Archive for February, 2011
Today’s Lineup at Phillies • 02.27.11
Who’s No. 2 (at catcher)? • 02.26.11
Russell Martin is slated to catch his first game of the spring by the middle of next week, so assuming that he is healthy and capable of being the team’s starting catcher, who is the best fit as his backup?
Francisco Cervelli, who started today, is the incumbent but there’s plenty of competition. Jesus Montero will catch today and Austin Romine had a hit in relief of Cervelli this afternoon.
There are some who believe a player is better off playing every day in the minors than being a backup in the majors, but my feeling is that if Montero (or, I suppose, Romine) shows he is the better player this spring than big-league experience is a valuable asset to have, too. If Montero is playing well a month from now, I’d take him on the roster.
For his part, Cervelli says he’s not taking anything for granted despite having been a serviceable backup last year.
“I don’t feel like I’m the No. 2 now,” Cervelli said. “I never feel comfortable. When you feel comfortable, a lot of bad things can happen. … There are a lot of talented guys here.”
Cervelli said he worked out harder this winter than he ever has, joining Robinson Cano in the Dominican for two months. “I killed the gym,” he said, and called it “the best decision” to spend more time with Cano.
“He’s one of the guys you want to follow,” Cervelli said.
* That’s an AP shot of Montero.
When he first got into pro ball, Joba Chamberlain would come set with his hands at his waist. Over the next few years, though, he began to raise them, holding them at his chest instead. He isn’t sure why he made the change, really, but after working this winter on getting his hands to their old position Chamberlain feels like his pitching motion is back in a groove.
He worked easily through a perfect third inning, striking out Wilson Valdez with a sharp slider.
“I had some good nerves today, which was exciting for me,” he said afterward. “I was able to pitch off my fastball, which sometimes I get away from.”
There has been – as always – plenty of questions surrounding Chamberlain, whether it’s his weight or his role or whether the Yankees will keep him or trade him down the road. Bottom line? Whatever happens, any situation will be better if Chamberlain is pitching more effectively, and today was as good a start as he could have wanted.
The Derby begins (and other postgame notes) • 02.26.11
Francisco Cervelli spent two months this winter working out with Robinson Cano in the Dominican Republic – “I killed the gym,” he said – and he remembers being impressed with how Bartolo Colon was pitching when Cervelli watched winter ball games on television. The Colon that Cervelli caught this afternoon, though, wasn’t nearly as sharp as the one he saw on TV.
“He’s not there yet,” Cervelli said.
Of course, there’s plenty of time. As Joe Girardi said, the Yankees don’t have to make a decision on their Rotation Derby for about a month. But Colon, who didn’t pitch at all in 2010, was mostly pleased with his performance after allowing a run on two hits in two innings. He said he wants to work on getting his sinker to be more effective against lefthanders – an issue that was highlighted by Ben Francisco’s smoked line drive that went for a triple off a sinker that didn’t sink.
“I’m just trying to get it on the inside of the plate,” Colon said through an interpreter. Asked how close he feels to being that pitcher that won the Cy Young for the Angels in 2005, Colon said, “I feel that I’m real close. In the Dominican, I felt I was right there.”
We’ll see. Colon will pitch again next week, but before that the Yankees will look at Ivan Nova (tomorrow), Sergio Mitre (tomorrow) and Freddy Garcia (Thursday), as well as the kids. “To me, the important thing is to let it play out,” Girardi said of the competition. “You don’t want to jump to any conclusions.”
• Girardi had the same reaction that most of you probably did when he saw Mark Teixeira get hit by a pitch in his first at-bat of the spring. “I was saying, ‘Already?'” Girardi said. Fortunately, Teixeira is OK – though you could see a nasty bruise on the edge of his right big toe when he took off his sock – and said he knows it’s just part of the drill. “I get hit all the time,” he said.
• I’ll have more on Joba Chamberlain later but suffice it to say he was pleased with his clean inning. He was surprised to hear he hit 94-95 mph on the radar gun this early (“it felt like I was throwing bowling balls, to be honest with you,” he said) and admitted he hadn’t been up that high this soon in five or six years.
• Girardi said that Mitre, Boone Logan and Dellin Bettances will be among the pitchers following Nova tomorrow in Clearwater.
