Hard to get a good sense of Hiroki Kuroda’s first spring outing. Now only was it his debut — which doesn’t carry much weight under the best circumstances — but it was clouded by defensive mistakes that kept him from getting through a full second inning. Joe Girardi said Kuroda was “alright,” and Kuroda seemed to agree.
“Early in spring training, there were a few pitches that were good and a few pitches that were not,” Kuroda said. “The main thing was to make sure that I throw strikes, to put the ball in the zone, and to work on my breaking balls, which are not there yet.”
The big hit Kuroda allowed came on his final pitch of the day, which Jimmy Rollins crushed for a double.
“Cutter,” Kuroda said. “But straight.”
In Kuroda’s first spring start a year ago, he allowed three earned runs through two innings. And last year worked out pretty well. Today Kuroda was told that Brian Cashman has called him one of the Yankees most important signings of the offseason.
“I’m grateful for that comment,” he said. “I wish I will be able to contribute as the team expects me to do.”
• It’s still very early, but Francisco Cervelli seems to be setting himself apart in the Yankees catching competition. He had two hits today, including a double. More importantly, he threw out yet another base runner. It was a delayed throw — the runner clearly thought the pitch was ball four — but it was another good throw. “I think he got a little out of whack from maybe rushing or trying to do too much,” Girardi said. “He was able to go down there (to Triple-A) and really get it back together like he had when he first came up for us throwing the baseball. It’s shown up.”
• Phil Hughes could throw a baseball as early as Sunday. “That’s depending on how I react to these exercises the next couple of days,” Hughes said. Originally expected to throw Tuesday, Hughes program was accelerated because he’s had no problems during all of this pool work he’s been doing. “He did a lot of stuff today in the pool, and I think did some arm rotation,” Girardi said. “That is a good sign that it will be on Sunday.”
• David Adams was hoping to do some fielding today, but he wasn’t given the green light just yet. He said he’ll ask again tomorrow.
• As you probably expect, Kevin Youkilis said he felt fine in his return to the lineup.
• Robinson Cano was clearly uncomfortable talking about his contract before today’s game — “It’s never going to go out of your head,” he said — but that talk didn’t seem to bother him on the field where Cano went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Girardi said he’s not worried about Cano’s contract being a distraction. “One way or another, Robbie’s going to get paid,” Girardi said. “I don’t think that’s Robbie’s biggest concern.
• I thought pregame that Adonis Garcia was going to play the whole game in center. Instead, Melky Mesa shifted mid-game from left field to center. He wound up with five at-bats, which gave him time to strikeout twice, steal a base and hit a home run. Pretty typical Mesa. It was his second homer and second steal of the spring.
• Dave Robertson managed his first escape of the year. He was brought in with a runner at second in the middle of the second inning and got out of it. Joba Chamberlain followed Robertson out of the bullpen, and although his fastball hit 94 mph several times — hit 95 at least once — according to the YES gun, he did walk two and give up two runs.
• Another two-hit day for Juan Rivera, who had his third double. He’s certain hit better than Matt Diaz early in camp. He’s batting .463 so far. Very, very early though. … Ronnier Mustelier hasn’t had many at-bats, but he’s hitting .500 and had his first home run this afternoon. … Two fielding errors for Addison Maruszak, but he also had two hits, including a two-run double off Jonathan Papelbon. … Another good outing for Vidal Nuno who went three hitless innings with two walks and four strikeouts. … Tom Kahnle struck out two in a scoreless ninth.
• Tomorrow is expected to be the final game for Cano and Mark Teixeira before they leave for the World Baseball Classic. I assume that’s true for the other WBC guys in camp (Mesa, Gil Velazquez, Juan Cedeno and Walter Ibarra). “We’ve got two everyday infielders that are leaving,” Girardi siad. “We’ve got a couple of other guys that are backups that are leaving. (Young players) going to have to play, and they’re going to have to relax. That’s all.”
• Opening spring training with a 1-7 record is pretty meaningless, but obviously the Yankees would like to be winning a little more than this. “You’re not pleased,” Girardi said. “We really haven’t had our normal rotation in there. We’re seeing a lot of young kids. I don’t like to lose no matter what time of year it is, but we’re capable of playing better. We showed that the first day. It’s been a while since then, but we’ll just keep going out. We’re going to win a game again, I’m sure.”
Associated Press photos