill to make room for Outman

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Yankees DFA Hill to make room for Outman play video for Yankees DFA Hill to make room for Outman

TORONTO -- Left-hander Rich Hill was designated for assignment by the Yankees on Friday to make room for fellow southpaw Josh Outman on the active roster. The Yankees acquired Outman from the Indians on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Hill, in his 10th big league season, allowed no runs over six appearances with the Yankees after signing in July following a stint with the Angels.

Outman had a 3.28 ERA in 31 games with Cleveland. He will be tasked with getting left-handed hitters out, New York manager Joe Girardi said.

"He's a left-handed specialist who has had success," Girardi said. "You look at his numbers versus lefties in Cleveland this year, and it wasn't too bad. He'll get an opportunity to help us."

Outman has held lefties to a .180/.293/.380 batting line this year, and he has enjoyed similar success against lefty hitters over the course of his six Major League seasons.

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Jeter expresses love for the city of Toronto

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Jeter expresses love for the city of Toronto play video for Jeter expresses love for the city of Toronto

TORONTO -- Derek Jeter's farewell tour continued Friday when the Yankees made their final visit of the 2014 regular season to Toronto, marking the last time the shortstop will play at Rogers Centre.

Rogers Centre is the first of four American League East parks that Jeter will bid goodbye to in the coming weeks, as the Yankees still have road games remaining against the Rays, Orioles and Red Sox in September.

Jeter has enjoyed plenty of success north of the border, entering Friday's contest with the most hits (163), runs scored (91), and games played (130) at Rogers Centre by any visiting player.

"I love the city of Toronto," Jeter said before a large media scrum ahead of Friday's game. "This team's given us fits throughout the years, especially here."

When Jeter was asked if there was a memorable moment that sticks out over the 20 years he's played in Toronto, he referenced a play which cost him six weeks in 2003.

"The first thing I think about is dislocating my shoulder at third base," Jeter said. "I don't know if that's a good thing, but I've always enjoyed coming to Toronto."

It was Opening Day 2003 when Jeter slid headfirst into third base and Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby crushed his shoulder on the play. Jeter attempted to go first to third on an infield grounder and Huckaby collided with him as he raced to cover an unoccupied third base. The shortstop was down in agony and out until the middle of May with a dislocated left shoulder.

But Jeter didn't dwell on the infamous moment Friday, focusing instead on his team's chances of staying in the playoff hunt and fielding questions on his upcoming retirement.

Jeter was also very appreciative of Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen, who showered him with praise earlier in the week, saying fans come to the ballpark to see the Yankees great.

"Any time you have guys you play against that say nice things about you, it makes you feel good," Jeter said. "I've always tried to be respectful of everyone I played against. For someone to say kind things, especially someone that's competing against you, I appreciate it.

"This year I've heard a lot of great things from opposing players."

Jeter, who entered the weekend series in Toronto with a .304/.367/.427 career batting line at Rogers Centre, received a standing ovation in his first at-bat Friday.

{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Bullpen falters as Yankees drop finale in Detroit

Kelley allows game-winning hit in ninth after Kuroda's strong effort

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Bullpen falters as Yankees drop finale in Detroit play video for Bullpen falters as Yankees drop finale in Detroit

DETROIT -- The final pitch of the afternoon was a hanging slider that was destined to drive in the winning run, and Shawn Kelley immediately slammed his glove into the infield grass, allowing the terrible feeling to slump his shoulders.

If Kelley had turned around, he would have seen Ichiro Suzuki's valiant effort to track Alex Avila's deep drive through the shadows, but the tell-tale thump of ball against padded wall sealed the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Thursday at Comerica Park. The setback bumped the Yankees three games behind the Tigers and Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"I didn't watch. I just put my head down and walked off the field," Kelley said. "It would've been a nice surprise if he would've [caught it], but I assumed it was a homer."

Avila's hit counted only as a single, but it was enough to doom the Yankees to their second loss of the three-game series, a final head-to-head showdown with the Detroit that they viewed as crucial for their postseason hopes.

"It's definitely not what we wanted, but our guys played extremely hard this series, and we've got to go continue on to Toronto," manager Joe Girardi said.

Kelley entered after Hiroki Kuroda provided another consistent outing, holding the Tigers to two runs over seven innings. Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless eighth, but Kelley was in immediate trouble as Victor Martinez opened the ninth by doubling on a hanging breaking ball.

After a full-count walk to J.D. Martinez, Kelley rebounded to strike out both Alex Castellanos and pinch-hitter Torii Hunter, but Avila barreled the first pitch he saw to deliver a walk-off win in front of a sellout crowd of 42,647.

