The Yankees have had a desperate need for left-handed options in the bullpen.
Right now, the only option the Yankees have is Boone Logan, who is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA.
The Yankees have been without two of their top left-handers out of the bullpen for most of the season in Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano.
On Thursday, both Marte and Feliciano took steps with hopes that they can come back for the Yankees in 2011 and possibly pitch at the end of September or even pitch in October.
Both players pitched in relief as part of their first rehab assignment games in Tampa.
Feliciano looked impressive, pitching an inning, allowing no hits, no runs and striking out a batter with 13 pitches.
Marte was not so impressive, pitching two-thirds of an inning, allowing six hits, six runs, walking none and striking out none in 22 pitches.
While that line would scare most, it's the first time that Marte has thrown to live batters in at least a year (his last game was July 7, 2010), so let's chalk it up to Marte working off the rust.
Marte's season in 2010 ended when he needed shoulder surgery and has been recovering since.
Yankees fans know how important Marte is to their bullpen, as he dominated the Philadelphia Phillies hitters in the 2009 World Series.
Getting Marte back for September would be nice, but getting Marte back for October would be even more important.
Feliciano was signed in the offseason to a two-year deal by the Yankees after spending the first nine years of his career with the cross-town New York Mets.
He's been on the disabled list for the entire season due to a strain in his left rotator cuff. Surgery was originally thought to be needed, but Feliciano has been rehabbing the injury, and now, he's pitching to live batters.
If the Yankees can get Feliciano back in time for the playoffs, that would be a huge lift for their bullpen.
If the Yankees can get both Feliciano and Marte back in time for the playoffs, that would be an even bigger lift to the team whose bullpen has been depleted for most of the season.
Rafael Soriano was out for a good portion of the season with shoulder inflammation, Joba Chamberlain tore a ligament in his elbow, which required Tommy John surgery, and is out for the season, plus the injuries to Marte and Feliciano.
They got help from the additions of Luis Ayala and Cory Wade, plus David Robertson has stepped up in the setup role.
With the standings shaping the way they are, the Yankees are on track to return to the postseason in 2011 and with the potential situation of facing strong left-handed hitters like Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Josh Hamilton, getting every left-handed reliever in the bullpen is necessary.
Logan has done everything he could for the Yankees, but he can't do it all by himself. He could use some help.
If they could get that help from both Marte and Feliciano, that would make a good Yankees bullpen an even stronger one, and the one they expected to have when the season started in March.
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