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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pregame notes: Spring training blessing in disguise

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes on Jul 20, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

AlbyYou might remember Jonathan Albaladejo’s spring training. It was beyond awful. Probably the worst spring of anyone in Yankees camp. He pitched five times, got eight outs, and allowed 10 earned runs on 16 hits.

“Nobody here has seen something like that,” Albaladejo said. “It was terrible.”

It was his two-seamer — the go-to pitch that originally got him to the big leagues — that was being knocked around, and when Albaladejo was sent down to the minor league complex, he decided he had to make a change. He couldn’t keep getting beat on the same pitch over and over again, so he started throwing his four-seamer. That’s the pitch that seems to have made all the difference.

It’s not so much velocity, Albaladejo said, it’s control. He can spot the pitch, and he’s been mixing it with his usual slider and an improving curveball. He started mixing the two-seamer again in the past month or so, and it’s been effective.

“That struggle in spring training probably helped me learn how to pitch, I guess it was to my advantage,” he said.

I find it hard to believe, but Albaladejo said he wasn’t getting antsy in Scranton. His numbers are overwhelming, but he kept waiting for an opportunity. “I just want to do my job in Triple-A,” he said. “And whenever they decide they need me, I’ll be ready.”

Here’s the guy they call Alby talking pregame. He very nearly cursed at one point, but he managed to censor himself.

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• Sergio Mitre said he feels good after last night’s final rehab start with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was asked about filling Andy Pettitte’s spot on the team: “I’m trying to fill my own spot right now,” he said. “I’ve been out for a while. That’s going to be a tough loss for the next month. I’m not trying to fill anybody’s show, especially his. They’re pretty big.”

• How does losing Pettitte affect Phil Hughes and his pitch limit? “The way we treat Phil is going to be the way we treat Phil whether Andy is healthy or not,” Joe Girardi said.

• Albaladejo has been used primarily as a long-ish reliever when he’s been in New York. That might not be the case this time. “He gives us another option considered more of a one-inning guy,” Girardi said. “Maybe you push him a little bit beyond that, but as a closer down there, that’s basically what he’s been doing.”

• Another day, another question about Joba Chamberlain. “At times he doesn’t get out there as far as he needs to get out there (in his delivery),” Girardi said. “What happens is his fastball drifts and he doesn’t have the depth on his slider. So we need to make those mechanics more consistent.”

• There aren’t many specifics about Pettitte’s road back from this groin injury — he hasn’t met with Dr. Ahmad yet — but Girardi did give an idea of what makes this injury different from a pitcher, who has to worry about striding toward the plate over and over again. “The difficult thing with a groin strain for a pitcher is, not only does it have to heal, but then you have to build it back up,” Girardi said.

No move has been made to fill Albaladejo’s spot in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

UPDATE, 6:06 p.m.: Angels lineup

Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Maicer Izturis 3B
Jeff Mathis C

RHP Sean O’Sullivan (0-0, 1.29)

Scranton Times-Tribune picture of Albaladejo.

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