· Now that our very good friend Anthony McCarron is standing on a sidewalk trying to catch a glimpse of Derek Jeter fielding grounders, you know spring training is right around the corner. In the next week and a half, there will be a slow build-up of baseball writers joining Anthony in Florida. Of course, there’s not much going on down there, but it’s good to have some eyes and ears on the scene. Today Anthony reported that Jeter did five round of batting practice and fielded 44 grounders. Among the other Yankees Anthony spotted at the Himes complex: Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne and Larry Rothschild. If you don’t already follow Anthony on Twitter, now would be a good time to do so.
· Bigger news in the American League East: Jeremy Hellickson had elbow surgery last week and isn’t expected to be activated until mid- to late-May. Pretty big blow for the Rays. Hellickson is coming off a bad year, and the elbow situation might have had something to do with that.
· New Yankees infielder Kelly Johnson spoke to the New York Daily News about signing with the Yankees and his expected role on the team. Johnson knew from the beginning that his role could depend heavily on the Alex Rodriguez appeal. “I was waiting for a decision,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of speculation. I don’t think there was a surprise, for the most part. It turned out how I thought it would. It changes things for me, but nothing that I didn’t know coming in when I signed. The Yankees were very forthcoming and forward about what I should expect.”
· Writing about some of the tough lineup decisions facing various teams, Buster Olney says the toughest call for the Yankees is where to bat Brett Gardner. Olney notes that Gardner would be a nice fit in the No. 2 spot — back-to-back lefties, yes, but Gardner’s patience would give Jacoby Ellsbury time to run and setup the possibility of bunting for a hit or to advance the runner — but it seems more likely that Derek Jeter will at least open the season in that spot.
Associated Press photo