"It was right over my head. I ran back and the ball hit the fence," Ichiro said through an interpreter. "It's a do-or-die play. I just went to where I thought the ball was going to be."

"You're watching, but you're not really sure," Avila said. "When I hit it, I thought it had a chance to drive the run in, but Ichiro came pretty close."

After producing an eight-run inning on Wednesday against David Price, New York managed just two runs and four hits in six innings against rookie left-hander Kyle Lobstein, who was making his first Major League start and second appearance.

"From the game that I saw, we swung the bats better than we did yesterday," Girardi said. "We just hit balls at people. That's unfortunate."

Zelous Wheeler reached on a slow third-inning grounder that was thrown away by the third baseman Castellanos, setting up Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI single to knot the game at 1. The Yankees center fielder continues to swing a hot bat, hitting .462 (18-for-39) over his last 10 games.

New York punched another run through against Lobstein in the fourth inning. Martin Prado singled, advanced to third base on a Carlos Beltran double and scored on Brian McCann's groundout. Lobstein slammed the door there, walking one and striking out none.

"It's a close race and they're trying to win every game," Lobstein said. "I understood that, but at the same time, I've just got to go out there and treat it as any other day."

The Yankees are not looking for silver linings at this time of year, but at least Kuroda seems to be showing no signs of the second-half swoon that derailed his 2013 season. The right-hander wrapped up his August with a 3.22 ERA in five starts.

"The biggest thing that I concentrate on a day I pitch, I want to make sure that the team wins," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "Because that did not happen, it was not a good day for me."

Avila knocked in Castellanos with a second-inning sac fly and after the Yankees scored single runs in the third and fourth to take the lead, the Tigers tied the game in the fifth as Don Kelly walked, advanced on a wild pitch and came home to score on Rajai Davis' single to right field.

The Yankees threatened to retake the lead in the ninth, but were silenced by two former Bombers. Mark Teixeira worked a two-out walk against Joba Chamberlain before the Tigers called on Phil Coke, who surrendered a single to Beltran that placed runners at the corners.

McCann got a meaty fastball and launched a deep drive down the right-field line that had Coke arcing his neck at the back of the mound, but the ball sailed a few rows foul.

"I did [think it was a homer]. It just kept going," McCann said. "I don't know if the wind took it or what. It would have been nice if it stayed fair, but it didn't."

Coke came back to gas McCann with two 95-mph fastballs for the strikeout.

"We just have to battle," McCann said. "Kuroda pitched an unbelievable game, again. We hit a lot of balls hard today. The ball was hanging up in the gaps; I thought we had three or four doubles that got caught. That's just the way it goes. We'll move on and get ready for Toronto."

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{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Jeter focused on playoff race after Motown farewell

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Jeter focused on playoff race after Motown farewell play video for Jeter focused on playoff race after Motown farewell

DETROIT -- They stood, a crowd of 42,647 strong, as Derek Jeter stepped into the batter's box on Thursday for his final regular-season at-bat in the state of Michigan. Joba Chamberlain stepped off the mound, permitting those cheers a few extra moments of life.

It was a snapshot moment for the Yankees' captain, but spoiled by the fact that Jeter grounded out on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, then walked off the diamond in the next half-inning as Alex Avila's RBI single gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory at Comerica Park.

The loss bumped the Yankees three games behind the Tigers and Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. A dark October was never on Jeter's agenda, and the 40-year-old continues to have faith that the Yankees can win the necessary games to participate in the postseason.

"When you play the teams that are ahead of you, you don't have to look at the scoreboard," Jeter said. "We play our division, so we need to have the approach that we have to win every day. What do we have, 30 games left? You can't sit around and look at the scoreboard. It's in our own hands, so we need to win."

The loss also moved the Yankees 6 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, although Jeter said that he has not given up hope of catching Baltimore.

"It's always the goal, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "Until something else happens and you have to alter your goals, that's the goal. But once again, we play our division, so if we win our games we'll be fine. I don't ever think you set your sights on something less than you can accomplish, so our goal is to win games. We need to win tomorrow."

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Yankees acquire lefty specialist Outman from Indians

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Yankees acquire lefty specialist Outman from Indians play video for Yankees acquire lefty specialist Outman from Indians

CHICAGO -- The Yankees added a layer of specialization to their bullpen on Thursday, acquiring left-hander Josh Outman from the Indians in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Outman opened this season as a member of Cleveland's bullpen, but was designated for assignment in June and sent outright to Triple-A Columbus. At both the Major League and Minor League levels, the lefty has performed well against left-handed batters.

