The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for March, 2014

Yankees will finalize roster tomorrow03.31.14

Yangervis Solarte

The Yankees technically still have three moves to make.

One deadline has already come and gone, and the Yankees were forced to trim to a standard 25-man roster. But that’s not the same as setting their Opening Day roster.

The Yankees current roster includes shortstop Brendan Ryan, who will open the season on the disabled list with a back issue. For the time being, he’s technically active and a part of the team. In reality, he’s not in Houston. At some point tomorrow, the Yankees will make three moves.

1. Officially put Ryan on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to basically a week before camp broke (not that it will matter, because Ryan will be on the DL beyond the date he’s eligible to be activated).

2. Add Yangervis Solarte to the active roster. Right now, he’s floating out there on the minor league contract he signed this winter. We already know, though, that Solarte won a spot on the team, and he will be added before tomorrow’s game.

3. Open a spot on the 40-man roster. This is necessarily to accommodate Solate, who was a non-roster player this spring. There seems to be at least some chance that the Yankees could put Nik Turley on the 60-day disabled list to open a spot. Turley’s going to start the year on the minor league DL anyway, but the 60-day is probably much longer than necessary (and such a move would start his service-time clock). They could also DFA a guy like Preston Claiborne, who was outpitched by several other Triple-A relievers this spring. A strong spring from Ramon Flores might have taken him out of DFA consideration.

Associated Press photo

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Bullpen notes: Robertson moves quietly into new role03.31.14

David Robertson

I talked to Dave Robertson for about three minutes this afternoon. The conversation was strictly about sunscreen. Our longest conversation that I can remember from spring training was all about where he buys boots in Tampa. He did that one group interview about the ninth inning right when spring training opened, but for the most part, Robertson has quietly taken this new role without many questions or early problems.

A narrow lead tomorrow night will be Robertson’s to protect with no Mariano Rivera behind him and no Rafael Soriano safety net waiting in the wings. It’s a huge change for the Yankees, and it’s hardly ever come up in conversation the past month and a half.

“I think he’s earned that role over time behind here,” Joe Girardi said this afternoon, asked about Robertson for what felt like the first time in a month. “What he’s done when he first came up, and then moving to the eighth inning and the success that he had, some of the dominance that he showed in the course of seasons and being a big strikeout guy, I think he earned the responsibility of the closer.”

It’s worked out so far. Robertson had a quietly strong spring allowing just one hit and two walks through seven Grapefruit League games. He will go to the bullpen tomorrow night as the unquestioned closer, and Girardi said the transition comes with a long leash.

“There’s no doubt he’s going to blow a save (eventually),” Girardi said. “It just happens. I know one guy had a streak for a long, long time, but it’s part of the game. And I think his teammates will have his back and I think he’ll bounce back. … I don’t go into the season thinking that he’s not going to be our closer or I’m going to have a short leash. He’s our closer.”

Three other bullpen notes leading into tomorrow’s opener:

BetancesWarren1. Girardi said he still plans to have Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton as his primary eighth-inning options. As for the seventh inning, it sounds like he would be more likely to use either David Phelps or Adam Warren rather than Dellin Betances or Vidal Nuno. “I’ll probably go with the experienced guys a little more (in the seventh),” Girardi said. “And then you’ll see how they’re throwing and maybe you go with the hot hand a little bit.”

2. Speaking of guys like Phelps, Warren and Nuno: Girardi said each night he wants to hold one of those three back as a true long/mopup man, but he also expects to use those three in shorter stints. “Sometimes when you only have one long man and that guy gives you five or six innings, unfortunately for that guy, sometimes he gets sent down,” Girardi said. “You might not have to do it in this case because we have a couple of different guys who can do that. I anticipate us having some multiple-inning guys too, so our bullpen’s going to have a different look. Most of the years I’ve been here it’s been seven, eight, nine – it’s been drawn out – but that’s not so clear now.”

3. Donnie Collins reports that spring bullpen standout Chris Leroux is likely being held back in extended spring training so that he can be stretched out to pitch as a starter this season. If that happens, it seems Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will open with a rotation of Alfredo Aceves, Shane Greene, Bruce Billings, Chase Whitley and Brian Gordon. Leroux, Manny Banuelos and Nik Turley could be added to that mix at some point. That’s a lot of spot start/long relief options down the road.  “We’re hoping we have some depth, we’re hoping we have alternatives,” Brian Cashman said. “We’re hoping we have protection when the storm comes, because it does come. It comes for everybody.”

