Category Archives: AL BEast Notebook

youkilis teixeira

Welcome back Tex, Youk and Andy (4 days too late?)

AL BEast Notebook – May 31

New York Yankees

** No better time to make changes than after getting swept by the cross-town Mets. Fortunately, some moves will be natural as some former All-Stars are returning from the disabled list. Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira are set to play today (Friday) against the Red Sox.

The Yankees bats have really been quiet lately. Against the Mets, who owned the second-highest ERA in the National League, the Yankees could not muster more than one run in three of the four games. And while they did collect four runs in the other one, David Phelps allowed five Mets to score in the first inning. Not only that, but in each of the last three games the Yankees struck out at least nine times and didn’t earn a walk.

As well as the fill-ins have played, it is time for the backups to get back to being backups. The Yankees have gotten more out of Lyle Overbay than they could have hoped, and David Adams has shown he can be a valuable batter against lefties. For the time being (with Tex, Youk, Overbay, and Nix/Brignac all available for corner infield), Adams is likely to head back to the minors, along with pitcher Vidal Nuno.

** Andy Pettitte is scheduled to return and start Monday at the stadium against the Indians, and that will likely mean a pink slip for either Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne, or Ivan Nova.

Boston Red Sox

** Speaking of returns, the Red Sox got a good performance in the season debut of Franklin Morales off the DL in a spot-start win over the Phillies Thursday night. Clay Buchholz has been out with a collarbone problem, but he is expected to be ready to pitch Sunday in a great matchup with Hiroki Kuroda.

** In each of the four games against the Phillies, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a hit and came around to score off the bat of Dustin Pedroia. And in Thursday’s game Ellsbury didn’t stop there. The speedy outfielder got on base four more times and stole five bases, a Red Sox single game record. Strangely, despite Ellsbury constantly putting himself into scoring position, he never touched home after those five steals. (It didn’t bother the team too much; Boston still scored nine runs.)

Tampa Bay Rays

** Pitching is still what it’s all about in Tampa Bay and there seems to be no shortage of arms to go around. This week THREE Rays make/made their season debut: Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome started games the Rays won and Chris Archer starts Saturday. With David Price injured, Alex Cobb needing extra rest for his finger, and Jeremy Hellickson struggling, it definitely helps to play the Marlins. Even Roberto Hernandez pitched a gem. Archer will have a much tougher test in Cleveland this weekend, and next week starts with a trip to Detroit.

mike trout

stats and facts: Week 8

Happy Memorial Day! It was too good of a day to sit at the computer and type so your weekly report for May 20-26 comes out on Tuesday instead of Monday, but there is still a lot of good stuff to read about.

** Last Monday, the Mariners homered in the 8th, 9th, and 10th innings and still lost the game.

** For the third time in his career, Joe Mauer broke up a no-hitter with one out in the ninth inning.

** In his last seven games, Mets Dillon Gee has given up two home runs to opposing pitchers and two home runs to all the positions players he has faced (courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark).

** In 2012, Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney converted 99 save opportunities, blowing just five chances. In 2013 they have already blown 9 saves.

** As the Yankees ace, CC Sabathia is expected to beat the Yankees biggest rivals, the Red Sox and Rays. It hasn’t worked so well. According to Kate Sharp, the Yankees are 1-9 in Sabathia’s starts at Tropicana Field since he joined the team in 2009. Since the start of 2010, New York is 4-8 in his starts against the Red Sox (home and away).

** Speaking of struggling aces, Cole Hamels has started 11 games and the Phillies have won just one of those. Add Roy Halladay’s starts and the Phillies are just 3-15 in those games. That’s not exactly what the team expected when the put the rotation together.

** Speaking of not struggling aces, Dodgers Clayton Kershaw went 22 starts without giving up four earned runs, a streak that finally ended Sunday.

** One more pitcher: Young Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin became the first pitcher ever to pitch nine innings at Coors Field (in Denver) while striking out ten batters and throw under 100 pitches.

** Week of the Big Sluggers:

- Jose Bautista had a pretty big day Wednesday. The Blue Jays slugger went 4-4 with a walk, stolen base, two home runs, including a game-tyer in the bottom of the ninth, and a game-winning RBI single in the 10th. He had 4 RBI as the Jays won 4-3. For the week, Joey Bats collected 14 hits and 5 walks and scored 8 runs.

