Optimistic Feliciano eyes return this year
Andrews recommends strengthening program, not surgery
NEW YORK -- Pedro Feliciano did not have high hopes when he was referred to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on the torn capsule in his left shoulder, already steeling his mind for the worst diagnosis.
But as the Yankees left-hander visited the noted sports orthopedist's office in Pensacola, Fla., last week, he received some welcome and surprising news.
Andrews recommended a six-week strengthening program that may save part of Feliciano's first season as a Yankee, and Feliciano wholeheartedly agreed with the idea.
"I went with my head down, ready to get my surgery and hear some bad second opinions," Feliciano said. "He said what he saw on the MRIs was old stuff that got in my arm and bothered me now. I said, 'Why not get my strength, work out for six weeks and then come back?'"
Feliciano is expected to remain with the Yankees for most of those six weeks and won't be able to resume throwing for some time, but he is already optimistically thinking about pitching in late June or early July.
Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Yankees after leading the Major Leagues in appearances in each of the last three seasons across town with the Mets.
"I'll just give it a shot," Feliciano said. "If I do a good rehab [assignment] and pitch again with no pain, it'll be good for the team and good for me."
More aggressive Burnett gets results
NEW YORK -- Usually, April showers bring A.J. Burnett victories. But as he absorbs a tough-luck loss, the Yankees righty is hoping that his season will amount to much more than just one good month this time around.
While the Yankees expressed disappointment that they weren't able to back Burnett with more support against the White Sox Phil Humber on Monday, Burnett chose to look at the positives from his eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball.
"I'm glad I got deeper in the game tonight," Burnett said. "That's been my goal; the first couple were shorter [outings]. It's consistency. I've got to carry it on, keep working and not be content with anything. We've still got a long way to go. It's a long season."
Burnett kids that he has wiped clean all memories of his poor 2010 campaign, but he continues to carry a chip on his shoulder with something to prove. The fact that he could rebound after having some trouble in the second inning was a good sign for the right-hander.
"I think I was fighting myself a lot that inning, trying to be perfect again," Burnett said. "After that, it was just believing in myself. They're an aggressive-swinging team, so I was just trying to stay down in the zone and not try to throw a pitch on the black here and there. It's just staying more aggressive."
Monday's loss was Burnett's first as a Yankee through 15 starts in April, a month in which he had been 8-0, but that could hardly be seen as his fault, considering the performance of Humber, who lost a no-hitter in the seventh inning.
"[Burnett] did a great job of battling," catcher Russell Martin said. "I thought his fastball had good life to it, and he mixed really well in and out. It was one of those days where I feel like he didn't have his best command, but he just found a way to compete and get through it."
Yanks' defense of popup opens debate
NEW YORK -- Seeing the ball wasn't a problem for the Yankees, who spotted it fluttering above the infield just fine. Deciding who should catch it was the issue.
Rafael Soriano stood on the mound in the ninth inning on Monday and pointed skyward to Alexei Ramirez's weak popup, which came to rest with a gentle plop on the grass just behind the mound.
Derek Jeter eventually scooped it up as it went for an infield hit. Ramirez would be erased on a fielder's choice, but Paul Konerko then touched Soriano for an RBI single in the Yankees' 2-0 loss to the White Sox.
"Do you think I could catch that?" Soriano said. "I don't think so. ... I thought somebody would be there. I thought Jeter or Alex [Rodriguez] was going to catch it."
But Jeter got a late break on the ball from deep shortstop, which catcher Russell Martin described as being hit to "a dead zone," and A-Rod jogged lightly from third base.
"A little bloop -- landed right behind the mound," Jeter said. "Not much you could do about it."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi concurred with his captain, opining that the only player who had a fair shot at the ball was Soriano.
Of course, pitchers are often uncomfortable with fielding popups on the infield grass, fearing stumbling down the hill or colliding with a teammate.
"I don't think Jeet could have got to it; I don't think Al [could have]," Girardi said. "We encourage our pitchers to go after it, and sometimes pitchers just don't.
"It's on the other side of the mound. It's a pretty well-placed soft popup. Sori is probably the only guy that could have got it, and I'm not sure he would have, either."
Martin rejected the suggestion that in that situation, the pitcher should be the one to take charge.
"That's easy to say from a spectator's vantage point," Martin said. "Most of the time, that ball is going to be caught by somebody on the infield. It just didn't happen."