Category Archives: Spring Training

The Latest from Spring Training in Tampa

Sandman Returns

Mo (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Mo (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

298 days.

That’s how long it had been since Mariano Rivera faced live batters until throwing a batting practice session yesterday. On April 30, 2012 Mo picked up his fifth save of the season in a 2-1 victory over Baltimore at the Stadium. Three days later he tore his ACL shagging flies in Kansas City. The 20-pitch effort is a small body of work, but Rivera was optimistic afterwards saying to MLB.com’s Adam Berry, “[It was] the first BP that I threw in almost a year, so I’m real happy with the results. It will get better. The longer I keep throwing, it will get better… It’s good, man. I feel real good. I feel real good with the results.”

Others at Yankee camp voiced similar optimism after witnessing the Sandman take the mound. Manager Joe Girardi said he looked “like what you expect him to look like, which is a good thing. Delivery, the ball movement, the strikes he’s throwing, he’s throwing it where he wants to, not taking a lot of time in between pitches — he looked normal to me.” Jorge Posada may have spoken the four most prolific words of spring training when he said, “The cutter’s still cutting.”

Rivera’s outlook has remained entirely positive since first throwing a bullpen session on February 13th. After that 25-pitch performance in front of some 40 reporters, Newsday’s David Lennon quoted Mo at a press conference saying he was a “9 out of 10″ and would be a 10 by the start of the season. During his entire time in Tampa Mo has reported feeling no discomfort, has not appeared to be favoring his left knee at all, and by all accounts seems to be back to his old self, right down to his pinpoint accuracy.

For those of us who have watched Mariano during his 17-year, Hall of Fame career the positive news is what we were hoping for last May, but were not sure was possible. Seeing him writhing on the warning track in pain was almost more than we could bear, because if you’ve watched Mariano for any amount of time, you become a fan not only of his supreme talent but of who he is as a person. There is simply not a classier player in baseball. While a cold-blooded assassin on the mound, Mo is a humble and quiet man off of it, always ready to deflect praise to God or his teammates. He has built churches both in his native Panama and locally in New Rochelle and has given back in a myriad ways through his Rivera Foundation.

We wanted him to come back healthy not just for the service of his beguiling cutter, but because hurting his knee while shagging flies would have been a far too ignominious end for one of the best players and people in baseball history. For those of us that are fans of Mariano, beyond our own selfishness to have the best closer in baseball back in the bullpen, we simply wanted him to be able to go out on his own terms. If the early reports from Tampa hold true it appears he will be able to do that, if only for one Mo go around.

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Spring Training Notes 2/21/13: Gardner and Granderson switch outfield positions

Brett Gardner could be the Yankees CF on Opening Day--if Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman like what they see

Brett Gardner could be the Yankees CF on Opening Day–if Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman like what they see

Good evening everyone and welcome to another Spring Training report! As we know all winter, there had been speculation about if Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson would switch positions when the 2013 season began. As of today, Joe Girardi is toying with the idea of having Gardner and Granderson switch during Spring Training.

“If we’re going to experiment, now’s the time.” Girardi told NJ.com.

Curtis Granderson had been repeatedly asked about the impending switch, causing the outfielder confusion. Granderson went to Girardi, wondering if there was fuel under the fire and apparently, there was. Girardi stressed to Granderson that none of the changes were permanent, and Granderson told the same thing to the media, along with the idea that he loved to play center field.

“I’d love to play center.” Granderson told the media. “That’s what I’ve been playing. At the same time, I want to play, in general. No matter where it happens to be, that’s where i want to be at.”

So is Granderson disappointed or upset with the move?

“Not at all.” Granderson said. “I’m playing. If I get benched, that’s a different story. But I’m still playing.”

To stress how differently this could feel for Granderson, he’s only played 22 games in LF in his entire career. The last time he played LF was in 2007.  However, the switch seemed to make sense to the fans and of course to Brian Cashman.

“We have to decide whether it weakens us, or it makes us better.” Cashman told YES analyst Jack Curry. We understand how Joe Girardi feels about the situation, we understand how Curtis Granderson feels about the situation and now we understand how Brian Cashman feels about the situation. But how does Brett Gardner feel about the situation?

“If we went out there and played right now, I’d go to center, I’d go to left, whatever. It doesn’t really matter to me. I feel comfortable in either one of those spots.” Gardner told New York Daily News reporter Mark Feinsand.

Did Gardner expect to be flip-flopped with Granderson in the outfield this season?

“Not really.” Gardner said. “I’ve heard rumblings the last couple of years and it hasn’t happened. I’m sure they’ll (Yankees management) will look at whatever they need and make that decision, but I’m prepared for it.”

In the meantime, the Yankees will test the move out in Spring Training, in order to see if it will work, but I believe switching Granderson and Gardner in the outfield is the right idea. Do you?

OTHER YANKEES NOTES

– Speaking of Gardner and Granderson, they along with Ichiro decided to play a trick on the beat writers at Spring Training today. While they were doing their normal routine, Gardner suddenly went to right field, Granderson went to center and Ichiro went to left, causing many of them to become confused. Ichiro then moved to center field and Granderson joined Gardner in right. When LoHud Yankees tweeted that he figured Gardner, Granderson and Ichiro were messing with them, it turns out according to Brett Gardner, he was right.

