Archive for March, 2011
The Yankees were hit with so many questions at today’s Yankee Stadium workout regarding how they feel about being underdogs, with the Red Sox being labeled as the favorites in the AL East. C.C. Sabathia saw a benefit to it.
“It kind of feels good to have everybody not picking us and us go out and kind of sneak up on some people … as crazy as it sounds with the talent that we have in here,” Sabathia said. “Nobody seems to believe in us but us. So we’ll see.”
Joe Girardi found it kind of strange to hear “underdogs” and “under the radar” associated with the Yankees.
“But I don’t know if we’re going to sneak up on anyone,” he said. “I think people are pretty excited when we come to town. But it is unusual.”
Mark Teixeira isn’t conceding to the Red Sox, especially since there are still 162 games left on the schedule.
“We don’t come here to come in second place,” Teixeira said. “We came here to win the championship. Anything less is unacceptable.”
So do you think the Red Sox look better on paper than the Yankees at this point? I would at least take the Yankees’ bullpen over Boston’s any day.
In other news:
Curtis Granderson tested his oblique again in a minor-league game in Florida against some Class A members of the Pirates’ organization. He played center for five innings and went 2 for 5 with two doubles. Afterward he told the AP: “I’m ready. Everything was good today.” So he’s supposed to be here for the opener and bat eighth.
The Yankees officially added Gustavo Molina to the roster, along with Luis Ayala, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Girardi said he liked Ayala’s velocity and sinker, and the ability to induce ground balls.
Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Cervelli’s DL stays were made retroactive to March 22. Colin Curtis, Damaso Marte and Reggie Corona were put on the 60-day DL. Romulo Sanchez was designated for assignment, although he has a chance to pitch in Japan.
A.J. Burnett has a head cold, but Girardi thinks he should be OK for Saturday’s start.
Phil Hughes has been moved to Andy Pettitte’s old locker. Actually, he found some of Pettitte’s stuff still in there. So what did Hughes do?
“Threw it away,” Hughes said.
“Just kidding,” he said.
Hughes gave the pictures and books to the clubhouse manager to send to Pettitte.
Here’s the Detroit lineup:
1. Austin Jackson
2. Will Rhymes
3. Magglio Ordonez
4. Miguel Cabrera
5. Victor Martinez
6. Ryan Rayburn
7. Jhonny Peralta
8. Brandon Inge
9. Alex Avila
Greetings, Brian Heyman here at Yankee Stadium covering the workout for tomorrow’s season opener against the Tigers.
Joe Girardi has made his call on the leadoff situation, and we really can’t say it’s unexpected. Actually, it makes good sense. Wonder what you think. He’s going with a platoon, Brett Gardner against righties and Derek Jeter against lefties. Girardi talked to Jeter today and told him that Gardner will be batting first with Tigers righty ace Justin Verlander going in the opener. Jeter predictably told reporters it didn’t matter to him, considering how much he has batted second over the years.
“It was something that we talked about, the job that (Gardner) did against right-handed pitching last year,” Girardi said. “He was second on our club in on-base percentage. … His ability to disrupt defenses, the pressure that he puts on a pitching staff, his ability to score runs — we thought it was a pretty good fit. We talked about Jete leading off against lefties, and our lineup will change a little bit. But we’ll have consistency for right-handers and left-handers.”
So here’s the lineup Girardi announced for Game 1:
3. Mark Teixeira
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Robinson Cano
6. Nick Swisher
7. Jorge Posada
9. Russell Martin
The question mark is because he was waiting to see how Curtis Granderson felt coming out of his minor-league game this afternoon in Florida. If his oblique is OK, as it was yesterday after he played, he’ll be in there.
Also, Luis Ayala has beaten out Steve Garrison for the final slot in the bullpen. The Yankees added Ayala to the 40-man roster. The move was necessitated by Pedro Feliciano’s sore triceps.
Otherwise, the chatter, beyond Phil Hughes taking over Andy Pettitte’s locker, was about the Yankees being in an underdog role behind the Red Sox. We’ll have more on that later this afternoon.
