The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Quiet Yankees camp didn’t last long04.05.12

Remember when Yankees camp opened? The A.J. Burnett trade was all but complete, the Raul Ibanez signing was a matter of time and interest in Eric Chavez was public knowledge. There didn’t seem to be many surprises left. The Yankees would pick from six rotation candidates, move the sixth starter into the long relief role and choose someone to round out the bullpen.

Camp stayed quiet almost a full month, but quiet never lasts long around here.

In the past three weeks, Yankees camp has taken plenty of twists and turns, and it started with news that caught everyone by surprise on an otherwise quiet Friday.

March 16
Andy Pettitte comes out of retirement

I don’t know about you, but I was eating lunch when Jack Curry’s tweet hit the internet. I was sitting with Wall Street Journal beat writer Dan Barbarisi, and when he showed me his phone, I told him I didn’t get the joke. Pettitte had been in Yankees camp as a guest instructor in late February, and I’d been standing three feet from from him when he said he was happy in retirement. There was no chance of Pettitte coming back, until suddenly he was back. Quiet Yankees camp? Not any more.

March 22
Joba Chamberlain dislocates ankle

There was something about the way Brian Cashman broke the news that made it sound even worse than it was. He gathered the media in the Yankees dugout and started out by saying Chamberlain, “got into a pretty significant accident with his son.” When you’re thinking the worst, a dislocated ankle doesn’t sound so bad, but obviously it’s a significant setback. Chamberlain wasn’t going to break camp with the Yankees anyway, but this further delays his return from Tommy John surgery and creates further questions of what kind of long-term impact he’s capable of having.

March 30
Michael Pineda feels shoulder soreness

To be honest, it was beginning to feel like Pineda might not make the rotation anyway. His results weren’t particularly bad, but Pineda wasn’t pitching anything like the guy the Yankees meant to acquire — his velocity was down, his offspeed stuff was up – and Joe Girardi couldn’t say enough nice things about Freddy Garcia. Shoulder tendinitis might explain the diminished velocity, or it might have been caused by a desire to generate velocity. Either way, Pineda’s out for at least a few weeks, and it’s still far too early to say the trade was a good one or a bad one.

April 4
Francisco Cervelli demoted, Chris Stewart acquired

Cervelli wasn’t happy, and it was hard to blame him. The Yankees didn’t need to make this move, but they chose to give up some of their considerable pitching depth to improve their short-term catching depth. Necessary? Probably not. But I doubt it’s a game-changer either way. I happen to be a George Kontos believer, but the Yankees didn’t carry him even with a long relief opening. I also happen to like Stewart as a defensive backup, and if the Yankees weren’t comfortable with their catching depth after the Austin Romine injury, this probably helped the situation.

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Wednesday notes: Kuroda happy with spring adjustments03.28.12

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.”

• The Yankees got good news on Curtis Granderson’s right elbow. An MRI showed no problems, and Girardi didn’t rule out the idea of Granderson playing as early as tomorrow.

• 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

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Yankees injury report03.19.12

A quick rundown of the injuries suffered in Yankees camp this spring…

Robinson Cano
Bruised hand
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.

Derek Jeter
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.

Russell Martin
Tight groin/hamstring
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.

Nick Swisher
Sore groin
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.

Dave Robertson
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.

Freddy Garcia
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.

Eduardo Nunez
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.

Ramiro Pena
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.

Austin Romine
Sore back
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.

George Kontos
Sore oblique
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.

Russell Branyan
Sore back
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.

Manny Delcarmen
Strained lat
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.

Dan Burawa
Torn oblique
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

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Postgame notes: Nova happy with adjustments in Sarasota03.18.12

Ivan Nova allowed five earned runs on seven hits through four innings. His evaluation of the night?

“Unbelievable,” he said. “I think I had all I needed today.”

Wait… what?

“We just had bad communication in the first inning,” Nova said. “That affected my game too much, but I feel really good today. … I was shaking too much. That slowed my game. We threw a couple bad pitches, like the curveball for a homer and the slider for the other homer. In that situation, you have to move the hitter, and we didn’t do it. Sometimes you want to throw that pitch and he doesn’t call that pitch. You start shaking and you get out of what you want to do. I think that happened out there.”

