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Inbox: Are Yanks concerned about Ellsbury?

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch fields New York fans' questions

Should we be worried about Jacoby Ellsbury's slump?
-- Josephine, Westchester, N.Y.

It's been a rough go since Ellsbury came off the disabled list on July 8, and as the leadoff man, those struggles are highlighted when the rest of the Yanks are handcuffed like they were this past weekend. He's batting just .191 (21-for-110) with three doubles, a triple, four homers and 17 RBIs over that span, tallying a weak .579 OPS, and despite that, the Yankees don't seem too concerned about Ellsbury.

He doesn't appear to be injured and obviously has immense talent, so hitting coach Jeff Pentland seems to be treating it like a run-of-the-mill funk. Ellsbury said that he is sticking with his normal flip work and tee work routine, but he noted that he hasn't been getting as lucky on balls in play as he was earlier in the year. He's absolutely right: His BABIP since July 8 is just .205, compared with .379 before the knee injury.

"I think sometimes when you're not swinging as well as you can and some of those little bloopers don't fall for you, it makes it look a little worse," Ellsbury said.

Is the Rob Refsnyder experiment over for the year?
-- Chris S., Marriottsville, Md.

It would be surprising if Refsnyder isn't a September callup, at least. It was only four games, but he seemed to prove that he could help the Yankees win. To roll the clock back, they wanted Refsnyder up because they were seeing some left-handed pitching at Fenway Park and had some health issues.

Video: [email protected]: Refsnyder lines a single for his first hit

Even though it was unexpected how quickly they dispatched him to Triple-A, I do believe Refsnyder will perform well when given the chance. It may not have been a popular move, but the Yankees chose to option Refsnyder in order to maintain their inventory and keep both Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan on the roster, rather than designate one for assignment and risk losing him.

If Luis Severino pitches well, would he make the hypothetical playoff rotation?
-- Harsh S., Boston, Mass.

This is obviously a premature discussion as he prepares for his second big league start Tuesday in Cleveland, but let's play along and say he would at least have to be in the discussion. The Yankees believe that, if healthy, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda can match up with pretty much anyone in a short series as the No. 1 and No. 2 starters.

I suppose since Severino is taking Pineda's rotation spot for now, the better question is, is Pineda coming back healthy? If so, then you've got to find assignments for Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, and in the postseason, you don't need a five-man rotation. If Severino gives the Yankees the best chance to win, though, they might have to make the same type of tough decision that was once made with A.J. Burnett.

Video: [email protected]: Severino fans seven, allows two runs debut

The innings total might determine how Severino is used, if at all, in the postseason. Even though they say he has no limitations, he pitched 113 innings last year and is now at 104 1/3 at three pro levels. Generally, teams try not to add more than 30 to 40 innings, so it's conceivable they could get Severino up to the ballpark of 145 innings this year.

After seeing what happened this weekend, do the Yankees try to add a bat? Maybe Greg Bird?
-- Jonathan, Bronx, N.Y.

Who are the real Yankees? Are they the ones who pounded out 90 runs in 10 games, or the ones who were blanked in back-to-back afternoons by a Blue Jays roster that looks like world-beaters right now? The answer lies somewhere in the middle, and I suspect the next three days in Cleveland will be more fruitful for the offense, leading the Yanks into another weekend showdown with the Jays.

Bird is on a tear at Triple-A -- he was named the International League Batter of the Week for Aug. 3-9 -- but the Yankees have a healthy first baseman who happens to have 30 homers. Bird seems likely to see big league time in September, but barring an injury to Mark Teixeira, it's hard to see a scenario where Bird would gather a great number of at-bats.

Video: [email protected]: Bird makes nice play to get out at first

Are the Yankees considering moving Sabathia out of the rotation down the stretch? It seems to me they have to at least consider it. Adam Warren deserves a spot in the rotation.
-- Zane C., New York

The short answer is no; Sabathia is going to keep getting the ball, and the Yankees are going to live with whatever comes, the good and the bad. Following Sabathia's last outing, that eight-strikeout performance to beat the Red Sox, Girardi said that the Yankees never entertained the idea of taking him out of the starting mix (though they have shuffled the rotation for health reasons).

"We have never sat down and had a discussion, no," Girardi said.

I find it difficult to believe that the thought has never crossed Girardi's mind or those in the front office; after all, the question has been asked many, many times, and some of Sabathia's starts have been difficult to watch. If it has come up, the Yanks aren't saying.

Video: [email protected]: Sabathia allows one run over six innings

As for Warren, he would have to be built back up into a starter. Girardi recently said that he could safely ask 50 to 60 pitches of Warren in a spot start, but the Yankees are concerned by his innings total. Warren has already thrown 101 1/3 innings this year, after throwing 77 in 2013 and 78 2/3 in 2014, and there's still plenty of schedule left.

I just saw Chase Utley was placed on waivers. Any chance the Yanks pick him up to help or command second base?
-- Mauricio M., Lancaster, Pa.

There has been some reported interest, and I suppose it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Yanks added a veteran bench player for the stretch drive. The Phillies can't just give Utley away, but they're motivated sellers as a non-contending team. Geographically, it's an easy enough move, but know this: Utley's 2015 performance has been rough, so much that I can't even tell you this would be an upgrade over what you've already seen from Stephen Drew, which is below the league average.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for
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