“We noticed a couple of you guys noticed when we were out there.” Gardner told LoHud. “So we tried to move me to right and Ichiro to center so you guys would really figure something weird was going on.”

I’m beginning to think the Yankees need to be careful when they put Ichiro and Gardner together. Those two together have been hilariously dangerous this Spring.

Mark Montgomery is feeling a lot better in his back and went through drills with no issues. He’s scheduled to have a bullpen tomorrow.

– Whose starting in Center Field on Saturday for the Yankees? “Melky Mesa.” Girardi said. Not sure if he was joking, but it would make sense to put Mesa in a game or two. He’s playing in the World Baseball Classic (which I was sadly told is not going to be on MLB.TV).

Spring Training Notes 2/19/13: Hughes, Montgomery, Ichiro, Gardner, Phelps, Teixeira, Cano

Phil Hughes

There are a lot of notes from a lot of players today, so let’s skip the chit-chat for today and review everything that went on in Yankee camp.

Phil Hughes has been shut down by the Yankees for a few days after experiencing soreness in his upper back. However, according to Girardi, we shouldn’t worry too much about Hughes’s injury since its in the upper part of his back.

“It’s upper back, up here by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple of days. The good thing is he was ahead of where he probably would normally be at this time which helps. You’re usually more concerned about the lower lingering. But until it’s gone, it’s going to linger. That’s like, a Yogi-ism.”

– After experiencing discomfort in his back, Mark Montgomery played catch today. Montgomery was also throwing to hitters earlier in Spring Training, and the Yankees should expect to get the young pitcher back soon.

Ichiro Suzuki is known for his behind his back catches when he’s shagging fly balls in the outfield, and Brett Gardner wanted to see it for himself. After the media spotted Ichiro making a catch from behind his back, they went to Gardner who was in the outfield with him during outfield drills, and Gardner admitted that he was the one who told Ichiro to do it, with a smile on his face.

“It’s my fault.” Gardner laughed. “I told him to do it.”

Gardner is already one-up on Joe Girardi, since Girardi has heard of the catches but never had seen one in person. I guess all he has to do to see one is ask Ichiro. Honestly, Ichiro sounds like a lot of fun to be around.

– Joe Girardi chose David Phelps as the starter for Saturday’s game (which is not televised). Adam Warren will pitch in Sunday’s game (which is televised on YES).

Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are preparing for the World Baseball Classic, meaning that they both would leave camp earlier this year. Robinson Cano is leaving camp March 2nd while Mark Teixeira is leaving camp March 3rd. That gives both players to get in some Yankees games before heading out and representing their country. Don’t worry Yankees fans. Robinson Cano will be back on March 6th when Team Dominican Republic plays the Yankees at GMS Field. Should be a lot of fun.

Spring Training Notes 2/18/13: Jeter, Cano, Gardner, Ichiro

photo

Before today, the last time Joe Girardi saw Derek Jeter on a baseball diamond was in Game 1 of the ALCS, where he had to carry him off the field due to him shattering his ankle. Today was a friendlier and warmer sight for the team to see, Jeter warming up with his teammates, getting in shape for the season as if everything was normal. Well, almost normal. Derek Jeter still can’t run the bases and can’t run around the field like the rest of his teammates. However, that’s not slowing down the Captain, as he’s progressing o get back on the field.

“I already said to myself I’m good to go.” Jeter said. “There’s steps along the way, but there’s always steps along the way in the offseason before you play. You run the bases. You go first to third. You make different plays in the field. Those are all things you have to do, so I have to progress to that, but I don’t have to convince myself that I’m ready.”

The good news? Derek Jeter’s ankle feels great. And it should feel great: his ankle has bolts and screws inside to prevent it from breaking again.

Robinson Cano spoke to the media today after working out with his teammates, and the questions that were mostly asked was about the Biogenesis report. Cano’s name isn’t in the reports, but two of his closest friends Alex Rodriguez & Melky Cabrera‘s were, the latter being suspended 50 games last season after testing positive for PED’s.

“They are still my friends.” Cano said to the media. “You have to be with your friends through the good times and bad. I have to stay with my friends. I don’t have any reaction. I would say that’s a personal matter and to let them handle that.”

– And the award for the most clever yet innocent remark of the day goes to…Ichiro! As we all know, Derek Jeter made the back cover of the New York Post over the winter where it infamously showed him “out of shape.” Ichiro said what was the most clever, funny and innocent comment I’ve heard all Spring.

“Jeter was not the eater the media portrayed him to be.” Ichiro said. “That was good to see.”

– And the last tidbit of the day goes to none other than Brett Gardner. Gardner didn’t speak to a crowd of reporters like the others, bu he did disclose that he would prefer to play his natural position (center field). However, he’ll help anyway he can help the team, even if that means him playing in left field while Curtis Granderson patrols center.

Spring Training Notes 2/17/12: Jeter, Teixeira

Photo courtesy of Lohud Yankees

Photo courtesy of Lohud Yankees

Derek Jeter just heard of Kevin Youkilis making the back of every paper in New York City with his “I’ll always be a Red Sox” comment. Andy Pettitte suggested it would be a good idea for Jeter to start some controversy to get everyone’s mind off of Youkilis.

