Yankees GM Brian Cashman will prioritize pitching leading up to the trade deadline

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The Yankees have lost four-fifths of their starting rotation with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova all sidelined due to injury, but general manager Brian Cashman isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the season. In fact, he told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York via phone today that he continues to look for ways to upgrade his pitching staff.

“I have to reinforce our pitching, in my opinion. I have things that I feel I have to try to do, that I’m trying to do, but it is easier said than done.”

“We have to try to improve, reinforce and upgrade, certainly. We certainly we would love to have some significant upgrades but when you lose four out of five starters, it is hard to re-materialize the same type of abilities with the guys you lost. It is whether you incrementally upgrade.”

The Yankees acquired veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for left-hander Vidal Nuno earlier this month, but their bruised and battered staff doesn’t exactly have the look of a contender right now. They’ll begin the second half with a rotation consisting of McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps, Shane Greene, and Chase Whitley. Some reinforcements would be nice.

There has been plenty of speculation about a possible trade with the Phillies for Cliff Lee, but he hasn’t pitched in the majors in two months due to an elbow strain. The 35-year-old southpaw is slated to be activated next Monday, so he could theoretically make two starts to prove his health and effectiveness before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He’s owed around $12 million for the rest of this season and $25 million next season while his contract includes a $27 million team option for 2017 or a $12 million buyout. The Yankees are one of 20 teams on on Lee’s no-trade list, so he would have to sign off on a potential deal.

The Yankees will begin the second half of the season at 47-47, five games behind the first-place Orioles in the American League East.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.