Associated Press photo

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Video: Yankees lineup drastically different than a year ago03.31.14

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

Here’s the Yankees Opening Day lineup from last year.

Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Ben Francisco DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Francisco cervelli C

The only connection between that lineup and tomorrow’s lineup with be Gardner, who’s playing a new position and batting six spots lower. Weirdly, tomorrow’s Yankees lineup will have more in common with last year’s opposing Opening Day lineup (last year’s Red Sox, just like this year’s Yankees, had Jacoby Ellsbury playing center and leading off).

“Our goal was to try to attack every area of weakness (this offseason),” Brian Cashman said. “We had a good offensive balance last year, but we never had a chance to run it out there. If those guys didn’t get hurt, we would have been one of the top offensive teams in the game. But we lost everybody. … Outside of Brendan Ryan, we had a good spring (this year) and we’re healthy. Almost everybody performed well this spring. We’re in shape and it was a great spring. I feel as good as you can in terms of mission accomplished getting through spring training with what you wanted to get through. You saw what you wanted to see from most people.”

You can see in the video above that Girardi talked a little bit this afternoon about his new lineup, including the decision to move Gardner into the No. 7 spot. Gardner wasn’t going to stay in the leadoff position, Derek Jeter is basically grandfathered into the No. 2 hole, and Girardi said he liked the idea of Gardner’s speed ahead of the bottom two hitters. He particularly liked having Gardner’s speed ahead of a patient hitter like Brian Roberts, who should take some pitches and give Gardner a chance to run.

Is Gardner more likely to run now that he’ll be on base ahead of Roberts and Kelly Johnson rather than Robinson Cano?

“I haven’t really thought about that,” Gardner said. “I guess you could make that argument, but I haven’t really put much thought into it.”

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Opening Day lineup set03.31.14

EllsburyJoe Girardi announced today that he will definitely go with Sunday’s posted lineup for tomorrow season opener. The only difference is that Alfonso Soriano, not Carlos Beltran, will be the DH. A day early, here’s tomorrow’s Opening Day lineup.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B

LHP CC Sabathia

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Pitching matchups in Houston03.31.14

CC Sabathia

LHP CC Sabathia (14-13, 4.78 in 2013)
RHP Scott Feldman (12-12, 3.86 in 2013)
7:10 p.m. ET; YES Network, MLB Network and WFAN

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-13, 3.31)
RHP Jarred Cosart (1-1, 1.95)
8:10 p.m. ET; YES Network and WFAN

RHP Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.10)
LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-5, 2.76)
8:10 p.m. ET; YES Network and WFAN

Associated Press photo

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Setting expectations on the day before Opening Day03.31.14

Joe Girardi

Right now, the baseball season is all about expectations. Within a few months there will be pleasant surprises and harsh realities, but right now it’s all about what might be or what could be.

I’ve been asked the past few days what I expect from this year’s Yankees, and I’m never quite sure how to answer. It’s a lot more complicated than saying this is an 85-win team or a 95-win team. With this team in particular — I’m sure it’s true every year, but it seems especially true this year — the season really hinges on a nearly endless series of uncertain expectations.

Think of these as over-under questions. What are you expecting this season?

Mark TeixeiraMark Teixeira
35 home runs?At this point, it seems foolish to expect Teixeira to hit .300 and be the kind of player he was in 2009. Even Teixeira has essentially acknowledged as much. But he can still be a viable run producer if he’s able to hit the ball out of the ballpark with that surgically repaired right wrist. Seems safe to assume Teixeira will take his walks, but are you expecting him to return to being one of the game’s very best home run hitters?

Derek Jeter
.290 batting average?
Defensive expectations are harder to define with a single number. Instead, for now we’ll focus on Jeter’s offense. Aside from last year and his first partial year, Jeter has hit below .290 only once in his career (which is pretty amazing). If Jeter has 600 at-bats this season, a .290 batting average means 174 hits. At 650 at-bats, it’s 189 hits. Last time Jeter was healthy, in 2012, he hit .316. Even in his uneven 2011 he hit .297.

