The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Postgame notes: “I thought he was moving pretty good”03.27.15

Alex Rodriguez

This is what Joe Girardi said this morning about the way Alex Rodriguez has been running and moving in spring training:

“I think he’s run harder (lately). I think we’ve all seen that, and that that’s definitely improved. I still want to see him go from second to home and from first to third, we have not seen that, but that’s not his fault, that’s just what’s happened behind him.”

Alex RodriguezFast forward a few hours, and we’ve now seen Rodriguez do each of those things.

After a first-inning single, Rodriguez went first to third on a Stephen Drew double. He wasn’t exactly flying around the bases, but I did turn to George Kind sitting next to me and say something about Rodriguez running better than I expected. He’s definitely not fast, but it didn’t look like a challenge for him.

After a fifth-inning walk, Rodriguez took second on a single and then scored on a Chris Young double. Again, nothing flashy or fast about it, but he was capable of scoring on a ball he’s supposed to score on. If Rodriguez can be a capable runner at this stage, I think that’s all the Yankees can ask.

“If I can just keep making small strides every day, I’ll take that,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez revealed that earlier this spring, Girardi specifically told him he needed to be running better. Rodriguez said he’d been working on it, and he does seem smoother and less lumbering. Again, he’s not fast, but at least he’s not a total wreck. Today he also had to slam on the breaks after a late stop sign at third base, and Rodriguez said that too was no problem.

“Probably more (running) than he wanted to see,” Girardi said. “But I thought he was moving pretty good. I really did.”

Michael Pineda• Five scoreless innings from Michael Pineda today, and it’s not remotely a point of focus. That’s a sign of just how good he’s been this spring. Pineda allowed five hits, walked none and struck out five. He pitched every inning before the game was called because of rain. “I don’t want nothing to change because everything is working good,” Pineda said. “… I have everything I want, so just compete on the mound.”

• Girardi said Pineda didn’t have time to get quite as stretched out as the Yankees would have liked, but they think he got stretched out enough. He has one more start before the regular season. “We were trying to get him to 75 (pitches), but we just felt with the long delay, 68 was pretty good,” Girardi said. “I thought he looked really good.”

• No problems for Jacoby Ellsbury in today’s light hitting drills. Girardi said he expects Ellsbury to take full batting practice tomorrow. He remains on track to play in a minor league game on Tuesday.

• Big day for Stephen Drew. The Yankees second baseman went 3-for-3 and raised his spring batting average from .167 to .231. “He’s swung the bat better the last two weeks,” Girardi said. “And the one thing you want is you want a lineup that there’s pressure on the pitcher of the opposing team the entire time, and I feel that we have that type of lineup that we can do that where so much pressure doesn’t fall on a couple of guys. It’s nice to see everyone swinging.”

• It’s worth noting that Didi Gregorius has also hit pretty well lately, including some hits against lefties. Girardi wouldn’t give his exact lineup plan, but he said it’s entirely possible he’ll go with four straight lefties (Drew and Gregorius stacked at the bottom of the order; Ellsbury and Brett Gardner at the top). “It’s not out of the question because I don’t worry about our top two guys against lefties,” Girardi said. “Didi and Drew, Drew hit a tough lefty today, a guy throwing 96. And Didi’s been swinging the bat good. We’ll talk about it, but it very possibly could be that.”

• After going first to third in the first inning, Rodriguez tried to score on a fly ball to right field and was thrown out easily. He banged into the catcher but clearly didn’t try to knock the ball loose. He also didn’t try to slide. Jeff Francoeur made a really nice throw on the play. “I would have had the short end of that stick (if there had been a real collision),” Rodriguez said. Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp is listed at 6-2, 260 lbs.

Chris Young• Girardi said he was glad Rodriguez didn’t try to slide on the play at the plate. He also liked the aggressive send by new third-base coach Joe Espada. “It was a pretty good throw,” Girardi said. “You’re going to take that chance with that being the second out. Maybe if it’s the first out, you don’t take it. But you’re going to take that chance, and Franceour’s always been a good thrower.”

• The Yankees saw Phillies prospect Aaron Nola this afternoon. He was the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft and struck out four through three scoreless innings. His changeup was absolutely filthy. “The one I almost choked on?” Rodriguez said. “Yeah. That was a pretty good changeup.”

• Getting his first start alongside Drew, Brendan Ryan was part of two double plays — one he took himself, one he took a feed from Drew — and also went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles.

