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Today in Yankees camp

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st08_league.gif [2]Most of the pitchers who threw batting practice today threw two sets of 20 pitches, resting for seven minutes in between.

Chien-Ming Wang lost command of a fastball while facing Derek Jeter and the ball went high over the catcher’s head. Standing next to the cage, Johnny Damon pretended he was about to charge the mound.

“My bad,” Wang said later, tapping his chest. “That would have been a big deal.”

Yes, a very big deal.

Jeter laughed it off. “It wasn’t close,” he said. “Wang and I are still friends.”

Joe Girardi said he has been impressed with LaTroy Hawkins, who has gotten away from using primarily a four-seam fastball and a curveball and is now more of a sinkerball pitcher. “The thing that I’ve seen in all his bullpens is everything is down. He’s a different guy than we saw a couple of years ago,” Girardi said.

The manager also has praise for Billy Traber and Jon Albeladejo. I asked him what young pitchers have caught his eye beyond the Big Three and he mentioned Dan McCutchen, Mark Melancon and Steven White.

I usually try and stay in the clubhouse when it’s open to the media. But I bailed out to watch Melancon pitch BP. He’s aggressive with his fastball and has a big curveball, the kind you usually don’t see from power pitchers. He’s a big, broad-shouldered guy and seems to have that attack mentality. He looked like a linebacker coming off the mound.

You hear from a lot of Yankees officials that Melancon could be the next Joba. But he has thrown only six pro innings and had Tommy John surgery 15 months ago. The Yankees will probably start him with Class A Tampa and see what he can do from there.