Sunday notes: “Work on what you need” • 03.25.12
Whether you’re happy with Michael Pineda’s spring training probably depends on whether you believe his fastball velocity will truly spike with added arm strength and regular-season adrenalin.
“Nobody throws hard in spring training, because it’s spring training,” Pineda said. “You think a little more, and work on what you need. Now I’m focused a little more on making good pitches. I learned from last year. That’s what I need.”
Pineda’s fastball generally sat at 90-92 mph today. He reached 93-94, but for the most part, the velocity wasn’t significantly different than we’ve seen in his previous starts. That said, there were times when his changeup seemed to be a legitimate go-to pitch, and Pineda talked about the fact he likes to add and subtract from his slider. It’s not just a power breaking ball, it’s a more nuanced pitch than that, and Pineda hasn’t been strictly a power pitcher, he’s been a little more nuanced as well.
“It’s a little surprising that he does have an idea what he wants to do,” Joe Girardi said. “He can make his slider bigger when he wants to and he can make it different for right-handers and left-handers if he wants to. It is surprising for a kid his age.”
From the moment they traded for him, the Yankees have talked about Pineda’s need to improve his changeup and add consistency. This spring he’s clearly made the changeup a focus, and it’s been a good pitch. He’s not lighting up the radar gun, but he does have a 3.31 ERA through five spring starts.
“Everybody knows last year I threw harder,” Pineda said. “So (they ask), ‘Hey, what happened to Pineda right now?’ But nothing (happened). I feel good. I can pitch. Everybody sees me. I pitch every five days. … I know last year I threw hard, so I have more power. But this is spring training, so the power is coming back.”
• Girardi on Pineda’s changeup: “I think it’s come a long ways. If you look at his tapes last year, he didn’t throw a lot of them for strikes, but you see a lot more of them for strikes and some swings and misses. That’s a good thing.”
• Forgot to mention earlier that Alex Rodriguez was actually checked out by a doctor after he was hit by a pitch today and it was determined that no tests are necessary. Sounds like he’s perfectly fine.
• Derek Jeter didn’t seem to make too much of his 2-for-3 afternoon. His second game back from a calf injury included a home run that let the Yankees get away with a 1-1 tie. “I’m just coming back,” he said. This last week and a half of spring training will be key to getting his timing ready for the season, Jeter said. So far, it looks pretty good. He’s hitting .348 this spring and really seemed to drive the ball this afternoon.
• Dave Robertson wasn’t happy with his command the last time he threw batting practice, but he said it was much better today. He went to the bullpen to throw a few more pitches after his one inning and made a “minor adjustment” to improve his curveball command. His curve was a little short during the game.
• Girardi revealed that he might have been a little more worried about Robertson than he was letting on. “He looked fine to me,” Girardi said. “That’s kind of a sigh of relief. In the back of me there’s still that little bit of concern, but he hasn’t had any issues for a week or so, so I hope we’re through it.”
• Another scoreless inning for Mariano Rivera. That’s 27 straight spring innings without an earned run. The guy’s good in the regular season, the postseason and the preseason.
• None of the players sent out of big league camp this afternoon came as surprises, but there’s something to be said for Jose Gil’s spring. Largely unheralded in the Yankees system, he hit .529/.500/.706 this spring. Probably doesn’t mean much, but he was very good.
• If you knew two months ago that this spring would include injuries to both Jeter and Eduardo Nunez, would you expect that Doug Bernier would outlast Ramiro Pena in big league camp? Bernier’s also had a tremendous spring and seems to have caught Girardi’s attention. There’s little chance he’ll actually make the team, but Girardi seems to like him.
• Other than Jeter, only Nunez, Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones had hits for the Yankees today. Teixeira and Nunez doubled. … Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix and Dewayne Wise each had outfield assists this afternoon. … Robertson, Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Manny Delcarmen and Clay Rapada each pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
• Girardi said he won’t be at the minor league complex to watch Phil Hughes tomorrow. Girardi is going to use the off day to go to Illinois to visit his father, who’s been sick for quite some time.
• Former Yankees outfielder Greg Golson has been traded to the White Sox. He was in camp with the Royals.
Associated Press photos
Notes from Sunday • 03.14.10
Robinson Cano is well aware that he barely hit .200 with runners in scoring position last season. He’s also well aware that he’ll be expected to do better than that as the Yankees No. 5 hitter.
“It’s more than an honor to hit behind A-Rod and in front of Posada,” Cano said. “That means I’m going to have to step it up early in the season.”
Joe Girardi has said some of Cano’s ugly RISP numbers last season were the result of bad luck, a lot of hard-hit balls finding gloves. Cano said he’s working to be more patient in those situations, making sure he doesn’t chase bad pitches.
“I know what I had last year, what I went through,” Cano said. “Him putting me fifth, that means that he trusts me.”
That’s very true. Girardi likes that Cano hits for average and doesn’t strikeout very often. It’s always been expected that Cano would eventually move up in the lineup, and Girardi thinks this is the time. “I consider Robbie a veteran player,” he said, while touting Cano’s sometimes questioned work ethic.
“I think he plays the game easy,” Girardi said. “When Robbie goes after the ball, you can be going at the same speed as a guy who looks like he’s putting in 100 percent effort, Robbie is still going just as hard, but Robbie has an easiness to him. Robbie Alomar had an easiness to him when he played second base. Some guys just appear that way. The other guys look like they’re working a lot harder, but they’re not necessarily working a lot harder. I see what Robbie does day in and day out, whether it’s on the field, off the field, in the weight room. I see it every day.”
• Girardi on CC Sabathia’s outing: “Good. Very good. Much better than his last time when he wasn’t comfortable with his mechanics. He was very sound to me.”
• Girardi on what’s causing Jonathan Albaladejo’s struggles: “He just doesn’t have his sink right now. It’s something that we’re going to have to iron out. He’s going to continue to pitch for us and we’re going to continue to evaluate.”
• My own comment: Don’t forget that Albaladejo made the opening day roster the past two years. Not saying he’ll make it this year, but I wouldn’t expect him to be among the next cuts. The Yankees like him, and he was pitching very well at the end of last season.
• Expect to see the regulars playing longer into games after tomorrow’s off day. Bank on three at-bats per game, Girardi said.
• After yesterday’s start in Lakeland, Chad Gaudin told Girardi that he felt fatigued. “At some point you usually hear it, everyone here in spring training says they’ve got a dead arm,” Girardi said. “You have to fight through it.” In print, those words read as if Girardi was calling out Gaudin to “fight through it.” In reality, it sounded more like Girardi expected this sort of thing and wasn’t surprised or bothered by it. At one point he said the Yankees would help Gaudin deal with the dead arm issues.
• Girardi told the pitchers on Friday that the results start to matter now. “We told them, now you’ve got to pick it up a little bit,” Girardi said, “because now their getting to that point where you’re next couple of outings are going to be evaluated much more seriously than your first two.”
• Girardi confirmed that he still plans to have his top three starters from last year — Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte — start those first three regular-season games against Boston.
• In case you missed it: C Jose Gil, RHP Grant Duff and RHP Zach McAllister have been reassigned to minor league camp.