Archive for the ‘Misc’
Despite the double and the walk and the home run, it was easy to understand why the Yankees felt so overwhelmingly positive about today’s spring debut of Manny Banuelos. Find that same sort of silver lining for Ivan Nova was a little more difficult. Facing one of the least imposing lineups in the American League, Nova allowed three runs on eight hits through four innings. Balls were hit hard, and in the early innings they were hit often.
“Everything would stay up,” Nova said. “It was kind of hard for me to keep it down, and they took advantage of it. Even the second inning, they were hitting the ball real good.”
So why did Joe Girardi consider this a step forward?
“You look at his outings so far, they’ve been pretty easy,” Girardi said. “Today I thought was a good outing because he found it. He struggled in the first inning finding some sink and finding his curveball, and I thought he did a good job of finding himself and giving us four innings and really not throwing a ton of pitches.”
In fact, after a 21-pitch first inning, Nova threw so few pitches that he had to throw 10 more in the bullpen when he’d finished his allotment of four innings. Four of the first five batters he faced had a base hit, and the only exception was a hard-hit ball that Zoilo Almonte caught with a dive in left field. He only got out of the inning when Francisco Cervelli threw out a base runner. Three batters into the second inning, the Astros had two more hits and another run.
Second time through the order, though, Nova allowed one hit and pitched around an error. He struck out four of the last 10 batters he faced. He called it a mechanical adjustment, not the kind of mental lapse that has so often given him trouble in the past. His stride was off center, letting him drift toward first base instead of staying true to the plate.
“Make an adjustment in the third and fourth inning,” Nova said. “That’s one of the things you’re looking for in spring training. When you have one or two bad innings, you make adjustments. … When you, like, keep the ball up, for me that doesn’t have to do with nothing mentally. It’s just physical. Maybe your mechanics aren’t the same. Maybe your arm is not there. When I talk about mentally, that’s just a mistake that I make, an unnecessary mistake. Sometimes the catcher has a pitch in mind, I don’t want to go with that pitch, and then I give up a home run. That’s a (mental) mistake.”
Physical mistakes can be cleaned up in spring training, and Nova did that today. The first two innings weren’t pretty, but Nova was focused on those last two innings when he found his mechanics and pitched well again.
· Good second game for Mark Teixeira, who doubled sharply to left field and drew a walk. He also made a pretty good charging play on a sacrifice bunt. “I really am knocking off rust,” Teixeira said. “Two days ago, it was just being out there. You’re not used to covering first base, going after foul balls and coming in on bunts, stuff like that. Just continuing to knock off some rust, get my legs in shape, get my swing in shape, try and see a lot of pitches. I’m glad I saw a walk today; that was a good step for me, just seeing pitches. Hopefully I’ll continue to do that.”
· Teixeira still has yet to swing and miss, and he has yet to check his swing. He’s said that both will be significant tests for his surgically repaired right wrist. Today’s double came right-handed, and it’s his left-handed swing that causes the most concern. Even so, Teixeira sounds encourage. “Even better than the other day, which is good,” he said. “No complaints so far.”
· If you’re curious, Teixeira said he’s been taking about 120 swings each day (60 from each side). He used to do more like 140-160 swings each day, and he used to use a weighted bat, but he’s cut back on the reps and he’s dropped the heavy bat altogether. “There are a lot of guys that can go out there and swing 500 times a day,” Teixeira said. “Carlos Beltran swings and swings and swings; I don’t know how he does it. Other guys, all they need is 20 or 30 swings a day and they’re locked in. I’m kind of in between. I’m right in the middle. I need a lot of swings, but I do have to be careful.”
· Kelly Johnson hit his first spring home run in the third inning. He has five RBI this spring. “Honestly, that was pure trying to get him over, and I caught it out front,” he said. “Always good to remember what it feels like. Better than not hitting one all spring and then going into the season trying to remember, ‘Back in September, when I hit my last one…,’ you know what I mean?”
· Just for the record, when I try to think back to my last home run, I have to go back a lot farther than September. But that’s just me.
· Johnson is scheduled to play first base tomorrow. It will be his first time at first this spring. He’ll be considered a backup option there this season.
· Yankees got their first look at the new instant replay system when the Astros challenged a second-inning call at first base. The call stayed as it was on the field — the runner was out — and the whole process took such little time that Nova didn’t throw a single warm-up pitch after the delay. “It was quick,” Nova said. “The play, it wasn’t that difficult to see. But it doesn’t bother me because they still give me a couple of pitches (if necessary). They told me, if you want to throw, go ahead and throw. It’s pretty good when you get to throw. It’s not the same when they don’t give you pitches (during a delay).”
