The Yankees were enjoying rookie hazing day after this 5-4 loss to the A’s. The rookies were given Star Wars clothes to wear. So there was David Phelps as Princess Leia and Melky Mesa as Darth Vader (Where was that black helmet and robe Saturday when Mesa could’ve used to hide his identity after that baserunning blunder in his debut?). Even the new assistant trainer, Mark Littlefield, had to wear a costume. He got stuck with the hairy Chewbacca.
“Every time you guys see Princess Leia, this is what you’ll think of,” Phelps said, posing for pictures.
Eduardo Nunez was the one who could have used the mask and full body costume on this day. But like Mesa the day before, he stood in front of his locker and faced the crowd. Nunez made two more errors at short, including a throwing error in the sixth that led to the decisive run.
“It happens,” said Nunez, who also had a ball pop out of his hand and back in, causing a late throw in the seventh, his seventh error in 33 games. “Everybody has a bad day. You’ve got to keep pushing, keep playing hard.
“I know I have to keep practicing my defense. Everybody knows that.”
My thought is you can’t risk the potential for these type of mistakes with 10 games to go and just a one-game lead in the division, although Jeter did make an error at short Wednesday in the second game of the doubleheader sweep vs. Toronto. Girardi hasn’t been playing Jeter every day at short due to the bruised ankle, using him as the DH when he isn’t in the field. Girardi still sounded concerned about a potential misstep, causing a setback. Jeter didn’t sound worried.
Jayson Nix is another option at short.
“Those are decisions we’ll have to make,” Girardi said.
Girardi, at least publicly, wouldn’t say he’s down on Nunez’s defense, the reason he got sent to the minors in May.
“For the most part, he’s done a real good job,” Girardi said, adding that he just needs more experience.
Girardi likes what the fast-moving Nunez brings overall.
“He give us excitement out there,” Girardi said.
Hiroki Kuroda was charged with five runs, four earned, seven hits, three walks and two wild pitches in 5 2/3. His September numbers? Now 2-1 with a 5.63 ERA in four starts.
So the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak is over. They finished the homestand 7-2. And they finished the season series against the A’s 5-5.
The Yankees go on the road for seven now, starting tonight in Minnesota.
Andy Pettitte gets the start. He’s down for 85-90 pitches after throwing 75 pitches in his strong return start, but Girardi also said he might be willing to push that total against the Twins.
“I feel great,” Pettitte said. “I hope being my second start back, the body feels really good.”
Alex Rodriguez called the Yankees’ five-run third “one of the best offensive innings we’ve had all year.” There were three hits, three walks, one homer (the three-run shot by Russell Martin), one error, one wild pitch and two steals, plus a Nick Swisher sacrifice.
“We get small ball and Bronx ball going back and forth, it’s going to be a lot of fun for us,” Swisher said. “A little Swisher-ism.”
Eduardo Nunez may be an adventure in the field sometimes, but he does have his value, especially in the small-ball game.
“I think I can run a little bit,” Nunez said.
He led off the big rally by working out a full-count walk. The following inning, he led off again and reached on an error before stealing second and third and scoring on an A-Rod sac fly in the fourth. His speed gives the Yankees an ability to create runs that they had been lacking without Brett Gardner.
“He changes the game offensively for us,” Rodriguez said about Nunez. “He has a unique package where he has power, speed and he has enough recklessness where it’s really helpful for our lineup.”
Martin has finally perked up in this lineup. His average is up to all of .209 after a 10-game stretch in which he has batted .343 with three homers and 11 RBI.
“The laws of averages, they’re on my side right now,” Martin said. “I just feel like I’m seeing the ball well.”
Joe Girardi saw Derek Jeter, the DH for the fourth straight game, still limping a little on the bases thanks to the bone bruise in his left ankle.
“I think it’s still hurt,” Girardi said. “I don’t see him as the shortstop yet right now as we speak.”
Girardi said he will see how Jeter feels on Tuesday following the off day. Jeter is one hit away from his eighth 200-hit year and his first since 2009, impressive at age 37/38 this season.
Hiroki Kuroda got some run support, which hasn’t always been the story of his season. He gave up four runs and four hits over six, with three runs coming in the sixth, two on a bad-hop single by Evan Longoria. Kuroda is 14-10 with a 3.26 ERA.
“With that kind of run support, I wanted to go deep in the game … but I hit that bump in the sixth inning,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “That’s the only regret I have.”