• The Yankees didn’t score in their first four innings, then they scored seven times in the fifth and three times in the sixth. They finished with 15 hits, including one apiece for Gardner, Rodriguez, Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and Chris Young. Every big leaguer in the starting lineup had at least one hit (Drew and Ryan combined for five). The other three hits came from Eddy Rodriguez, Kyle Higashioka and Tyler Austin. Austin doubled and had three RBI.

• We’ll give the final word to Girardi, talking about his plans for the lineup: “We know that we’re going to have a lot of lefthanders in our lineup. You try to break some of it up with the DH, or the switch-hitters. If I had to make out a lineup today, without talking to all my coaches and everyone, I have an idea what it would be, but that’s something we’ll try to iron out the last week. The one thing is, I feel pretty good about where most of our hitters are at right now, the thing is you want to keep that, keep that feeling of having good at bats.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith Comments Off

Spring Game 26: Yankees at Phillies03.27.15

Michael Pineda

YANKEES (13-11-1)
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Chris Young CF
Brendan Ryan SS

RHP Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89 in 2014)

PHILLIES (11-12-1)
Ben Revere LF
Freddy Galvis SS
Russ Canzler 3B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Odubel Herrera CF
Cesar Hernandez 2B
Cameron Rupp C
Jonathan Papelbon P

RHP Jonathan Papelbon (39 saves, 2.04 ERA in 2014)

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., not on TV or radio

WEATHER: Could rain at basically any moment.

UMPIRES: HP Dan Iassogna, 1B Marty Foster, 2B Phil Cuzzi, 3B Vic Carapazza

TODAY’S SECOND STRING:
C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Jonathan Galvez, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Cole Figueroa, LF Tyler Austin, CF Jake Cave, RF Aaron Judge

TODAY’S SCHEDULED RELIEVERS: Scott Baker, Jacob Lindgren, Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, Nick Rumbelow

RELIEF FROM THE START: Because of pending rain, the Phillies are having Jonathan Papelbon pitch the first inning today. Aaron Nola is the scheduled starter and will presumably follow him.

UPDATE, 1:22 p.m.: Couple of relatively weak singles off Pineda in the first inning, but he gets out of it with a double play ball to second base.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.: Rodriguez singled, Drew doubled and Young flied to right. The Yankees tried to score on the play, but Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate by Jeff Francoeur. It was a strong throw, but Rodriguez isn’t exactly a burner these days.

UPDATE, 2:21 p.m.: Second double of the day for Ryan. Takes second on a Gardner single, scores on a passed ball.

UPDATE, 2:22 p.m.: Four straight hits to start the fifth inning for the Yankees. They’re now up 2-0. Still no outs in the inning. Two on for Teixeira.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Pregame notes: “Rewards come at the end of October”03.27.15

Masahiro Tanaka

Joe Girardi said that, if CC Sabathia hadn’t been hurt last season, the decision of who to start on Opening Day this year might have been a slam dunk. But that’s not what happened last season, and now for the first time in seven years, someone other that Sabathia will start the Yankees’ opener.

“If CC wouldn’t have had the problem and pitched all 30 starts, it probably would have been a non-issue who was going to go No. 1,” Girardi said. “But it didn’t happen that way, and we had to make sure people were ready. I know it’s a big deal, and it might be somewhat of a deal to them, but when CC looks back, he’s going to worry about Octobers.”

SabathiaPinedaInstead, it’s Masahiro Tanaka getting the Opening Day nod. He’ll be followed by Michael Pineda, Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi. All four will get six days of rest leading into their first start of the season. Because of scheduled off days in April, Tanaka starting Opening Day means he will make each of his first three starts with five days of rest even without the Yankees inserting a sixth starter along the way.

That ability to rest Tanaka’s elbow, Girardi said, was the driving factor in giving Tanaka the Opening Day start. This is more about practicality than rewarding Tanaka for a standout rookie season.

“He did have a great year,” Girardi said. “But I worry more about the physical part than anything because that’s what’s going to carry us through the season. Rewards come at the end of October.”

Girardi gave the starters their assignments earlier this morning.

“I’m honored, obviously,” Tanaka said. “Now that I know when I’m pitching for the season, my job is to get ready for that day.”

Still no fifth starter announcement. Girardi said he wants to discuss it with his coaches and inform the pitchers involved before making a final decision. Just a few days ago, Brian Cashman called Adam Warren the “Secretariat” of the fifth-starter competition. Girardi’s not willing to say the same.

