The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Notes from Friday04.02.10

Orioles Yankees Baseball

After being rained out twice and forced into an intrasquad game once, Andy Pettitte got Dave Eiland’s forecast for Friday’s game well ahead of time. “Dave told me several days ago there was a zero percent chance (of rain),” Pettitte said. “I was still waiting for a black cloud to move in, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky today.”

Pettitte pitched well in only his second full start of the spring. He pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing seven hits but consistently stranding the base runners. Only one of the seven hits went for extra bases. He also walked one and struck out one.

“”I felt like my command maybe could have been a little bit better with my fastball,” Pettitte said. “Other than that I felt really good. I did get a little tired there at the end which I knew was going to happen because even though I threw 100 pitched my last time out, you just can’t simulate the adrenalin and having batters in there… The biggest reason I needed it was to build my stamina up, because you can’t build your stamina up in simulated games because it’s just not real.”

Here’s the Joe Girardi audio from this afternoon. He talked mostly about the series of injuries that have hit his team in the last week of spring training.

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Orioles Yankees Baseball

• After Mariano Rivera hit Felix Pie with a pitch, Girardi ran to the mound to check on his closer. Rivera said it was because he’s been sick and Girardi was checking on him, but Rivera might have simply been being polite, not wanting to call out the Orioles’ bench. “Something (was said) from their dugout,” Girardi said. “He just walked off the mound, got back on the mound… It might have been in response to my frustration the other day. It’s okay.” You might remember that Girardi got upset with the Orioles when Jeremy Guthrie hit two Yankees on Monday.

• Royce Ring was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving only Boone Logan competing to be a second lefty in the Yankees bullpen. Turns out, Zack Segovia was sent down yesterday.

• Alex Rodriguez confirmed a Daily News story that he has already met with investigators from Major League Baseball concerning his connection to Dr. Tony Galea.

• Forgot to mention this earlier: Damaso Marte said his current shoulder injury is nothing like last year’s, and might actually have been caused by his exercises that were intended to strengthen his shoulder. “Maybe too much workout for my shoulder,” Marte said. “I’ve been working hard this month on my shoulder. I never felt like this. This is new.”

• Nice job by minor leaguer Josh Schmidt to get out of a jam and strand two runners for Pettitte in the fifth. Schmidt had terrific numbers in Double-A last season and had a great winter in Venezuela, but his raw stuff has never wowed scouts.

• Nick Swisher hit his second spring home run today and will finish with a .313 Grapefruit League batting average. He’s made some adjustments that he’s hoping will lead to a higher batting average this season.

• Catcher Mike Rivera played in a game for the first time since March 20.

• The Yankees will play a group of organizational, minor league all-stars tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. Javier Vazquez will start for the Yankees and most of their regulars will be in the lineup, though they aren’t expected to play very long (especially given the injury bug that’s floating through camp). There’s still no word on which minor leaguers will be involved.

Those are obviously Associated Press photos.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 226 Comments →

Notes from Thursday04.01.10

Yankees Blue Jays Spring Baseball

No one seemed surprised by Thursday’s announcement that Curtis Granderson would be the Yankees opening day center fielder.

“They traded for Curtis and I kind of figured he would be the center fielder,” Brett Gardner said. “You get a guy like that, that’s where he’s most comfortable, and that’s where he needs to play.”

The Yankees expect Granderson to play every day, even against left-handers. He had two hits off a lefty on Thursday and, after a slow start this spring, he’s 10-for-22 in his past eight games.

“To come here and get a chance to play center, I’m definitely excited,” Granderson said. “But if the move happens to come, or (the decision) would have been different for me to go to left, or a week from now I’m playing left, I’m not going to be mad by any means.”

Here’s the Granderson audio.

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As for Gardner, he knows he has to get on base to keep an everyday spot in the lineup. Marcus Thames could be a platoon partner and Randy Winn is used to being a regular, so Gardner has to perform.