Brian McCann
100 RBI?
Do you realize McCann’s never had a 100-RBI season? Reaching that milestone this year would mean keeping McCann healthy and keeping the top of the lineup productive, so that the cleanup hitter has plenty of RBI opportunities. Think about the Yankees recent middle-of-the-order hitters. Robinson Cano reached 100 RBI in three of his last four seasons. Teixeira had 100 RBI in each of his last three healthy seasons. Curtis Granderson had 100 in both 2011 and 2012. Alex Rodriguez has gotten there every season that he’s played more than 122 games. This number wouldn’t be all about McCann, but it could be telling for the Yankees.

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury
140 games played?
One minor injury wouldn’t be crushing. Surely the Yankees are expecting 150-plus out of their next center fielder, but if he falls just short of that, it’s more disappointing than destructive. The problem is the potential for Ellsbury to have an injury that costs him a month or more. His biggest injuries have been kind of flukey — collisions sent him to the DL twice — but that spring training calf issue was a reminder that little things could pop up here and there, and it’s hard to ignore Ellsbury’s track record. When he’s been on the field, he’s consistently been a good player.

Eduardo Nunez
90 games played?
Kind of a weird one, but here’s my thinking… The Yankees picked two unknowns with zero big league experience ahead of Nunez this spring. Whether I like him as a player, whether you like him as a player, whether he has the potential to go elsewhere and be an everyday guy doesn’t matter. What seems clear is that the Yankees would rather not use him. However, their infield situation is full of so many unreliable parts and such unproven depth that a few dominoes falling the wrong way could put Nunez in the lineup fairly regularly.

CC SabathiaCC Sabathia
3.31 ERA?
This number wasn’t pulled at random. It’s Hiroki Kuroda’s ERA the past two seasons. It’s also a full 1.47 better than Sabathia’s ERA last season. With Sabathia trying to be effective without his old fastball velocity, I’m not sure it’s worth focusing on his strikeouts, it’s all about simply getting the job done. And Kuroda has gotten the job done his past two years. There might be hope that Sabathia can get closer to the 3.00 he was in 2011, but for right now, wouldn’t a 3.31 be a good theoretical place to start?

Masahiro Tanaka
14 wins?
Kind of like McCann with the RBI, this isn’t necessarily a measure of Tanaka alone. In my mind, as long as Tanaka’s winning games — even if the Yankees offense is having to pick him up from time to time — his rookie season will be a solid success. Doesn’t have to be dominant in his rookie year, just needs to pitch well enough to help the Yankees win games. And look back to that championship 2009 season: Sabathia was the only Yankees starter to win more than 14. If Tanaka can pitch pretty well, and the lineup can hit pretty well, shouldn’t 14 wins be solid benchmark?

Michael Pineda
160 innings?
The Yankees won’t give an exact innings limit on Pineda. They’ve said he won’t be limited early in the season, but they’ve also acknowledged that he won’t be allowed to reach 200 innings. That leaves quite a bit of wiggle room. What we know for certain is that Pineda pitched 171 innings in 2011, so that seems like a high-end of what he would be allowed to pitch this season. Simply reaching 160 would require a good amount of health and enough production that he stays in the rotation most of the season. Hard to imagine Pineda reaching 160 big league innings with an ERA over 5.00.

David RobertsonDave Robertson
35 saves?
Might seem like a low number considering Mariano Rivera had 44 last year, but consider the fact that in 2012, only six closers reached 35 saves. In 2011, there were only four. In 2010, there were five. Certainly the best-case scenario involves more than 35 saves for Robertson, but I wonder if 35 is an attainable benchmark that indicates Robertson has stayed healthy and pitched well enough to stay in the closer role all year.

Manny Banuelos
10 major-league starts?Two ways this could happen. Either Banuelos pitches so well in Triple-A that the Yankees have little choice but to find a way to get him into their big league rotation, either as a way to rest one of their current starters or as a straight replacement. Banuelos could also make 10 or more big league starts if the Yankees rotation simply stumbles so badly that they have to find someone to help, and Banuelos is both in the upper levels and on the 40-man roster. Getting 10 starts out of Banuelos could be a great thing. Or it could be a sign that things have gone wrong.