· Girardi said he considered challenging a call in the fourth inning when Brett Gardner flied to right and it looked like George Springer might have dropped the ball on the warning track. Girardi was on his way onto the field when the coaches assigned to monitor replays signaled that the ball was indeed caught. “So I told the pitcher from Houston that he was out and I was walking back,” Girardi said.
· One other replay note: Girardi said he’s been telling his players that they now have to play out every third out until it’s absolutely certain the play is over. If an out is overturned and a play is allowed to continue, Girardi doesn’t want his players to have stopped running. “We’re going to have to deal with these continuation plays where the player thinks it’s the third out,” Girardi said. “A player is not trained to play for four outs, so I’m sure there will be some adjustments along the way.”
· Game notes: Two-hit game for Dean Anna. He was also charged with an error on a high throw that pulled Teixeira off the bag. … Austin Romine also had two hits for the Yankees, and Yangervis Solarte had yet another hit. Zelous Wheeler, Brett Gardner, Zoilo Almonte and Mason Williams also had hits. Williams’ was a double. He also walked and made a good throw from right field (but didn’t get the guy out). … Chase Whitley struck out the only guy he faced and picked up the win. Nice work if you can get it. … David Herndon made his spring debut with a hitless inning. Cesar Cabral and Fred Lewis also pitched hitless innings. Chris Leroux allowed two hits in the ninth, but ultimately pitched another scoreless inning for his first save.
· Good to see my old friend and new Astros beat writer Evan Drellich here in Kissimmee. He’s reporting that the Astros will honor Derek Jeter either April 2 or April 3 in Houston. Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens are each expected to be there.
· Random note about the Manny Banuelos outing: In the clubhouse afterward, Francisco Cervelli said he hadn’t seen any radar readings, but he guessed that Banuelos was throwing 92 mph. Girardi said it was actually 93. That’s pretty solid mental radar work by Cervy.
· Let’s give the final word to Cervelli, talking about Banuelos: “He asked me, ‘What do you think about it?’ I said, ‘I don’t care. You’ve got the fastball and you’ve got everything, so you’re healthy. Next time you pitch, I promise it’s going to be perfect because you’ve got the confidence back.’”
Associated Press photos
Banuelos: “This is the best thing” • 03.08.14
First game in nearly two years, and the first three hitters Manny Banuelos faced were a double, a walk and a three-run home run. After the triumphant return of Michael Pineda last night, the Banuelos spring debut was surely a let down. Except, you couldn’t find anyone in the Yankees clubhouse to put it that way.
“It was awesome,” Banuelos said. “I just got the great feelings and all. I almost forgot that. Now I’m just happy.”
Obviously that word “awesome” is meant in a larger context than a one-game pitching line. Two-thirds of an inning with two hits, three earned runs, one walk and one strikeout is hardly “awesome,” but Banuelos had not faced opposing hitters since May 18, 2012. He’s still only 22 years old, he’s missed more than a year and a half because of Tommy John surgery, and today his fastball was at 93 mph.
“I was happy for him that he got out there,” Joe Girardi said. “He threw some strikes. It’s been a long road back, and he had a smile on his face because I think you appreciate a lot more. When you lose something for a while, you appreciate it a lot more when you come back.”
If the hope was that Banuelos would plow through the Astros lineup and immediately make a case for a spot in the big league bullpen, well then today was a disappointment. Banuelos faced, arguably, the three best hitters in the Astros lineup. Jose Altuve doubled, Jason Castro walked and Chris Carter hit a changeup for a three-run homer before Banuelos had gotten a single out.
Next batter was a strikeout, then a ground ball, then Banuelos had thrown his allotment of pitches.
“I’m so happy,” Francisco Cervelli said. “Two days in a row, to see Pineda yesterday and Manny (today). I know that he’s been working so hard because we were together (rehabbing) at the complex, and I know the frustration and everything. He was so good. He had the speed. He just needs confidence and we’ll get back.”
Until today, Banuelos had no idea how hard he was throwing. He said he expected 89-90 mph. The Yankees told him it was 93. He feels strong. He feels healthy. He feels happy, even after an outing that — in almost any other circumstance — would have left him feeling a massive sense of disappointment.
