Eovaldi Emerges

Last night proved the Yankees can hang with the best the American League has to offer. The surprising Houston Astros are in town for a 3 game series and the Yanks took the opener in a nailbiter, 1-0.

The offense was non-existent once again until the 9th inning where they ultimately won the game but that's for a different blog. The thing we really want to focus on that came out of last night is the fact Nathan Eovaldi pitched magnifecent. 8 innings, no runs allowed, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. Solid performance by a guy who was an afterthought in the Yankee rotation back in April.

Eovaldi seems to have turned a corner and it's happened at just the right time. With CC Sabathia going on the 15-day DL and possibly lost for the re
st of the season, Eovaldi has stepped into the slot we all thought CC would occupy. Reliable, solid starting pitcher.
“Tonight was the best I’ve felt about an outing,” he said.
Since that game in Miami on June 16 when he couldn't get out of the first inning, he’s gone 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA in his past 12 starts.
“Last year I had to rely on my fastball a lot more than this year,” Eovaldi said. “That and my slider, then I’d get behind in counts with my slider. I didn’t have a great feel for my curveball last year, and then I didn’t have the split. This year I’ve been using my curveball a lot better and all my offspeed pitches (have been better), which is helped me out a lot.”

The difference is now Eovaldi is more of a pitcher than a thrower. The results are showing.  The Yanks win keeps pace with the surging Toronto Blue Jays at top of the AL East. The two teams have 7 head to head matchups remaining and certainly those games will determine who wins the divison but a win last night will prove valuable should the Yankees make it to October. The Astros are among the AL's elite so whether it's a 1-0 win or 16-2, a win's a win and it gives you the confidence moving forward to gain another victory. Eovaldi's emergence couped with Tanaka, Pineda, and Severino will provide the Yankeees with a dynamic rotation going down the stretch and in a postseason series. After 2 years of missing the playoffs, that's all you could really ask for from this team.
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A-SLAM Latest In Season Of Redemption For A-Rod

Last night saw the latest highlight of Alex Rodriguez' comeback season. After going 0 for 3 in his first three plate appearances A-Rod belted a 1-0 fastball into the bullpen in right centerfield and put the Yankees ahead 5-4 in the 7th.

“A home run feels great,” Rodriguez said. “A grand slam feels pretty awesome. … I said in Spring Training, there were going to be some ups and downs. The last two weeks are pretty good examples of some downs, but it’s also important to keep perspective when you’re doing great or when you’re struggling.”
We all knew A-Rod would come back down to earth eventually. He's already exceeded expectations. So what's there to lose? Right now..the division. With The Toronto Blue Jays hot on the Yankees trail in the A.L. East, every game is important. Every at-bat is crucial.

The Blue Jays were taking care of business last night in Philly when Alex came up to the plate in the 7th with the bases loaded and the Yanks down 4-1. Talk about pressure. The man was once renowned for failing in clutch situations. This season, Alex has been the unsung hero more often than not. It was these same Minnesota Twins he slugged THREE Home Runs against last month and single-handily kept the Yanks in the game, which eventually led to a Yankee victory.

The Grand Slam was A-Rod's 25th on the season and 25th Grand Slam of his career. It was his first HR since his 40th birthday on July 27th. He was due. You sensed that all he needed was to be put in a situation where the Yankees needed him the most. I was at the game last night, I sensed it before he even came out to the on deck circle. It was just time. I looked over to my friend and said, Alex is due, if he comes up with men on, he's going to come thro. And he did...in a big way. With everyone in Yankee Stadium behind him and chanting "Let's go A-Rod" , he hit one into the Bronx night. The place went crazy and stayed didn't calm down until Alex came out for a curtain call.

“What’s bothered me is when you have poor at-bats and when you chase, when you’re not being productive and helping the team win,” Rodriguez said. “I think when you hit a lot of home runs, they come in bunches. Sometimes there’s droughts. I just went through one. … I’ve been stinking up the joint here for about three weeks now. That one felt good.”
It certainly did Alex. So much so that the Yankees official Twitter posted a pic of Alex with the caption #BAEROD. Now that everyone is in FULL support of #13 what else is in stored for A-Rod for the rest of this season? We're gonna need him down the stretch if we're getting to October. In a season of redemption, Alex has everything he needs to be New York's NO. 1 beloved athlete.




