The Yankees begin interleague play tonight against Arizona. It’s a home game for the Yankees, so it’s the Diamondbacks who must adjust their game plan (the Yankees play their first game in a National League park on May 7 in Colorado). With interleague games now spread throughout the schedule, Joe Girardi discussed the role of the designated hitter, his preference for keeping it in the National League, and how the new scheduling might affect teams down the stretch.
Mariano Rivera faced hitters for the second time since last year’s torn ACL. The video above is of Rivera throwing to outfielder Adonis Garcia (the video might have been better, but I wasn’t allowed any closer).
“The swings didn’t tell me much,” Rivera said. “I was telling them what I was throwing, but I felt good.”
As he’s said all along, Rivera insisted that live batting practice and bullpens aren’t a significant test. He’s been able to throw for a while now, and he’s just looking forward to getting into games to practice fielding bunts and covering first base.
“I don’t feel nothing (in the knee),” Rivera said. “The big thing is going to be game situations. That’s it. I don’t think about it at all. I don’t know if you guys have seen me run, I’m not even thinking about it. I’m running normal, like nothing ever happened.”
• Before Curtis Granderson’s injury, it was easy to dismiss guys like Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte as all but certain to open in Triple-A. Now they’re in the mix for a big league spot, and Girardi said he’ll be paying close attention as he tries to decide whether a young guy might be a better short-term option than either Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera. “I want someone who can do everything,” Girardi said. “Is that too much to ask? I don’t know.”
• Girardi made it clear that top prospects Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin are not really candidates for the big league opening. Neither has significant playing time above High-A. Didn’t specifically ask, but I’m assuming Ramon Flores is in the same boat.
• CC Sabathia faced hitters this morning. He’ll take two days off then face hitters again. He’s throwing sliders these days and said his elbow has been fine. “No problem,” Sabathia said. “Felt normal.”
• Phil Hughes said he walked and did some side-to-side work in the pool yesterday. He also did some shoulder exercises. Everything went well, and he’s been told that he’ll probably see the doctor on Wednesday to assess his progress. “Obviously I want to get back as soon as I can,” Hughes said. “But I’m not going ot rush it.”
• Girardi announced more upcoming starters.
Tuesday: Jose Ramirez
Wednesday: Nik Turley
Thursday: David Phelps (home), Brett Marshall (road)
• Worth watching tomorrow in Tampa: Andy Pettitte will throw live batting practice to Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin. Also tomorrow, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Hiroki Kuroda and Boone Logan will throw bullpens.
• Today’s second string: C Austin Romine, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Walter Ibarra, 3B Corban Joseph, LF Ramon Flores, CF Slade Heathcott, RF Tyler Austin, DH Zoilo Almonte
• Today’s listed pitchers: Vidal Nuno, Bryan Mitchell, Corey Black, Shane Greene, Ryan Pope, Kelvin Perez, Josh Spence, Chase Whitley
• David Phelps, Brett Marshall, Nik Turley, Mike O’Brien and Matt Tracy each threw bullpens today.
• Live batting practice
Facing Francisco Arcia, Rob Segedin, Thomas Neal and Adonis Garcia
Ivan Nova (throwing to Bobby Wilson)
CC Sabathia (Wilson)
Mariano Rivera (Chris Stewart)
David Aardsma (Stewart)
Clay Rapada (J.R. Murphy)
Shawn Kelley (Murphy)
Tom Kahnle (Arcia)
• Players staying behind for a workout in Tampa have been divided into these batting practice groups:
Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Nunez, Ichiro Suzuki
Travis Hafner, Luke Murton, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis
J.R. Murphy, Chris Stewart, Bobby Wilson
• Tomorrow’s travel roster
Pitchers: Juan Cedeno, Joba Chamberlain, Preston Claiborne, Matt Daley, Jim Miller, Zach Nuding, Mike O’Brien, Kelvin Perez, Branden Pinder, Jose Ramirez, Dave Robertson, Francisco Rondon
Catchers: Francisco Arcia, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Bobby Wilson
Infielders: Greg Bird, Robinson Cano, Cito Culver, Travis Hafner, Addison Maruszak, Luke Murton, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Pirela, Rob Segedin, Mark Teixeira, Gil Velazquez, Kevin Youkilis
Outfielders: Matt Diaz, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal, Ichiro Suzuki
Associated Press photo
In his first live batting practice of the spring, Hiroki Kuroda faced the Yankees major league outfield today. It’s far, far too early for this to mean much, but Kuroda was hit pretty hard at times.