The Yankees have won two in a row, four of five, five of seven and seven of 11.
“We talked about playing better baseball,” Girardi said. “We starting to do that.”
“I think September is going to be the biggest blessing in disguise for us,” Alex Rodriguez said. “This is the kind of baseball we’re going to have to play to win in October. And the other thing is, these are playoff-caliber games. We’re stepping up to the occasion a little bit.”
Yankees pregame: Nunez at short again • 09.16.12
Brian Heyman here for Chad again for this series finale against the Rays. Eduardo Nunez is starting at short in place of Derek Jeter for the fourth straight game. Jeter is the DH for the fourth straight game due to the bone bruise in his left ankle.
Nunez has played in 28 games over his two stints here this season, and he has made five errors. His defense got him sent to the minors in May. His error on Friday night, when he let an easy grounder scoot under his glove, allowed Tampa Bay to score an insurance run in the ninth. But Joe Girardi indicated he has been happy with Nunez’s defense at short while filling in for Jeter. Nunez has been back since Sept. 1.
“He played well down there (in Triple-A),” Girardi said. “He’s made some really good plays here, some balls that aren’t easy in the hole, and he shows his strong arm and his range. There are balls that he’s going to get to that maybe some other guys won’t.”
Girardi said he hasn’t considered lifting Nunez for defense late in games with a lead. That could dent his confidence.
“I think that plays some role,” Girardi said, “but I think it’s the way he’s playing that’s more important.”
Girardi thinks Nunez is more comfortable at short than earlier in the season when he was in more of a utility role.
“He was all over the place,” Girardi said. “We had him at second, short, third, left. I don’t know if we put him in right. (They did, although he didn’t start out there). We asked him to do a lot of different things. For a young kid that’s only really played one position for most of his career, I think it’s easier.”
Girardi also said Nunez may be considered for some DH work when Jeter is ready to return to the field. Nunez, who’s batting .308 in 65 at-bats, homered off James Shields in Saturday’s 5-3 win.
Hiroki Kuroda will start today. The Yankees are averaging just four runs a game in his 29 starts, the third-lowest run support average in the AL for pitchers with at least 29 starts. But it’s been worse over his last 10 outings. They have averaged only 3.07 runs for him. So Kuroda should be better than 13-10 with a 3.17 ERA.
Yankees postgame: Martin makes the play; Kuroda improving; Chavez delivers; Nunez brings smiles • 05.01.12
Russell Martin showed off his athleticism again in this 2-1 win over Orioles. He sprung after a Hiroki Kuroda splitter that bounced away with two outs in the seventh. Nick Markakis raced in from third, trying to score the tying run. But Martin flipped to Kuroda and Kuroda tagged out the diving Markakis.
“I didn’t really have time to set myself up to throw overhand,” Martin said. “I kind of just optioned it to him. I never was a quarterback, so that was a first for me.”
Kuroda left after seven, allowing one run and four hits. He has allowed just three earned runs and nine hits in 13 2/3 over his last two starts after struggling in two of his first three starts as an American League.
“It seems like he’s making the adjustment,” Martin said.
“He’s a consistent pitcher and that’s what he’s starting to show,” Girardi said.
Eric Chavez’s lefty bat has gotten more use since Brett Gardner went on the DL. Chavez hit his third homer, a two-run shot. He has just 28 at-bats. He hit only two homers in 160 at-bats last season.
“I kind of do feel like you’re in a good little groove,” Chavez said. “But once he comes back, I know what my role is.”
Eduardo Nunez brought smiles to the Yankees’ faces with a couple of awkward-looking catches in his first career start in left. But he had five chances to catch balls and he made every play.
“He talks funny; he runs funny; he swings funny; he catches the ball funny,” Andruw Jones said. “Everything he does is funny.”
Girardi said: “He was tested with some tough plays and did an outstanding job.”
Mariano Rivera earned his fifth save and moved into sole possession of eighth place on the career appearance list at 1,051.
Derek Jeter finished April with a career-high 37 hits, the top total by a Yankee through April 30 since Alfonso Soriano had 46 in 2003
Curtis Granderson has reached via hit or walk in 21 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.
The Yankees are 17-5 vs. the Orioles since the start of 2011 and 30-10 since the beginning of 2010. They are 4-0 against the Orioles this season.
Tuesday night’s pitching matchup will feature Phil Hughes vs. Brian Matusz.