“I’m not comparing horses,” he said.

Alex Rodriguez• Tanaka will be on a slightly limited pitch count in his first start, but Girardi said that shouldn’t be an issue for the second and third starts. With an off day immediately after Opening Day, Girardi will have a full bullpen at his disposal for Tanaka’s start without worrying about burning anyone out for Game 2.

• Plan is for Alex Rodriguez to play first base on Sunday. Girardi’s made it clear that Garrett Jones will be the backup first baseman this season, but the Yankees would like Rodriguez to be kind of a third-string option. If either Jones or Mark Teixeira is hurt, Rodriguez could see actual playing time at the position. For now, he’s more of a designated hitter who might occasionally play third base and would play first only in a near emergency situation.

• Jacoby Ellsbury is scheduled for more tee and toss plus a few rounds of indoor batting practice.

• Didi Gregorius, Garrett Jones, Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott, Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy are skipping the trip and are scheduled for batting practice in Tampa.

CamposNovaToday’s bullpen sessions: Ivan Nova, Vicente Campos, Andrew Miller, Chase Whitley. Looks like Masahiro Tanaka is doing long toss and some flat ground work.

Today’s second string: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Jonathan Galvez, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Cole Figueroa, LF Tyler Austin, CF Jake Cave, RF Aaron Judge

Today’s scheduled relievers: Scott Baker, Jacob Lindgren, Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, Nick Rumbelow (with Danny Burawa, Kyle Davies, Diego Moreno)

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith Comments Off

Postgame notes: “I’m happy because today is good outing”03.21.15

Michael Pineda

Any other year, Michael Pineda’s six strikeouts today would have been perhaps the biggest non-A-Rod story of spring training. He was hit hard early, adjust quickly and looked sharp the rest of the way. He got swings and misses with his changeup, threw strikes with his fastball and delivered yet another terrific start.

Any other year, it would have been a huge deal.

This spring, thought, the image of a smiling, dominant, healthy Pineda is beginning to feel commonplace.

“I’m happy because today is good outing,” Pineda said. “I’m feeling good. This is very important for me. I’m feeling great. And I stay in the game. … I feel very strong today. I’m happy with that because we won.”

After three years of struggling, rehabbing and working his way back, it seems Pineda has finally arrived, perhaps even better than the Yankees expected back in 2012. His changeup has become a legitimate weapon, and he still pounds the strike zone. It’s hard not to wonder what might have been had he been this way since that first spring when he first injured his shoulder.

“I’m more concerned about this year, what it could mean for us this year,” Joe Girardi said. “There’s not much we can do about the past. But I really believe if he stays healthy and gives us 30 (to) 32 starts, he could have a pretty good year.”

Given Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow, CC Sabathia’s knee and Nathan Eovaldi’s transition, I think you could make the case that Pineda is the most reliable weapon in the Yankees rotation, and right now he’s pitching like a guy who’s capable of bringing both reliability and dominance. What we saw today was nothing new, and that’s the good thing.

“I’m very, very happy in the spring, especially today,” Pineda said. “You know, I throw two innings, three innings and I feel very strong. I like it.”

Masahiro Tanaka• The Yankees might be lining up Masahiro Tanaka to start Opening Day. He’ll make his next start on Wednesday, getting a full week between starts. If he then pitches every six days, he would be perfectly lined up for the Opener on April 6. “I’m just going to leave it at that for now,” Girardi said.

• Asked why Tanaka is getting an extra day of rest leading into this upcoming start, Girardi said it was all about lining up the rotation, but he wouldn’t give specifics. “We’re trying to line people up, but I can’t give you an Opening Day starter because it kind of depends on where we feel they’re at,” Girardi said.

• Along those lines, Nathan Eovaldi is going to start a minor league game on Tuesday, the same day Esmil Rogers is starting a major league game. Again, Girardi said that’s all about getting guys lined up.

• Good second outing for Andrew Bailey who struck out two and hit a batter in his one inning. He said he recovered nicely after his previous outing and felt fully ready for this one. “That was the first time I’d pitched in a game in quite some time,” he said. “So I was eager to see how the next game was. It was fine, and the same thing the next day, and out there again today. I’m looking forward to more of the same.”

• Girardi said he’s still not sure when Bailey will try to go back-to-back.

• Last time out, Bailey was disappointed by his cutter. “I just stayed through it a little bit better (this time),” he said. “I worked on that on flat ground with Larry (Rothschild) and some of the other coaches. It’s me just driving the baseball to the plate instead of pulling off of it. It’s a little mechanical thing.”

• Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson also had two strikeouts in their outings today. Add a scoreless inning apiece for Nick Rumbelow and Jacob Lindgren, and it was a good day for the bullpen.

• Pineda seemed especially happy with his changeup today, and Girardi seemed to echo the same. Asked for a general analysis of today’s starting, Girardi started by saying Pineda was a little bit up in the zone early, then offered this: “Thought he threw some really good changeups today. Really, really good.”

Didi Gregorius• Two days in a row now Didi Gregorius has gotten a hit against a lefty. Today’s was a sharp single right down the first-base line. “He’s worked really hard with (hitting coach Jeff Pentland) about making some minor adjustments,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you what exactly they are, but all these guys have worked really hard with Pent now, and with Alan (Cockrell), just little things. Things that they see. Didi’s really swung the bat (when) you look at the last week. Sometimes when you make adjustments, it might take you a little bit of time to get going because everything’s a little bit different, but it looks like it’s paying dividends.”

• After not scoring in the first eight innings, the Yankees rallied with three runs in the ninth to win 3-2. The winning run came on a sacrifice fly by Jake Cave. The big hit was a two-run double by Eddy Rodriguez.

• Aaron Judge had a hit in that game-winning ninth, but he most impressed with a running catch to end the seventh. “I was impressed with the jump he got on the ball,” Girardi said. “He made that catch easily. He made it look easy.”

• Mark Teixeira had two hits including a double. … Gregorius, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann also had hits and Brett Gardner drew a walk as some of the big league guys continue to look better at the plate. … That ninth-inning rally started with a Nick Noonan single.

• Final word goes to Gardner about his decision to climb the wall to retrieve Chris Young’s glove: “Is the fence eight feet? It feels taller than eight feet. I’m really short. We’d be in the eighth inning still if I didn’t get the glove. I wanted to throw the ball back in all the way to second base, but I didn’t have room between the batter’s eye hanging down and the fence, so I just tossed it back over. I actually didn’t even think about the ball, I was going to get the glove and the ball was laying right next to the glove. So then I wanted to throw the ball back to second base but I didn’t really have room to throw it between where the batter’s eye came down.”

Associated Press photos

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Spring Game 20: Yankees vs. Astros03.21.15

Michael Pineda

YANKEES (11-7-1)
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chris Young CF
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS
Austin Romine DH

RHP Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89 in 2014)

ASTROS (7-6-3)
Robbie Grossman LF
George Springer RF
Chris Carter DH
Jason Castro C
Matt Dominguez 3B
Jon Singleton 1B
Carlos Correa SS
Marwin Gonzalez 2B
Jake Marisnick CF

LHP Dallas Keuchel (12-9, 2.93 in 2014)

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., not on TV or radio

WEATHER: Just another nice, sunny day.

UMPIRES: HP Mark Wegner, 1B Mark Carlson, 2B Marty Foster, 3B Dan Iossonga

TODAY’S SECOND STRING: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Cole Figueroa, 3B Nick Noonan, LF Tyler Austin, CF Jake Cave, RF Aaron Judge, DH John Ryan Murphy

TODAY’S SCHEDULED RELIEVERS: Justin Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow

BACK IN THE GAME: Andrew Bailey is making his second spring training appearance. He pitched an inning against the Braves earlier this week. … Michael Pineda has looked awfully sharp so far this spring. Seems like he could be an Opening Day alternative should either CC Sabathia or Masahiro Tanaka need an extra day or two before making their season debut. … Backup catcher candidates Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy are each getting turns at DH today.

UPDATE, 1:14 p.m.: So Michael Pineda’s day is off to a rough start. He allowed a one-out triple and a two-run homer in the first inning. The highlight of the whole thing is that Chris Young very nearly robbed the homer, but in the process, his glove fell off his hand and landed on the other side of the wall. Brett Gardner ran over from left field, climbed over the wall, threw the glove back over the wall — threw the ball, too — then climbed back over.

UPDATE, 2:01 p.m.: When he’s been hit, Pineda’s been hit hard. He’s allowed four hits, three for extra bases. But he’s also struck out six through 3.1 innings. He’s showing his usual command with no walks.

UPDATE, 2:03 p.m.: That’s all for Pineda. He gets Jon Singleton to fly to center and in comes Justin Wilson. Pineda went 3.2 innings with four hits, two runs, no walks and six strikeouts.

