Let’s go quick-hit style for today’s notes:
• Russell Martin did some “dry” blocking drills today in the bullpen (i.e. he was simulating the movements without actually blocking balls) and said he was “surprised how good it felt.” He still isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to play in a game. Joe Girardi said Francisco Cervelli will probably be the starting catcher for Saturday’s spring opener.
• There was lots of talk with both Girardi and Martin about what challenges a catcher on a new team faces, particularly when it comes to getting to know his new pitchers. I’ll have more on all of that later (and in tomorrow’s paper) but the best line of the day came from Martin when he was talking about how every pitcher has their own idiosyncrasies. “Pitchers are different, man,” he said. “They are strange birds.”
• FYI, Girardi has “no plans” to use any particular catcher with A.J. Burnett this season, though he did say he likes having his backup catcher frequently work with one pitcher. Which pitcher that is could also depend on who wins the last two spots in the rotation.
• Don’t count on seeing the full lineup on Saturday against the Phillies. Girardi said he may break up the regulars since he is required to bring a certain number of starters to every road spring training game and the Yankees are in Clearwater on Sunday.
• Austin Romine? Still sick. He was hacking badly outside the bullpen area before going in for drills.
• The best part of the drill where Tony Pena crushes line drives at the catchers over and over is that, afterward, when the catcher has just spent five minutes throwing his body in front of missiles, he then has to get up and pick up the balls to put them back in the bucket.
• Steinbrenner Field is closed to fans tomorrow so the Yankees can get it ready for Saturday, but Girardi said there are no plans for any kind of team outing like last year’s trip to the arcade. “We can’t really take away a day from practice right now,” he said.