Hello there, Brian Heyman here for Chad today. Let’s start with this: There are still no plans right now to put Nick Swisher on the DL due to his low-grade strained left hamstring that he suffered yesterday.
“That’s not my category, guys,” Swisher just told us.
But there is a descrepancy about when he’ll be able to play again. Joe Girardi said he’s aiming for him to return in the field next Tuesday. Swisher hopes to be ready to play again Thursday night in Kansas City.
“Me and Skip, we’ve got to get together and get a game plan,” Swisher said. “From the way I feel right now, I wouldn’t see it being a week.”
“Could I pinch hit him?” Girardi said. “We’ve just got to go day by day to see how he’s feeling and where he’s at.”
The Yankees will have just two position players on the bench for this series. Brett Gardner is eligible to come off the DL Thursday. Girardi talked about a rehab assignment for him, which would probably be brief since the manager said, “We haven’t determined what day yet.”
So Eduardo Nunez is getting a shot in left tonight.
“It’s left field. That’s where they put players who can’t play anywhere else,” Gardner cracked. “He’ll be fine.”
Asked if Nunez could turn into a regular outfielder since infield advancement is blocked here right now, Girardi said, “We have him targeted as being an everyday shortstop one day. But, hey, stranger things have happened because of opportunities. You never what the possibilities are. He’s athletic. He has a lot of speed. There are a lot of different things he can do. We’re going to find out.”
Nunez said he’s comfortable in practice out there, but he obviously doesn’t have much game experience.
“I’m never nervous,” Nunez said. “Errors are part of the game. If you’re nervous, you’ll never be a good player. I’ve played this game all my life.” …
Here’s Andy Pettitte’s line from an extended spring training start today against Phillies organization personnel in Clearwater, Fla.: 5 2/3 innings, six runs, five earned, 10 hits, no walks, 8 Ks. He threw 96 pitches, 71 for strikes. Girardi said his understanding was there was “quite a wind blowing out.”
So does Pettitte need one more? Or is he ready?
“I think it’s something we have to talk about,” Girardi said, “see how he feels tomorrow and the next day and decide what’s next.”
It was the first four innings that Hiroki Kuroda held the Braves scoreless. It was in his last three innings that he gave up a couple of runs. In spring training, though, results are only part of the story, and Kuroda was much happier with the way he finished today’s next-to-last spring start.
“In the beginning I didn’t feel right, but I was able to make adjustments,” he said. “… Every game that I start I have to make some kind of adjustment, and I was able to do that the last few games that I pitched in spring training. I think I’m ready for that. I just hope I don’t get hurt.”
As long as he remains injury free, the Yankees seem happy with their offseason free agent signing. Pitching outside of the National League West for the first time, Kuroda has been exactly what the Yankees were expecting. He doesn’t overwhelm hitters, but he mixes pitches and throws strikes. Today he struck out six and walked none.
“I was pleased with what I saw, really pleased,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s the guy that I thought we were getting.”
The Yankees have planned all year to slot Kuroda into the No. 2 spot in the rotation, and that’s exactly where Kuroda will open the season, as the game-two starter against Tampa Bay. That leaves him lined up to start next month’s home opener.
“I try not to think that far ahead,” Kuroda said. “I’m just focused on this next start that I have to do.”
• More good news on Nick Swisher who managed to get 10 at-bats at the minor league complex today. He’ll go back to the complex tomorrow, and Girardi said he might play the outfield depending on how he feels. Girardi doesn’t expect him to take so many at-bats this time.
• In case you missed it, the Yankees announced today that they’ve claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Diamondbacks. The signing seems to make sense given the Austin Romine setback, but a Yankees source also confirmed that Tatum is out of options, meaning he can’t be sent to the minor leagues. Hard to imagine him getting the backup catcher job ahead of Francisco Cervelli. Kind of a head scratcher.
• Speaking of minor moves, Sweeny Murti reported this afternoon that the Yankees have signed Jack Cust to a minor league deal. That would seem to be clear insurance just in case Raul Ibanez can’t shake off his rocky spring. Cust is also a left-handed hitting designated hitter.
• Speaking of Ibanez, he went 1-for-3 today and very nearly had his second spring home run. He was robbed by Jason Heyward’s leaping catch over the wall in right field.
• Speaking of struggles, Cory Wade gave up another run this afternoon. The big hit was a double by Eric Hinske, and Girardi said he felt that was the only truly bad pitch Wade threw (he left it up). Wade has a 7.27 ERA this spring and hasn’t looked sharp, but Girardi made it clear that he’s planning to have Wade in his Opening Day bullpen.
