TRENTON – David Phelps made his second start and Curtis Granderson was in the Trenton Thunder lineup for the first time in front of 6,837 fans at ARM & HAMMER Park as the pair of rehabbing New York Yankees helped the Thunder towards an 11-3 victory over the Harrisburg Senators on Tuesday night.
Despite being slated for six innings prior to the game, Phelps, who is working his way back from a forearm strain suffered early in July, lasted just four frames before hitting his team-imposed pitch limit. During his outing, Phelps showed bright spots by striking out six Harrisburg hitters and topping out at 93 MPH. The rehabbing righty allowed just one run – a home run over the right field wall by Justin Bloxom – on three hits during the outing. Phelps tossed 50 of his 76 pitches for strikes.
“Stuff-wise I was a lot better,” Phelps observed in a post-game press conference. “My fastball, curveball, changeup, everything was a little more crisp. I had a little better of an idea of where I was throwing the ball…Obviously I want to be a little bit more efficient, but 75 pitches [and the] arm feels great.”
Granderson made his first start with the Thunder, batting second and playing left field as he returns from a broken pinkie that cost him eight weeks of the regular season. He produced a mixed bag of at-bats on the night, going 1-for-3 with a triple and a walk before being lifted for pinch-runner Cody Grice in the seventh inning. The veteran outfielder got off to a slow start at the plate, popping out to third and flying out to center field during his first two at-bats.
In his third at-bat of the night, the veteran outfielder slapped a triple into right field. Harrisburg outfielder Destin Hood prepared to dive for the ball, but tripped, allowing the ball to squirt past and Granderson to hustle into third base with a leadoff triple. His fourth and final at-bat ended after working a walk on a 3-2 count.
“At-bats need to be had,” Granderson noted. “Each day is getting better and better.” The veteran indicated he had already passed several checkpoints, such as fighting off a ball in on his hands.
The Thunder received a boost from more than just Granderson and Phelps in the lineup. Carmen Angelini and Andrew Clark had two RBIs each, with Angelini lacing his third home run of the season. Kyle Roller brought home five runs on a single and a monster home run to right field that may have landed in the Delaware River. Cleanup hitter Jose Pirela also contributed an RBI single. Shane Greene, who followed Phelps on the mound, turned in five innings of work, striking out four batters.
During a post-game press conference, Granderson stated that he believed he wouldn’t be long for Trenton. The 32-year-old outfielder noted that he is unsure of his schedule past Wednesday, fueling speculation that he could rejoin the Yankees on the west coast during their three-game series against the San Diego Padres. Phelps was a bit more uncertain about when he would return to the major leagues.
Granderson’s bat will be a welcomed boost to a Yankees lineup that has looked timid over the past month. He led the team with 43 home runs and 106 RBIs in 2012, earning a trip to his third All-Star Game. With Brett Gardner firmly entrenched in center field, Granderson figures to carve out a role as part of a rotation between the two corner outfield spots and the designated hitter’s role. When asked, Granderson observed that he didn’t think finding at-bats for all the outfielders would be an issue.
“We had to do it before,” Granderson said. “It’s been one of the things that has happened…all of us have the ability to move around and there’s a lot of experience out there, which is a good thing.”
Dan is usedview.com’s beat writer for the New York Yankees and the Trenton Thunder. Follow him on Twitter at @danpfeiffer74 for all the latest New York Yankees news.