Joe Girardi was asked tonight whether he knew many 20-year-olds who would be willing to throw a 3-2 changeup to Kevin Youkilis. When he said no, Girardi was asked if he knew many 30-year-olds who would be willing to throw a 3-2 changeup to Youkilis.
“How old is CC?” he said.
Manny Banuelos wasn’t perfect tonight, but he showed the Yankees — and himself — that he has the stuff to face big league hitters and get them out. He struck out Carl Crawford on a fastball, he got back-to-back ground balls to escape a bases-loaded jam, and he made Youkilis look bad on a 3-2 change that was his last pitch of the game.
“It’s a lot for me because now I know how I can pitch,” Banuelos said. “I have an idea how can I mix the pitches to the major league hitters. It’s a lot different, minor league to the major league hitters. Now I have an idea, how can I throw, what pitch can I use against the big hitters?”
Before the game, Brian Cashman made it clear that there was nothing Banuelos could do to change the Yankees plans. He’s going to open the season in Trenton.
“What we’re looking for, I’m not expecting for him to provide at this time,” Cashman said.
This was never going to be the night that pushed Banuelos into the big league rotation, and this was not the night Banuelos emerged as a front-line prospect. This was simply the night he got his first taste of the big stage. His command was off and he got into a lot of deep counts, but Banuelos more than held his own against a legitimate big league lineup. He showed some flaws, and he showed a lot of promise.
“I feel ready for this,” he said.
The Yankees will wait. They’ll let Banuelos develop a little longer and they’ll try to show some patience, but there is an obvious excitement about this kid. And that excitement is starting to spread.
“Let’s put it this way: Probably most people couldn’t pronounce his name before camp,” Cashman said. “I think everybody pronounces it now, accurately.”
Here’s Banuelos in the clubhouse after his start.
Here’s Cashman on the field before the game.
• Mark Prior did not make today’s road trip because he’s sick. Doesn’t sound serious.
• Cashman labeled his level of concern about Sergio Mitre as, “low.” Mitre tried to convince the Yankees to let him pitch, but the Yankees didn’t want to risk anything with his oblique. “Girardi had to do a little bit of a wrestling match with him,” Cashman said. “He almost had to get me on the phone.”
• Here’s Mitre’s take on the situation: “It was a little bit sore and tight (Sunday). They don’t want to chance it because I pulled an oblique on the same side last year. We’re trying to figure out if it’s related. If it blows out, they’re talking about six weeks, so hopefully it won’t. I feel pretty good today.”
• Joba Chamberlain’s injury is around his ribs, but Cashman said it’s technically in his oblique. Just like with Mitre, the Yankees don’t seem especially worries. Chamberlain felt something, let the Yankees know, and now they’re playing it safe. “Could it play itself into (taking) a while? That’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Cashman said.
• Dellin Betances hit a batter with his first pitch, walked two batters, threw two wild pitches and allowed both Boston runs. “A little wild,” Girardi said. “But he didn’t cave. To me that’s a sign he’s making progress as well.”
• Nick Swisher went 0-for-3 and his spring average dropped to .188. “I don’t get too caught up in numbers,” Girardi said. “I watch the way he’s swinging the bat, and I’ve been pleased with his at-bats. He’s not a huge concern of mine.”
• Eric Chavez didn’t have a hit today, but he did get another game at first base. “He’s been really good (at first),” Girardi said. “I’ve been really pleased with what he’s done. It seems to be a pretty good adjustment for him. He hasn’t been tested a ton, but every play he’s needed to make, he’s made.”
• Brett Gardner had his fourth spring double. It came immediately after Jesus Montero’s first double and drove in the only Yankees run in a 2-1 loss.
• Another hit for Jorge Vazquez. Of course.
• Ramiro Pena had a hit and stole a base. He said a few days ago that he wanted to use his speed a little more to show the Yankees he could help on the bases, but Eduardo Nunez also had another hit today and continues to be a significantly better offensive option this spring.
• Against his old team, Alfredo Aceves pitched three innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. Cashman reiterated that the Yankees did not have enough confidence in his back to offer Aceves a major league deal. “He’s got a back condition and we could not get him healthy, and I’ll leave it at that,” Cashman said.
• CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon will throw 80-85 pitches during tomorrow morning’s sim game.
Associated Press photos of Banuelos, Betances and Swisher