Lefties have been an issue overall for the Yankees, whose left-handed relievers (David Huff and Matt Thornton have occupied the bulk of the innings) have combined for a .274 opponents' average against left-handed batters. Outman, who will join New York's Major League staff, has limited lefties to a .188 average across his six-year career in the big leagues.

In 31 games for Cleveland earlier this season, the 29-year-old Outman went 4-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings, during which he had 24 strikeouts, 16 walks and a 1.54 ERA. With lefties Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Hagadone and Kyle Crockett in the fold, Outman became the odd-man out and was demoted to Triple-A on June 25.

With Columbus, Outman turned in a 4.43 ERA in 23 games, but he held left-handed hitters to a .189 average in that span. With the Indians, the lefty reliever had a .180 opponents' average (.673 OPS) against left-handed batters, compared to a .295 opponents' average (.927 OPS) against right-handed hitters.

Across 152 career games in the Majors, Outman has turned in a 4.49 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP between stints with the A's, Rockies and Indians. Cleveland originally acquired Outman last offseason in a one-for-one swap with Colorado that sent outfielder Drew Stubbs to the Rockies.

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Yanks bat around off Price with nine consecutive hits

New York sets club record, falls one shy of AL mark in eight-run third

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Yanks bat around off Price with nine consecutive hits play video for Yanks bat around off Price with nine consecutive hits

DETROIT -- The Yankees' hit parade couldn't wait until Labor Day.

New York strung together nine straight hits to begin its eight-run third inning on Wednesday night against the Tigers, chasing former American League Cy Young Award winner David Price from the game in the process.

The Yankees came one hit shy of the AL record for consecutive hits and three hits shy of the Major League mark. The Yankees became the first team since St. Louis last season (against Pittsburgh on Sept. 6) to rack up nine straight hits. The last American League team to do so was Detroit in 1996.

The AL record of 10 consecutive hits the Yankees narrowly missed tying was also set by the Tigers in 1983. New York beat its club record, which was eight straight, set in 1990.

"It builds confidence, you know?" said Jacoby Ellsbury, who started and ended the procession. "You want to be the next guy up, just keep the line moving. Even though we only scored that inning, I thought we still hit some balls hard and still had great ABs the rest of the game."

These weren't the sort of outings Tigers fans envisioned Price having when he joined Detroit at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Price's outing against the Yankees was the second shortest of his career.

The left-hander became the first pitcher to allow nine straight hits since Houston's Bob Forsch did it against Cincinnati in 1989.

Price exited the game without an out recorded in the third and was charged with eight earned runs. Only three previous times in Major League history had a pitcher allowed 12 hits in two innings or fewer, like Price did Wednesday night.

The others were the Cubs' Shawn Estes (two innings) in 2003, the Dodgers' Johnny Podres (1 2/3 innings) in 1963 and the Tigers George Uhle (two innings) in 1929.

As poorly as the night went for Price, he said he never once thought he simply didn't have his solid stuff Wednesday.

"That was never a thought that crossed my mind," Price said. "That thought would never go through my head. As soon as [Tigers manager Brad Ausmus] pulled me out of the game, I had time to reflect on what happened. But out there on the field, that never crosses my mind.

"I let the team down, and that's the worst thing."

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Tanaka uses entire repertoire in simulated game

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Tanaka uses entire repertoire in simulated game play video for Tanaka uses entire repertoire in simulated game

DETROIT -- The catcher's glove popped with good velocity as Masahiro Tanaka worked off the mound on a sunny Thursday morning at Comerica Park, and while the hurler's stuff showed some rust, the Yankees came away with excitement about what might be around the corner.

Tanaka threw 49 pitches in a three-inning simulated game, using his full repertoire to Brendan Ryan, who rode the early bus and batted from both sides of the plate. Ryan said that he thinks the rehabbing right-hander looks close to big league ready.

"The pinpoint [command] is probably going to be the last thing to come. I would expect that to be there pretty soon," Ryan said. "He can go out there and get outs now, just on stuff alone. The sooner the better. I'd say it was a pretty good day."

Tanaka said that he has been feeling only normal soreness, another good sign as he attempts to avoid Tommy John surgery. He expressed dissatisfaction with some of his pitches, having thrown his slider, splitter, curveball and both fastballs in the session.

"I think some of the balls I am throwing, I'm still not able to hit my spots," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "The rust is still there, so I still have some work to do to get back to game-ready."

The Yankees are bringing Tanaka along with the hopes of having him make starts in September, and manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka will need at least two more sessions against hitters before that can happen. The Yankees want to build Tanaka to at least 75 pitches.

"You have an idea that it's possible that he could come back at some point here," Girardi said.

