He had no idea that he would come out of the first early and re-enter the game later.
Manager Brandon Hyde had a plan with Means’ pitch count rising against the Yankees. He pulled his ace and returned him to the mound in the second.
“That’s a new rule this year that we have a couple backup pitchers for every game in case a situation like that occurs,” Hyde said on his Zoom call after a 4-2, seven-inning loss at Ed Smith Stadium. “I can either roll the inning or finish the inning with somebody else, but then have him go back out.”
Means allowed a run and four hits, all of them singles, in 1 2/3 innings. Clint Frazier drove in the run with two outs in the first on Means’ 28th pitch and minor leaguer Jay Flaa was summoned from the bullpen.
“I just decided to get Flaa in there and give Flaa a hitter or two and then have Johnny go back out for a second inning. That’s just an option that we have for these games,” Hyde said.
“I thought his fastball was really good. I thought he looked strong, he felt good, just a lot of foul balls. We didn’t help him out much, also. We misplayed a ball in left and there were a couple close pitches there that didn’t go his way, but I thought he threw the ball very, very well. Threw a few good changeups against pretty much their varsity club and should have been out of that first inning, and then had a nice second inning.”
Means was perplexed as Hyde came out of the dugout.
“I knew that I had two (innings), and I had no idea that was a rule that I could go back out,” Means said, “and once he came to the mound he’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to go back out next inning.’
“A little confused for a little bit, but it’s the way of the times and Jay did a great job coming in, and then I got my second inning in.”
Cedric Mullins gave up switch-hitting and had a triple and run-scoring single today against left-handers Jordan Montgomery and Tyler Lyons.
“I’m just happy with his at-bats,” Hyde said. “He really squared that ball up against Montgomery the first at-bat and had two other good at-bats. Even the chopper, two strikes, put the ball in play, make something happen, as well as the hit to right field. I thought he had really good at-bats left on left. Stayed in there nicely.
“That’s kind of what I wanted to see were his takes. I had seen him in a live BP, but hadn’t seen it in game action, and stayed on the ball well. Another good day for Cedric.”
Mullins said he hadn’t gone left-versus-left since his junior year of high school.
“It was getting difficult to try and create two different swings,” Mullins said. “I know my left side is my natural side, so trying to develop my right-handed swing at the highest level was challenging. I tried to do the best I can to see if it could develop quicker. It just didn’t work out that way, so I felt going left on left was the best decision.”
César Valdez struck out the side in the fourth inning. The dead fish lives!
The Yankees pinch-hit for DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge, but don’t ruin the moment.
“Sevie (Pedro Severino) was going to go four innings and then Rusch was going to catch the last three and just turned out that Mickey Jannis was one of those three,” Hyde said. “Not an easy assignment with Mickey Jannis, Tanner Scott and then (Cole) Sulser with his split, but I thought Adley really handled it well. Going in to catch a knuckleball guy in the first inning isn’t the ideal situation, and then Tanner Scott after throwing 98 (mph) with a wipeout slider. Not easy to do there, either, but I thought he did a great job.”
Scott registered a 1.31 WHIP and 1.065 WHIP in 25 games, with three earned runs and 12 hits in 20 2/3 innings. He averaged 4.4 walks, a career low, and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
This isn’t the same pitcher that Hyde saw in spring training 2019. Only the name and velocity are the same.
“Just the confidence level is a lot different,” Hyde said earlier today. “I thought the mechanical changes they made last year before spring training and into spring training with quickening up his delivery and simplifying everything for him, I thought that was really helpful. He took a really good spring training and a good summer camp into our shortened season last year. I just thought he gained confidence as the season went along.
“Tanner’s got lights-out stuff and he just hasn’t been able to put it together, but last year for the most part he really threw a lot of strikes and attacked hitters, and that’s all we’re looking for him to do because his stuff is so good.”
Paul Fry took the loss today after allowing three runs and four hits in the third inning.
Fry had a career-low 2.45 ERA and 1.409 WHIP and averaged a career-high 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings over his 22 appearances last summer. But it’s spring training for everyone.
“I think both those guys, their confidence and their mound presence and everything about being a major league player, having a little bit more experience, having some more positive outings, I thought they built off those,” Hyde said earlier.
“Both guys had really good summers and really established themselves as really good left-handers out of the ‘pen that can get left- and right-handed hitters out. I just think with both of them it was, they got knocked around a little bit maybe early in their career and gained confidence as the year went along and threw the ball very well last summer.”
Sulser retired the side in order in the seventh with a strikeout and two ground balls.
Prospects as far as the eye could see.
“I think they did fine,” Hyde said. “I know they’re anxious to be out there and they’ve been doing stuff with us periodically over here at Ed Smith Stadium on the back fields in the mornings, and so to get them some game action ... You’re going to see more playing time for those guys. They’re going to be coming into games. Adley’s going to get some more at-bats, you’re going to see Westburg and Gunnar, Adam Hall, etc. Those guys are going to be coming in games periodically throughout this spring.”
Nevin brought out the lineup card and chatted with his father Phil, who’s the Yankees third base coach.
“I didn’t plan on that, we didn’t plan on it,” Hyde said. “Phil was taking it out for them, so Fredi (González) nudged me about Tyler. So for Tyler to go take it out just because his dad was going out there, that was a nice moment. We should have probably planned that ahead of time, but it worked out.
“And then he tried to pick him off in the seventh inning, so I didn’t appreciate that.”