Yanks ponder bats, but replace A-Rod with arm

May 4th, 2016

BALTIMORE -- The Yankees considered numerous options to fill Alex Rodriguez's spot on the active roster Wednesday, according to manager Joe Girardi, but they ultimately summoned a pitcher to replace the active home run leader.

Left-hander James Pazos was summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. The 24-year-old Pazos hoped to be back in the Majors soon, but he never expected A-Rod's injury to impact his situation.

"I'm excited to hit, you know?" Pazos said, joking. "Just excited to be here."

While Aaron Judge (No. 2 on MLBPipeline.com's Yankees Top 30 prospects list), Rob Refsnyder (No. 9) and Nick Swisher were among the potential callups at Triple-A who appeared on the Yankees' radar, Girardi said that the schedule played into their decision to proceed with 13 pitchers.

Tuesday marked the first game of 20 straight without an off-day, with the Yankees preparing to play straight through until May 24. Going with a three-man bench doubles down on the belief that the current roster can dig out of a stretch that has seen the Yankees bat .212 (40-for-189) with 13 runs scored the six games prior to Wednesday night's game vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards.

"We believe in this group. This group has a track record," Girardi said. "It's just been a struggle. We believe in them. I'm not saying this is going to be 13 pitchers the whole time, but it's what we decided to do."

Pazos was 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in nine appearances at Triple-A and said that he has been working with pitching coach Tommy Phelps on his mechanics, scaling back his leg kick and emulating the zone-pounding approach used by Yankees left-hander Andrew Miller.

"That was the example. It's a pretty good example," Pazos said. "Just load and go. Simplify things to the extreme, and it works."

Pazos was greeted warmly by the Yanks' pitching staff as he unpacked his bags in Baltimore, but he is well aware that the hitters are counting the days for their opportunities.

Judge homered at Triple-A on Wednesday afternoon, while Refsnyder extended a hitting streak to nine games. The converted infielder played right field for the second straight game, the position he was originally drafted in, as the Yankees look to boost Refsnyder's versatility.

"We talked about it at the end of Spring Training, where he said he felt comfortable playing the outfield. I liked the idea," Girardi said. "The more places a player can play, the more options it gives your manager. And when you decide to go to 13 pitchers, it really helps."

Swisher did not play on Wednesday because it was a day game following a night game, but he is batting .306 with three homers and six RBIs in 16 games, having appeared at first base, right field and designated hitter.

"He's swung the bat OK, there's no doubt about it," Girardi said. "We'll continue to evaluate where he's at and see if, at some point, who fits the best, if we decide to go to 12 pitchers. Then we'll make a move."