Under a cloudless sky, the Yankees had their first session of live batting practice today.
With Joe Torre, Brian Cashman and Don Mattingly watching from behind the screen (see photo), the Yankees had their starters and two top prospects pitch on the main field. Here’s a breakdown:
Chien Ming Wang (31 pitches, faced Davis, Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Cano): The Wanger threw 31 pitches and got six ground balls. He had problems keeping the ball down but threw hard and at one point blew a fastball by Jeter that he swung through.
Andy Pettitte (30 pitches, faced Cabrera, Rodriguez, Mientkiewicz, Posada): Pettitte took the mound to loud applause from the fans and look good. A-Rod homered off him to right field but he threw 18 strikes by my count and spotted everything well.
Mike Mussina (35 pitches, faced Mientkiewicz, Posada, Cabrera, Rodriguez): I thought the Moose looked the best of everybody. He threw 27 strikes and there were only a few hard-hit balls.
Kei Igawa (40 pitches, faced Cairo, Nieves, Gonzalez, Phillips): Igawa worked fast, too fast in a way, and threw the most pitches in his 10 minutes. He was “sneaky fast” according to Torre because his fastball is better than it looks out of his hand. He also threw inside and spotted his curveball well. He didn’t throw his best pitch, his change, because his fastball isn’t good enough yet to make the change effective. Igawa seemed pleased afterward. “So-so,” he said in English, although he was grinning.
Carl Pavano (35 pitches, faced Cairo, Nieves, Gonzalez, Phillips): Pavano had good sink on his fastball, worked methodically and threw 23 strikes. He also drilled Gonzalez in the back. He said afterward that it was just another step forward for him. The stadium PA system played the theme from “Rocky” when he took the mound. “I got a chuckle out of that,” he said. The next song was “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin. “(It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled …”)
Phil Hughes (34 pitches, faced Giambi, Chavez, Pratt, Matsui): Phil Franchise threw only half his pitches for strikes by my count. But eight of the strikes were fouled off and only two were put in play. The rest were unhittable. Chavez and Pratt had what looked like singles. As “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera played, Hughes showed a ridiculous curveball and the ability to spot his fastball inside or outside. “You almost never see that at this stage of the spring,” said Ben Davis, who caught him. “He has filthy stuff,” Giambi said. Matsui took the worst swing you’ll ever see him take at a Hughes fastball.
Humberto Sanchez (31 pitches, faced Matsui, Chavez, Pratt and Giambi): Sanchez was all over the place with his command, throwing one over the catcher’s head at one point. But he did get seven swing-and-misses. “Why did Detroit trade him?” Giambi said. “He’s huge and he throws 96.”