Ryan made some solid contact, lining a couple of balls to center field and one to deep right-center, but he was also late on many of Tanaka's pitches.

Tanaka said that he is throwing his trademark splitter "worry-free," and the Yankees have been watching Tanaka's facial expressions closely to see if he is masking discomfort.

"I didn't see him favoring anything, and that's a good sign," Girardi said.

Ryan also came away encouraged. He said that from his end, some of Tanaka's splitters "were so dirty you just forget to swing."

"It feels like the velocity is there; some of them are a little bit up, but that speaks to being off for a while," Ryan said. "I don't expect him to be pinpoint or anything like that. It's just nice to see him throwing without any pain."

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Baseball will miss Jeter's class, humility most

Retiring shortstop, Michigander, honored in pregame ceremony in Detroit

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Baseball will miss Jeter's class, humility most play video for Baseball will miss Jeter's class, humility most

DETROIT -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked Wednesday who would take over the leadership role with his club next season after Derek Jeter has retired.

The larger question would be: Who is going to take Jeter's place as baseball's primary role model, as the game's unofficial but leading ambassador to the rest of humanity?

Another ritual in the march of Jeter's final season occurred Wednesday night at Comerica Park as the Detroit Tigers honored Jeter. There have been standing ovations and tributes and gifts at every stop on the road for Jeter this season, and deservedly so.

This one may have had more emotional content for Jeter since his family moved to Michigan from New Jersey when he was 4 years old. Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo. Thus, he is, as they say here, "a Michigander."

Girardi, by the way, said that the leadership question was one for next year and that right now he was very busy trying to manage the Yanks into the postseason. Retirement honors aside, Jeter was an integral part of their playoff push Wednesday night.

In the second inning, Jeter ranged far to his left, snagging a grounder up the middle by Nick Castellanos. Then he finished the classic play, spinning behind second base and throwing a strike to first for the out.

In the top of the third, Jeter delivered an RBI double for the Yankees' first run of the game. Nine straight Yanks hit safely against David Price, which seemed a bit on the miraculous side. As the 11th hitter in the inning, Jeter delivered another RBI with a sacrifice fly to center. The Yankees, with eight runs in the third, went on to an 8-4 victory.

As much as any player in the contemporary game, Jeter has the respect and admiration of the opposition. And why not?

"He has played on the brightest stage in baseball for basically two decades and has represented the game of baseball probably as well as almost anyone who has ever played the game, in the history of the game," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "And he's as classy a guy and as tough a competitor as I have ever seen. He deserves all the praise that he's getting.

"He's been the single classiest act in the game the last two decades, as well as a tremendous clutch performer. Early in his career, people would say: 'Oh, if Derek Jeter played in Milwaukee, he wouldn't be that good.' That's a farce. This guy's a baseball player through and through. He plays the game the right way. He's never stopped playing the game the right way. He's a winner's winner."

All the records, all the achievements, the five World Series championships, are there to be admired.

"It's way bigger than that," Price said of Jeter's accomplishments. "It's about the way he's carried himself."

There are countless stories of young players being treated with respect by Jeter, an interaction that invariably gave the young player a feeling of acceptance and belonging. This kind of thing was no accident.

"I have always tried to treat people with respect, because I want to be treated with respect," Jeter said. "When I came up, I was never treated like a rookie. I was on a team that was going to the World Series for the first time in quite some time. People knew that I had a responsibility and therefore, they treated me as an equal. I've always tried to treat people the same way.

"When you meet people, at times you can forget what they say, but I don't think you ever forget how they make you feel. So I've always tried to make people as comfortable as possible."

In the pregame ceremony honoring Jeter, the Tigers presented him with a $5,000 check to his charity, the Turn 2 Foundation. He received two seats from old Tiger Stadium and Tigers president/CEO/general manager Dave Dombrowski unveiled paintings, representing three stages of Jeter's baseball career in Michigan; in high school, playing at Tiger Stadium and playing at Comerica Park.

Hall of Famer Al Kaline and Tigers legend Willie Horton were on hand, letting you know that this was a high-priority event for the Detroit organization. Jeter's high school coach, his parents and his sister were all in attendance.

"I thought it was very nice that [the Tigers] involved my family and our leadership program from Kalamazoo," Jeter said of the ceremony. "We appreciate it a lot. It was a class act by a class organization. Our foundation means a lot to us, and for them to include it meant a lot to us."

After this season, it won't be just the Yankees missing Derek Jeter. It will be all of baseball.