“Pettitte just told me. He told me to say something controversial in this press conference so that I can get Youkilis off the back pages.” Jeter said. “I’ll let him have it. Welcome to New York.”

Jeter then became serious while throwing in some quips now and again about how hard he was working to get into shape. He then poked fun of the New York Post cover where Jeter was considered “overweight.”

“It’s going to be a little harder to to get back in shape–in baseball shape. The Post is here. Gotta say baseball shape.” Then Jeter’s conference got down to business. Where was he in his Spring Training schedule?

“I’m on Mo’s schedule.” Jeter quipped. “Five innings and I’m done. But I’m not concerned with re-injuring the ankle. I know I won’t play be playing when they start playing in a week. You can write that down. I’m not playing in that game. I don’t necessarily think you need all of Spring Training to get ready. I don’t know exactly the date I’m going to play, but it will probably be somewhere there after a couple of weeks.”

The most interesting part of the whole conference? Derek Jeter thought that sitting on his couch for 5-6 weeks was boring and this was the “worst offseason ever”. 5-6 weeks on the couch doing nothing sounds like a dream to me.

– Along with Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira spoke to the media today and basically disclosed what he wanted to do this season.

“Stay healthy and have fun.” Teixeira said.

Teixeira had also done his workouts earlier since he is slated to play in the World Baseball Classic on March 1st. He figures that the World Baseball Classic will help him with not slumping in April, which sounds like a good idea. Teixeira also spoke about his offensive approach this season.

“There’s really no reason for me at this point in my career to try and start things differently. I’ve had such a successful career playing to my strengths. Now that being said, I want to be the best at what I do well, and that’s hitting home runs, driving in runs and playing Gold Glove defense. I know if I do those three things, I’m going to help my team. At the end of the day, that’s why I’m here. I’m here to help my team win. Not put up certain types of numbers.”

Last question. Was it strange not seeing Alex Rodriguez in camp?

“There’s 90 guys in here right now.” Teixeira said. “Even if he was here, I’m not sure I’d see him.”

Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Travis Hafner and Curtis Granderson all reported to camp today and took their physicals. They all passed, don’t worry.

– Backtracking  to Ichiro, he was reportedly wearing one ‘glittery’ hat. He came into camp this morning with a Yankees hat but the Yankees logo had glitter on it instead of the normal logo.

Joe Girardi made it clear that Travis Hafner would be the Yankees DH against right handed hitters and wouldn’t take the field unless he was a backup first baseman. Girardi also said that Jeter could possibly DH against left-handers as the season begins, allowing Eduardo Nunez to play shortstop.

Accept it: Kevin Youkilis is a Yankee

kevin_youkills--300x450

Not even one full day into his first day at spring training, the few sentences said by Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis sent fans and the media into a frenzy. Likely a few hours after he was sized for his pinstripes, Youk was telling reporters he’d always be a Boston Red Sox.

He’s learned now, but that’s a big no-no and certainly not something that will go unnoticed in the big New York spotlight. Of course, his allegiance to Boston spread all over the back pages of newspapers was not the only quote he gave, but it was the only one people cared about.

Already on Yankees fan’s bad side, Kevin Youkilis said he will always remember the first nine seasons of his baseball career, which just so happened to take place with the Bombers’ biggest rival. Two World Series rings, three All Star appearances, a Gold Glove and Hank Aaron Award, and he is being ridiculed for saying he enjoyed what he accomplished there? Are fans truly clinging to any little thing he says that sounds the slightest anti-Yankee? That is truly pathetic.

Now, there’s not a fiber in my body that tells me a clean-shaven Kevin Youkilis wearing our beloved Yankee pinstripes is right. This is not a plea of defense nor show of love to the  guy who batted .235 last season and yet received $12 million, from an apparently penny-pinching Yankees front office. But it’s just me accepting it.

Many people have brought up the argument that players like Sparky Lyle, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Johnny Damon all started out as hated rivals in Beantown, and ended up becoming fan favorites [and more importantly, World Series champions] in the Bronx. Did any fan really expect those four “idiots” to put on the pinstripes, play with Yankee pride and partake in some of the greatest moments the team has ever had? I don’t think so.

I’ll give you a moment to reminisce about Sparky’s 1977 Cy Young season. Or Boggs riding the horse after ’96. Don’t forget Clemens’ postseason dominance either. Or Damon’s double-steal.

That is not my number one point, but it largely contributes to the idea that fans need to just wait and see what happens this season. The fact is, no one knows what Kevin Youkilis will do for the Yankees this year. I don’t expect anything outstanding, but I don’t expect anything horrible either.

Yankees fans have been considered vulgar, ignorant, downright stupid and clueless in the past. They have also been known as classy, every now and then, for cheering for whoever is wearing the pinstripes. I’m not a fan of A-Rod and a number of guys on the team. But I still support them and cheer for them. Why? Because they’re Yankees. And Kevin Youkilis is now one too.

So forget what he was, as he is now a player for our favorite team. Forgive and forget. Give him a chance. All those statements and more apply. The fact is, you don’t know anything until you know everything. Who knows what these upcoming 162 games have in store for Youk. Only time will tell. Not me or you.