“The thing was not like I wanted,” he said. “But the best thing is I feel healthy. I feel very strong in that inning. I got (only) two outs, but for being the first time after surgery and for two years, that’s awesome for me. … This is the best thing. I work for this, to get back on the mound. Now I’m back so just keep working hard and forget the past.”
Associated Press photo
Spring Game 11: Yankees at Astros • 03.08.14
RHP Ivan Nova (1-0, 4.15 ERA)
Dexter Fowler CF
Jose Altuve 2B
Jason Castro C
Chris Carter DH
Marc Krauss 1B
Jesus Guzman LF
L.J. Hoes RF
Jonathan Villar SS
Cesar Izturis 3B
RHP Jarred Cosart (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network and WFAN
WEATHER: Much warmer than yesterday. Back to blue skies and short sleeves.
UMPIRES: HP Shaun Lampe, 1B Jeff Nelson, 2B Greg Gibson, 3B Laz Diaz
WELCOME TO THE A.L. EAST: Ervin Santana has reportedly reached a one-year deal with the Blue Jays. The deal is believed to be worth $14 million, so roughly the same qualifying offer he turned down earlier this offseason.
WHAT TO WATCH: Ivan Nova looked great in his previous start, and today he should be stretched out to roughly four innings, which is beginning to feel like a real start. But in terms of generating interest, Nova probably takes a back seat to the spring debut of Manny Banuelos. Last time he pitched in big league camp, Banuelos was having an eye-opening spring that seemed to have him on the verge of the big leagues. Now he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and trying to prove he’s still one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game. … Mark Teixeira is also playing his second game of the spring, Scott Sizemore is making his first start, and Eduardo Nunez is getting another turn at second base.
OFF THE BENCH: C Austin Romine, 1B Corban Joseph, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Yangervis Solarte, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Ramon Flores, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Adonis Garcia, DH Pete O’Brien
OUT OF THE PEN: Manny Banuelos, Cesar Cabral, David Herndon and Fred Lewis
UPDATE, 1:13 p.m.: Nunez grounds to short, and his helmet flies off while sprinting to first. We’ve seen that before.
UPDATE, 1:21 p.m.: Back-to-back walks by Teixeira and Johnson — Teixeira fouled off two pitches; seemed fine afterward — before Cervelli went down looking at a pitch he thought was inside. Here’s Nova to start the bottom of the first.
UPDATE, 1:25 p.m.: Dexter Fowler opens with a single up the middle, then Jose Altuve singles to right with Fowler running on the pitch. Runners at first and third with no outs. The good news for Nova is that the rest of the Astros lineup probably couldn’t break camp with the Yankees.
UPDATE, 1:28 p.m.: OK, I actually forgot about Jason Castro. He’s pretty good, and he just doubled to left field. Almonte almost made a running catch, but he couldn’t bring it in and both runs scored. Now comes the part of the Astros lineup that probably couldn’t break camp with the Yankees (unless they could find enough at-bats for Chris Carter to be the everyday DH).
UPDATE, 1:31 p.m.: Nice diving catch by Almonte. Couldn’t make the play on the previous hitter, but he picked up Nova on that one. That’s the first out of the inning. Nova’s been hit pretty hard so far.
UPDATE, 1:36 p.m.: Strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out. Nova gets the K and Cervelli throws out the runner at second. That’s the end of the first inning. Astros in front 2-0.
UPDATE, 2:02 p.m.: Our first replay! The Astros challenged a close play at first base — Teixeira fielded and threw to Nunez, who had to kind of lunge while trying to get/keep his foot on the bag — and the call stood. It was ruled an out on the field, and replay confirmed. I wasn’t timing, but the whole thing seemed to take less than 60 seconds. Pretty efficient I thought.
UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: Nova is having a tough time with this bad Astros lineup. Another hard-hit ball has driven in another run and it’s a 3-2 Astros in the second.
UPDATE, 2:12 p.m.: Mark Teixeira doubles right-handed — it’s left-handed that his wrist is a real issue — and Kelly Johnson follows with a two-run homer off a lefty. Yankees up 4-3.
UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: After an RBI double in the second inning, Williams just drew a walk in the fourth. He was nearly picked off at first base, but the Astros botched the play — imagine that — and Williams got to second.
UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: Gardner flied to right. Looked like a drop because of the way Springer reacted when he got to the warning track, but it looks on replay as if the catch was clean. Just looked weird.