• Those of you still watching late saw Jorge Vazquez crush a home run over the batter’s eye in center field in the seventh inning and when Girardi was asked if he’d ever seen someone hit one that far, he said, “Noooooo.” What did Girardi know about Vazquez coming into camp? “I knew he could swing the bat.”
• Russell Martin, the only regular who didn’t play today, will likely be the DH on Monday and then get behind the plate on Wednesday or Thursday.
• Andrew Brackman will do some physical tests tomorrow and if all goes well could throw again on Monday.
* That’s an AP shot of Bartolo.
Spring Training Game 1: Yankees vs. Phillies • 02.26.11
RHP Bartolo Colon (Did not pitch in 2010)
LHP Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 in 2010)
TIME/TV/RADIO: 1:05 p.m., YES Network, WCBS
WEATHER: Another beautiful day in Florida. Medium breeze, a few clouds and temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s.
UMPIRES: HP Mark Carlson, 1B Mark Wegner, 2B Paul Emmel, 3B Toby Basner
ON THE LINE: Big picture? Not a whole lot. But this is the opening day of The Rotation Derby, with Bartolo Colon getting first crack at impressing.
ALSO PITCHING TODAY: Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, David Phelps, Hector Noesi and Eric Wordekemper
RUSSELL WAITS: The only regular not in the lineup is Russell Martin, who is expected to get in a game at DH early next week before likely making his catching debut on Wednesday or Thursday.
SECOND GROUP: Each regular is likely to get a couple of at-bats before being replaced. The backups listed, by position, are: Romine (C), Vazquez (1B), Russo (2B), Nunez (SS), Laird (3B), Curtis (LF), Golson (CF), Maxwell (RF), Jones (DH).
A LONG ROAD: This is the first of 32 spring training games for the Yankees and they’ll play them in 32 days … but with two off days. There are split-squad games scheduled on March 7 and March 11.
REMEMBERING THE BOSS: The Yankees will honor George Steinbrenner with a pregame ceremony today. The ceremony will be carried on YES.
UPDATE, 1:02 p.m.: Long, loud ovation for Yogi Berra at the end of the alumni introductions.
UPDATE, 1:07 p.m.: Tino Martinez, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter took turns reading the inscription on the plaque below the Steinbrenner statue, followed by a video tribute to the Boss.
UPDATE, 1:18 p.m.: Nice job by Haley Swindal on the anthem and a relatively well-timed flyover finished off the pregame festivities. We’re ready for baseball.
UPDATE, 1:23 p.m.: Let the record show the Yankees opened their spring season at 1:23 under a warm, clear, 73 degree day. Happy Baseball everybody.
UPDATE, 1:36 p.m.: And a great catch by Brett Gardner up against the left field fence ends the first for Bartolo Colon, who looks slimmer – the pinstripes, natch – out on the mound. No runs, one hit.
UPDATE, 1:40 p.m.: Teixeira reaches on a HBP – Hamels spiked one off Tex’s left foot – but the Yankees get nothing as A-Rod flies to deep center to end the inning. Just FYI, Romine is the back-up catcher today; I adjusted the post above.
UPDATE, 1:48 p.m.: Two innings, one run for Colon, who figures to be done for the day. Not dominant, not awful – so-so start to The Rotation Derby.
UPDATE, 2:03 p.m.: The Phillies have been cut! The Phillies have been cut! Nice piece of hitting from Cervelli to serve – if you’ll pardon the blatant play on words – a ball down the left-field line after Cano reached on an error. It’s 1-1 and Joba is on.
UPDATE, 2:14 p.m.: Maxwell in right, Curtis in left, Golson in center and Robertson in after Joba has a clean inning. Still 1-1.
UPDATE, 2:37 p.m.: Most regulars out now and young prospect David Phelps on the mound for the Yankees. It’s still 1-1 in the fifth.
Each year the players’ union sends its officials on a tour of all 30 big league camps and this morning was the Steinbrenner Field stop. After meeting with the Yankees for about two hours, union head Michael Weiner talked with reporters in the hallway outside the home clubhouse.
My impression is that for the average fan, the machinations of the union/owners relationship isn’t exactly riveting. And if the current NFL situation is any barometer, the only thing most fans care about is whether the games will be played or not.
