The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Saturday morning notes: Sabathia hoping to follow Pettitte’s path

CC Sabathia, Carsten Charles Sabathia lll

Although there’s obvious curiosity about Luis Severino and obvious significance in Dellin Betances, the most intriguing part of today’s first Yankees workout has to be CC Sabathia’s first official bullpen. Sabathia said he’s thrown off a mound a few times this winter, but always off a turf mound because of the snow in New York.

“Just making sure that my control is where it needs to be (this season),” Sabathia said. “(Making sure) my two-seamer is good and my changeup is better than it’s been. Just making sure that I can spot up and throw the ball where I need to. I’ve been talking to Andy (Pettitte) a lot about how he would attack guys later in his career, so I think I’ve got a pretty good plan.”

At this point, it seems clear that Sabathia wants his results to speak for themselves. He shrugged off questions about how good he can be now that he’s 34 years old and coming off back-to-back disappointments: one because of diminished results and one because of inning lost to a knee injury that eventually required surgery.

Sabathia said he’s been getting regular PRP injections through the offseason to help deal with the degenerative damage in that knee, and he’ll probably get more around the all-star break. He’s slightly adjusted workouts to protect the knee, but he said it’s not something he thinks about when he’s throwing.

“I feel like playing catch and throwing off the turf mound that I did, I went as hard as I can go,” he said. “So, no (it’s not a concern). I wanted to come down here with a clear mind and just go out and pitch. I feel like I passed every test leading up to coming down here.”

Sabathia is scheduled for 25 pitches today, all fastballs and changeups. It’s a small step toward what he’s hoping will be a big comeback.

“I don’t think as an athlete you should lower your expectations,” Sabathia said. “You just go out and see what I’ve got. I think last year pitching through spring training, I was pretty healthy, and I felt pretty good, and I pitched pretty good (in spring training). So if I can stay right there, I think I’ll be alright.”

Yankees Spring Baseball• Dellin Betances is throwing a bullpen today, one of the biggest names getting on a mound this morning. Betances said he’s already thrown a few bullpens leading into spring training. He’s scheduled to begin facing hitters at the end of next week. Several other guys — Adam Warren, Tyler Webb, Chase Whitley, probably many others I haven’t talked to — have already faced hitters once or twice in the past few weeks.

• Esmil Rogers was stretched out as a starter in winter ball, and he said that felt natural for him because he’s always worked as a starter in winter ball. Despite having a good portion of his contract guaranteed, Rogers said he’s fully focused on making the team and doesn’t care if it’s as a starter or a reliever. He said he doesn’t feel like he has a job locked up; he knows he has to prove himself to stick around, even with $750,000 guaranteed.

• Nearly three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Scott Baker sounds incredibly optimistic. He said he feels significantly better than he did the past two springs, and that when he hit the two-year mark, there was a big difference in the way his arm felt. He’d been able to pitch for basically a year before that, but it wasn’t until he got a full two years out of surgery that his arm started to feel remotely normal again.

• Carlos Beltran is basically a full participant in today’s workout. I believe that’s because players coming back from surgery are allowed to officially report early. The other position players who are already here — guys like Stephen Drew and Chase Headley — have to do their workouts at the minor league complex. Beltran will go through drills here at Steinbrenner Field.

• Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren and Danny Burawa are each scheduled for early work tomorrow. Not sure what exactly they’ll be doing, the board just indicates that they’ll start ahead of everyone else.

• Still no baby for Chase Whitley. His wife is due any day now and has the cell phone number for a member of the Yankees’ security team. If she goes into labor mid-workout, Whitley will be ready to bolt.