UPDATE, 2:11 p.m.: McCann just hit a rocket up the middle. It went off the pitcher’s glove toward the left side of the infield, where no one was covering because of the shift. That’s one way to beat it.

UPDATE, 2:28 p.m.: That’s 1.1 scoreless innings for Wilson. He got out of the fourth inning with a ground ball and he stranded two in the fifth inning, striking out two in the process.

UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: Sharp single down the first-base line by Gregorius. It came against a lefty.

UPDATE, 3:00 p.m.: Couple of strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning for Andrew Bailey. Andrew Miller also had two strikeouts in a scoreless sixth.

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Monday afternoon notes: A-Rod dishing out compliments like hits03.09.15

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez already has four hits this spring. He went 2-for-3 today, drove in a run, and raised his spring batting average to .444. He doesn’t have an extra-base hit, but for a guy who’s talked a lot about finding his timing, he’s making pretty decent contact and showing a good eye at the plate. He’s been good, which might impress some people, but it doesn’t impress Rodriguez himself.

“Nothing. Zero,” he said. “(Whether the numbers are) 0-for-9, 4-for-9. … It doesn’t really mean anything. I’ve played for a long time. It’s better than 0-for-9, I guess.”

But that’s not to say Rodriguez hasn’t been impressed this spring. Quite the opposite, actually. Asked a pretty broad question about Opening Day, Rodriguez used the opportunity to heap praise on some of the young guys in Yankees camp.

Greg Bird“I actually like our team,” he said. “One of the nice things about being here in spring this year is seeing the collection of nice young power arms. That’s been a really pleasant surprise. The other thing I’ve seen is two of the finest young hitters I’ve seen in a long time. One is righty and one is lefty. I think they’re both under the age of 24. That’s really encouraging. And I also saw that our lineup has the potential to be pretty deep and that’s something that I think can help us.”

Who exactly are those young hitters?

“Greg Bird and Aaron Judge,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t see those type of young hitters come around very often. We’re lucky to have two of them. I’m very impressed.”

And Rodriguez wasn’t finished there. He also had plenty of kind words for Michael Pineda.

“When you have stuff like that, it makes you be a little bit more relaxed,” he said of Pineda’s recent demeanor. “I think the thing about Pineda that I learned in my rehab with him when we were down here in Tampa together is how athletic he is. He’s one of the fastest guys on the team. It doesn’t make sense that a guy that big can move that fast. He’s extremely athletic and fast. Then in the weight room, he can just lift the whole weight room. Those combinations, when you know that and you see how that transfers to his power stuff, it makes a lot of sense.”

How fast are we talking? Faster than Brett Gardner?

“No,” Rodriguez said. “But he’s faster than me and a lot of other guys.”

David Carpenter• Hard to ignore Pineda in his debut — and it’s impossible to ignore A-Rod saying the Yankees have two of the best young hitters he’s seen in a long time — but it’s worth leaving some of today’s spotlight for Nathan Eovaldi. In his second spring outing, Eovaldi racked up five strikeouts in three innings. “Just working ahead in the counts, I think, for the most part was the big key today,” he said.

• Eovaldi has said all spring that he wanted to work on his offspeed pitches. Today he got two strikeouts on fastballs, two on sliders and one on a split. “With every year you’re going to get more comfort with yourself and what you can and can’t do,” Brian McCann said. “With that stuff, it’s just going to be a matter of putting it all together and elevating when he needs to elevate and put it in the dirt when he needs to put it in the dirt, because he’s an uncomfortable at-bat for anybody.”

• One complaint from Eovaldi, he said he felt like he was rushing some of his offspeed pitches, but the results were still positive. “Besides rushing, I felt good,” he said. “I was able to throw the majority of them for strikes. I threw some splits. I felt like they were quality pitches, I just didn’t get offers on them.”

• Minor league reliever Diego Moreno — who could, honestly, be crowded out of even the Triple-A bullpen — gave up all three Rays runs in today’s 4-3 Yankees win. Moreno struggled, but the rest of the Yankees pitchers really thrived today. David Carpenter (pictured on the right), Justin Wilson and Chris Martin each pitched a scoreless inning today. All three allowed one runner.

• Last time out, Martin seemed to really catch Girardi’s attention. I have to imagine today’s outing did nothing to dull that strong first impression. Martin allowed a double, but he struck out the last two batters of the game. The first was on a 95-mph fastball, the second was on a big breaking ball.

