Saturday, March 24, 2012

New York Yankees Friday Notes

The Yankees played two split squad games today.  They played the Minnesota Twins at home in Tampa and not too far away in Clearwater they took on the Philadelphia Phillies.  They won the home game by the score of 6-4 and the away game 5-3.  Here are the notes from today, it was a busy Friday around the Yankees with the two games and the news of the Joba Chamberlain injury.  Here are some notes from Chad Jennings at the Journal News and Lohud Yankees blog and of course my own opinions also mixed in. 

At his best, Ivan Nova was unhitable today, and that’s what he and the Yankees seemed to take out of this outing.

“The command that I had — my fastball, my curveball, slider, especially the changeup today — was unbelievable,” Nova said. “Every time, here in spring training, when you’re trying to work on something, and you have a good day like today – everything was working – you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to be positive on that.”

Nova retired the first 12 batters he faced, then he closed his outing with a 1-2-3 seventh inning. He needed just 76 pitches, 58 strikes, to get through seven. In the middle, there was a two-run home run in the fifth inning and a two-run single in the sixth, but the Yankees came away yet again impressed by an outing that was better than the final pitching line might suggest. Nova’s had a couple of those this spring.

“Seven innings, five of them were really, really excellent,” Joe Girardi said. “He had the two that he struggled a little bit, but I was happy with what he did.”

 Not too far away in Clearwater, Hiroki Kuroda also finished with a pretty good game. He went 5.2 innings allowing one run on six hits. Kuroda got all the way up to 89 pitches in only his fourth start. Nova was making his fifth start and said he expects to start two more before breaking camp.

 The Yankees starters have performed well since Andy Pettitte signed, but Nova said that’s more about time than timing. “I think right now, everybody is in better shape than two weeks ago,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of good results. Everybody is going to pitch good because everybody is feeling better. Everybody has more command, and I know for sure that pitches are working better than two weeks ago. For me, I expect the guys to pitch well too. I know it’s a competition, but you need not one man, I need my teammates to pitch good and have a good spring.”  I also think it is because of the quality of pitching they have. 

 Derek Jeter went 1-for-2 in his return to the lineup. He had a first-inning single and grounded into a double play in the third inning. “I said, ‘You were actually pretty smart today,’” Joe Girardi said. “He didn’t try to kill himself running to first, which was smart.”  Jeter doesn't always do that because he basically only knows how to play at one speed which is hard all the time. 

Girardi said there were no other injury updates. He said after the game that he still had not heard any results from MRI and CT scan on Joba Chamberlain’s dislocated ankle.  The more you hear on the injury the worse it gets, I really don't have anything else to say about it. 

 Jeter on Chamberlain’s injury: “You feel extremely bad for him. He’s worked hard to get his arm back in shape. It seemed as though he was ahead of schedule on that, and that’s because he worked extremely hard at it. Then to have something like this, a fluke accident, you feel extremely bad for him.”

 Mariano Rivera pitched another hitless inning and has yet to allow a hit in five outings this spring. Rafael Soriano also pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen today.  Soriano has been really good this spring also, could he be the closer next year if Rivera decides to hang it up after this season.  He has done the job before and done really well but he could opt out after this year. 

 New father David Phelps pitched in relief of Kuroda in Clearwater and 3.1 innings allowing two runs on three hits and a walk.

 Eduardo Nunez had three hits agianst the Twins today, and Robinson Cano had three hits against the Phillies. … Francisco Cervelli had two hits to raise his average to .214. … Ramiro Pena was 1-for-1 with a solo homer today. … Russell Martin, Brett Gardner, Eric Chavez, Brandon Laird, Chris Dickersona and Dewayne Wise had one hit appiece. … Mason Williams also singled today. He’s 2-for-2 in his pair of appearances in big league camp.

 Doug Bernier had another two-hit game in another start at shortstop. It’s still hard to imagine him making this team, but he’s really had a terrific spring. His batting average is up to .385.  They just don't have a spot for him but he could be one of those guys that has made a good impression and they will look at him if the need arises. 

 Speaking of good springs with no obvious roster spot: Justin Maxwell was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. His average is up to .444 this spring.