BeltranMcCann• Today’s hitting groups:

Group 1
Francisco Arcia
Trent Garrison
Kyle Higashioka
Eddy Rodriguez
Juan Graterol

Group 2
Brian McCann
Austin Romine
John Ryan Murphy
Carlos Beltran

CarpenterCapuano (2)• Today’s bullpens:

Noon
Dellin Betances (to Eddy Rodriguez)
Chris Capuano (to Austin Romine)
David Carpenter (to Brian McCann)
CC Sabathia (to John Ryan Murphy)

12:10
Scott Baker (to Gary Sanchez)
Jared Burton (to Francisco Arcia)
Bryan Mitchell (to Trent Garrison)
Chase Whitley (to Kyle Higashioka)

12:20
Diego Moreno (to Murphy)
James Pazos (to Rodriguez)
Nick Rumbelow (to Juan Graterol)
Luis Severino (to Romine)

12:30
Nick Goody (to Garrison)
Jacob Lindgren (to Higashioka)
Branden Pinder (to Sanchez)
Tyler Webb (to Arcia

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, February 21st, 2015 at 11:03 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Things we’ve learned leading into the Yankees’ first spring workout

Masahiro Tanaka

Pitchers and catchers might have reported yesterday, but today’s the day spring training really gets started. It’s the Yankees’ first workout, which means mostly a bunch of bullpen sessions, with maybe some fielding drills and a little batting practice (for the catchers, presumably not for the pitchers).

Honestly, it’s a no-news-is-good-news kind of day. It’s still too early to really learn much, but it’s not too early for someone to get hurt.
But since we’re starting the process of learning a few things about this uncertain team, here are five things we’ve already learned leading into camp:

1. The fifth starter seems to be up for grabs. Brian Cashman initially said Chris Capuano was coming to camp with a rotation spot, but since then, assistant GM Billy Eppler has left open the possibility of Adam Warren or Esmil Rogers (or someone else, I suppose) pitching his way into the rotation, and yesterday Joe Girardi specifically mentioned Warren as a guy who could fit as a starter. Actually, Girardi started yesterday’s press conference by saying the Yankees have to get their rotation “ironed out.” Most of that ironing surely involves making sure guys are healthy, but Girardi doesn’t sound like a guy who’s set on five specific starters breaking camp. Capuano might be the favorite, but that spot might not be set.

2. There’s room for creativity on the pitching staff. The Yankees aren’t going to break camp with a true six-man rotation, and Girardi has made it clear that he’d like to have defined roles in the bullpen, but the Yankees are tinkering with the idea of using a sixth starter during long stretches, and Girardi stressed yesterday that the Yankees have multiple relievers capable of pitching late innings (pitchers other than Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller). Situations could dictate the way the Yankees use their relief pitchers, and the sixth starter idea could impact the way they build their bullpen.

3. Playing time is up for grabs. Even though there are clear favorites for almost every spot on the Yankees 25-man roster, Girardi spoke multiple times about how much competition there will be in spring training. He mentioned figuring out how much Didi Gregorius is going to play (essentially, does he need a platoon partner), and he talked about the overwhelming uncertainty about Alex Rodriguez. Left unsaid was the potential for someone other than Stephen Drew to open at second base, and the potential for Chris Young and Garrett Jones to hit their way into regular playing time in some capacity. Even with most roster spots seemingly set, Girardi went out of his way to say he expects a ton of competition this spring.

4. Yoan Moncada is very much on the radar. George King has reported a pair of private workouts for the Cuban teenager, one under the Steinbrenner Field lights on Wednesday night and the other at the minor league complex on Friday afternoon. Each time the Yankees have had Moncada face live pitching from organizational minor leaguers. The Yankees are clearly interested, it’s just a matter of money (which seems to be the case with every team). King says the Yankees are hesitant to pay $30-50 million, and the price is almost certainly going to be that high after the 100-percent tax.

5. If you got sick of the Derek Jeter tour a year ago, you’re in luck. I’m sure his name will generate a lot more attention when the full squad reports next week, but yesterday’s Girardi press conference certainly indicated that Jeter’s absence will not be the focus of this spring training. There are too many other issues — especially with Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow, CC Sabathia’s knee and Rodriguez’s return — to focus too heavily on a guy who’s not around. More likely, this is going to be the spring of A-Rod and a constant Tanaka watch.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, February 21st, 2015 at 9:02 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

On the 40-man: Chase Headley

Joe Girardi, Chase Headley

The Yankees first spring workout is tomorrow, and we’ve made it to the end of our one-by-one look at each player on the Yankees 40-man roster. We’ll finish the series with the team’s largest offseason investment.

