<
>

Aceves gets early call, glad to be in Bronx

NEW YORK -- It's rarely simple with Alfredo Aceves, so of course his return to the New York Yankees was going to be a little different.

Aceves was back in the Yankees' bullpen Saturday, back in pinstripes for the first time in nearly four years. He was back because the Yankees needed a fresh arm after using eight relievers in Friday night's 14-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, but Aceves could be excused if he was feeling a little less than fresh himself.

He was in Norfolk, Va., with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, when a call from the Yankees woke him up at 1 a.m. Saturday. Could he be ready to leave at 4 a.m. to get to Yankee Stadium in time for a game Saturday afternoon?

Of course he could.

"I'm excited to be here," Aceves said, standing in the Yankee clubhouse a few hours later.

He's excited enough, for now, that he said he would do anything the Yankees need. He's here as a middle reliever, with manager Joe Girardi saying there are no thoughts for now of using him as a starter.

"I want him to be a guy I can use in a lot of different areas," Girardi said. "Two innings, three innings, one inning."

When he's willing to do that, Aceves has proved to be a useful piece of a team, as he was for the Yankees' last championship team, in 2009. But he was gone from the Yankees after May 2010, first with an injury and then because they decided against re-signing him.

He went to the Red Sox, where again he was often useful, but sometimes trouble. He spent spring training this year with the Orioles, then signed with the Yankees when Baltimore released him just before Opening Day.

"I was a Yankee," he said. "When I heard they wanted to sign me again, I was pretty excited."

He made two starts and one relief appearance for Scranton, with a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings. And now he's back in New York, where once he makes an appearance he'll become the 20th pitcher used by the Yankees this season.

A long night, part I: With Friday's game ending just before 1 a.m. and the Yankee players required to be at the ballpark early for a Photo Day promotion, it was easy to feel as if they had never left.

Two of them really hadn't.

Catcher John Ryan Murphy and reliever Preston Claiborne spent the night sleeping on sofas in the Yankee clubhouse.

A long night, part II: When Friday's game ended, Girardi had used every available player on his roster, save the other four starting pitchers. Chris Leroux, who gave up five runs in the 14th inning (and was designated for assignment Saturday) was his last pitcher.

So if the game went on, who would have pitched?

"I don't know what I would have done," Girardi said.

Leroux, he said, could have thrown as many as 90-100 pitches (he threw 40). But then what?

David Phelps wasn't an option, because he had thrown a between-starts bullpen before the game began. The Yankees almost certainly would have had to use a position player, but with no position players on the bench, it would have had to be someone already in the game, with Leroux moving to the outfield.