The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Archive for February, 2014

All eyes on Tanaka tomorrow (and he’s OK with that)02.28.14

Masahiro TanakaTomorrow afternoon, Masahiro Tanaka will be limited to two innings out of the bullpen for a spring training game on the first of March.

His spring debut is not exactly going to replicate a playoff game at Yankee Stadium, but it will be his closest thing to real game since closing out the Japanese championship series in early November.

“Curious (to) see how he does,” manager Joe Girardi said. “His first outing, hopefully he keeps his emotions in check and that’s what you worry about a little bit, trying to do too much. Players a lot of times want to try to validate contracts. I’ve always said, (for) Japanese-born players I think there’s a certain amount of pride that they feel that they’re pitching for their whole country sometimes and that can be a little much.”

To his credit, though, Tanaka seems unaffected by all of the attention and expectation. Perhaps it’s all a facade — certainly there’s a language and cultural barrier that makes it hard for me or any American writer to have a great sense of what’s going on in his head — but all around him seem to have been impressed by Tanaka’s demeanor this spring.

Asked today if he is curious about his own debut, Tanaka gave a one-word answer that needed no translation: “Mucho.”

“I understand there’s going to be a lot of attention on the results, the numbers of what I do out there,” Tanaka said. “But for me, I’m not looking at it at all. I just want to go out there and pitch my style out there and see how it is on the mound. … Just want to go out there and pitch tomorrow what the catcher requests and see how things are.”

The Yankees have not asked that Tanaka significantly alter his pitching plan. They want to see how he does against major-league hitters and adjust from there. If his approach from Japan carries over with positive results, then there will be no need to fix something that’s not broken. His split-finger, in particular, has become a curiosity.

“I think you have to watch how hitters react in a sense once we get to games, but it has been an out-pitch for him,” Girardi said. “It has been really effective in Japan. His slider has also been really effective. But I think you have to see once he starts to face hitters and they see it a second and third time how they react to it. But I’ve got to tell you, I like it, and I saw how hitters reacted over there and it was a really good pitch for him.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 478 Comments →

Friday notes: “I’ve set my goals higher”02.28.14

Adam Warren

Pretty easy to bundle Adam Warren and David Phelps into a single entity. They’re both right-handed pitchers in their mid-20s out of major college programs at basically the exact same stage of development with relatively similar pitching arsenals vying for the same big league roles while lockering right next to one another.

It seems any time one of their names is mentioned, the other’s name won’t be far behind.

“(Phelps) is one of my really good friends,” Warren said. “I don’t get annoyed at all. … We joke about it a little bit. Sometimes people expect us to be clashing, and enemies, and we joke about it — we’re supposed to hate each other, right? — but no, other than joking around about it, we don’t seriously talk about (the fifth-starter competition). We know we’re supposed to just go out there and get the job done.”

Phelps-and-Warren — the two-headed rotation/bullpen candidate — has started the past two games for the Yankees. Phelps took his turn yesterday and got a bunch of strikeouts while allowing a home run. Warren took his turn today and walked an unusual number of guys, but ultimately pitched two scoreless with a pickoff for good measure. He joked that he’ll be able to give Phelps a hard time about being the first to pick off a guy this spring (Phelps has a great pickoff move and takes some pride in it).

“A little jumpy the first inning, just excited to get back out there,” Warren said. “I’m not pleased with the walks, but I know that’s not normal for me. Just feel like I was a little jumpy, so made the adjustment in the second inning there.”

Brian McCann said he was happy with the ground balls Warren was able to generate, and Joe Girardi said he was overall happy with what he saw from today’s starter. In one role or another, it seems that both Phelps and Warren have a spots on the Yankees pitching staff, it’s just a matter of figuring out how exactly to use them. They don’t actually have to be one and the same.

“I think my confidence is high,” Warren said. “I know I can get these guys out, so I’ve just been worried about going out there and executing pitches. … I’ve set my goals higher. It goes from just trying to make the team — I mean, I’m still trying to make the team this year — but setting some higher goals for myself, making more of an impact. For the most part not thinking about competing, just getting ready for the season. But I’m definitely more comfortable this year and a little more confident after what happened last year.”

