Message to players running onto the grass at Yankee Stadium: Don’t forget to duck.
Joe Girardi said Wednesday that the Yankees chose not to file their Opening Day protest against the Astros — they lost Tuesday’s opener because Dellin Betances threw away a dribbler near the mound after Carlos Correa ran along the grass, essentially interfering with the throw — but that the basepath rule could change how they approach similar plays. The error scored the go-ahead run and sparked a three-run inning.
“The only recourse is really to hit in the back,” Girardi said before the game Wednesday. “And maybe it’s something we have to think about in spring training, working on that — you put a dummy out there, and if he’s in the path and on the grass, you’ve got to hit him because if you do what Dellin did, it usually leads to what happened.”
Girardi initially played the game under protest, but changed his mind once he saw the rule book does not say anything about running on the grass, and interference can only be called if the runner impeded the first baseman from fielding the ball. Betances’ throw was too high to consider the ball playable.
“Our feeling was that the rule stated it was in the umpire’s judgement if the first baseman could catch it,” said Girardi, who got into a heated argument with umpire Dana DeMuth Monday. “To me, I’m not crazy about the rule because I still think that if the guy is running where he’s running, the pitcher can’t throw.”
Smokeless tobacco banned
Mayor Bill deBlasio signed a bill banning the use of smokeless tobacco at baseball stadiums and other recreational venues Wednesday, and Girardi said that the players who partake will learn to do without. “I think it’s routine for some players,” he said. “Things in life change all the time and as people, we have to make adjustments. Have I heard players complain? Not really.”
Eovaldi ready to go
On Thursday the Yanks hope to see the same Nathan Eovaldi from last summer as they wrap the series with Houston. The righthander was 9-1 with a 3.43 ERA in his last 14 starts before elbow inflammation forced him to miss the final month of the season. He was 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA in spring training.
“I’d like to pick up where I left off last year,” he said. “It was difficult the way the season ended last year, but this is a new one.”
Keepsake for Barbato
You’ve seen the drill: a player gets his first big league hit and when the play is over the ball is thrown into the dugout so he’ll have it as a momento. But what about pitchers? Reliever Johnny Barbato made his debut Tuesday and recorded three strikeouts. Barbato ended up with a ball — and a signed lineup card — but was glad it wasn’t from his first pitch, which hit Tyler White. He thought it might be from his last pitch, a strikeout of George Springer.