Not much going on today, so it was a good opportunity to talk to the two veterans who are trying to pitch their way into the Yankees rotation. It’s too early to know where Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon stand in the competition — “You don’t put a lot of stock into bullpens, especially this early in camp,” Joe Girardi said — but we can get some idea of how they’re feeling in these early days of spring training.
It makes no sense to expect either Garcia or Colon to be what they once were, but the Yankees aren’t looking for dominance at the back of the rotation, they’re looking for dependability. Colon said he touched 94 mph this winter in the Dominican Republic, but that doesn’t mean he’s sitting at that sort of velocity and the Yankees haven’t had radar guns for these early bullpens. Garcia said he’s comfortable when he’s 88 to 89 mph, but he’s gotten into trouble when his fastball drops to 83-84.
Colon: “I feel really happy. I’m not throwing hard like I used to, but I know I’m throwing a lot of strikes.”
Garcia: “Last year my ERA was a little high, but it’s because I had three or four real bad games. Most of the time, I was really happy with the way I threw the ball.”
Any current health concerns?
Both have dealt with their share of injuries the past four years or so, but they’re both pitching now, and both say they’re feeling good. For Colon, weight could to be an issue, but he was a big guy even during his best years. For Garcia, a troublesome shoulder seems to have caused him no problems this winter.
Colon: “I feel really good right now the way I am, but I feel like I need to go down with my weight a little bit more.”
Garcia: “I’m really happy with the way I feel… I’m feeling good. I’m feeling 100 percent.”
Why sign with the Yankees?
To some extent, it’s all about opportunity for both Garcia and Colon. They certainly recognize this as a chance to be in a big league rotation again, and as Colon put it, “They gave me the opportunity to pitch again.” But there was certainly an underlying factor for two aging veterans.
Garcia: “I’m 34 years old. I don’t want to go play on one team that’s in last place all the time. I want to be on a winning team.”
Colon: “There were more offers, but I want to be with a team that’s always in the finals.”
Associated Press photo of Garcia