Torii Hunter, Brian McCann, Andy Fletcher· Weird day on the bases for the Tigers who had a runner picked off at second, another runner thrown out inexplicably trying to go first to third on a walk, and had another runner thrown out at the plate. It was Zoilo Almonte who got the outfield assist with a terrific throw from left field to end the third inning. “It’s kind of exactly what I would have done before the rule (about not blocking the plate),” Brian McCann said. “You let the ball travel, and it was a bang-bang play, and he slid right into the tag. It was a great throw. All I had to do was put my glove on the plate and he was there.”

· Warren on his pickoff against Rajai Davis: ?I know he’s aggressive on the basepaths, so it was kinda just a daylight play. … It’s neat to pick somebody off, just to get the practice and game experience in, I just wasn’t expecting it.”

· McCann seemed a little surprised that he hit a homer today (and he crushed it, by the way). “I usually don’t hit home runs early in camp,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. My first two games, I’ve been pleased with the way I’ve felt at the plate.”

· I find myself writing Yangervis Solarte’s name more than I expected. He was in the lineup again today and had another big game: 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBI. He’s the first Yankees player to hit two homers this spring. Seems like a borderline but not out-of-the-question option for a bench role. He’s kind of an Eduardo Nunez alternative, I guess.

Victor Martinez, Jacoby Ellsbury· Speaking of Nunez, he made his spring debut but went 0-for-3. His debut was pushed back two days because of food poisoning.

· Joba Chamberlain came out to talk to some of the Yankees during batting practice. He’s in noticeably better shape than he was during his final season with the Yankees. “He looks good,” Girardi said. “He was in good spirits. We talked about his son a little bit and the hockey they’re playing. He was excited.”

· Game notes: Jose Pirela also homered in the game, giving the Yankees four home runs. … Addison Maruszak drew two walks and scored a run, but he also made his second error in as many games. … Double for Zelous Wheeler and a triple for Francisco Arcia. … All four Tigers runs were charged to Brian Gordon who allowed six hits in a rough seventh inning. … Shawn Kelly, Preston Claiborne, Mark Montgomery, Dan Burawa, Fred Lewis and Chase Whitley pitched a scoreless inning apiece. Claiborne and Lewis each had two strikeouts.

· Girardi joked that he’s going to have to fine himself for wearing a home jersey today. “Yes, I noticed it right away when I was out there,” Girardi said. “What are you going to do? They need to help me a little more, evidently. During the season, you don’t have two to pick from in your locker.”

· Final word goes to Gary Sanchez, who had the quote of the day about whether he got the home run ball: “No,” he said. “I’m going to get the one I hit at Yankee Stadium.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 203 Comments →

Sanchez sees a future even with McCann under contract02.28.14

Brian McCannToday’s first Yankees home run was to deep right field. Torii Hunter camped in front of the warning track as if it were a routine fly ball, but Brian McCann wasn’t fooled. He knew he’d hit the ball well, and it was heading to the top of a blue building well beyond the outfield wall.

The second Yankees home run was to left field. This one was more of a line drive, remarkable not for how far it went but for how quickly it left. Off the bat, it might have been a double if didn’t have the hang time, but it stayed up and just keep traveling; Gary Sanchez’s first ever home run in big league camp.

“I’m working hard to be able to belong,” Sanchez said. “Just keep working and we’ll see.”

It was interesting to see those two go deep: the catcher signed to a five-year contract, and the catcher so often labeled as the top prospect in the Yankees minor league system. This was the winter Sanchez was added to the 40-man roster. It’s also the winter he watched the Yankees signed a long-term deal with a guy who plays his position. Sanchez heard the news on his television back home in the Dominican Republic.

“It’s not something that made me feel bad particularly,” Sanchez said. “It wasn’t my decision. I’m just focused on myself and I’m just working hard on myself. … I never thought of it as any sort of danger or anything to my own future with the team. I never saw that.”

Sanchez just turned 21 in December and he’s played only 23 games above High-A. It’s not as if he’s knocking on the door to the big leagues. While the Yankees say they’ve been encouraged by his progress on defense — and Sanchez said he’s been working on his defense a lot this spring — I’ve talked to other talent evaluators who still doubt he’ll be a legitimate big league catcher. Ultimately, he still has hurdles to clear before he’s faced with a true logjam. By the time he’s ready, McCann could be ready for time at first base and designated hitter.

“I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself,” McCann said. “I feel great right now, so that’s kind of the way I operate.”

McCann and Sanchez had their solo homers, Francisco Arcia had a triple and Austin Romine had a base hit. That’s four catchers with hits in this game alone. John Ryan Murphy has also been an early standout offensively, and Francisco Cervelli seems to have a leg up in the competition for the big league backup job. For now the Yankees catching position belongs to McCann, and Sanchez is still a gem of the minor league system, and in between is considerable depth.

