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New York Yankee Notes: A Grand Return

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If you have been paying attention you know Curtis Granderson returns from the disabled list tonight when the Yankees host the Cleveland Indians.

We have talked a little about who the Yankees will remove from the roster to activate Granderson. The Daily News is saying it will be either Kevin Russo, which most of us don't want, or Randy Winn, in which case few of us would mind.

I think, though, that the Yankees should consider a couple of other possibilities, as well.

  • Ramiro Pena: Love the kid's defense, but he has only 38 at-bats, he is hitting just .211 and Russo is a natural infielder, so he could fill Pena's role. I think the 25-year-old Pena could use some regular at-bats.
  • Juan Miranda: Yeah, he has a couple of home runs in 31 at-bats. But, he is hitting just .194. You can make an argument that Miranda looks like a good AAA slugger, and that Winn might be a better bench/ lefty DH option.

No matter what, let's hope Granderson comes out swinging. The Yankees (15 runs in six games) can use the help.

Theoretically, the Yankees schedule gets easier the next couple of weeks. Before you start counting Ws, however, remember that the Yankees do have to deal with Cleveland's best pitcher tonight -- Fausto Carmona.

Last year Cleveland pitching Carmona (who went 5-12, 6.32 ERA and earned himself a trip back to the minors) was sort of like the Yankees pitching Chien-Ming Wang. Not a pretty sight, especially for a guy who won 19 games in 2007.

This year, Carmona is 4-2, 3.45 and looking more like he did when he was at his best.

"If Fausto continues doing what he's doing, he definitely will be back," said Mike Redmond, his personal catcher with the Tribe this season. "He's been able to take what he's learned and continue with his career. He's gaining more and more confidence each time out. He's got great stuff, he's a great kid and he works hard. I don't see why he can't get back to being among the best pitchers in the game."

The veteran Redmond played with the Twins last year. He was in the lineup June 4 of last year, going 0-for-4 while his teammates knocked around Carmona. Redmond could not believe what he was seeing, or what happened the next day.

"I wondered, 'How does a guy with that stuff end up going to the minor leagues?' " Redmond said. "Part of the answer, I guess, is that sometimes you get off-track. You get confused.

"When you start struggling, everybody's in your ear. Everybody's got their two cents about what you should be doing. I've seen it happen to other pitchers."

Carmona's opponent tonight will be Phil Hughes. We haven't heard much about them, but it seems the specter of the 'Hughes Rules' might be rearing its ugly head soon in Yankee-land.

"That is all up to Joe and Dave," GM Brian Cashman said. "They know just like last year with Joba what the limits are."

Cashman added that Girardi and Eiland will make sure Hughes gets the proper amount of rest because the Yankees believe it is wise to protect young pitchers. The Yankees haven't revealed how many innings Hughes will pitch, but Hughes thinks it is around 175. Hughes has thrown 49 2/3 innings entering his start on Friday.

Without any adjustments to their current starting schedule, the Yankees can rest Hughes without anyone really noticing. With a little manipulation of their rotation, they may be able to give Hughes even more time off. They likely will push him back one day at some point next month to fully take advantage of the All-Star break.

I have no problem with protecting Hughes. In fact, I am thrilled that the Yankees want to. I just hope they don't turn any innings limitations into a joke -- like they did last season with Joba Chamberlain.

Javier Vazquez tried not to sound discouraged after Thursday's tough outing.

"As a pitcher, you just know that you're going to have some tough games like that," Vazquez said. "They seem like they're hitting every ball or a lot of balls hard. If they're outs, they're outs. If they're hits, they're hits. Sometimes they're going to drop out there."

"Obviously I think I've got to locate better," Vazquez said. "When you don't have your good fastball, you've got to locate better. And that's what I'm trying to do."