Important Links:
Twitter: Stans Sports World
FB: Stans Sports World
Yankee Merchandise: Stans Sports World - Official Store
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#BAEROD

A-Rod breaks his slump with his 25th Grand Slam of his career and puts the Yankees ahead for good to defeat the Twins

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A-Rod 3K

Congratulations to Alex Rodriguez on becoming the 2nd Yankee ever to reach the 3,000 hit Milestone!

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No Focus Leads To Bad Start

The Yankees have played terrible baseball in the opening week of the season. At 1-4 it's very easy to see how bad this team can be. If it weren't for a few miscuses by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 8th inning on Wednesday night, the Yanks could be 0-5. Yikes!

What I've seen is a team that is making mental mistakes left and right resulting in errors on the field, pitches getting left over the strikezone and runners getting picked off the bases at an alarming rate. Some of these mental mistakes are just inexcusable. You can not get picked off at first base in just about every game. Where is the focus of the team? New shortstop Didi Gregorius got thrown out on Opening Day trying to steal 3rd base to end the 8th inning with Mark Teixeria at the plate having a chance to get the Yankees back in the game. Inexcusable!

19 innings on Friday night meant MANY squandered chances at winning the game in extra innings but continous mental errors and lack of focus denied the Yankees of a classic victory in the wee hours of the morning. Stephen Drew and Gregorius had countless opportunities to win the game with runners in scoring position and failed to send EVERYONE home. Granted Chase Headley, Teixera both homered when the Yankees needed them most and Carlos Beltran came through with a clutch double in the late late innings, it's the lesser impactful hitters in the lineup who came up short. Everyone was swinging for the fences when all was needed was a hit or a sac fly. Boston won on a sac fly in the 19th btw. 
“We have to play better,” Headley said. “It’s as simple as that. We’re better than that. We have to get it cleared up.”


The sentiment resides all throughout the clubhouse. As I've stated, this Yankee team can be and should be MUCH better than this but most people outside of the Bronx will tell you, this IS what the Yankees are. Right now, it's hard to refute that point but it's 5 games in. Everyone will go through bad streaks like this throughout the season
“I think we’re a much better team that how we’ve played,” Joe Girardi said. “If you were to play at this pace the whole year, you wouldn’t have many wins. And I think we’re much better than this.”
A bad week certainly puts a lot of doubt in people's mind, especially when the offense is sporting a .193 average at the plate. The best part of the young season is the emergence of Alex Rodriguez as the most reliable hitter. Who would've thought that?  Alex has looked good all spring and has continued it during the the opening week. He even saw time at first base yesterday, how bout that?!

The Yanks send Masahiro Tanaka to the hill tonight to salvage the final game of this aweful series against the Red Sox. All eyes will be on Tanaka as he rebounds from a poor Opening Day start. All breaths will be held as they will be anytime he takes the mound this season as we all hope his right elbow holds up and doesnt require season ending Tommy John surgery. If the Yanks keep playing at this pace, thet might as well send him under the knife now. Let's hope this was just one really bad week.

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Quite Frankly: 2015 Yankees Will Give You "Two" Many Question Marks

It's Easter Sunday and the anticipation is finally at its peak! No, not the treasure hunt for Easter eggs but for Opening Day! Tomorrow we officially make the transition from Winter to Spring as the sun will be out, it will be 65 degrees and Yankees Baseball will be back in the Bronx! The 2015 Major League Baseball season has arrived.

It seems like only yesterday we saw one of the greatest moments in sports history play out in the Bronx when Derek Jeter decided to say farewell in dramatic fashion by getting the game winning hit in his last ever at-bat at Yankee Stadium. While that was a tremendous way to say goodbye, it was bittersweet because the Yankees missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. With the old guard now officially gone, we turn our attention to the new and current crop of players wearing the pinstripes.

