A lot of balls got some help from the wind this afternoon. Alex Rodriguez’s home run in the fifth inning did not. Off to a strong start this spring, Rodriguez’s first home run was legitimate, continuing his strong start this spring.
“It doesn’t matter,” Rodriguez said. “It feels good to be getting my work in.”
Rodriguez is hitting .462 with four doubles and today’s home run. Only Jorge Vazquez, who homered in his first two games, has better spring numbers for the Yankees.
“I did take notice, I thought (Rodriguez) was pretty locked in from day one,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s a talented player. His offseason workouts, he works out extremely hard, and that’s the only thing I can really say. He’s a pretty good player.”
Rodriguez said this is the result of a winter spent training instead of rehabbing. He’s a little bit lighter, said he feels a little more flexible, and Hitting coach Kevin Long met with him more than once this offseason.
“(Spring training is) just a continuation of what we started in November,” Rodriguez said.
• Rodriguez has talked about being more relaxed than in the past. Today’s home run came maybe an inning after Cameron Diaz took a seat behind home plate, and when Rodriguez nearly hustled out of the clubhouse without talking to reporters, one writer joked with him, “What, do you have a date?” Upset him? Not this time. Rodriguez just laughed. “Behave yourself,” he said.
• Russell Martin had his first two hits this afternoon. He also stole a base, suggesting his knee is feeling pretty good. The Yankees will have him catch tomorrow’s home game, giving him back-to-back starts behind the plate.
• And how is Martin behind the plate? “He’s got a good idea back there,” Phil Hughes said. “He’s a good receiver, catches the ball well, frames pitches well and gets some (calls) you might not get with a guy that doesn’t stick as well as he does.”
• Derek Jeter had two more hits today and has his spring batting average up to .357. It’s still too early to know much of anything, but he’s looked a little better at the plate day by day.
• Five Yankees, aside from Martin and Jeter, had two hits today: Eduardo Nunez, Robinson Cano, Andruw Jones, Jordan Parraz and Justin Maxwell. Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez had a hit apiece, continuing their strong springs. Greg Golson homered.
• Steve Garrison continues to be stretched out in big league camp. He went three innings today, a pretty clear indication that the Yankees are looking at him as a starter instead of a reliever (he’ll open in the minor leagues). On a day like this, giving up one run on three hits was awfully good.
• Converted outfielder Brian Anderson had a tough day on the mound. He faced seven batters, and five of them had a hit.
• Dan Brewer had a stolen base and a double, and Colin Curtis made two nice catches and threw a runner out at the plate, but both left the game with injuries. Right field was apparently not the place to be today.
• I never saw him, but apparently Roger Clemens was here to see his son Koby, who plays for the Astros.
• As you can tell from the picture above, Yogi Berra made the trip to Kissimmee.
Associated Press photos of Berra with Cano; Rodriguez after the home run; Jeter looking back at Jones
Derek Jeter and A.J. Burnett need to bounce back. Phil Hughes and Brett Gardner need to keep moving forward. CC Sabathia needs to stay healthy, Mariano Rivera needs to keep defying father time and the Yankees need to find a couple of starting pitchers from a pile of unknowns.
The spring performance of Daniel Brewer is nowhere near the list of Yankees concerns this spring. I get that.
But I can’t help myself.
I’ve always liked seeing players who were fighting to get themselves on the radar. Even if they’re fighting for nothing more than the last spot on the bench or a role in the September bullpen, the non-roster invites are an interesting lot. You might forget about them completely by this time next year, but right now, you just never know.
Eric Chavez and Mark Prior
Just trying to stay healthy
Of all the veterans invited to big league camp, it’s rotation candidates Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia who have the most important challenge ahead of them. But the most intriguing challenge might belong to Chavez and Prior, once very good big leaguers whose careers were torn apart by injuries. It’s impossible to ignore these two, even if they are fighting for bit roles on the bench and in the bullpen.
A rising star
Manny Banuelos is generally considered a Top 50 minor league talent. David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell finished last season in Triple-A. It’s natural that those non-roster invites would generate some attention. What’s surprised me this offseason is how often Warren’s name has been mentioned. Not that I doubt his talent — the numbers paint a pretty compelling picture — but Warren has only 10 games of Double-A experience. Is that really enough to put himself in the mix for a big league spot?
A hitter who can catch, or a catcher who can hit?
It’s kind of ridiculous to include Montero on this list because everyone is going to be paying attention to him. He had a very real chance to be the Yankees Opening Day catcher until Russell Martin signed this winter. Instead, he’s coming to camp as something of a long shot — Francisco Cervelli probably has a leg up on the backup role — but Montero will have a chance to force the Yankees hand and convince them that another year in Triple-A would be a waste of time. It’s impossible to ignore huge talent that’s knocking on the door, and Montero might knock that door of its hinges.
Outfielder turned reliever
What’s not to like about this story? Once considered among the top center field prospects in baseball, Anderson got some time in the big leagues, couldn’t hit, and moved to the mound for the first time since high school. Now he’s trying to establish himself all over again. I have no idea whether it will work, but it will be interesting to see him try. Plus, the guy is one of Shelley Duncan’s good friends. What’s not to like?
A prospect on the verge
Brewer reminds me a little bit of what Colin Curtis was last spring: Not on the 40-man, and not a big-name prospect, but a guy who does enough things well that he couldn’t play himself into a big league role at some point this season. Working against Brewer is the fact the 40-man is loaded with similar outfield options — Curtis, Justin Maxwell and Greg Golson — but if Brewer builds on last season and one of those three takes a step back, the Yankees could have another outfielder to consider if/when a mid-season hole presents itself.
Jorge Vazquez — The power is real. Is everything else ready for the big leagues?
Manny Banuelos — Youngest guy in camp, and arguably the best young arm in the system.
Neal Cotts and Andy Sisco — They’ve been to the big leagues before, and lefties always have a chance to open some eyes and get another shot.
Austin Romine — How would you feel if you were one of the 10 best catching prospects in baseball and were still completely overshadowed in your own organization?
Doug Bernier — He hit .181 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre two years ago and the Yankees still brought him back. Tells you how good he is with the glove.