UPDATE, 2:46 p.m.: Nova strikes out Fowler to pitch around a Dean Anna error in the fourth inning.
UPDATE, 3:03 p.m.: So much for the feel-good story of the day. Banuelos allowed a double to the first batter he faced. He walked the next guy, then Chris Carter hit a three-run homer. Still no outs in the inning. The closest thing to a bright spot has been Banuelos falling behind 3-0 to the second hitter — Castro — and coming back to build a full count before the walk. Of course, it’s worth noting that Banuelos has hardly pitched above Double-A and he’s just faced the three best hitters in the Astros lineup.
UPDATE, 3:04 p.m.: After the home run, a strikeout. It’s looking up.
Manny Banuelos sat at his locker yesterday weaving a new set of shoe strings into his spikes. He seemed hopeful and optimistic, excited that today he’ll get into his first game since Tommy John surgery. Banuelos is only 22 years old, and he still sees a bright future for himself. Or, at the very least, he knows a bright future is still possible.
“It feels great,” Banuelos said. “I feel healthy. I don’t feel pain. Always (right after the surgery) I would throw, I would feel nervous like I would feel pain, but I don’t feel anything like that. So I’m happy for that.”
As we talked, it was hard for me to tell whether Banuelos had ever heard the name Frank Jobe before another reporter mentioned the name to him earlier in the day. Certainly, Banuelos didn’t know until yesterday that Dr. Jobe had died on Thursday, but the impact of that total stranger’s life was not lost on the young Yankees left-hander.
“He saved a lot of careers,” Banuelos said. “That’s why I’m still here.”
Banuelos is hopeful and optimistic because of the Tommy John surgery procedure that Jobe first performed 17 years before Banuelos was born. Banuelos underwent the procedure on October 4, 2012. His surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews, who has become the modern master of the operation. There’s a scar on Banuelos’ left elbow, and there’s a small and unnecessary ligament missing from his right forearm, but he is otherwise perfectly healthy less than a year and a half removed from surgery.
He’s so healthy, in fact, that Banuelos said he doesn’t even consider today’s game to be a significant test. He’s excited about pitching, but he doesn’t feel like he’s going to prove anything. He’s thrown enough bullpens and sim games to know he can pitch again. He can let loose with fastballs and breaking balls and not worry that his elbow is going to feel that long-gone pain that he once feared.
“I just did my tests already, a few months ago,” Banuelos said. “Just go pitch like before. Go out and try to get outs quickly, get the command, throw strikes. That’s all. … I’m not going to learn anything, but I will feel excited because (it’s been) almost two years and I’m not pitching in an inning, so (today) will be the first one. I can’t wait to see what will happen.”
· Masahiro Tanaka’s next outing will be a simulated game. He said Japanese teams don’t do sim games — they would be more likely to do an intrasquad game — but he considers it nothing more than another part of his adjustment. Said he has no problem with doing a sim game, it’s just something he’s never done before. I imagine he could say that about a lot of things that have happened the past two months.
· Brendan Ryan’s sore oblique will keep him out of a few games, but Joe Girardi said there is no significant concern about the long-term impact. “We think he’ll be fine next week,” Girardi said. “The MRIs came out good, so we think he’ll be fine. We’re probably being a little cautious because we can.”
· Girardi talked this morning about how well the pitching staff has done this spring. Asked for specific guys who have made a strong impression, Girardi mentioned two names: Dellin Betances and Fred Lewis. Betances is on everyone’s radar, but Lewis is a little less familiar. He has been pretty good after an assignment to the Arizona Fall League this offseason. “He’s a guy that you’re not going to worry about putting him against right-handers,” Girardi said. “… He gets a lot of ground balls.”
· No swings for Tyler Austin today, but that’s just a planned day off. Said he still feels good.
· Tanaka and CC Sabathia are each scheduled for sides today.
· Today’s second string: C Austin Romine, 1B Corban Joseph, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Yangervis Solarte, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Ramon Flores, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Adonis Garcia, DH Pete O’Brien
· Today’s available relievers: Manny Banuelos, Cesar Cabral, David Herndon and Fred Lewis (with Chase Whitley, Mark Montgomery, Chris Leroux and Danny Burawa making the trip just in case)
· Batting practice groups in Tampa:
Group 1: Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Brian McCann
Group 2: Russ Canzler, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, John Ryan Murphy
· Canzler grew up as a big Jeter fan. He was pretty excited about being in Jeter’s hitting group today.