Spring Training Notes 2/16/13: Rivera, Sabathia, Chamberlain, Cervelli

Mariano Rivera watching Andy Pettitte throw a bullpen session

Mariano Rivera watching Andy Pettitte throw a bullpen session

The main event for the Yankees today was the bullpen pitching, provided by none other than Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Rivera threw his second official bullpen of the Spring, and feeling more and more comfortable on the mound.

“There’s no piece of mind when I say ‘OK, I feel good now.” Rivera said. “No, I knew the job that I put in during the whole year, it’s been a hard job and I always tell you guys I trust myself. I trust God first, then I trust myself. I’m capable to do this. I was expecting this, it feels good. I feel good.”

So what would be the biggest test for Rivera as he gets ready for the season while wearing a knee brace?

“Bunting. Comeback liners. Cover first. All that stuff. You can’t think, you have to react.” Rivera said. “That will be, what I think, the biggest test.”

CC Sabathia is also coming back from surgery, and hopes to make all his starts while staying healthy.

“After the season I had last year, being on the DL a couple of times, getting a little older, I just want to concentrate on staying healthy.” Sabathia said. “Any kind of numbers I feel will be there if I’m healthy, so that’s the only thing I’m worried about.”

Francisco Cervelli has confirmed that he will not play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy and made sure that he let the manager know.

“I talked to the manager a couple of days ago, and he understood the situation.”

So what was the situation? Apparently, Cervelli wants to win the catching job with the Yankees in Spring Training.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for.”

– In…interesting…news, Joba Chamberlain has been reportedly been acting a little–out there at camp today. According to Bryan Hoch, he got into a laundry cart and asked Boone Logan to push him in it. That just shows that 1) Chamberlain has an awesome child-like imagination and 2) it’s not all work and no play with that guy.

– Even the manager of the Yankees has to get in some Spring Training workouts this season. After workouts were finished, Joe Girardi spent time doing batting practice with his son Dante, warming up his catching arm. I wonder if Girardi is considering the role of ‘emergency catcher’ this season. I think he still has some game in him.

Spring Training Notes 2/15/13: Youkilis, Chamberlain, Pineda

When your a famous ball player (or a famous anything) one of the main rules of stardom is not to search yourself on the internet to prevent what people are saying about you. It could be spiteful, it could be hurtful, it could be someone taking something you said completely out of context and publishing it as if you’re a bad person. Option number three happened to Kevin Youkilis, the brand new Yankees third baseman. Youkilis yesterday made a comment about how he will always be a “Red Sock.” The next thing he knew, he was being written about in every gigantic publication from the New York Daily News to ESPN. After reading the ESPN article last night, Youkilis cleared the air for reporters as he discussed what he actually meant by his comment.

“The whole thing for me, I look at it, when I was saying it, it was more like a baseball card.” Youkilis said. “When you look at it, there’s going to be nine seasons or whatever (with the Red Sox) and that’s why I said it. But in context of what I said, if you read it as ‘I’m always a Red Sock,’ it looks bad. But it’s not that way. I’m a Yankee today, and I’m excited. I’m proud to be a Yankee, and I’m proud for Opening Day and playing against the team that I spent all those seasons with. Trust me, if you know my personality and know who I am, it doesn’t matter what team’s along the way. I want to beat everyone. I want to beat the Red Sox because I want to start out with a win at Yankee Stadium.”

Not only did Kevin Youkilis address the media about his comments but he also made nice with Joba Chamberlain, and it looks like the two became buddies. Their first conversation of the spring? They talked about mustaches. Chamberlain is growing out a mustache and wants Youkilis to do the same. Today the two new teammates gave each other a handshake.

“Tomorrow we’ll hug.” Youkilis said.

Michael Pineda had a side session earlier this morning and threw 25 pitches (all of them fastballs). He said he felt good and he’s still on track to return in June.

– Do you guys remember this pitcher named Cesar Cabral, who was a Rule 5 draft pick, slated to take a bullpen spot last season, only to hurt his elbow forcing the spot to go to Clay Rapada instead? Well he threw a 25 fastball side as well, and could be scheduled to return in May.

– The Yankees writers have all been following the Washington Nationals camp, waiting to see how Rafael Soriano is doing adjusting to his new team. The problem is…he never showed up to camp, prompting another edition of “Where In The World Is Rafael Soriano.” The answer? The Dominican Republic having a visa issue. Nationals say that he should be in camp over the weekend, which would give everyone a chance to continue to keep an eye on him.

– And some somber news for another former Yankee. Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher left the teams workouts to attend his mothers funeral in Ohio. Condolences go out to Nick Swisher and his family.

– And finally, do you plan on watching a Spring Training game this season but don’t know what channel its on? Yesterday, I made the 2013 Spring Training schedule for the Yankees, including the channels for which game will be broadcast. If you have (or are planning to get) MLB.TV 2013, then you’re in luck since you’ll get to see most of the games this Spring. Here’s the complete list of games, times and channels.

Spring Training Notes 2/14/13: Nova, Pineda, Phelps, Youkilis

Ivan Nova

Day three of Spring Training has come to a close, meaning it’s time for another Spring Training report. Yesterday was all about Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Today, our Spring Training notes travel further back in the rotation (and briefly at third base). Today, we take you into the competition for the fifth starter spot between Ivan Nova and David Phelps, who had a great rookie season with the Yankees last year.

We should start by discussing the battle for the 5th spot between Nova and Phelps.