“I heard he threw strikes,” Girardi said, kind of laughing. “They knew what was coming, I heard.”
Here’s some video of Kuroda facing Brett Gardner and then Ichiro Suzuki, his first two hitters.
Video: Yankees go through pop up drills • 02.20.13
Tony Pena was running the machine for today’s pop up and fly ball drill on the main field. At one point, I noticed he seemed to be aiming the machine right at me. You’ll notice in the video below, after Dan Johnson makes a play in foul territory, I’m pretty slow turning the camera back to the field. I’d actually turned my head to Pena to try to determine whether I need to get out of the way.
For the first time this spring, the Yankees big league hitters faced live pitching. The first pitcher on the main field was Joba Chamberlain, throwing to a group of Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez.
“(Chamberlain) looks like he has the strength,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m not going to get too caught up if the first half of March, even in the third week of March, he’s still throwing 92, 93. As we get closer to the end, I expect to see the power that he has. I think you’ll see it from him, but sometimes arm strength takes some time to develop in spring training for these power guys.”
I didn’t film video of Nunez’s turn, which turned out to be a mistake. The second pitch to Nunez went behind his head and sent Nunez crashing to the dirt.
“I was so scared, I don’t want to hit any more,” Nunez said.
Hitters always say that, during these first BP sessions, fastballs seem impossibly fast. A lot of guys choose not to swing, preferring to simply track pitches this early in spring training. Here’s video of Chamberlain pitching to Jeter, who took exactly that tracking approach.
Video: Youkilis taking batting practice • 02.18.13
This winter, Kevin Youkilis slightly tweaked his mechanics. When Youkilis took batting practice today, the basics of his unusual stance were fairly familiar, but there were noticeable adjustments here and there. Here’s video of Youkilis in the cage. Have a look for yourself.
In his career, Mark Teixeira’s slugging percentage for the month of April is .423. He’s slugged well over .500 in every other month. Teixeira is a notorious slow starter, but as the Yankees prepare for today’s first full-squad working, Teixeira is hoping the World Baseball Classic can rattle that cycle and get him on track earlier in the season.
“When I found out I was going to play in the WBC, I called (hitting coach Kevin Long) and said, ‘Let’s not build up to Opening Day,’” Teixeira said. “‘Let’s build up to the WBC. Let’s build up to the first of March.’ I think that will be good because there’s never really a sense of urgency because spring training is six weeks long. Now I kind of have two weeks to get ready. I’m in great shape, so I have no problem kind of ramping up the baseball activities and really making sure my swing is right, my timing is right. Hopefully it’s going to be great for the WBC.”
That change in approach, Teixeira believes, just might pay off when the regular season begins.
“I spend almost all offseason and all spring training lifting weights very hard, getting my body in shape for 162 (games),” Teixeira said. “Because of that, I think in April I’m a little tight, maybe a little sore. This year, I’ve cut back on that. I’m not really going to get any stronger as I get older. I just want to keep that strength, keep that flexibility, so I’ve cut back a little bit on the weightlifting already to make sure I’m not tight for the beginning of the season.”
Here’s some video of Teixeira speaking yesterday.
When Derek Jeter sat behind the microphone this morning, there was a pause before anyone asked a question. That’s when Jeter joked that the press conference must have ended quickly. But with Jeter, there’s always plenty to talk about.
Jeter didn’t say anything about his contract — “My focus is only on getting back April 1,” he said. “I can’t think about what’s going to happen next year, or two years from now.” — and he wouldn’t comment on Alex Rodriguez’s latest PED controversy. Instead, he talked a lot about his ankle and his absolute belief that he’ll be back by April 1.