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Detroit sock city: Yanks hammer Price, gain in WC race

Nine straight hits in third help NY get within 2 1/2 games of Seattle

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Detroit sock city: Yanks hammer Price, gain in WC race play video for Detroit sock city: Yanks hammer Price, gain in WC race

DETROIT -- The Yankees have been talking about the importance of seeing quality at-bats throughout their order, one through nine, over this winning week. In one memorable inning Wednesday night at Comerica Park, every hitter in the lineup delivered on that promise.

Taking their swings at the record books, nine straight Yankees stroked hits off David Price to produce eight third-inning runs, powering an 8-4 win over the Tigers that moved New York within 2 1/2 games of Seattle for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"It's a great feeling. It takes the pressure off the offense. It takes it off the pitcher," said Jacoby Ellsbury, who started the big frame with a single. "Obviously, it's the difference in the game, but that's nice when you can string hits together like that. Good things will happen, and you're going to score some runs when that happens."

The Yankees, who also pulled within six games of the Orioles in the AL East race, have seen plenty of Price over the years -- but never like this. Seven different players drove in runs as the Yankees became the first AL team since Detroit in 1996 to collect nine straight hits in an inning.

"It's fun, but you don't see that very often," Derek Jeter said. "We had some good at-bats. We were lucky we found some holes; that's why you play the games. Price is as good as anyone in baseball, so we were fortunate, but we needed it."

Price called it "probably the worst game I've ever had in my life," marked by the most consecutive hits in a big league inning since the Cardinals had nine straight last Sept. 6 against the Pirates. The Major League record is 12, set by the 1920 Cardinals and equaled by the 1930 Brooklyn Robins.

"It's surprising to get three or four hits against him over the first couple of innings, to be honest, as good as he is," Brett Gardner said. "We just had some things go our way. Some balls fall; some guys swinging the bats well. It was a big inning for us."

Shane Greene gladly accepted the run support, defeating the Tigers for the second time in three weeks. The rookie right-hander limited the Tigers to two runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out eight.

"Sometimes you think, 'Hurry up, I want to get back out there,'" Greene said. "But it's nice when a team can go out there and put up runs like that."

Greene also defeated Detroit in a 1-0 decision on Aug. 7 in New York, but didn't have to sweat quite so much this time. Detroit chipped away with late runs off Adam Warren and Dellin Betances as manager Joe Girardi deployed his bullpen to secure a victory that the Yankees desperately wanted to lock down.

Price hadn't allowed nine hits in any of his last 10 starts, but there were warning signs for a rough night ahead as he needed 43 pitches to navigate the first two innings. Jeter had two RBIs in the third inning, starting the damage with a run-scoring double to right field.

The Yankees stayed on Price's pitches as Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann followed with three consecutive RBI hits, sparking an inning the likes of which Girardi guessed he'd seen "maybe in a Little League game."

"Sometimes it just happens; the game doesn't always make sense when it happens," Girardi said. "He's as good as it gets, but we were able to hit some balls in the holes and it worked out."

Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli also collected run-scoring singles before Tigers manager Brad Ausmus finally claimed the ball from Price, who recorded no swings and misses in the inning.

"It just reached a point where he was running out of steam and even the balls that weren't hit well were finding holes," Ausmus said.

Blaine Hardy recorded the first out on an Ellsbury sacrifice fly, and Jeter lifted a sac fly to push home the eighth run charged to Price.

"It's tough to get that many hits, even if the guys hit the balls on the screws," Ellsbury said. "Fortunately we got some good swings on balls and some balls fell for us."

Gardner said that the Yankees didn't realize they'd knocked nine straight hits until later, when some pitchers watching the TV broadcast wandered into the dugout to spread the word. The Yankees, who had a five-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday, used that cushion to avoid falling into a skid.

New York's bats were quiet the rest of the way, as Detroit's bullpen reeled off seven scoreless innings, but the Tigers managed only Miguel Cabrera's fourth-inning RBI double and Victor Martinez's sixth-inning solo homer off Greene; the Yankees have won each of Greene's last five starts.

"It's important. We're talking about winning series, but the other thing is who we're playing," Girardi said. "This is one of the teams in front of us. It's the last time we see them and the only chance to make up ground that we can rely on ourselves, so we need to win."

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Tanaka to throw 45 pitches in simulated game

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DETROIT -- Masahiro Tanaka's next hurdle will come in the form of three simulated innings off the mound at Comerica Park on Thursday morning, and if he gets through that session with no issues, the right-hander's return will seem much more plausible.

Manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka is scheduled to throw about 45 pitches in the simulated game, and he could be two sessions away from a big league return; the team would need Tanaka to build his stamina to the area of 75-90 pitches before deeming him ready.

