As Brett Gardner was settling into his locker this morning, a group of three of four writers gathered around to say hello and make some small talk. Inevitably, that small talk turned into an actual interview about Gardner’s role on the team and his reaction to the Yankees offseason moves. A few minutes into that conversation, Derek Jeter arrived, shook Gardner hand, and settled into his own locker just a few feet away.
At some point, Gardner was answering a question about offseason trade rumors. That’s when Jeter couldn’t help himself.
“Man,” Jeter said. “You’re getting traded now?”
Gardner started laughing.
“Not yet. Not yet, Jeet,” he said. “Is that Facebook account fake, by the way?”
“I would say something to you right now, but I don’t want to embarrass you,” Jeter shot back.
It was good, a light moment some two hours before Jeter is scheduled to step behind a microphone to talk about his decision to retire at the end of this season. The entire team is expected to be there, and I can’t imagine it’s the kind of thing Jeter is going to enjoy. While we were standing around, Wally Matthews asked Jeter if he wanted to just do the press conference right then and there in front of his locker.
“It would be easier,” Jeter said.
See you at 11:30.
· Ichiro Suzuki is here for a very different spring training than he’s used to. I’ll have more on this later, but he talked today about wanting to prove himself and earn his playing time. It’s pretty clear that he’s not entirely sure what his role will be, but he said he did a ton of work this offseason (he honestly does look a little stronger than the past two years, though he’s always in insane shape). “My job up to this point was to come here healthy and in good shape, and that’s what I did,” Ichiro said. “So, I’m here. We’ll see where it goes from tomorrow.”
· Speaking of the crowded outfield, Gardner said he’s talked to Joe Girardi and offered to play right field instead of left field if that’s a better fit. In Yankee Stadium, I have to think the Yankees prefer Gardner’s range in left, but given the fact Alfonso Soriano isn’t used to playing right, I guess there’s a chance Gardner gets some time over there.
· And speaking of right field, Tyler Austin seems optimistic heading into spring training. He said his right wrist — which was bothering him since around early June of last year — is back to 100 percent. He had to leave the Arizona Fall League because it started bothering him again, but he said there’s no issue at this point. He’s been hitting at the minor league complex for weeks and feels strong and healthy. A big bounce-back year from him would be a huge boost to the farm system.
· One more note on Austin: He said he’s working mostly in right field during fielding drills, but every other day or so he takes ground balls at third base.
· David Phelps and Adam Warren have been on basically the same schedule, but today Phelps is scheduled to throw a bullpen while Warren is facing hitters tomorrow. That seems to be an attempt to get them lined up for early spring training starts, but Warren said he hasn’t been told when he’s making his first spring appearance.
· Just like a couple of days ago, there’s a fan of pitchers heading over to the minor league complex to throw live batting practice today. There are more catchers and more hitters over there, so it’s just easier.
· After sitting out batting practice yesterday — but saying he had no health issues at all — Francisco Cervelli is back in his usual BP group this morning. In fact, he’s on the main field hitting right now.
· Today’s bullpens (all of which happened earlier this morning)
Jose Campos (to Francisco Cervelli)
Dave Robertson (to John Ryan Murphy)
Matt Thornton (to Brian McCann)
Chris Leroux (to Jose Gil)
David Phelps (to Austin Romine)
Yoshinori Tateyama (to Roman Rodriguez)
· Live batting practice at the minor league complex
· Position players are here, but the first full-squad workout isn’t until tomorrow.
Associated Press photos