Archive for February, 2011
I get a lot of emails (and Tweets – I’m @SamBorden, by the way) from people asking about how this particular pitcher looks or what the Yankees think of that young lefty. It’s understandble, of course – this is what spring training is all about. But when Larry Rothschild talked to a group of reporters earlier today, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a post with his thoughts on a slew of the Yankee pitchers.
So, if you’ve been wondering about one of the off-the-radar pitchers for the Yankees – i.e. those guys not named Sabathia or Hughes or Burnett or Rivera – then click after the jump for the pitching coach’s early opinions …
A Friday buffet of news and notes • 02.25.11
Another series of quick-hitters as we move towards – finally – some actual baseball.
• For all you lineup-trackers, Joe Girardi said that all the regulars except Russell Martin will play in tomorrow’s opener against the Phillies. Look for them to get a couple at-bats, then be split into groups – one that plays Sunday in Clearwater, the other that goes to Lakeland on Monday to face the Tigers. Francisco Cervelli will start tomorrow with Jesus Montero going Sunday.
• Here’s the deal with Andrew Brackman – he’s shut down for a few days after complaining of tightness in his groin following his throwing session on Wednesday. Girardi said he’ll do some physical tests on Sunday and if all is good, he’ll get back in action. “It only becomes a setback if it’s a long period of time” that he’s out, Girardi said.
• As for Martin, he will likely play a game at DH early next week then get behind the plate on Thursday or Friday.
• Sounds like neither Mariano Rivera or Rafael Soriano will be in action during the first week of games. For Rivera, that’s not particularly interesting; it’s what he’s done for years. I was a little surprised to hear that about Soriano, though. Girardi said it’s not anything health-related and that Soriano simply said that a little less work was his preference. “I always believe guys have a pretty good understanding of their bodies,” Girardi said.
• Bartolo Colon, who starts tomorrow, will throw two innings or about 35 pitches. He’ll be followed by Joba Chamberlain, Dave Robertson, David Phelps, Hector Noesi and Eric Wordekemper.
• There was no radar gun on Mark Prior’s throwing session but Girardi guessed Prior is throwing near 90 mph. Obviously, Prior is still a longshot to make the team. “I think he understands that there’s a lot of work to be done on his part,” Girardi said. “He has to prove that he can stay healthy and have a good camp. As an organization, you know that you’re going to go through a lot of pitchers over the course of a season. And if the opportunity’s not when we break, it could be later on.”
• Wondering what the Phillies lineup will be tomorrow? According to the Phillies, it’ll be: Rollins SS, Gload DH, Ibanez LF, Howard 1B, Francisco CF, Brown RF, Larish 3B, Schneider C, Valdez 2B.
Send a kid to a game • 02.25.11
Hi everyone, Chad here. Sam’s covering for me this weekend while I’m in a wedding back home in Missouri.
With games starting tomorrow, I just wanted to jump on the blog to post a reminder about an idea that started last spring when a reader named Mike Lawrence donated some extra Yankees spring training tickets to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa.
After Mike gave away two of his tickets, he heard back from BBBS.
Scott and I really appreciate the generosity of the individual donating those tickets. Scott loves sports but I don’t think he knew how packed that game was going to be until we got there. I think that was the spring training game of the year.
Seems like a great idea to me. If you have tickets, I hope you’re able to make it to the game. But if you can’t get to the stadium one day, you might as well use those tickets to send a kid to a game. Feel free to contact Mike or just contact BBBS directly.
Nunez, Phelps pick up organizational honors • 02.25.11
Eduardo Nunez was named 2010 Yankees minor league player of the year while David Phelps was named pitcher of the year. Here’s the release from the Yankees.
YANKEES NAME INF EDUARDO NUNEZ AND RHP DAVID PHELPS WINNERS OF THE
2010 KEVIN LAWN “PLAYER OF THE YEAR” AND “PITCHER OF THE YEAR” AWARDS
The New York Yankees today announced that infielder Eduardo Nunez and right-handed pitcher David Phelps were named winners of the Yankees’ 2010 Kevin Lawn Award as the Yankees’ minor league “Player of the Year” and “Pitcher of the Year,” respectively. The two players will receive their awards prior to the Yankees-Blue Jays game on March 19 at George M. Steinbrenner Field, scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m.
The annual awards are dedicated to Kevin O’Brien Lawn – the son of longtime Yankees Vice President and Chief of Operations Jack Lawn – who passed away in 1999.
Nunez, 23, batted .289 (134-for-464) with 55 runs, 25 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 118 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010, earning a spot on the midseason and postseason International League All-Star rosters. He led all Scranton/WB batters in hits and stolen bases, ranked second in doubles and recorded the third-highest average among all Yankees farmhands. Nunez was promoted to the Major League level on August 19, where he hit .280 (14-for-50) with 12 runs, one home run and seven RBI in 30 games. Following the season, he was named by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect, the “Best Defensive Infielder” and possessing the “Best Infield Arm” in the Yankees organization.
Phelps, 24, combined to go 10-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 26 games (25 starts) with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010. He began the season with Trenton and went 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 14 starts before being promoted to Scranton/WB on July 2. At the time of his promotion, he led the Eastern League in strikeouts and ranked second in ERA, earning EL midseason All-Star honors. With Scranton/WB, Phelps went 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). Following the season, the Missouri native was tabbed by Baseball America as having the “Best Slider” in the Yankees organization.