- Like his early April, Chris Davis is on fire again. The O’s first baseman hit 4 home runs last week. Adding this Monday to last week’s totals, Davis had 14 hits, 7 walks (.583 OBP), 7 extra-base hits, and scored 9 runs.  Normally that’s a shoo-in for PotW.

- There was also Mike Trout (see below).

- Miguel Cabrera continued where he left off the previous week as he continues to give managers headaches and gray hair. In a span of five games, Cabrera piled up these crazy numbers: 10 hits, 5 walks, 6 HR, 9 runs, 15 RBI. In five games. Before his ho-hum weekend, Miggy was on pace for .388 average, 257 hits, 49 home runs, 45 doubles, 200 RBI, 137 runs, and his second straight Triple Crown MVP. And when things are going good for you, sometimes you get a little more help along the way.

** Most Exciting Play: Down 5-4 in bottom of 10th inning with a runner at second, Giants Angel Pagan hit an inside-the-park home run to win the game. What could possibly be more exciting than a walkoff inside the park homer? Check it out.

** Best Moment: following his game-winning RBI double Sunday, you have to see the post-game with Munenori Kawasaki of the Blue Jays.

Players of the Week

Could have been any of a dozen guys. Flip a coin.

AL: Mike Trout, Angels. All the young centerfielder did was get 12 hits including two homers, two triples, a double and four stolen bases, scored ten runs, collected seven RBI, hit for the cycle, and help the Angels win eight games in a row. It was a good week.

NL: Joey Votto, Reds. Votto takes home his second straight PotW as he had eight hits and six walks for a .518 on-base percentage (raising his season OBP to a ridiculous .475), also hitting a pair of homers and scoring eight runs while the Reds won five games in a row.

curtis granderson

Yankees’ Granderson injured again

AL BEast Notebook – May 25

** Second verse, same as the first. A week after Curtis Granderson made his season debut after getting struck in the arm by an inside pitch from a left-hander, it happened again.

Granderson was hit on the hand by a pitch thrown by Rays lefty reliever Cesar Ramos in the fifth inning of Friday night’s 9-4 win over Tampa Bay. The Yankees outfielder grimaced in pain and shook his head and hand on base but he stayed in the game as he later came around to score in a big inning for the Yankees before getting replaced by Ichiro the next half inning. He was immediately taken in for x-rays that showed he suffered a broken knuckle on his left pinkie. After missing the first 38 games of the season, the injury is expected to sideline him at least another four weeks.

At least the Yankees will not have to make drastic changes to the lineup. Brett Gardner, Ichiro and Vernon Wells are all still here and have been accustomed to manning the Yankees outfield for most of the year. Girardi had said the last few days that he was going to have to decide on a regular trio instead of circulating all four outfielders, so at least this event makes that decision easier. (Ichiro would have been the odd man out, so he has another shot staying in the lineup everyday.)

** Unfortunately, Granderson wasn’t the only Yankee to leave with an injury Friday night. Starting pitcher David Phelps was struck on the right forearm by a line drive off the bat of Ben Zobrist in the eighth inning. He has been diagnosed with a contusion (bruise). He’s the second starter this rotation to leave with a contusion, Hiroki Kuroda getting hurt Wednesday. While both pitchers will be sore for a few days, they are likely to make their next scheduled starts.

** Robinson Cano also received a “hit-by-pitch” during the game, although actually the ball struck the end of the bat, not Cano’s hand.

** The Boston Red Sox were also hit with the injury bug Friday. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was placed on the 15 day disabled list with a bad back, and right fielder Shane Victorino went on the DL with a tight hamstring.

robinson cano

notes from Monday’s Yankees vs. Orioles (lots to say!)

AL BEast Notebook – May 20

In case you missed it, on the day after the fifteenth anniversary of the ’98 Yankees/Orioles brawl, the Yankees defeated the Orioles 6-4 in ten innings in one of the more interesting games of the season. And even if you did catch it, you don’t want to miss my notes from the night.

** Pitching matchup looked like an easy pick: C.C. Sabathia versus terrible Freddy Garcia. As it turns out, Sabathia was awful and Garcia was surprisingly acceptable.

