Tanaka draws attention; Phelps on DL

Trying to find a place to park in the Yankee Stadium garage Monday afternoon was some task. Masahiro Tanaka was at the Stadium for the first time since going on the disabled list, so the Japanese media was on the scene en masse. And, of course, it was much ado about nothing.

Tanaka, who is recovering from a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, played catch. That was it. He said his arm felt fine, but as manager Joe Girardi said, “It’s way too early” to make any kind of serious assessment.

Yet Tanaka had made such a strong impression in the first half of his first major-league season just seeing him in uniform again was reason to rejoice. The Yankees hope there are still plenty of more innings left in that arm later in the season.

The rotation took another hit with David Phelps being placed on the DL because of tendinitis in the area above his right elbow. A second MRI on the elbow revealed inflammation. The righthander will be shut down for two weeks.

So Girardi has another decision to make about how to plug his spot in the rotation. The manager dismissed the idea that Michael Pineda might be ready to take Phelps’ turn, which will be Friday night against the Indians. Girardi said the current plan for Pineda is to make at least two more minor-league starts before the Yanks consider reinstating him, although the skipper did say that plans may change.

Girardi surely wants to wait and see what shape the Yankees are in after this four-game set against the Tigers, which included match-ups against the previous three American League Cy Young Award winners — Max Scherzer Monday night, David Price Tuesday night and Justin Verlander Wednesday night.

In addition to Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova were in the clubhouse. Nova is out for the season after undergoing right elbow surgery. Sabathia was walking on crutches following his right knee surgery.

To the shock of absolutely no one, Brett Gardner was named AL Player of the Week for the period that ended Sunday. The left fielder batted .478 with three doubles, five home runs and seven RBI in 23 at-bats. Ibn addition to homers, Gardner also led the majors last week in slugging percentage (1.261) and total bases (29).

“That’s not surprising,” Girardi said of Gardner’s honor, the second of his career. He was also cited the week ending June 9, 2013.

The homestand that began Monday night will conclude next Sunday with Paul O’Neill Day. As part of the ceremonies, O’Neill will be honored with a Monument Park plaque that will recognize his career. Family members and former teammates are expected to take part in the festivities. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by noon.

O’Neill spent the final nine seasons of his 17-year major-league with the Yankees (1993-2001) and was part of four World Series champions (1996, ’98-2000). He won the AL batting title with a .359 average in 1994 and compiled a .303 average, 304 doubles, 185 home runs and 858 RBI in his Yankees years.

Ticket specials will run Monday (Military Personnel Game), Tuesday, (Military Personnel Game), Wednesday (Military Personnel and Student Game), Thursday (MasterCard half-price, Military Personnel and Senior Citizen Game) and Saturday (Youth Game).

For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Monday, August 4 – Yankees vs. Tigers, 7:05 p.m.
Back-to-School Set Night, presented by PC Richard & Son, to first 18,000 guests, 14 and younger.

Tuesday, August 5 – Yankees vs. Tigers, 7:05 p.m.
Derek Jeter Commemorative Ticket Key Ring Night, presented by Delta Airlines, to first 18,000 guests.

Wednesday, August 6 – Yankees vs. Tigers, 7:05 p.m.
Yankees Luggage Tag Night, presented by The Parking Spot, to first 18,000 guests.

Thursday, August 7 – Yankees vs. Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
Yankees Magnetic Picture Frame Day, presented by Party City, to first 18,000 guests, 14 and younger.

Friday, August 8 – Yankees vs. Indians, 7:05 p.m.
Yankees T-Shirt Night, presented by Living Language, to first 18,000 guests.

Saturday, August 9 – Yankees vs. Indians, 1:05 p.m.
Brian McCann Fathead Day, presented by The Learning Experience, to first 18,000 guests, 14 and younger.

Sunday, August 10 – Yankees vs. Indians, 1:05 p.m.
Yankees Cowboy Hat Day, presented by Pepsi, to first 25,000 guests.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at (877) 469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at (800) 943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call (212) YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

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