Bobby Wilson, Mark Teixeira• Pineda and Esmil Rogers will start the upcoming split-squad doubleheader on Saturday. Pineda will pitch at home, Rogers on the road. That leaves an upcoming rotation of — Tuesday: Chase Whitley, Wednesday: Chris Capuano, Thursday: Masahiro Tanaka, Friday: Adam Warren, Saturday: Rogers and Pineda.

• Prospect Luis Severino showed up sick this morning and was diagnosed with strep throat. He’s been told to stay home tomorrow and he’ll be back Wednesday. Severino was scheduled for early work tomorrow — I assume it was going to be a bullpen — so it sounds like the illness might only push him back a day or two.

• Shortstop Nick Noonan has a stiff neck and has been scratched from tomorrow’s road trip (Girardi said he might make the trip, but his name was literally scratched off the list). Girardi indicated it’s a minor injury at this point. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” he said.

• Nothing new on Brendan Ryan. He’s still on track to begin light baseball activities on Wednesday.

• Predictably, Girardi wouldn’t say whether he’s planning to use today’s lineup as his Opening Day lineup. That seems like a safe bet, but Girardi would only say, “it’s possible.”

• Rob Refsnyder made his second spring error. He also had another hit and is batting .500 this spring. … Bird and Brian McCann had the Yankees only extra-base hits today. Each doubled. … Slade Heathcott stayed hot with another hit. He’s batting .800. Small sample sizes are fun! … Austin Romine got his first hit. John Ryan Murphy also has just one hit this spring.

• Final word goes to Girardi about feeling at least a little encouraged by A-Rod’s early success: “I think it’s impossible not to. If you’re struggling in the beginning, like a lot of our hitters are, you say it’s timing. That was my concern for Alex, really, coming into camp. How long would it take for him to get his timing? I think he’s done a pretty good job adjusting, and I want to continue to see it.”

Associated Press photos

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Command, strength and health: The happy return of Michael Pineda03.09.15

Michael Pineda

The bright green shirt Michael Pineda wore out of the ballpark today seemed appropriate. It was cheerful and youthful, a happy shirt if ever there was one. Almost as happy as the man wearing it.

“I’m excited because the command is there and everything is good,” Pineda said after two scoreless innings this afternoon. “… I feel very happy to be here right now, in a good position.”

This really is the first time Pineda’s been in a good position in Yankees camp. His past three springs have been an evolving nightmare of shoulder problems, rehab programs and an attempt to get back to the big leagues. Today, though, Pineda is still just 26 years old. He’s throwing hard, his offspeed pitches look sharp, and there’s a rotation spot waiting for him.

The fact he’s happy has to make the Yankees happy, because they’re truly depending on him this season.

“The gyrations, the smiling, all of it – it’s entertainment,” Joe Girardi said. “But he feels good about where he’s at, physically, and if you think about it, it’s the first winter he didn’t really have to rehab. He was able to have a normal winter, which I think has probably helped him.”

Amazingly enough, Pineda just might be the most reliable starter in the Yankees rotation. He’s made just 13 major league starts in the past three years, but the rest of the rotation doesn’t set a very high bar when it comes to reliability. Who’s a more dependable: the guy with the bum elbow, the guy coming off knee surgery, the 25-year-old switching leagues, the unnamed fifth starter, or Pineda?

“When you come to the field and you’re not rehabbing, just preparing for a season, I think that’ll make anybody happy,” Brian McCann said. “… I thought he looked great (today). The ball’s coming out with the same velocity with some cut. Threw a couple of changeups that we really nice that had some good action. His slider was there as well. When he has all three of those things — I keep repeating myself — but he’s as tough to hit as anybody.”

Pineda’s last pitch of the game was a 95-mph fastball. His two strikeouts came on offspeed pitches. He walked no one, which is par for the course for a guy who typically has great control. This was his first spring outing, and it was a good one. There’s certainly a long way to to finally get Pineda through a full season, but he was all smiles this afternoon.

“Last year was a hard season, especially for me,” Pineda said. “I learned a lot from a couple of mistakes I make last year. It helped me for this year. I grow a lot. I’m a better person.”

Does that make the Yankees a better team? If he says on the mound, it really should.