HeadleyCHASE HEADLEY

Age on Opening Day: 30
Acquired: Traded from San Diego last season, re-signed in December
Added to the 40-man: New contract became official December 15

In the past: A top prospect at the end of his minor league career, and primarily a left fielder when he broke into the big leagues — back when the Padres thought Kevin Kouzmanoff was their future at third — Headley eventually took over San Diego’s hot corner and had a breakout season in 2012 when he lead the league in RBI and finished fifth in MVP voting. He’s been more of a solid on-base guy than a true slugger the past two seasons, but his defense is strong and the Yankees were impressed by his half-season debut last year.

Role in 2015: Unable to depend on Alex Rodriguez to play third base, the Yankees gave Headley a four-year deal that basically locks him into the lineup as their regular third baseman. He’s a switch hitter who could fit almost anywhere in the lineup (basically anywhere from second to eighth) and the Yankees will rely on him to improve their infield defense while providing solid run production.

Best case scenario: Pie in the sky? A return to that one outrageous season in 2012, when Headley was a legitimate slugger and a Gold Glove winner. More realistically, assuming 2012 remains an outlier — he’s never before or since slugged anywhere near his .498 slugging percentage that season — Headley’s most reasonable offensive expectation probably centers on a high on-base percentage with occasional power (something like his .262/.371/.398 slash line with the Yankees last season; except maybe with a little more pop). If he’s a high-end defender who lengthens the lineup but doesn’t necessarily have to hit third, fourth or fifth, he should be a good fit on a good team.

Worst case scenario: If Headley’s hitting third or fourth this season, it might be a sign that the other veterans are struggling again, and the Yankees are trying to recapture some of Headley’s 2012 magic. That’s not an ideal situation. Leaning too heavily on Headley’s bat, only to have him yet again fail to meet those 2012 expectations, would spell trouble for the lineup. And a return of his past back issues could spell trouble for the infield, which would turn to, who, A-Rod to play third base?

What the future holds: Signed to a four-year deal, Headley has a future with the Yankees. While the organization has some legitimate minor league talent at third base, there are questions about Eric Jagielo’s ability to stay at the position and about Dante Bichette Jr’s ability to hit with consistency. Young Miguel Andujar is promising, but still a teenager. Until forced out of the position, Headley will be the Yankees’ third baseman for the near future. He’ll be 34 when his contract expires, so the Yankees are hoping to avoid a late-30s collapse.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 9:59 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Spring countdown 1: Being realistic about the rotation (for better or worse)

Michael Pineda

Tomorrow is the Yankees’ first spring workout, so tonight we’ll finish our countdown of the most pressing spring training issues by looking at one that could single-handedly determine the success or failure of this season.

Do the Yankees actually have a good starting rotation, or even a viable starting rotation?

Some of this is out of the Yankees’ hands at this point. All they can do is hold their breath and hope Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow doesn’t snap, Michael Pineda’s shoulder doesn’t blow out, and CC Sabathia’s fastball isn’t smacked all over the yard. They can only follow protocol with Ivan Nova’s rehab, work on Nathan Eovaldi’s offspeed pitches, and evaluate their options for the fifth starter spot. For the most part, their major rotation decisions were made weeks ago. Maybe even months ago. In some cases, years ago.

But at some point, the Yankees will have to decide whether they have enough.

Is this a rotation capable of getting the Yankees into the postseason. Should they consider a trade for a guy like Cole Hamels? Have they left themselves too short-handed to make a serious run?

This winter, the Yankees chose to role the rotation dice. They acknowledged in the fall that their rotation was a concern, but they didn’t want to make a Sabathia-like commitment to Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, and they didn’t like the going rate for high-risk secondary options like Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. They chose to sacrifice one starting pitcher to acquire a shortstop, which made their one trade for another starting pitcher more of a replacement than an upgrade.