Associated Press photos

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MLB replay room up and running in NYC03.30.14

Instant Replay Baseball

While I’ve been in Florida, The Associated Press has been getting a look at the new replay facility in New York. Here’s the story from Ron Blum.

Instant Replay BaseballNEW YORK (AP) — After deciding close calls on the field since 1876, baseball opens a high-tech control room this weekend where the fates of batters, pitchers, runners and fielders will be decided by umpires up to 2,600 miles away in the building where the Oreo cookie was invented.

Starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game at the San Diego Padres on Sunday night, the U.S. opener of the 2014 season, players, managers and fans will turn their attention to the ROC — the Replay Operations Center.

In a dimly lit room of just under 1,000 square feet in the Chelsea Market in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, umpires and technicians will make the decisions that could decide games and championships.

More than $10 million has been spent wiring the 30 big league ballparks with Fiberlink cable that will transmit the images from at least 12 cameras at every site, and Major League Baseball says it will take just 400 milliseconds for each image to arrive at the command center.

All in an effort to prevent the type of botched calls that cost Detroit’s Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010.

“I’m happy for the managers,” said Joe Torre, an MLB executive vice president overseeing the new system. “Maybe it will keep them from having one or two more sleepless nights if they are able to grab one and overturn it.”

Inside the sliding glass doors at the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the room has its own power supply in case of a blackout — with batteries as a second auxiliary — and a stand-alone heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that keeps the temperature at 72 degrees. Cell phones don’t have reception.

There are dozens of televisions, more than enough to make it resemble NASA’s Mission Control. Outside the room, next to a modernist black sofa, is a 55-inch NEC screen, with another just inside the entrance. Walk in, and there’s 65-inch Pentus TV to your left.

Instant Replay BaseballOn each side are three stations, each to be staffed with a technician on the left and a major league umpire on the right. Three more “floater” stations stretch across the back well.

Every station has four 46-inch screens — three Planars for each pod, with a higher-quality Sony directly in front of each umpire’s seat. The umps will wear headsets and can push a button to speak with their colleagues at any stadium.

Fifteen Asus computer monitors are scattered about, four on a wavy table in the center where supervisors will monitor the review umpires and up to 15 simultaneous games (there would only be the maximum if weather delays the action in the eastern half of North America).

The nine circular overhead lights are kept low, the walls are gray and the carpeting is dark — all so that the televised images will stand out more for the umpires. There is a sink and a microwave — the food court on the first floor is filled with dozens of options.

“I’ll see more games than the Fan Cave,” quipped Justin Klemm, a former minor league umpire and big league fill-in who was hired last month as MLB’s director of instant replay.

Baseball ignored replay even as it was first used by the NFL in 1986, the NHL in 1991, the NBA in 2002 and the Little League World Series in 2008.

MLB took a tentative step toward replay in August 2008, when it first used video to decide boundary calls such as home runs at the top of fences or near foul poles.

Torre long opposed video review but changed his mind in October 2012, when umpire Jeff Nelson missed a call on Robinson Cano’s two-out tag of Omar Infante at second base in the AL championship series, calling the runner safe. Detroit went on to win Game 2 and sweep the New York Yankees.

“That’s when I realized that we certainly can’t ignore the technology and the fact that this seemed to be what the people want or think they want,” Torre said.

Chris MarinakEight umpires will be assigned to the replay room each week, with generally six on duty for a full schedule and each monitoring two games at a time.

When an umpire has a decision to make, screens for their other game will go dark. If an ump has simultaneous challenges in both games, one will “cascade” to the next pod over.

Baseball established a “clear and convincing” standard for overturning calls. The replay decision will be either the call is confirmed, stands (if there is no conclusive evidence) or is overturned.

Managers get one challenge per game, and if that challenge is successful, they receive a second. If a manager is out of challenges, from the seventh inning on an umpire can call for a replay on his own. In addition, home runs and plate collisions are subject to unlimited review at the discretion of the crew chief.

Baseball hopes it will take no more than an average of 3 minutes for the decision. The average length of a nine-inning game was a record 2:59 last year, according to STATS. Torre said pace-of-game rules will be enforced more strictly.