 Despite Bobby Valentine’s criticism, Girardi offered no apologies for not going into extra innings yesterday. “I’m going to worry about our guys,” Girardi said. Apparently much of Valentine’s criticism was based on the fact he had a pitcher — Clayton Mortensen — who he wanted to get in the game. Girardi said he would have been fine with playing just the top of the 10th if Valentine had asked. “That would have been acceptable to me,” Girardi said. “But there was no communication, and usually there is. And it’s not like this is something new. There’s a lot of tied ballgames in spring training that end in the ninth inning.”  It is only spring training, there promises to be a lot more of this as the season goes on, it should be a very exciting season. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The New York Mets lose 9-4 to the Braves

The New York Mets lost to the Atlanta Braves today by the score of 9-4. Jon Niese started and struggled. Miguel Batista also struggled in the game. Josh Thole, Vinny Rottino and Mike Baxter led the offense with two hits each. 
Niese pitched four innings giving up four hits and four runs with four strikeouts. Batista took the loss, his second of the spring. He pitched two innings giving up five hits and four runs with a walk and a strikeout. Daniel Herrera pitched an inning giving up a hit and Garrett Olson pitched an inning giving up a hit and a run.

Ruben Tejada drew a walk, Daniel Murphy had a hit and a walk and Lucas Duda drew a walk. Lucas May drew a walk, Thole had two hits and Rottino had two hits and an RBI. Baxter had two hits, two RBI and a walk and Adam Loewen drew a walk. Thole had a triple, the only extra base hit for the Mets.

The Mets were 3-9 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 men on base. Rottino had a stolen base and Wimberly was caught stealing. Tejada made an error. The Mets record dropped to 5-13 in the grapefruit league. The Mets will take on the St. Louis Cardinals at home at 1:10PM on Saturday afternoon.

The New York Yankees win both games of a split squad

The New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins at home by the score of 6-4 today. They also defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater today by the score of 5-3. Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova made the starts and both pitched pretty well. In the home game Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano both pitched a perfect innings. The offensive stars of the day were Robinson Cano, Justin Maxwell, Eduardo Nunez and Derek Jeter. 
I will start with the home game where Nova pitched seven innings giving up four runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. Nova picked up the win, Soriano and Rivera each pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the game. They also each had a strikeout.

Derek Jeter came back from his calf injury and had a hit along with a nice defensive play. Ramiro Pena had a hit and an RBI, Mason Williams up from minor league camp again had a hit and an RBI. Williams is 2-2 so far this spring with the major league team. He is the Yankees top position prospect right now. Mark Teixeira had an RBI and a walk, Russell Martin had a hit and Nunez had three hits and two RBI. Bill Hall had a walk, Maxwell had two hits and an RBI. Nunez had two doubles, Pena hit a homerun.

The Yankees were 3-6 with runners in scoring position and they left four men on base. Nunez had a stolen base. The Yankees with the wins improved to 12-9 in the grapefruit league. They will play in Lakeland tomorrow afternoon against the Detroit Tigers.

In the road game against the Phillies Kuroda pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up six hits and one run with a walk and three strikeouts. He got the win, his second of the spring. David Phelps pitched 3 1/3 innings giving up three hits and two runs with a walk. Phelps earned the save, his first of the spring.

Brett Gardner had a hit, Francisco Cervelli had two hits and Cano had three hits and two RBI. Eric Chavez had a hit and an RBI, Brandon Laird had a hit and an RBI and Chris Dickerson had a hit. DeWayne Wise had a hit, Colin Curtis had a walk and Doug Bernier had two hits and an RBI.
Gardner and Bernier each had a double and Cano had two doubles. The Yankees were 4-9 with runners in scoring position and they left five men on base. Curtis was caught stealing.

Yankees Thursday night notes

Here are the Thursday night notes after a 4-4 tie with the Red Sox.  Chad Jennings had everything covered in Fort Myers for the Lohud Yankees blog and the Journal news.  Here are the notes from him along with my thoughts. 

Adam Warren was supposed to pitch yesterday, and it wasn’t until after the game — after he’d waited and waited for his turn to come — that he found out his turn would wait a little longer for a primetime start against the Red Sox.

“That’s what I think spring training is about for us guys trying to make it is to just make an impression,” Warren said. “For me, I’m just trying to go out there and show I can handle the situation, just trying to go out there and attack the zone. I’m just going to go out there and take care of my own business, not really worry about where I stand.”

Warren took care of business, alright. Facing a lineup full of Boston regulars, the Yankees pitching prospect fired four scoreless innings with three strikeouts, no walks and two hits. One of those hits was a ball that glanced off Warren’s own glove for an infield single.

“Warren was excellent,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought he moved the ball in and out well. His slider was really good tonight. I thought he was excellent.”