Along those lines, Weiner said he was optimistic about reaching a new agreement with management before the CBA expires at the end of this year, but was quick to add he is ready for anything. “Just this week I’ve seen a general manager talking about a salary cap and I’ve seen a national baseball writer talking about rumblings of contraction,” he said. “Are we optimistic in a sense? Yes. But do we take anything for granted? Absolutely not.”
To me, the best indicator that there won’t be a real threat of a work stoppage for baseball is that there isn’t a real hot-button issue between the sides this time. In 1994, the salary cap was out front; in 2001-02, it was all about drug testing. This time, “it doesn’t appear that anyone is trying to re-invent the wheel,” Weiner said.
A quiet morning before a busy afternoon • 02.26.11
Greetings from a quiet (for now) Steinbrenner Field. There are a few workers in the stadium wiping down the seats and – no kidding – I saw a woman scrubbing the stainless steel doors on the elevators. It’s a big day here in Tampa.
Right now the Yankees are in their clubhouse for the annual meeting with the players’ association. That figures to last until 10:30 or so. During the open clubhouse period this morning there were a number of familiar faces, including Mike Myers and Tony Clark – two of the best guys I’ve ever covered – who now work for the MLBPA.
In terms of news, there isn’t much to tell you: Andrew Brackman said he’s feeling better and everyone else looks ready to finally get in a game. As you see, the lineup was posted quite early and there’s a full list of replacements too, since the starters will come out after a few at-bats (I’ll have the breakdown in the game post).
The Phillies made a slight tweak to their lineup, leaving Jimmy Rollins back in Clearwater. They’ll run out this order instead: Orr 4, Gload DH, Ibanez 7, Howard 3, Francisco 8, Brown 9, Larish 5, Schneid 2, Valdez 6. Cole Hamels is pitching.
For all you planning to watch on TV at home, I can report that I’ve seen Michael Kay and Kim Jones on the premises, and Suzyn Waldman is here as well prepping for the first radio broadcast of the season. I’ll have an update in a little bit after we talk to union head Michael Weiner, then the game post will be up around noonish.
Keep checking back. Baseball is four hours away!
Today’s lineup vs. Phillies • 02.26.11
Torre to join MLB and other assorted links • 02.25.11
Earlier this afternoon MLB sent out an email saying that Bud Selig will have a “major announcement” tomorrow and word is that Joe Torre will be introduced as the new executive vice president for operations. It’s a great job for Torre and a great hire for MLB, who will surely benefit from Torre’s history in the game and strong communication skills. Torre still lives in LA, but you’d have to figure business will bring him to New York some, so maybe we’ll see him at Yankee Stadium now and again?
In other Friday night links …
• If you haven’t seen it already – and I know Chad mentioned it the other day – the great Harvey Araton did a terrific piece on Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry. If you’re a Yankees fan, it’s pretty much a guaranteed ear-to-ear grin.
• Apparently there’s a movie in the works about former Yankee Mike Kekich and the whole wife-swapping saga of the 1970’s. Not surprisingly, Kekich would prefer that the movie not be made.
• Still angry about Cliff Lee going to the Phillies? You’re not alone. Paul Simon is mad, too.
• The Red Sox and Phillies are right there with the Yankees in terms of projected Opening Day payrolls.
Have a great night. Check back tomorrow for plenty of blogging on the – can you believe it? – first game action of the season.
The New York Yankees will hold a special ceremony to honor George M. Steinbrenner III, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., prior to the team’s spring training opener vs. the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, February 26.
The Yankees are asking all fans to arrive early and be in their seats by 12:40 p.m. with the ceremony scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m.
The George M. Steinbrenner High School marching band will begin the ceremony with a special performance followed by a video tribute in honor of the former Yankees owner who passed away last July.
The text on the plaque on the statue of Mr. Steinbrenner located in front of the stadium named in his honor will be recited. Then, prior to a moment of silence, the Steinbrenner family will lay a rose at home plate in honor of Mr. Steinbrenner.
Mr. Steinbrenner’s granddaughter Haley Swindal, will sing the national anthem, while service men and women from MacDill Air Force Base unfurl a giant American Flag in the outfield. The colors will be presented by the Joint Services Color Guard from MacDill Air Force Base. There will also be a fly over by two F18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va.
* That’s an AP shot of the Steinbrenner statue that stands just outside the Yankees complex in Tampa.