Before Thursdays game against Kansas City pitcher Mariano Rivera was in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice just as he has done before every game for the past eighteen seasons. It was part of his workout regimen and something he took seriously. But this time things turned very serious for him and the Yankees. While running back to make a catch Rivera tore his ACL and meniscus in his right knee. The injury is likely season ending and possibly career ending. On Monday the all time saves leader ( 608) will be examined by Dr. David Altchek and plan for surgery. For the first time since 1997 when he became the closer, the Yankees and Yankee fans around the world had to think about who was going to pitch the ninth inning.
On Friday the 42 year Rivera announced, " I'm coming back, write it down in big letters. I'm not going out like this. God willing and given the strength, I'm coming back." The Yankees will give pitchers David Robertson and Rafael Soriano the opportunity to save games while Rivera attempts to come back. The Yankees can find someone to close games but they will NEVER find anyone to replace the greatest ever, Mariano Rivera.
Another Yankee attempting a comeback is left-hander Andy Pettitte. Pettitte threw 96 pitches in an extended spring training game on Monday. He allowed five earned runs in six innings. Pettitte feels he's ready to return to the Majors but according to manager Joe Giradi it's likely he will get one more start before retuning to the Yankees. With the injury to Rivera and one less arm in the bullpen, it looks to me like Phil Hughes will be headed to the pen when Pettitte comes back.
Right-hander Micheal Pineda will miss the remainder of the season and will undergo surgery for an anterior labral tear in his pitching shoulder. Like I've been saying, you can never have to much pitching.
Minor Leaguer Tyler Austin was named Prospects Hitter of the Week. In six games with the Class-A Charleston River Dogs Austin hit .381 with an OBP of .440 and had a slugging percentage of 1.048. In those six games he had 8 extra base hits. 4 homeruns, 2 doubles to go along with 12 RBIs. In a game against Hickory he hit 2 homeruns and had 7 RBIs. The 20 year old Austin was the picked in the 13th round of the 2010 Draft and is ranked 15th on the Yankees Top 20 Prospect List. He came into the system as a third baseman but has found his way in the lineup as a corner outfielder. For the season he is hitting .348. He has an OBP of .404, a slugging percentage of .831 with 9 homeruns and 25 RBIs. A prospect worth keeping an eye on.
Also down on the farm swinging a hot bat is first baseman Steve Pearce. In 24 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Pearce is hitting .372 with 4 homeruns and 14 RBIs. His OBP is .450, slugging percentage is .605 with an OPS of 1.055
Pitching well at Triple-A Scranton/Wlikes-Barre is 6' 3" right-hander Chase Whitley. Whitley is 3-1 with an ERA of 1.98 and a WHIP of 0.95. In 13.2 innings he has struck out eleven while walking three and has not allowed a homerun.
A quick note on minor leaguer Nikolas Turley of the Class-A Advanced Florida State League. The 6' 6" left-hander from LaCanada California is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.23. In 36.1 innings he has struck out 35 while walking 12 and only given up 1 homerun. A lefty with 35 strike outs in 36 innings !! I'll keep an eye on him for sure.
Top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos returned to the rotation for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Wednesday after missing a month with a back injury. He threw 3 2/3 innings giving up two hits with five strike outs while not walking a batter.
Stayed tuned for another who's hot who's not report along with some more Minor League updates.