Monday, February 20, 2012

Spring Training Officially Kicks Off For the New York Yankees

New York Yankees pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Sunday.  They will have their first official workout on Monday with the full squad reporting on Friday and their first official workout all together on Saturday. 

Here are some notes courtesy of Chad Jennings of the Journal News and the great Lohud Yankees Blog.

There was no official workout today, but several of the Yankees pitchers went to the outfield at Steinbrenner Field to play catch in the morning. Otherwise, the day was all about settling in and taking the first steps of spring training. Brian Cashman the general manager met the media and talked a lot about his new young starter Michael Pineda, here is some of what he had to say. 

“I’ve seen people write he slots in right behind CC in the rotation,” Cashman said. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s not the case. He is a young, high-end arm that we look forward to growing into someone who we hope can be a consistent winner for the Yankees going forward. But I think expecting stuff like that out of the gate and expecting him to gravitate to the front of our rotation so early, we don’t have those illusions. We think we have some other guys right now who have some more experience and are more worthy of being at the front end.”

He said that Pineda still needs to develop and the Changeup will be a big part of that. 
“It’s a below-average pitch for him right now,” Cashman said. “I don’t think there’s a No. 1 or 2 starter in the big leagues right now with only two pitches. I just don’t think you can maybe pitch like that for an extended period of time. To be a consistent number one or two starter, you need more than two pitches.

“In fairness, to frame it properly, I made the trade for a reason. I’m dreaming on the guy, obviously, and we’re dreaming on the guy but the fact of the matter is there’s work to be done still and we look forward to working with him and watching him work towards that. Time will tell. But its going to take time.”

When Cashman spoke to the media the A.J. Burnett trade wasn't official yet.  The Yankees in the afternoon did make it official with a press release. 
 Cashman also wouldn’t get into specifics about his thoughts on the rotation competition because he knows that too much can change between now and Opening Day. He realizes there are six pitchers for five spots, but he also realizes that someone could fall out of that competition for one reason or another. “I’m not trying to jinx us by even talking about it,” he said. “But I’ve lived through it long enough to know.”

 Speaking of Rivera, he is — of course — going to report late. “He told me at the baseball writers’ dinner,” Cashman said. “He told me ‘Cash, I just wanted to give you the heads up, I might be a little late.’ I just said, ‘Just tell me when you’re coming.’ I mean, what am I going to do? It’s Mariano Rivera. I’ve gotten to the point where every year, he knows what he needs to do. He gets his eight innings in the spring, but he’s just amazing. He really is amazing. You’ll never see anything like that again. But we’re thankful that he’s still with us, that he’s doing what he’s doing, and hopefully he can continue that again this year for us. We will see him at some point but the Mariano Watch, don’t worry about it. It’s with permission. Well…” Cashman cut himself off. Is it really permission when the player clearly dictates the terms and the team clearly doesn’t care? Like Cashman said, it’s Mariano. The man’s earned a little trust.

 Cashman said one reason there are so many veteran DH-types still on the free agent market is that they’re all hoping to be the one chosen for the Yankees opening. “I’ve had enough dialogue, I know they all want to come here and I know they want to be a part of this place,” Cashman said. “I don’t know what the other options are or the other offers are. They might be more significant than what we could be willing to pay, they might be less, they may be none. I don’t know. I do know there’s a vacancy sign sitting here.”  That seems a little arrogant, cocky but I think he is right.  Vlad Guerrero stated he wanted to be the Yankees DH.  Johnny Damon was campaigning for it but the Yankees told him no.  It looks like Ibanez has been talking to them for weeks and Hideki Matsui apparently wants to get back also. 

 Finally, Cashman partially addressed his personal issues, saying the past few weeks have been “difficult” for him. “I can just tell you that it’s not going to affect my job, and I’m going to do my job to the best of my abilities as I always have,” Cashman said.  I didn't think he would really address the personal issues, what is he supposed to say and really what does it matter. 

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