Roughly 90 minutes before Sunday’s first pitch, struggling right-hander Freddy Garcia slumped in his chair by the locker. He had just found out the disappointing news that the Yankees planned on sending him to the bullpen with the hopes Garcia can work out his issues.
Though he was clearly disappointed, the move hardly came as a surprise, especially for Garcia.
“What do you expect?” he said. “If you don’t do your job or what you’re supposed to do, this is what happens.”
“I’m not surprised. You play here in New York, they expect you to do good.”
Garcia gave the Yankees 12 wins and 147 innings last season. He also held hitters to a .193 average with runners in scoring position and .247 with men on base.
So far this season, those numbers have not come close to being duplicated. After allowing six runs in a 1 2/3 innings against Detroit on Saturday, Garcia has 12.51 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .478 with runners in scoring position, .469 with men on base and .403 overall.
Though his fastball and slider velocity were slightly decreased in Saturday’s start, Garcia said he feels healthy. He also expressed confidence he can pitch well again.
“I’ll be OK,” Garcia said. “I play this game for a long time. A lot of things have happened to me before and I came out on top. This is no different.”
After Sunday’s win, manager Joe Girardi confirmed that rookie David Phelps will take
Garcia’s next scheduled start, which would be Thursday in Kansas City. Phelps has pitched 17 2/3 innings, which is the most among Yankee relievers and the fourth-most on the team behind CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda.
“I’ve said all along about David Phelps that I envision him as a starter,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I have not seen anything that tells me he can’t be a starter at this level. Time will tell, but the guy has got four pitches.
“He can locate his fastball. He has movement on his fastball. He can throw a curve or changeup anytime he wants to. He holds runners. He fields his position. There’s nothing that tells me he can’t be a major-league starter.”
“If that’s what it is, I’ve been built up to do my job,” Phelps said. “I’ve been using all four of my pitches. I’ve gone out and proven I can get these guys out.”
Nick Swisher grounded out and walked during his two appearances at the plate Sunday. It was after drawing the walk that he was lifted due to a tight left hamstring.
Swisher was seen clutching his left leg after drawing the walk, which prompted the Yankees to pull him. The Yankees said an MRI revealed a low-grade strain and that they do not anticipate placing Swisher on the disabled list.
Mitchell is newest Yankee arm
The Yankee bullpen has pitched 73 1/3 innings, which is the second-most in the majors and 7 1/3 of those innings occurred yesterday. That meant the Yankees needed another arm, which is why D.J. Mitchell was promoted. Reliever Cody Eppley was demoted to make room.
“To be here now, I don’t really know how to explain it,” Mitchell said. “It’s everything you hear about. I’ll be asking Phelps a lot of questions since he’s been here. I’m going to take the best out of it and roll with it and see what happens.”
Mitchell nearly made the team in spring training in a competition with Phelps and Adam Warren. Instead, the 24-year-old began the year with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and pitched well in four starts.
He was 2-1 and allowed 13 hits in 23 innings while striking out 13 and holding opposing hitters to a .165 average.
Last season, Mitchell won 13 games for Scranton-Wilkes Barre with a 3.18 ERA. In 2010, he was an 11-game winner for Double-A Trenton with a 4.06 ERA.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.