A few minor league notes…
Sergio Mitre wrapped up his rehab assignment with 4.2 innings tonight in Scranton. Mitre allowed four hits — all singles — while walking two and striking out four. He left with runners at the corners and Eric Wordekemper let them score on a three-run homer.
Donnie Collins reports that Mitre did not allow a ball to be hit in the air. Donnie is also reporting that both Romulo Sanchez and Jonathan Albaladejo — logically the best call-up candidates for tomorrow — are with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight.
It’s worth noting that Double-A third baseman Brandon Laird started at first base on Saturday night. It was only his fourth game there this season, and his first since June 12. Laird has also started taking fly balls in the outfield before games.
As Mike Ashmore reported, manager Tony Franklin said not to make a “big deal” out of Laird’s time at other positions, but it’s hard not to notice that: 1. He’s blocked at first and third in New York, and 2. He’s been one of the breakout stars of the minor league system this year. It’s true that the Yankees, as a matter of course, often have players get at least a little work at other positions. But with a bat like Laird’s, it’s curious to see him working in in the outfield for the first time, especially considering it’s a spot where the Yankees system is pretty thin.
Spring training’s feel-good story might have taken a turn. Major League Baseball announced three minor league suspensions today, beginning with this one.
Jonathan Weber, a retired player, has been suspended for 100 games following his third positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Weber will be effective immediately upon his return to Major League Baseball.
That’s the same Jon Weber who had such a huge spring training with the Yankees, an incredibly good guy who, at 32-years-old, had routinely played well at Triple-A without getting a taste of the majors. Weber was released out of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this season, signed with Toledo, then suddenly retired on Thursday.
Today in The Journal News • 04.03.10
With one more game to play before they can finally leave town, the Yankees are anxious to get on the road to Fenway. “I’ve got a feeling most guys were probably ready about a week ago,” Derek Jeter said.
They’d like to get out before another player goes down. On Friday it was Nick Johnson and Damaso Marte who had their names added to the walking wounded. The notebook also has items on the wait for a complete roster, A-Rod’s meeting with baseball investigators, reassignments to minor league camp and an award for Jon Weber.
As you might expect, the Yankees have a late report time for today’s game against the team’s minor leaguers. I’ll have those lineups as soon as they’re posted.
Today in The Journal News • 03.31.10
Joe Girardi had been excited all spring to see Pat Venditte, and on Tuesday he got his chance. The only switch pitcher in baseball was called up for the day and created quite a stir in the Yankees clubhouse when he faced the Braves.
CC Sabathia got the start against Atlanta. It was his last spring start before Opening Day, and although he struggled in Florida, the Yankees seem unconcerned about their ace. The notebook also has items on Mark Teixeira, Alfredo Aceves and the latest cuts from big league camp.
You can always check out pictures in our daily Yankees gallery.
Notes from Tuesday • 03.30.10
The Yankees reassigned outfielders David Winfree and Jon Weber to minor camp after tonight’s game. Those were the last non-roster outfielders — other than Marcus Thames — who were left in camp, but Joe Girardi said the moves don’t necessarily mean Thames has made the team.
“We haven’t made any final cuts yet,” Girardi said. “But Marcus swung the bat against the lefties today, and we have to make some decisions. We’re going to meet pretty soon.”
Weber hit .483 this spring, and he’s tied for the team lead with four doubles. Problem is he’s a left-handed hitter trying to make a team that needs a right-handed hitter.
“He did everything he could do,” Girardi said. “He’s definitely opened some eyes, for sure.”
Weber had become one of the feel-good stories of the spring. He’s a 32-year-old without a single day in the big leagues, but he made a big impression this spring. Chris Coste was 33 years old without a single day in the big leagues when he made a big impression with the Phillies in the spring of 2007, and he got a call-up later that year.
“It was the best time in my life, in my career, that I’ve ever had,” Weber said. “I made it to the final week with the New York Yankees.”
Here’s the Weber audio. If you want to root for a guy, give this a listen.
• Sergio Mitre allowed a two-run home run in the fourth inning but rebounded to finish with two runs on three hits and no walks through six innings. “That one inning that they scored, my pitches were just up a little bit,” Mitre said. His strong spring continues.