Masahiro TanakaSpring training will the time for some hard evaluation; more realistic than optimistic.

Is there any indication Tanaka’s favoring his elbow; has this rehab protocol really worked?

Does Pineda seem to have his usual arm strength; is this spring 2012 all over again?

What kind of pitcher is Sabathia at this point; has he successfully transitioned to a new stage in his career?

Did the Yankees find a young gem in Eovaldi; can he do anything more than light up a radar gun?

How much does Chris Capuano have left; did the Yankees get his last drop of effectiveness last season?

Are Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers legitimate options; have the Yankees overly neglected their immediate depth?

Can Bryan Mitchell or Chase Whitley spot start if necessary; how far away is Luis Severino?

Whatever the answers to those questions, there’s only so much the Yankees can do at this point. Their most important rotation decisions came when they passed on Scherzer and Lester, when they made a pair of rotation-based trades (three trades counting the Manny Banuelos deal), and when they selected Capuano and a handful of minor league free agents to build their back-of-the-rotation depth.

In some ways, their key 2015 rotation decisions came when they traded for Pineda, extended Sabathia, and elected to forgo surgery on Tanaka.

But as pitchers and catchers settle into Steinbrenner Field, it’s still hard to look at this Yankees team and see a more all-or-nothing situation than the state of the rotation. This spring, the Yankees will have to figure out whether this rotation is good enough to make the Yankees contenders or thin enough to keep them out of the playoffs.

And as with any spring training decision, the evaluation will be subject to change once the season gets started.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 7:47 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

By the numbers: Uniform assignments in Yankees camp

Masahiro Tanaka

I’ve never been one to get too caught up in uniform numbers, but I know there are a lot of folks out there who love this stuff. So, here are the uniform numbers assigned in Yankees camp this spring. I’ve tried to split everyone into pretty clear groups, and then I’ve put those groups in numerical order. I figure that’s kind of a middle ground, making it fairly easy to both find a specific player and find a specific number.

STARTING PITCHERS
19 Masahiro Tanaka
26 Chris Capuano
27 Scott Baker
30 Nathan Eovaldi
35 Michael Pineda
39 Chase Whitley
45 Kyle Davies
47 Ivan Nova
52 CC Sabathia
65 Bryan Mitchell
73 Jose De Paula
81 Vicente (Jose) Campos
91 Luis Severino

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS
29 David Carpenter
31 Jared Burton
40 Andrew Bailey
43 Adam Warren
53 Esmil Rogers
61 Chris Martin
68 Dellin Betances
70 Wilking Rodriguez
71 Jose Ramirez
72 Danny Burawa
75 Domingo German
76 Branden Pinder
82 Nick Goody
88 Diego Moreno
90 Nick Rumbelow

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS
41 Justin Wilson
48 Andrew Miller
64 Chasen Shreve
87 Jacob Lindgren
89 James Pazos
92 Tyler Webb

CATCHERS
34 Brian McCann
55 Austin Romine
66 John Ryan Murphy
67 Eddy Rodriguez
78 Gary Sanchez
83 Francisco Arcia
84 Trent Garrison
85 Juan Graterol
86 Kyle Higashioka

INFIELDERS
12 Chase headley
13 Alex Rodriguez
14 Stephen Drew
17 Brendan Ryan
18 Didi Gregorius
25 Mark Teixeira
33 Garrett Jones
60 Nick Noonan
62 Cole Figueroa
63 Jose Pirela
94 Kyle Roller
95 Greg Bird
96 Cito Culver
97 Jonathan Galvez
98 Rob Refsnyder

OUTFIELDERS
11 Brett Gardner
22 Jacoby Ellsbury
24 Chris Young
36 Carlos Beltran
74 Slade Heathcott
77 Ramon Flores
79 Tyler Austin
80 Mason Williams
93 Jake Cave
99 Aaron Judge

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 5:53 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Girardi: “Probably going to be as competitive a camp as I’ve been in”

Joe Girardi

“My observation on this team is, it’s probably going to be as competitive a camp as I’ve been in just because of all the new players and the young players and the spots that are open here. That is a little bit different than what we’ve been used to.”