** Sabathia gave up 11 hits, second game in a row of 10+ allowed. He blew a fifth inning lead and a seventh inning lead.

** Garcia gave up just three hits in six innings, but two were home runs.

** Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley has struck out 15 of the last 21 batters he has faced. He had more strikeouts in one inning (3) than Sabathia had in six-plus innings (2).

** The first base umpire made a terrible call in the sixth inning that may have changed the game. Tied 2-2, after a leadoff single, Matt Wieters grounded to third base; David Adams threw to first but Wieters beat him by a step. It should have been first and second, nobody out. But the ump called Wieters out, making it man on second with one out. Buck Showalter turned purple as he screamed at the ump and first baseman Chris Davis continued to make comments to the ump the next inning. The Orioles did not score a run in the inning.

** Yankees hit four solo home runs: Robinson Cano, David Adams, Lyle Overbay, and Travis Hafner. Cano now leads the AL in homers (Baltimore’s Chris Davis tied him an inning later).

** After converting 35 straight save chances, an Orioles record, Jim Johnson blew his third game in a row.

** Despite Hafner tying the game with a homer in the ninth, Buck Showalter opts to intentionally walk Cano in the tenth inning with a man on third to face Hafner. Pronk smacks a single to make it 6-4.

** Cano walked twice in a game for the first time since September 13.

** Rookie Adams (homer), Overbay (go-ahead homer), Hafner (tying homer in ninth), Ichiro (leadoff double in tenth and scored winning run) and Vernon Wells (winning RBI in tenth) all played huge roles in this game. You can call that winning off the scrap heap.

** Overbay, batting cleanup, entered the game hitting just .119 with no homers against lefties in 42 at-bats. Buck Showalter brought in the lefty Troy Patton to face Overbay in the seventh and the first baseman hit it out to make it 3-2 Yankees.

** Orioles had 13 hits and five doubles in the game, but their team leader in hits, doubles and batting average, Manny Machado, didn’t even get on base (0-5).

** Mariano Rivera picked up his 95th career save against the Orioles, the most ever for one pitcher against one team. Mo is 17/17 in saves on the year.

** Orioles have lost seven straight home games.

** Strangely, this was the ninth time this year that the Orioles lost while still getting at least ten hits.

** Orioles bullpen has been just awful during this six-game slide. Dating back to Wednesday, Baltimore relievers have pitched 22.2 innings and allowed 21 runs.

** Yankees are 19-0 on the season when they score first (Cano homered in the first inning). They had to come back in this one, and they did.

** With the win and the Red Sox loss, New York is 1.5 games ahead of Boston. Tampa also lost to fall five back, as is Baltimore.

hiroki kuroda

AL East weekly update

AL BEast Notebook – May 20

** Another week, another significant injury for the New York Yankees as Andy Pettitte joins the rest of his All-Star teammates on the disabled list. Pettitte has a strained trapezius; it may be the first time I’ve even heard of the muscle. On the bright side, with Sunday’s rainout and a day off Thursday, there is no need of a fill-in starter right away and New York can go with a 4-man rotation a couple times before his spot comes up.

In the first game of the Yankees/Indians doubleheader Monday, salaries for the Yankees lineup totaled $30.35 M. Salaries for the Indians lineup = $41.35 M. Bet you didn’t expect that.

It has really been a weird season for the Yankees and nothing short of a miracle that they are still in first place. In that doubleheader Chris Nelson, Corban Joseph, Alberto Gonzalez, Preston Claiborne, Austin Romine, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren, along with Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, Brennan Boesch, and Ben Francisco all got on the field in pinstripes. Sounds more like an early Spring Training tryout, not a pair of mid-May games for the New York Yankees. Not surprising, those Bombers only scored in two of the 18 innings that day.

Yankees have had 13 shutouts over the last two seasons, and Hiroki Kuroda has started and won 7 of them.

** Boston Red Sox bounced back from their 2-9 stretch to win five in a row all on the road. Sox are now AL-best 14-7 on the road.

It has really been a roller-coaster season for David Ortiz. After missing the first 15 games (the team going 11-4), he returned in a flurry; batting .512 into the May 3 game and hitting in 15 straight games. But then a Boston columnist wrote an accusatory article accusing Big Papi of cheating and his on-field play plummeted as he hit just .175 over two weeks with RBI in just one game, and the Red Sox went on their big skid. But since then Ortiz turned it on again, hitting in 8 straight games, collecting 12 RBI in a five game stretch last week and the Sox are back to winning.