• One more Wade note: Just a few days ago he threw a three-inning simulated game. The Yankees want him to be a little bit stretched out so that he could give multiple innings if necessary. The loser of the rotation competition will likely be the regular long reliever. “You’d like to have two guys down there that could really give you some multiple innings,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees settle for a 5-5 tie after George Kontos gave up a two-run homer in the ninth inning. Kontos stayed in to pitch a scoreless 10th. … Eric Chavez went 3-for-4 including a double and an RBI single. He brought his average up to .235. … Eduardo Nunez’s strong spring continued with two more hits for a .393 average. … Justin Maxwell took an 0-for-2.
Associated Press photo
Yankees injury report • 03.19.12
A quick rundown of the injuries suffered in Yankees camp this spring…
Hit by a pitch last night, Cano was pulled from the game, then he went for x-rays that came back negative. He’s going to be reevaluated on Tuesday, but the Yankees don’t seem overly concerned.
Sore left calf
Jeter felt some soreness in his calf during Wednesday’s game in Dunedin. He finished the game but hasn’t played since. Today he’s scheduled to get treatment at the stadium. He hasn’t done baseball activities since Thursday. He’s expected to play Tuesday.
Martin was scratched from yesterday’s road trip because of some stiffness that he says is between his groin and hamstring. He felt something similar a few years ago and decided to be cautious about it this year. He’s expected to play Tuesday.
An MRI came back negative, but Swisher hasn’t played since feeling something “tug” running out of the box on Wednesday. He’s been going through regular baseball drills and is expected to play on Tuesday. Like Martin, Swisher said he wouldn’t have come out of the lineup if this were the regular season.
Bruised right foot
The most infamous Yankees injury of the spring seems to have resolved itself. Robertson stumbled down a step while carrying a box at his house and he hasn’t played in two weeks, but he threw a bullpen yesterday and is scheduled to throw another one tomorrow. He could be in a game within a week or so and the expectation is that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
Swollen right hand
Hit by a comebacker on Wednesday, Garcia has been shutdown for a few days. He’s skipping a scheduled minor league start this afternoon but could be back in a game as early as Friday. X-rays showed no broken bones, and Garcia’s simply been waiting for the swelling to go down.
Bruised right hand
Although he still had the hand wrapped after the game, Nunez played last night and said everything felt fine. He’s now played in back-to-back games after missing nearly two weeks because of soreness than lingered longer than expected. He suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch in Clearwater.
Sprained right ankle
Pena is scheduled to take batting practice off Brad Meyers on Tuesday, which seems to indicate that he’s pretty close to returning from a sprained ankle suffered while sliding into second base on Thursday. He’s been walking around the clubhouse with no noticeable limp.
Romine missed time with a sore back last season as well, so the Yankees decided to be extra cautious when his back began feeling sore this spring. Romine has not played in a game and just started taking swings two days ago. He might be able to get in a game late in spring training, but he’s spent most of his time just trying to make sure the back doesn’t become a lingering issue.
Injured in his first bullpen of the spring, Kontos waited longer than expected before getting back on a mound, but he finally made his spring debut last night with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Something of a wild card for the Yankees platoon DH job, Branyan hasn’t had a chance to plead his case because he’s been shutdown with a sore back. He received epidurals last week, but it’s still not clear when he’ll be ready to play.
The former Red Sox reliever hasn’t pitched in a game this season, but he threw a bullpen yesterday. Based on the timing of other pitchers he seems to be on track to get in a game in about a week.
The biggest long-term injury of the camp could force Burawa to miss significant time. The young relief pitcher seemed to make a fast impression — both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman mentioned him at different points — but he had to shut it down at
Jeter, Martin and Swisher scratched • 03.16.12
Derek Jeter was pulled from todays lineup because of a tender left calf. Joe Girardi said hes decided Jeter wont play again until Tuesday, but he labeled this as more precautionary than anything. He hasnt forgotten what happened to Jeters other calf last year.
Also, Russell Martin was scratched because of soreness in his left groin. Its unclear whether it happened on yesterdays play at first base.
Nick Swisher has told Girardi that his tight groin feels better, but Girardi decided not to play him today either.