• When Joe Girardi got to this afternoon’s game, he only knew Mark Teixeira was sore after being hit by a pitch yesterday. By the time the night game started, Girardi had learned that Teixeira actually reported to camp with no swelling. The situation actually seems better than might have been expected.
• “Ace was better too,” Girardi said. There’s even a chance Alfredo Aceves will play catch tomorrow.
• CC Sabathia hasn’t had the best spring — his 7.23 ERA doesn’t include his ugly outing in minor league camp — but absolutely no one in Yankees camp seems concerned. “CC needs the adrenalin, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to get it in Boston,” Jorge Posada said.
• Joba Chamberlain “probably won’t” pitch in back-to-back games this spring.
• A decision on whether Phil Hughes will open on the big league roster or be optioned to the minor leagues until the Yankees need a fifth starter may be coming soon. “I think we’re about done with that,” Girardi said. “We should have that for you shortly.”
• Speaking of that decision, Boone Logan pitched another scoreless inning. He has made a strong case to be a second left-handed reliever, and it would be very easy to carry him if Hughes opens in the minors.
• It was an ex-Yankees massacre today in Pirates camp. Jeff Karstens, Steven Jackson and Anthony Claggett were among seven pitchers sent down.
• After today’s day-night double header, the Yankees are reporting to camp late tomorrow morning. They’ll take batting practice on a back field. “We’ve seen enough baseball the last 24 hours,” Girardi said.
• The Associated Press paired two shots of Pat Venditte throwing from each side this afternoon. That’s also an AP photo of Sergio Mitre
Today in The Journal News • 03.27.10
Having lost the competition to be the Yankees fifth starter, Joba Chamberlain is once again in the bullpen, uncertain whether his future is as a reliever or a starter. It’s the same debate we’ve been having for the past three years. “I think when they stop talking about me is when I probably should worry,” Chamberlain said.
On Friday, the Yankees played the Phillies in an exhibition game and Alex Rodriguez was a surprise clean-up hitter, having not met with federal investigators after all. Phil Hughes made his first start since being added to the rotation, Marcus Thames got a hit off Jamie Moyer, Jon Weber raised his average and Amaury Sanit was sent to minor league camp.
Notes from Friday • 03.26.10
Phil Hughes got the start tonight, but much of the attention this afternoon was on Joba Chamberlain, who is once again shifting roles to move back into the bullpen.
“I can say I’m happy with myself because I gave it everything I’ve got,” he said. “Hughes just beat me. That’s it, the long and the short of it.”
Chamberlain said he expects to go back to using primarily his fastball and slider, and the Yankees seem optimistic that his velocity will again climb into the upper 90s.
“I can’t think about being a starter at this point,” Chamberlain said. “For me to help this team right now, its being in the bullpen and trying to get guys out there. It’s unfair to my team to think about something else.”
Brian Cashman said this afternoon that the team discussed using both Hughes and Chamberlain in the bullpen this season, but they ultimately thought Hughes was their best No. 5 starter. He once again called Chamberlain a “starter pitching out of the pen.”
“I think we finished off his development plan, and we have choices with him now,” Cashman said. “He can start if we need him to start, he can relieve if we need him to relieve. I don’t feel it’s a waste at all. I think we completed the mission on him and what will be, will be.”
• The Associated Press is reporting that Alex Rodriguez was in fact supposed to met with investigators today, but the meeting was postponed “by mutual consent.”
• Hughes walked four in his three-plus innings, but both Hughes and Girardi seemed happy with his outing. “(He was missing) just a little bit,” Girardi said. “I thought he threw the ball well.”
• Amaury Sanit was reassigned to minor league camp.
• Francisco Cervelli will be out of camp the next two days to attend a personal matter.
• Marcus Thames had a single off Jamie Moyer. It was one of only four Yankees hits in the game. Of course, one of the hits was from Jon Weber, who raised his spring average to .565.
• Mike Rivera still has a sore hamstring. He felt it running to first during the intrasquad game a few days ago. He’ll take batting practice on Monday.
• Hughes next outing is Wednesday against Minnesota. Sergio Mitre will start one of the split squad games on Tuesday.
• Pitchers for tomorrow’s game at Lakeland: A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Chan Ho Park and Dave Robertson.
• Position players not going to Lakeland: Francisco Cervelli, Mike Rivera, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. The entire usual infield has the game off, so you’ll see a lot of minor leaguers.