“The first thing you think of is you’re happy you’re not facing him,” Alex Rodriguez said. “He’s an impressive guy. I remember Mel Stottlemyre told me a few years ago not only is he impressive, but he can really control both sides of the zone. That’s rare for a guy that big, that throws that hard, that’s that young. He threw Longoria a 2-2 power changeup that was 90 that looked Clemens-like or Schilling-like. He has the opportunity to be a top-of-the-rotation type of guy for a long time.”

Associated Press photo

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Spring Game 8: Yankees vs. Rays03.09.15

Michael Pineda

YANKEES (4-2-1)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

RHP Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89 in 2014)

RAYS (1-2-1)
Nick Franklin SS
Desmond Jennings LF
James Loney 1B
Evan Longoria 3B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Kevin Kiermaier DH
Alexi Casilla 2B
Bobby Wilson C
Mikie Mahtook CF

RHP Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.50 in 2014)

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Mostly cloudy, but apparently it’s not going to rain

UMPIRES: HP Eric Cooper, 1B Bob Davidson, 2B Mark Wegner, 3B Dan Iassogna

TODAY’S SECOND STRING: C Austin Romine, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Cito Culver, 3B Cole Figueroa, LF Ramon Flores, CF Slade Heathcott, RF Tyler Austin, DH Jake Cave

TODAY’S SCHEDULED RELIEVERS: Nathan Eovaldi, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Chris Martin, Diego Moreno

SPRING DEBUT: This is Michael Pineda’s first game of the spring. The Yankees seem encouraged by his early bullpens and simulated games, and he’s — oddly enough — perhaps the most reliable part of the rotation after spending much of the past three years dealing with a shoulder injury. He was healthy at the end of last season and pitched very well, now he comes into camp seemingly with fewer health concerns than Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia, and with better numbers than Nathan Eovaldi or Chris Capuano.

UPDATE, 1:15 p.m.: Two strikeouts, both on offspeed pitches, in Pineda’s first inning. The other out was a nice running catch by Gardner in left. In the middle there was a single and a stolen base, but Pineda had it under control. Strong first inning of spring for Big Mike.

UPDATE, 1:27 p.m.: Another easy inning for Pineda with three straight ground balls in the second. He ended the inning with a routine grounder to second on a 95 mph fastball.

UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: McCann just double to right-center. But since he pulled the ball, I assume it doesn’t count.

UPDATE, 1:34 p.m.: There’s an RBI single by Rodriguez to put the Yankees in front 1-0 in the second.

UPDATE, 1:41 p.m.: That’s all from Pineda. Here’s Eovaldi with a 2-0 lead in the third.

UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.: Lack of strikeouts is one of the biggest knocks on Eovaldi. Well, he just got back-to-back strikeouts to strand two runners in the fourth. He got one looking at a 95 mph fastball. Got the other swinging through a breaking ball at 84.

UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: Rodriguez beats the shift, goes the other way and gets his second single of the day.

UPDATE, 2:33 p.m.: Here’s David Carpenter to pitch the sixth. The combined line for Pineda and Eovaldi: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Quick notes: First three spring starters set; Warren in opener03.01.15

Adam Warren

A few quick notes from this Sunday afternoon:

1. The Yankees have announced their first three spring training starters. Adam Warren will start on Tuesday, followed by Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday and Esmil Rogers on Thursday. Chase Whitley said he’s piggybacking one of those days — pitching a couple innings of relief — and I would expect the same for Bryan Mitchell.

2. An intrasquad game is set for tomorrow, and Joe Girardi said he expects the big league regulars to play. No pitcher, though. Several guys will throw live batting practice, but the intrasquad game will be against a pitching machine.

3. No definitive word on whether Alex Rodriguez will play in Tuesday’s spring opener. Girardi said he’ll check with Rodriguez tomorrow, see how he’s feeling, and then make a decision. I wonder if Rodriguez might play each of the first two games at designated hitter just so he can get at-bats. It’s a very short road trip to Clearwater on Tuesday, then a home game on Wednesday.

4. Girardi watched Michael Pineda’s live batting practice this morning and said it was very impressive. Girardi singled out Pineda’s command, his movement, and his offspeed pitches. Also: “Threw a ton of strikes,” Girardi said.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Sunday morning notes: Pineda feels strong after first live batting practice03.01.15

Michael Pineda

In his first spring training with the Yankees, Michael Pineda arrived out of shape and blew out his shoulder. In his second spring, he was a rehab pitcher who never got into a game. In his third spring, he had to compete for a spot in the rotation.

Now in his fourth spring training with the Yankees, Pineda took the field this morning as a healthy, active, locked-into-the-rotation starting pitcher. He threw one round of live batting practice and walked back into the clubhouse sweating and smiling.

