I couldn’t tell whether Andy Pettitte was kidding when he said the Yankees actually discussed having him start in yet another minor league game today, but I’m pretty sure he was serious when he said this: “When I saw the wind blowing out, I thought about driving back to the minor league complex.”
The wind was a beast today, and the box score shows it. A total of 16 runs on 30 hits, five of them homers. There would have been a sixth homer had Torii Hunter not robbed Kevin Youkilis in the third inning.
“I got some balls up in that one inning they scored three runs,” Pettitte said. “And even in the inning they scored the first run, I left a changeup up to Torii right where he wants it and he hit that double. I felt good. Everything was good, right where I wanted it. … The cutter hadn’t been quite where I wanted it to be. I was leaving some balls up in the middle of the game, but it was nice to go back out there in that last inning, get some cutters down in the zone. I was able to strike out (Austin) Jackson on a real good one. All in all, it was a good day.”
Joe Girardi actually called Pettitte “really good” today, and he actually looked very sharp until that three-run fifth when the Tigers knocked him around for a while. Pettitte seemed to think this start was a significant step in the right direction. He said he was a “tick off” in his previous minor league start, but this time, he was able to bounce back from that bad fifth to pitch a scoreless sixth.
“It feels like I never was gone,” he said. “It’s crazy, but it almost feels like I was never retired. You forget about it so fast, I guess. It’s been good. I’m glad I was able to take it slow early on, then start to build up now and be where I need to be for my first start. We’ll have one more before my first start of the year, so hopefully I can have a good, sharp outing.”
• In his minor league game, Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 with four groundouts. The Yankees aren’t sure whether he’ll play in another game tomorrow, and Girardi said it’s worth noting that Sunday’s minor league games begin at 10 a.m., not 1 p.m., making it a kind of quick turn around. Just like today, the Yankees will wait until Jeter reports to Steinbrenner Field before making a decision. “We’ll play it by ear,” he said.
• Jeter said he felt fine in the game. “Results, just like when you start, aren’t the most important thing,” he said. “It’s just to see pitches, and that’s what I did, and then we’ll move from there.”
• Not sure Cody Eppley can blame his ugly pitching line entirely on the wind. He was charged with five runs on five hits without recording an out. One of those hits was a Miguel Cabrera home run that was positively crushed to center field. Eppley now has a 14.29 ERA this spring. I realize ERA is a pretty rocky way to judge a reliever, but he hasn’t been sharp.
• Shawn Kelley, who could be an alternative to Eppley this season, pitched 1.1 innings and allowed one run on former Yankees utility player Kevin Russo’s second home run of the spring. Kelley allowed one other hit, no walks and struck out two.
• Ben Francisco homered twice today. He got some help from the wind on at least one of them, but he’s been good this spring. He’s now hitting .350 and might be a favorite — just guessing — to win a right-handed bench role. Today’s homers came off right-handed pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Bruce Rondon. Francisco also drew a walk. “He’s swung the bat pretty good the last couple of days,” Girardi said. “And it hasn’t just been against left-handers. We’ve been playing him against right handers. He’ll probably play again tomorrow.”
• Youkilis had a good day at the plate despite having just one hit. The one hit was a two-run double, and he also hit the ball hard in his previous two at-bats, including a ball over the fence that Hunter robbed in the third inning.
• Two more hits, another stolen base and an error-free game for Eduardo Nunez. … Three more hits for Juan Rivera, including his fifth double of the spring. His average is back up to .321. … Brett Gardner had only his third hit in his past seven games. … Chris Stewart went 1-for-4 and thought he had another hit on a bang-bang play at first. This time Stewart stayed away from the argument and didn’t get thrown out of the game. That’s progress for him.
Associated Press photos