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Week in review: Rodriguez in the news; Hafner at DH

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Robin Ventura played only a year and a half with the Yankees, so why have a Pinch Hitter post about him? Because you just never know who or what is going to create a connection. For Jeff, it was Ventura — a transport from Chicago by way of the Mets — who made him a Yankees fan. For someone else it might have been CC Sabathia or Curtis Granderson or Ichiro Suzuki. I’m sure somewhere out there is a huge Kevin Youkilis fan who’s swallowed hard and bought a Yankees jersey this winter.

On the flip side, it’s worth remembering that there are some huge Alex Rodriguez fans out there.

In the wake of last week’s bombshell out of Miami, there has been a lot of talk about cutting ties with Rodriguez. There was a lot written and said about his negative impact on the game; a lot of speculation about whether he might retire in shame. Scattered in the fallout, though, are some fans either defending their favorite player or trying to figure out what to think of the latest accusations.

We’ve all had favorite players at one point or another. You just never know where they’re going to take you.

[3]• The Yankees filling their designated hitter opening last week. A one-year deal with Travis Hafner gives the Yankees a left-handed power hitter with a patient approach at the plate (one of Brian Cashman’s big, hairy monsters). If he can stay healthy, Hafner and his pull-heavy approach just might be a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium.

• Hafner was the big acquisition of the week, but clearly the report out of Miami was the big news. Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez were also among those mentioned in the story, but of course it’s Rodriguez who’s generated most of the attention. The Yankees have not publicly commented on the situation other than saying they support the league’s investigation.

• Derek Jeter has been taking groundballs and taking batting practice in Florida. The Yankees continue to say that he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day. Jeter won’t start running until spring training officially starts.

• Speaking of Tampa rehabs: Michael Pineda has progressed to throwing off a half mound.

• Andy Pettitte has reportedly decided against playing in the World Baseball Classic.

• Former Yankees prospect Juan Rivera signed a minor league deal to compete for a spot as a right-handed outfielder and designated hitter.

• Speaking of right-handed outfielders… To make room for Hafner on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated Russ Canzler for assignment.

• The Yankees announced 44 non-roster invites to big league camp. That’s a huge number, and it includes a lot of guys who are at least a year or two away from the big leagues. Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin are among those invited.

• Sanchez, Austin and Mason Williams were listed among MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects.

• No longer in the Yankees system, Chris Dickerson has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. Freddy Garcia signed a minor league deal with the Padres.

• Michael Kay signed an extension with YES Network to remain as the network’s primary play-by-play announcer. I like Michael, so I’m happy he’s sticking around for a while. Congratulations to him.

Associated Press photos