Brian Cashman reaches out to Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee, but no dice
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Brian Cashman said he prefers to think of his pleas to the baseball retirement community as an example of "creative" thinking.
One opposing team talent evaluator put it another way:
"Is he that desperate?"
Cashman confirmed Monday that his search for infield help recently led him to reach out to first baseman Derrek Lee, who hasn't played since 2011.
And while being asked about that, Cashman volunteered an even bigger name: Chipper Jones, who retired last year after 19 seasons with the Braves.
"He'd be perfect," Cashman said before invoking his given, and far less used, first name. "I'd take Larry in a heartbeat."
Cashman said he assumed the answer would be no and playfully told reporters that because he didn't have a working number for Jones' agent, B.B. Abbott, they could do him a favor and put out his interest regarding Jones on Twitter.
"I figured that was the quickest line of communication, Twitter," Cashman said. "I already know the answer but might as well throw it out there anyway."
Indeed, Cashman later was informed that the 40-year-old Jones, though flattered, is quite happily retired.
During Monday's 4-0 win over the Cardinals, Cashman said of his Jones itch: "I needed to check it off my list. It was an idea; I needed to exorcise that demon."
After going 0-for-2, Derek Jeter was informed of Cashman's idea and Jones' non-interest by reporters.
"He call Mike Schmidt, too?" Jeter joked.
He added, smiling, of Jones: "Unless we've got a golf team, I don't think we'll be using him."
Cashman called Lee, 37, a "Yankee-type player" on and off the field. But like Jones, the former All-Star isn't interested.
Said Cashman, "If he still was game, I bet you he still has game."
Cashman said looking outside of the organization isn't a reflection of what's inside it. It's clear, though, that the options aren't great.
Prospect Ronnier Mustelier, now an outfielder but with experience in Cuba as a third baseman before defecting in 2009, started at third Monday.
"His bat's making him have a chance," Cashman said of Mustelier, who went 0-for-3 but is hitting .300 with a .391 on-base percentage.
One AL scout said the Yankees' best option to try to fill the hole left by Mark Teixeira's wrist injury -- which will keep him out eight to 10 weeks -- is for Mustelier, or someone else, to play third and shift Kevin Youkilis to first.
Youkilis, signed in the offseason to replace the injured Alex Rodriguez at third, started at first Monday and hit his first homer. He has played more games in his career at first (607), where he's won a Gold Glove, than third (442).
"Much better, at this stage, at first than third," said the scout, who acknowledged the current crop of Yankees options at third probably will keep Youkilis there.
The Yankees have said their current plan is to have Youkilis as the primary third baseman and find someone else, perhaps Juan Rivera -- who also is competing for an outfield spot -- to play the majority of games at first.
But Cashman also has had conversations with the agent for Scott Rolen, 37, a third baseman without a job. That's an indication that Cashman is more willing to shift Youkilis to first than he's stated publicly.
Cashman, however, indicated that Rolen's desires, in terms of playing time and money, aren't in line with the Yankees'.
"We're looking at what we have here, we're going to look at what's playing outside of here, and we're going to look, in a few select cases, at what's not playing at all," Cashman said. "But the what's-not-playing-at-all category, like a Derrek Lee or a Chipper Jones, those are unique players, in my opinion. Past that, if you're not playing, there's a reason for it."