Off to Lakeland • 03.10.10
After finishing up with the daily A-Rod update, we’re headed over to Lakeland for what should be an interesting afternoon of baseball. Word is that Johnny Damon is NOT in the Tigers lineup, but he’ll surely get to meet and greet his former teammates. More importantly, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be taking the mound for the Yankees, with each slated to throw about three innings or 50 pitches. Andrew Brackman is among the other pitchers on the trip, and Austin Romine and Juan Miranda are also on the roster for the day.
Joe Girardi said that while these starts are certainly important in the fifth-starter derby, this is really the last “tune-up” start before he’ll really start judging the pitchers. “The next start, not including this one, is when you got to start making evaluations,” Girardi said.
We’ve seen a variety of different lineups over the past week or so, and at some point toward the end of spring training Girardi wants to get his “regular” lineup together for an extended period of time. If you’re looking for a preview of what that lineup will be – and I know everyone who plays “Guess the Lineup” on a daily basis is always looking for an edge – than pay close attention on March 16. That’s the first game after the Yankees off-day and Girardi said it’s a good bet he’ll have all his regulars playing. That day could also be the first time Mariano Rivera pitches in a game.
As I get ready to head for the car, the Yankees who are staying behind have come outside and started their stretching in right field. Andy Pettitte is throwing in the bullpen today, as is Javier Vazquez, Damaso Marte and Rivera. Francisco Cervelli will catch Pettitte (as well as Alfredo Aceves a few minutes later), and Jesus Montero will be catching Vazquez. Montero will also catch Chad Gaudin’s side session.
That’s pretty much it from here. Check back all afternoon for updates from Lakeland.
Friendly rivals • 02.12.10
Although the official report date is still a few days away, there are several Yankees already in Tampa working out and getting a jump on spring training. Two of them are Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain – friends, to be sure, but also rivals for the fifth-starter competition that will play out over the next six weeks or so.
Hughes told a few reporters that he is “out of the reliever mindset” for now and focusing on sharpening his repertoire. He also guessed that his innings limit, if he does win the job, will be around 175 — which shouldn’t be a problem since off-days during the season would allow the Yankees to skip the fifth starter spot a few times.
The most interesting thing about Hughes’s candidacy will be how well he’s able to improve his change-up. Dave Eiland made a point of stressing its importance to Hughes and right now it’s obviously his fourth pitch; he barely threw it at all in 2009 since it wasn’t necessary when he was working out of the bullpen. Obviously that’ll have to change if he’s a starter.
The Joba vs. Phil debate figures to be a fascinating aspect of spring training, and you can make strong cases for both guys. Everyone – from team officials to teammates to fans – will be watching every pitch each guy throws, and both already know that they’re the other’s main competition.
“It’s kind of one of those things that really doesn’t need to be said,” Hughes said.
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The Trophy will be on display tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Connecticut Sports Foundation Dinner. On Saturday, it will be on display and available for the public to take pictures just outside of the Box Office in The Shops at Mohegan Sun from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. For additional information, call (888) 226-7711.