“In order to make this thing work and not have it make the games longer is the fact that we have to start really disciplining and paying attention to the repeat violators,” he said.

Open for replay challenges are force plays, tags plays, fair-foul in the outfield, traps in the outfield, hit batters, retouching, passing runners, ground-rule doubles, fan interference and home runs (at the umpires’ discretion).

Instant Replay BaseballAmong the excluded decisions are ball-strike calls, check swings, foul tips making contact with the bat, balks, interference and obstruction calls, the neighborhood play at second on double plays, running out of the basepath or runner’s lane, tagging up and catches in the infield.

MLB says that among incorrect calls last year were 156 force plays, 60 tags on steals and 76 other tags — totaling 86 percent of all missed decisions.

Torre said he expects more dropped balls during pivots at second base will be called safe rather than forceouts, and that MLB will monitor phone traffic between team replay personnel and dugouts to ensure the video isn’t used for sign stealing.

About 75 umpires came to New York for training, and MLB sat down with all managers during spring training and will have a conference call with them this week.

Umpiring’s new era has arrived.

“I could tell you, one, I’m glad we didn’t have replay,” Torre said, an apparent reference to Richie Garcia calling a 2-2 pitch to Tino Martinez a ball in the 1998 World Series opener. Martinez hit a grand slam on the next pitch, and the Yankees swept San Diego.

“I’m wearing that ring right now,” Torre said.

Associated Press photos

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Hope and uncertainty on the way to Houston03.30.14

The Yankees finalized their 25-man roster yesterday with their choice of new utility man Yangervis Solarte instead of the more familiar Eduardo Nunez. Now the team has a full roster of players who not only have a job to do, but also come with reason for hopeful optimism, but also reason for practical skepticism. Here’s the 25-man roster, with each player given one exclamation point and one question mark; one cause for hope and one cause for uncertainty.

Brian McCannBrian McCann
Starting catcher
Bringing offense back to the catching position!
How many games can he catch while staying healthy and productive?

Francisco Cervelli
Backup catcher
Best hitter in spring training!
Can he produce like he did before last season’s injury and suspension?

Mark Teixeira
Starting first baseman
No setbacks with his surgically repaired wrist!
Can he drive the ball enough to be a legitimate run-producing power hitter?

Brian Roberts
Regular second baseman
Switch-hitting former all-star says he’s finally healthy again!
Can he really play a full season after four years of injury problems?

Derek JeterDerek Jeter
Starting shortstop
The Captain is back for one last season, and he’s proven doubters wrong in the past!
Yes, he’s Derek Jeter, but how good can he be as he approaches 40 after a season lost to injury?

Kelly Johnson
Regular third baseman
Left-handed power in Yankee Stadium!
After spending most of his career at second base, can he really play third?

Dean Anna
Backup shortstop
Grinder-type looks like a valuable, under-the-radar role player!
Never even invited to big league camp with the lowly Padres, now the Yankees need him?

Yangervis Solarte
Utility infielder
Spring standout could be a diamond in the rough!
Can you really trust spring numbers from a minor league free agent with no big league time?

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury
Starting center fielder
One of the game’s top leadoff hitters has switched sides in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry!
Was a seven-year deal really wise for a guy whose injury problems have already caused him to miss time?

Brett Gardner
Starting left fielder
Elite defender in left who looked like a viable leadoff man last year!
Is a light-hitting speedster really the best option in a typically power-based position like left field?

Carlos Beltran
Regular right fielder
Veteran switch hitter coming off back to-back all-star seasons in St. Louis!
Defense has slipped in recent years; how long before the soon-to-be 37-year-old’s bat does the same?

Alfonso Soriano
Regular designated hitter
Last year’s trade sparked huge production down the stretch!
Can the 38-year-old get used to the DH role while providing much-needed right-handed power?

Ichiro Suzuki
Backup outfielder
Hall of Fame talent still has speed and defense that could be helpful in a part-time role!
How often will Girardi be tempted to play a guy who’s everyday impact seems to have become a thing of the past?

CC SabathiaCC Sabathia
No. 1 starter
Showed veteran savvy through a strong and hopeful spring!
Has a diminished fastball robbed his ability to be a true ace?

