Can’t make too much of the Yankees rotation on February 22, but for now it’s the only thing we know about the most uncertain part of the roster. In the competition to fill the final two starting spots, Bartolo Colon will have the first chance to impress.
“I feel ready,” Colon said through a translator. “I pitched a lot in the winter, and I know I pitched very good. I’m ready to demonstrate to the Yankees that I’m ready to pitch.”
It was that winter success that led the Yankees to sign Colon, and it was that winter experience that led Joe Girardi to choose him for the spring opener. Girardi said Colon is “possibly a little more ready” than some of the other starters.
This morning, though, while Colon was pitching on the back field, Girardi was on the main field watching Freddy Garcia.
“He looked pretty good to me,” Girardi said. “As I’ve said all along, Freddy knows how to pitch, and he knows how to compete. He knows what he has to do to get ready. He threw a lot of strikes and he mixed his pitches and he looked OK.”
• Girardi said the current rotation alignment of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes — in that order — is not necessarily indicative of the way the rotation will line up in April. “Things might bounce around a little bit, but right now that’s how we have them lined up,” Girardi said.
• Girardi has previously said Sergio Mitre will start games this spring, but Girardi said he hasn’t mapped out when Mitre might make his first start. “I’m not out that far,” he said. So far we only know the first six starters. Mitre will work out of the bullpen for now.
• Will Mariano Rivera throw a bullpen tomorrow? “I don’t know exactly,” Girardi said. “That’s not a question I ask on a daily basis, when Mo is going to throw. I know he’ll be ready when we leave here.”
• Girardi said it’s too early to know much about Mark Prior, but he liked what he saw out of Prior — and Boone Logan — during today’s early morning live batting practice sessions. “I thought (Prior) threw the ball pretty good,” Girardi said. “To me it’s still early. This is a guy that hasn’t pitched a lot lately, and it’s still early, but I thought he threw the ball OK. So did Booney.”
• Speaking of guys throwing to hitters: “I’ve actually been really happy with the way our guys have thrown BP, collectively as a group,” Girardi said. “I haven’t seen everyone because I’m on one field, but I’ve been pleased.”
• The Yankees did some team fielding drills this morning. There was a player at every position — some taking turns at a position — and the pitcher would pretend to throw a pitch, at which point Tony Pena would shoot a fly ball with a ball machine. He spread the fly balls to different players, including infielders, and everyone reacted accordingly (backing up, hitting the cutoff man, covering bases, etc). Nothing unusual or especially insightful, just the first the Yankees have done that sort of full-squad drill this spring.
• I only saw the team fielding drills on the main field, didn’t see the half of the team that was going through the same drills in the back. If you’re interested, here’s the defensive alignment on the main field: 1B Teixeira, 2B Russo/Pena, SS Pena/Maruszak, 3B Rodriguez/Laird, LF Golson/Curtis, CF Gardner/Mesa, RF Swisher/Maxwell. Not that I think it matters very much, but thought it was kind of interesting that they had Gardner doing his work in center instead of left.
• During batting practice, groups that aren’t hitting take more ground balls and fly balls, just like during BP during the season. Today, Eric Chavez split his BP defensive drills between third base and first base.
• Speaking of Chavez, it occurred to me today that the Yankees have Brandon Laird in a defensive drills group with Rodriguez and in a hitting group with Chavez. That means, any time Laird is on the field, he’s with either Rodriguez or Chavez, two third basemen who can give the kid plenty of advice about big league success. Eduardo Nunez hits and fields with Derek Jeter.
• Speaking of Nunez, he caught my eye during batting practice today. I saw him hit one ball out to left-center and he seemed to be consistently driving the ball to all fields.
• Jeter likes the Carmelo Anthony trade. “The Knicks made a good trade,” he said. “It was a good job. Carmelo is going to help them out. Everyone in New York is excited about it.”
Associated Press photos of Garcia, Sabathia and Jeter