Finally, a pitcher who’s not working on a changeup.
Hiroki Kuroda throws fastballs and cutters, curveballs and sliders, but he doesn’t throw a change. And the Yankees don’t want him to. Kuroda’s out pitch is a splitfinger, which some pitchers use much the same way as a changeup.
“He doesn’t necessarily need to throw one because of that,” Joe Girardi said. “… His split is different from what some of our other guys have. I know he’ll throw his share of cutters as well. He starts with the location of his fastball, but I really like the split. I think if you look at the couple of strikeouts today, they were both very good splits. That’s a different look.”
Freddy Garcia has been effective with a splitfinger, but it’s not an especially common pitch these days. It’s been effective for Kuroda, and Russell Martin — who caught Kuroda in Los Angeles — has been talking about the effectiveness of that pitch since camp opened. Kuroda said he was happy with it today, and happy that he was able to mix all of his pitches in his first spring outing.
“Usually it takes the full spring training before everything is to the level I need it to be in the regular season,” he said. “… The most important thing that I wanted to accomplish was a feeling for the real game, and I think I was able to do that, so I’m happy.”
• On a day the team was visited by a pregame motivational speaker, the Yankees were held to four hits in a 4-0 loss. Nick Swisher and Jose Gil doubled in the loss. Russell Martin and Dewayne Wise singled.
• Before today’s game, Rafael Soriano told the coaching staff that he felt ready to pitch in a game. In the past, Soriano has been opposed to pitching against division opponents in spring training. “For whatever reason he wanted to pitch today, so I didn’t ask any questions,” Girardi said. “I think it’s good for him to get out there, and I was pleased with what I saw.”
• Soriano struck out two batters in a scoreless inning. Boone Logan also had two strikeouts in an inning, and Cory Wade threw a scoreless frame with one hit and no strikeouts.
• Martin is the Yankees early spring leader in stolen bases. He’s swiped two bags. Chris Dickerson is the only other Yankees player with one.
• Derek Jeter bobbled a ground ball for his first spring training error. Jayson Nix threw a ball away for his second. … Colin Curtis had an outfield assist, throwing to Nick Swisher who relayed to third base for an out that ended the sixth inning. … Clay Rapada pitched a scoreless eighth inning and stayed in to face a lefty to open the ninth. He struck out the lefty before giving way to Kevin Whelan for the final two outs. Rapada is trying to make the team as a left-handed specialist.
• Eduardo Nunez hit with a tee and soft toss today, and he’ll take light batting practice tomorrow, but he’s still not ready to get in a game and won’t play tomorrow. Nunez said his bruised right hand is still “a little bit” sore, but he’s been able to do full fielding drills with no problem. Today he was working out at third base, making the throw across the diamond from foul territory.
• Mark Teixeira had a regularly scheduled day off. His thumb — which he jammed making a tag yesterday — is fine.
• According to Baseball America, the Yankees have signed a Cuban lefty Rigoberto Arrebato to a minor league deal and released minor league first baseman Jamie Mallard. Mallard was signed in the middle of last season and never actually played in an official game.
• Girardi on Yogi Berra’s arrival in camp: “I felt like camp started today. Yogi’s here. It’s great to see… Just kind of puts a smile on everybody’s face. Things pick up around here a little bit. Really good to see.”
• It was announced today that the Yankees Triple-A affiliate officially will be called the Empire State Yankees this season. There’s even a slightly modified logo. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre stadium is being rebuilt, forcing the team to play all of it’s games on the road, including multiple “home” games in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and Batavia. The team is expected to return to its home stadium — and it’s original name — next year.
Associated Press photos