"You obviously feel better that it's going to happen, but I still talk about the intensity of a Major League game compared to a Minor League game or a simulated game," Girardi said. "Those are the hurdles that you have to go through."

It is likely that the Yankees would need to create Tanaka's next outing, as the Minor League schedule ends on Monday and only Class A Advanced Tampa is within striking distance of seeing playoff action. Girardi said that he is remaining cautiously optimistic as Tanaka aims to avoid Tommy John surgery.

"As long as you're having steps in the right direction, it's working," Girardi said. "That doesn't mean that it's a guarantee. If you have a setback, it probably means surgery. It's not like rehabbing a hamstring or something like that, where you can have a setback and, 'OK, we've got to sit him down.' If it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

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Ellsbury not attributing hot streak to leading off

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DETROIT -- Jacoby Ellsbury has found one of his best hot streaks of the season, but the Yankees' center fielder won't connect the dots between those good recent swings and a return to the leadoff spot.

With Brett Gardner hobbled by a sore right ankle, Ellsbury batted leadoff for the fourth time in five games on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the Yankees' 8-4 win over the Tigers. He is enjoying a 17-for-38 (.447) tear.

"He's done a good job there, and there was never a question what kind of job he would do in that spot," manager Joe Girardi said. "Gardy did a great job. It was just, I put him there because Gardy was hurt, and he's done a good job."

Ellsbury, who entered Wednesday having hit three homers in the Yankees' prior two games, said that he was also feeling comfortable hitting third and hasn't felt much different since coming back to the top of the lineup.

"I think that first at-bat may be the only one, trying to see how the pitcher throws that day, see what he has," Ellsbury said. "But after that first one, as the leadoff hitter, you're kind of in the flow of the game. It doesn't really affect you."

"He's a great player that's going to have really good streaks," Girardi said. "You could say since I put him in the leadoff spot he's hitting for more power. It's a small sample, so I don't make too much of it."

Gardner returned to New York's lineup on Wednesday, batting eighth, and went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

"I was happy with the way it felt," Gardner said. "Obviously there's still a little discomfort, but I felt pretty close to full speed, so I was happy with it."

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Tigers keep it local in honoring retiring Jeter

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Tigers keep it local in honoring retiring Jeter play video for Tigers keep it local in honoring retiring Jeter

DETROIT -- Derek Jeter hates the term "farewell tour."

"You say 'tour,' it's like you're just going around shaking hands and kissing babies," Jeter said Tuesday.

Whatever the fitting name for Jeter's final season, it received a shot of poignancy Wednesday night as he was honored in a pregame ceremony at Comerica Park in his home state of Michigan.

A video tribute highlighted his high school baseball career at Kalamazoo Central -- just over two hours from Detroit. Jeter said Tuesday that he still feels close ties to Michigan, even though he was born in New Jersey.

"I grew up in Michigan," he said. "I've always told people I'm from Michigan."

The tribute allowed Jeter to close out his trips to Detroit on a high note. Tuesday, he spoke of the disappointment that came with his demotion from the Yankees in 1995, just before the club was scheduled to make a trip to Tiger Stadium, which would have been Jeter's first time playing in Detroit since high school. He also has been booed loudly, likely because of his team affiliation, in Detroit, until this week, when he was well-received.

A gift to Jeter from the Tigers' organization will ensure he'll always have a piece of that ballpark, though -- he was presented with two Tiger Stadium seats during the ceremony.

Jeter also received a $5,000 donation to his charity, the Turn 2 Foundation.

"I thought it was very nice that they involved my family and our leadership program from Kalamazoo," said Jeter. "We appreciate it a lot. It was a class act by a class organization to include them. Our foundation means a lot to us, and for them to include them, it meant a lot to us."

Joined by two former teammates of Jeter's, Tigers pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Phil Coke, Detroit team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski also unveiled a painting portraying Jeter at three stages of his life: his high-school career in Kalamazoo, at Tiger Stadium, and at Comerica Park. The paintings included dirt from all three of those stops.

Tigers legends Willie Horton and Al Kaline also were in attendance for the ceremony, as was Don Zomer, Jeter's high school coach.

{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Yanks support ALS research; Girardi takes challenge

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DETROIT -- The Yankees announced on Wednesday that they have pledged $100,000 to the ALS Association, in recognition of those who bravely live with ALS, those who have passed away from the condition and those around the world who have taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge in an effort to raise awareness and funding to find a cure.

In support of the Yankees' donation, manager Joe Girardi participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday afternoon. Girardi said that he lost an uncle to ALS -- also known as Lou Gehrig's disease -- in April of this year.

