SEATTLE -- The Yankees have been without their set-up man, Shawn Kelley, for more than a month now, but that is likely to change as soon as Wednesday. Manager Joe Girardi said that Kelley, on the DL since May 7 with a lower back strain, was likely to rejoin the Yankees for Wednesday night's second game of this three-game series against the Mariners.
Kelley made the second of two rehab appearances Monday for Triple-A Scranton, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning of relief. Previously, Kelley had thrown 2/3 innings for Double-A Trenton on Saturday, striking out two batters and walking one.
"Everything was fine, so we're expecting him tomorrow," Girardi said.
Presumably, that means Dellin Betances and Adam Warren will move back to seventh-inning duty, and the rest of them -- Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Jose Ramirez and Wade LeBlanc, one of whom will be sent down to make room for Kelley -- will return to mix-and-match middle relief work.
Lack of production "a surprise": There, he said it. Eternal optimist Girardi admitted Tuesday that he expected his revamped lineup, shored up in the offseason by the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, would have performed better than it has. Currently, the Yankees are even worse offensively than last year's makeshift lineup was, having scored just 249 runs (13th in the AL), hit just 51 home runs (tied for 10th in the league) and amassed a puny .382 slugging percentage.
"I thought we would score more runs," Girardi said. "Yeah, we’ve had some injuries at times where we’ve missed some key parts in the middle of the order, and times when key parts in the middle of the order were struggling and made it more difficult to score runs. I don’t think we’ve had six or seven guys hot at the same time. We haven’t had that. We’re due for that, and I’m looking forward to it.”
What is not a surprise is that Girardi still thinks his team will eventually perform as expected.
“These guys have track records and they’re going to work at it," Girardi said. "And I know they will. You look at it today, they’re working on it right now. So I believe it’s going to change.”
Cano questions no fair: Although Girardi was fairly candid about his team's offensive struggles, he pulled up shy of admitting what might seem obvious to some, that his lineup sorely misses Robinson Cano, now a member of the opposing Mariners.
"That's not a fair question," Girardi said.
When pressed about missing the consistency of Cano, who rarely slumps, Girardi said, “He’s still in the prime of his career. I don’t think you’re comparing apples to apples. He’d be young on this team.”
Which is as close as you'll ever get to an admission by the Yankees manager that most of his lineup is, well, past its prime.
No. 2 remaining Number 2: One of the nagging questions about the Yankees lineup has been whether it is time to move Derek Jeter, struggling at .254, down from the two-hole in the batting order. But Girardi shot it down without specifically ruling out an eventual lineup shift.
“He’s always been a guy that has responded during the course of time," Girardi said. "People have been ready to say that you should move him, and one year he ended up with 200-plus hits. You can look at Derek in the No. 2 spot, but we’ve had a lot of guys who have struggled. Maybe because of his name, he’s going to be the focus a little bit, sometimes maybe more than other guys, but we’ve had a lot of guys struggle.”
An extra day for the ace: Girardi said the decision not to skip Vidal Nuno's turn in the rotation tonight in order not to disrupt Masahiro Tanaka's every-five-days routine had more to do with somewhat curtailing Tanaka's workload in his first season in Major League Baseball. "He's still working his way into our schedule," Girardi said of Tanaka, who will go tomorrow night. "Whenever we can give him an extra day, we will."