Yankees spring leaders • 03.30.11
First, a reminder: Don’t forget we’re having a chat today at 1 p.m.
Tomorrow at 1:05 p.m., Alex Rodriguez goes back at zero. But for now, his numbers are eye opening. This spring, Rodriguez led the Yankees with 19 hits, six home runs, 15 RBI, 44 total bases and an .898 slugging percentage.
By the way, next closest in total bases had 31.
“Alex’s spring was unbelievable,” Joe Girardi said. “There’s really no other way to describe it. The power that he displayed and how hard he hit the ball on a consistent basis, are you surprised? I don’t know if you’re surprised, but to see a guy locked in from Day 1 sometimes is kind of different to see.”
Here are some of the other spring training leaders for the Yankees.
Eduardo Nunez, 25
In this case, the significance of games played had little to do with durability and everything to do with exposure. Utility infielder was one of the few spots truly up for grabs, and Nunez and Ramiro Pena seemed to come to camp on equal ground. The Yankees had seen more of Pena the past two years, but they got a long look at Nunez this spring, and he was impressive. His numbers fell off a little in the end, but he showed his speed and ability to drive the ball. By the way, the leader in at-bats was Nick Swisher, who had two more than Nunez and three more than Derek Jeter.
Mark Teixeira, 9
Occasionally overshadowed by Rodriguez’s spring, Teixeira’s performance in Florida was also impressive. He hit .294/.410/.569, giving the Yankees reason to think he could get off to a strong start this season and put his years of slow Aprils behind him. Second in doubles — no surprise — was Rodriguez. Third was Brett Gardner, who drove the ball pretty well with his new two-handed approach.
Brett Gardner and Jorge Posada, 9
For Gardner, the walks were a sign that his plate discipline hasn’t changed since last season. He broke camp with a .373 on-base percentage. For Posada, the walks were one positive in an otherwise pedestrian spring. Trying to adjust to pinch hitting five times a game — that’s how he described being a DH — Posada didn’t put up huge spring numbers. He hit just .217 with one home run, but he did have a .357 on-base.
Ivan Nova, 1.80 (for those with more than 12 innings)
Luis Ayala, 0.79 (for those with more than five innings)
Mariano Rivera, 0.00 (for anyone)
Rivera pitched five innings and allowed three base runners. Then again, he didn’t have much to prove. Nova needed a strong spring to assure himself a spot in the rotation, and he did that with a terrific showing in Florida. He was the only Yankees pitcher with two wins. As for Ayala, he was a fairly anonymous non-roster pitcher, but he put himself on the map with a great spring. He had nine strikeouts and no walks, and he led the team in appearances and saves.
Bartolo Colon, 17
At one point there was a press box debate about which was more shocking: The fact Gustavo Molina was in line for a roster spot, or the fact Colon was in line for a roster spot. At 37 years old, and after a year and a half out of big leagues, Colon seemed like the longest of long shots. A lot of guys put up good winter numbers and can’t carry them into spring training, but Colon proved that his winter numbers were legitimate. He was one of the best pitchers in camp, and he rightfully won a spot on the Yankees staff.
Walks per nine innings
A.J. Burnett, 0
Nine pitchers appeared in big league camp without allowing a walk. Burnett was the only one who made all of his appearances as a starter. Control was a definite plus for Burnett. He’s not going to make it through a season without walking anyone, but he never got out of control and stayed out of control this spring. Pitch-by-pitch, when he made a mistake, he was able to correct it.
A few others
Offensive (at least 20 at-bats)
Runs: Curtis Granderson, 11
Strikeouts: Justin Maxwell and Nick Swisher, 12
Stolen bases: Eduardo Nunez, 6
Caught stealing: Melky Mesa, 4
Triples: Curtis Granderson, 3
Average: Jorge Vazquez, .412
On-base: Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Vazquez, .444
Pitching (at least seven innings)
Saves: Luis Ayala, 3
Innings: Phil Hughes, 22
Hit batters: Ivan Nova, 3
Walks: Manny Banuelos, 8
Ground outs: Ivan Nova, 35
WHIP: A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon, 0.69
Strikeouts per nine: Dave Robertson, 17.18
Associated Press photos of Rodriguez and Nova
I still love you New York • 03.30.11
In the past three days, I’ve probably listened to this Ryan Adams song 20 times.
