It is a natural assumption that having the best record in the game and the biggest lead among divisional leaders creates a luxury that allows the Yankees to keep Nick Swisher out of the lineup until his left hip flexor is fully healed.
Not so says manager Joe Girardi, who held Swisher out of the lineup for the seventh consecutive game. Swisher injured his hip in the seventh inning of a 3-2 loss in Oakland on July 20 and is dealing with his second day-to-day injury of the year.
“I would love to play Swish today,” Girardi said. “In my mind I have to be convinced that he’s ready to go and there won’t be any setbacks. That has nothing to do with taking our foot off the gas.
“If we were taking our foot off the gas, we would say let’s DL him and make sure. Our real hope was today that in my mind I would feel he was a hundred percent. I just don’t think he’s quite there. We’ve waited this long and what’s maybe one or two more days.”
Swisher has not had any problems taking batting practice. He also has been doing running, but Girardi said that the right fielder was not quite 100 percent.
Considering the fact that seven Yankees have had DL stints since Opening Day, Girardi’s conservative treatment of Swisher’s return seems to be warranted.
“In talking to him, he felt pretty good yesterday,” Girardi said. “But we got to make sure that it’s real good because if you go out and play one day and have a little setback, now you’re looking at 15 or 16 days, so one or two days might buy you some time in the future.”
Chavez fine after getting hit
Injuries have limited Eric Chavez’s playing time over recent seasons to the point where he is not going to play everyday. Although he is the primary third baseman during Alex Rodriguez’s absence, Chavez will sit against left-handed starters, which the Yankees will face Saturday and Sunday.
Chavez likely wasn’t going to play anyways after getting hit above the left ankle by Mark Melancon in the eighth inning Friday night. Chavez was wearing a heavy wrap above his right foot when he spoke to reporters after the game but did not seem to be in much pain.
“It’s a lot better than it looks like,” he said. “It’s just a bruise that got me in a good spot.”
Chavez is 1-for-15 off left-handed pitching this year. He has not played extensively against southpaws since getting 124 at-bats in 2007. Since that point he is 19-for-89 (.213) against them.
“If there’s a good time to get hit, it was a good time,” he said.
Girardi seemed to think Chavez would be available to pinch hit against a right-handed reliever.
Crawford sits as part of “four-day” program
Carl Crawford hit his first home run of the season Friday and snapped a 0-for-18 skid when he pulled Phil Hughes’s fastball over the right field wall.
His reward for that was finding himself listed among the reserves in Boston’s lineup card on Saturday.
According to manager Bobby Valentine, the reasoning is Boston’s four-day program, which is designed for Crawford to sit every fifth game. That program seems to be in place even if Crawford is 22-for-69 (.319) off CC Sabathia.
"I figured it's better to play four of the next days than play this game and the three after this, considering they're all right-handers after today," Valentine said. "Those are tough decisions. That's why I get paid the big bucks."
Crawford started six straight games when he returned even though the front office ordered it not to happen. The reasoning is because his elbow is not fully healed and at some point might require Tommy John surgery.
"We're preventing in this early game that he doesn't overuse his elbow and then we're building up tolerance as we go," Valentine said. "I don't think it's going to be four days and a day off all year. I hope not. We're building to a point to get beyond that.
"I did a manager no-no thing and went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again," Valentine said. "I'd like to have Carl every day. I'd like to have all my good players every day, but I understand the situation better now than I did then."
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.