Looking to improve, Capuano accepts 4th assignment

Yankees have recalled lefty three times this year after DFAing him

Looking to improve, Capuano accepts 4th assignment

In what seemed like it would have been a major upset earlier in the month, Chris Capuano pulled on his pinstriped jersey Tuesday afternoon and took part in the Yankees' team photo at Yankee Stadium, digitally preserved for all time as a member of a roster fighting for its playoff future.

Capuano entered in relief that night and did poorly, permitting six runs in two innings of a 15-1 loss to the Astros. By the next morning, he was again having that familiar conversation with the Yanks' braintrust, informed for the fourth time in this unusual season that he was being designated for assignment.

"I know I haven't been as consistent as I'd like to be," Capuano said. "Whatever the Yankees do, that's their prerogative, and I can't worry about it. In terms of an organization, the New York Yankees are first class with the way they do things and the way they treat their players. You just try to do whatever they ask of you."

In that way, Capuano and the Yanks seem to have reached an unspoken understanding. They have issued him the dreaded DFA four times in the past calendar month, the first time coming on July 29. But each time, the veteran left-hander cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

It has proven to be a smart play on Capuano's part. After the first three cuts, the Yankees have found a reason to summon him back to the Majors, where he has served mostly as a long reliever after signing a $5 million deal prior to the season. Capuano has a 7.71 ERA in 18 games (four starts).

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"Cap wants to keep going, and to his benefit, he's been back getting more service time and being back in the big leagues," general manager Brian Cashman said. "If he'd gotten released, he might be sitting on someone else's Triple-A roster. In terms of giving us a long man, he's our best option."

As a result, Capuano's name bizarrely peppers the Yanks' transaction log -- selected on Aug. 12, designated for assignment Aug. 15, selected on Aug. 18, designated for assignment Aug. 22, activated on Aug. 24 and, most recently, designated again on Aug. 26.

Capuano chose an alternate path than first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones, who elected free agency after being designated for assignment for the second time by the Yankees. Jones remains unsigned. Capuano said he did not consider looking for opportunities outside the organization.

"You have to be honest with yourself as an athlete," Capuano said. "After they gave me that opportunity to spot start in Texas [on July 28], and clearly I was just not myself out there, honestly I said, 'I need to go down and get some work.' For me, playing for the New York Yankees is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You try to make the most of it."

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There is a two-day waiting period for clearing waivers, during which Capuano leans on his agent, Casey Close, to handle the administrative work. In this most recent occurrence, Capuano had to press ink to paper on a new Major League player contract, though it was the same agreement they reached over the winter.

Otherwise, Capuano and Close exchange text messages -- short bursts like "Going to Scranton," "Stay ready," "Back to New York" -- that chronicle his status.

"You try to do your laundry, do your packing, prepare for wherever you're headed next," Capuano said. "In those couple of days, you're pretty much on your own. You can find someone to throw with; go throw in Central Park, work out at a gym, whatever you need to do to get your work in that day."

Capuano said that his wife, Sarah, has been helpful and understanding throughout this transient campaign.

"Fortunately, I've got a great wife," Capuano said. "We don't have kids, which makes it a lot easier. You're kind of living out of a suitcase as it is, as a baseball player. Our home is in Arizona, and we always have rented apartments wherever we play. It's kind of no different than packing up and going on a road trip."

After being DFAed on Wednesday, Capuano told the Yankees that he would like to get at least one start -- and preferably two -- with the RailRiders in order to get back on track. Cashman said that the Yanks agreed, but it would not be a surprise if Capuano returns to log more innings after rosters expand on Tuesday.

"[Capuano is] a pro. He hasn't had a chance to get the normal workload that would allow him to show what he's really capable of doing," Cashman said. "It's just the way it has worked out. At the end of the day, we just told him what we feel and what we honestly think. So far, we've been true to our word. Every chance that we've had a chance to pull him back, we've needed him."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.