Almost seven weeks after pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, it’s finally time to go home. The games begin to count tomorrow afternoon.
The Yankees got out of Tampa last night, and at least one new Yankee said he’s planning use part of today to look for a place to live. The team has an official workout at the stadium this afternoon, and Brian Heyman will be there to check in with updates.
As for me, I’m flying home this morning, landing in time to host a chat at 1 p.m. Stop by. Jump into the conversation. When the chat ends, I’ll have a month and a half of mail to open. I’ll be trying to postpone that as long as possible.
As for the Yankees, they have most of their answers. All that’s left is for Curtis Granderson to get through this afternoon’s minor league game without a setback, and for Brian Cashman to look around for proven alternatives at backup catcher and seventh reliever. For the most part, all of the preseason work is done.
“I think we’ve answered a lot of questions about who’s going where,” Joe Girardi said, “about what players are going to be in the rotation and what players are going to be in the field. I can’t say if we’re going to make a move or not make a move, but I like the guys we have. I feel good about this team.”
Associated Press photo taken at Yankee Stadium yesterday
MLB adopts new concussions protocols • 03.29.11
Major League Baseball had introduced new policy regarding the treatment of concussions, including a new seven-day disabled list specifically for concussions. Joe Girardi seemed very happy to hear about it this afternoon. Good stuff from MLB. Here’s the announcement.
Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced today that they have adopted a series of protocols under its new joint policy regarding concussions, which will be in effect from Opening Day forward.
On behalf of MLB and the MLBPA, a committee of experts formulated a comprehensive policy that will govern the manner in which concussions are initially diagnosed and the determination of when one may return to the field, dictating the response to both player and umpire concussions at the Major League and Minor League levels.
The key components of the policy are:
· Mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for players and umpires during Spring Training, or when a player joins a club during the season, formalizing a process that most individual Clubs follow;
· Protocols for evaluating players and umpires for a possible concussion, including during incidents typically associated with a high risk, such as being hit in the head a by a pitched, batted or thrown ball or by a bat; being in a collision with a player, umpire or fixed object; or any time when the head or neck of a player or an umpire is forcibly rotated;
· The establishment of a seven-day disabled list for concussions, which will aim to allow concussions to clear, prevent players from returning prematurely and give clubs a full complement of players in one’s absence; any player on the seven-day DL for more than 14 days will automatically and retroactively be transferred to the 15-day DL, effective with the first day of the initial placement, and with the prior 14 days applying to the initial 15-day maximum term; implemented on a trial basis for the 2011 season;
· Protocols for clearing a concussed player or umpire to return to activity; prior to the time that a concussed player is permitted to play in any game (including Major League, Minor League or extended Spring Training games), the Club must submit a “Return to Play” form to MLB’s Medical Director; submission of the form is required irrespective of whether the player was placed on the Disabled List.
The Commissioner’s Office will conduct an orientation for Club medical staffs regarding the new protocols. In addition, each Club will be required to designate a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) specialist in its home city to evaluate players or umpires when necessary.
Mussina to throw ceremonial first pitch • 03.29.11
Gates will open at 11 a.m., and pregame festivities will begin at 12:40 p.m. with both teams being introduced at the baselines. As always, fans are asked to allow plenty of time to deal with traffic and such, and fans are encouraged to take public transportation.
As for the specifics, here’s the announcement from the Yankees…
The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by five-time All-Star Mike Mussina. It will mark the first time that Mussina, who will be honored with the “Pride of the Yankees” award at the 2011 Homecoming Dinner on Wednesday night, will throw out an Opening Day ceremonial first pitch. He will become the 10th former Yankees player to be bestowed the Opening Day honor. Mussina was a member of the Yankees pitching staff from 2001-08, compiling a record of 123-72 with a 3.88 ERA. Over his 18-year Major League career, he made 536 combined starts (537 appearances) with the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles and went 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts.
