Other teams are actually doing stuff • 12.13.10
Believe it or not, as we approach the end of Day 4 of the Cliff Lee Watch, other teams are actually making small moves here and there. Don’t they know nothing else is supposed to be happening right now?
• Hideki Matsui is on the verge of a one-year deal with the Athletics. That lineup needs some sort of pop, and Matsui looks like their everyday designated hitter.
• Dustin Moseley has finalized his $900,000 deal with the Padres. Great signing for him, and probably a good one for San Diego. Despite what the linked AP story says, Moseley did not spend, “the previous four seasons in the Los Angeles Angels.” That’s wrong on many levels.
• Apparently my friend Marc Carig didn’t get the memo about Yankees reporters asking nothing but Cliff Lee questions until Lee signs. Marc reports that the Yankees have checked on Jerry Hairston Jr.
• Buried in this story from Ken Rosenthal is a note that the Dodgers might consider Bill Hall for their everyday left field job. I’ve never really bought Hall as a legitimate option for the Yankees, and an everyday opportunity in Los Angeles would make Hall even less likely for the Yankees.
• Baseball America has updated its minor league transactions, including a few familiar names: David Winfree signed with the Diamondbacks, Brian Bruney signed with the White Sox, Omir Santos signed with the Tigers, and Wilkin de la Rosa signed with the Dodgers.
• Speaking of the Bruney signing, who was the winner of last winter’s Bruney trade? I’d say the Dodgers, because they lost Jamie Hoffmann a team that was never going to keep him. The Yankees finished somewhere in the middle, if only because they didn’t have to pay Bruney. Washington lost. Definitely.
Two more sent down • 03.15.10
This morning, the Yankees sent two more pitchers out of big league camp.
Right-handers Ivan Nova and Hector Noesi were optioned the minor leagues, with Nova assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Noesi assigned to Tampa. There’s a solid chance Noesi will actually open the season in Double-A, but for now he’s assigned to the High-A roster.
There are now 52 players in big league camp.
Some other notes from my morning at the minor league complex.
• Talked to George Kontos briefly. Coming back from Tommy John, he’s working off a half mound right now but should be on a full mound in a week. His ligament was completely torn in half, and the doctors told him it had probably been torn for more than a year. Might explain his dip in velocity when he came out of college. Right now, Kontos said, his arm feels great. Keep his name in mind. Before the surgery, he was really pitching well last year in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and it turns out that was with a bad elbow.
• Jorge Vazquez will open the season in Triple-A, playing 1B, 3B and DH. That probably locks up the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre infield: Juan Miranda at first, Vazquez at either corner, and whichever three 40-man middle infielders don’t make the major league roster (Kevin Russo, Eduardo Nunez, Reegie Corona and Ramiro Pena). The Yankees believe Vazquez has the arm to play third, it’s a matter of agility at the position.
• Despite being optioned to Triple-A when he was cut from big league camp, Wilkin De La Rosa is still expected to open the season in Trenton.
• As a precaution, Alan Horne was shutdown briefly because of soreness in his shoulder, but he should be back on the mound in a matter of days. He and Kontos were both going through fielding drills with the Triple-A group. So were recent major league cuts Kevin Whelan, Kei Igawa and Grant Duff.
• I saw other big league cuts down there — Jeremy Bleich, D.J. Mitchell and Christian Garcia — but I couldn’t tell which group they were with. I’m pretty sure they were all working with the Double-A group, but I can’t be sure. The listed work groups haven’t changed since the players were sent down.
• There wasn’t much to see during the morning drills, but Seth Fortenberry did catch my eye with a strong throw from center field to third base.
• The minor league spring training schedule (sort of) starts on Thursday with intrasqaud games, Triple-A vs. Double-A and High-A vs. Low-A. They’ll do that again on Friday, then played the Pirates minor leaguers on Saturday.
Five questions with Wilkin De La Rosa • 03.06.10
A converted outfielder, Wilkin De La Rosa moved to the mound in 2007 and has pitched his way onto the Yankees 40-man roster. He’s slated to work as a starter in Double-A this season — and the Yankees will give him every chance to stay in the rotation — but he could get on the fast track as a left-handed reliever. And it’s Wilkin, not Wilkins. “With no S,” he said.
How did you find out that the Yankees wanted to make you a pitcher?
De La Rosa: I had been playing in the New York-Penn League. After the season, when I got back to the Dominican, they called me and said the team wanted to try me on the mound, and I said, let’s see what I can do. I just said yes… I had to learn another part of the game, mentally especially. I had to practice something that I did not know. I got in this, and I feel in more control now.
Had you pitched before? Did you pitch as a kid?
De La Rosa: No. I never pitched. I always liked to be a position player, so that’s what I did when I was a kid. I played third base and outfield. I always had a good arm.
Did you start just throwing fastballs, just trying to throw strikes?
De La Rosa: I just started with fastballs. In my sides, everything was fastballs. When I came to the mound, my first inning was just fastballs to see how I could handle this. And then I established my breaking ball.
Was a breaking ball harder to figure out?
De La Rosa: For me it was a little hard, because I had never done it before. I just worked hard on that stuff. The pitching coach in the Dominican told me that I was working so hard, so that has helped me out a lot. I was with a pitching coach from the Dominican Summer League… I tried a curveball first, but they switched me and told me I had to throw a slider.
Do you miss hitting?
De La Rosa: A lot. When I started pitching, that was so hard for me because I had been hitting the whole time, my whole life, but I feel comfortable now. I’m just going to be working hard.