Nova retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, and really didn’t look too bad giving up a run on two singles in the second inning. It was the first inning that caused him problems, and he said that started when Gustavo Molina called for a curveball with two on against Adam Jones. Nova tried to shake off the pitch, but Molina went back to it and Jones clubbed a three-run homer to center field. Two batters later, Matt Wieters homered on a slider.

“(Molina) didn’t see me,” Nova said. “He called a curveball again and he hit a homer. That’s the game. Sometimes you struggle a little, but I have to step up and call him before I throw the pitch. I didn’t. … I was out of my game right there because I gave up the first home run. After that inning, we picked it up and we finished strong. That’s a good thing. I made that adjustment and that’s something positive that I can take out of the game today.”

Joe Girardi agreed with the assessment and said it’s up to Nova to take charge in those situations. As Girardi put it, “he’s the one with the ball.”

“That’s something you have to learn from,” Girardi said. “When you make a pitch, you’d better have conviction. I don’t care if you have to shake 17 times, you better have conviction.”

• X-rays were negative on Robinson Cano’s left hand. He was hit by a pitch near his pinkie, in that sort of meaty part on the side of the hand. Sounds like the Yankees don’t expect it to be an issue. “We’ll see how he is Tuesday, but I don’t imagine it will be long,” Girardi said.

• Nova has said several times this spring that he’s been happy with his offspeed pitches, and today was no different. “I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I’ve been working on my changeup, I’ve been working on my curveball for a first-pitch strike. I was working on my slider and it was good today the last couple of times so you’ve got to be happy.”

• Girardi said this would be a start to really begin evaluating Nova, and he seemed happy overall. “The first two innings he had no rhythm,” Girardi said. “The last two innings he had great rhythm, he was working quick and he looked very good to me. He just couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm his first two innings and then he found it.”

• Raul Ibanez had another hitless game, going 0-for-3 to drop his average to .065. “I got under a couple of balls,” he said. “But I got them into the air, and I think when I’m making outs in the air it’s much better for me personally than when I’m making outs on the ground like I was earlier in the spring. Obviously, you don’t want to make any outs. You want to hit line drives, and you want to hit balls into the gaps, but today I felt better. The last couple of days I’ve felt better.”

• Center field prospect Mason Williams made his first appearance in a big league spring training game. He pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the sixth inning and was promptly thrown out trying to steal second base. He was caught stealing by Matt Wieters who threw out three different base runners, one of them a pickoff of Dewayne Wise at second.

• Williams got his first big league spring at bat in the eighth and singled on the first pitch he saw. “I’ll remember that until the last day,” Williams said. “It was an awesome experience. I didn’t smile while I was on the bases, but in my head I was smiling a lot.”

• Eduardo Nunez had his hand wrapped after the game but said he feels fine. His timing is a little off, he said, and his hands feel a little heavy from all the extra work he’s been doing lately, but the pain is gone. This was his second game in a row after sitting out almost two weeks.

• George Kontos made his spring debut with a hitless eighth inning. He struckout the last batter he faced.

• Clay Rapada came out of the bullpen to face a lefty with runners at the corners and two outs. He got a groundball to end the inning. Rapada’s looked pretty sharp this spring, and he’s legitimately tough on left-handers.

• He’s pretty far under the radar, but Dewayne Wise is having a nice camp. He went 2-for-2 today to raise his spring average to .474. He also stole a base (though he was picked off another time).

• Brett Gardner got his fourth stolen base of the spring. He also had an outfield assist… Mark Teixeira had his first double… Ronnier Mustelier got a surprise at-bat and singled… Nunez’s infield single was the Yankees other hit… D.J. Mitchell allowed his first run of the spring but also finished with three strikeouts in two innings.

• Hiroki Kuroda was not in camp today. Girardi said he gave him the day off, told him didn’t have to come in.

Associated Press photo

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Thursday notes: “I don’t expect miracles”03.15.12

Both Joe Girardi and Freddy Garcia said pretty much the same thing today: It’s just too early to know anything for certain. Garcia had his right hand heavily wrapped this morning, but he’s still not sure how much time he’ll have to miss after being hit by a comebacker on Wednesday.