UPDATE, 10:14 a.m.: Here’s the basic injury update…
Went through normal drills in Tampa yesterday, but while the Yankees were on the bus home from Viera, Girardi got a call saying Jeter’s left calf was “tender.” That’s not the same calf that Jeter hurt last year, but Girardi considered last season’s injury to be a cautionary tale.
“My alarm was he hurt his calf last year,” Girardi said. “I said, even though it’s the other calf, I said we’re going to be smart about this. I told him, ‘Don’t even go out today.’ I think he could hit today and take BP, but just let it calm down.”
Girardi planned to have Martin catch seven or eight innings today, but instead Martin showed up and said his left groin was “stiff.” Girardi’s not sure whether it’s connected to yesterday’s awkward play at first base. For whatever it’s worth, Martin said yesterday that he was fine on that play, banged his shoulder into the ground but nothing else.
“He will not catch today and I’m not sure when he’ll play again,” Girardi said. “… I don’t think Russell will be out but a couple of days, but you never know. You don’t know how guys respond.”
Pulled from Wednesday’s game because of a sore groin, Swisher went through drills yesterday and told Girardi that he’s feeling better, but Girardi is being extra cautious — hard to blame him given the current state of nagging injuries — and so he won’t play this afternoon. Girardi said it’s possible Swisher will play tomorrow.
Was scheduled to pitch on Monday’s off day, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect that to happen. However, there seems to be a chance that Monday will be the only start Garcia actually skips. Too early to know for sure, but Girardi didn’t seem to be ruling out any other start.
“His hand looks better,” Girardi said. “(But) he still has some swelling in there.”
As scheduled, Nunez will not hit again today. It will be his third day off in a row. He’s scheduled to try to hit again tomorrow. He still hasn’t played since being hit by a pitch in the right hand last Monday.
Out with a sprained right ankle suffered in yesterday’s game. Although Pena said yesterday that he thinks he’ll be out only a day or two, Girardi still thinks it might be longer. Girardi mentioned Tuesday as a possible return for Pena.
“I imagine he’s going to be a couple of days,” Girardi said. “The way I saw him walk off the field yesterday, I wasn’t extremely encouraged.”
Has yet to play in a spring training game and had multiple epidurals this morning to try to help his sore back.
Still not doing anything baseball related because of his sore back.
“He’s doing better,” Girardi said. “He’s probably pretty close to getting on the field to do some baseball activities. He feels much better, he feels much stronger, and that was the feeling we wanted him to have.”
Said this morning that he’s going to play catch today, but he’s still not sure when he’ll be on a mound. Robertson said he’s “doing well” but Girardi had too many other players on his mind today and forgot to check on his setup man.
“I forgot to ask about him,” Girardi said. “I had so many other guys to talk about.”
Ivan Nova never seemed especially worried, but after two sloppy starts this spring, the time was right for him to finally have a good one. Tonight he finally found the strike zone and delivered four scoreless innings. He struck out the final two big league hitters he faced, getting Jacoby Ellsbury on an inside fastball and getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a slider.
“I just want to have good stuff,” Nova said. “Not only the good stuff, but when you don’t have the best stuff, you’ve got to pitch. That’s something I did today compared to what I did in Toronto the other day. I had the good stuff but I didn’t pitch. I think in Toronto I had (better) stuff than I had today … but I pitched, and that’s the difference.”
Nova has shown good fastball velocity and pretty good offspeed pitches all spring, the problem has been fastball command. Today, he had the command as well. He threw 55 pitches, 35 for strikes, and he consistently worked ahead in the count.
“I was more aggressive, let the hitters hit the ball,” Nova said. “I’ve got eight people behind me. You’ve got to pitch to contact, you’ve got to throw strikes. … I’m a really confident guy. It doesn’t matter if I pitch good or not, you’ve got to keep your head up (and) you’ve got to keep working. I knew that I would pitch good one day. You’ve got to look forward to the next start, and today I’m going to enjoy it, and get it behind me and wait for the next start.”
• Mariano Rivera laughed when asked if he’s ready for the season to begin. “Tomorrow,” he said. Essentially Rivera got four outs today, pitching around an error for a scoreless fifth inning. “You have to work, you know?” he said. “It’s not just go in there and do whatever you want, you have to work on your pitches and work that strike zone.”
• Rivera’s next outing will likely come either Friday or Saturday. At this point, it seems like he might pitch a little more than his usually eight or nine spring innings. “That’s alright as long as we get eight, nine,” Rivera said. “It will be enough.”