Nova vs. Phelps: Who gets the fifth spot?

Ivan Nova doesn’t know what went wrong last season after he posted  7.05 ERA after the All-Star Break. He does know that the fifth starter spot is his to lose to David Phelps.

“I was in competition when I had the season I had last year. Last year was a competition. This year’s going to be a competition. For me, next year’s going to be a competition. Like I told one of the guys, CC’s got 100-something million. With that contract, I can sit down and it won’t be a competition, but for me every year is a competition. I’m confident at the same time that I’m going to be there. I cannot sit here and let things happen. I’ve got to go and fight for it.” Nova told the media earlier today. One other person agreed with Nova’s words, Joe Girardi.

“He has to go out there and prove himself. That’s the bottom line.” Girardi said. “Because of what he went through the second half of the season, he has to earn a job. You’d like to think that every starter would go out and earn a job, but we know that’s not realistic. I don’t think we’re going to look at CC’s numbers real heavily, or (Hiroki) Kuroda’s.”

Coming into camp, it seemed that David Phelps had the disadvantage due to the fact that he was in a bullpen role last season? So does that mean Joe Girardi will judge Phelps on whether he’s a bullpen piece or not?

“We’re going to look at (Phelps) as a starter going into camp because that’s what we project him as in the future. And we’ll make adjustments if we have to.”

So for those of you who plan on watching almost every Spring Training game (or if you have MLB.TV where you would technically only miss three games), then this is the year for you to watch who gets the fifth rotation spot.

Michael Pineda loses weight and could be ready by June

Michael Pineda went to Spring Training camp in better shape than he did last season, weighing in at 260 and ready to work towards returning to the Yankees in June. Brian Cashman answered questions about Pineda but mostly gave a prognosis on where Pineda was at this point.

“Mike’s doing well so far.” Cashman said. “He’s completing his first week on a full mound, he’s had no setbacks, he’s worked very hard and it’s a very serious surgery he’s coming back from. No guarantees but so far we’re optimistic.”

If all goes well, Pineda could be back with the Yankees before the All-Star Break.

Youkilis comes to camp

Kevin Youkilis came to Yankees camp for a few minutes earlier today, but he did get his work in while at the minor league complex with some of the other players. Youkilis seemed excited to see teammate Juan Cedeno, who he knew since they were both in the Red Sox organization at one point. Youkilis got to Tampa at 6:30 this morning and went to work out at the minor league complex. Eduardo Nunez was also spotted in the Yankees clubhouse. Probably getting his work in.

A big reminder, tomorrow is the voluntary report date for the Yankees position players but we should expect more of them coming in the coming days. To Girardi’s knowledge, none of them have visa or transportation issues. Also, someone might want to call Robinson Cano. Remember in 2010 when he showed up a day late to camp because he had the dates mixed up? Yeah…

Spring Training Notes 2/13/13: Cervelli, Pettitte, Rivera

Day two of Spring Training has come to an end and there were interviews from three different Yankees: Francisco Cervelli, Andy Pettitte and of course Mariano Rivera. Let’s cover Francisco Cervelli first and then go from there.

Francisco Cervelli

As we all know, Cervelli’s names were handwritten on the Biogenesis report which meant that Cervelli at least visited the Miami clinic after his foot injury.

“When I got my foot injured in 2011, I checked with doctors and someone recommended me Biogenesis. I went there for maybe suggestions, and that’s it. I walked away without nothing in my hands. I just went there and talked, that’s it.” Cervelli said during the 11 minute press conference.

“Right now, I realize that it was a mistake to go there, but it already happened so what can I do?”

Cervelli wouldn’t say who recommended him to go to the Miami clinic but he did say that it wasn’t a player (and it wasn’t Alex Rodriguez). Cervelli went to Biogenesis once and he met with Anthony Bosch during that one visit.

“Sometimes when we’ve got injuries, we get a little desperate to come back quick and we always want a second opinion. I went there. Someone told me. I take my responsibility. Nobody put a gun to my head to go there. And that’s it.”

Andy Pettitte

Now, let’s move on to a non-controversial topic: Andy Pettitte. Pettitte threw a bullpen session today and then met with the media about how he’s feeling along with if he plans to retire in 2014.

“I feel like I’m better than I am at age 30. Heck, I want to win 20 games. That’s it.” Pettitte said during his 11 minute press conference. Joe Girardi even spoke about Pettitte during another press conference this morning in Tampa.

On the topic of whether Pettitte will retire in 2014, Girardi said “I think Andy still loves to compete.” To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Andy Pettitte return in 2014. That’s a true competitor right there.

Mariano Rivera

And last but definitely not least, everyone’s favorite closer: Mariano Rivera. Mariano Rivera said that he made a decision on whether or not he will pitch next season–but he’s not telling anyone just yet. However, he did say that he was going to reveal whether he planned to retire or not before the season begins.

“You guys have been patient enough.” Rivera said during his press conference. When it came to rating how his knee was doing, he said it was a 9 out of 10 but by the time Opening Day rolls around, Rivera plans to feel 100%. He’s doing agility drills and threw a bullpen session his first day of camp, which is out of the norm for Rivera since he doesn’t throw bullpen sessions his first day.

