The difference between a spring training game and a regular season game was on display in today’s seventh inning. That’s when Dellin Betances got into a bases-loaded, two-out jam and ran the count full against Tim Beckham. When he missed with ball four, the Rays scored their only run of the game.
Debacle of a performance? Not necessarily.
“He got in a little bit of trouble in the end, but that was kind of neat to see,” Joe Girardi said.
Betances was as good as ever through his first five hitters, getting B.J. Upton, Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria in order in the sixth inning. He started the seventh by striking out Manny Ramirez and Matt Joyce. Those are five pretty good hitters, and the kid got them all.
“After I gave up that two-out double, I felt like I didn’t have a feel for my pitches,” Betances said. “I felt like trying to think too much instead of just throwing the ball, and I got away from what I was doing early on.”
He got a little rattled. It was Casey Kotchman who doubled, then Betances walked two batters to load the bases and send Larry Rothschild to the mound.
“He was just trying to say, don’t try to do too much,” Betances said. “Just put the ball there. He basically told me to change up. Try to throw breaking ball first pitch, and I did. It was just one of those days where I couldn’t find the location after the first inning and two-thirds.”
It wasn’t a bad at-bat against Beckham, but Betances lost the battle and missed a spot. He came close to a strike three pitch at one point but didn’t get the call — I thought it was a ball, but it was close — and ultimately Adam Warren came in to clean up the mess and end the inning with a strikeout. But the game wasn’t a waste for Betances, and the Yankees didn’t seem especially disappointed with the fact he finally struggled in this atmosphere.
“I thought he threw the ball pretty good,” Girardi said.
• Immediately after Garcia, Ivan Nova pitched three scoreless innings. It’s still incredibly early, but those two still feel like favorites for these rotation openings.
• Now that Garcia has thrown, all of the rotation candidates — depending on whether you count Andrew Brackman — have gotten in a game and should be stretched out a little more next time through. “You just want to see them be more crisp,” Girardi said. “Sometimes pitchers in this time of the year will go through a little bit of a dead arm phase. We might have to watch that a little bit. I’m not saying we will, but you just want see them get crisp, their breaking balls be sharper and more consistency.”
• Brackman will throw a simulated game on Saturday.
• Girardi has no concerns about Russell Martin playing with a knee brace tomorrow. “He did his drills with it the other day and I didn’t see it really hinder him,” Girardi said. “I think sometimes you feel a little bit more stable mentally with it as well. You know it’s not going to give out.”
• Greg Golson played for the first time since being hit in the head during live batting practice.
• We should probably get used to seeing Eric Chavez getting time at first base. ” I don’t really have a huge concern about him playing third base,” Girardi said. “I will give him some reps at third base, but you’ll see me play him (at first) more in the spring than at third base. He looks good. He’s looked good. He’s picked Tex’s brain a lot, and Tino’s brain a lot. Some times at drills we’ll have Tino follow him around so they can talk about it. But he looks comfortable.”
• Speaking of Chavez, he had one of only four Yankees hits today. Curtis Granderson, Kevin Russo and Gustavo Molina also singled, but for this wasn’t a good day for offense. “There were some balls hit pretty hard today and I think the wind affected that,” Girardi said.
• Rule 5 pick Robert Fish was brought in to face one lefty, Casey Kotchman, and Fish struck him out. Obviously, Fish is still a long shot for this bullpen, but he did his job today. The other Yankees Rule 5 pick, Daniel Turpen, followed by allowing a single before striking out two.
• D.J. Mitchell wasn’t scheduled to throw until tomorrow, but when the game went into a 10th inning, Mitchell got the call and pitched a scoreless inning.
• Johnny Damon on whether he was close to coming back to the Yankees this winter: “I don’t really think it was close at all. I think they were very happy with their outfield situation and thought Posada was not going to be catching much. It really made it easy as far as their decision and as far as mine. I’m not ready to be a part-time player in this game.”
Associated Press photos of Montero, Nova and Pena; Montero blocked the plate and finished off the play to get an out at the plate in the third inning