Hiroki Kuroda
No. 2 starter
The Yankees most consistent starting pitcher the past two seasons!
Is there any way for the 39-year-old to avoid a late-season decline (or a late-career drop off)?

Ivan Nova
No. 3 starter
One of the American League’s best starters in the second half of last season!
Was that strong finish just another tease, or has Nova found some much-needed consistency?

Masahiro Tanaka
No. 4 starter
Looked as good as advertised during a dominant spring training!
As the league adjusts to Tanaka, will he be able to make adjustments of his own?

Michael PinedaMichael Pineda
No. 5 starter
Lots of strikes and ground balls in an encouraging and healthy spring training!
After shoulder surgery, does Pineda still have the arm and durability to be an impact starter?

Dave Robertson
Cut back on walks to become one of the game’s top late-inning relievers the past three years!
How will the move to the ninth inning impact a guy who’s saved a total of eight big league games in his career?

Shawn Kelley
Presumed setup man
Emerged from obscurity with big strikeout totals last season!
Was last year’s diminished second half a sign of things to come for a guy who was DFA by Seattle just last year?

Matt Thornton
Top left hander
Former late-inning all-star steps into a should-be-easier role as the primary bullpen lefty!
With his strikeout totals slipping significantly, can he be trusted as anything more than a lefty specialist?

David PhelpsDavid Phelps
Long/middle reliever
Strong spring would have been enough to win a rotation spot on most teams!
Can he return to the impact potential he showed during his rookie season in 2012?

Adam Warren
Long/middle reliever
Strong rookie season essentially guaranteed a roster spot, but he pitched well this spring just for good measure!
How will he respond to what should be a more significant role in his second big league season?

Dellin Betances
Middle reliever
Once highly touted prospect seems to have put it all together since moving into the bullpen!
Can he maintain command and consistency while being seriously tested in the big leagues for the first time?

Vidal Nuno
Second lefty/long man
Definite diamond in the rough pitched well in his first big league action a year ago!
Is he helped by a small sample size, or can his mix of offspeed pitches get reliable results against big league hitters?

Associated Press photos

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Video: Jeter wraps up his final spring training03.30.14

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

Standing behind home plate with members of the Boys and Girls Club, Derek Jeter was given a key to the city of Tampa yesterday. Literally seconds later, his final spring training game was rained out. Kind of an odd way to break camp for the last time.

“I just tried to not look forward to the end of (spring training),” Jeter said. “Most people look forward to the end of spring about two weeks into it, but I just tried to take it day in and day out. That’s what I’ll remember.”

Truth be told, Jeter’s final spring training really wasn’t all that memorable. He hit just .137 with only one extra-base hit, but he played in 18 games with 51 at-bats. Those are the numbers that seemed to mean the most. He was healthy. He ran without any problems. He did nothing to suggest he can’t be the Yankees shortstop this season.

“I think that his average that will be something that will be talked about,” Joe Girardi said. “But for me, I think it was seeing him come out and play healthy, going back to back, being physically able to do it, not having to force his running. It was hard to watch last year. As much as he said he was ready to go, he really wasn’t, so I’m happy with where he’s at. I don’t make too much of spring training numbers, because I’ve been in both sides of that where I had a good spring and couldn’t get a hit in the month of April, and had a bad spring and got a lot of hits in the month of April. So I don’t make too much of that. As long as he feels good and feels like his timing’s there, that’s the most important thing.”

Jeter says he feels good, and he points to a few hits late in spring as evidence that his timing was getting better at just the right time. I’m not sure anyone knows what to expect over the course of 162 games — how well can he hit, will experience and positioning make him a viable defensive player, can he stay healthy all the way through — but we know that Jeter is going to play. His ankle has healed, his legs are strong, and the shortstop position is his for one last season.

“It’s odd to think that I won’t be back,” Jeter said. “I’ve been coming here (to Steinbrenner Field) since ’96. The first year it opened was my first year (on the Opening Day roster). It will be a little different. It will probably be a little more different next year when spring training starts. Right now, I’m just looking forward to getting to Houston. … I feel good. That was the most important thing. Spring training is a progression, both physically and being game-ready. I feel I’m where I want to be right now.”

