Adam Warren was a non-roster invitee to spring training and although he allowed eight runs in 15 innings, there was a road start against the Red Sox that opened some eyes in the Yankee organization.
It was a last-minute start on March 22 in place of David Phelps, whose wife went into labor that night. Facing Boston’s regular lineup, he allowed two hits in four scoreless innings.
“That was pretty [good] for them to see me and have confidence in me,” Warren said. “I proved to myself that I can pitch at this level.”
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“It did,” manager Joe Girardi said of Warren making a good impression against Boston. “It wasn’t where he saw just right-handed hitters. He saw pretty much their full lineup. I thought he pitched down in the zone, I thought he was effective in. I thought his breaking ball was outstanding. I thought he used his changeup. It did stick out in my mind. It gave us a lot to think about when we decided who our 12th pitcher was.”
Described by Girardi as having a sneaky fastball and someone who pitched down in the zone, Warren was among the last cuts in spring training and following a slow start in Triple-A he heated up. He is 5-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 starts for Scranton-Wilkes Barre, but in his last three victories, he has pitched 19 scoreless innings.
“I really went back and focused on the mental game a little bit,” Warren said. “I just tried to fix a few things mechanically and get back on track.”
So on Wednesday, as he was during in between start activities with pitching coach Scott Aldred, Warren received notice that he would be filling in. Originally it was supposed to be for CC Sabathia’s second missed start, but that changed when Andy Pettitte fractured his ankle and Freddy Garcia pitched in relief Wednesday.
Warren is the first member of the Yankees’ 2009 draft class to reach the majors. He was a fourth-round pick from North Carolina and his college teammates included Seattle infielders Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley, as well as Mets pitching prospect Matt Harvey.
Youkilis changes Sox and enjoys it
Kevin Youklis made his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since being acquired by Chicago from the Red Sox Sunday. When he saw that the media contingent surrounding his locker in the White Sox clubhouse, he described the small size of it as “awesome” compared to the Boston media.
Youkilis is off to a quick start in his first three games with Chicago. He came into last night hitting .417 (5-for-12) and hitting .423 (11-for-26) in his previous six after going hitless in 18 at-bats.
The traded ended tension in Boston for Youkilis who had lost playing time to rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks and when he spoke, he admitted he was relieved that it happened.
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely over it,” he said. “The past few days have been a lot easier. Once that first series is over, kind of getting on a plane for the first time and knowing where to sit and where people sit on the bus, it’s like being a rookie again. I’m over that now and I am just excited.
“I’m in a better place mentally. I’m just enjoying myself. So that’s the best part about it. My wife called me and said you look so happy out there and it’s so great to see you out there and having fun.”
As for why his relationship with the Red Sox eroded under new manager Bobby Valentine, Youkilis conceded that he did play well but did not elaborate otherwise.
“That’d be a question you’d have to ask the people in the other organization,” Youkilis said. “I just came up every day and tried to do my job. I didn’t play well and that’s on me. I got off to a slow start and it went downhill from there.”
One thing that is certain about Youkilis’s mindset is that he doesn’t miss the hype surrounding the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry that he participated in 97 times.
“No. I’m not worried about that. It’s a better thing as a player when you don’t have that rivalry with all that hoopla — a 4 o'clock game on Saturday, an 8 o'clock game Sunday.”
Girardi likes chances with Garcia
Freddy Garcia conceded that something was off in April when he pitched to a 12.01 earned run average and a .403 opposing batting average. Most of Garcia’s poor results have been with two outs when opponents have a .548 batting average.
But as he approaches his first start since lasting 1 2/3 innings against the Tigers on April 28, Garcia feels that some of the stuff that made him a 12-game winner last year has returned.
“I know something was wrong,” Garcia said. “But right now, I feel great. My velocity was [lower] and something was off, but each start in April I was one pitch away.”
Girardi feels great as well.
“Freddy’s done it for us before,” he said. “Freddy’s an experienced guy. We know he won’t get caught up in the moment. He did a great job for us last year. It looks like his stuff is back.”
Girardi’s basis besides Garcia’s experience might also be derived from improved numbers on his primary three pitches as compared to April and May.
Garcia threw 525 pitches through May 31 and the velocity on his slider was 80.2 mph, 87.6 mph on hissinker and his split-fingered fastball was at 80.7 mph. Though he has thrown just 112 pitches this month, those numbers have increased to 82.1 mph on his slider, 89.2 mph on his sinker and 81.3 mph on his splitter.
Also working in Garcia’s favor is the percentage of strikes thrown on each pitch.
Through May 31, it was 64 percent on his slider, 57 percent on his sinker and 62 percent on his splitter. This month, that number is 82 percent on the slider, 64 percent on the sinker and 67 percent on his splitter.
Lower back flares up for Martin
Russell Martin would have liked to catch last night’s game but his lower back has flared up again and the last thing he wants to do is further jeopardize future games.
“It’s better than a couple of days ago,” Martin said. “But at this point I just feel like if I’m in the lineup, I’m not helping anyone. That’s how I feel.”
Martin played Wednesday and said the back injury especially hurts his rotation when he tries to swing a bat.
The Yankees do not believe it will send him on the DL.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.