Carlos Beltran sat at his locker this afternoon with a small ice pack on his left foot. Said his toes tend to bother him when the dirt in the batter’s box is a little too hard. He dismissed it as a non-issue, and seemed to back up that claim of health by smacking a solo home run for his first Yankees hit.
“I feel good,” Beltran said. “As long as I physically feel good, I’m healthy, that’s what I care the most. The timing will come. Keep working in the cage, keep taking extra (batting practice), extra hitting, that will come. Keep facing pitchers, live pitching also will make it better. Trying to adjust to the fastball, breaking pitches. The more pitches I see, the better I will get.”
What kind of spring hitter is Beltran most years?
“Not a good one,” he said.
Spring production, though, is not the reason Beltran got a three-year, $45-million deal this winter. The veteran switch hitter will be counted on to play some right field and provide all-around, switch-hitting offense in the middle of the order. Mostly, he’ll be expected to play regularly, sore toes or not. Although he battled some health problems during his time with the Mets, Beltran has had at least 520 at-bats each of the past three years.
“I’ve stopped paying attention to (spring results),” he said. “As long as I feel good physically and everything is going well for me, coming to the ballpark, going through my routine, I know everything will fall in place.”
· Vidal Nuno said he leaned on his fastball a little too much today, and he left a cutter up in the zone — which Jose Bautista hit for a long home run — but otherwise, he was pretty happy with today’s outing. “Just one (bad) pitch,” he said. “And Bautista just hit it out.”
· Joe Girardi said it was basically what he was expecting from Nuno: worked fast, changed speeds, didn’t walk anyone. Would Nuno be considered for a bullpen role if he doesn’t win the fifth starter competition? “I think you have to consider him, too,” Girardi said. “I think you have to. He’s left-handed. He can give you some innings. He can get left-handers and right-handers out. I think you have to look at it.”
· Eduardo Nunez hit a home run today. He also made a throwing error. “Obviously (he can make the team) by being able to play all over the place and playing well is the important thing,” Girardi said. “We know there’s a lot of talent in that young man, and there are some things that he can do. He provides speed for you. But he’s got to be able to play all over.”
· By “play all over,” Girardi said, he specifically meant second base, third base and shortstop. You’re not going to see Nunez in the outfield this spring, and you probably won’t see him at first.
· Speaking of Nunez, he said he gained quite a bit of strength this offseason without adding any weight. He’s still between 191 and 194 pounds, but he worked on making himself stronger with hopes of staying healthy after missing time with two different injuries last season. He didn’t want to put on weight because he doesn’t want to sacrifice range or speed.
· One last Nunez note: He’s lowered his hands slightly in his batting stance. He used to keep his hands higher, and then he would lower them as part of his swing. By starting with his hands slightly lower, he expects to get to the ball quicker. He believes that will turn some of his ground balls — especially to the left side — into sharp line drives.
· Yangervis Solarte! He could be a kind of Nunez alternative if he keeps playing well. He had another two-hit game today, going 2-for-2 with a run and a pair of singles. He’s batting .857. Obviously way too early to make a ton of it, but he’s off to a terrific start. He’s an early standout.
· Today’s biggest game, though, belonged to Adonis Garcia. Starting in right field — he’s also played third base this spring — Garcia went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and a stolen base. He also threw a guy out at first base after catching a line drive with the runner going on the pitch.
· Girardi said he’s getting closer to the starts when he begins to truly evaluate the fifth starter candidates. “In the next start (for Nuno) you start evaluating some, and then as they get built up more,” Girardi said. “You think about a day like today, you only go through a lineup once. You don’t get to throw a ton of pitches, so maybe you throw four curveballs instead of 10 or 12.”
· Game notes: John Ryan Murphy hit his first spring home run. The Yankees had a total of three homers in the 8-2 win. … Ramon Flores also had another hit, as did Dean Anna, who’s played well so far. Jacoby Ellsbury drew another walk. … Corban Joseph had his first spring error. … Bryan Mitchell looked pretty good out of the bullpen. Two innings, two hits, three strikeouts. … Bruce Billings, Fred Lewis and Matt Daley threw a scoreless inning apiece.
· Final word to Girardi: “You want to see guys swinging the bat well, obviously. It’s really important at the end, but it doesn’t really matter sometimes. You can be swinging the bat horrible at the end of spring training and get off to a hot start, vice versa, but it’s always nice to see.”
Associated Press photos