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Tanaka named top rookie in Yankees camp03.29.14

Masuhiro Tanaka

The writers actually voted for this year’s Dawson Award even before Masahiro Tanaka struck out 10 last night (if he hadn’t already won, I suspect we might have re-voted in the wake of that performance). It was basically a race between Tanaka and Yangervis Solarte, with Zoilo Almonte, Adonis Garcia and Dellin Betances also deserving some consideration. The history of the Dawson Award is kind of a mixed bag — some future elite players, some guys who never made the big leagues — but Tanaka seems like a strong choice, if only because of the way he handled himself this spring. There’s also the fact he pitched to a 2.14 ERA with 26 strikeouts and only three walks. Here’s the official Dawson announcement from the Yankees, along with a list of all the past winners.

Joe Girardi, Masahiro TanakaThe New York Yankees today announced that right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is the recipient of the 2014 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training. Tanaka received the award in a pre-game ceremony today, prior to the Yankees’ 1:05 p.m. game vs. the Marlins at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Tanaka, 25, went 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA (21.0IP, 5ER) in five appearances (three starts) this spring and led the team with 26 strikeouts, while walking only three batters (15H). In 2013, he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA (212.0IP, 30ER, 183K) in 28 appearances (27 starts) with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. Tanaka was signed by the Yankees via the posting system from the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan and signed a seven-year contact on January 22, 2014.

The award was established in honor of James P. Dawson (1896-1953), who began a 45-year career with The New York Times as a copy boy in 1908. Eight years later, he became boxing editor and covered boxing and baseball until his death during spring training in 1953.

Two winners of the honor, Tony Kubek in 1957 and Tom Tresh in 1962, went on to win the American League “Rookie of the Year” Award. The award first was presented to rookie Norm Siebern by Manager Casey Stengel in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the conclusion of spring training in 1956. New York Yankees beat writers vote on the winner.

In conjunction with the award, Tanaka will receive a watch from Betteridge Jewelers.

James P. Dawson Award winners:

· 1956…Norm Siebern OF
· 1957…Tony Kubek SS
· 1958…John Blanchard C
· 1959…Gordon Windhorn OF
· 1960… John James P
· 1961…Rollie Sheldon P
· 1962…Tom Tresh SS
· 1963…Pedro Gonzalez 2B
· 1964…Pete Mikkelsen P
· 1965…Arturo Lopez OF
· 1966…Roy White OF
· 1967…Bill Robinson OF
· 1968…Mike Ferraro 3B
· 1969…Jerry Kenney OF/ Bill Burbach P
· 1970…John Ellis 1B/C
· 1971…None Selected
· 1972…Rusty Torres OF
· 1973…Otto Velez OF
· 1974…Tom Buskey P
· 1975…Tippy Martinez P
· 1976…Willie Randolph 2B
· 1977…George Zeber INF
· 1978…Jim Beattie P
· 1979…Paul Mirabella P
· 1980…Mike Griffin P
· 1981…Gene Nelson P
· 1982…Andre Robertson SS
· 1983…Don Mattingly 1B
· 1984…Jose Rijo P
· 1985…Scott Bradley C
· 1986…Bob Tewksbury P
· 1987…Keith Hughes OF
· 1988…Al Leiter P
· 1989…None Selected
· 1990…Alan Mills P
· 1991…Hensley Meulens OF
· 1992…Gerald Williams OF
· 1993…Mike Humphreys OF
· 1994…Sterling Hitchcock P
· 1995…None Selected
· 1996…Mark Hutton P
· 1997…Jorge Posada C
· 1998…Homer Bush INF
· 1999…None Selected
· 2000…None Selected
· 2001…Alfonso Soriano 2B
· 2002…Nick Johnson 1B
· 2003…Hideki Matsui OF
· 2004…Bubba Crosby OF
· 2005…Andy Phillips INF
· 2006…Eric Duncan INF
· 2007…Kei Igawa P
· 2008…Shelley Duncan INF/OF
· 2009…Brett Gardner OF
· 2010…Jon Weber OF
· 2011…Manny Banuelos P
· 2012…David Phelps P
· 2013…Vidal Nuno P
· 2014…Masahiro Tanaka P

Associated Press photos

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