Big Papi’s teammate, former-MVP Dustin Pedroia is also on fire, hitting in 11 straight games, batting .343 on the season and producing 51 runs (RBI + R – HR).

But the top of the rotation continues to be the story in Boston. The Red Sox are 15-3 in games started by Lester and Buchholz, and neither pitcher has suffered a loss (12-0).

** Meanwhile, since losing Wei-Yin Chen to the DL the Baltimore Orioles have lost five in a row, all at home.  It was not a good week for closer Jim Johnson. After converting 35 straight opportunities, Johnson blew two consecutive saves, Tuesday against the Padres and Saturday in epic fashion versus the Rays. In the two games he allowed ten baserunners and seven runs while recording just four outs (one via an outfield assist to third base). The game on Saturday snapped Baltimore’s streak of 108 wins when leading after seven innings.

The Birds continue to be led by the incredible trio of Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones, who are each hitting above .310 with a combined 72 extra-base hits. Of other players only Mike Napoli has more XBH than that average of 24.

** Since starting 14-18, Tampa Bay Rays are on a roll winning 9 of 11. The Rays and Orioles had an interesting weekend together. On Friday, Baltimore scored six runs in the eighth inning; the next day Tampa scored six runs in the ninth inning.

Matt Moore is the first pitcher to eight wins, but due to high pitch counts he doesn’t go deep into games. In fact, he has recorded an out past the sixth inning just three times despite throwing over 100 pitches in all nine starts.

David Price went on the DL this week on May 15. He earned just one win in his nine games. On May 15, 2012 Price earned his sixth win.

** Not much to say about the Toronto Blue Jays who got embarrassed at Yankees Stadium over the weekend after it looked like they may be turning a corner.

One bright spot is Ramon Ortiz, who turns 40 this week. Since replacing injured J.A. Happ, Ortiz has had two good starts in a row, giving up just one run in each.

The postponed game comes at a good time, stopping some negative momentum and giving them a little more rest as several key injured players are getting close to returning (Josh Johnson, Dustin McGowan, Happ, and Rajai Davis), and an extra day to prepare for an important divisional homestand against the Rays (without seeing Matt Moore) and Orioles.

mariano rivera

AL BEast Team Capsules – quick news and numbers

AL BEast Notebook – May 13

New York Yankees

Despite having 11 players on the disabled list (including four third basemen and shortstops), the Yankees stand alone in first place. Since April 7, New York is 22-9.

  • Mariano Rivera has turned back the clock, picking up an AL-best 15 saves in 15 opportunities, supported by a 1.65 ERA and sub-1 WHIP.
  • After a shaky start, Hiroki Kuroda has thrown six straight quality starts. He’s now 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA.
  • Robinson Cano has been the one consistent in the lineup all year. Cano is hitting .311 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, 23 RBI, and 22 runs scored, and committed just one error in 320 innings at second base.
  • Vernon Wells has been a big contributor to the team, hitting .293 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and 19 runs scored. And the Angels are paying most of his salary.

Boston Red Sox

Two weeks ago I wrote that it was all smiles in Red Sox Nation, as Boston held the best record in baseball with a favorable upcoming schedule. Things haven’t stayed so sunny.

  •  The Red Sox are falling apart. They are 2-8 in their last ten games, including losing 5 of 6 at home to the Twins and Blue Jays. The games haven’t been close, either. Boston was outscored 33-62 over those last ten.
  •  The bullpen was supposed to be a big strength for the team, but it is actually the main cause of the problems. Hanrahan got hurt then got hurt again in his first game back and will miss the rest of the season. Andrew Bailey filled in well as closer until he got hurt. Tazawa has not been effective. Actually, the Sox haven’t had many save opportunities at all lately enough to worry about who’s the closer. The Red Sox bullpen WHIP and ERA are highest in the AL.
  • After his late start, David Ortiz hit .500 in nine April games. In May he is batting just .179.
  •  Red Sox games have a lot of whiffs. Boston hitters have struck out 317 times, more than any AL team. Their pitchers have also struck out the most batters (363).
  • It isn’t all bad for the Sox. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester continue to pitch well. They are combined 11-0.
  • Here are a few things to add comfort to Red Sox fans. The three batters they sent to the Dodgers are all hitting well (Adrian Gonzalez .345, Carl Crawford .315, Nick Punto .338). Jed Lowrie is hitting .310 for Oakland with 13 doubles. James Loney is hitting .376 for the Rays. Marco Scutaro is hitting .479 since April 29 for the Giants. And that’s excusing Josh Reddick, who hit 32 home runs in Oakland last year.

