Sunday notes: No lineup until Opening Day • 03.27.11
Joe Girardi said he plans to announce most of his final roster decisions tomorrow. The Yankees might have to wait a day or two to determine Curtis Granderson’s status, and they might not immediately name a replacement for Pedro Feliciano, but Girardi said he expects to announce his backup catcher, utility infielder and reserve corner infielder.
He will not announce an Opening Day lineup.
“I’m still thinking about it,” Girardi said. “I haven’t turned my brain off to it by saying, okay, this is what I’m doing. I’m still thinking about it. We’ll still have one long conversation about it.”
Based on recent lineups, my best guess is that the Yankees are going to use the two-lineup approach: They’ll have Brett Gardner leadoff against right-handers and Derek Jeter leadoff against lefties. It’s a pretty solid plan, actually. Girardi said he probably won’t announce an Opening Day lineup until Opening Day itself.
Otherwise: Eduardo Nunez seems to be the favorite for the utility job, Gustavo Molina seems to be the favorite for the backup catcher position and Eric Chavez is all but official as the reserve corner infielder.
“We just haven’t announced it yet,” Girardi said. “I’ll talk to Cash one more time, but we’ll announce it probably tomorrow. Like he said, we’ve got to make sure people are healthy.”
• Pedro Feliciano had an MRI this morning. It showed some sort of muscle problem — Girardi wasn’t sure of the exact diagnosis — but the bottom line is this: “It’s pretty hard to think that he would start with us,” Girardi said. “I’m hoping it’ll be shorter (term), but you can never predict.”
• As possible replacements for Feliciano, Girardi once again mentioned Luis Ayala and Mark Prior, but neither of those two is on the 40-man roster, and today’s conversation certainly made it seem like the Yankees are leaning toward Steve Garrison. “He’s done a good job for us against left-handers, and he’s a viable option for us,” Girardi said. “We’ll probably see him throw one more time before we leave and then we’ll make a decision.”
• Here’s Girardi’s cryptic comment about why Romulo Sanchez was scratched from this road trip: “That got cancelled for reasons I can’t give to you at this point.” Someone mentioned a trade and Girardi gave a weird look that suggested a trade is in the works (or certainly some kind of move).
• Girardi on how quickly he knew Chavez could make the team: “Right when he got to camp, we saw the bat speed in Chavez. We said, ‘Wow, if he’s healthy, he can help us.’ Because, you’re not going to really forget how to hit, it’s just if you’re physically capable, and he looked great.”
• Pat Venditte faced two hitters today. He pitched right-handed to one and left-handed to the other. Turns out, the decision to bring in Venditte had a lot to do with the new pitching coach. “Larry (Rothschild) wanted to see it,” Girardi said. “The kid has done well in the minor leagues wherever he’s been.”
• Speaking of Venditte, those paying attention in the crowd seemed to enjoy it: “You heard a little ‘Ohhh’ when he switched,” Girardi said.
• A nice early version of HOPE Week today with the little girl who saved the even littler girl’s life. The families were hanging around the Yankees dugout throughout batting practice. It was pretty neat to see.
• The Yankees lost 7-6 today, but they had 13 hits, including three by Austin Krum and two by Mark Teixeira. Krum is, by most accounts, a pretty good fielder but he had a rough time today with two errors and a missed attempt at a diving catch. Austin Romine and Robinson Cano homered today.
• Garrison faced two big-time lefties today. He got Justin Morneau to pop up, but Jim Thome took him deep.
• Buddy Carlyle was knocked around a little bit in his start, but for the most part, the other guys brought up from minor league camp pitched well today. Wilkin Arias had a rough third of an inning — hit a batter and walked a guy — but Francisco Gil, Josh Schmidt, Andy Sisco, Eric Wordekemper and Venditte combined for 4.2 scoreless.
• Today the Yankees faced Carl Pavano. Girardi said there was a time this winter when there really seemed to be a chance that Pavano would return to the Yankees. “It was a possibility that he was going to be with us,” Girardi said. “We talked about it. His name was thrown around. It never came to a fruition, but he’s resurrected his career. He’s pitched well for the Twins and he’s given them innings. When we’ve faced him in the playoffs, he’s pitched well. The guy knows how to pitch. The big thing is for Carl that he’s been healthy.”
Associated Press photos of Krum, Carlyle and Girardi with 12-year-old Julianne Ramirez
Next up: The Class of 2007 • 03.08.11
Six players from the Yankees 2006 draft class have already played in New York. Four others have been included in trades for Major League talent, another was taken in the Rule 5 draft, and another is currently one of the top prospects in the system. It’s been a fruitful draft for the Yankees, with Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson having already established themselves as mainstays on the roster.
By comparison, the group taken just one year later has been very quiet.
No one from the Yankees 2007 draft class has played in the big leagues, but that might be about to change. Six members of the ’07 class are in big league camp with the Yankees, and three — Andrew Brackman, Austin Romine and Brandon Laird — have put themselves among the top prospects in the organization.
“Some days (making it to the big leagues) feels a lot closer than other days,” Romine said. “You get tastes here and there of what it could be, and it makes you play even harder. Then there are other days when it seems it’s way out of reach.”
