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New York Yankees News: Girardi Backs A.J.

Mood Music - My Body is a Cage by Peter Gabriel

If you've followed this blog with any regularity, you're aware that I've never been shy to disagree with the in-game moves of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. But, for the duration of his time in New York, one thing has been beyond criticism:  He sticks up for everyone on this roster. The superstars, the role players, the guys who are playing well, and the guys who are playing horribly. Nobody goes under the bus, there's no passive aggressive messages being sent in the media, and nobody in the doghouse.

Make no mistake, A.J. Burnett is running out of rope in his current role with this team. If the wheels were not already spinning on what to do about Burnett for the rest of the season and [hopefully] the playoff run, he's starting to force the organization's hand. The Twins are a dismal offensive team (second fewest runs scored in the AL, and do the Mariners really count?), and Burnett couldn't finish two innings, making only a handful of good pitches in a very abbreviated outing.

As he was being removed from the game, Burnett was visibly upset, muttering as he walked off the field and being animated in the dugout. For a brief moment, he and Girardi disappeared into the clubhouse together, and speculation blossomed about if there was any "heat" in their private exchange. Speculation that Joe Girardi had little patience for after the game:

This is silly. This is really, really silly. You know what, we had a fistfight is what we had. No. I came and looked at the pitch. There’s a camera, our video room is right down there, and everyone always seems to want to blow up about A.J., A.J., A.J. Nothing happened between me and A.J...

I think people are always looking for A.J. And I’m tired of it. Case closed on that.

I have no idea what happened behind the closed doors of the clubhouse, and that's exactly how it should be. For his part, Burnett echoed the sentiment when asked if he had any issues with Girardi:

Absolutely not. No matter how mad I get, that guy's (had) my back every day I've been here.

He's right.  But, even if all of the comments can be taken at face value and the New York Yankees are still a big, happy family, A.J. still needs to pitch a whole lot better for any of this to be more than an empty gesture. He need to find the command of his fastball and the deception on his curveball. And he needs to find them now.

Other things:

Alex Rodriguez is expected to return to the lineup today. Look for Eduardo Nunez to shift back into his utility role and for Eric Chavez to vanish into the ether.

Some encouraging words on Phil Hughes. While he has avoided the Master Chef title the last bunch of starts, his inability to miss bats and his lack of ground balls has me tempering my enthusiasm.

Milestone accomplishments from Derek Jeter and Jim Thome.

The Yankees will look to right the ship this afternoon with rookie Ivan Nova, who will himself be looking to bounce back after a rough start in Kansas City.