“I’m just pretty hard on myself and I obviously haven’t had a very good spring at the plate,” Gardner said. “We’re going to be starting the season here pretty soon and I need to figure things out and get started. Last year I had a really good spring and got off to a slow start in the season, so hopefully this year it will be the exact opposite.”

Here’s the Gardner audio. He said some of his mechanical adjustments have made his bat a little faster than he’s used to and he’s been making contact too far out front. He has to get used to seeing the ball deeper and letting his new mechanics take over.

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• Joe Girardi said this outfield alignment isn’t set in stone, but it’s clearly he way he’d prefer to keep it. “I think it’s something that we can always revisit,” he said. “I don’t think everything is always etched in stone, but my plan is to play Curtis in center.”

• If Francisco Cervelli can’t open the season, the decision of who would take is place is “a decision we would have to talk about,” Girardi said. Mike Rivera and P.J. Pilittere are in camp, but Rivera hasn’t played in almost two weeks since hurting his right hamstring. “We obviously need to get him back out there to see how he feels too,” Girardi said.

• Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park, Dave Robertson and Royce Ring each pitched today, making it back-to-back games for each of them. Boone Logan went back-to-back yesterday. None of them allowed a run in their second appearance.

• Speaking of not allowing a run, minor leaguer Lance Pendleton picked up a save today with a scoreless ninth.

• Robinson Cano went 2-for-2 and raised his batting average to .380. He’s been terrific this spring. Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher also had two hits. All of those guys have really hit this spring.

• The plan is for Alfredo Aceves, Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte to each pitch out of the bullpen tomorrow. Aceves needs to pitch come out clean on the other side to break camp with the team.

• Speaking of plans, Girardi said his regulars will start Saturday’s game against the Yankees minor leaguers, but, “You’re not going to see them play seven innings,” he said. “If a guy wants another at-bat or two at-bats, I’ll talk to each of our guys.” Javier Vazquez is starting that game.

That’s an Associated Press photo at the top. Those pictures look a lot better in this blog format.

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Granderson in center, Cervelli with a Grade 104.01.10

Joe Girardi told the media he had two announcements this morning.

1. Curtis Granderson is the team’s center fielder. It’s hardly a surprise, but really the Yankees could have started either Granderson or Brett Gardner in center and been just fine. Girardi said the Yankees see Granderson as an everyday player, and they don’t want him moving around. Gardner will get a chance to be an everyday-type player, but he still has to earn that, and he’ll move to center on the few days Granderson is not in the lineup.

2. Francisco Cervelli has a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring. He won’t play the rest of spring training, but Girardi is optimistic that he’ll be able to open the season on the active roster. “Right now, if I was to guess, he’s not a DL guy,” Girardi said.

• Just in case, Girardi said he needs to get Mike Rivera into some more games. Girardi didn’t go into specifics, but I have to assume Rivera will play Friday and Saturday just in case the Yankees need him to open on the big league bench. P.J. Pilittere has been getting a lot of playing time lately as well.

• Girardi didn’t commit to a full time platoon with Marcus Thames, but it certainly seems like Thames could get fairly regular playing time when a lefty is on the mound. “He’s definitely swung the bat pretty well off left-handers,” Girardi said. As for his glove, “he’s done a good enough job in the outfield” to make the Yankees believe Thames can handle left.

• Granderson said he only has a few autographs in his collection, but he was pretty pumped to get Pat Venditte to sign a ball. He thought it was cool that ESPN’s highlight of Tuesday’s game against the Braves was pretty much nothing but a Venditte highlight.

• Pitchers making the trip: A.J. Burnett, Royce Ring, Chan Ho Park, Joba Chamberlain, Dave Robertson, Pat Venditte, Craig Heyer and Lance Pendleton.

• Position players available off the bench: C P.J. Pilittere, C Mitch Abeita, 1B Juan Miranda, 3B Marcos Vechionacci, INF Walter Ibarra, OF Brett Gardner, OF Randy Winn and OF Dan Brewer.

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Notes from Friday03.26.10

Phillies Yankees Baseball

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.”

Phillies Yankees Baseball

• 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.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 88 Comments →

Looking for a surprise03.23.10

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?