Now, the main question that came from Rivera’s press conference: will he shag fly balls this season even though he tore his ACL doing what he loved last season? Yes. He will. He will just have to be careful about it when he’s in the outfield. It didn’t take much convincing for Joe GIrardi to let him shag again.

“I don’t want to take it away from him.” That’s the verdict from Girardi–but with one small, tiny exception. “Just not in Kansas City.”

Courtesy of Bryan Hoch from MLB.com, here are some pictures from today’s Spring Training’s events:

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Yankees teammates double up jersey numbers

With Spring Training entering it’s second day, the roster for everyone who was invited to Spring Training was released. Here are the jersey numbers for all players. Keep in mind, some of them doubled up numbers since there were more people at camp this year than previous years.

No. 2 — SS Derek Jeter
No. 11 — OF Brett Gardner
No. 13 — 3B Alex Rodriguez
No. 14 — OF Curtis Granderson
No. 17 – UT Jayson Nix
No. 18 — RHP Hiroki Kuroda
No. 19 — C Chris Stewart
No. 22 — OF Matt Diaz
No. 24 — 2B Robinson Cano
No. 25 — 1B Mark Teixeira
No. 26 — SS Eduardo Nunez
No. 27 — 1B Dan Johnson (listed as INF/OF)
No. 28 — Mgr. Joe Girardi
No. 29 — C Francisco Cervelli
No. 30 — RHP Dave Robertson
No. 31 — OF Ichiro Suzuki
No. 33 — DH Travis Hafner (listed as strictly a DH)
No. 34 — RHP David Aardsma
No. 35 — RHP David Phelps
No. 36 — 3B Kevin Youkilis
No. 38 — RHP Cody Eppley
No. 39 — LHP Clay Rapada
No. 40 — RHP Matt Daley
No. 41 — RHP Jim Miller
No. 42 — RHP Mariano Rivera
No. 43 — RHP Michael Pineda
No. 45 — C Bobby Wilson
No. 47 — RHP Ivan Nova
No. 48 — LHP Boone Logan
No. 50 — 1BC Mick Kelleher
No. 52 — LHP CC Sabathia
No. 53 — LHP Josh Spence
No. 54 — HC Kevin Long
No. 54 — OF Juan Rivera 
No. 55 — RHP David Herndon
No. 56 — BNC Tony Pena
No. 57 — BPC Mike Harkey
No. 58 — PC Larry Rothschild
No. 59 — 3BC Rob Thomson
No. 60 — OF Thomas Neal
No. 61 — RHP Adam Warren
No. 62 — RHP Joba Chamberlain
No. 63 — OF Melky Mesa
No. 65 — RHP Phil Hughes
No. 66 — C Austin Romine
No. 67 — LHP Manny Banuelos
No. 68 — RHP Dellin Betances
No. 70 — RHP Brett Marshall
No. 71 — LHP Cesar Cabral
No. 72 — RHP Jose Ramirez
No. 73 — 3B David Adams
No. 74 — LHP Francisco Rondon
No. 75 — LHP Nik Turley
No. 76 — C J.R. Murphy
No. 77 — 2B Corban Joseph
No. 78 — OF Zoilo Almonte
No. 79 — OF Ramon Flores
No. 80 — C Gary Sanchez
No. 81 — RHP Chase Whitley
No. 82 — RHP Ryan Pope
No. 83 — C Kyle Higashioka
No. 84 — RHP Matt Tracy
No. 85 — INF Gil Velazquez
No. 86 — OF Abe Almonte
No. 87 — C Francisco Arcia and RHP Corey Black
No. 88 — OF Tyler Austin and LHP Juan Cedeno
No. 89 — 1B Greg Bird and RHP Preston Claiborne
No. 90 — SS Cito Culver and RHP Nick Goody
No. 91 — OF Adonis Garcia and RHP Shane Greene
No. 92 — OF Slade Heathcott and RHP Tom Kahnle
No. 93 — SS Walter Ibarra and RHP Bryan Mitchell
No. 94 — 1B Luke Murton and RHP Mark Montgomery
No. 95 — OF/3B Ronnier Mustelier and RHP Zach Nuding (Mustelier is listed as an OF)
No. 96 — SS Addison Maruszak and LHP Vidal Nuno
No. 97 — 2B/OF Jose Pirela and RHP Mike O’Brien (Pirela is listed as an INF)
No. 98 — 1B Kyle Roller and RHP Kelvin Perez
No. 99 — OF/3B Rob Segedin and RHP Branden Pinder (Segedin is listed as an INF)

Spring Training Notes 2/12/13: State Of The Yankees Address

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

Today may be the State Of the Union Address for the United States of America, but today was the State of the Yankees Address live from the minor league complex by none other than the Yankees manager Joe Girardi (who might I add is in the final year of his contract). Girardi covered a plethora of topics but one of the biggest topics that Girardi covered was Alex Rodriguez. Here’s some notes and news from today.

Girardi on Alex Rodriguez:

“There really isn’t a lot to talk about. My concern is for him to get healthy. This club is used to having what people might call distractions.”

Girardi hasn’t spoken to Alex Rodriguez about the PED topic and has confirmed that Alex Rodriguez will not be in camp this spring. Instead, Rodriguez will rehab in New York.

Girardi on the 2013 team:

“We’re going to have to find a different way to score runs. Our offense is going to be different but I believe [we're going to score runs].”

