The big board in Joe Girardi’s office has been updated. It lists the Yankees starting pitchers through the middle of next week, and it begins to outline an unusual spring for CC Sabathia.
Friday: Hiroki Kuroda
Saturday: Ivan Nova
Sunday: Adam Warren (Andy Pettitte sim game)
Monday: Off day
Tuesday: David Phelps (CC Sabathia sim game)
Wednesday: Hiroki Kuroda
Sabathia should be lined up to make his spring debut on March 10, but Girardi doesn’t want Sabathia to face the Blue Jays — avoiding the division — so Sabathia will instead throw another simulated game that day. That leaves Sabathia to make his spring debut no earlier than March 15, which leaves him time to make only three starts before Opening Day.
Girardi said Pettitte might also throw a second simulated game before pitching in an actual exhibition, leaving him no more than four actual spring starts.
“We don’t want them to start too many games down here because then you’re using innings that you would use during the season,” Girardi said. “You can control their pitch count (in a sim game). You can control things a lot easier, and they’re still getting built up. The key is to get them built up. I’m not going to worry about if Mo’s going to have intensity come April 1, or if Andy’s going to have intensity or CC. We’ve got to get them built up and ready for the season.”
Girardi said he considers simulated games to be essentially on equal footing with regular exhibition games. Sabathia’s two innings this morning were more like batting practice, Girardi said, but simulated games going forward will count like real innings in the process of getting pitchers build up.
“You’re going to be seeing hitters,” Girardi said. “It’s not like he’s throwing underneath in the cage. I think CC knows how to get prepared.”
• The Yankees lost two more games today and fell to 1-6 in spring training. If a spring record isn’t entirely meaningless, it’s surely very close. But still, one of these days I’m sure they’d like to win another one. They haven’t won since Saturday’s spring opener.
• Kevin Youkilis went through fielding drills and batting practice today. Girardi said Youkilis isn’t making the Fort Myers trip on Sunday, and it’s still undecided whether he’ll play Friday and Saturday or just Saturday. “I told him I’m going to sleep on it,” Girardi said. “He’s ready to go. He wanted to play yesterday. He wanted to play today. I might give him one at-bat tomorrow and then a couple on Saturday.”
• Nothing concrete on Phil Hughes, who did another day of pool work. “So far everything he’s needed to do has gone great,” Brian Cashman said. “A week of medication and rest, and I think he’s four, five days into the pool. And if everything goes right, maybe by Tuesday of next week, maybe (he’ll play catch). We have to hear from the doctor, but we’re hoping we get the ball in his hand for a flat ground throwing program. One step at a time. I know he feels good.”
• No complaints after Mariano Rivera’s 18-pitch morning sim game. “You saw me go after that bunt there,” Rivera said. “It was good.”
• Same for Sabathia’s two innings of batting practice. He threw 46 pitches, so he’s fairly stretched out already. “I’m not, obviously, game ready,” Sabathia said. “But I’m getting there. I’m feeling better in the bullpen. Like I said, I felt a lot better today, just commanding the baseball.”
• Also no problems for either Ronnier Mustelier or Slade Heathcott who had a pretty brutal collision in the outfield. Heathcott covered a ton of ground to even be in the vicinity of the ball, and Mustelier made the catch despite an almost perfect tackle by Heathcott. “It didn’t really hurt either one of us,” Heathcott said. “I think we kind of fit the other like a puzzle piece or something like that.”
• Cashman said the Yankees have been impressed with Michael Pineda’s bullpens, but he also acknowledged that it’s too early to know much for certain.
• Facing essentially the Blue Jays regulars, David Phelps pitched three scoreless innings in his second start of the spring. “It felt like the same thing as the other day,” Phelps said. “I felt like I was getting ahead of guys. They were aggressive today; they were swinging at a lot of early stuff. I’ll take it. I’ll take early outs whenever we can get them. I feel like I was able to work some offspeed pitches today and felt really good.”
• David Aardsma and Clay Rapada each had the same pitching line in their spring debuts: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless inning in his debut. He walked two and struck out two.
• Home runs hurt the Yankees in both games today. In the 1-0 loss at home, Chase Whitley gave up a solo shot to Andy LaRoche. In the 7-6 loss on the road, Mike O’Brien gave up a solo shot to Rick Ankiel (on of three runs O’Brien allowed) and Shane Greene gave up a grand slam to former Yankees third baseman Brandon Laird.
• Francisco Cervelli threw out two more base runners today. So far, he’s showing a pretty good arm this spring.
• Melky Mesa had two hits including a home run. Zoilo Almonte also had two hits, as did Juan Rivera and Francisco Arcia. … Tyler Austin had a triple in his only at-bat of the day. … Eduardo Nunez made his first error of the spring, a throwing error. … Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki each had a hit today to continue their strong starts to the spring.
• Don’t think anyone needed this, but Girardi said Sabathia will be the Opening Day starter. So it’s good to have that confirmed.
• Sabathia’s take on Rivera’s sim game: “He looked good, which I expected,” Sabathia said. “He’s throwing the ball right where he wants to, and for him to be able to do that in February is amazing.”
Associated Press photos