That quote is from Joe Girardi during this morning’s press conference. He talked about spring competitions quite a bit this morning, and it eventually became clear he wasn’t talking about traditional roster battles. Girardi was talking about determining the roles and expectations of players already locked into the roster, and he was talking about evaluating secondary players who will fill in for unpredictable injuries (in this camp, those seem inevitable).

“How we’re going to use certain guys,” Girardi said. “How our rotation is going to shake out. How the bullpen is going to shake out. We expect Didi (Gregorius) to be our shortstop, but how other people fit with him and how he’s doing. … You look at a guy like Chase Whitley, who’s been a starter and in the bullpen. You look at a guy like Adam Warren, who’s been a starter in his career, and who’s been a bullpen guy. Those guys can do a little bit of both. You have to see how those guys fit in.”

And of course, he was talking about figuring out what to do with Alex Rodriguez.

“He’s on our roster,” Girardi said. “But I think you have to prove yourself, in a sense, for playing time, how you fit in, because we really haven’t seen him play for (most of) two years, and we really don’t know where he’s at. It’s something that I think he has to prove.”

A few other notes directly from Girardi:

andrew MillerOn the possibility of co-closers
“I think you could do that. Would you like to iron it out? Sure. We would love to iron it out. I think you have to see how people react when they’re in the situation. I feel good about both of those guys (Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller) doing it. A number of guys down there, I think, are more than capable of closing. You’d like to iron it out, but it doesn’t hurt to have a guy that has the ability to close if your closer is down for a day or a couple of days. But I think they’re both more than capable.”
* By the way, that’s Miller in the picture on the right. No more beard, no more longish hair.

On determining the Opening Day lineup
“Figuring out our batting order I think is something important, because there are some people we don’t know exactly where they are at, and there are obviously some new people in camp. I think the importance of the games in the last two weeks will determine our order a lot. … I think with a healthy Carlos Beltran (will help). A healthy Mark Teixeira, we expect more production. Brian McCann, who’s been here for a year. You incorporate a young player in Didi Gregorius; we believe there’s a lot of talent there. He’s going to be able to help us defensively as well as offensively. I expect there won’t be quite as much on Ellsbury and Gardy’s plate this year in moving them around. You can put them in one spot. But let’s face it, the key to any order a lot of times is the middle of the order and how they produce, and that’s where we need to keep those guys healthy and get the production we expect out of them.”

On the health of the rotation
“There’s obviously concerns. I think you can start with CC; until you really get him into the rigors of pitching every fifth day and possibly going three or four turns on regular rest, you’re not really sure how that knee is going to fare. We feel good about it, and we feel good about where he’s at right now, but pitching in games is different. I think you could say the same thing about Tanaka. What he’s went through is not really uncommon. There’s been a lot of pitchers that have went through what he’s had and have pitched for a substantial period of time before anything has to be done. In saying that, you’ve also seen it go the other way. He threw a bullpen with no concerns yesterday. Those two guys, you have concerns about. I’m excited about where Nova is at this point, and we will get him back during the course of the season. But those are probably our two biggest concerns with our rotation.”

CC Sabathia, Carsten Charles Sabathia lllOn the possibility of a six-man rotation
“It’s something that we will talk about. As far as having a six-man rotation all the time, no, but if you get into some long stretches where you’re playing 18 days in a row, could we interject a sixth starter for a start to give the guys an extra day’s rest? Absolutely.”

On having enough time to get Rodriguez ready
“Of course I’m curious about that. I think, though, that you’re talking about him possibly DHing on a lot of days in spring training, and that’s not quite as taxing as playing the field on an everyday basis, or playing two out of three days. But he’s going to need to get his at-bats. Will it come to a point where we have to send him to the minor leagues to get eight at-bats one day? Maybe, to try to catch him up and speed up the process, but it is a balance. We will have to balance, and communication is extremely important. … He’s on our roster, but I think you have to prove yourself in a sense for playing time. How you fit in, because we really haven’t seen him play for two years and we really don’t know where he’s at. It’s something that I think he has to prove.”