“Right now I don’t think about it,” Garcia said, “because I went to the hospital yesterday, they took x-rays and everything is fine. So, I just have to wait. I move my fingers good, so I don’t think I have to have any problems.”

Girardi said he’s expecting at least one more day of treatment. The injury seems to be close to the same spot where Eduardo Nunez has experienced soreness for a week and a half now.

“I don’t expect miracles,” Girardi said. “When you’ve got swelling in your hand, it’s going to take time to get rid of it. I’m not going to scratch him, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t make his next start on his day. Maybe a couple of days later or something.”

• The entire Yankees rotation is supposed to get an extra day of rest next time through.

• Two more notes about Michael Pineda’s fastball: 1) Girardi said he hasn’t seen any signs of Pineda trying to overthrow just to reach 95, and 2) Pineda said he’s much more focused on hitting his spots than hitting the mid-90s.

• Russell Martin on Pineda’s fastball: “I think he was like 88-90 in Clearwater, so it’s coming along. I’m not worried about it. I just want to see the guy pitch. He’s a pitcher like anybody else out there. I just wanted to see him execute pitches. His velocity, he has it in him, it’s just a matter of time. As soon as you put on your uniform, you’re in New York and you get the juices flowing, the velocity is going to pick up no matter what.”

• And if you’re looking for more fastball specifics: “(Pineda) was a little inconsistent trying to throw his fastball away to right-handers. It looked like he was pulling off a little bit.” Martin said it’s an easy thing to correct and could be fixed in a single bullpen.

• Ramiro Pena was trying to steal second base, and just as he went into his slide, his spike stuck in the dirt. That’s when he sprained his right ankle, not when he actually made contact with the bag. He estimated that he’ll miss only two or three days, but Girardi said that might be optimistic. “We’ll see about that,” Girardi said. “I imagine it’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow. Sometimes adrenaline helps you out in a situation like that.”

• Nick Swisher told Girardi that his tight groin didn’t get any worse last night, and he was fine when he came to the stadium this morning. Girardi hopes to have Swisher in the lineup tomorrow.

Other injury updates:

Dave Robertson was scheduled to play catch today and on track to throw a bullpen this weekend.
Russell Branyan still hasn’t played this spring and is getting an epidural for his sore back.
George Kontos threw another batting practice.
Manny Delcarmen is throwing off a half mound.

• The Nationals announced a strained hamstring for Chien-Ming Wang, who stumbled trying to cover first base. It’s obviously a tough break for a guy who finally seemed to be healthy and effective again.

• Martin was knocked down on the play that left Wang injured. “It happened in slow motion,” Martin said. “It was weird. I tucked pretty good. If I had fell differently, it could have been worse. I kind of just rolled with it. It’s the ninja coming out right there.”

• Apparently the Yankees saved all of their excitement for after the media was down in the clubhouse. They won the game 8-5, having rallied with four runs in the seventh and two runs in the eighth. Jose Gil is hitting .750 this spring and had a two-run single. Melky Mesa and Bill Hall both doubled in the game. Hall and Justin Maxwell each had two hits, continuing a nice spring for Maxwell (he’s hitting .375 with two stolen bases). Maxwell, Jayson Nix and Andruw Jones each stole a bag today.

• Clay Rapada pitched into and out of some trouble, but finished with 1.1 scoreless innings. Mike O’Connor and Adam Warren combined for a scoreless ninth. In between, Brett Marshall allowed two runs in 2.1 innings and Juan Cedeno was charged with a run in his two-thirds of an inning.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Nunez anxious to get back03.11.12

Eduardo Nunez looked like a man ready to hit. He was standing at his locker with a bat in his hand, but that’s as close as he’ll get to batting practice. He joked that he keeps his bat with him just so the bat will know he still loves it and hasn’t abandoned it.

“I want to play,” Nunez said. “I’m excited to play. I want to show I’m ready to go, (but) I don’t want to rush anything. I don’t want to play two, three games and go back again to the DL.”

Nunez’s sore right hand feels better than it did six days ago, but it’s still tender. He tried to take batting practice yesterday and had to shut it down. Nunez said a doctor is coming to the field to re-examine him today, but tests have already shown nothing serious. He was hit by a pitch on Monday, and it’s just taking longer than expected for the soreness to go away.