It’s become a position with all sorts of possibilities for the short term and the long term.

“Obviously, (the catchers) had a good day and they swung the bat extremely well,” manager Joe Girardi said. “… It’s nice (to have that depth) because we know how quickly they can get nicked up and you want to have people you can turn to. We look at the guys we have in camp now, four of them played in the big leagues last year. That’s unusual.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 342 Comments →

Spring Game 3: Yankees at Tigers02.28.14

YANKEES (0-2)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Zoilo Almonte LF
Russ Canzler 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Dean Anna 2B
Gary Sanchez DH

RHP Adam Warren (3-2, 3.39 in 2013)

TIGERS (2-0)

Rajai Davis LF
Torii Hunter RF
Miguel Cabrera DH
Victor Martinez 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Don Kelly 3B
Bryan Holaday C
Steve Lombardozzi SS
Ezequiel Carrera CF

Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90)

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, not on TV or radio

WEATHER: Little bit chilly by Florida standards, but a nice blue sky overhead.

UMPIRES: HP Andy Fletcher, 1B Jerry Lane, 2B Mark Wegner, 3B Angel Campos

WHAT TO WATCH: There’s a solid chance Eduardo Nunez is going to make this team and get regular playing time at third base, so it’s worth watching his spring debut. The Yankees were encouraged by the way he played down the stretch last season, and that performance 00 coupled with the lack of standout internal alternatives — has given Nunez one more chance to play a role. And, of course, it’s the second appearance of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Adam Warren also looking to make a strong first impression.

OFF THE BENCH: C Austin Romine, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Yangervis Solarte, SS Addison Maruszak, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Jose Pirela, CF Ramon Flores, RF Antoan Richardson

OUT OF THE BULLPEN: Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, Dan Burawa, Mark Montgomery, Brian Gordon and Fred Lewis

UPDATE, 1:06 p.m.: We are underway with an Ellsbury fly ball to center field. First time he’s failed to reach base this spring (reached three times on Wednesday).

UPDATE, 1:08 p.m.: Tough call for Nunez. Thought he had an infield single, instead ruled an error on the shortstop (tried to make a charging play on a short-hop up the middle). Pretty tough play, but Nunez is on board with an 0-for-1 so far today. My good friend Pete Caldrera is outraged.

UPDATE, 1:11 p.m.: Carlos Beltran hits into a double play to end the top of the first. Here comes Adam Warren for his spring debut. Third hitter he’ll face is Miguel Cabrera.

UPDATE, 1:18 p.m.: Adam Warren with a pickoff at second base. Leading the competition!

UPDATE, 1:24 p.m.: OK, I’m honestly not entirely sure what just happened. Warren walked Cabrera, then walked Martinez. But the Martinez walk came on a 3-2 pitch, so Cabrera was running on the pitch, and for some reason he just kept going. He rounded second as if trying to catch the Yankees off guard and take third base. Warren threw to third and got the out. I had looked down to mark my scorecard, and when I looked up Cabrera was running for no apparent reason.

UPDATE, 1:26 p.m.: There’s Brian McCann’s first spring homer. Crushed it, too. Hit a building beyond the right field fence. It’s 1-0 Yankees in the second.

UPDATE, 1:44 p.m.: I just said “Whoa!” out loud in the press box. Gary Sanchez crushed a home run here in the third inning (off Jose Ortega, not off Scherzer). I wasn’t stunned so much by how far he hit it, but it was hit on such a line. He just hit the ball awfully hard. It’s a 2-0 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 1:57 p.m.: Almonte just threw Hunter out at the plate. Nice tag by McCann.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 207 Comments →

Friday morning notes: Pineda throwing sim game on Sunday02.28.14

Michael Pineda

Instead of getting in a Grapefruit League game right away, Michael Pineda’s first spring outing will be a Sunday simulated game. Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees might be moving a little bit slower with Pineda “just to make sure” he’s healthy, but it’s not significantly slower. Pineda’s sim game will come just one day after CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka make their spring debuts.

“(Pitching a sim game is) just kind of the way it works out,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about building guys up, and we’ll do a sim for him the first game. I believe his second game is a real game.”