On what seems to be an improved defensive team
“Oh, I think it definitely translates to more wins. Run prevention a lot of times is just as important as run production. I know that people talk a lot about the run prevention that Kansas City was able to use last year and get to the World Series and almost win a World Series with the bullpen and run prevention that they had. I think it’s extremely important. I think it will lead to more wins. And I’m excited about our defense.”

On the changes in the American League East
“I think you obviously pay attention to what other teams are doing. And the one thing that you realize over a 162-game schedule is there’s a lot of things that have to go right for you to be the winner at the end. Sometimes it’s contributions from unexpected players that you had no idea maybe were even going to be on your roster; or that were going to be traded for, or released and you pick them up. Sometimes it’s just everything goes pretty much according to the plan. I hadn’t been on too many of those teams. I was on one that for like 28 weeks went according to plan but the first week didn’t go so well. So, yeah, I think you look to see how you measure up. But the only way you know how you measure up is to do it on the field.”

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 3:14 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Notes from Day 1: Tanaka says he’s confident he can get through the season

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka said this afternoon that he feels no pain in his right elbow. He’s been able to go through his usual offseason routine, he threw a normal bullpen yesterday — including splitters — and he’s expected to throw another one on Sunday.

“I feel (the elbow) is healed,” Tanaka said. “I’m confident I can get through the season… because I’m able to throw the ball absolutely fine.”

Tanaka said he made no substantial changes to his offseason routine, and he expects to make no substantial changes now that he’s reported to spring training. He’ll continue to throw all of his pitches and continue to prepare for a full year in the rotation. Joe Girardi basically said the same, that the Yankees will monitor Tanaka, but that they’ll treat him as a guy getting ready for the season.

“I actually feel a little bit better than last year,” Tanaka said. “Just overall body health, feeling better.”

A few other small notes from this first day of pitchers and catchers:

Dellin Betances, Larry Rothschild• In his opening press conference, Girardi talked a lot about this spring training having more open competition than usual. Eventually, it became clear that he was referring to playing-time competition more than roster-spot competition. The Yankees have a lot of guys basically locked into roster spots, but they haven’t decide exact roles for them. Have to decide whether Didi Gregorius needs a platoon partner, whether Stephen Drew is playing second base every day, how often Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup, who’s going to be the closer, whether a few relievers might instead find a spot in the rotation — stuff like that.

• Speaking of guys who could play various roles, Adam Warren has already faced hitters two times. He’s thrown live batting practice twice, which makes me think — just guessing — that he’s a strong bet to start the spring opener.

• Alex Rodriguez is expected to report with the rest of the Yankees position players on Wednesday. Girardi said he doesn’t expect Rodriguez to be here any earlier. He does expect, however, that Rodriguez might play a little more than he usually does in spring training, though most of that playing time will come as a designated hitter just to get him at-bats. Might spend some time getting loads of ABs at the minor league complex as well.

• Girardi said he’s been very encouraged by Ivan Nova’s progress from Tommy John surgery, and Nova said this morning that he feels good. He sounds incredibly optimistic. Yankees are also optimistic about CC Sabathia, but Girardi acknowledged he needs to see Sabathia in a game setting to have a strong sense of what to expect.

• Jose Ramirez said last year’s lat issue has cleared up. He’s healthy and already throwing bullpens.

• The left wall of the Yankees spring clubhouse could pretty easily be described as the “big league pitching staff” wall. It’s where the veterans and most big league roster favorites are always assigned (Adam Warren moved from the middle lockers to that wall last year). This year’s group along that wall: CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Adam Warren, Andrew Miller, Chris Capuano, Nathan Eovaldi, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Scott Baker and Masahiro Tanaka. Andrew Bailey is in a locker right next to that group along the front wall.

• Chase Whitley’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child any day now. Thought it might happen last night, but so far, they’re still waiting.

• Several position players were early arrivals, mostly just setting up lockers and getting situated. I saw Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley, Stephen Drew and Garrett Jones.