• Dave Robertson ran on an eliptical machine today and could do some light jogging on a treadmill tomorrow. Joe Girardi said there’s a chance Robertson could be on a mound by the weekend.
• The plan is for Eduardo Nunez to take the next three days off. Girardi said Nunez should need only a week to 10 days to be ready for the regular season. He wouldn’t need nearly as much time as Dave Robertson. “You would think that you could get him enough playing time,” Girardi said. “The great thing about minor-league games is you can get him 10 at-bats in one day if you wanted to. You can’t have a pitcher throw 10 innings in one day if they’re a one-inning guy. It’s different.”
• George Kontos came through today’s batting practice just fine, in fact, he was happy with his stuff and doesn’t feel like he lost much during his time off. He’s scheduled to get in a game on Friday.
• Asked which bullpen candidates have made a strong impression, Girardi seemed to be thinking along an obvious theme. “Our lefties have thrown the ball pretty decent,” he said. “(Clay) Rapada has thrown the ball pretty well, Juan (Cedeno) has thrown the ball pretty well, Cesar (Cabral) has thrown the ball pretty well. We think we’ve got some options if we decide to take another lefty. Time will tell.”
• Speaking of which: Another hitless inning for Boone Logan who’s looked really sharp this spring. He pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning against Aviles, Pedroia and Ellsbury. The only lefty he faced was Ellsbury, who struck out.
• Another nice outing for David Phelps, who took the loss despite five strikeouts in 2.2 innings. The only run of the game came on a single to right field, where Zoilo Almonte misplayed the ball, after which David Adams made a bad relay throw turning the single into an unearned run. It was a 1-0 Red Sox win because of that play.
• Rapada came in to face one batter, a lefty, and got him to ground out.
• Four hits for the Yankees: Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez, Corban Joseph and Andruw Jones. All of them were singles.
• Girardi wouldn’t give a specific timetable for Dan Burawa’s return from a torn oblique, but it’s going to be much more than a couple of days. “It could be a while,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure. He hurt his side. I haven’t gotten a timetable. A lot of times ribcage injuries can be tough.”
• Suzyn Waldman was profiled on the Baseball Hall of Fame website. The HOF is celebrating Women’s History Month.
• I’m sure I’ll do a full post on this tomorrow, but the Yankees announced today that individual game tickets will first be made available to the public through a MasterCard pre-on-sale online at yankees.com and yankeesbeisbol.com, and via Ticketmaster phone from March 22 at 10:00 a.m. until March 25 at 10:00 p.m. For those using other accepted methods of payment, the general public on-sale will begin on Tuesday, March 27 at 10:00 a.m. at yankees.com and yankeesbeisbol.com, and via Ticketmaster.
Associated Press photos
Spread across two different spring training sites, separated by a little more than two hours worth of highway, a little less than half of the Yankees projected big league pitching staff got on the mound this afternoon. Phil Hughes faced the Twins in Fort Myers. CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan and Cory Wade faced the Phillies in Tampa.
Their combined line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
Most of the attention was naturally on Rivera, and that’s probably the way it’s going to be throughout the season. If the expectation is that he’ll retire at the end of the season, then every one of his outings carries a little extra significance. There’s a little added appreciation to every step along the way. Rivera, Logan and Wade each pitched a hitless inning today, but the bulk of the innings belongs to the starting pitchers.
Before the game, Sabathia told Russell Martin that he wanted to work on his two-seamer and his changeup, and those pitches were the focus of the afternoon. Sabathia wasn’t happy with his fastball command last time out, but he was much better this time, and he got better in the second and third innings.
Sabathia: “Felt good. The fastball command was pretty good, the secondary pitches were working. I still got a little ways to go, you know. I still want to work on my two-seamer. But I feel good today… Fastball command (improved). Getting it in on righties, and Russ did a good job making sure we got a lot of those. He called a lot of two-seamers which is something that we’ve been working on all spring. He did a good job of working in things we were trying to do.”
Martin: “He was great. What I liked about him was he had some good velocity. I don’t know how hard he was throwing, but it felt like the ball was jumping out of his hand. And he threw some good changeups. He threw his curveball for strikes. We talked before the game, he wanted to work on his two-seamer a lot and his changeup, I think we did a good job of that today. We threw some two-seamers in for lefties, made them uncomfortable. Locked a guy up with a slider for a puncy. Threw some good changeups down in the zone off his fastball. He was good today.”
