Yanks lock Joba into seventh-inning role
Relief formula works to perfection in Monday's win over Twins
NEW YORK -- The Yankees already feel good about having Rafael Soriano set up Mariano Rivera, and now they are ready to anoint Joba Chamberlain as the go-to arm for the seventh inning.
Manager Joe Girardi said on Monday that Chamberlain has stepped into the role for the time being. The right-hander was called upon for three outs in New York's 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday, retiring all three batters he faced.
"We love the way he threw the ball in Spring Training," Girardi said. "Joba has the ability to get lefties out as well as righties."
Girardi said he altered his bullpen mix somewhat because left-hander Pedro Feliciano has been lost until at least later this month with a left rotator cuff strain. Boone Logan is the lone lefty, while Dave Robertson has been pushed back to the sixth inning by Chamberlain.
"That's the fun part of being in the bullpen -- you get a chance to do it every day," Chamberlain said. "It's one of those things where I feel very confident facing left-handers and right-handers."
In the seventh inning on Monday, Chamberlain got Jason Kubel to fly out, then induced groundouts from Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla.
"To me, the thing that stands out is how well Joba threw the ball," Alex Rodriguez said. "He threw the ball with a lot of conviction, and it was predominantly fastballs in the 90s."
Shift to DH a breeze for slugging Posada
NEW YORK -- The transition to being a full-time designated hitter seems to be coming easily for Jorge Posada, who has slugged three two-run homers in the Yankees' past two games.
Posada went deep twice in New York's 10-7 loss to the Tigers on Sunday and then took Twins starter Scott Baker deep in the second inning on Monday, providing the difference in the Yankees' 4-3 win.
"He looks pretty good so far," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's swung the bat great, and we talked about his attitude coming into Spring Training, how great it was and how he was there for the catchers. He's been extremely productive."
The 39-year-old Posada has been moved from behind the plate in part because the Yankees have concerns about the cumulative effect of the concussions he has suffered over the years.
Posada is seen as a third catcher for emergency situations only, which has left him plenty of time to ride the stationary bike and hit in the cages at Yankee Stadium to occupy his attention between at-bats.
"I just try to put it behind me, positive or negative, and look forward to the positives of the next at-bat," Posada said. "It's staying positive, staying within yourself and looking forward to that next at-bat. You stay loose for it."
Posada said that he has been spending time helping new catcher Russell Martin get better acquainted with the pitching staff.
"Obviously, I'm in his corner," Posada said. "I'm going to try to help him out. He's got a pretty good idea of what to do back there. He's done a good job with the bat, and he looks pretty good behind the plate."
Too early to settle Yanks' leadoff debate
NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi had all spring to evaluate the tandem of Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter atop the Yankees' lineup, so he isn't about to rush to judgments after three regular-season games.
Gardner and Jeter struggled in Sunday's 10-7 loss to the Tigers, going hitless in a combined nine at-bats, but Girardi said he has been encouraged to see his lineup produce runs even without their contributions.
"These guys are going to get their hits, that's the bottom line, and I don't worry too much about three days," Girardi said.
"Obviously, you'd love to see them get on two or three times every day, but we know that's not going to happen. You just tell them to keep swinging."
Gardner, who is leading off against right-handed pitchers, entered Monday with two hits in his first 12 at-bats (.167). Jeter had two hits in his first 10 at-bats (.200).
"Gardy on Saturday swung the bat well, [but on Sunday] didn't swing the bat very well," Girardi said. "He came off some pitches, I thought. Sometimes during the course of the season, some guys are just going to make some pitches on you. For Jeet, he's hit some balls hard."
Girardi said that with the Yankees set to face their first left-handed starter of the year on Tuesday in the Twins' Brian Duensing, fourth outfielder Andruw Jones is scheduled to make his first start in left field.
That will allow Girardi to give either Gardner or Curtis Granderson a day off, with Jeter moving back into the leadoff spot against southpaws this season.
Feliciano 'hurt' by Warthen's comments
NEW YORK -- Pedro Feliciano said he felt "hurt" after reading Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen's comments that his former team did not want him back because the left-hander had pitched too often for them.
Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Yankees over the winter, selecting that offer over a one-year pact with the Mets.
"I feel hurt a little bit about that," Feliciano said. "They didn't really let me go because I pitched a lot of games. I didn't sign with them because they offered me one year. ... That's why I'm not a Met right now."
Grinning, Feliciano also delivered a good-natured poke toward his former employers, promising that he would have something to prove when the Yankees and Mets meet this summer.
"I will tell [Warthen] there's a lot of Feliciano to go," Feliciano said. "I will show him in the Subway Series when I strike out Ike Davis and I jump on the mound."
The 34-year-old Feliciano is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left rotator cuff, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman commented on Saturday that the Mets had been "abusive" in their use of the situational lefty.
Feliciano led the Majors in relief outings in each of the last three seasons, establishing a Major League record with 266 total appearances.
Speaking in Miami after Cashman's comments made the rounds, Warthen defended Feliciano's workload, saying the left-hander wanted only to help his former team.
"I feel badly that someone feels that way," Warthen said of Cashman's comments. "That was part of the reason we decided to not re-sign him -- because we knew we had used him 270-some times in the last three years.
"They didn't know that when they signed him? He volunteered for the baseball every day. He was asked whether he was able to pitch. He said, 'Yes' every day -- every day -- and wanted to pitch more than we even pitched him."
Feliciano -- who will play catch on Wednesday or Thursday and could make his Yankees debut in late April or early May -- reiterated that he did not feel that the Mets had abused him.
"I was fine, always," Feliciano said. "I never feel sore or something that I don't have to pitch. I wanted to pitch every day."
Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter will receive their 2010 American League Gold Glove Awards in a ceremony before Tuesday's game. ... Alex Rodriguez has tied Rafael Palmeiro (1,835) for 14th place on baseball's all-time RBI list. He surpassed Dave Winfield (1,834) on Monday. ... Teixeira has reached base at least twice in all four games this season. ... Dating back to last season, Rafael Soriano has allowed one earned run in 18 innings over 18 appearances against AL Central clubs, posting a 0.50 ERA. ... Mariano Rivera has recorded saves in each of the Yankees' first three wins, a feat he also accomplished in 2000 and '08.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.