2015 will ALL hinge on the team's health. I can't remember the last time the fate of the team couldn't be determined or predicted. This team has the ability to be really good or really bad. So many question marks surround the Yankees so let's look at some of the major questions followed by my predictions.

Can Masahiro Tanaka remain healthy enough to be the unstoppable ace he was last season?
--- This is the biggest concern the Yankees have this year. Without Tanaka healthy, the Yankees don't make it to October. The guy has quickly established himself as a stopper. He'll stop losing streaks, keep the rhtymn of good quality starts going, and be able to pitch in big game situations. He finished 13-5 last season after missing a few months in the middle of the year because of the tear in his right elbow. He was well on his way to a 20 win season, but he was also well on his way to Tommy John surgery. Thankfully he avoided the surgery (for now) and as long as he can take the ball every fifth day, I like the Yankees chances of making it to October.
My Prediction: 16-7 2.96 ERA , one stint on the DL.  / 8-4 3.45 ERA Tommy John surgery in the 2nd half of the season. I know, it's two different predictions but it can go honestly either way. Sadly, I think I'm closer with the latter prediction.

Which CC Sabathia are we getting in 2015?
--- This spring CC's velocity is back up to the mid 90's. That's huge (no pun intended). Why, because CC will need his velocity up so he can mix in his offspeed pitches and create a wider timing variance for the hitters. Bottom line, he couldn't get by with his subpar 89 mph fastball the last two seasons and he hasn't developed into a "pitcher" who relies on location and mixing in pitches. He's been a thrower and now maybe we can get a little bit of both. The most concerning thing this spring with CC was the locating of his pitches, While at times he's looked good, he's had glimpses of looking really bad. Maybe it's because he's missed most of last season and it'll take him some time to get into his groove. Sabathia is a notoriously slow starter so I don't see this as a worry....yet.
My Prediction: 13-9 4.23 ERA one stint on the DL, Yanks 3rd best starter behind Tanaka and Pineda.

Can Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeria return to form?
--- Both played TERRIBLE last season and that was because of health issues. So the good news is, they both can't possibly play worst than they did last year. The bad news, is they're broken down aging players so just how good is their best? Two switch hitting middle of the lineup sluggers need to be a huge threat in the lineup. Just plain and simple. Both have to hit 25-30 home runs with 100 RBI. Both have made it through Spring Training with no health issues and appear ready to go to open the season so let's just hope they play to the back of their baseball cards.
My Prediction: Beltran: 271 26HR 92 RBI two stints on the DL / Teixeria: 265 32 HR 95 RBI no DL stint.

What's left of Alex Rodriguez?
-- The guy everyone wants to go away but don't want to admit we need. A-Rod has been the Yanks best hitter this spring. He hit 3 homeruns and his bat speed has looked good. He's had a good vision of the strikezone so he'll put together quality at-bats. After a year and a half away from the game and the nonsense that followed him, I truly believe A-Rod will be a fully focused baseball player in 2015. He has A LOT to prove. The Yankees want him to produce, Alex wants to produce, the fans want him to produce so there's nothing left to do but just play baseball. Hopefully the black cloud has left Alex and he can be a vital part of the lineup. I think he can do it and I think he will.
My Prediction: 275 18HR 73 RBI solid player in the lineup and fills in at 3B and 1B with no problem.


How do the 2015 Yankees finish?
-- The bullpen is strong, the starting rotation is strong IF healthy, the lineup should be solid. There's a lot of flexibility with this team as opposed to years past. I see a team that closely resembles the '96 Yankees. Small ball, timely hitting, just decent starting pitching and just enough depth to compensate any injuries (except if Tanaka goes down for the year).
My Prediction: 90-72 2nd AL East, Wild Card berth gets them into October.


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A Few Dates To Remember in 2015

Some dates to remember in 2015


May 24: Will retire No. 51 and present plaque in Monument Park to Bernie Williams



June 20:  Present plaque in Monument Park to Willie Randolph and it will also be Old Timer's Day.