“That’s weird because everything says negative,” Nunez said. “The doctors say I’m fine, but it still hurts a lot, and the doctor is coming back today to see me… It feels better, but it’s coming slow.”

Nunez admitted feeling a little bit worried, but mostly he just seems anxious. He worked out a lot this winter with Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols. He looks stronger, said he feels faster, and he wants to show that he’s a better player than he was a year ago. Right now, though, he’s just waiting. And keeping his bat company.

• Pretty thin clubhouse today. The guys who are traveling to Fort Myers were already gone by the time the clubhouse opened. Joe Girardi is making the trip and Tony Pena will manage the game at home.

• Dave Robertson walked into the clubhouse with no crutches this morning. His right foot is still in a walking boot, but he was moving pretty easily. This is supposed to be his last day in the boot.

• George Kontos threw another bullpen today and threw a few pitches with Larry Rothschild standing in the batters box like a hitter. Kontos will throw batting practice on Tuesday and could get into a game after that. He’s been out with an oblique injury.

• Today’s other sides: Manny Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell and Freddy Garcia.

• Tomorrow’s sides: Brad Meyers, Matt Daley, Joba Chamberlain, Brett Marshall and David Phelps.

• J.R. Murphy will play third base off the bench in the road game against the Twins. He’s played that position in the past but this will be his first time in big league camp. With Jose Gil playing first base in the home game and Gary Sanchez DHing in the road game, a total of seven Yankees catchers will play in some capacity today. That’s not counting Ryan Baker and Jeff Farnham, a pair of minor league catchers called up to help catch bullpens today.

• Several minor league guys were called up to play off the bench today. Most of them went on the road to play against the Twins.

HOME
vs. Phillies

• Available pitchers: CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley, Kevin Whelan, Michael O’Connor and Craig Heyer.

• Second string: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Jose Gil, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Kevin Russo, LF Cole Garner, CF Justin Maxwell, RF Austin Krum, DH Colin Curtis

• Extra players on the bench: C Mitch Abeita, UT Addison Maruszak, UT Ronnier Mustelier, OF Abe Almonte

ROAD
at Twins

• Available pitchers: Phil Hughes, Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner, Adam Miller, Juan Cedeno, Cesar Cabral, Ryan Pope, Josh Romanski and Ryan Flannery

• Second string: C. Kyle Higashioka, 1B Luke Murton, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Walter Ibarra, 3B J.R. Murphy, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Melky Mesa, RF Ray Kruml, DH Gary Sanchez

• Extra players off the bench: INF Jose Pirela and OF Dan Brewer. The Yankees aren’t carrying any additional catchers on the road, but Higashioka, Murphy and Sanchez give them plenty of depth there for the day.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Robertson’s status unclear after foot injury03.08.12

Dave Robertson was moving boxes at his Tampa-area home last night when he stumbled down some stairs. Joe Girardi said it was more like he missed one step, not necessarily went tumbling down an entire flight. His right foot felt fine initially but it eventually became sore and Robertson went for x-rays, which were negative. He’s getting an MRI this morning and is currently wearing a walking boot as a precaution and for comfort.

“They were empty boxes,” Girardi said. “They weren’t even heavy boxes. I told to just kick them down the steps next time.”

There is some concern, obviously. Girardi said Robertson wasn’t walking very well this morning, and the official diagnosis so far is a mid-foot sprain. Girardi said there was no swelling, which he’s taking to be a good sign. Because he’s a reliever, Robertson could miss several days and not be at serious risk of missing the start of the season.

Until the MRI comes back, it’s really too early to know how much time Robertson will miss and whether Opening Day is at risk.

• Mariano Rivera threw batting practice this morning and said he expects to make his first game appearance on Sunday. “I’m ready to go,” he said.

• Joba Chamberlain will throw another bullpen tomorrow, and he’ll throw breaking balls for the first time on Sunday. Those breaking balls won’t come off a mound. He’ll throw them off flat ground. He said things are still going well with his rehab from Tommy John.

• Raul Ibanez has seen most of his time in left field, but he played a lot of right field when he was younger and the Yankees want him to be able to play both outfield corners. That’s why he’s in right field today, to get a few reps out there before the season. “I’m pretty confident that he’s going to play it fine,” Girardi said.

