In the back of the Yankees clubhouse, on the left side of the room, there is a row of five lockers. Jorge Posada is in the corner, followed by Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, Jesus Montero and Russell Martin. They’re all grouped together, the top of the food chain in this catching-rich organization.
Martin’s locker is at the end of the row, almost as if they’re easing the new guy into the mix.
So far, the Yankees are easing Martin into catching drills. His hip is fine, but Martin is still working out some range-of-motion issues with the MCL in his right knee. He said it loosens day by day, and squatting behind the plate actually seems to be helping the process.
The only thing Martin is not doing is block balls in the dirt. The Yankees don’t want him to start blocking drills just yet, worried that slamming his knee into the ground might cause a setback at a time when he’s very nearly 100 percent.
For the most part, though, Martin said he feels good and his lower half feels strong. Yankees camp is very regimented, and the team goes pretty hard from the very beginning of camp.
“I’m glad I came prepared,” he said.
• The closer has arrived. Mariano Rivera got into town last night and will begin his usual spring training routine this morning. As usual, he’s not sure when he’ll finally throw off a mound, but it won’t be any time soon.
• Reegie Corona has been scratched from big league camp. He’s still rehabbing and will get his treatments at the minor league complex. His locker at big league camp has been cleaned out. Name plate taken down and everything.
• Speaking of name plates, there is finally a locker labeled D.J. Mitchell. Either as a joke or a mistake, Mitchell’s locker was originally labeled Bryan Mitchell.
• CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett each threw bullpens earlier this morning. “The earlier the better,” Burnett said. They’re up around 30 pitches each.
• Bullpen assignments:
Bartolo Colon (to Francisco Cervelli)
Freddy Garcia (to Russell Martin)
Sergio Mitre (to Austin Romine)
Luis Ayala (to Jesus Montero)
Boone Logan (to Gustavo Molina)
Mark Prior (to Jose Gil)
Buddy Carlyle (to Austin Romine)
Robert Fish (to Kyle Higashioka)
Ryan Pope (to Jose Gil)
• Same hitting groups as the past two days.
Associated Press photo of Martin with Jorge Posada
Minor league injury updates • 01.11.11
This morning, Yankees vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman was good enough to provide some updates on a few of the injured players in the Yankees minor league system.
Two quick updates: Damon Sublett missed most of last year with a thumb injury, but he was back by the end of the season and is expected to be fine for spring training. Jairo Heredia, who seems to have been perpetually injured, made it through last season and is expected to still be healthy heading into spring training.
Back in December, Nunez was hit in the face by a botched bunt attempt in the Dominican Winter League. He missed some time, but he’s back on the field, playing shortstop again in the DWL postseason. He should be 100 percent in spring training.
In late July, Corona had to be carried off the field after a violent collision on the final play of the game. The diagnosis was ultimately a broken humerus bone in his right arm. Corona is in Tampa, but he won’t be healthy enough to open the season on an active roster. He’ll likely be limited to designated hitter before he’s ready to play the field.
Initially labeled as a sprain, Adams fractured his ankle sliding into second base back in May. He missed the rest of the season, but Adams is healthy again and should be ready to open the season, probably back in Trenton.
A supplemental first-round pick in 2008, Bleich was eight games into the Double-A season when he underwent surgery to repair a torn left labrum. He’s expected to pitch again in 2011, but Newman said it’s unlikely Bleich will be able to open the season.
Torn hip labrum
A significant risk-reward pick back in 2007, Angelini struggled through his first three professional seasons, then lost all of last year because of a hip injury and a few smaller lower-body ailments. Angelini is healthy again, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll open in Tampa or return to Charleston, where he played all of 2008 and part of 2009.
Knee and shoulder surgeries
A fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2009, Cotham has pitched eight professional innings, but he’s missed most of two seasons because of knee surgery followed by shoulder surgery to repair his labrum. Cotham showed quite a bit of promise before the injuries — “Good arm, strike thrower,” Newman said — but shoulders are tough and Cotham has missed a lot of time. He’s throwing again, but Newman said they won’t know much until he gets into spring training.