August 22: Will retire No. 20 and present plaque in Monument Park to Jorge Posada





August 23: Will retire No. 46 and present plaque in Monument Park to Andy Pettitte

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A-Rod Staying Clear Of Headlines

Sometimes our curiosity just gets the best of us. For better or worst we cant control the fact that we love controversy and we love seeing something that is out of the norm. As long as it's not us on the end. In this case, you clicked on this article because the name in the headline has controversy all over it.

Alex Rodriguez is no stranger to the spotlight, negative or positive. So here we are in the middle of March and A-Rod so far seems to be avoiding the spotlight. Such a polarizing figure, yet A-Rod seems to be on the backburner of baseball related questions surrounding the Yankees. With questions surrounding seemingly the entire team, A-Rod's productive spring has lead to eyes focusing on the pitching staff and other hitters in the lineup.

Major injuries to other overpaid under-performing superstars CC Sabathia, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixeira have gained much of the focus so far this spring. Mix that in with the $155 million investment in Masahiro Tanaka's right elbow and Alex flies under the radar...for now. That's because he's hitting at a .300 clip and so far so good defense in the limited time he's been at third base.

In his tv interviews he's been saying the right things, saying he feels like he's a rookie again, he's been humbled, he can't wait to play for the greatest fans in the world at Yankee Stadium and he feels great playing with his teammates.

"Some of the things that he told us still is some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten as a hitter, just as far as professional baseball went." Yankees prospect Greg Bird on A-Rod
If this can continue all year long, the Yankees will be happy. Will the fans be happy? I would. If he hits .300 and contributes to a winning team then no need for headlines and controversy. Although many people will bring that to the table no matter what just because its..well Alex Rodriguez.

There are a lot of what-if's this season for the Yankees. Alex is just one of many what-if's. He is so polarizing that you have to watch, you have to buy tickets to see just what he's gonna do. Whether you want him to fail or succeed, there is no denying that all eyes will be on A-Rod all season. The best thing he can do is be a reliable option on offense. The Yankees need offense in the worst way. Alex won't hit 50 homeruns anymore, but if he's got 15-20 in him and can drive in 70-90 runs this year no one will complain.

Opening Day is 19 days away and I'll reserve final comment on A-Rod once we get there and I'll see how Alex finishes up his spring.
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Rewind to the Future

A sight Yankees fans haven't seen in quite some time. Both men played in an instrumental part of the 2009 World Championship but in 2015 both will have to be "productive" and healthy for the Yankees to have a shot at October glory.

 Alex Rodriguez has had a good spring, better than most expected while CC Sabathia had a decent outing last night in his spring debut.


“I haven’t been around much the last two years, so it’s hard to think about how these guys feel and what they’re doing. But I know CC’s always a big part of what we do, and he’s part of our DNA. And I thought the ball exploded out of his hand today just from third base.”  - Alex on Sabathia

Sabathia said he’s not worried about whether he gets the ball on Opening Day. He’s done it 11 times in his career and said he’s focusing on making sure he’s available in September (and for Game 1 of a playoff series).
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Tanaka Impresses In His Second Outing

Masahiro Tanaka made another Spring Training start tonight and went 3 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves in Orlando. Tanaka appeared free and easy with his mechanics and delivery. Let's see how his elbow responds tomorrow after an increased workload tonight.


The Yankees 2015 season relies heavily on Tanaka's right elbow. The Yankees and their fans better get used to holding their breath this season. With major question marks surrounding the health of Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and the returning Ivan Nova, the season is literally impossible to predict. What we've seen so far this Spring, all signs seem to point in the right direction. It's ok to exhale for now, but don't get too comfortable, its only March.
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Thanks for the memories Derek Jeter!

Thank you Derek!

#2

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QUITE FRANKLY: Joe's Gotta Know Better

The Yankees blew a huge game on Thursday afternoon and I'm not so sure we can blame the offense for this one. I have to place blame on Joe Girardi. I have to second guess a move he made last night that impacted today's loss.

