Taking his new cutter into a game for the first time, CC Sabathia seemed happy with the results. He guessed that he threw eight of nine of them, and none were problematic.
“None of them got put in play, so I guess that’s a plus,” Sabathia said. “They either yanked it foul or just took it. I don’t know how hard it was; (might have been) around the same as my slider, but I want it to be a little harder than that.”
Essentially, the cutter does the opposite of Sabathia’s two-seamer, giving him the ability to throw a fastball with movement to either side of the plate. Used to be, when he wanted to go hard inside to a right-hander, he had to use his four-seamer. Now he can us a cutter to add a new element.
“I’ll still go in with the four-seamer, too,” Sabathia said. “It’s just to give it a different look. Sometimes I can freeze a guy with a four-seamer, just stay straight when they’re looking for a cutter. I’ll continue to throw both. … As long as I keep it in perspective and not try to overthrow it, it can be a good pitch for me. I don’t know if it’s going to come right away, or if it’s going to be something that’s going to take me a whole season. When I first started throwing my slider, I was able to pick it up right away and I took it right into a game. We’ll see.”
Brian McCann said he was happy with Sabathia’s ability to get the cutter inside.
“I think once he gets a better feel when to go more in and when to throw more on the plate (it will be even better),” McCann said. “But I thought it looked good today. It will help him command both sides of the plate. You get something to come in to righties, and then you get something going away from them. It’s kind of a change of speed for them.”
As an unexpected bonus, Sabathia said his slider has gotten tighter and better since he started throwing the cutter. But the pitch is about improving his breaking ball, it’s clearly about giving him a new dimension for a fastball that’s lacking some velocity. Sabathia said he’s not going to throw the pitch just to throw it this spring. He wants to use it in the proper situations, and he has no plans of getting rid of it any time soon.
“I’m definitely going to keep using it and keep going,” Sabathia said. “That’s something me and Andy (Pettitte) talked about, not getting frustrated with it, because it is a tough pitch to throw. So I’m going to stick with it.”
· Mark Teixeira still has not swung and missed, he hasn’t checked his swing, and he hasn’t truly turned on an mid-90s fastball in on the hands. But he said the more he plays down here, the less those feel like significant milestones for his surgically repaired right wrist. “I’ve swung at good pitches, I’m taking good swings, my BP’s have been solid,” Teixeira said. “Nothing has happened that I’ve said, let’s re-assess something. It’s boring, but it’s good.”
· Joe Girardi said Brendan Ryan swung a broomstick at Steinbrenner Field today. That’s an ease-into-it step back from that mild oblique problem. Sounds like Ryan will likely do more tomorrow. Still seems to be very little concern about the injury.
· According to The Associated Press — which stayed behind in Tampa to watch all of Masahiro Tanaka’s sim game — Tanaka faced 18 hitters and had nine strikeouts. Jake Cave actually took him deep once. “His split was supposed to be really good today,” Girardi said.
· Girardi acknowledged that McCann might not have made a trip like this if he weren’t the new guy. “We’re trying to get him to know our starters, trying to pick up our starters,” Girardi said. No surprise that McCann will catch Sabathia again on Sunday in Panama.
· This was kind of interesting: Sabathia wouldn’t go into detail, but he said McCann picked up on something mid-game and suggested Sabathia make a correction that yielded immediate results. “I can tell we’re going to be able to work together really good,” Sabathia said. “I think we’ll be fine.” Sabathia’s not the first Yankees pitcher to say something like that. Seems McCann has already won the respect and the trust of the staff.
· McCann said he had no idea what had happened on the popup when Dean Anna — coming in from third base — stumbled and crashed into McCann’s legs, sending both players sprawling to the dirt. Turns out, Anna had tripped on McCann’s discarded face mask. “I told Anna, ‘Around here, we wrap up when we make tackles; we don’t just dive for people’s legs,’” Girardi said.
· McCann said he never called for the collision popup (which was just slighly up the third-base line, but not really where Anna had any realistic chance of catching it). I was waiting to get called off,” McCann said. He also said he’d never been knocked down by a teammate on a popup. If this were last season, given the Yankees luck, both guys would have been headed for the 60-day.
· Girardi announced a few more position players who are making the trip to Panama: McCann, Anna, Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Yangervis Solarte, Zelous Wheeler, John Ryan Murphy, Gary Sanchez and Jose Gil. Girardi said he’s honestly not sure which pitchers are making the trip. He knows Sabathia and Adam Warren are the Panama starters, but the rest of the pitching decisions were left entirely up to Larry Rothschild.
· Teixeira on the reason he’s not going to Panama: “We talked about it from day one, that the Panama training room wasn’t ideal. I need a lot of extra work. I’m still doing rehab and strengthening things, getting treatment every single day, and we wanted to make sure I stayed on that schedule.”
· Box score notes: The Yankees lost 3-2, with all three Nationals runs coming in the first three innings off Sabathia. Matt Daley, Jim Miller, David Herndon, Cesar Cabral and Brian Gordon combined to allow just one hit through five scoreless innings of relief. Daley, Miller and Herndon each had a strikeout. Gordon, who allowed the hit, had two strikeouts. … Eduardo Nunez tripled and scored a run. … Dean Anna and Brett Gardner had the two RBIs for the Yankees. Anna’s was a two-out RBI single. Gardner’s was a sac fly. … Yankees had only four hits. Of course Yangervis Solarte had one of them. Batting average is back up to .611 (he was into the .500s for a while, that slacker). The other Yankees hits were Anna’s RBI single, Nunez’s triple and a Zoilo Almonte double.
· Might as well give the final word to Teixeira: “I’m still very excited. I had fun today, just running around. Usually spring training games are boring at this point in your career — they really are at this point in your career — but I’m enjoying myself, which is good. Hopefully this lasts all season long.”
Associated Press photos