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles have been very consistent all year, having scored the most runs in the league and have the best run differential in the division.

  •  Chris Davis was red-hot for the first three weeks, and Manny Machado has been on an absolute tear the last three. Since the middle of the doubleheader on April 20 (22 games), Machado is hitting .396, with three straight three-hit games over the weekend.
  • Jim Johnson has converted 35 consecutive regular season save opportunities, most in franchise history. Johnson has not allowed a run in any save situation this year (14 innings).
  • There are suddenly some concerns with the starting rotation. Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along with five shutout innings Sunday when he left with an oblique strain. An oblique strain usually means a trip to the DL. If so, he would be joining teammate Miguel Gonzalez, who went on the DL Thursday with blister problems. They have sent down pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton (and Josh Stinson) to the minors in the last few weeks. Freddy Garcia has been starting and is scheduled for Wednesday, but I trust Garcia about as far as I can throw him.

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite a 5-3 stretch recently (a big improvement), there is still plenty of concern in Toronto.

  • Josh Johnson is on the disabled list, Brandon Morrow was scratched from his start on Sunday, and J.A. Happ was struck in the head with a line drive last week. Ricky Romero was removed after recording just one out in his second start and promptly returned to the minors. Blue Jays pitchers have already issued the most walks and allowed the most earned runs and unearned runs, and these recent events put even more pressure on R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, who haven’t been very good anyway.
  • Rajai Davis strained his oblique over the weekend and will also be shelved for a couple weeks, the Jays second leadoff hitter to go down.
  •  Toronto is in last place by five games and has the worst run differential in the league.
  • There is one thing the Blue Jays do well and that is hit home runs. They lead the league in bombs (51 in 39 games).
  • Jose Bautista is starting to heat up. He is hitting .333 in May (with .453 OBP), although his two homers in Sunday’s blowout win were his first since April 27.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay has won five straight games to crawl above .500 (19-18).

  • Here’s a strange situation: the Rays hitters are Top Ten in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage while Rays pitchers are in the bottom half of the league in ERA, quality starts, batting average against, on-base percentage and home runs.
  • Matt Moore is 6-0 and had a quality start in every game outside of Coors Field. His 2.14 ERA is among the league leaders.
  • James Loney has now accumulated enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. His .376 average trails only Miguel Cabrera.
  • Evan Longoria continues to do it all: .333 average, 47 hits, 9 home runs, 10 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 26 RBI.

(Disclaimer: Again, the Astros are so bad that when giving team rankings in the league, the Astros are ignored. So technically worst probably means second-worst.)

david ortiz

All Smiles in Red Sox Nation

AL BEast Notebook – April 29

There’s a lot of buzz right now about the Red Sox hot start. Yes, after a 93-loss season, today they have the best record in all of baseball at 18-7, and they’ve been quite impressive. Here are some of the reasons why.

- Starting pitching has allowed three runs or less in 23 out of 25 games.

- Boston is 14-0 in games started by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront.

- Boston hitters are batting 52 points higher than their opponents (.272 to .221).

- With runners on base, the Red Sox hitters lead the league in average (.310), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

- Conversely, with runners on base, Red Sox pitchers have allowed the lowest average (.176), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

- Dustin Pedroia is hitting .330, along with the second-highest walk total in the AL. He actually only has six extra base hits and leads the American League in singles. But all those singles and walks is just fine because…

- Mike Napoli has fallen in love with the Green Monster, hitting a league-high 13 doubles in 25 games and compiling 27 RBI already.

- Jacoby Ellsbury is only batting .273, but he has 11 stolen bases already.

- David Ortiz is back to his old self. He has 16 hits in eight games and dating back to July, has a 20-game hitting streak. In those eight games this season he has 11 RBI and a .529 on-base percentage.

- Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan struggled then got hurt, yet his replacement Andrew Bailey has been superb. In seven games and innings since taking over, Bailey has given up just three hits, one run, and picked up five saves.