Girardi said he expects other starters to make simulated starts at various points as well, and he generally dismissed the idea that Pineda beginning with one carries any real significance. In fact, the Yankees have routinely talked about how impressive Pineda has been this spring. Girardi said his slider is sharp and his changeup has actually improved. The Yankees believe he’s throwing with power, but they haven’t had a radar gun on him in bullpens.

“He’s better than when we saw him a couple of years ago, that’s for sure,” Girardi said. “So we have been encouraged. I’m curious to see how it translates in a game. … Just the way the ball’s coming out (has been impressive). Consistency in his mechanics. Consistency in his location.”

Jose Ramirez· Slade Heathcott is beginning baseball drills this morning. He said he wasn’t sure what exactly he’d be doing, but he expected to play catch and take some dry swings. He had relatively minor knee surgery this offseason and has been eased into regular spring training activities. He said he’s felt absolutely no problems during workouts, but he obviously hasn’t tested the knee in drills. “I haven’t felt anything from the get go,” Heathcott said. “We’re just being extra cautious.”

· MRIs on Jose Ramirez’s back and oblique came back clean, but he still feels sore and so he’ll be shut down for a while. Ramirez told me that it feels basically the exact same as last year’s oblique injury which cost him two months. Ramirez told Marly Rivera of ESPN that the pain is slightly less than last year, but he believes it’s the same injury. “we have to treat the symptoms, and he’s sore,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you exactly what it means and how long he’s going to be down, but he’s down right now.”

· Scott Sizemore is going to do sliding drills on Sunday — actually sliding in the dirt into a base — and that should be his final step before being cleared to play in games. He’s obviously anxious to get going but said he appreciates the Yankees giving him time to ease into things. Sounds encouraged by the way his knee feels so far.

· Didn’t see Tyler Austin to get an update on his wrist.

· Girardi said he plans to use CC Sabathia for the first two innings, then Hiroki Kuroda for two innings, then Masahiro Tanaka for two innings in tomorrow’s game. After that, they’ll be separated for their remaining starts, but Girardi indicated that at least one of those three will pitch a simulated game next.

· Upcoming spring starters:
Saturday: CC Sabathia
Sunday: Vidal Nuno
Monday: Ivan Nova
Tuesday: David Phelps
Wednesday: Adam Warren

· Derek Jeter apparently feels fine after playing yesterday. He’s still on track to play again tomorrow. “I asked him how he felt and he said, ‘good.’” Girardi said. “But he wasn’t the only guy I asked how he felt. I asked Brian Roberts. Anyone who played yesterday, I asked them how they feel. A lot of guys have said, better than they expected.”

· Dave Robertson and Jose Campos threw live batting practice this morning. They faced Scott Sizemore and Kelly Johnson.

· Reggie Jackson arrived in Yankees camp today.

Zealous Wheeler· Today’s second string: C Austin Romine, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Yangervis Solarte, SS Addison Maruszak, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Jose Pirela, CF Ramon Flores, RF Antoan Richardson

· Today’s available relievers: Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, Dan Burawa, Mark Montgomery, Brian Gordon and Fred Lewis (Dellin Betances, Caleb Cotham, Chase Whitley, Bruce Billings, Zach Nuding and Diego Moreno are also making the trip).

· Early bullpen sessions:
Michael Pineda (to John Ryan Murphy)
Manny Banuelos (to Jose Gil)
Ivan Nova (to Francisco Cervelli)
Matt Daley (to Roman Rodriguez)

· Batting practice groups at Steinbrenner Field:
Group 1: Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki (that’s the cool-guy group)
Group 2: Francisco Cervelli, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira
Group 3: Kelly Johnson, John Ryan Murphy, Scott Sizemore

Associated Press photos (that’s Wheeler in the bottom photo, and Ramirez from last spring in the middle picture)

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 304 Comments →

Nunez at third in Lakeland02.28.14

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Zoilo Almonte LF
Russ Canzler 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Dean Anna 2B
Gary Sanchez DH

RHP Adam Warren

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 426 Comments →

Spring training broadcast schedule02.27.14

Pirates Yankees Spring Baseball

Today was the first Yankees spring training game broadcast on YES Network and WFAN. Here’s the broadcast schedule for the rest of the spring.