Dellin Betances followed Warren with three hitless innings. David Phelps — who was supposed to start this game before his wife went into labor — has pitched 7.2 innings without an earned run this spring. D.J. Mitchell has a 0.89 WHIP and 1.00 ERA. The Yankees upper-level pitching prospects have each made strong impressions this spring, suggesting they’re more than capable of filling a hole should this overflowing rotation need a spot starter or two.  The Yankees have touted their triple A pitching rotation and so far it looks like they aren't kidding when they say they have a lot of pitching depth.  The Yankees major league roster now has seven pitchers for five spots but they also have five AAA pitchers who seem ready or just about ready to come up if needed.

“I’m not going to worry about who’s ahead of me or how people are doing,” Warren said. “I just want to focus on myself and not get caught up in everything else. I feel like, I take care of my business and things will take care of themselves.”

Tonight’s game ended in a tie because Girardi had run out of pitchers who he actually planned on pitching in this game. The Yankees had extra lower-level pitchers on the trip, but it seems Girardi didn’t want to use them. “I just said, that’s it,” Girardi said.

Bobby Valentine wasn’t happy with Girardi for calling the game before it could go into the 10th inning. It is odd that Girardi had extra pitchers on the travel roster but chose not to use them. He said that he was worried about tomorrow’s doubleheader. “We’ve got a long day tomorrow too,” he said. “We need pitching.”

 One seemingly available pitcher was D.J. Mitchell, but the Yankees had him throw a side when it seemed there wouldn’t be enough innings for him to pitch. “We have a responsibility to build him up too,” Girardi said.

Turns out CC Sabathia was hit in the shin by a comebacker this afternoon, but that was in the first inning and Sabathia stayed in to pitch five more innings. Sounds like he’s fine. Girardi’s not concerned.  I am sure that if he stayed to pitch five more innings in a minor league game he is fine.

 Raul Ibanez had another 0-for-3 and his average dropped to .054 this spring. “I’m just worried about us staying healthy down here right now,” Brian Cashman said. “Veterans like him, I’m certainly not going to make any judgments on.”  I wouldn't get worried yet either until it counts but it is getting ridiculous, that is just a really bad number. 

 Cashman said there are no real concerns about any of the nagging injuries (Jeter, Swisher, etc) in Yankees camp. Girardi said Derek Jeter came through today’s workout just fine and plans to play tomorrow.
 He’s pretty far down the depth chart, but Doug Bernier is really having a nice spring. He had two more hits today, including a two-run single. He also made a nice play up the middle in the fourth inning. He’s hitting .364.

Rough day for Cory Wade who let the Red Sox back in the game with four hits and three earned runs in the eighth inning. Wade got only two outs in the inning before Juan Cedeno finished it.

 RBI triple for Curtis Granderson, who continues to have a terrific spring. … Brett Gardner, Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez each had a hit in this game, but none of those three is hitting better than .194 this spring. … Jose Gil is batting .571 after his 1-for-3 night, and Gustavo Molina is batting .545 after his 1-for-1. Neither has a lot of at-bats.  This is why you just cant get worried about records in spring training, you see stats like this and it is crazy. 

 Jorge Vazquez was hit by a pitch in the hand and had it heavily wrapped after the game, but there’s no word on how serious the injury might be. He had to be taken out of the game, letting Jose Toussen get some unexpected playing time.

 I wrote this morning about how good Clay Rapada has looked in camp, but Rule 5 Cesar Cabral has also looked pretty sharp with 11 strikeouts and only one walk. The Yankees seem to have room for only one of those two. “(Cabral)’s pitched so well,” Cashman said. “If he was looking terrible, 29 other clubs would pass on him, (but) he ain’t looking terrible. To me, he’s either making this club, getting waiver-claimed or getting traded.”

 Rapada, by the way, has an out in his contract at the end of spring training. Cashman confirmed that this afternoon.

 For those of you who closely follow the minor league system, reports that Rafael DePaula has obtained a visa are true, but in an email, Mark Newman said DePaula still has to pass a physical “before anything progresses.” DePaula signed with the Yankees in 2010 but has been stuck in limbo ever since. He has a chance to be a legitimate talent.  This is a guy you want to watch for sure.  He has the chance to be a really good pitcher and help the Yankees in the future. 