· Finally, a random moment from the clubhouse: Shawn Kelley has a small but effective Bluetooth-enabled speaker system next to his locker. This morning, he and David Phelps were in a musical discussion with Meredith Marakovits, which led to Phelps getting on his phone, pulling up Spotify — or something like Spotify — and playing several Michael Bolton songs while Kelley made specific requests for Bolton’s greatest hits. It was both brutal and extremely funny. When Dave Robertson walked in the clubhouse, Phelps changed the song to Sweet Home Alabama. The closer had arrived, to his very own entrance music. Hilarious.
Associated Press photos
Sizemore gets first spring start at third • 03.08.14
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Kelly Johnson DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Dean Anna SS
Scott Sizemore 3B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Mason Williams RF
RHP Ivan Nova
Michael Pineda just kept smiling and laughing. He’s a big man, intimidating when he needs to be, but after facing big league hitters for the first time in two years, Pineda looked like a 6-foot-7 third grader at recess. He was … well, he was just happy.
“It’s a baseball game, you know?” Pineda said. “And I love baseball. I don’t get nervous for that. … I know I have a long time not seeing a major-league hitter, and I had a good focus tonight. I showed (the real) Michael Pineda.”
Through two innings, Pineda allowed one hit and struck out four. He struck out the first batter he faced (Austin Jackson), but it was the last batter he faced that really generated some attention. In a bases-empty matchup against Miguel Cabrera, Pineda leaned on his sharp slider to strikeout the league MVP. Cabrera swung and missed at one, then failed to check his swing on another.
“His slider was pretty much unhittable,” catcher Brian McCann said. “… I think the thing I was impressed about was him pounding the zone with all of his pitches. He struck a guy out on a 0-2 slider. It was definitely encouraging.”
Pineda’s fastball velocity was closer to 92 than 97, but his breaking ball was effective and he changeup was useful. He was throwing strikes and getting results. Perhaps not exactly the pitcher the Yankees acquired two years ago, but he certainly left some hope that he can still be an awfully good big league starter even after shoulder surgery.
“That big frame, you’re looking out on him as a hitter and it looks like he’s right in front of you,” McCann said. “You don’t see guys that are that big and that tall on the mound very often. … We all saw what he did in 2011. He came on the scene and was an All-Star. As long as he’s healthy and on the mound, he’s an uncomfortable at-bat. You’re not stepping in the box excited to face him.”
It was one game, two innings, in early March. Hard to make too much of it, but also hard not to see a lot of positives.
“We liked what we saw,” Joe Girardi said. “I don’t want to make too much of it, but I’ve said all along he looks different what we’ve seen this spring compared to a couple of springs ago: the ball coming out of his hand, I thought he had cleaned up his mechanics a lot. This was a good step.”
· Brendan Ryan will be shut down for about a week because of soreness in his oblique. Tests came back clean, but Girardi said he probably won’t play until the middle of next week. “Tests were good,” Girardi said. “We’re going to give him a few days.”
· First spring cuts might come a little later than usual this year. Girardi said the Yankees will probably wait until after their trip to Panama before sending players across the street to the minor league complex. They want all of these guys to be still in camp because they will essentially have a bunch of split-squad days in a row. The Panama trip ends on March 17.
· Speaking of Panama, Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano will be the Yankees regulars making the trip. Adam Warren and CC Sabathia will start those two games. Girardi said some kids from minor league camp will be brought up to big league camp to help fill out the roster in Tampa.
· And speaking of Jeter, he went 2-for-2 with a walk. He’s now reached base in five straight plate appearances. He was the only player on either team with more than one hit tonight.
· Masahiro Tanaka’s next game is a simulated game on Tuesday. Here’s the upcoming rotation through the end of next week:
Saturday: Ivan Nova
Sunday: David Phelps
Monday: Off day
Tuesday: CC Sabathia (Masahiro Tanaka sim game)
Wednesday: Hiroki Kuroda
Thursday: Michael Pineda (at home), Ivan Nova (at Phillies)
Friday: David Phelps
Saturday: Vidal Nuno (in Florida), Adam Warren (in Panama)
Sunday: Masahiro Tanaka (in Florida), CC Sabathia (in Panama)
· Kuroda allowed one hit, one walk and struck out five in his second spring outing. But he wasn’t happy with it. “I struggled with my precise control today, so that caused a high pitch count,” he said. “I think I was too cautious and trying to get both corners, but it didn’t really work.” Kuroda threw 52 pitches, 30 strikes, and lasted just 2.2 innings.
