Alfonso Soriano has slumped before but perhaps not to the extent he is now and not at such a vital time for the lineup.
After striking out three times Tuesday, Soriano is hitless in his last 16 at-bats. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that he has eight strikeouts in the span. During those 16 at-bats of futility that has dropped his batting average to .226, Soriano has swing and misses on 17 of the 63 pitches he has seen.
“My timing is off,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “I have to figure it out to get my timing and confidence back. It’s not because I don’t play every day, but my timing is off.
“It’s very tough. … Sooner or later I will come out and be fine again.”
Besides being hitless since a sixth-inning double May 25 against the White Sox, Soriano has four hits in his last 54 at-bats after his average peaked at .283 in the middle of last month.
Soriano was not in Wednesday’s lineup against right-hander Jesse Chavez and is batting .195 against right-handed pitcher as compared to .286 against left-handed pitching.
“I haven't played him every day,” manager Joe Girardi said. “So, I mean, he's had some rest and he's working with [hitting coach] Kevin [Long] right now and it's not happening for him. I believe it's going to turn around for him but right now it's not.”
Soriano broke his 0-for-16 slump Thursday afternoon with a single the opposite way in his first at-bat.
Soriano may have fewer opportunities to turn it around, at least as a designated hitter once Carlos Beltran returns. Beltran went 1-for-5 in an extended spring training game and returned to be the designated hitter Thursday afternoon after missing 21 games with right elbow inflammation.
Sabathia plays catch, feels upbeat
Earlier this week, CC Sabathia was rehabbing his inflamed right knee by throwing from a chair. On Wednesday, he graduated to making 25 throws while playing catch and did not feel any pain.
“It’s a lot better than where we were two weeks ago, I can tell you that,” Girardi said. “He’s out there playing catch today. That’s a sign in the right direction. That’s a step closer to getting him on a mound, getting him to what we expect him to do. So how long it takes until he gets on a mound, I can’t really tell you. We’ll just take it step by step and at least he’s playing catch.”
“I didn’t know how I was going to react to standing up and playing catch, but being able to land on it, and I didn’t feel anything,” Sabathia said. “I’m confident going forward that we can try to pick things up.”
Sabathia is hoping to make a start or two before the All-Star break but still has a ways to go with a simulated game and rehab games in his future.
“It just depends on the throwing program and rehab starts, but as far as pain and anything like that, I felt good today and I’ve felt good the past week or so,” Sabathia said. “I’m ready to start going.”
Sabathia was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA in eight starts before landing on the DL after his May 10 start in Milwaukee. He is in his second year of trying to figure out how to pitch without diminished fastball velocity.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.