Suspended closer Aroldis Chapman appears, in the words of one outside talent evaluator, “big league-ready.”
Chapman, eligible to return Monday from his MLB-imposed 30-game suspension stemming from an alleged domestic-violence incident last October, struck out all three batters he faced in an extended spring training game in Tampa on Friday afternoon. It was his final tuneup before he heads to New York, which he will do Saturday afternoon.
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Chapman’s fastball sat at 98 mph Friday and the talent evaluator said his slider and changeup were “spectacular.”
Though poor hitting and inconsistent starting pitching were the primary reasons the Yankees brought a 9-17 record into Friday night’s game against the Red Sox, Joe Girardi said adding Chapman to Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller at the back end of the bullpen — which has not been an issue, for the most part — could provide a jolt.
“It’s a situation where in a lot of ways, you’ll have at least two almost every night,” Girardi said. “I think it shortens games, I think it gives you three closers that you can interchange . . . I think it can be a lift for us.”
A-Rod time frame
Alex Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday with what Girardi called a Grade “1-plus’’ right hamstring strain. That announcement came after the Yankees’ team physician, Chris Ahmad, evaluated A-Rod and the MRI taken in Baltimore, which showed the strain. “My hope is he’s back in 15 days,” Girardi said. “But we’ll have to see how he heals.”
Brett Gardner, who left Wednesday night’s game in Baltimore after being hit by a pitch on his right elbow and did not start Thursday night’s game, returned to the lineup Friday night. Gardner went 5-for-30 (.167) on the recent nine-game trip.
Though Girardi said Thursday that he planned to return struggling third baseman Chase Headley to the lineup Friday night, he was on the bench a second straight game, replaced by Ronald Torreyes. Headley brought a .151/.250/.151 slash line into the weekend.