"Obviously, it's been on my mind," Girardi said.

In his video, Girardi invited Patrick Quinn of Westchester, N.Y., and Anthony Senerchia of Pelham, N.Y., to be the team's guests for a future Yankees home game. Quinn and Senerchia were among the first to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Girardi also challenged this year's Monument Park inductees to take the challenge; Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill and Joe Torre. Torre participated recently in a group event outside MLB's New York offices, helping raise $16,700 for ALS research.

"I think this is a really good thing that's been started here and is bringing a lot of attention to ALS," Girardi said. "It's a horrific disease in what it does to people. Hopefully all these things that people are doing to raise money finds a cure."

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Yanks add veteran outfielder Young on Minors deal

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DETROIT -- The Yankees have signed outfielder Chris Young to a Minor League contract, general manager Brian Cashman confirmed on Wednesday.

Young, 30, was released by the Mets last week after hitting just .205 with eight homers and a .630 OPS in 88 games. Young had signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with the Mets and could see time with the Yankees after rosters expand in September.

"Obviously it's a guy that's had some success in his career," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's a very good outfielder, it's a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We're going to see what we have."

The Yankees currently have three left-handed-hitting outfielders on the roster in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. Young, who has also seen big league time with the D-backs and Athletics over the last nine seasons, has not played since Aug. 7.

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McCarthy battles, but Yankees' win streak snapped

Tigers score five runs off righty in series opener; Ellsbury homers twice

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DETROIT -- The Yankees used Brandon McCarthy's most dominant outing in pinstripes as a springboard to a five-game winning streak, one that resuscitated their flagging postseason dreams. Eyeing this series as crucial to that cause, they now must get on a new roll.

McCarthy has been splendid since arriving in a midseason trade, but he picked a bad time to feel out of sync for most of the night. The Tigers took advantage by peppering him for nine hits over 6 1/3 innings and the Yankees were defeated, 5-2, on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

"I've thrown well enough to get through outings where I haven't been as sharp, and today, that's the disappointment," McCarthy said. "I'd like to be able to fight back. You know days like this you're going to give up some runs, especially against a good team like that. You'd like to be able to limit it a little bit more."

The loss, which followed a rain delay of more than an hour, prevented the Yankees from moving eight games over .500 for the first time this season. New York now sits 3 1/2 games back of Seattle in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Rick Porcello exacted some measure of revenge after winding up on the wrong end of a 1-0 duel earlier this month in the Bronx. In front of a sellout crowd of 40,488, Porcello scattered nine hits over eight innings to log his career-high 15th victory.

Jacoby Ellsbury celebrated his fifth career multi-homer game to account for the Yankees' scoring off Porcello, clearing the fences in the fifth and eighth innings. With three hits, Ellsbury improved to 11-for-17 (.647) with a double and four homers lifetime off Porcello.

"I can't really explain it," Ellsbury said. "I mean, I guess I got a couple of pitches I could hit, and I didn't miss them."

The sinkerballer otherwise was able to keep the ball down, as Porcello recorded 14 groundouts against four flyouts.

"I felt good with my fastball. Overall, I felt pretty good," Porcello said. "It was a great atmosphere tonight. A lot of excitement."

J.D. Martinez paced Detroit's offense with three hits, two runs scored and an RBI as McCarthy followed an Aug. 21 shutout over the Astros by surrendering five earned runs, his highest total since being acquired by the Yankees in a July 6 trade.

"It didn't look like he had great command with the sinker," manager Joe Girardi said. "At times he did, but it looked like he left some up, and they hit it. I actually thought he pitched better than maybe the numbers indicated, but they got to him a little bit."

McCarthy's command was lacking early, and the right-hander was searching for answers in the second inning, as he allowed a hit, two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the second inning, forcing in a run with a free pass to Rajai Davis.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound to give McCarthy a breather, coaxing a double-play ball from the hurler. But Martinez added a run-scoring single in the third inning, giving Detroit a two-run lead.

"I just never felt settled in, never felt comfortable, mechanically, there," McCarthy said. "I wasn't sharp right from the get-go. The middle few innings, where I was able to work quickly, it felt like it was getting there, but it just wasn't all the way back. It was just kind of a battle right from the start."

The Tigers added another pair of runs in the sixth as McCarthy surrendered three straight hits: Victor Martinez singled, J.D. Martinez barreled up a double to left and Nick Castellanos punched an RBI single to center field. McCarthy got Alex Avila to hit into a double play that pushed home the fourth Tigers run.

"The middle of their order is as good as it gets, so you can't make mistakes," said catcher Brian McCann, who said that he thought that McCarthy pitched better than his line indicated.