Here are some highlights, starting with video of Jeter answering a question about whether Opening Day is a realistic goal.
On his offseason
“My offseason was terrible. Absolutely terrible. … Physically. Mentally it was rough, too, but more physical. I was stuck on the couch for a good five, six weeks where I really couldn’t move around too much. From the point I had the injury I had to wait a week for the surgery and then the next three or four weeks I’m just basically sitting there with my leg elevated. So physically it was a challenge. I don’t want to make it seem more dramatic than it is, but you got to learn to walk again, so in that sense physically it was a challenge, and then mentally it’s a challenge when you sit on the couch and you can’t get anywhere. I had a little scooter I could to move around, but it was tough. It was not fun.”
On whether he knew he was running the risk of breaking his ankle
“No. I didn’t know that. Initially it was a bone bruise that progressed from there. After it was originally diagnosed, maybe four or five weeks after it happened, they told me it was a bone bruise. I’m not going to ask them to look at it again. You just keep playing. And then eventually it turned into a stress fracture and broke in half. But no, I wasn’t aware of that. If you can play, you play. Like I always told you before, I don’t think you ever really talk about injuries because then it’s an excuse. I was told I was able to play so I played. Unfortunately it broke, but I would do the same thing over again if I had to.”
On when he’ll run on the field for the first time
“I took the last few days off. I would assume tomorrow, but that’s just making an assumption. I haven’t spoken to the trainers. The last few days, I didn’t do anything. I pretty much do that every year before spring training starts. I’ve only been running on a treadmill up to this point, but I would have to assume if not tomorrow then the next couple days.”
On his range of motion with a plate and screws in his ankle
“The plate and screws, I guess you can take them out if you really want to take them out, but I’ve been told there’s no need to take them out, so they’re going to stay. Range of motion, I pretty much have all of it back now. We’ve tested it as compared to the other ankle, and we’ve kept the log of how it’s been progressing throughout the offseason, and it’s pretty much all the way back.”
On watching the end of the postseason
“It was tough. Was it Game 2 I didn’t see much of because I was at the hospital getting tests? I saw, I think, towards the end of the game. I have a problem watching games anyway, but it was rough to watch. It’s unfortunate. I tell you guys all the time, sometimes teams go hot, sometimes they go cold. It seems like our entire team went cold at the same time. So yeah, it was tough to watch, especially in the playoffs. I’ve never had to do that before.”
On the age of the Yankees
“We’re experienced. What can you say? We’ve got guys that are older than maybe some other teams, but sometimes you can use that to your advantage. That’s why I said the other day that we’re more experienced instead of saying we’re older. If you win then we’re experience. If you lose, we’re old. But I’d like to think the other guys are viewing it the same way. I don’t think you go out on the field thinking to yourself how old you are. It may sound corny, but we’re playing a kid’s game, so when you’re playing the game, you actually feel as though you’re a kid. That’s just always been the way I’ve looked at it.”
On whether he’s spoken to Mariano Rivera about the rehab process
“No. I’ve never worried about Mariano’s motivation. I don’t think he’s ever worried about mine. I reached out to him and he’d changed his number – he changes his number a lot – so I couldn’t get a hold of him. But he was working hard. We were able to see him last season in and out of the clubhouse, so you know that Mo’s going to work hard. No, we haven’t spoken about it at all. I saw him today. ‘How are you feeling?’ That was pretty much it in terms of the injury. We didn’t have any long conversations about it.”
How did CC Sabathia evaluate his first bullpen since October elbow surgery?
“Felt pretty good; no problems,” he said. “I probably didn’t throw a strike, but that’s normal for my first bullpen.”
Here’s some video — shot through a small gap in the fence — of Sabathia’s morning bullpen. When bullpen catcher Roman Rodriguez moves his head a little bit, you can see Andy Pettitte also throwing on the right side of the screen.