The New York Mets defeat the Houston Astros 8-2

The New York Mets defeated the Houston Astros by a score of 8-2 this afternoon. R.A. Dickey made the start and was very impressive throwing a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Vinny Rottino and Rob Johnson each had two hits. Josh Edgin has made a very good impression this spring and that continued in this game. Frank Francisco struggled a little bit in this game. 
Dickey pitched 6 1/3 innings giving up one hit and one run with three walks and four strikeouts. Dickey did get the win in this game. Edgin faced two batters getting them both out and one on a strikeout, Ramon Ramirez pitched one inning giving up a hit and had a strikeout and Francisco pitched one inning giving up two hits and one run.

Ruben Tejada had a hit, RBI and a walk, Ronny Cedeno had a hit and Daniel Murphy had a hit and an RBI. Jason Bay had a hit and a walk and has reached base safely in seven straight games. Ike Davis had an RBI and two walks, Josh Satin had a hit and Rottino had two hits. Johnson had two hits an RBI and a walk, Dickey had a hit and Omar Quintanilla had a hit and three RBI. Quintanilla had a double and Tejada had a homerun. The Mets were 5-14 with runners in scoring position and they left 11 men on base. Bay had a stolen base.

The Mets improved their spring record to 5-12. The Mets will take on the Atlanta Braves tomorrow afternoon in Orlando at 1:05PM.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox play to a 4-4 tie

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox played to a 4-4 tie tonight in Fort Myers, Florida. The teams played nine innings and then the Yankees quit saying they had no more pitchers. The Red Sox manager was not too happy wanting to play at least another inning. This just added another chapter in the rivalry. Bobby Valentine called the Yankees disingenuous. Adam Warren started for the Yankees and pitched really well. He will be in AAA this year but may be one of the first guys called up if a need arises. Dellin Betances was a bit wild but didn’t give up a hit or a run. The Yankees offense got an RBI triple from Curtis Granderson. Andruw Jones had an RBI single.
Warren pitched four innings giving up two hits and no runs. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Betances pitched three scoreless and hitless innings but did walk three batters. He also struck out four batters, Cory Wade pitched 2/3 of an inning giving up four hits and three runs and Juan Cedeno pitched 1/3 of an inning giving up one hit and one run with a strikeout. George Kontos got charged with a blown save as he pitched one inning. He gave up one hit and struck out two batters.

Brett Gardner had a hit, Granderson had a hit, RBI and a walk and Jones had a hit and an RBI. Eric Chavez had a hit, Brandon Laird had a hit and Jose Gil had a hit. Gustavo Molina had a hit, Doug Bernier had two hits and two RBI along with a very good defensive play. Laird and Bernier each had a double and Granderson had a triple. The Yankees were 3-6 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Chavez and Jones were both picked off in the game.

The Yankees record on the spring is 10-9 and this was their first tie of the spring. The Yankees will play a split squad game tomorrow. They will play at home against the Minnesota Twins and on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies.

New York Yankees Wednesday Notes

Here are the Yankees notes from Wednesday.  The Lohud Yankees blog has it all covered with Chad Jennings.  It is heavy on Phil Hughes talk as he continues to impress this spring. 

Phil Hughes isn’t breaking new ground when he talks about keeping it simple. He talks about not thinking too much about the big picture, controling the things he can control, and taking everything one step at a time. It’s cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

So what was today’s step?

“Probably the changeup,” he said. “I really hadn’t gotten a chance to throw as many changeups as I want. It seems like a lot of quick swings this spring so far, and you don’t necessarily get to have those drawn-out counts. I seemed to have a few of those today where I could really incorporate my changeup. I threw some 3-2 changeups and things like that. If I really think about the one thing that I really took a step forward with today, it was probably the changeup.”

Hughes went to his changeup for two of his three strikeouts, including his strikeout of Matt Joyce two innings after Joyce had homered on a first-pitch cutter. Hughes guessed that he went to the changeup 15 times today.

“It was very good,” Russell Martin said. “He wasn’t as consistent early on with it, but as the game went along it was getting better and better. He got in some crucial situations and he made some good pitches. … I think he’s just getting confidence the more he throws it.”

We could all go back several years to read several articles about the development of Hughes’ changeup, and we could look at any number of Michael Pineda stories written this spring to read about the importance of that pitch for a starting pitcher. Ultimately, for Hughes, the development of the changeup isn’t anything new, it’s just the latest in a series of steps this spring.  The thing is it seems every spring there is talk of a changeup and then it doesn't carry over to the spring.  I am saying this in general not specific to any one player. 

