And when they start a three-game series at Fenway Park Tuesday night, the Yankees won't be close to full strength. They could be without Alex Rodriguez for all three games and maybe longer. And Derek Jeter's status is questionable, too.
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The third baseman's left thumb, jammed in his first game back from the disabled list Aug. 21 when he backhanded Joe Mauer's ground shot, acted up after the first game of Sunday's doubleheader.
Joe Girardi said A-Rod, who aggravated the injury during a swing, was sent back to New York, where he had an MRI -- it came back "good," he said -- and met with hand specialist Dr. Melvin P. Rosenwasser.
Is it realistic that Rodriguez will be able to play in at least one of the three games in Boston? "I sure hope so," Girardi said. "I can't tell you. I think it's really questionable, but we'll see."
Jeter, who fouled a ball off the top of his right kneecap in his second at-bat in Sunday's first game and saw the knee swell up between games, was available Monday night in "an emergency," Girardi said.
Jeter was limping in the clubhouse Sunday and needed to be driven on a cart to the team bus after Game 2. But he said after Monday night's game, "It's made a lot of progress from last night till now. The plan is to play tomorrow.''
"He was walking around fine today," Girardi said. "Walking a lot better than I would have anticipated when I saw him walk out last night."
To make room for Monday night's starter, Freddy Garcia, Hector Noesi was sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- and by rule has to stay in the minors for 10 days or until Scranton's season is over -- giving Girardi a six-man bullpen.
"Our starters are going to have to give us some length," Girardi said. "It is a little bit [of a concern] knowing how some of the games can get up north [at Fenway]. But we're going to have to deal with it."
The Yankees' pitching staff has a 5.98 ERA against the Red Sox, by far their highest against any opponent this season. "I just think we've made a lot of mistakes," Girardi said.
Most alarming to the Yankees and their fans, ace CC Sabathia, who starts Tuesday night and was sent to Boston ahead of the team Monday night, has more than contributed to those numbers, going 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in four starts. In his first two seasons with the Yankees, Sabathia went 4-1 with a 3.04 ERA against the Red Sox. "It is somewhat surprising because we've seen him throw really good games against them," Girardi said. "So I think he's due."
Another Feliciano setback
Girardi wasn't counting on Pedro Feliciano (rotator cuff strain), who made his first rehab appearance Thursday for the GCL Yankees, but he had maintained a slim hope that the lefthanded reliever might get back late this season. That hope has all but vanished. Feliciano was to pitch Saturday but felt "soreness," Girardi said, and likely will be shut down.
"I don't know if he'll try to get through this, try again, or if he's going to have surgery," Girardi said. He added somewhat cryptically: "If he has surgery, he's going to miss a whole year anyway. And it might be career."