We heard yesterday that Mark Teixeira tested his left calf by taking some at-bats and playing an inning in a simulated game. He won’t be able to help the Yankees this weekend in Toronto, but his return isn’t far off.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York that Teixeira took six at-bats of live batting practice today and is expected to play in an instructional league game tomorrow. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to rejoin the Yankees when they begin the final series of the season Monday against the Red Sox.
“Everything looks pretty good right now,” Joe Girardi said. “He ran better today, said he felt better today. He took a ton of ground balls and he’s going to play in a game tomorrow. Then we’ll go from there. He’s passed every test he was supposed to up to this point. He’s on schedule for what was scheduled, so that’s a good thing.”
Teixeira has appeared in just one game since originally injuring the calf on August 27. While he may not be 100 percent the rest of the way, he could provide a nice boost next week as the Yankees try to hold off the Orioles in the American League East.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.