• Eduardo Nunez will take batting practice today, but Girardi still not sure he’ll be ready to play tomorrow. There doesn’t seem to be any significant concern about him, just taking things slowly and making sure he’s ready.

• George Kontos will throw a bullpen tomorrow. If that goes well, hell fall back into a regular spring routine and could face hitters within a few days.

• Cole Garner, who’s been shutdown with a sore hamstring, is making today’s trip to Dunedin but he’s not scheduled to play.

• Today’s sides: Graham Stoneburner, Brett Marshall, Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia.

• Tomorrow’s sides: Brad Meyers, Adam Warren, Joba Chamberlain, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Hiroki Kuroda.

• Today’s available pitchers: Ivan Nova, Michael O’Connor, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Cesar Cabral, Dan Burawa, Adam Miller, Ryan Pope, Chase Whitley and Juan Cedeno.

• Today’s second string: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Brandon Laird, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Melky Mesa, RF Chris Dickerson, DH Colin Curtis

Associated Press photo

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Tuesday notes: “I didn’t want any excuses”03.06.12

Joe Girardi didn’t exactly rip Phil Hughes this morning, but he did address the fact that Hughes wasn’t in great shape last spring. Girardi talked about expectations, entitlement and work ethic, and Girardi more than implied that he wasn’t happy with the way Hughes approached last spring.

“There’s a concern,” Girardi said. “The thing is, I’d seen him work very hard before. But yeah, it does question where their mindset is. Where’s their mindset?”

This spring?

“I think you could tell by the way he came into camp that there’s a little bit more of an edge,” Girardi said.

After the game, Hughes was very good about addressing those conditioning concerns. It’s not the kind of thing players like talking about, but Hughes touched on a little bit of everything, from the disappointment of last season to the notion that complacency might have played a role.

“Last year was a failure and I didn’t want to do that again,” he said. “I didn’t want any excuses coming into spring. I needed to be strong and I needed to pitch well, so that’s on me. Everyone can want you to succeed as much as they want but at the end of the day I have to go out and do it.”

On last winter’s training program: “Maybe I thought I needed more rest than I really did in that off-season. Maybe just didn’t push it as hard as I could have. At the end of the day, it falls on me, and I paid for it with a disappointing year.”

On this winter’s training program: “I don’t think there was necessarily a message sent in my direction. I did my offseason program on my own. I actually had to call the team and make sure it was OK that I did it. So it wasn’t like I was being punished and sent to boot camp somewhere. It was something I wanted to do.”

• In his first spring start CC Sabathia allowed hits to the first three batters he faced, then he retired the next five. “I’ve still got a little work to do, but my arm feels good and my body feels good,” Sabathia said.

• Someone asked whether Sabathia can more easily dismiss some of those first-inning hits because they were helped by the wind. “No because the two balls that were outs in the next inning were crushed,” he said. “It’s just baseball.”

• Hughes was at 38 pitches when he came out of the game in the third inning. He laughed about Larry Rothschild’s trip to the mound that inning. “That was kind of a stall there, a little bit,” Hughes said. “I think he talked about the hitter that was up there. I’m pretty sure he was making it all up.”

• With Hiroki Koroda pitching tomorrow, the Yankees starters will slide into their regular five-game routines. It’s pretty much the usual rotation — with Hughes and Sabathia on the same day — from here on out. Girardi said Sabathia might pitch in a minor league game when it comes his turn next week.

• Despite the fact he played today, Derek Jeter said he’s planning to play tomorrow. He didn’t explain, but it’s pretty easy to look at the schedule and figure out why. Tomorrow and Friday are home games. Thursday and Saturday are on the road. Jeter might not be Mariano Rivera, but he’s got some clout.

• Girardi said he didn’t think Mark Teixeira was scheduled to play tomorrow, so if he’s out of the lineup, don’t read anything into it. Today’s thumb incident — he jammed his thumb a little bit applying a tag — seems to be a non-issue.

• George Kontos came through long toss yesterday with no problem. He was cleared today to resume full workouts with core work and regular lifting. He’ll do long toss again tomorrow and hopes to be in a bullpen within a few days.

• Zoilo Almonte’s perfect spring training came to an end with an 0-for-1 afternoon. He was 5-for-5 until now.

