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Looking back: The randomness of spring training

Posted By Chad Jennings On December 30, 2013 @ 2:59 pm In Misc | 40 Comments

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Working on some year-in-review stuff led me to reading through some random spring training blog posts. Reading those nuggets led to this list of stuff you might have forgotten — or wish you could forget — about the Yankees 2013 spring training.

Al Roker, Brian Cashman [2]• Brian Cashman broke his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle after jumping out of an airplane. It was that kind of year.

• After the injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, Cashman reached out to Derrek Lee, Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen about coming out of retirement — or postponing retirement — to help the Yankees plug the holes. Instead, the Yankees traded for Vernon Wells and signed Lyle Overbay.

• Johnny Damon made a pitch to join the Yankees, thinking he could help fill the outfield hold. “I love Johnny, a lot of leadership and everything else, but it’s just not going to fit our needs,” Cashman said. “It’s the same reason we didn’t bring him in last year. We need somebody who can play the outfield every day.”

• There were so many guys in camp, some had to share uniform numbers.

• When camp opened, there seemed to be a good chance that either Juan Rivera or Matt Diaz would make the Yankees as a platoon hitter who could play some outfield and get some time at DH against lefties. Then Curtis Granderson was hurt (opening more chances for outfielders) and Mark Teixiera was hurt (opening at-bats at first base) and still neither Rivera nor Diaz made the team. Diaz was one of the first cuts, and Rivera was one of the last. Oh, and David Aardsma was a heavy favorite to make the team until the very end.

• Phil Hughes had that back injury during the early spring workouts, and he actually started on the season on the disabled list before being rushed onto the active roster to make a start.

• Joba Chamberlain had that awful mustache. Just brutal.

Chien-Ming Wang [3]• Chien-Ming Wang was back in pinstripes for a while. The Yankees signed him during spring training and gave him a look in Triple-A. On the day he showed up at the minor league complex, there was a massive group of Taiwanese journalists to document his return.

• Melky Mesa backed out of the World Baseball Classic because he thought it would help him take advantage of an opportunity to make the big league roster. But he hit .228 in big league camp and got just 13 big league at-bats all season. Andy Pettitte was also asked to play in the WBC, but the Yankees didn’t want him to waste his innings and Pettitte agreed.

• The Yankees kept making errors in the early spring training games. With several guys hurt, and others playing in the WBC, the Yankees were using a lineup of almost all young infielders who kept making mistakes in the field.

• After leaving Florida, the Yankees made a memorable trip to West Point. I remember the trip well — I’d never been there, and the place was incredible — but I’d completely forgotten about it until I saw an old blog post about it. Still have the pictures on my phone.

• Chris Stewart got ejected from a spring training game for arguing briefly about a bang-bang play at first base. “I’m just trying to make a team,” he said afterward. “I didn’t feel like I did anything to deserve to be thrown out of the game.” It was odd.

• There was that goofy Kevin Youkilis controversy when he said, “I’ll always be a Red Sock.” Derek Jeter even joked about it during his opening press conference, saying Andy Pettitte told him to say something controversial to get Youkilis off the back page of the tabloids.

• Alex Rodriguez wasn’t there. He was an ongoing storyline, but his absence managed to at least somewhat minimize the distraction.

Associated Press photos

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