Friday, February 28
at Tigers
1:05 p.m.
Not broadcast

Saturday, March 1
vs. Phillies
1:05 p.m.
YES Network and MLB Network

Sunday, March 2
at Blue Jays
1:05 p.m.
Delayed broadcast on MLB Network at 8 p.m. in the New York market

Monday, March 3
vs. Nationals
1:05 p.m.
YES Network and MLB Network

Derek JeterTuesday, March 4
vs. Orioles
7:05 p.m.
YES Network and MLB Network

Wednesday, March 5
at Rays
1:05 p.m.
Not broadcast

Thursday, March 6
at Phillies
1:05 p.m.
MLB Network in the New York market

Friday, March 7
vs. Tigers
7:05 p.m.
Not broadcast

Saturday, March 8
at Astros
1:05 p.m.
MLB Network and WFAN

Sunday, March 9
vs. Rays
1:05 p.m.
YES Network and WFAN

Monday, March 10
OFF DAY

Tuesday, March 11
at Nationals
1:05 p.m.
Delayed broadcast on MLB Network at 9 p.m. in the New York market

Wednesday, March 12
vs. Tigers
1:05 p.m.
YES Network and MLB Network

Thursday, March 13
vs. Orioles
1:05 p.m.
YES Network
(split-squad at Phillies not scheduled for broadcast)

Friday, March 14
vs. Twins
1:05 p.m.
YES Network

Saturday, March 15
at Orioles
1:05 p.m.
MLB Network and WFAN
(split-squad game in Panama not scheduled for broadcast)

Sunday, March 16
vs. Braves
1:05 p.m.
YES Network and WFAN
(split-squad game in Panama not scheduled for broadcast)

Monday, March 17
at Pirates
1:05 p.m.
Delayed broadcast on MLB Network at 11 p.m. in the New York market

Tuesday, March 18
vs. Red Sox
1:05 p.m.
YES Network, ESPN and WFAN

Wednesday, March 19
at Braves
1:05 p.m.
Not broadcast

Thursday, March 20
at Red Sox
7:05 p.m.
YES Network, ESPN and WFAN

Friday, March 21
vs. Pirates
7:05 p.m.
MLB Network

Saturday, March 22
at Twins
1:05 p.m.
MLB Network and WFAN

Sunday, March 23
vs. Blue Jays
1:05 p.m.
YES Network, MLB Network and WFAN

Monday, March 24
OFF DAY

Tuesday, March 25
vs. Phillies
7:05 p.m.
YES Network, MLB Network and WFAN

Wednesday, March 26
at Blue Jays
1:05 p.m.
Delayed broadcast on MLB Network at 9 a.m. the following morning (March 27) in the New York market

Thursday, March 27
at Pirates
1:05 p.m.
YES Network

Friday, March 28
vs. Marlins
7:05 p.m.
Not broadcast

Saturday, March 29
vs. Marlins
1:05 p.m.
YES Network and WFAN

Sunday, March 30
OFF DAY

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 369 Comments →

Cervelli posts message of peace for Venezuela02.27.14

Cervelli Venezuela

Before today’s game, a group of Yankees players gathered for a picture just outside of the team’s indoor batting cages. They came from Japan, Cuba, California and the Dominican Republic to show support for teammates sending a message of peace back home in Venezuela.

“We’re not trying to be in politics or whatever, because I don’t believe in politics, I just play baseball,” Francisco Cervelli said. “But I care about my people. My mom and dad are still there, and I’m always praying for them to be safe every day. It’s a little message just for peace and no more people dead.”

Protests in Venezuela have turned violent and deadly, and Cervelli was following the lead of other athletes who have posted similar messages through social media. He posted the picture to his Instagram account before today’s game. He said he had no problem with me adding it to the blog. Just helps spread the message.

“I follow (the news) all the time,” Cervelli said. “The only way you follow is Instagram or people send you videos. They’ve been fighting a lot, and those students are amazing. I’m not part of it. We’ve got so many people dying. It’s not what we do. That’s not the way my family raised me.”

Cervelli is one of seven Venezuelan players in Yankees camp along with Jose Campos, Ramon Flores, Francisco Arcia, Jose Gil, Jose Pirela and Yangervis Solarte. For the picture, they were joined by several teammates including CC Sabathia (from the U.S.), Ichiro Suzuki (Japan), Adonis Garcia (Cuba) and Eduardo Nunez (Dominican Republic).

“Latin people have always been one,” Cervelli said. “We are brothers, and everywhere we go, we make noise. We talk loud. That’s the way we do things. … We had other guys, one from Japan, another from here. I spend more time with these guys than my family, so we are a family. These are the people I have been working (with) for the last four years, so I think everybody feels the same thing.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 685 Comments →

Thursday notes: “Where he’s wanted to be his whole life”02.27.14

Derek Jeter

What was Kelly Johnson doing in 1996 while Derek Jeter was winning Rookie of the Year and the World Series?

