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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Saturday notes: The difficulty of spring decisions

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes on Mar 19, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

There’s a obvious problem with basing spring training decisions on spring training results: The results don’t mean much.

Right now, Freddy Garcia seems to be the worst of the Yankees four back-of-the-rotation candidates. Two bad starts in a row have pushed his spring ERA to 5.93, almost double that of any of the other three candidates. Tonight he breezed through the Blue Jays lineup once, then struggled his second and third times through.

“I’m not going to make too much of one start,” Joe Girardi said. “But obviously you have to continue to make pitches in this league, there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes you have to change patterns and sometimes you don’t, but the quality of pitches have to always be there.”

So what to make of this start and this spring? Garcia has been a notoriously bad spring training pitcher. He was brutal last year, but still gave the White Sox a reliable back-end starter. Today Garcia allowed a sixth-inning home run to a left-handed hitter, and Girardi said he might have brought a lefty from the bullpen if this were a regular-season game. Earlier in that inning, Garcia allowed a double over the head of Eduardo Nunez, who was playing out of position in left field.

“If Gardy’s out there, that’s maybe three outs and he only gives up three runs and we’re not asking these questions,” Girardi said.

Fair enough, but there are still questions to answer, and the Yankees are running out of time to answer them. Before today’s game, Brian Cashman said that a decision will have to be made sooner rather than later, but Girardi wasn’t so sure. He said every candidate will get one more start before anything is finalized.

“Obviously you’d like to be able to set guys up as soon as you could, but if we feel like we still have evaluations to make, we’ll make them,” Girardi said.

• Garcia’s take on his outing: “I feel good, but I don’t want to give up five runs. Whatever happens after today, I don’t know. That (decision) is not on me.”

• As he’s said more than once this spring, Cashman once again said that he doesn’t expect to add a starter before Opening Day.

• Garcia’s outing would have looked a lot better without David Cooper’s two-out, two-run homer in the sixth (which was crushed, by the way). Garcia said the pitch was a slider. He wishes he’d thrown a changeup. “Last inning, two outs, 3-2, base is open, I should throw a better pitch,” he said.

• Mariano Rivera pitched another hitless inning, this one with two strikeouts. He’s pitched three innings this spring, allowing one hit and striking out five.

• Mark Prior also pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and Luis Ayala pitched a scoreless inning with no strikeouts. When the game went 10 innings, Ryan Pope got two outs and Steve Garrison got the third on a deep fly ball.

• Girardi said he’s not sure when Joba Chamberlain will get in a game. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Girardi said. However, it appears Boone Logan will pitch tomorrow. “His back spasms were much better,” Girardi said.

• Eduardo Nunez started in left field and made one great running catch at the warning track, but he misplayed another ball hit to deep left and it bounced off his glove for a double. Nunez said he had trouble dealing with the sun on the double. “Nuney made one great catch and he got turned around on the other,” Girardi said.

• Robinson Cano hit his first spring home run, while Alex Rodriguez extended his spring hitting streak to 12 games. Rodriguez has a hit in every one of his starts and he’s batting .412/.459/.912 with four home runs.

• Another good day for Derek Jeter, who went 3-for-4 with a double that was his second extra-base hit of the spring. The other was a kind of flukey triple. He’s batting .351 with two strikeouts and two walks. He also got his first stolen base today.

• Another hit for Eric Chavez. He’s now hitting .375 with a .412 on-base percentage.

• Girardi said he’s not worried about Brett Gardner’s calf. All three outfielders got the day off because they had played three games in a row.

• Girardi decided after yesterday’s game to keep Russell Martin out of today’s game. Martin wasn’t hurt and didn’t ask out, but Girardi said he “bounced around a lot” while blocking A.J. Burnett’s curveball, so Girardi wanted to give him a break. If not for all the balls in the dirt yesterday, Martin would have caught today. He’ll catch tomorrow.

• On a related note: Girardi makes every spring lineup several days in advance. Third-base coach Rob Thomson posts the lineup every day, and Thomson passed it along to the PR department before Girardi had a chance to tell him to change it. That’s why Martin was initially announced but later scratched. It wasn’t a late decision, only a late communication.

• Had Garcia not pitched six innings, Manny Banuelos would have pitched multiple innings out of the bullpen. Instead, he’ll pitch Monday behind Bartolo Colon.

• As of right now, Thursday’s off day will be a complete day off. Girardi said the Yankees have nothing planned for any of their players that day.

Associated Press photos of Cano, Rivera and Jeter with Kevin Long




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