Sporting shiners, Albaladejo joins club
Game of catch gone awry gives reliever black eyes
TORONTO -- Jonathan Albaladejo looked in the mirror and knew immediately that his callup to the Majors was going to have to wait.
The right-handed reliever was playing catch with Edwar Ramirez on Tuesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when a throw zipped away and hit him above the left eye, causing bruising.
"I'm going to stay here," Albaladejo told himself then.
He was wrong. Despite sporting two black eyes that prompted manager Joe Girardi to call him "a big raccoon," Albaladejo became New York's sixth September callup on Thursday, joining the club at Rogers Centre.
"I asked him today when he came in how he felt throwing, and he said he felt fine," Girardi said. "That's a scary moment, and it has to be somewhat uncomfortable."
Albaladejo last pitched on Wednesday at Buffalo, hurling one inning of relief and giving up a solo home run in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 8-6 victory. He has returned to the Yankees for the first time since late July, having posted a 3-0 record with 11 saves and a 1.54 ERA at Triple-A.
"I started the year and was sent down, and things were going well there," Albaladejo said. "I thought I had a good chance for [being called up in] September. The ball was doing what I wanted it to do. I was happy to get a chance, and it was fun to pitch for a team that was winning."
Albaladejo's recall came as the Yankees anticipate needing to soak up some relief innings. Chad Gaudin made a spot start on Thursday in the series opener against the Jays after venturing 4 1/3 innings in his last such effort, and Joba Chamberlain will be pulled early on Friday under the newest installment of the "Joba Rules."
Albaladejo is 4-1 with a 5.61 ERA in 22 appearances for New York this season, last appearing on July 27 at Tampa Bay. Since being sent down, he said, he has focused on getting ahead in the count so that he will not have to throw fastballs down the middle.
"If you get behind, that's what you have to do," he said. "And [in the Majors] it makes it really, really hard. All of the hitters here are good hitters. It made it tough for me."
As expected, Albaladejo received a lot of good-natured ribbing from his curious teammates. During pregame stretching drills, Nick Swisher yelled loudly for someone to fetch Albaladejo a pair of sunglasses to hide the mess.
"I was expecting that," Albaladejo said. "You come to the stadium with two black eyes, you've got to take it."
The pay boost coming to the Major Leagues from the Minor Leagues certainly helped make it a little more tolerable.
"Maybe he can afford a little bit more makeup here," Girardi said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.