Yankees organizational depth: Second base • 01.10.11
Robinson Cano is signed through 2013, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him stay with the Yankees well beyond his current contract. Second base is not up for grabs today, and it might not be up for grabs until the end of the decade. The Yankees have second base talent coming up through the system, but the bulk of that talent brings defensive versatility and could emerge as some sort of utility option should Cano keep his hold on second.
In the big leagues
If Cano continues his current production, and carries that into his mid-to-late 30s, the Yankees might never have a need for any of the players currently in the system to see significant time at second base. Cano is 28 years old and should be just now entering his prime. He showed last season that he’s already developed into one of the best hitters in the American League, and certainly one of the top second basemen in baseball. The Yankees have an abundance of players who could fill-in at second base to cover any sort of short-term need — nagging injury, unexpected absence — but the organization’s best-case scenario is to simply stick with Cano for the foreseeable future.
On the verge
Here’s the list: Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo, Reegie Corona, David Adams and Corban Joseph. Six young players, all of them ready to play second base at Double-A or higher, and all of them with enough tools to play some sort of role in the big leagues sooner rather than later. Each of them can also play at least one other position, which some defensive flexibility for potential bench roles down the line. Nunez, Pena and Russo have already gotten to New York, Corona has a spot on the 40-man and needs to come back from a late-season shoulder injury, and Adams was hitting in Trenton before an ankle injury cost him most of last season. The name to watch might be Joseph, a former fourth-round pick who’s been building prospect buzz with his bat the past two years.
Deep in the system
The top second base prospect in the lower levels was Jimmy Paredes, who put himself on the prospect map with a strong 2010 season. Paredes, though, was traded to Houston in the Lance Berkman deal, and without him, the top lower-level second base prospect might be Anderson Feliz, a former shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who hit .273 with some power in the Gulf Coast League last year. Of course, the real second base depth might ultimately depend on the development of Cito Culver and Angelo Gumbs, last year’s first- and second-round draft picks. Both are shortstops, but Cano also saw a lot of time at shortstop when he was a kid. As they develop, Culver or Gumbs could — in theory — find themselves shifted to second base.
Organizational depth chart
My own rough guess. It’s far too early for the Yankees to settle on who will be where next season.
New York: Robinson Cano
Scranton/WB: Kevin Russo, Reegie Corona
Trenton: David Adams, Corban Joseph
Tampa: Walter Ibbara, Emerson Landoni, Kevin Mahoney
Charleston: Anderson Feliz, Casey Stevenson
The big league depth chart beyond Cano probably begins with two players not listed here. Nunez and Pena are the front-runners for the big league utility job, and those two probably have a leg up should the Yankees need someone to fill in at second base for a few games (or even a few months). Russo is also in that discussion, and Adams or Joseph could climb into the mix by the end of the summer.
I have more than one player listed at every minor league level because there are a lot of multi-position players who are going to need time at second. Tampa especially could be a bit of a mix-and-match. The natural fit should have been the since-traded Paredes, and without him, a series of utility types — none of them highly touted — could get opportunities in High-A. Stevenson was the Yankees 25th-round pick last year, and he got most of the second base time at Staten Island last season, but Feliz is the bigger name of the lower-level second basemen. Additional upper-level bench depth will come from versatile infielders like Justin Snyder, Luis Nunez and Doug Bernier.
Associated Press photo of Cano, headshots of Cano, Joseph and Feliz
Four more sent down • 03.22.10
This afternoon, the Yankees reassigned Eduardo Nunez, Reegie Corona, Jorge Vazquez and Brandon Laird to minor league camp.
That left Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo and Juan Miranda as the only non-starting infielders left in big league camp, and left Pena and Russo as the only utility options.
“Pena has the most experience there and we want to see Ruse more, he’s played extremely well,” Girardi said. “You get to a point when you’ve got young players like Nunez, you want them to play every day, and to get one at-bat per game is not fair to them. They need to go get ready for their season. That’s why we did it today.”
This afternoon the Yankees also returned Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmann.
“It’s a kid that we believe has tools,” Girardi said. “He went about his business the right way. His effort was tremendous. The numbers didn’t translate. Will he be a good player? I believe he can be, but right now we had to make a tough decision and the Dodgers wanted him back.”