Each player will be presented with a trophy designed by C & C Awards as well as a designer watch, courtesy of Manfredi Jewels.
The Yankees aren’t officially beginning their full-team workout until 10:30 but Mark Prior and Manny Banuelos have been throwing live batting practice on the main field to a group that includes Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli.
Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are watching the pitchers on the grass with Billy Eppler among the crew standing behind the cage.
There is also a little bench set up behind a screen on the infield. That’s where Yogi Berra is sitting.
UPDATE, 9:55 a.m.: I added a picture to the post (another extraordinary iPhone effort) so you can sort of make out Yogi sitting in the middle of the infield. Also, nice job by Marc Carig noting that Andrew Brackman won’t pitch in any of the first few exhibition games because he’s got a hamstring issue.
Good morning from Steinbrenner Field, where crews are already working throughout the stadium to get it ready for tomorrow’s Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies. The main stadium is closed to fans today so everything can be shined and polished, but the Yankees will have workouts (though look for it to be a shorter day than usual).
Alas, there is no team-building outing planned – so save those quarters for the arcade – but I’m sure there will be plenty of talk about the fourth/fifth starter derby which begins tomorrow. Gotta love the spring training notes packets: Tomorrow’s starters are listed as Bartolo Colon (did not pitch in 2010) vs. Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 ERA). Baseball games – finally – are not so far away.
Back with much more later.
* That’s a (pretty poor) iPhone shot of one crew member up on a ladder working on the “K” in the Yankees sign.
Practicing for just in case • 02.24.11
Derek Jeter has always downplayed his famous “flip” play in Game 3 of the 2001 division series with the A’s, saying that running along the first-base line wasn’t anything special because that is where he was supposed to be in case of an overthrow from the outfielder.
Some people have refused to believe it. But if you were standing by the back field at the Yankees complex earlier this morning, you could have seen the Yankees practicing that exact play. Third-base coach Rob Thomson stood on the infield grass and rapped liners into the right-field corner as a line of outfielders took turns digging the ball out and throwing it to the cutoff man while the infielders went to their respective positions … including the shortstop running the Jeter route to the first-base line each time.
Like most folks, I was – and still am – amazed by that play, but the more I watched the drill today the more Jeter’s assertions make sense. “Where else would the shortstop be?” he has always said.
OK, fine. But it still looked weird seeing Ramiro Pena do it.
* That’s an AP shot of Jeter and Jorge Posada and Jeremy Giambi and … well, you know the rest.
Joe Girardi was asked earlier today if he ever just “clicked” with a pitcher and he mentioned two very different guys in terms of how they pitched: David Cone, who threw all types of different pitches; and Jon Lieber, who basically threw two. To Girardi, that just showed how important the personality aspect of the pitcher-catcher relationship is.
“Some guys are hard to talk to during a game, and you may not be able to get their attention for a two- or three-minute conversation,” Girardi said. “Maybe there are two words you can say that makes it click for them. You have to learn all that as a catcher. That rapport is extremely important. It’s a trust.”
Russell Martin is trying to build that trust this spring. In my column for tomorrow’s paper, I wrote about that extra challenge for Martin (in addition to getting himself healthy and getting ready for a full season) and likened the process to speed-dating. Time is short for Martin, who isn’t yet 100 percent healthy, but he has to find ways to connect with his pitchers and learn about what makes them tick.
“Every day I learn something,” Martin said, and he added that having Jorge Posada available to help has been valuable. “He knows all the guys better than anybody here,” Martin said, “so (I) pick his brain for sure.”
If you’re interested, take a listen to the audio from the interview with Martin below.
* I know that might be a little too “artsy” of a photo of Martin and CC Sabathia but I just kind of liked it. I think the shadows are cool.
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.
CC talks cardio, command, Carmelo • 02.24.11
CC Sabathia threw about 30 pitches of live batting practice this morning and reported afterward that all went well, both with his knee and the feel of his motion now that he’s carrying about 25 fewer pounds than in the past. He also said his stamina seems improved.
How intense was the offseason cardio routine that Sabathia used to drop that weight? Sabathia said it was a twice-a-day, bike and running program that involved him getting his heart rate up to 175-180 for a stretch then dropping it to 120-130 eight times in a session.
Suffice it to say, Sabathia doesn’t plan on continuing that type of work during the season though he said he is planning to set up a program that tapers – from the most intense the day after he pitches on down toward his next start.
So, Sabathia was asked, what does that mean for your weight during the season? Does it usually go up or down?
“It depends on the cities we go to,” Sabathia said, laughing. He mentioned Kansas City and Chicago as potential danger cities so, apparently, Sabathia is like – well, almost everyone – in enjoying sublime barbecue and deep-dish pizza.
• In case you’re wondering, CC (a noted NBA aficionado) did watch Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks debut and was impressed. He thinks, however, that “(Chauncey) Billups is going to be the biggest part of that trade.” Raymond Felton, we barely knew ya.
• The clubhouse closed for a Yankees meeting at 9:45 a.m. where the players were going to watch a video presentation from Chad Bohling, the Yankees director of optimal performance. The players are scheduled to be on the field at 10:30.