“It seems like (last spring) was so long ago, to think back on how I was feeling,” he said. “I know that (the ball’s) coming out better than it was. For me that’s kind of one building block of what I need to do. The changeup needs to come along and the cutter and everything else, but physically I feel better.”  It seems to be showing as well.

Obviously Joe Girardi was in Port Charlotte and not in Tampa, but he said reports were positive about Derek Jeter getting through today’s scheduled workout. The plan is still to have Jeter go through one more full workout tomorrow and then play Friday.  I think he is fine and could of played yesterday but the Yankees want to be extra careful especially with him missing the time last year with a calf injury.

Girardi is not planning to watch CC Sabathia pitch at the minor league complex tomorrow. There’s really nothing he needs to see there. He said he’s pretty sure Sabathia’s going to make the team. “I think he might even start Opening Day,” Girardi said.

Another day, another impressive performance by Justin Maxwell. Today he was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and the go-ahead double in the ninth inning. He’s hitting .435 this spring. Still not sure the Yankees will find a spot for him on the roster (unless this Swisher injury is worse than expected).

 Speaking of impressive, Clay Rapada pitched another hitless inning, this time with two strikeouts. He’s been awfully good this spring, especially against lefties. He struck out two lefties today, and they were pretty good lefties: Luke Scott and Carlos Pena. Those would be exactly the kind of guys Rapada would have to face in the regular season.  I like him as the second lefty as he comes somewhat sidearm and gives a different look.  I think he could be very valuable to the Yankees.

 Cesar Cabral also looked pretty good today. “After he gives up the double and the balk, he settled down nicely to get a couple strikeouts and get out of the inning,” Girardi said. “That was good stuff.”  The second lefty candidates have all looked good this spring. 

 Someone asked Hughes whether he’d be happy to have a roster spot locked up and defined year after year. “That would be nice,” he said. “I’ll take a 10-year contract, too.”  He always seems to have to battle something in his  young career.  Him and Joba Chamberlain both for such young men have gone through so much early on in their career.  I guess it is part of being in New York and playing for the Yankees. 

I wonder if anyone will ask any Tim Tebow questions tomorrow.  I think everyone is jumping in on the Tebowmania. 

The New York Mets lose 201 to St. Louis as Johan Santana continues his comeback

The New York Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals by the score of 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon. Johan Santana started for the Mets and pitched really, really well. Jordany Valdespin who has had an impressive spring hit a solo homerun. 
Santana pitched six innings giving up six hits, three of those hits came in his final inning. He gave up one run and had no walks with six strikeouts. Manny Acosta pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout, Miguel Batista took the loss pitching 1 1/3 innings giving up three hits and one run and Garrett Olson gave up a hit without recording an out.

Valdespin had a hit and an RBI, Lucas Duda had a hit and Vinny Rottino had two hits. Valdespin hit the only homerun for the Mets. The Mets left three men on base and Mike Baxter had an outfield assist. The Mets will be at home in Port St. Lucie to take on the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon. The Mets are now 4-12 on the exhibition season.

The New York Yankees rally late to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2

The New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays by the score of 5-2 on Wednesday afternoon. Phil Hughes made the start and pitched well again. He made one mistake in giving up a two run homerun. Gustavo Molina had a two run homerun to lead the offense. The Yankees didn’t have a player have more then a hit. 
Hughes pitched five innings giving up three hits and two runs with one walk and three strikeouts. Clay Rapada pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts, Cesar Cabral pitched two innings giving up two hits and a walk and he struck out six batters. Cabral also picked up the win and Michael O’Connor got the save pitching an inning and giving up a hit. He also struck out one batter.

Russell Martin had a hit, Justin Maxwell had a hit and an RBI and Robinson Cano had a hit. Molina had a hit and two RBI, Alex Rodriguez had a hit and a walk and Ramiro Pena had a walk. Mark Teixeira had a hit and a walk, Raul Ibanez had an RBI and Jose Gil had a hit. Doug Bernier drew a walk, DeWayne Wise had a hit and Cole Garner had a hit and a walk. Jorge Vazquez had a hit and an RBI. Cano, Rodriguez, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Vazquez, Garner and Maxwell each had a double. Molina hit a homerun and the Yankees were 2-12 with runners in scoring position and they left nine men on base. Chris Dickerson made a throwing error.

The Yankees are now 10-9 in the grapefruit league. The Yankees will play in Fort Myers, Florida tomorrow night against the Boston Red Sox. It is a 7:05PM game.

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