“For the baseball season of ’96, I was an eighth-grader,” Johnson said. Then he paused to make sure that was correct. “My brother was a senior so I was in eighth grade. Wow. That’s crazy. And what am I? I’m 32. … I’m not even that young. That’s crazy.”

To play next to Jeter this afternoon?

“Surreal,” Johnson said. “… I feel it just being in the clubhouse in general. It kind of feels like I’m back to being a rookie, being a young guy in the Braves clubhouse. There were some living legend type players in that clubhouse, too. You’re not prepared for it. Even having played with some guys like that, you’re still not prepared for it. I was in high school watching these guys step out on the field for the first time. I was their biggest fan. I’m watching everything they do. Derek absolutely included. To be playing next to him and being on the same team is pretty amazing.”

Even on a hitless day when he never made a play in the field, there was significance to having Jeter back on the field, playing shortstop and running without difficulty.

“When you’re getting a weak fly ball or something, you can hear him back there saying, ‘Atta boy, Dave,’” starter David Phelps said. “He’s our leader out there, and it’s definitely nice to have him back on the field, that’s for sure.”

“It didn’t seem that weird for some reason,” new second baseman Brian Roberts said. “I had a chance to play a couple of games with him in the WBC a few years ago, and I guess just knowing him for all these years, it’s not as strange as some people might think.”

It’s odd that a player can be touted as both unique and familiar, yet it all feels a part of the same narrative. Jeter was back. He was playing in a game that didn’t matter, and he really wasn’t doing much to have an impact, but he was playing. And he looked healthy.

At some point the symbolism won’t be enough. The Yankees are banking on Jeter being a productive hitter and a legitimate fielder — “If I ever felt as though I wasn’t important, then I would have left a long time ago,” he said — but for one day, simply having Jeter on the field meant something.

“He can have some fun,” Johnson said. “To be (almost) 40 years old and playing his 20th year in the big leagues, just the smile and how much fun he has coming to the yard every day, it was extremely admirable. That’s part of it. It’s a long year. He keeps it light and has fun. You can tell that this is where he’s wanted to be his whole life.”

David Phelps· In his first spring start, Phelps allowed a solo home run, but he also struck out four and walked none in two innings. All four strikeouts were looking. “I was trying to get the first guy to swing, and he wouldn’t take the bat off his shoulder,” Phelps said. “I’ll take it. The biggest thing I want to do this year is throw strikes, and if they’re going to let me get them, I’m going to keep putting them in there.”

· Phelps was happy with his fastball command, and he was able to mix his slider. The home run came on a curveball that Phelps was surprised to see hit that hard. “I threw two arm-side sliders, one inside to a righty, one backdoor to a lefty for a strikeout,” he said. “And then two glove-side fastballs. Kind of crossing patterns. … I didn’t get behind too many guys, and the fastball command was there. For Day 1, I’ll take it.”

· Of course, Phelps has remained pretty far off the radar this spring. He hasn’t generated nearly the attention of Masahiro Tanaka or Michael Pineda, and he was in a mood to joke about it. “It’s been insane just all this extra media that’s been here to see me,” he said. “It’s been nuts.” That’s literally the most he could get out before he started laughing.

· Of the Yankees major position player additions, Brian Roberts was the last to make his spring debut. He played second and went hitless today. “I think putting a different uniform on, that’s probably been one of the strangest parts,” Roberts said. “Chris Dickerson (now playing for the Orioles) said, ‘Dude, you just look weird.’ I think in some ways I just feel strange. But I think if I was putting on a San Diego Padres uniform it would be even more weird. Just seeing this team so many times and playing in the East, going to Yankee Stadium so many times, I actually think there’s a little more comfort level just because the guys and the familiarity with everything.”

Hideki Matsui· Roberts said basically the same thing Jeter’s been saying about injury concerns: He feels healthy and didn’t come into today’s game worried about anything. Doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t get hurt again, but at this point, there’s nothing that has him concerned.

· Random infield note: Johnson said he and Jeter both dislike wearing sunglasses in the field, and today that nearly became an issue on a shallow fly ball. “We were kind of going back and forth on a ball going up in the air, who was going to take that,” Johnson said. “I’m going to have to say he better take every one he can get.”