· How did Kuroda pitch so well despite his command issues? Kuroda said his split was very good, which helped him get so many strikeouts. He was working on his slider tonight, but that wasn’t sharp. That was part of his problem.
· Dave Robertson was also working on a specific pitch tonight. He threw two changeups, and said he’d like to incorporate that pitch a little more this season. He’s always had the pitch, and used it more regularly in 2012 than he did last season. “I threw one really short (tonight), and then one that I just really pushed up and away in the zone,” Robertson said. “It was an easy ball for a hitter to take and not swing at. It’s OK. It’s a work in progress. I’ll throw it a little more.”
· In the majors or the minors, Alfonso Soriano had never played right field until tonight. The first ball put in play was hit to him. Soriano caught it. He also hit a pretty deep fly ball to left field in his first at-bat. It was an improvement after his three-strikeout game on Thursday. He did go 0-for-3 again. Only one strikeout this time.
· Apparently Ryan’s injury is similar to Jose Ramirez’s (but apparently believed to be much less serious). Girardi said he’s not sure when Ramirez will be ready to pitch again. “He feels a lot better, though, I know that,” Girardi said.
· Game notes: The Yankees won 3-2 on a walk-off balk. So there’s that. … Carlos Beltran hit his second spring home run, and it was an absolute monster to right field. Two-run shot. … Francisco Cervelli had another hit. He’s hitting .545 this spring. … Dean Anna continues to play pretty well. He drew a walk in his only plate appearance tonight. … Adonis Garcia threw out a runner at second base from right field. Pretty sure that’s his second outfield assist. … The two Tigers runs came off Matt Thornton, who allowed four hits in his one inning. … Scoreless inning apiece for Robertson, Preston Claiborne and Jim Miller. Shawn Kelley retired the one batter he faced.
· Final word goes to Girardi on the passing of Carmen Berra: “Sad. Really, really sad. I often talk about Yogi as being one of the greatest baseball players ever, but being one of the most humble and approachable guys I’ve ever been around. And Carmen happened to be the wife of one of the greatest baseball players ever, and probably as nice of a lady as you could ever be around. She was just a sweetheart. So nice always to be in her presence. She truly cared about so many people. It’s sad. We’re really going to miss her.”
Associated Press photo
Spring Game 10: Yankees vs. Tigers • 03.07.14
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (1-0, 0.00)
Rajai Davis LF
Torii Hunter RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Marinez DH
Alex Avila C
Austin Jackson CF
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Nick Castellanos 3B
Danny Worth SS
RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 0.00)
TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, not on TV or radio
WEATHER: Actually a little chilly today. But only by Florida standards.
UMPIRES: HP Mark Carlson, 1B Vic Carapazza, 2B Toby Basner, 3B Anthony Johnson 3B
WHAT TO WATCH: The last of the Yankees big names to make his spring debut, Michael Pineda is scheduled for three innings out of the bullpen tonight. Unless I’m forgetting something from last spring, I believe this will be the first time Pineda has pitched in a major league spring training game since that disappointing 2012 when Pineda arrived with a rotation spot locked up and wound up having shoulder surgery just as camp broke. He’s pitched one simulated game already this spring. … Alfonso Soriano has never played right field in a game. He’ll do that today. Could play there a decent amount during the season. … The Yankees top three relievers — Dave Robertson, Matt Thornton and Shawn Kelley — are each scheduled to pitch.
OFF THE BENCH: C Francisco Cervelli, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Dean Anna, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Adonis Garcia, DH Francisco Arcia
OUT OF THE PEN: Dave Robertson, Michael Pineda, Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne
UPDATE, 7:32 p.m.: Jeter reached on an infield single in the first inning and now has three straight hits, but he and Brian McCann were left stranded by a deep fly out to left field by Alfonso Soriano. Hit it pretty good, but the wind is blowing in from left. Kuroda pitched around a first-inning double — by Miguel Cabrera, of course — and now has one on with one out in the second.
UPDATE, 7:37 p.m.: Austin Jackson with a stolen base as McCann sends the throw sailing high and into center field. Might have had the out, too, if the throw had been any good. Jackson got a kind of weird jump. Looked almost like he decided to go at the last second.
UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Shawn Kelley in for the last out of the third inning. Gets it quickly and we’re still scoreless. Hiroki Kuroda looked pretty sharp. Struck out the last three batters he faced. Five strikeouts total.
