One random thing to notice from today’s game: When the Yankees went into a defensive shift, the third baseman always moved to the other side of second base and Derek Jeter shaded toward third to cover — best he could — the entire left side of the infield. It wasn’t that way in the past with the Yankees, and Jeter said shifting this way is actually more comfortable for him. He’d rather be all alone than at a weird angle.
“It feels worse for me if I’m on the other side of second,” Jeter said. “I’m all thrown off (over there). It’s like looking in a mirror and everything is backwards. That’s why they’re doing it (this way this year). Alex didn’t like it either so I was pretty much forced to do it in the past, but now the guys that are playing third have played second as well. So, it’s a little odd when you’re in close maybe, but it feels better than the other side.”
Heading into tomorrow’s off day, Jeter seems comfortable everywhere this spring. He went hitless today, but he did make several plays in the field, including one ball that he had to charge. He got off to a slow start offensively, but he hit pretty well the previous two games before this one.
“I don’t really have a (check)list now,” Jeter said. “Now I just want to get comfortable. That’s like every other year you’re here. I don’t have any particular checklist that I have; just playing more and more. … I think the more you play, I think the more comfortable you get. I think that goes for everyone, regardless of even if you get hits you may feel uncomfortable. I think you just want to be comfortable. The results are probably the last thing that’s on my mind; it’s just seeing the ball and swinging at strikes and progressing from there. I don’t really look at the results, it’s just a feel thing.”
Last year, Jeter played his first game on this date. This year, he’s already played seven times. He played a total of five spring training games before last year’s setback.
“I feel as though I’ve worked on everything,” Jeter said. “I may not have done it in a game, but I’ve worked on everything. Now it’s just a matter of doing it in games. (Testing himself on new plays) is not something that I think of while I’m doing it.”
· I was told today that a few teams have been specifically scouting Francisco Cervelli as a potential trade target. That said, Cervelli’s trade value is seen as fairly limited. A non-Yankees source suggested a team might be willing to trade one of its own out-of-options player for him; basically an excess-for-excess swap. It seems that teams realize Cervelli could be expendable, so they’re checking on him.
· Scheduled for four innings, David Phelps was so efficient that he wound up pitching five scoreless. He threw 59 pitches, 38 for strikes, while allowing three hits, no walks and striking out one. “It’s funny,” Phelps said. “I felt like I had better stuff the other night. It’s just a matter of having the ball down in the zone. I was down in the zone today with my fastball and some other pitches, just getting ground balls. That’s what I’m trying to do. Didn’t get ahead of guys a lot today, but I was fortunate enough that (Brian McCann) was able to walk me through some of those at-bats. He did a really good job of it, figuring out what pitch we could throw.”
· The top five hitters in the Rays lineup were big league regulars. Jose Molina was also in the lineup, as was former Yankees infielder Jayson Nix. That’s seven hitters who were familiar with him, and Phelps said that made this start feel a little more significant. “Guys who have seen me before, it helps me because I can see how my stuff is playing this time, because they’ve seen my stuff,” he said. “It’s good, seeing these guys as many times as I can, just trying to get a better feel about how I want to pitch to them.”
· Speaking of pitching, one more note on Dellin Betances: He said Larry Rothschild has asked him to focus on throwing his changeup a little more often in the bullpen. “I haven’t been able to throw it as much,” Betances said. “My changeup is probably my third pitch. I feel confident with it. I’m just going to keep throwing it. Hopefully next game I’ll get to throw it.”
· The Yankees made their first cuts of the spring, sending injured pitchers Jose Ramirez and Francisco Rondon to the minor league complex. Rondon had a shoulder issue early in camp, and Ramirez is dealing with a sore oblique. Ramirez was technically optioned to Triple-A. Rondon was simply reassigned because he’s not on the 40-man roster.
· One other pitching injury note: Nik Turley said he expects to be shut down for another two weeks or so because his pitching arm is still tight. Tests have shown no damage, but the Yankees don’t want to take any chances. Turley said he’s more frustrated than concerned. He just wants to pitch and there’s this nagging thing keeping him off the mound.
· Kelly Johnson is going to have a massive bruise on his back. It was already raised and red where he was drilled by a pitch this afternoon. Said it knocked the wind out of him. He was lifted for a pinch runner, but Girardi said it was scheduled to be his last at-bat anyway.
· In the field, Johnson actually played a pretty decent first base. And he had to make a bunch of plays. “The (3-6-1) double play ball was good to get,” Johnson said. “Balls like that, you want to have. That’s what I’ve been talking about, about having certain plays happen, the tougher plays. That was one of those. I’m glad that it happened.”
· Dean Anna was charged with his second error of the spring when he had trouble dealing with the sun on a popup. His other error came earlier this spring. It was a throw that was just high enough to pull the first baseman off the bag. For the most part, he’s seemed pretty solid at short, including one dazzling play in the hole.
· Although Brendan Ryan said he could play on Wednesday, Girardi clarified by saying Ryan will be reevaluated on Tuesday and will likely be a full player on Wednesday. That could mean nothing more than drills, though.
· Had an opposing scout tell me today that he’s been impressed by Shane Green, Bryan Mitchell and Fred Lewis. That’s the second time Lewis has come up as a pitcher who’s generated some attention this spring. Girardi mentioned Lewis as an early standout yesterday.
· Box score notes: The Yankees and Rays tied at 3. Pinch runner Antoan Richardson scored the tying run on a wild pitch. He’d come in to run for Jose Gil, who singled. … Jacoby Ellsbury’s double was the Yankees only extra-base hit. … Alfonso Soriano had a two-hit day to get his bat going a little bit. Jose Pirela also had two hits. … Strong spring continues for Adonis Garcia who had a hit and a stolen base. That’s his second stolen base. He’s hitting .438. … The Yankees didn’t walk anyone today. Matt Daley and Mark Montgomery each pitched a hitless inning. Bruce Billings allowed two of the three Rays runs (one unearned). Danny Burawa allowed the other (also unearned).
· Final word goes to Girardi: “You’re taking a look at what guys are doing, absolutely. And they’re getting stronger as you see them. They’re able to pitched deeper and go through lineups a couple of times and use all their pitches, and that’s the fair way to evaluate when they get to that point.”
· The final final word is this: Don’t forget we’re doing a chat tomorrow at noon!
Associated Press photos