Half of the Yankees top ten picks in 2007 have been slowed by injuries, and the fifth and sixth rounders — Adam Olbrychowski and Chase Weems — have been traded away.
Brackman, though, took a huge step forward last season, and he’s begun to look like a legitimate first-round choice again. Romine has shown considerable talent as second rounder, third-round pick Ryan Pope put himself on the map with a move to the bullpen, and fourth-round pick Bradley Suttle is finally healthy and able to hit again. Laird is one of the more pleasant surprises in the entire system as a 27th-round pick who’s played his way to the verge of the big leagues.
“We came up playing together, so we all want each other to succeed,” Pope said. “For the most part there’s been a large core of us, (mostly) college guys, that have stuck together coming up. I think it’s important to keep a class like that together because, once you get to the big leagues, hopefully you guys have already been together three or four years and know how to play together. I think it works its way through, kind of like Mo and Pettitte and Jeter and them, kind of a core group of people.”
Of course, every draft class — fair or not — seems to be defined by its first rounder. For the 2007 class, that means Brackman.
“I didn’t talk to him a whole lot until he got to Double-A,” Pope said. “But if you’re talking about a first pick that’s going to define (class), he’s a pretty good one to follow because of his work ethic, his determination to succeed. He’s definitely a guy who’s going to set a standard for the class.”
Associated Press photo of Romine, headshots of Brackman and Pope
Exactly one week after the first official workout for pitchers and catchers, Yankees camp opened this morning with Dellin Betances taking the mound on the main field here at Steinbrenner Field. Two hitters, Austin Krum and Greg Golson, took turns against him.
I asked Golson how Betances looked, and Golson gave a classic hitter’s response: He said he refuses to say any pitcher’s stuff was good, even if it’s during a batting practice session in front of no one but a few coaches. If Golson gets out, it’s his own fault. I thought it was pretty funny, but I don’t think Golson meant it as a joke.
Apparently Betances is the only pitcher who faced hitters this morning. There should be more later in the day.
• Infielder Addison Maruszak has been added to big league camp, but he’s here as a catcher. Primarily a shortstop, he was the Yankees 17th-round pick in 2008, and he’s played all over the infield. This fall Maruszak started getting some time at catcher during instructs. The Yankees have always like Maruszak’s arm, and he said they’re grooming as a kind of eight-position utility man. He’s never played the outfield as a pro, but he’s certain he could handle it. Maruszak said he’s already pretty comfortable behind the plate, though he’s still honing his instincts back there.
• Maruszak said he’s not sure how long he’ll be in big league camp. He doesn’t know whether this will be an occasional thing, a one-or-two day stint, or if he’s here until being reassigned just like everyone else. As far as I know he hasn’t been officially added to the spring roster.
• Hector Noesi said this morning that he was throwing bullpens back home, so he’s not really behind the other pitchers in camp. He was never concerned that he wouldn’t be able to get here.
• Random observation: Francisco Cervelli spent the winter working out with Robinson Cano, but it’s funny how much he still follows and constantly talks to Jorge Posada. Once a mentor, always a mentor, I guess.
• On the sheet of paper that lists the hitting and defensive assignments for the day, every player name is typed in black ink with two exceptions: Brandon Laird and Kevin Russo are written in red. I assume that’s because they’re the guys who will shuttle between infield and outfield drills.
• Bullpen assignments:
Andy Sisco (to Francisco Cervelli)
Andrew Brackman (to Kyle Higashioka)
Steve Garrison (to Kyle Higashioka)
Daniel Turpen (to Jesus Montero)
David Phelps (to Austin Romine)
Adam Warren (to Jose Gil)
D.J. Mitchell (to Jose Gil)
Eric Wordekemper (to Addison Maruszak)
• Hitting groups: Most are the same as yesterday, with catchers moving around
Infield Group 1: Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Jorge Posada
Infield Group 2: Ronnie Belliard, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Austin Romine
Infield Group 3: Eric Chavez, Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo, Jose Gil
Infield Group 4: Doug Bernier, Brad Suttle, Jorge Vazquez, Addison Maruszak
Outfield Group 1: Greg Golson, Andruw Jones, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin
Outfield Group 2: Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Justin Maxwell, Francisco Cervelli
Outfield Group 3: Colin Curtis, Jordan Parraz, Melky Mesa, Kyle Higashioka
Outfield Group 4: Daniel Brewer, Austin Krum, Brandon Laird, Gustavo Molina, Jesus Montero
• Fielding groups: The exact same as yesterday’s groups, Maruszak wasn’t listed with a defensive group
Catcher Group 1: Jose Gil, Russell Martin, Gustavo Molina, Russell Martin
Catcher Group 2: Francisco Cervelli, Kyle Higashioka, Jorge Posada, Austin Romine
Infield Group 1: Doug Bernier, Robinson Cano, Eric Chavez, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Brad Suttle, Jorge Vazquez
Infield Group 2: Ronnie Belliard, Brandon Laird, Ramiro Pena, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Russo, Mark Teixeira
Outfield Group 1: Daniel Brewer, Curtis Granderson, Andruw Jones, Austin Krum, Jordan Parraz
Outfield Group 2: Colin Curtis, Brett Gardner, Greg Golson, Justin Maxwell, Melky Mesa, Nick Swisher