Two years ago, LaTroy Hawkins came into spring training with the Yankees and pitched 8.2 Grapefruit League innings without allowing an earned run. When he came to pitch in a minor league game that spring, a group of reporters asked him what he thought about his impressive numbers. His response was classic.
“Spring don’t mean sh….”
Well, spring doesn’t mean very much. That was his point. Three months later, the Yankees dumped Hawkins and his 5.71 regular season ERA on the Astros, and he actually rebounded to pitch pretty well in Houston.
This spring, it’s Sergio Mitre who’s putting up impressive spring numbers, but spring don’t mean (much), and Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland have said they’re evaluating their pitchers on other factors. It seems clear that they prefer Mitre over Chad Gaudin — even though it’s Gaudin who pitched better last season — so what might have tipped the scales in Mitre’s favor?
He’s further removed from surgery: “Last year I felt good early when I was coming back from Tommy John and toward the later months of the year, I just kind of fatigued,” Mitre said. “The offseason really helped. Nothing hurts right now.”
His sinker is moving more: “I think the pitches are the same,” Mitre said. “I think the only thing that’s different is there might be more life to it as opposed to being flatter.”
He’s throwing harder: “His velocity is better,” Joe Girardi said. “He doesn’t seem to fatigue as easily. There is a difference.”
His command is better: “He’s a different guy,” Jorge Posada said. “You can tell that he’s healthy and the ball is just coming out of his hand a lot better. He’s throwing strikes. Location, that tells you that he’s back on track… He’s putting it wherever he wants.”
That’s an Associate Press photo.