Notes from Wednesday • 02.24.10
When pitchers and catchers arrived in Tampa last week, Joe Girardi said the competition for the back of the rotation would not begin right away. The same is true of the competition for the Yankees outfield.
“You watch their swings and during BP taking routes after baseballs,” Girardi said. “But the true test really comes when we start playing games. They’re just getting their work in, and they’re getting their feet under them and their legs strong and their hands strong for hitting, and they’re trying to strengthen their arms. Now we want to make sure their healthy and ready to go. That’s what this week is for.”
While Brett Gardner seems to be the favorite, Girardi said this is a competition. He’s mentioned several times that Randy Winn — that’s him in the picture — will compete for an everyday role.
“Gardy still has to go out and win the job and play at a high level because we feel like we have depth and guys that want to play everyday as well,” Girardi said.
Here’s the Girardi audio.
• The Group 1 pitchers will throw live batting practice tomorrow — that group includes Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves — but Girardi said it’s still too early to start making judgments about the rotation. “It’s their first time seeing hitters, and hitters aren’t ready to go… A lot of guys will go up there and just see pitches and not take a lot of swings.”
• The Jesus Montero show continues. Today he hit one over the batter’s eye in center field. Based on where the balls landed, I don’t think he made an out during his first eight swings in the cage: Double to the right-center gap, single up the middle, double to the left-field corner, double down the left-field line, single to left-center, double off the wall in left-center, single to right, foul line drive to left.
• I also saw Marcus Thames hit today. He crushed the ball a few times.
• This morning I mentioned which groups of infielders were working together during fielding drills, but I didn’t mention the outfielders:
Group 1: Gardner, Granderson, Hoffmann, Swisher, Winfree
Group 2: Curtis, Golson, Gorecki, Thames, Weber, Winn
• Double-A manager Tony Franklin showed up today. He walked into the clubhouse and gave first baseman Jorge Vazquez a big hug, then did the same with left-handed reliever Wilkins Arias.
• Pitchers who threw today: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez, Wilkin De La Rosa and Andrew Brackman. To be honest, I only watched for about two minutes. I paid more attention to the position players. Most pitchers are at the point in the schedule that they have a second day off before throwing live BP, that’s why only five pitchers were on the mound today.
That’s CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the picture above. They’re walking into the stadium after their bullpen. Below is Colin Curtis and Kevin Russo warming up before tracking fly balls during batting practice.
First full-squad workout begins • 02.24.10
Position players on one side of the outfield, pitchers on the other. The first full-squad workout is underway here at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Most pitchers are getting a day off to prepare for live batting practice tomorrow, but there will be five pitchers in the bullpen: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez, Wilkin De La Rosa and Andrew Brackman. All four either started throwing a few days later than their teammates, or have been slowed down slightly because of injury concerns, that’s why their schedule is slightly different.
Batting practice is divided into eight groups:
Notes from Sunday • 02.21.10
You might have expected Johnny Damon to be a hot topic of discussion at Steinbrenner Field today, but his name wasn’t brought up very often. By the time he signed with the Tigers on Saturday, it seems the Yankees had resigned themselves to the fact he wasn’t coming back.
“Once spring training starts, I think it’s real,” Jorge Posada said. “Your team is set and you pretty much know he’s not coming back. We’re going to miss the guy in the clubhouse and on the field. Professional guy, and a guy that really was key for us throughout the years, especially last year.”
Those who did talk about Damon, wished him well. With very few exceptions — many of them in the Yankees clubhouse — players come and go. That’s the reality of the game, something Joe Girardi called “the hard part of the game.”
“I am happy for him that he has found out where he’s going to go,” Girardi said. “I think for players, that’s an anxious time trying to figure out where you’re going to be. Usually it doesn’t go on this long, so I’m sure he was curious. I wish Johnny luck. Johnny was good for us here, and we all miss Johnny. This is the hard part of the game, when those relationships change a little bit. I’ll root for Johnny, except when he’s playing against us.”
Here’s the Girardi audio.
• At this point, almost every pitcher in camp has thrown two bullpens. With few exceptions, bullpen sessions today and Saturday included breaking balls. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes threw 35 pitches this morning, but pretty much everyone else is up to 40 pitches.
• Heard a lot of good things about Andrew Brackman today. Pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras said Brackman has been throwing his fastball and curveball for strikes, and now he’s trying to refine his changeup. “Brackman’s fastball is great,” Contreras said. “Command. He’s downhill. Throwing the ball really well.” Even Girardi watched Brackman a little bit today. “He looked good,” Girardi said. “He was down in the zone all day today, which is encouraging. I think his mechanics are cleaner.”
• I believe I mentioned it this morning, but just in case: Wilkin De La Rosa sat out today’s bullpen sessions. Right now, he’s limited to two bullpens a week because he’s coming back from an elbow injury. He’ll throw on Tuesdays and Fridays.
• Brett Gardner was in the clubhouse for a little while this afternoon. He sat talking to Kevin Whelan for a long time. I have absolutely no idea what they were talking about, but if I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with hunting.
• Good stuff from Anthony McCarron at the Daily News, writing about Derek Jeter’s improvement at shortstop.
• Pitchers who threw today:
First group: Chamberlain, Hughes, Ramirez, Vazquez
Second group: Garcia, Melancon, Logan, Moseley
Third group: Igawa, McAllister, Nova, Whelan
Fourth group: Bleich, Brackman, Mitchell, Noesi
• First group matchups: Cervelli caught Chamberlain, Rivera caught Hughes, Montero caught Ramirez, Posada caught Vazquez.
Here’s a shot of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes after their morning bullpen session.