Jonathan Albaladejo
Right-handed reliever
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.

Chad Gaudin
Right-handed pitcher
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.

Greg Golson
Center fielder
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.

Boone Logan
Left-handed reliever
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.

Mark Melancon
Right-handed reliever
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.

Juan Miranda
First baseman
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.

P.J. Pilittere
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.

Mike Rivera
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.

Royce Ring
Left-handed reliever
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.

Kevin Russo
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.

Amaury Sanit
Right-handed reliever
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.

Zack Segovia
Right-handed reliever
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.

Jon Weber
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.

David Winfree
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.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 176 Comments →

Notes from Saturday03.06.10

Francisco Cervelli will be checked out again on Sunday, and he’ll see a neurologist on Monday. Depending on how those two appointments go, Cervelli could be back in the lineup by the middle of next week.

“Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday, but I’m not going to rush it,” Joe Girardi said.

This is Cervelli’s second concussion in the past four months. He also had one in November when he was hit in the head by a bat during winter ball. He was catching and the batter got him on the left side of his head, right where today’s pitch from Zech Zinicola landed.

Here’s Cervelli talking about his noggin.

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MonteroThat’s Jesus Montero in the picture, but Girardi said this afternoon that his No. 3 catcher is Mike Rivera. If this Cervelli situation proves worse than expected, it’s Rivera who would likely open the season on the Yankees bench.

“He has big league experience,” Girardi said. “He knows what the job entails. That’s why we went out and got him.”

Rivera has been in the big leagues each of the past four years, and he was in the big leagues for parts of three seasons before that. He has a higher career batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage than Jose Molina.

Here’s the Girardi audio.

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• Jorge Posada on A.J. Burnett’s changeup: “He’s starting it down, that’s the big thing. He’s finishing it well. There was one of them that was up, hit off the end of the bat, but I thought he did a great job.”

• Change of plans for tomorrow’s travel squad. Cervelli (obviously) will not go. Instead, Rivera will go to catch Gaudin and Mitre. Amaury Sanit will also not travel after getting in today’s game.

• Another nice outing from Boone Logan, who pitched two hitless innings and retired three lefties: Lyle Overbay, Jeremy Reed and Travis Snider. After his four-up, four-down debut — also retiring three lefties — he’s making a strong case (but a very early case) for a spot in New York.

• Mark Melancon also looked awfully good again today, so did Jason Hirsh. Both finished off strikeouts with good curveballs. Oh, and don’t sleep on Kevin Russo, who had another hit and made a nice diving play at second.

• Dave Eiland confirmed that Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte and Chan Ho Park will each throw a batting practice session on Monday. They are the only pitchers in camp who have not faced live hitters.

• Andy Pettitte has a two-inning simulated game tomorrow morning and will move forward as if he pitched in a real game. “It will count as his first start,” Eiland said.

• If you missed it in the game post, Nick Johnson took batting practice this morning and felt good after. “I took a few swings in the cage,” he said. “Felt loose.”

• I don’t want to make a big deal of it, but Kei Igawa did pitch well yesterday and this afternoon Girardi said he couldn’t rule out the idea of Igawa creating a place for himself as a left-handed reliever. Just throwing it out there.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 388 Comments →

Catcher’s row02.17.10

On the left side of the Yankees spring training clubhouse, all the way at the back, the lockers line up like this: Jorge Posada in the corner, followed by Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Mike Rivera. Jesus Montero, Kyle Higashioka and P.J. Pilittere are at the ends of the middle rows, the other spots reserved for catchers.

The catching job still belongs to Posada, but he’s surrounded by the future.

“For me it’s easy because these kids, they want to be taught,” Posada said. “Montero comes up to me and says, what are we going to do today?”

Posada’s not ready to give up the job just yet, though. He wouldn’t speculate how many games he’ll spend behind plate, but he said he’s come to spring training, “prepared to catch.”

“I want to play,” Posada said. “I like playing, I enjoy playing. If I’m not hurting the team, I want to be out there.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 80 Comments →

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