With this being only the second game of the season, you would think that there would be plenty for the manager to talk about from a baseball standpoint, but Joe Girardi’s pregame press conference barely touched on tonight’s game against the rival Red Sox. Instead, many of the questions were focused on Robinson Cano’s announcement on Tuesday that he was going to be switching to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency.
Girardi didn’t seem concerned that it would be a distraction.
“Robby loves to play this game,” he said. “When a guy changes agents, I don’t really think it necessarily changes the guy. It changes his representation, but it doesn’t change who Robby Cano is.”
Of course, the news of the switch from the notoriously voracious Scott Boras is garnering so many headlines because this is a contract year for Cano. Many want to speculate about what this means: Does it increase Cano’s chances of staying with the Yankees? Does he have other motives?
Cano shook off many of those questions today in a brief session with the media, and said that he doesn’t plan on addressing the Jay-Z/contract situation until after the season.
“Everything that I’ve seen from Robby is that he loves to play this game and is prepared to play every day,” Girardi said. “I don’t see why changing agents would change that unless he’s got some recording issues that he has to deal with. I don’t see how it’s going to change him. I haven’t heard he’s putting out an album.”
• Girardi was asked about some of exuberant celebrations that we saw from Cano during his time with the Dominican team in the WBC, and whether that’s the kind of guy that he is around the Yankees. “I thought Robby’s character was pretty consistent with the way his character is here,’ Girardi said. “I know they had some celebrations that people questioned. I didn’t really. When you look at the players that are out there, they play with a lot of excitement and love and they have fun. They love to play the game. Can playing in the WBC help him. I think so because he played important baseball early on and got some really good at-bats and played extremely well. That’s no guarantee that’s going to get him off to a great start.”
• Girardi also discussed the progress of Derek Jeter. He wasn’t sure what activities Jeter did today, but he did touch on his expectations for when Jeter does return. “Our expectation is that he’s going to be an every day player,’ he said. “It’s just when. What we’re concerned about is how long it takes for him to get through what he needs to get through to be that every day player.”
• With right-handed Clay Buchholz starting tonight for the Red Sox, the Yankees are going with their lefty-heavy lineup. It’s pretty much what we expected, with Kevin Youkilis moving over to third base to make room for lefty-swinging Lyle Overbay at first. Ichiro moves into the two-hole — giving the Yankees three straight lefties at the top — while Eduardo Nunez drops down to No. 8.
• Chris Stewart gets the nod at catcher after Francisco Cervelli started on Opening Day, which is somewhat of a puzzling decision. Cervelli has had success against Buchholz in limited at-bats (3 for 6 with three RBI), while Stewart has never faced the Boston righty. Girardi is sticking with his plan to split playing time between the two early on, but I expect Cervelli to take over the job at some point. He brings more energy, and has shown the ability to come up with clutch hits. He’s no offensive force, but he probably gives you more at the plate than Stewart does.
• This lineup feels like it has a bit more punch with Travis Hafner DHing and hitting fifth, but it’s still a far cry from the power-laden lineups of years past. This is what we should expect to see against most right-handers until some of the injured guys get back, with Brennan Boesch also being mixed in from time to time.
• The only starter in today’s lineup with really good numbers against Buchholz is Cano (12 for 25). Hafner has two hits against him in six at-bats, but no other starter is hitting over .273 against Buchholz. You can probably assume that the Red Sox won’t give Cano much to hit, but won’t that be the plan for every pitcher until the likes of Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson return?
Associated Press photos