First, a cool picture from Nick in San Francisco who went to see CC Sabathia toss out the first pitch for the North Vallejo Little League last night. Sabathia was joined by Joba Chamberlain for the event. I told CC to throw a slider and let the kid catching him really show what he could do. I strong doubt he took my advice.
Meanwhile, from the never-a-quiet-day file, Alex Rodriguez’s cousin Yuri popped back onto the radar today. The Daily News reported that Rodriguez’s steroid smuggling cousin was spotted at the team hotel this week. Brian Cashman told me basically the exact same thing he told every other writer: The team can’t keep a player from seeing his cousin outside of team functions and team facilities.
“It’s his cousin,” Cashman said. “He hasn’t been in any Yankee areas. We have nothing to do with any public areas.”
By the afternoon, Major League Baseball had finished investigating the issue and found that no violations occurred. Yuri Sucart is banned from team-controlled facilities, and joining his cousin on road trips doesn’t violate that ban.
Some other notes and links for the off day.
• Cashman also said there is “zero” new information on any of the injured Yankees. Phil Hughes is throwing batting practice on Saturday, but there’s nothing new on Eric Chavez, Pedro Feliciano, Damaso Marte or Rafael Soriano.
• Cashman also said Carlos Silva actually does not have an opt out date, so the Yankees have no reason to rush making that decision. I’d heard last week that he could opt out this month, but Cashman said that’s not the case.
• Kind of a strange story: Apparently the Angels flight from Kansas City made an emergency landing after some mechanical problems. Looks like everyone was fine, but that had to a pretty tense situation. The Yankees play the Angels tomorrow.
• Nice story by Wally Matthews, who looked that emergence of Curtis Granderson and the fact he could quickly become one of the most recognizable players in the game.
• Good stuff over at Bronx Banter, examining whether Rodriguez has been clutch since joining the Yankees. Spoiler alert, the answer is yes.
At the very top of the Yankees minor league system, two Triple-A starters — Andrew Brackman and Adam Warren — are top five in the International League in walks. Down in Low-A, one of the Yankees best young catchers — Gary Sanchez — is hitting just .238 with 37 strikeouts in 32 games.
“It’s like somebody trying to lose weight and looking at the scale every day,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “It’ll drive you nuts.”
Less than two months into the minor league season, the big picture is nowhere near coming into focus, and Newman said this part of the season is still about making initial adjustments to a new level. The Yankees focus more on the second-half results for most of their minor leaguers, curious to see how they adjust and adapt.
Right now, Warren is eight walks away from his total for last season. Brackman is 12 away from his 2010 total. From the outside, the Brackman number is more glaring because, 1. His ERA is three runs higher than Warren’s, and 2. He had similar control issues in 2009.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue long term, because he’s showing he can throw strikes,” Newman said. “He’s just got to get back (to last year’s command). His mark right now is well above where we want it to be, but I don’t think it’s going to stay there.”
As for Sanchez, he was hitting .314 with three home runs in his previous 10 games before going on the disabled list a week ago. More importantly, he’s 18 years old.
“He’s swinging it good now,” Newman said. “He’s like a high school senior playing in that league. He’s doing well.”
• Speaking of letting the big picture come into focus… Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy were the Yankees first- and second-round picks in the 2009 draft, and both are off to eye-opening starts in Charleston. Newman called it little more than the natural progression of two talented kids who had very little little experience when they put up pedestrian numbers in Charleston last season. “That was a helluva challenge,” Newman said. “Now they’re getting a little experience, and we’re seeing what kind of players they are. There’s nothing particularly surprising about it.”
• As you might expect, Newman said both Heathcott and Murphy will “probably” jump to Tampa midseason.
• As previously reported, Newman said Sanchez has a “stiff lower back” that he’s trying to work through in extended spring training. Once he’s through that, Sanchez will return to Charleston.
• In the wake of the Buster Posey injury, Newman said the Yankees have not discussed moving any of their catchers from behind the plate just to avoid injury. “Not because of health concerns,” he said. “All of our catchers do work at first base. We have a lot of young catching prospects. Who knows who’s going to catch, who’s going to play first base and who’s going to DH?” Newman once again stressed that the Yankees believe Jesus Montero can catch.
• Other injury updates:
Greg Golson: About a week away from playing in games.
Mark Prior: “Not throwing (off a mound),” Newman said. “He’s really struggling with this kind of hip, abdominal thing. Hard to nail it down.”
Alan Horne: Throwing in extended spring and building arm strength.
Graham Stoneburner, Steve Garrison, Jeremy Bleich: “Still a ways to go,” Newman said.
David Adams: Having some leg problems that the Yankees believe to be related to the ankle injury that forced him to miss most of last season. He was back and playing, but then the leg started bothering him. Not sure how close he is to returning.
• Carlos Silva can opt out in mid-June and pitched well last night. “This is a contingency plan,” Newman said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
• Veteran Brad Halsey, signed to a minor league deal earlier this month, is throwing in Tampa, basically going through his own spring training.
• Outfielder Damon Sublett has been throwing some bullpens in Double-A. He was a closer in college and hasn’t been getting a ton of playing time as a position player, so he asked the Yankees if he could start working out on the mound. “We’re just checking it out, getting his arm in shape,” Newman said.
• Newman said there’s no one in extended spring training who’s “setting any world records or anything,” but the name-to-know that jumped to his mind was starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell. “He’s got electric stuff,” Newman said. “He’s got the stuff to be the next Banuelos, Betances. The high-end guy. That’s Mitchell.”
Brackman photo from my friends at the Scranton Times-Tribune
Silva makes Tampa debut • 05.05.11
The Yankees are wrapping up this Detroit series with a day game, which means we should have a lineup in an hour or so. Until then, just a quick note on the non-Kevin Millwood veteran who’s trying to pitch his way into the Yankees plans.
Carlos Silva made his first regular-season start with High-A Tampa yesterday. He went three innings, striking out four and walking one. He allowed two runs, both of them on a two-run home run by Jae-Hoon Ha, a Cubs outfield prospect who’s hitting .346 with five home runs this season.
All nine of Silva’s outs were either on strikes or on the ground. I haven’t heard anything about the outing other than what the numbers show. My guess would be that Silva could pitch his way in the mix as long as he shows something fairly quickly. By the second half of the season, there’s a solid chance one of those Triple-A starters will have set himself apart and emerge as an obvious call-up/spot-start candidate. Plus there’s that Phil Hughes guy who could be back in six to eight weeks.
Millwood makes second extended spring start • 04.13.11
The Yankees beat writers have left Florida, but The Associated Press is still down there and offers some updates on Kevin Millwood, Mark Prior and Carlos Silva.
Millwood gave up four runs, three earned, and seven hits against Philadelphia minor leaguers. He faced two batters who singled and scored in the sixth to reach his scheduled pitch count.
The 36-year-old Millwood, who was 4-16 last season with Baltimore, felt good after the outing and could pitch for Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Also, Mark Prior expects to pitch again for Class-A Tampa on Wednesday or Thursday. The right-hander pitched on consecutive days for the first time last weekend.
Carlos Silva will have his first on-field workout at the Yankees’ complex on Wednesday. The right-hander agreed to a minor league contract Saturday.
Associated Press photo of Millwood