UPDATE, 8:04 p.m.: Jeter has now gotten a hit in four straight at-bats after a third-inning single.
UPDATE, 8:05 p.m.: Beltran hits his second home run of the spring. It came on a 3-2 pitch. Jeter scores and it’s a 2-0 Yankees lead.
UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.: Been downstairs talking to Hiroki Kuroda and Dave Robertson, so I missed a little bit of Michael Pineda’s first inning. But I was here to see him strikeout the last batter. Pineda also struck out the first guy he faced, and he pitched around a single to deliver a scoreless inning.
UPDATE, 8:48 p.m.: Jeter walks and is lifted for a pinch runner. Looks like he’s fine, just time for him to come out of the game. No real reason to run the bases. Dean Anna will be at shortstop now as we head into the top of the sixth.
UPDATE, 8:54 p.m.: Another strikeout for Pineda to start the sixth inning. Next batter flies to medium left-center field. Two quick outs.
UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: There’s the at-bat to get excited about. Pineda just struck out Miguel Cabrera. Last two pitches were sliders, one that Cabrera swung at and missed. The second, he tried to check his swing but couldn’t. Four strikeouts through two innings.
Just a few minutes ago, the Yankees sent out an official statement mourning the death of Yogi Berra’s wife, Carmen, who died last night in Essex County, N.J. Yogi and Carmen were married on January 26, 1949, and they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary just last month.
“On behalf of the entire New York Yankees organization, we offer our deepest condolences to the Berra family,” Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Having known Yogi and Carmen for so long, it is almost impossible to imagine two people who complemented each other better than they did. We will always remember Carmen’s smile and sense of humor, and her kindness and generosity will be dearly missed.”
Yogi has not been in Yankees camp this spring.
Carmen is survived by her husband, as well as her sons Larry, Tim and his wife Betsy, and Dale and his wife Jane. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The Yankees announced that funeral services will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center at 8 Yogi Berra Drive, Little Falls, N.J. 07424. Donations also may be made at yogiberramuseum.org.
· Vidal Nuno last started a game on Sunday, and rather than pitch in a game this weekend, he will throw a simulated game this afternoon. Starts are getting a little harder to come by now that everyone is ready for games, and Nuno has always felt like the most fringy of the fifth-starter candidates. I suppose Nuno could get another start later in the spring with some split squad games, including those when half of the Yankees head to Panama.
· Slade Heathcott has been taking dry swings for about two weeks, but he’s scheduled to progress to hitting off a tee tomorrow. Heathcott is being eased into baseball activities after having knee surgery last season. He’s been running on a treadmill, but said he has not been allowed to shag fly balls just yet. Heathcott said he’s feeling no pain in the knee and everything seems to be going well, it’s just happening with some caution on the Yankees part.
· The Yankees are apparently getting their travel squad lined up for Panama. Dean Anna said today that he’s been asked to make the trip, and yesterday Dave Robertson — so surprise — told the Daily News that he’s going on the trip. We also know that Derek Jeter is planning to go. My guess has been that the long-time Yankees who know Rivera will be on the trip, with the additional roster spots filled by younger guys like Anna who can play both games and fill-in at various positions as needed.
· Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley, Manny Banuelos and David Herndon have each had Tommy John surgery at some point (there might be others in the Yankees clubhouse as well, I just don’t know everyone’s history well enough). Amazing how many pitchers, whether they knew Frank Jobe or not, have been directly affected by him.
· Four pitchers are throwing live batting practice today, but Mark Teixeira is not listed as one of the hitters. Could change, but right now he’s not on that list.
· Adam Warren and Matt Daley are each throwing bullpens today.
· Based on the listed relievers, I’m guessing Michael Pineda will actually pitched the fifth through seventh innings tonight, not the fourth through sixth. Dave Robertson is the first listed reliever. That usually indicates that he’ll be the first out of the pen to pitch immediately after Hiroki Kuroda. That said, could also be an indication that the Yankees want Robertson to enter in the middle of an inning before Pineda starts fresh the following frame.
