David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991. Show More
Even Alex Rodriguez laughed Saturday when he was asked about catching throws with two hands -- the right one carefully covering his glove -- during a rocky debut at first base.
He looked like a $21-million Little Leaguer, using extra caution, and A-Rod agreed that it was all a bit strange.
So how could anyone be shocked when Rodriguez allowed a shin-high throw to clang off the heel of his glove for a second-inning error that led to Boston's first run? It must have been embarrassing for him, but at least he had a built-in excuse.
"I've never done it before," he said before mentioning to a reporter, "It's probably the way you would have done it."
A-Rod fumbling his way through an afternoon at a new position was hardly the biggest problem for the Yankees in another loss, this time 8-4 to the Red Sox. And the other ones are threatening to bury this team just a week into the season.
We know it's a microscopic sample size, a tiny percentage of the 162-game schedule. But the Yankees are 1-4 and would be winless if not for the Blue Jays' improbable meltdown Wednesday night in the Bronx.
Perhaps most troubling is that this is all happening with a healthy roster, before any wear-and-tear.
At full strength, these Yankees still can't hit (.193) or get on base (.280), and it's not as if they can simply fire Kevin Long again.
As for the run-prevention angle, that's not going so well either. The Yankees committed three more errors Saturday and lead the majors with eight.
"Some of the errors we've made, it's confusing," Joe Girardi said.
A few of the other mistakes may not show up in the boxscore, but they can look even worse. On Brock Holt's three-run double off rightfielder Garrett Jones' glove in the eighth inning, Didi Gregorius took the cutoff throw at the lip of the infield and basically stopped playing.
Gregorius never bothered to turn around as catcher Ryan Hanigan hustled to score all the way from first base. As Hanigan circled third and headed home, Gregorius didn't even glance in his direction.
We would have liked to ask Gregorius what he was thinking, but he didn't show up at his locker after the game.
Girardi probably could use an explanation, too. When pressed, he struggled to come up with an answer.
"I don't know," he said. "Obviously, he didn't think he had a chance at home. People have to communicate and let you know. You have to peek and do the things that you're supposed to do."
This is not to say Gregorius definitely had a good shot at Hanigan, but it was worth a look. Gregorius showed no urgency at all, which is not how baseball is played at any level above tee-ball.
The problem with the Yankees right now is that these things keep popping up.
On Opening Day, Gregorius was thrown out trying to steal third base with two outs in the eighth, two men on base, Mark Teixeira up and the Yankees trailing 6-1. Three days later, CC Sabathia failed to back up third, and Girardi pinned that gaffe on the pitcher's bum knee.
As for Saturday's two outfield clunkers by Brett Gardner and Jones, those were two borderline plays that required more than a routine effort. Still, for a Yankees team that boasted of its defensive prowess coming into the season, both were catches that could have been made -- and needed to be.
After A-Rod's error in the second inning, a sprinting Gardner got spun around -- and wound up with a faceful of sun -- as Daniel Nava's fly ball caromed off his glove for an RBI double.
Jones also got his glove on Holt's long drive in the eighth. But instead of a nice grab for the third out, it turned into three more Sox runs.
This loss was as ugly as Friday's/Saturday's was long, and the questions keep coming, with Masahiro Tanaka having plenty to prove in Sunday night's series finale.
Tanaka spent Saturday morning again talking about his velocity issues, and Girardi again denied that his ace is facing anything more troubling than building up more arm strength.
We'll see. The Red Sox will answer that for everyone in prime time. And if Tanaka doesn't look more like his '14 self, just add him to the Yankees' list of growing concerns.
"It's early," Rodriguez said. "No time to panic."
Some problems, however, can't be solved by using two hands.