Girardi also believes that the Yankees are going to win 95 games and the World Series. “There’s a lot of talent in this room. If we play up to our capabilities, I believe we’re a very good team.”

Girardi’s biggest concern:

Girardi’s biggest concern is finding a right-handed DH bat before the actual season begins.

Girardi on Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki:

As of today, Brett Gardner will be in LF, Curtis Granderson will be in CF and Ichiro Suzuki will be in RF. There’s no plans on moving Gardner and Granderson as of yet, but it could change as he discusses it with his coaches.

Girardi on concerns of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera:

He doesn’t have any concerns on both Yankees who are coming off of injuries.

MORE AROUND YANKEES CAMP

Austin Romine came into camp thirteen pounds lighter and his back in very good shape. He believes he sees an opportunity.

CC Sabathia is also 100% after having elbow surgery over the winter. He says that the surgery was a relief and he now has complete mobility of his elbow. Sabathia also lost a lot of weight, now weighing in at 290. His first bullpen session will be on Thursday.

– We also have new locker arraignments and numbers in Yankees camp. Here they are:

-Travis Hafner takes Nick Swisher‘s old number and will now wear #33. Hafner’s locker is now next to Youkilis, formerly vacated by Eric Chavez.
-Francisco Cervelli will now wear #29, formerly worn by Rafael Soriano.
-David Phelps changed his number to #35. Mike Mussina used to wear #35 back in the day as did Michael Pineda last season (who we never saw during the season).
-Michael Pineda will now wear #43. His previous number was #35.
-Kevin Youkilis wears #36 and now has Nick Swisher’s old locker.
- David Aardsma will now wear #34.
- Matt Diaz will now wear #22.
- Dan Johnson will now wear #27.
- Juan Rivera will now wear #54.

Spring Training Notes: Run, Jeter, Run!; Granderson speaks with the media

Although camp technically begins tomorrow, since there is a reasonable amount of players at the complex, we might as well start the Spring Training reports today. Here are today’s top stories from Tampa, Florida.

Jeter begins to run

Derek Jeter told reporters that he received the green light to do all activities that do with baseball–including running. Jeter ran for the first time since the surgery and said he felt pretty good.

 “I’m progressing like I told you. I’m right where I need to be. I’ve gotten the okay to do everything.”

Although Jeter is doing well in his recovery, don’t expect him to play Spring Training games right off the bat. Jeter’s goal is Opening Day, the day where everything begins to matter.

Granderson speaks out to the Media

Curtis Granderson reported to Spring Training a week before position players are slated to appear, and wasn’t shy in talking to the media about the topics that have been surrounding him all winter: the speculation that he will move to LF and his contract.

When talking about the speculation on whether Granderson could move to LF, Granderson said he was “open to it” and that he wouldn’t mind the move. Keep in mind fans, Granderson has barely played LF but of course, you want your best outfielder in CF and that’s not Granderson–no offense Grandy.

Granderson also talked about wanting to talk a contract extension with the Yankees. “I’d be a fool not to.”

“I’m so excited about this fourth season and hopefully this isn’t the last one.” Yeah…that’s what Nick Swisher said last season. Where is he now? Oh, right…CLEVELAND.

Granderson also seems serious about wanting to hit better this season, which is why he talked to Ichiro Suzuki about it. Granderson started working out and hitting earlier than usual, which could be useful since he is speedy and could help out the other speed demons on the team: Brett Gardner, Ichiro and Eduardo Nunez to name a few.

Here’s today’s poll:

Yankees Offseason Notes: Teixeira + Pettitte = USA! USA!

The roster isn’t supposed to be announced until Thursday but some names have been confirmed for the World Baseball Classic. Mark Teixeira and Andy Pettitte made that list and they will represent Team USA in March. That would mean that they would miss Yankees Spring Training, yes (along with Robinson Cano who is playing for Team Domincan Republic) but they will get the workout they need to be prepared for the upcoming 2013 season. Pettitte would be reunited with former Yankees manager Joe Torre so it would be great to see those two working together again, although it will only be for as long as Team USA plays in the World Baseball Classic.

While we worry about Pettitte and the workload that the World Baseball Classic will give him (let’s remember, Andy is 40), this could be just the thing for Teixeira (who is notorious for slow starts to seasons). As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com said, “Given his history of slow regular season starts, perhaps this is a new way of trying to avoid those April struggles.” Yes, let’s hope that’s the case. The rest of the rosters will be released on Thursday and you can check back here to see which of your Yankees (besides Pettitte and Teixeira) will get the prestigious honor of representing their country.

In Other News:

Derek Jeter is still working hard towards Opening Day. Good for the Captain!

– I had an article about the Hall of Fame shutout published on Yahoo! that discusses how much of the voting process focused on Steroid Speculation. Read it and if you like it, tell your friends to read it. Tell your neighbors to read it! Tell your cat to read it! Tell anyone you know to read it!

The Good and Bad of Spring Training

Joe Girardi (l.) & Brett Gardner (r.) during Yankees Spring Training

During the last couple of weeks, the Yankees have done what the other 29 teams in the league have done; prepare for the regular season in Spring Training. We’ve gotten a sense as to what the pitchers have, what the hitters are bringing to the table and the moves that the Yankees are making as the course of Spring Training goes on. So far in Spring Training, the Yankees have made improvements, but at the same time we are questioning some of the moves that were made.