3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Joe Girardi went on the road to see Hughes make his second spring appearance. Last time out, Hughes’ arm strength was much better than at this time last season, and his fastball remained in the low 90s this afternoon. I wasn’t there to see it, but it seems to be another solid step forward.
Hughes: “The cutter wasn’t as good as it was last time, but the curveball was much better. Fastball location was much better, as well. Command-wise, it was a lot better, especially in the second and third innings… It seemed like my fastball was good. It was jumping on hitters a little bit based on the swings I was getting. That was a positive thing. Being able to work out of some trouble with guys on, they put together some good at-bats in the first and I was able to get around those.”
Girardi: “I thought he had everything today. Fastball location was much better, he threw some good changeups, curveballs and cutters. I was very pleased. I thought it was a nice step in a positive direction for him. A lot of times at this point in the first couple starts, I’m focusing on the good things. Knowing that they are rusty, you don’t expect them to have their A stuff a lot of times. You want to see what they’ve got the first couple starts. I was pleased.”
• Dave Robertson is supposed to get his walking boot off tomorrow, but that’s subject to change depending on how he feels. “If he comes in and he’s walking okay and it’s not too painful, he’ll come out of the boot,” Girardi said. “If it’s still pretty painful, we’ll put him back in the boot.” For whatever it’s worth, Robertson seemed to be walking much more easily today.
• Eduardo Nunez could be in a game as early as Tuesday. “We’ll have him take BP Tuesday, and if he has no problem, I’ll put him in the game,” Girardi said.
• Really nice game by Chris Dickerson here in Tampa. He made a nice running play in center field, had the two-run single that gave the Yankees the lead, and he stayed in a rundown long enough to let runners advance to second and third. I’m still surprised no team thought they could carry him as a fourth outfielder this year. He’s a nice player.
• Russell Martin stole another base today. That’s four steals in five games for the Yankees catcher. “I’m putting a little pressure on Gardy,” Martin said. “That’s all I’m doing.” Might be working because Gardner also had a stolen base today. It was Gardner’s second.
• Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 — and had another hit taken away by a nice catch in center field — in the Yankees 3-1 win against the Phillies. Dickerson, Robinson Cano, Gustavo Molina, Bill Hall, Justin Maxwell and call-up-for-the-day Austin Krum also had hits in the win. … Francisco Cervelli went 3-for-3 in the 5-1 loss to the Twins. Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Gary Sanchez, Jayson Nix and Corban Joseph also had hits in that game, as did call-up-for-the-day Walter Ibarra.
• Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley and Kevin Whelan were able to keep the shutout intact in Tampa. … In Fort Myers, Adam Warren allowed one run through three innigns, but the game unraveled when Graham Stoneburner allowed a solo homer in the seventh inning and Adam Miller gave up a three-run homer in the eighth. All five Twins runs came on home runs.
• Add Dan Burawa to the injured list. Girardi said today that Burawa hurt his ribcage yesterday. “He’s probably down for a little bit,” Girardi said. Burawa seemed to be making a pretty good impression this spring but was still just here to get his feet wet. He’s not realistically in the big league picture this season.
• Once again Girardi said Austin Romine is making steady progress from his sore back, but the Yankees are staying extra cautious. There’s no rush to get Romine into regular duty in spring training. “If he’s a backup here, he’s not going to play every day,” Girardi said. “And if he’s in the minor leagues, he’s going to play every day, so you can work him up to three and four days in a row down there. That’s not a problem. I want to see him playing healthy before we leave; that’s the most important thing.”
• A lot of guys up from minor league camp today, but center field standout Mason Williams wasn’t among them. Girardi said today that he expects Williams to come up for a big league game at some point this spring. Girardi’s never seen him play, but “I’m interested,” he said.
• After fracturing the bone around his eye earlier this spring, A.J. Burnett has returned to Pirates camp. He’s still expected to miss two to three months.
• During a surprise Facetime conversation, Alex Rodriguez, Dave Robertson and Tino Martinez spoke with Stephanie Decker, the mother that lost both legs while protecting her two children from a tornado in Indiana last week.
• Want further proof that Mariano Rivera pretty much sets his own schedule in spring training? Here’s Girardi’s I-have-no-idea answer to a question about what’s next for Rivera after today’s debut appearance: “He’ll probably have some days where he has a couple days off. He might throw an inning, do a bullpen the next time, then throw an inning again. He usually gets his seven or eight appearances in, so he’s got plenty of time to do that. There’s no rush.”
Associated Press photos