McCarthy's night came to a close in the seventh, as Davis aggressively turned a single into a double on a ground ball to left field and came home to score on a Torii Hunter RBI single.

"Days like that, when there's a little bit of guesswork -- where's this pitch going to end up? -- they happen," McCarthy said. "You just wish they didn't happen against good teams like this."

Joe Nathan retired the side in the ninth for his 28th save, dispatching the Yankees, who have attained a nasty habit of following winning streaks with losing skids this season. A matchup with David Price is set for Wednesday, and given the standings and the late date on the calendar, it is key that they find a way to avoid that trend.

"We've just got to go out there tomorrow, compete and play like we have been," Ellsbury said. "Hopefully we can go on another run, but all we can do is go out there. I think our energy is what has helped us the last six or seven days. We just have to go out there and play the way we have the last six games."

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Gardner feeling better, but sits with bruised ankle

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DETROIT -- Brett Gardner said Tuesday that his bruised right ankle is showing signs of improvement, and the Yankees outfielder is moving closer to returning to the lineup.

Gardner said that he expects to be in the Yankees' lineup on Wednesday, having run for the first time since he sustained the injury on a foul ball on Saturday against the White Sox.

"I don't have any idea how it's going to feel, but I know it feels a whole lot better than it did yesterday," Gardner said before Tuesday's 5-2 Yankees loss.

Gardner hit in the cages for a second consecutive day Tuesday, having also taken swings in Kansas City the night before. He had wanted to run the bases during batting practice Tuesday, but rain forced the Yankees and Tigers to do their hitting in the underground cages at Comerica Park.

"My concern was he said he felt better but he needed to run," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Gardy's pretty tough and Gardy's played through a lot, which made me believe that it's probably not 100 percent, which it might not be for a while.

"This extra day will probably do us some good. My concern is that he favors it or that he gets out there and he can't run, and then I've got to make a change. It can just really mess things up."

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Jeter seeing more time as Yankees' DH

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DETROIT -- Derek Jeter has been spending more time as the designated hitter of late, and while the retiring Yankees captain would prefer to be wearing his glove out to shortstop, he has been satisfied with staying in the lineup.

Tuesday marked Jeter's fourth DH assignment of August, coming after he had been asked to DH only four times in the first four months of the season. Jeter points out that though he hasn't done it much during his career, he did serve as the Yanks' DH 25 times in 2012.

"Because of injuries, Carlos [Beltran] had to DH, so I haven't really thought about it," Jeter said. "My job is to come here and when I'm in the lineup, play. I like to play every day. I like to play shortstop every day. Everyone is aware of that, but I get it.

"I understand it. We've had a long stretch here. I think we only have a couple of more days off, and then we have another long stretch at the end of the year."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the lengthy stretches without an off-day, as well as upcoming matchups against left-handed pitching in which Jeter will be expected to play, factored into his thinking.

"We have a lot of lefties coming up the next five days after today, where he's going to play, so try to give him a little blow when I can," Girardi said. "And I thought today was probably a good day. Two plane flights in two days, and as I said, we have day games after night games, so we're going to need him in there a lot."

Jeter's numbers have sagged of late. After batting .277 through the first four months of the season, he entered play on Tuesday batting just .209 (18-for-86) in August, with a .227 on-base percentage and a .267 slugging percentage. Jeter's last extra-base hit was a double on Aug. 11.

Girardi said that he does not believe there are any physical concerns with Jeter, but suggested that Beltran's return to part-time outfield duty may allow the Yankees to have Jeter serve as the DH more often.

"I'm in the mode that I'm just taking it day by day, but with Carlos being able to go into the outfield once in a while, it gives me more flexibility to do this," Girardi said.

{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Yankees sending seven to Arizona Fall League

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DETROIT -- Seven Yankees prospects have been added to the preliminary rosters for this year's Arizona Fall League, which were released on Tuesday.

Right-handers Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder and Alex Smith, infielders Greg Bird and Eric Jagielo, and outfielders Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge have all been selected to play this fall with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Four of the seven players are currently ranked among the club's Top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com: Jagielo (No. 3), Judge (No. 5), Bird (No. 11) and Austin (No. 15). Jagielo and Judge were first-round selections by the Yankees in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

In addition, the Yankees will be sending Class A Advanced Tampa hitting coach P.J. Pilittere to Scottsdale, where he will serve in the same capacity. There is also a roster spot reserved for a Yankees catcher to be announced.

Players from the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Pirates and Giants organizations will comprise the Scorpions' roster, and the 32-game Arizona Fall League schedule begins on Oct. 7.

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