· Living batting practice/simulated games:
Facing hitters Corban Joseph, Jose Pirela and Austin Romine
Vidal Nuno (to Gary Sanchez)
Jose Campos (to Jose Gil)
Shane Greene (to Pete O’Brien)
Bryan Mitchell (to Francisco Arcia)
· Today’s second string: C Francisco Cervelli, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Dean Anna, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Adonis Garcia, DH Francisco Arcia
· Today’s scheduled relievers: Dave Robertson, Michael Pineda, Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne (with Jim Miller, Robert Coello and Yoshinori Tateyama listed as available if necessary)
· Batting practice groups:
Group 1: Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Ichiro Suzuki, Brian McCann
Group 2: Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Eduardo Nunez, Alfonso Soriano
Group 3: Zoilo Almonte, Dean Anna, Russ Canzler, Zelous Wheeler
Group 4: Adonis Garcia, Jose Pirela, Antoan Richardson, Jose Gil
Group 5: Ramon Flores, Brett Gardner, Scott Sizemore, Francisco Cervelli
Group 6: Kelly Johnson, Mark Teixeira, Mason Williams
Group 7: Corban Joseph, Yangervis Solarte, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine
Group 8: Francisco Arcia, Pete O’Brien, Gary Sanchez
· Tomorrow’s travel squad for Kissimmee:
Pitchers: Manny Banuelos, Danny Burawa, Cesar Cabral, David Herndon, Chris Leroux, Fred Lewis, Jim Miller, Mark Montgomery, Ivan Nova, Chase Whitley
Catchers: Francisco Arcia, Francisco Cervelli, Jose Gil, Pete O’Brien, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez
Infielders: Dean Anna, Kelly Johnson, Corban Joseph, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Pirela, Scott Sizemore, Yangervis Solarte, Mark Teixeira, Zelous Wheeler
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia, Brett Gardner, Antoan Richardson, Mason Williams
Associated Press photos
Soriano gets turn in right field • 03.07.14
Thoughts are with the Berra family today. According to the Daily News, Yogi’s wife, Carmen, has died after complications from a recent stroke. Here’s the lineup.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Russ Canzler 1B
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
From our friends at The Associated Press…
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) — Being retired hasn’t stopped Mariano Rivera from picking up one more save.
The former New York Yankees closer has renovated a long-vacant suburban church that will be the new home of his wife’s ministry starting Thursday.
For years, Rivera had been crediting God for his skills on the field, where he tallied a record 652 saves before retiring last season. Now his foundation has poured about $3 million into restoring the 107-year-old church for Refugio de Esperanza, or Refuge of Hope, the Pentecostal Christian congregation led by his wife, Clara.
But he briefly mentioned the opening of the church after receiving a humanitarian award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation on Monday.
“You don’t do it to be recognized,” he said. “You do it because it comes from the heart. You want to please the Lord.”
The grey stone building had been a Presbyterian church but was abandoned in the 1970s and was eventually bought by New Rochelle, a diverse city of about 77,000 just 6 miles north of the Bronx. The church is next door to the police and courts headquarters, and police had used some of the space to store evidence, said architect Jonathan Villani.
Meanwhile, his wife’s congregation had been outgrowing its meeting place — the Rivera home. Rivera told New York magazine last year, “We only fit like 50 people, 60 people tops.”
“We have whites, we have blacks, we have Hispanics,” he said. “We have all kinds. It doesn’t matter. As long as you love Christ, we in it. And if you don’t love him, we will work with you so we put you on the right path.”
The congregation’s website says it “felt the need to organize a local church that would not only present the message of salvation to its attendees, but also provide programs that would meet the needs of the less fortunate in the community.” Plans call for a “learning center” that will provide education, sports and other after-school programs for children.
“He’s doing something not just for his faith but at the same time setting up a place where he can help kids,” said Brandon Steiner, a Rivera business partner whose sports memorabilia firm is headquartered in New Rochelle.
“He was like the general contractor,” Steiner said, laughing. “He was in there directing painters.”
The city agreed to sell the building to Rivera for $1 in return for his promise to rehabilitate it. One opponent at the time, City Councilman Louis Trangucci, said Wednesday he still feels the city should have tried to get more for the property. But he said the project has only enhanced the area “and I support what Mariano had done with the church.”
Mayor Noam Bramson said the city did not have the money it would have taken to save the building.
Villani said the church needed plenty of work: The bell tower had begun collapsing, and a new front wall needed to be built and new stained glass windows installed.
“We loved the stonework, and some of the inside beams were still in good condition,” he said.
Across the street at Kenny’s Barbershop, Carlos Sanchez has been watching the renovation every day.
“It looks a lot better,” the barber said. He even met Rivera at the site several times.
“He’s a cool guy,” Sanchez said. “And look what he’s doing, a new church in the neighborhood.”
Associated Press photos