For the first time since last year’s season-ending surgery, Mariano Rivera faced hitters this morning. He got on the mound against Rob Segedin and Kyle Roller for live batting practice, and he was calling his own strikes.
“Basically just wanted to see the hitters, that’s it,” Rivera said. “I don’t do nothing different than the bullpen, but seeing the hitters, seeing how they swing at the ball. … The first BP that I threw in almost a year. I’m really happy with the results. It will get better. The longer I keep throwing, it will get better.”
Rivera said there’s not a lot for him to learn from an early batting practice. He was happy with the movement on his cutter and happy with his location, but those two things have never been a concern.
“It feels real good there,” Rivera said. “The big thing of this is doing the real thing; covering first base, fielding bunts, all that stuff. The rest is good.”
As for retirement…
“I don’t know,” Rivera said. “I will let you know. Not today. Today is not the day.”
• As scheduled, Mark Montgomery threw a 25-pitch bullpen this morning. “Everything went well,” he said. Montgomery threw all of his pitches and said he’ll play catch tomorrow, then face hitters on Sunday. He said his back hasn’t bothered him at all recently.
• One other notable bullpen: Michael Pineda threw another 25 fastballs this morning. He said he’ll throw 30 pitches next time, and he’ll also begin throwing changeups. So far he’s only thrown changeups when playing catch. He hasn’t thrown them off a mound. Pineda said once again that his shoulder feels fine and he’s stopped thinking about it when he goes to pitch.
• Emailed Mark Newman this morning. He said Pat Venditte will pitch only as a left-handed pitcher in the World Baseball Classic. That’s because Venditte had surgery on his right shoulder last year and hasn’t been cleared to pitch right-handed yet. “A new answer to a new question,” Newman wrote. Certainly not a question I ever expected to ask.
• A few players will stay in Tampa when the team travels to play the Braves tomorrow. Vidal Nuno will throw a side (preparing for his start on Monday), while Joba Chamberlain, Zach Nuding and Jose Ramirez will throw simulated games. Cito Culver and Addison Maruszak will stay behind to hit in the sim games.
• No defensive drills listed for today, but I did see several players out taking ground balls early this morning on a back field.
• Tomorrow’s travel squad:
Pitchers: Juan Cedeno, Preston Claiborne, Brett Marshall, Mike O’Brien, Kelvin Perez, David Phelps, Branden Pinder, Ryan Pope, Francisco Rondon, Josh Spence, Nik Turley, Chase Whitley
Catchers: Francisco Arcia, Francisco Cervelli, Kyle Higashioka, J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine
Infielders: Robinson Cano, Walter Ibarra, Dan Johnson, Corban Joseph, Luke Murton, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Pirela, Mark Teixeira, Gil Velazquez
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Tyler Austin, Matt Diaz, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia, Slade Heathcott, Melky Mesa, Juan Rivera
• Several sim games/batting practice sessions this morning.
Facing Corban Joseph and Addison Maruszak
Matt Daley (throwing to Kyle Higashioka)
Nick Goody (Francisco Cervelli)
Andy Pettitte (Cervelli)
Facing Kyle Roller and Rob Segedin
Mariano Rivera (Bobby Wilson)
Dave Robertson (Chris Stewart)
Facing Tyler Austin and Greg Bird
Dellin Betances (Gary Sanchez)
Tom Kahnle (J.R. Murphy)
Facing Bird, Walter Ibarra and Thomas Neal
David Aardsma (Austin Romine)
Clay Rapada (Francisco Arcia)
• Today’s sides:
Ivan Nova (Sanchez)
CC Sabathia (Higashioka)
Shawn Kelley (Murphy)
Josh Spence (Cervelli)
Corey Black (Wilson)
Shane Greene (Romine)
Bryan Mitchell (Stewart)
Francisco Rondon (Arcia)
• Batting practice groups (unchanged):
Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez
Dan Johnson, Jayson Nix, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis
Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Juan Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki
Matt Diaz, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal
Corban Joseph, Addison Maruszak, Luke Murton, Gil Velazquez
Zoilo Almonte, Slade Heathcott, Kyle Roller, Rob Segedin
Greg Bird, Cito Culver, Walter Ibarra, Jose Pirela
Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia
Cell phone photo of Rivera, Associated Press photo of Montgomery