Yankees’ Chris Capuano excited to start; Chase Whitley sent to bullpen
NEW YORK — Chris Capuano’s only major-league action this year came in 28 relief appearances with the Red Sox.
But manager Joe Girardi said Friday that Capuano will start for the Yankees Saturday against the Blue Jays. Because, of course, that’s how things have worked in The Bronx this season.
Capuano, a lefty, will displace righty Chase Whitley, who will move to the bullpen after an up-and-down stint in the rotation. The Yankees designated righty Chris Leroux for assignment earlier Friday.
Capuano, 35, said he’s excited to be back in a starting role. His last four outings were starts within the farm system of Colorado, which traded him to the Yankees for cash Thursday. He threw 97 pitches in his final start and, Girardi said, he’ll be expected to remain a starter while in pinstripes.
Getting used to the relief routine wasn’t easy for Capuano, who started the year hot but had a rough week that got him cut from Boston.
“Being in the bullpen should be less taxing on your arm,” Capuano said. “I found the routine — actually, the volume of throwing seemed more … I thought from an arm-strength standpoint that last month my stuff felt a little bit flat. I wasn’t as sharp as Iw as used to being in the first two months.
“It was kind of nice to hit the reset button. I had about a week where I took a breath and got back into that routine and starting again and to the minor leagues where everything is much simpler and you kind of get to know yourself again. It was a great experience.”
Capuano will be the 10th different starting pitcher the Yankees have used in 2014.
Four of the five starters from their Opening Day rotation. CC Sabathia (knee) and Ivan Nova (elbow) are each out for the season. The status of Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) is unknown. And Michael Pineda (back) isn’t expected to return until mid-August at the soonest.
Whitley, 25, was a career reliever before being converted to a starter at Triple-A this season. He, too, started off strong, but struggled in his final few starts before throwing six shutout innings in his last start against Texas on Tuesday.