• Two random observations about the new relievers from the Braves: David Carpenter looks basically identical to Brian Gordon, and Chasen Shreve has a swooping hairstyle to rival David Huff’s.

• Another random observation: Among the first things I saw when the Yankees clubhouse opened to media was Tony Pena talking with Gary Sanchez. I wonder if we might see that a lot this spring. Feels like an important year for Sanchez now that he’s ready for Triple-A and needs to make strides toward the big leagues.

• Just as a heads up, the two pictures in this post are from earlier in the week. There was really very little actual baseball action at Steinbrenner Field today. A few guys might have played catch and maybe some position players hit, but this wasn’t a real workout day.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 12:32 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

MLB announces new pace of play rules

Just settling in for Joe Girardi’s press conference. For now, here’s the MLB press release about the new pace of play initiatives.

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark and Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, the Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committees, today jointly announced additions to the sport’s pace of game program, which will be effective in Spring Training, the regular season and the Postseason, and a series of modifications to the instant replay system. The World Umpires Association also has given its assent to the new efforts, which will be reviewed by the parties following the conclusion of the 2015 World Series.

PACE OF GAME

· The pace of game program will enforce the batter’s box rule, requiring that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs. The new rule at the Major League level mirrors 6.02(d), which was in place in Minor League Baseball in 2014. (See the end of this press release for how 6.02(d) appeared in the 2014 Official Baseball Rules.)

· A second new component to the pace of game program is the addition of timers that will measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes during each Major League game. One timer will be installed on or near the outfield scoreboard, and a smaller timer will be installed on the façade behind home plate near the press box. Immediately following the third out of each half-inning, the timer will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and from 2:45 for nationally televised games. An MLB representative attending each game will operate the timers from the ballpark and will track the following events:

40 Seconds
PA announces batter and begins to play walk-up music

30 Seconds
Pitcher throws final warm-up pitch

25 Seconds
Batter’s walk-up music ends

20 Seconds-5 Seconds
Batter enters the batter’s box

20 Seconds-0 Seconds
Pitcher begins motion to deliver pitch

· Pitchers will be permitted to throw as many warm-up pitches as they wish prior to the point when 30 seconds remain on the clock; however, pitchers will be deemed to have forfeited any of their traditional eight warm-up pitches that they are unable to complete prior to the 30-second deadline. Exceptions to these rules will be made in a variety of circumstances, including if the pitcher or catcher ended the prior half-inning at bat or on base.

· Batters will be encouraged to get into the batter’s box with 20 seconds remaining on the timer. This is the same time that the broadcasters return from commercial. The pitcher is expected to begin his motion to deliver the pitch as soon as the batter gets into the batter’s box and becomes alert to the pitcher. Batters who do not enter the box prior to five seconds remaining on the timer and pitchers who do not begin the motion to deliver the pitch prior to zero seconds remaining on the timer will be deemed to have violated the break timing rules.

· These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system, with discipline resulting for flagrant violators. No fines will be issued in Spring Training or in April of the 2015 regular season. Donations will be made to the Major League Baseball Players Trust charitable foundation based on the level of adherence to the new rules.

Commissioner Manfred said: “These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play. The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”
Clark said: “The Players believe that enforcing the rules that currently exist regarding between inning breaks and plate appearances is the best way to address the issue of pace of play. We’re confident that today’s announcements will have a positive impact on the pace of the game without jeopardizing the integrity of the competition.”
Schuerholz said: “The Pace of Game Committee wants to take measured steps as we address this industry goal to quicken the pace of our great game. It is not an objective of ours to achieve a dramatic time reduction right away; it is more important to develop a culture of better habits and a structure with more exact timings for non-game action.”
Brian Lam, who represents the Major League Umpires, stated: “These strides to hone the pace of game over time will improve the natural rhythm of baseball, and we applaud and support the Players Association and the Commissioner’s Office as we all move toward this goal.”