Actress and singer Haley Swindal will sing the national anthem, and a giant flag will be unfurled by 75 West Point cadets, while the West Point Color Guard will present the colors.
During the seventh-inning stretch, Michael Minarik of the Broadway hit Rock of Ages will perform “God Bless America.”
Associated Press photo
Joe Girardi has settled on one lineup decision: Derek Jeter will bat leadoff against left-handed starters. “You can bank on that,” Girardi said.
Who bats leadoff against right-handers remains up in the air.
Jack Curry reported today that the Yankees will open the season with Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot. I’m sure Curry’s right, but Girardi said he hasn’t settled on a lineup against right-handed pitchers.
“It’s something we’ll talk about on the plane,” Girardi said.
The Yankees face Justin Verlander on Thursday, and won’t face a lefty through the entire opening series against Detroit. The fact Girardi stuck with Gardner in the leadoff spot through the final two weeks or so of spring training seems to be a pretty good sign that he’s leaning that way for the regular season, but he’s said he won’t set anything in stone until Thursday.
“We’ll find out in a couple of day,” Gardner said. “I’m not worried about it.”
Gardner hit .260 this spring. His nine walks were tied with Jorge Posada for the team lead. Jeter hit .304 and struck out only three times. In the final weeks, he seemed to be driving the ball more often, and Girardi said that’s what stood out to him about his shortstop.
“Some of the balls that he’s pulled with authority,” Girardi said. “I’ve noticed that he seems to get to that better now, and I think it’s something that pitchers are going to have to think about. Everything he used to try to shoot the other way, and he would pull some breaking balls. I’ve seen him pull some heaters with authority. People are going to have to decide whether the risk is worth it now.”
• Pedro Feliciano might be out longer than two weeks. Girardi said Feliciano has been shut down for 10 days and is likely to be out at least three weeks. “He’s going to have to play catch and long toss and flat ground then get off a mound and then throw to hitters,” Girardi said. “I think you’re looking at at least three weeks.”
• Feliciano, Damaso Marte and Colin Curtis are all traveling with the Yankees to New York. They’ll all be checked out in the City, but they won’t necessarily stay with the team for their rehab work.
• Girardi made it clear that if Curtis Granderson isn’t able to open the season, Chris Dickerson is the next in line to take that roster spot. If Granderson does open the season, though, the Dickerson will open in the minors.
• Every healthy Yankees reliever pitched today. Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson pitched in a simulated game at the minor league complex. Rafael Soriano and Bartolo Colon combined for a hitless inning and a third in the big league game. Even 12th reliever candidates Luis Ayala and Steve Garrison pitched today.
• In his final spring start, Freddy Garcia went 4.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out three. The one run came on a home run by Brennan Boesch.
• Meaningless spring information: Colon started the spring opener, and he threw the final pitch in today’s finale.
• Garrison faced four hitters today. He retired the two right-handers — including a strikeout of Jhonny Peralta — but both lefties singled. Ayala faced three hitters. Magglio Ordonez doubled, Miguel Cabrera grounded out and Victor Martinez flied out.
• Phil Hughes allowed one run through five innings at the minor league complex today. Granderson and Dickerson faced Hector Noesi and some other minor leaguers in their sim game. Thank you to Donnie Collins for the information.
• Austin Romine hit his second spring home run. The two homers came in back-to-back games. The Yankees only other extra-base hit was a double by Andruw Jones, but the Romine homer push the Yankees to a 2-1 win.
• Girardi was asked today if he might be more willing to pinch hit for his catcher this season because he has Jorge Posada as an emergency option. “It’s probably something I would be somewhat reluctant to do,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli is no longer wearing his protective boot. “I don’t think it’s out of the question to have him May 1,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of Cervelli: “He asked me if I wanted (the boot),” Girardi said. “I said no, I don’t.” Only Cervelli would ask if someone else would like to keep his protective boot.
Associated Press photos of Jeter, Garcia and Rodriguez
Curtis Granderson said he got six or seven at-bats this afternoon. He faced righties and lefties, and went through everything from solid contact to checked swings to swings and misses. His oblique was fine through all of it.