· For Joe Girardi, there was significant comfort in watching Jeter try to run out a couple of ground balls. “Running seemed to bother him as much as anything (when he was hurt),” Girardi said. “To me, there were no issues today. … That was really good to see because we haven’t seen that in a while. You’ve got to go back to 2012, so that’s a great sign for us and a great sign for him.”

· One of Jeter’s outs was a bang-bang play at first base, and Girardi said he instantly thought about his routine for deciding whether to review it. This wasn’t a spring game with replay, so he couldn’t actually do anything about it, but Girardi said replay and how to use it is already in his mind. He’s working on getting himself used to having that option during the regular season.

CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova· Injury updates: Francisco Rondon is going to be shut down for a “couple of weeks” because of his shoulder issue that popped up yesterday. … Jose Ramirez was sent for two MRIs, one on his back and one on his oblique to figure out what was causing his tightness yesterday. No word yet on test results. … Giradri said he did not yet have an update on Tyler Austin’s wrist, but Austin did have the wrist unwrapped last I saw him in the clubhouse. Might be totally meaningless, but it’s the first time in several days that I’d seen him without it wrapped up.

· Game notes: Kelly Johnson had an RBI double, one of the few bright spots for the Yankees offense. It was the Yankees only extra-base hit. John Ryan Murphy drove in their other run in an 8-2 loss. … Brett Gardner had two plate appearances and reached base each time on a walk and an infield single. … Two scoreless innings for Chris Leroux and an inning-and-a-third scoreless for Yoshinori Tateyama. … Most of the Pirates damage came against Robert Coello who was charged with five earned runs on five hits and a walk in just a third of an inning.

· We’ll give the final word to Jeter. “I’ve always been an important part of the team,” he said. “I’ve never gone into a season thinking I wasn’t important. I understand that my job is important. If I ever felt as though I wasn’t important, then I would have left a long time ago. I understand that my job on the field is important. Offensively, defensively, it’s important for me to be out there every day. That’s the approach that I’ve always had, and it doesn’t change. My mindset has always remained the same since I came up in ’96.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 134 Comments →

Jeter: “I’m looking forward to playing more and more games”02.27.14

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter played on a bad ankle in 2012, and he spent all of 2013 just trying to get strong and healthy. Forgive him if today felt like a long time coming.

“I feel like I haven’t played a game in a couple of years,” Jeter said. “That’s what it felt like, even though I played a couple last year. I think just getting out there (felt good). I don’t know if there’s one thing in particular, but just getting into a game, feeling good, that’s what I was most excited about.”

Derek JeterYes, he went 0-for-2. And no, he didn’t make a single play in the field (except applying the tag on a caught stealing). The important thing is that Jeter played five innings with no problem, and hitting two ground balls — one a double play, one a bang-bang play at first base — forced him to run pretty hard down the line.

Last year he never looked comfortable running to first base. Today he looked perfectly normal.

“I’ve done it already,” Jeter said. “I’ve run a lot. You guys may have not seen it, but I’ve run a lot. It’s always good to do stuff in game action. I wasn’t out there for such a long time, so it’s good to get back in game action. But I’m not concerned about running. That doesn’t cross my mind.”

Early in spring training, Jeter doesn’t often swing during live batting practice, so today was the first time he’d actually swung at a real pitch. As the spring progresses, he’ll eventually have to dive for the first time, range from side-to-side, and make his jump throw from the hole. Spring training is a long process, and Jeter is just getting started. But as far as first steps go, this one looked much different than in recent years; different because it actually looked normal.

Joe Girardi said he expects Jeter to play again on Saturday, and probably every other day for a while unless Jeter says he wants to play back-to-back right away.

“Everyone always says spring training is too long,” Jeter said. “But if you miss a whole spring training, then you realize why it is so long. You need to play games. You need different situations to happen. I haven’t played too many games in the past year and a half, so I’m looking forward to playing more and more games. You can work out all you want in the offseason, but until you start getting in the flow of the game, you really can’t prepare for that. … Right now I’m not where I want to be, but that’s why we have 30-something games in spring training.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 546 Comments →

Sponsored by:
 

Search

    Advertisement

    Follow

    Mobile

    Read The LoHud Yankees Blog on the go by navigating to the blog on your smartphone or mobile device's browser. No apps or downloads are required.

Advertisement

Place an ad

Call (914) 694-3581