INSTANT REPLAY MODIFICATIONS

· Managers may now invoke instant replay from the dugout and will no longer be required to approach the calling umpire to challenge a call. Managers may hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home plate umpire that he is considering a challenge. A decision can be communicated verbally or with a hand signal. To challenge an inning-ending call, managers will be required to leave the dugout immediately in order to hold the defensive team on the field.

· Whether a runner left the base early or properly touched a base on a tag-up play will be reviewable.

· A manager will retain his challenge after every call that is overturned. Last year, a manager retained his challenge only after the first overturned call.

· A manager must use a challenge in order to review whether a play at home plate included a violation of the rule governing home plate collisions. However, in the event that a manager is out of challenges after the start of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may still choose to review whether there was a violation of the rule.

· During Postseason games, regular season tiebreaker games and the All-Star Game, managers will now have two challenges per game.

· Instant replay will not be utilized during 2015 Spring Training, but it will be in place for exhibition games at Major League ballparks prior to the start of the 2015 regular season.

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 10:54 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pitchers and catchers!

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Welcome to spring training, everyone!

Pitchers and catchers officially report to Yankees camp for their physicals this morning. The clubhouse will open to media around 9:45 — at which point we might get some early status updates on guys like Masahiro Tanaka (after yesterday’s bullpen) and CC Sabathia — and Joe Girardi is going to begin his annual start-of-spring press conference at 11.

It’s a busy morning here in Tampa, but the first real workout won’t happen until tomorrow.

Regardless of what the weather might suggest up in New York, spring has arrived.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 7:40 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

On the 40-man: Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

With pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, our look at every player on the Yankees 40-man roster shifts to perhaps the most important player on the roster. The success of this rotation could hinge on the health of his right elbow.

TanakaMASAHIRO TANAKA

Age on Opening Day: 26
Acquired: Signed out of Japan last winter
Added to the 40-man: The signing became official January 22

In the past: A standout in Japan, Tanaka became last winter’s most prized commodity. The Yankees had already signed a slew of Major League free agents, but their biggest splash of a nearly half-billion-dollar offseason was a seven-year, $155-million deal with Tanaka. He arrived with incredible fanfare and looked like a Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate before discovering a slight tear in his right elbow ligament. Multiple specialists recommended he rehab the injury before surgery, and Tanaka returned to make two healthy starts at the end of the season.

Role in 2015: Regardless of whether he gets the nod on Opening Day, Tanaka is clearly the Yankees’ ace. Last year’s first half was enough to show his enormous ability and potential, and even with CC Sabathia still signed and Michael Pineda coming off a strong (but brief) return, Tanaka still stands out as the Yankees No. 1 starter. Of course, filling that role is contingent upon staying healthy. That torn elbow ligament could be a ticking time bomb. The Yankees have avoided surgery so far, but how much longer will that last?

Best case scenario: After last season’s six-month tease, the bar is incredible high. A Cy Young award doesn’t seem out of reach in an absolute best-case scenario. If Tanaka’s able to maintain last year’s numbers through a full season of 30-plus starts, he could be one of the elite starting pitchers in all of baseball, a true ace that makes the late-career decline of Sabathia more manageable for the Yankees. Health and dominance. Is that too much to ask?

Worst case scenario: A pop right at the end of spring training. That’s the nightmare scenario. Tanaka could get tantalizingly close to Opening Day only to have his elbow blow out, forcing him to miss all of 2015 and perhaps the very beginning of 2016 (with the looming risk that he returns as a lesser pitcher than the one we saw last season). If Tanaka fall short of last year’s numbers, he could still be a very good starting pitcher. What’s more troubling is that ligament and the constant threat that it could snap at any moment.

What the future holds: The Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year deal, but the contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2017 season. That means, for right now, the Yankees can only bank on having Tanaka for this season and two more. That’s four total years of guaranteed team control, and the Yankees have already lost half a season due to injury. They’d like to get their money’s worth for the next three. If Tanaka stays healthy and effective, he’ll surely take the opt out to maximize his value yet again. If he doesn’t take the opt out, it could very well be because something has gone wrong between now and then.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 19th, 2015 at 8:52 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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