“It’s a little different (this year),” he said. “Your head and everything is a little different because when you’re hear when you’re on rehab, you know you’re not making the team. Now, you’re a little more comfortable with your friends. About work, it’s the same because you have to work.”

Pineda threw roughly 20 pitches of live batting practice, facing hitters for the first time this spring.

“I feel like everything (with the shoulder) is in the past right now,” he said. “I feel great. I’m feeling good, feeling strong, and I’m happy with that. … Everything is good. My fastball is coming out, and my off(speed) pitches have good movement. I feel good.”

Of course, Pineda felt good last spring as well, but his shoulder went out again soon after the pine tar incident in Boston. He missed three months, returned in August and pitched to a 1.91 ERA in the final two months of the season. In those final nine starts, Pineda allowed more than two earned runs only once — and that one time came when he pitched into the eighth inning of a 5-4 Yankees win.

“I want to win,” Pineda said. “I’m working hard to be healthy all season, try to be ready every five days to put my team in a good position to win the game. That’s what I’m looking for: to help my team win.”

Jose Campos• As has become the routine this spring, the Yankees pitchers did the bulk of their work this morning. That’s when all the bullpens and live batting practice sessions happened. Fielding practice will be later today, but the Yankees have already seen a busy morning on the mound.

• Speaking of the pitchers, this note was added at the bottom of today’s workout schedule: Pitchers bunt in Cage #4 after mound work.

• Remember last spring when J.R. Murphy became John Ryan Murphy. Well, this year Jose Campos has become Vicente Campos. Working his way back from Tommy John, the name Vicente Campos is above his locker, and that’s the name from the Yankees press release announcing Campos had a non-roster invitation to camp. Campos said he’s not sure why he was called Jose those early years in pro ball, but he prefers Vicente.

• And speaking of Campos, he’s been throwing bullpens and said his elbow feels strong roughly a year removed from Tommy John surgery. He sounds optimistic, but obviously his prospect status has taken a hit. Amazing that the two pitchers acquired in the Jesus Montero trade each went through significant injury problems. Hard to keep pitchers healthy.

• In live batting practice, three pitchers actually threw two simulated innings: Chase Whitley, Esmil Rogers and Bryan Mitchell. Obviously all three are getting stretched out as starters who could fall into bullpen roles only if they’re not needed in the rotation.

• Handful of pitchers scheduled for early work again tomorrow, including CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka.

PinderCarpenter• Today’s bullpen sessions:

Branden Pinder (to Roman Rodriguez)
Jacob Lindgren (to Juan Graterol)
David Carpenter (to Austin Romine)
Luis Severino (to Brian McCann)
Domingo German (to Roman Rodriguez)

• Live batting practice:

Group 1
Facing Jonathan Galvez and Mason Williams
Wilking Rodriguez (to Kyle Higashioka)
Esmil Rogers (to Francisco Arcia)
Bryan Mitchell (to Eddy Rodriguez)

Group 2
Facing Cito Culver and Nick Noonan
Chase Whitley (to John Ryan Murphy)
Danny Burawa (to Austin Romine)
Michael Pineda (to Austin Romine)

Group 3
Facing Greg Bird, Jose Pirela and Tyler Austin
Tyler Webb (to Trent Garrison)
Jose De Paula (to Trent Garrison)
Chasen Shreve (to Gary Sanchez)
Jared Burdon (to Gary Sanchez)

Group 4
Facing Jake Cave and Rob Refsnyder
Andrew Miller (to Brian McCann)
Kyle Davis (to Kyle Higashioka)
Chris Martin (to Kyle Higashioka)

JonesCulver• Infield drills:

Field 3
Greg Bird, Cito Culver, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Nick Noonan, Rob Refsnyder, Kyle Roller

Field 4
Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Garrett Jones, Jose Pirela, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira

• Batting practice groups:

Group 1
Nick Noonan, Rob Refsnyder, Brian McCann, Eddy Rodriguez
Group 2
Cito Culver, Jose Pirela, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
Group 3
Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Garrett Jones
Group 4
Greg Bird, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Kyle Roller
Group 5
Tyler Austin, Carlos Beltran, Jake Cave, Chris Young
Group 6
Ramon Flores, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury
Group 7
Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine
Group 8
Francisco Arcia, Trent Garrison, Kyle Higashioka, Gary Sanchez

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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