• None of the Yankees had more than one hit. Justin Maxwell and David Adams each had doubles — Adams’ came off former Yankees prospect Dan McCutchen — and there were singles from Jeter (first hit of the spring), Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Mesa, Chris Dickerson and Ramiro Pena. Mesa showed off his arm a little bit, throwing out Jake Fox at third base from center field.

• Brett Marshall had the pitching line of the day with 1.2 hitless innings. Graham Stoneburner allowed a run on four hits through two innings and Chase Whitley gave up three runs and five hits in the eighth.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 49 Comments →

Pregame notes: Rivera ready to face hitters03.04.12

All of the days tend to blend together down here, and progress is marked only by minor landmarks along the way. The first full-squad workout is an early one. The first time pitchers face live hitters is another. The first Grapefruit League game is a big one.  

Of course, you can also use Mariano Rivera to mark the passing of time.

There’s the day he shows up (only one day late this year). The day he finally decides to throw a bullpen. The day he begins speculating about when he’ll actually get in a game. And you know you’re well into the spring schedule when Rivera is actually scheduled to pitch.

The Rivera calendar takes another step forward tomorrow, when the Yankees closer faces live hitters for the first time. Rivera will throw early batting practice tomorrow morning with Rafael Soriano. Chris Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli will have the pleasure of trying to hit against them.

Early spring training is officially over.

• Hiroki Kuroda threw a sim game this morning facing Zoilo Almonte and Brandon Laird. Kuroda will make his first spring start on Wednesday.

• On their usual starter’s schedule after pitching Friday, Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner and Brett Marshall are throwing sides today. Warren said yesterday that he expects the starting pitchers to stay on a usual five-day schedule the rest of the way.

• Tomorrow’s sides: Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, David Phelps and Brad Meyers. This will be the first side for Meyers, the Rule 5 pick who’s been dealing with a sore shoulder since the start of spring training.

• George Kontos has played catch the past two days. He’ll go throw regular workouts with no throwing today, then he’ll play long toss tomorrow. He’s progressing as expected from a sore oblique.

• Today’s available pitchers: Freddy Garcia gets the start followed by D.J. Mitchell, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Clay Rapada, Kevin Whelan, Chase Whitley, Juan Cedeno, Adam Miller, Ryan Pope and Dan Burawa. My guess is that the guys after Whitley are backups today.

• Today’s second string: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Jose Gil, 2B David Adams, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Corban Joseph, LF Colin Curtis, CF Melky Mesa, RF Zoilo Almonte. There’s no backup DH listed.

• Tomorrow’s traveling players (including starter Michael Pineda and reliever Dave Robertson, scheduled to make their first appearances):

Pitchers: Dan Burawa, Cesar Cabral, Juan Cedeno, Brett Marshall, Adam Miller, Michael O’Connor, Michael Pineda, Ryan Pope, Dave Robertson, Graham Stoneburner.
Catchers: Jose Gil, Russell Martin, Gustavo Molina, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez
Infielders: David Adams, Doug Bernier, Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Corban Joseph, Brandon Laird, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Jorge Vazquez
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Colin Curtis, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez, Justin Maxwell, Melky Mesa, Nick Swisher

UPDATE, 9:44 a.m.: How many Phillies starters have you heard of?

Tyson Gililes CF
Scott Podsednik DH
Ty Wigginton 3B
Hunter Pence RF
Domonic Brown LF
John Mayberry Jr. 1B
Michael Martinez 2B
Freddy Galvis SS
Tuffy Gosewisch C

RHP Roy Halladay

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 164 Comments →

Three pictures worth a thousand words09.27.11

The Yankees passed along some professional photos of last night’s rookie hazing. It’s rare that every single outfit is hilarious, but these were pretty good selections. Whoever made the decision to make the two tall guys Milli Vanilli … bravo! At one point, Jesus Montero was trying to dance like MC Hammer, and pictures will never fully explain just how hilarious it was to watch Austin Romine try to figure out how to get his costume on.

Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances as Milli Vanilli
Brandon Laird as Slash
Hector Noesi as Prince
Austin Romine as Madonna
George Kontos as George Michael
Jesus Montero as MC Hammer

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 341 Comments →

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