The fact that Joe Girardi sounded very enthused that Marcus Thames could take batting practice before last night's game showed how thin these Yankees are right now.
Thames, who sprained his left ankle when he tripped over his own bat while running out a single in Wednesday night's loss to the Rays, didn't seem in such bad shape before the game.
Nick Swisher (sore biceps) came through his first lefthanded batting-practice session well, so he actually started last night against Rays righthander James Shields. Another bit of good news.
But that's about it on the injury front. The Yankees made a flurry of roster moves Thursday to patch the holes in their roster, calling up utilityman Kevin Russo and veteran catcher Chad Moeller, placing Jorge Posada (broken foot) on the 15-day disabled list and sending pitcher Mark Melancon back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Nick Johnson (wrist surgery) was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for Moeller, who was Posada's backup in 2008.
The Yankees' front office and coaching staff discussed bringing up either 20-year-old catcher Jesus Montero from Scranton or 21-year-old catcher Austin Romine from Double-A Trenton, but the Yankees went with the veteran to back up Francisco Cervelli.
"We considered all those guys, but this is a situation where we needed a backup catcher," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Hopefully, it's a short-term situation with Jorge, so we felt this was a backup situation. Cervelli's going to take the reps."
Cervelli was in a similar situation early last season, making the leap from Trenton to start games with Posada and Jose Molina on the DL.
"I think it helped him a lot because he came up and got a shot to play, as opposed to sitting on the bench and playing once a week," Girardi said. "I think that's good for a guy who's used to playing every day. He was thrown right in there."
Girardi ended up needing Ramiro Peña, his only fully healthy reserve but usually an infielder, to play rightfield Wednesday after Thames left the game. Swisher was available for defense and to hit righthanded and Posada technically was available to catch, though it's impossible to think Girardi would have used him.
"I knew that we had three extra guys last night and two of them were really banged up, and I had Peña," Girardi said. "Sometimes you might have to lose your DH in that situation."
This is nothing new for the Yankees, and it's hard to believe that their two-game losing streak heading into last night had more to do with a thin bench than the talent the Red Sox and division-leading Rays had in the visiting dugout. None of the key infielders is out, and aside from Alfredo Aceves, all the Yankees' pitchers are healthy. But the team's depth is being tested.
"You either find out that you're deeper than people think or you're not deep enough," said Cashman, who isn't looking outside the organization for any bench help. "Either way, you get your mettle tested."
Notes & quotes: Major League Baseball Thursday denied the Yankees' protest of Tuesday's 7-6 loss to the Red Sox. Girardi lodged the protest because he felt there was no notice given when Josh Beckett left the game in the fifth inning with an injury and the umpiring crew gave Manny Delcarmen as many warmup pitches as he needed. Beckett went on the disabled list Wednesday with a sore lower back . . . The Yankees extended their contract with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre through the 2014 season.