Yesterday, just as the bullpens and catching drills were breaking up, Joe Girardi and Tony Pena stayed behind with Jesus Montero, slightly tweaking the way he squats. They seemed to be working on Montero’s base, getting his feet just slightly farther apart.
When someone told Girardi it was time for Montero’s group to taking batting practice, Girardi responded instantly.
“I know he can hit,” Girardi said.
A little defensive work was, for the moment, a priority.
During the day, Girardi bounces around a little bit. He spends time watching pitchers in the bullpen, but he’s also been involved in a few of Pena’s infamous — and occasionally brutal — catching drills. Today, Girardi specifically did some work with Russell Martin.
“Tony told me he was going to do some things with him today that I wanted to see,” Girardi said. “It’s just the importance of that relationship, getting to know him better, understanding what he’s all about and what makes him tick. Just trying to get a better grasp on the player.
“You think about the responsibility the catcher has, he’s responsible for a lot of guys. He’s responsible for 12 pitchers and himself, and you kind of want him to be an extension of what we’re trying to do here. That relationship is important.”
• Speaking of Martin, although he’s not quite 100 percent right now, the Yankees are expecting no restrictions when the season starts. “He hasn’t shown me anything physically right now that won’t allow us to play him every day,” Girardi said.
• As of right now, no plan is in place for when Mariano Rivera will finally get in a game. “I don’t have an exact date,” Girardi said. “Larry (Rothschild) is going to sit down and give us an exact date of when he’ll throw. He usually gets in a game sometime around the 15th, maybe a little before.”
• Speaking of Rivera: “He picked a good day to come,” Girardi said. “Today is our first off-day from running.”
• In theory, having Rafael Soriano could ease Rivera’s workload, but Girardi said he’s planning to treat his closer the same as ever. Three days in a row is not out of the question with Rivera, not like it is with most other relievers. “I’ll continue to treat Mo the same,” Girardi said.
• With room for only one long reliever, the Yankees might try to stretch out some of their one-inning relievers this spring. “That’s something you might see guys do a little in spring training, where we ask them to get more than three outs and we stretch them out a little bit,” Girardi said. “You’d like to have a couple guys who can give you multiple innings, so that’s something we’ll have to look at and see how they respond to it.”
• According to Girardi, Phil Hughes’ increased workload might have contributed to his shaky second half. “I don’t realty have a whole lot of concern about that,” Girardi said. “I think part was maybe the increased innings, but I saw what he did the last few starts, which were pretty good. The start against Boston, the start against Minnesota, those were pretty good starts. He seemed to bounce back. That’s one of the reasons we do put limitations on them, because you worry about fatigue.”
• Once a highly touted pitching prospect in the Yankees system, right-hander Christian Garcia was released last season after a series of injuries derailed his promising career. The Yankees are aware that Garcia, 25, has been working out and plans to throw for scouts, but I was told today that the Yankees have no plans of bringing Garcia back to the organization.
• For those of you interested in such things, Brandon Laird’s locker has been moved to the middle of the clubhouse, filling the spot that was supposed to go to Reegie Corona. He was assigned a wall locker near the door. This “news” has no impact on anything, just thought I’d share.
• Yogi Berra will be in camp at some point next week.
Associated Press photos: Girardi with Martin, Rivera stretching, Curtis Granderson and Greg Golson at the minor league complex