The Good

1. Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees

When Jack Curry of YES Network first reported the Andy Pettitte signing, I thought it had to be an early April Fools joke. As he continued on, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, that it was actually real. Another core part of the Yankees had returned. While Pettitte may not be ready until May, this was a good signing by the Yankees during Spring Training, as now they have more depth to the rotation in case someone gets injured or if Michael Pineda gets sent to Triple-A (since he still has options). The question is, will we be able to see Pettitte in the Bronx for his first game of the 2012 season or will he decide that pitching wasn’t what he really wanted and re-retire?

2. Alex Rodriguez‘s offense has returned

Yankees fans were pretty iffy, wondering if Alex Rodriguez was going to be able to come back after he posted not so stellar numbers in the 2011 season due to injury. In Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat, he silenced my doubts. So far in the Spring, Alex Rodriguez has hit 2 HR, 6 RBI’s and is hitting over .300. Not that Spring Training means anything, but so far, Alex Rodriguez is looking good! It would be nice to see Alex keep up the pace when the Yankees play the Rays in 2 1/2 weeks.

3. Phil Hughes keeps having good outings

Phil Hughes is certainly doing all he can to claim a spot in the rotation, and so far he’s doing a really great job. Hughes has 1 loss in Spring Training but other than that, his ERA, his HR number & his BB are pretty sparkling: 1.08 ERA, 0 HR allowed & 1 BB. If Hughes continues pitching the way he’s pitching then there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in the rotation. Again, I know that Spring Training means absolutely nothing (although it means something to Phil Hughes). In 2010, Hughes was 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA. Who walked away with 18 wins in 2010?

4. Bill Hall has impressed

When the Yankees signed Bill Hall to a minor league contract with the invitation to Spring Training, I was pretty excited to watch him fight for a bench spot on the 25 man roster. If I were Girardi, he would get one of the spots on the roster. So far, Hall has played amazing defense, almost looking like Robinson Cano when he plays 2nd base. His bat is coming along as well, having 3 RBI’s under his belt as well as a HR. Hall also has a desire to play baseball and he looks like he’s having fun out there while doing it. That’s the type of player that the Yankees could use on the bench.

5. Gardner aims to be consistent

During Spring Training, Brett Gardner had one thing in mind that he would like to do this season; he would like to be more consistent. The good news with that is Gardner has done multiple things to work on his game. He has seen Kevin Long where the both of them had worked on his swing, he was spotted trying to bunt baseballs into a white bucket by the second baseline after practice & he likes to lead the Yankees in running drills. Can you blame him? The man loves to run. When this translates into a game, Gardner’s defense is still consistent. He has flashed the leather over the last couple of games and has shown arm strength. He also seems to start to get his hitting together and getting on base more often. Yep, Gardner is looking in great shape coming into Spring Training this year, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 100% healthy coming into the Spring unlike in 2011 when he was coming off of wrist surgery.

The Bad

1. The injury list

No manager wants to go into the clubhouse early in the morning to ask his players how they are feeling and the answer he gets is something that he wouldn’t expect. That’s the kind of spring Joe Girardi has had so far. Girardi has had to deal with injuries from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eduardo Nunez, David Robertson…the list goes on and on. Luckily all of the players that I listed, don’t have serious injuries. But still as a manager it’s frustrating to go through the spring trying to get your guys healthy and because they are a bit rusty, something hurts. Hopefully the Yankees won’t have a lot of injuries to deal with this season.

2. Was the Pineda for Noesi/Montero deal a mistake?

During the offseason, Brian Cashman made a big splash by trading away #1 prospect Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda. Now as we are watching in Spring Training we are wondering if the trade was such a big splash after all. Along with Russell Martin, Michael Pineda has been working on his change up which isn’t the problem; it’s his fastball. Pineda’s fastball’s velocity last year was 95-98 MPH. This year when he came into camp he would hit 94 MPH on the radar gun occasionally but would periodically hit 91-92 MPH. That’s a dip in velocity, the same issue that Phil Hughes had last year. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi aren’t concerned about it, but should we really be concerned?

3. Raul Ibanez‘s horrid Spring

The Yankees signed Raul Ibanez in the offseason to be their DH after Jorge Posada retired this past offseason. So far, we aren’t seeing what we paid for. Raul Ibanez is hitting .071 this Spring with only 2 hits and 7 K’s. Couldn’t the Yankees have just paid Jorge Posada to come back 1 more year and he would’ve  hit better in the Spring? I’m not going to give up on Ibanez just yet, but he isn’t getting off on the right foot with Yankees fans.

4. Ivan Nova‘s poor outings

Coming into Spring Training, Ivan Nova looked as if he was to be the favorite to get a spot in the rotation. At first when Nova wasn’t pitching all that great, we assumed that it was just some rust. But as time went by, we realized that it wasn’t exactly rust, and that Ivan Nova was having trouble on the mound. Nova so far this Spring is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He’s pitched in 8.2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 9 hits. Girardi said that he was going to start observing the pitchers in the rotation around this time, so this should be where Ivan Nova picks his game up. If he keeps having outings like this in Spring Training & the regular season then he’ll get a one way bus ticket to Scranton.

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