Last night while everyone focused on the 8 runs and 9 straight hits in the 3rd inning off of David Price, I was left scratching my head as Girardi elected to bring in Dellin Betances with the score 8-3 in the 9th. Now, Betances had the previous 3 days off so he was well rested BUT why bring him in when you might need him the following day for multiple innings or in successive days? The Yankees are at a point where every game is crucial, especially Thursday's game with the Detroit Tigers, a team that's in front of them in the Wild Card race. I knew the move would come back to bite the Yankees today, I just knew it.

With the score tied at 2, going into the bottom of the 9th inning, Girardi could've gone with Betances for another inning OR his closer David Robertson who hasn't pitched since Sunday. Joe did neither and went with Shawn Kelley. While good at times, he's not the guy I want out there with the game and "season" on the line. If Betances doesn't pitch last night, he easily stays in for the 9th. Ok, so he didn't, but why not bring in your most trusted guy in the bullpen to a game you NEEDED to win? Robertson is well rested and you could've used him for 2 innings if need be. If you're in the 11th and then need to use your second tier relievers, then do so, but use your "A" squad when you have so much at stake.

 Girardi said it “wasn’t a consideration” to use Dellin Betances for two innings tonight, and he indicated that it had nothing to do with using Betances last night. “You feel good about (Kelley) on the mound, especially the way he’s been throwing the baseball,” Girardi said. Kelley’s past five games leading into this one: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

Kelley gives up a double to Victor Martinez to lead off the 9th. He allows another runner to get on base and proceeds to strike the next two guys out. And after all that hard work and maneuvering and strategy, on one pitch, the game, the series, and ANY positive momentum the Yanks could've had is all GONE. When a team has lost two of three in a tight wild card race, a one-run loss feels like rock bottom.
“That’s about as bad as I’ve felt walking off a mound in my career,” Shawn Kelley said. 

I'm emphasizing a lot tonight because that was how important this game and series was. Giradi mismanaged this one, a time he could ill afford to do so. So the Yanks leave town dropping a game in the Wild Card instead of gaining one. The Yanks head into Toronto answering questions of "what now" and "what ifs" instead of keeping the focus on the positive momentum they had to begin the week. The window is closing on the 2014 season and there is very little room for error. On Thursday afternoon, Brian McCann came within inches of hitting his 2nd go-ahead 3-run homerun of the week and putting the Yankees ahead for good, but almost doesn't count because Giradi failed in planning for a win.
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Yanks Mc-Can Make Their Way To A Playoff Spot


The Yankees can hit with runners in scoring position. Well, during their current 4 game winning streak they are. Better at bats have resulted in better results. Those results are finishing a homestand 4-2 after dropping the first two to the not so lowly Astros.

In the process the Yankees have gained ground for that second Wild Card spot and currently sit 3 games out with 3 games against the Tigers coming this week. I asked ESPN NY's Ryan Ruocco and Don LaGreca for their thoughts on this run.

 
I couldn't agree more with both. In Ryan's case, I can relate because I have had this love-hate relationship with this team all season, more so in the last month since Tanaka went down with his elbow injury. In LaGreca's response, he's absolutely right. The Yanks have a huge week coming up. They have a makeup game against the red-hot Kansas City Royals on Monday and then have 3 against the Detriot Tigers, the team in front of them in the Wild Card standings.

My thoughts are, if the Yanks can go at LEAST 4-3 next week and gain a game or two in the Wild Card, then that makes Masahiro Tanaka's return must see tv. He might be the last shot of adrenaline this team needs going down the stretch.

Brian McCann hit a HUGE 3-run walkoff homerun on Sunday to complete the sweep of the Chicago White Sox. He looked pumped going around the bases. Hopefully this is the wakeup call for his underachieving season. Martin Prado has been hot his last 10 games, maybe he continues his tear and it infects the rest of the lineup. Ichiro had a clutch 2 run single on Sunday to give the Yankees the lead in the 6th, maybe that gets him going. Brett Gardner, the Yankees most consistent hitter all year has been quiet lately, can he get things going again? He missed Sunday's game after fouling a ball off his ankle Saturday. He's going to be a key component going down the stretch, the Yanks need him healthy and back to be the backbone of the lineup.