- Looking at the upcoming schedule, you can expect them to keep it up. If we pretend the Twins (who are at 11-10) lose in Detroit tonight, then only 3 of the next 30 games for the Red Sox are against teams above .500. Take a look at the schedule.

It has been a crazy month in Boston. After all they’ve gone through with a Patriots Day tragedy and successful citywide manhunt, it feels appropriate that they are having a happy start.

daniel nava

late-April Look at the AL East Awards

AL BEast Notebook – April 26

Four weeks into the season isn’t too soon to evaluate award races for the AL East. Well, maybe it is… but it’s still fun.

First Month Awards

MVP: Chris Davis, Orioles. Davis leads the division in home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs created and WAR (sabermetric stats), and all that with virtually no protection in the lineup (J.J. Hardy, batting .181). Napoli and Cano honorable mention.

Best Pitcher: Matt Moore, Rays. 4-0 in four starts in two good hitters’ parks (Arlington and Camden Yards) along with dominant performances over the Yankees and Indians. ERA of just 1.04, WHIP of 0.92 and batting average against of .116. Apologies to Clay Buchholz.

Biggest Surprise: Daniel Nava, Red Sox. The 30-year old career fourth outfielder’s strong start has allowed him to take over left field from Jonny Gomes and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Nava is third in the AL East in on-base plus slugging percentage (behind just Davis and Cano) with 18 hits in 18 games along with 10 walks, 4 homers, 11 runs, and 15 RBI.

Biggest Disappointment: David Price, Rays. Tampa is 0-5 in last year Cy Young winner’s starts. After racking up more Ks than hits three years in a row, he’s struck out just 26 batters while allowing 37 hits, and lots of the extra-base variety (five home runs and ten doubles), although neither in recent loss to Yankees).

Manager: John Farrell, Red Sox. The new sheriff in town came to fix the pitching in Boston and in April he has. Starting pitchers have allowed three runs or less in 20 of the Sox 22 games. Boston’s team ERA has rebounded from worst to best. The offense has also been surprisingly strong, leading the division in on-base percentage, helping the Red Sox jump out to an early tie for best record in the American League at 15-7.

Rookie: Manny Machado, Orioles. He’s not technically a rookie since he had 181 at bats in 2012, but the 20 year old wonder kid has blossomed into an All-Star already. He’s batted #2 and played third base every inning of Baltimore’s games. Along with racking up defensive highlights he is showing a clutch gene, going 6 for 9 with runners in scoring position and two outs, for 11 of his 14 RBI. If not rookie, he’s been the breakout player at least.

Crazy Stat: Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Colby Rasmus have combined to hit 22 home runs and just 31 singles. They also have 98 strikeouts.

Updated Projections

Orioles 88 (0)

Blue Jays 87 (-2)

Yankees 84 (0)

Red Sox 84 (+4)

Rays 80 (-3)

josh johnson

Injury Updates and Recent Moves

AL BEast Notebook – April 26

Here’s an update of injuries and significant transactions (from reputable sources around the teams) all organized nicely to help you keep tabs on what’s going on around the division.

New York Yankees

- Kevin Youkilis has been out a week with a sore back. He was supposed to be back yesterday but needed some more rest.

- As for the regulars, Curtis Granderson is the most likely to return first. He was hitting off a tee this week and could be two weeks away. Mark Teixeira was targeting May 1, but is now realistically hoping for a late-May return. Michael Pineda threw a simulated inning and is hoping to make a June return. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are hoping to be ready in July.

- (UPDATE: it was an eventful night at the Stadium. Francisco Cervelli was hit by a foul ball in the first inning and fractured his hand; he needs surgery and will be out a couple months. Austin Romine is being called up to be the backup catcher. In the third inning, Ivan Nova left with a sore elbow.)

Boston Red Sox

- Shane Victorino has missed three games this week with back stiffness. On Thursday John Farrell said he will not return to the lineup until he is “symptom-free.”

- John Lackey threw this week and is on track to come off the DL and pitch against the Astros on Sunday, which is like a glorified rehab assignment.

- Joel Hanrahan threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and is headed to Pautucket on Friday to begin a rehab assignment.

- Craig Breslow is planned to pitch back-to-back days in Pautucket this weekend and could return to Boston next week.