Those are Associated Press photos.
Looking for a surprise • 03.23.10
Aside from the 25 players who seem to be favorites for the Opening Day roster, there are still 14 others in big league camp with the Yankees. Could any of these play their way onto the roster?
Two straight seasons on the opening day roster, but that trend will probably come to an end this spring. He’s really struggled with a sinker that hasn’t sunk. On the roster? On his way to Scranton to get things worked out. He was pitching very well at the end of last season.
Might be on waivers, but he’s still in camp. Pitched well for the Yankees last season, but he seems to have been passed by Sergio Mitre. On the roster? It obviously doesn’t look good.
He’s on the 40-man and he’s had a nice spring — .300/.364/.550 with plus speed and defense — but he has yet to prove himself as a consistent hitter in the minor leagues. On the roster? More likely in Scranton trying to prove himself with the bat.
Joe Girardi seems to view a second lefty as a luxury, not a necessity. Logan has an option remaining, so he can be sent to Triple-A. That’s probably not good news for him. He has pitched well, though. On the roster? Not if the Yankees plan to keep the four remaining fifth-starter candidates.
One rocky outing, but otherwise he’s been solid this spring. The Chan Ho Park signing probably crowded out any chances he had of breaking camp with the big league club. On the roster? Not now. Check back in June.
Remember when the Yankees signed Nick Johnson? That was the day Miranda was bumped out of the big league mix. He’s insurance at this point. On the roster? Not as long as Johnson is healthy.
In camp to help handle the extra pitchers but has almost no chance of breaking camp with the team. Needs a chance to play regularly at Triple-A, but obviously Jesus Montero stands in the way. On the roster? A simple, no.
Veteran depth behind the plate, Rivera is around as insurance. He’s clearly behind Francisco Cervelli, and his .125 spring average probably hasn’t helped. On the roster? Not unless someone gets hurt.
Another pitcher who has done well this spring but seems crowded out of the bullpen. Even if the Yankees were to carry a second left, Logan might be the better bet. On the roster? Probably battling Logan for a call-up from Scranton.
He’s a polished hitter, and he’s proven that this spring, but his limited experience at shortstop and in the outfield leaves him as a tough fit for the Yankees. On the roster? Probably not on Opening Day, but keep an eye on his Scranton numbers.
I’ll be perfectly honest: I was surprised Sanit even got a big league invite, but the Yankees clearly saw some things and he’s proven worth the spot with a terrific spring. He won’t break camp with New York, but if he keeps this up he could push for a call-up. On the roster? No, but made a more compelling case than expected.
Minor league veteran was signed to a minor league deal this winter. He’s been solid this spring, but he’s pretty far down on the depth chart. On the roster? It’s a bit difficult to even find a spot for him in Scranton.
Not at all flashy, but the guy knows how to hit and he’s shown it time and again this spring. Being left-handed takes his slim chances and makes them almost nil. On the roster? No. But he might have opened some eyes.
One of the more interesting minor league free agent signings, Winfree is still just 24 and has shown good power. The Yankees say he’s competing for a bench role, but it’s hard to see that happening with Thames in the mix. On the roster? Might be the only guy who could give Thames a challenge, but it still seems unlikely. Mid-season replacement? Very possible.
Today in The Journal News • 03.21.10
The Yankees best hitter this spring has been a 32-year-old with no major league at-bats and very little chance of breaking camp with the team. Jon Weber has dedicated his life to baseball, and he’s still waiting to play on its biggest stage.
Alfredo Aceves is still trying to win a spot in the Yankees rotation, but his case took a step backward on Saturday when he was roughed up against the Astros. The notebook also has items on the upcoming rotation plans, Curtis Granderson’s wrist and Kevin Russo’s time at short.
Notes from Saturday • 03.20.10
All spring, much of the discussion in Yankees camp has centered on the fifth-starter competition. It’s easily the biggest story in camp, which is pretty amazing considering these are the Yankees and we’re talking about the last spot in the rotation.
“I think people are interested, that’s why,” Joe Girardi said. “Because once that’s set then you iron out your bullpen from there. There’s a lot kind of up in the air because you don’t know who’s in your bullpen because of the fifth-starter spot. I’m not really surprised (by the attention).”