There's still a lot of questions left for this team with 34 games left to go. But none, at this moment are bigger than these next 7. The Yanks are going to face James Shields, Rick Porcello, David Price and Justin Verlander this week. Another run of CY Young caliber pitchers. That's another test for the Bombers, the question is, will be the last? or will it be just another obstacle on the way to October baseball? The only thing known for now, is that the Yankees are going into one of the must crucial weeks of the season with a lot of momentum on their side. Good vibes in the Bronx right now, lets hope they return to the Bronx with them.
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Joe Torre Day

Here are some pictures from Joe Torre Day today at Yankee Stadium. I'll have my thoughts on Joe on Monday with an article on his time in Pinstripes.

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#TBT: Joe Torre

Joe Torre will be honored on Saturday by the Yankees. He will receive a plaque for Monument Park and have his no. 6 retired. The picture above was taken moments after the Yanks won their last championship under Torre in 2000 after defeating the Mets in 5 games. Well deserved Mr. Torre.
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Yanks Avoid Sweep, Gain Ground in Wild Card

The Yankees were hitting .136 (8-for-59) with runners in scoring position in their previous nine games, seven of which they lost.


They didn't need to worry about that today as Brandon McCarthy pitched a complete game shutout against the Astros. The Yankees avoid the three game sweep and gain ground on the Tigers for the second wild card spot.


The Yankees have not scored more than 4 runs in the last 10 games. That's still VERY worrisome for me. Until I see a spark of offense from this team, I'm not sold on them making it to the playoffs. Nice 3-0 win today at the Stadium, but can't help to think how much better it would have been had the Yanks done their job and win the first 2 games of the series. For now...it's just a win in a disappointing season.
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Desperation Leads to More Frustration

Joe Girardi felt it, the Yankee offense felt it. Michael Pineda didn't for 6 innings, but much like this latest stretch, he fell victim of the Yankees desperation.

Girardi ran Pineda out for the 7th inning in a game he HAD to win. He couldn't use his late inning weapons of Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Who by the way, also have faltered in the crucial of times in the last week. Pineda reached his pitch limit through 6 innings but Girardi so desperate for a win, ran him out there for the 7th. I immediately thought back to Betances in Baltimore last week. Betances was lights out through 2 innings of relief but Giradi pushed the envelope and tried to get a 3rd straight flawless inning. He was playing with fire...he got burned. Betances served up a game tying home run and the Yanks lost a game they desperately needed. Tonight, Pineda walked the only man he faced in the 7th. That run came around to score the tying run. The walk also was the beginning of a four run 7th inning for the Astros and gave them a 5-2 lead.

The Yankees never recovered. They never recovered because they can't hit with runners in scoring position. That's it. There's nothing else to look at, second guess, or judge. The Yankee offense is TERRIBLE. A day after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, they go 1 for 8 and left 10 men on base tonight. The fact that this team can't hit with men on base is baffling. It's frustrating, it BS, it's pathetic. At this point..it doesn't matter anymore. The Yankees are trying to get themselves to a 1-game playoff that they will go in the underdog, no matter who's on the other side. That's because, this team can't hit. If they can't beat the Astros, what makes you think they beat a playoff ready team in a winner take all game? What happens in that game, when the game is on the line and there's runners on base? If the Yankees are tensing up now, what happens when the SEASON is on the line? Nothing...that's the answer. Count down to Sept. 7th, because Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium will be the only special moment for the rest of the season. Such a shame....the Captain deserves better than that.
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Derek Jeter Ice Bucket Challenge



Derek Jeter Ice Bucket Challenge
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RE2PECT

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Beltran Headed to DL

The Yankees made it official today, they placed Carlos Beltran on the 15 day DL with a bone spur in his right elbow.

“It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing I can do about it,” Beltran said. “I just have to find a way to get better and get back.
Right now, they gave me some cortisone pills by mouth to try to make it better, and let’s say if in 15 days it doesn’t get better, we have to talk about making another decision.”
With Beltran out, Ichiro should see an increase in playing time. Hopefully this injury doesn't linger on for the rest of the season and derail Beltran when the Yankees need him down the stretch.
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