Although the grass was too wet for Granderson and Chris Dickerson to play the field — the minor league games were cancelled this afternoon — they went through normal outfield drills after their simulated at-bats, and again suffered no setbacks.
“Every at-bat felt good,” Granderson said.
This was easily the most optimistic Granderson has sounded when talking about his chances of playing on Opening Day. Barring an unexpected setback tomorrow –when he’s scheduled to play in a full minor league game — Granderson should be in New York on Thursday.
By the way, Granderson said he and Dickerson faced primarily minor league pitchers, but there was some talk about getting an at-bat against Mariano Rivera.
“We were going to,” Granderson said. “And then I was like, I didn’t bring that many bats.”
Spring Training Game 31: Yankees vs. Tigers • 03.29.11
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Andruw Jones LF
Russell Martin C
RHP Freddy Garcia (1-1, 5.93)
Garcia vs. Tigers
Austin Jackson CF
Will Rhymes 2B
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Brennan Boesch LF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Alex Avila C
Brandon Inge 3B
RHP Rick Porcello (0-2, 4.43)
Porcello vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: There was some threat of rain, but the sky is fairly clear and it looks like the Yankees won’t have any problem playing their spring finale.
UMPIRES: HP Chad Fairchild, 1B Manny Gonzalez, 2B Tyler Funneman, 3B Chad Whitson
ON THE LINE: Nothing really on the line here. Oddly enough, the event that matters most is happening at the minor league complex, where Curtis Granderson and Chris Dickerson are trying to get back to game speed.
OUT OF THE BULLPEN FOR THE YANKEES: Rafael Soriano, Mark Prior, Luis Ayala, Bartolo Colon, Wilkin Arias, Andy Sisco, Eric Wordekemper and Pat Venditte.
OUT OF THE BULLPEN FOR THE TIGERS: LHP Fu-Te Ni and LHP Austin Wood are the only relievers listed for the Tigers.
OFF THE BENCH: C Austin Romine, 1B Eric Chavez, 2B Eduardo Nunez, SS Ramiro Pena, 3B Doug Bernier, LF Ray Kruml, CF Melky Mesa, RF Justin Maxwell
A FEW FINAL MOVES: The Yankees have quietly reassigned Warner Madrigal to minor league camp, and although there’s no official announcement about Manny Banuelos, his locker has been cleared out. But he’ll be here today because…
DAWSON AWARD: Banuelos will be given the James P. Dawson award this afternoon, recognized as the top rookie in camp. He went 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA. It was a close vote, and I actually voted for the second-place finisher. My pick was Ivan Nova, who went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and won a spot in the Yankees rotation.
NEW KIND OF SIM GAME: Joe Girardi said the game Dickerson and Granderson play in today will not be an official or even real game. They’re going to play through some sort of simulated game, getting at-bats and — I assume — tracking fly balls. Apparently the Yankees want them to go through this sort of game, then play in a regular game tomorrow. Assuming he comes through these games with no setback, Granderson will break camp with the Yankees.
UPDATE, 1:51 p.m.: Garcia is through three scoreless. He had the bases loaded in the third but got out of it with a soft line drive to Cano. It’s still a scoreless game, but the Yankees have two on with no outs in the bottom of the third.
UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: A bases-loaded walk gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the third, but Robinson Cano’s line drive was caught at second base, robbing him of at least one RBI, maybe two.
UPDATE, 2:08 p.m.: From Donnie Collins: Phil Hughes allowed one run through five innings at the minor league complex today.
UPDATE, 2:20 p.m.: The Tigers have a 2-1 lead after a solo home run in the fourth. Also from Donnie over at the minor league complex: Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain all faced minor league hitters today. Sorry, tied at one. In my mind I was counting the run that Hughes allowed at the minor league complex. Can’t have two games in my mind at once!
UPDATE, 3:27 p.m.: Austin Romine just went deep for a 2-1 Yankees lead in the eighth. That’s his second homer of the spring.