Dave Eiland: Joba's training wheels are off

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Joba.jpgYankees’ pitching coach Dave Eiland confirmed yesterday that “The Joba Rules” are officially history:

“He’s just going to go out and pitch and he’ll be the one who’ll
dictate when he comes out as far as getting hit or getting tired or
losing his stuff. He’s not going to have any restrictions, so Joe (Girardi) and I are
not going to have to go into the game thinking, ‘Oh, he’s got 85
pitches or six innings or whatever comes first.’ We don’t have to game
plan it out. The kid gloves are off, and he’s just going to go out and
pitch and he knows that and he’s going to come in and be all geared up
to win that job, as are the other guys. Competition should bring out
the best in everyone.”

Eiland added that he believed that the pitch and innings counts and kid gloves hindered Chamberlain’s performance as a starter, which is a drum I and many others have been banging for some time.

As for the competition Eiland mentions, the other day a commenter here — whose name I’m forgetting, sorry — made one of those points that are so obvious that I can’t believe people don’t say it more often: if the Yankees truly intended to make Chamberlain a reliever, why would they have stuck to the Joba Rules as slavishly as they did these past few years?

Indeed, it wouldn’t shock me if Brian Cashman had some super secret notebook in his office which has Chamberlain was already written down as the fifth starter.  In permanent marker.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.