What a strange day in Yankees camp. The team was going through it’s final full workout before games start, yet all of the conversation — here, and on radio in New York — centered on something that happened more than 10 years ago.
The bigger news in baseball came from Ken Rosenthal, who reported today that Major League Baseball is on the verge of finalizing a 10-team playoff format for this season. The collective bargaining agreement called for a second wild card by 2013, but Rosenthal says it will happen immediately.
As for the Yankees, they’re still in the phase of “no news is good news,” and there wasn’t much news today.
• Mariano Rivera threw 34 pitches in the bullpen today. “He said he felt great,” Joe Giradi said. Although there’s still no scheduled date for Rivera’s first spring outing, Girardi said he guesses it will happen March 15 or 16.
• Russell Branyan has a sore back. He was a long shot to make the team as a left-handed DH anyway, but now he’ll miss some time. “Don’t know how long it will be,” Girardi said. “I think it was tightening and spasms. We’ll have to wait and see.”
• Speaking of back injuries, Girardi said today that he expects Austin Romine to get into some Grapefruit League games, but he didn’t sound overly optimistic that Romine will play a lot this spring. “He’s been doing rehab work on it, and he’ll continue to do it,” Girardi said. “We’re just making sure that area is very stable. We want that to come back very stable and strong before we put him back. Because he had an episode last year, last August. Once he leaves here I don’t want him to have a setback. I don’t want it to come back and that’s what I told him. So we’re going to hit it really hard over spring training to make sure that we nip this.”
• Girardi confirmed that this is the same sort of situation that kept Romine out of some games late last year.
• Robinson Cano is still scheduled to be back in the clubhouse tomorrow. He’s been away for his grandmother’s funeral.
• Will the regulars play in Thursday’s game against South Florida? “You know, I’ve been going back and forth,” Giradri said. “I think some of them might get one at-bat, some of them might get two at-bats.”
• The Yankees will be off the field at 10:45 a.m. tomorrow, an early finish so that the team can catch an 11:15 bus for their bonding event. Girardi still won’t say what exactly they’re doing tomorrow.
• Asked whether any off-the-radar player has jumped out at him this spring, Girardi first came up with an unexpected name: “Burawa, he threw the ball hard the other day,” Girardi said. “You could just see the hitters (reacting), ‘Ooooh’ the first couple pitches they saw. I thought our BPs yesterday were excellent, I was really impressed and their were some young kids in there. Betances has thrown the ball really well. Warren, Phelps, Stonebrunner threw it well. I’ve been really pleased. Really, really pleased.”
• The Yankees have been given the green light to use a DH for their NL spring road games at the Phillies, Pirates and Nationals on March 5, 6 and 15.
Associated Press photo