Some of the focus on the back of the rotation might be because the other big competition in camp is for literally the last spot on the roster, and neither leading candidate is playing especially well. Marcus Thames went 0-for-3 today. He struck out twice and saw his average dip to .107. Jamie Hoffmann came off the bench and went 0-for-1, lowing his average to .130.
“We still have time with that,” Girardi said. “That (decision) we’re not in such a big hurry to make.”
Here’s Girardi’s postgame media session. He talks a lot about the fifth-starter situation, but gets into a few other things toward the end.
• The picture up top isn’t of either fifth-outfielder candidate, but it is a cool AP shot of Robinson Cano, who hit his first home run of the spring.
• A.J. Burnett will start on Sunday, with Phil Hughes pitching in relief. Joba Chamberlain will start on Monday, with Andy Pettitte pitching in a minor league game.
• Brett Gardner had a bunt single and a triple, both off Brett Myers, to raise his average to .281. Girardi wasn’t especially bothered by the fact Gardner was picked off first base. “I would rather see him find out what he can get now, and be more aggressive now,” Girardi said. “Then we can tone it back as opposed to being passive.”
• Another base hit for Kevin Russo, another base hit for Jon Weber and another base hit for Greg Golson, all of whom have looked really good this spring and are hitting better than .300. Reid Gorecki is hitting just .143, but he can really run. He tripled today and was flying around the bases.
• Boone Logan pitched a scoreless inning, but he did allow a hit to the only lefty he faced.
• Apparently the Yankees have been asked to speed up their games. Sounds good to me, but I’m kind of with Girardi on this one. Sometimes baseball takes a long time. I wish that weren’t the case, but that’s the way it is.
Notes from Friday • 03.19.10
After this afternoon’s game, manager Joe Girardi was asked which was more impressive: CC Sabathia’s start or Alex Rodriguez’s monster home run over the scoreboard in left field.
“I really liked what CC did today,” Girardi said. “His last two starts he has been extremely efficient, and he had command all day today. Outstanding changeup. Very good breaking ball. Pace was great. It’s pretty much what CC is.”
But that home run? Girardi just smiled.
“Alex’s ball was pretty impressive,” he said.
Here’s Sabathia talking about his outing. He was happy with just about everything, but said he still wants to work on burying the ball inside against right-handers. “Felt a lot better today,” he said. “Offspeed pitches were good. Changeup was really good. Got some swing and misses on my cutter, so I was pleased with today.”
• How did Rodriguez feel about the home run? “That one felt really good,” he said. “Because it wasn’t an everyday home run.”
• It felt good, but as you might expect, Rodriguez wasn’t too worked up over his first home run. “My emphasis the first part of spring training is to go out and make sure I get my work done, and that goes way early in the morning,” he said. “As you get closer to opening day, obviously you want to make sure you hone in on your swing, and so far so good. I had a really good session with Kevin Long and Butchie (Wynegar) on one of the back fields a couple of days ago, and we’re on schedule.”
• Mariano Rivera threw only 10 pitches today, but that was enough. He didn’t throw any more in the bullpen and he’s scheduled to pitch again on Sunday.
• Damaso Marte has been pushed back to Sunday. “We’re just going to give him an extra day,” Girardi said. Marte said his back feels better, but not 100 percent. “Outside it’s fine,” he said. “Inside I still feel it.”
• I know he’s one of the smallest names in camp, but minor league veteran Jon Weber had two more hits today and has a .588 average. Girardi acknowledged that Weber is probably going to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but it’s “very possible” that he would be in the big league mix if he were a right-handed hitter instead of a lefty.
• Girardi once again backed up Marcus Thames, who went 0-for-3 and has a .120 spring average. “He’s had some good at-bats,” Girardi said. “He’s had some line outs. I’m OK with where he’s at.”
• Alfredo Aceves, Boone Logan and Dustin Moseley are scheduled to pitch on the road tomorrow. Marte was originally scheduled for the trip, but obviously he’s no longer going. I assume they’ll add a fourth pitcher between now and tomorrow.
• Position players not going on tomorrow’s road trip: Jesus Montero, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Juan Miranda, Ramiro Pena, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Randy Winn.
Both pictures are from The Associated Press.
UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: The Yankees just optioned Romulo Sanchez to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigned Ryan Pope to minor league camp.