- Franklin Morales had a setback in his rehab, developing some soreness in his chest this week. There’s no timetable on his return.

Other moves: Alfredo Aceves was demoted to AAA. Daniel Bard was brought back up this week after Steven Wright came up for one poor outing before getting sent back down. Allen Webster was called up and started one of the doubleheader games and promptly returned (although he pitched well). Backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway is in Boston.

Baltimore Orioles

- Steve Johnson pitched a rehab game in the minors on Wednesday and didn’t do particularly well, giving up four runs in five innings. He could be back in Baltimore next week.

- Brian Roberts has not been cleared for baseball activities. He jogged on a treadmill in a pool this week (sounds like fun). Late May is a realistic expectation.

- Tsuyoshi Wada, recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitched four innings in an extended Spring Training game this week. Orioles hope he can be back in June.

- Wilson Betemit, torn PCL in his right knee, should be back sometime this summer.

- Top prospect Dylan Bundy is dealing with elbow/arm problems and will visit Dr. Andrews on Monday for a second opinion. 20 year old Bundy hasn’t thrown off a mound since March.

Other moves: It has been a game of musical chairs for Orioles pitchers lately. Josh Stinson was called up for one start and was promptly sent back down. Reliever Alex Burnett was also called up and returned a couple days later. Zach Britton was called up Thursday and scheduled to start Monday after Jake Arrieta was sent to the minors.

Toronto Blue Jays

- Josh Johnson will miss Friday’s scheduled start because of triceps tightness, though the move was described as precautionary. He has had a poor April, giving up four runs and not pitching past the sixth inning in three of his four starts.

- Sergio Santos is eligible to come off the DL on April 30 but I can’t seem to find any update on him. Seems like he’s not likely to come back for at least another week.

- Jose Reyes is targeting the All-Star break as a return date from his severely sprained ankle.

- Blue Jays have several lesser pitchers out without much of a timetable (Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchinson).

Other moves: Blue Jays picked up Aaron Laffey off waivers and he will start in place of Johnson today (Friday) against the Yankees (New York usually struggle against lefties.) Ramon Ortiz and Brad Lincoln were swapped for the bullpen.

Tampa Bay Rays

- Yunel Escobar left the game Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring and not expected to play Friday. He’s day-to-day.

- Luke Scott is set to make his season debut on Tuesday.

- Jeff Niemann underwent shoulder surgery April 10 and will miss the season.

brook lopez

And to Think I Saw It on East 161st Street

AL BEast Notebook – April 19

Yankees lost to the Diamondback yesterday in a game so strange it would make Dr. Seuss proud.

-Naturally, it started with Mr. Brook from Brooklyn throwing out the first pitch.

D-Back rookie shortstop Didi Gregorius hit a home run on the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues

- In bottom of eighth inning down 2-1, bases loaded and one out and two strikes, Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch on the foot that forced in the tying run. But wait; the umpires say he didn’t check his swing, and the strikeout overrules the hit-by-pitch. Two outs and runners stay. (Youkilis followed with another strikeout.)

- Arizona led off the 9th, 11th, and 12th innings with a double

- After the ninth inning double, the D-Backs were thrown out at the plate and reloaded the bases on a catcher’s interference.

- Francisco Cervelli, who looked like he hurt his hand when it was struck by the bat in the CI mentioned above, hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. It was the third time in the series that the D-Backs blew a lead.

- Mariano Rivera was unavailable after finishing the previous two games.

- In Arizona 11th and 12th innings, Yankees’ pitcher David Phelps (pitching instead of Rivera) allowed leadoff doubles (as mentioned above), a walk, hit batter and another catcher interference by Cervelli. With no outs and runners at first and third, A.J. Pollock tried bunting but Cody Ross was thrown out at third base.

Catcher interference is something you practically never see. You would think that manager Joe Girardi, a former catcher, would have said something to Cervelli after the first instance where he clearly reached his glove forward to get struck by the bat and may have injured his hand. But nope, Cervelli did the same thing a second time.

- Eric Chavez doubled to clear the loaded bases in the 12th. Chavez, who played in New York the last two years, never had a game with three RBI for the Yankees.

- And of course, New Yorker Zack Humple caught two home run balls in the bleachers. Humple is the author of the book, “How to Snag Major League Baseballs.”

Just another day at the ballpark.