Saturday, March 10, 2012

New York Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-3

The New York Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves by the score of 8-3 on Saturday afternoon. Michael Pineda started for the Yankees and pitched pretty well. He was hit hard early on but recovered and only gave up a run and four hits in 2 2/3 innings. He did walk three guys and struck out one. Pineda had a mission today to throw changeups and it isn’t so much about the results right now. The one encouraging sign for him is that his velocity was up from his first start. It looks like he is slowly building up his velocity to peak form. He did get the win in the game. Jose Gil, Gary Sanchez and Jayson Nix all had two hits in the game. Alex Rodriguez also had a good game with a booming double and a couple of RBI. 
Cesar Cabral pitched 1 1/3 innings giving up no runs and no hits and striking out two batters. Brett Marshall pitched two innings walking two and striking out three. Michael O’Connor pitched a perfect inning, Ryan Pope pitched one inning giving up two hits and two runs with two walks and a strikeout. Dan Burawa pitched one inning giving up two hits and no runs with a strikeout.

Brett Gardner had a hit and a walk, Melky Mesa had an RBI and Andruw Jones had a walk. Kyle Higashioka had a hit, Alex Rodriguez had a hit and two RBI and Brandon Laird had a hit. Mark Teixeira had a hit, RBI and two walks. Jose Gil had two hits and an RBI, Raul Ibanez had a hit and Colin Curtis had an RBI. Gary Sanchez had two hits and an RBI, Justin Maxwell had a hit, RBI and a walk and Zoile Almonte had a hit. Doug Bernier had a hit and Nix had two hits.

It was the third straight win for the Yankees. The Yankees had doubles from Rodriguez, Nix and Almonte. The Yankees were 7-19 with runners in scoring position and they left 13 men on base. Maxwell and Gardner each had a stolen base. The Yankees will play split squad games tomorrow afternoon. They will play the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers and take on the Philadelphia Phillies at home.

The Mets get a victory over the Atlanta Braves

The Mets beat the Atlanta Braves split squad by the score of 5-3 on Friday afternoon.  Dillon Gee got the start and he pitched three innings giving up two runs on five hits and striking out two.  Matt Harvey pitched two perfect innings, striking out one batter.  Olson pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout, James pitched 1/3 of an inning giving up one hit, one run and one walk.  Cabrera got charged with a blown save and pitched 2/3 of an inning.  He also got the win, Stinson pitched one inning giving up two hits and Edgin got the save pitching one perfect inning with a strikeout. 

Thole had a hit, Quintanilla had a walk and Daniel Murphy had a hit. Valdespin had a hit,  Rottino had a hit and Dekker had a hit and two RBI.  Loewen had a hit, the Mets were 3-9 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.  They will take on the Washington Nationals tomorrow afternoon away. 

Yankees end their four game losing streak in win over the Braves

The Yankees defeated the Braves today by the score of 3-0.  Freddy Garcia started and pitched three innings.  He gave up no runs on one hit.  He walked one and struck out two.  Rafael Soriano pitched one perfect inning.  Manny Banuelos pitched two innings giving up no runs on two hits with three strikeouts.  D.J. Mitchell also pitched two innings giving up one hit with a walk and a strikeout. 

They didn't have any player with more then one hit but a lot of guys with a hit.  Derek Jeter had a hit and a walk, Doug Bernier had a hit and Curtis Granderson had a hit and a walk.  Melky Mesa had a hit and an RBI, Robinson Cano had an RBI and Nick Swisher had a hit and an RBI.  Eric Chavez had a hit, Russell Martin had a hit and Gustavo Molina had a hit. 

The Yankees were  2-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.  Martin had a stolen base.  The Yankees will take on the Atlanta Braves tomorrow in Orlando. 

Yankees Friday notes after they snap their four game losing streak

Here are the Yankees Friday notes after they broke their four game losing streak with a win over the Atlanta Braves.  The Yankees won on Friday afternoon by the score of 3-0.  Here are the notes from Chad Jennings of the Journal News and Lohud Yankees Blog.  I add my insights into this as well, enjoy.

This was more like it. After a somewhat erratic spring debut, Manny Banuelos looked more like an elite pitching prospect on the verge of the big leagues this afternoon. His fastball was in the mid-90s and he mixed offspeed pitches without walking anyone. He struck out three in two scoreless innings.I really like this guy but you have to take it easy with him.  He is still just 20 years old, he will be in AAA and is closer then ever to the big leagues.  He doesn't need to come up until he is ready though and he isn't ready just yet. 

“I think he battled some nerves his first time out,” catcher Russell Martin said. “He looked like he was a little erratic. This time out, he was just pitching. Powering his fastball, downward plane, and he looked like he just had more control of all his pitches. So I think as we progress here, he’s just going to sharpen up.”

The Yankees have seen improvement in each of their top pitching prospects. Banuelos showed it today. Dellin Betances showed it yesterday. David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren have been pretty sharp all spring, drawing consistent praise from Joe Girardi.  They have a lot of promising young pitchers that are knocking on the door. 
“I thought (Banuelos) attacked the zone better and was able to get his secondary pitches over,” Girardi said. “I thought Betances made a big jump too, yesterday. Betances was aggressive yesterday, threw some strikes and was throwing 95. You’re trying to get them more comfortable to attack the zone with their good stuff. I think we saw it from both of them.”

Expectation is that both Banuelos and Betances have next to zero chance of making the big league roster. They’re ticketed for Triple-A, and might not even be the first pitchers called up if the Yankees need a spot starter. But the Yankees have seen progress, and all eyes are on each of their outings.

Today it was Banuelos’ turn to shine.

“He’s got great stuff, no question,” Martin said. “But he still has to work on his changeup, and he still has to work on his breaking ball command for him to be who he wants to be. But it’s still early in the spring, and from this outing compared to the last, it’s already a nice leap forward. He definitely has the stuff. He’s got a lot of life on his fastball. It’s easy. He struck a couple guys out just elevating his fastball. But the main thing for him, he’s the type of guy who will get himself in trouble. He’s not going to get banged around because his stuff’s so good. But you don’t want the guy to walk guys and create his own troubles. And that’s what we’re trying to keep him from doing. Just make sure that he’s throwing the ball over the plate and using all his pitches.”

 Not much to say about Freddy Garcia’s outing. He went three scoreless innings with two strikeouts and one hit, keeping his pitch count low and working quickly. “Vintage Freddy,” is what Girardi called it. Before the game, Garcia told Martin that he wanted to work on his changeup a little bit, and Garcia said his changeup was arguably his best pitch of the day.  The positives for Garcia are that you pretty much know what you will get.  Nova, Pineda, Hughes, these are young talented pitchers and may be better then Garcia but you also may not know what you will get from them. 

Martin on Garcia: “His pitch count was relatively low because he got contact. He was throwing strikes. That’s what you want from him, just to be able to throw all his pitches over the plate, and induce contact. That’s what he did.”

 It was just yesterday that Joba Chamberlain told me he would begin throwing breaking balls on Sunday. Turns out, he’s ahead of even his own schedule. Chamberlain wound up throwing breaking balls this morning, throwing five sliders for the first time since Tommy John surgery. “Once I threw the first two, the last three were a lot better,” he said. Chamberlain went through his usual routine of 10 pitches off flat ground, 20 off a mound, a short rest, then 10 more off the mound. When that was finished, he threw all five sliders with his catcher standing up so that he wouldn’t feel the need to overthrow and keep the ball down.  He is doing remarkably well and this says a lot for him.  He should be back by June and that will be a positive for the bullpen.  I still think Joba could be the eventual successor to Mariano Rivera but we will see what happens. 

 Most of the pitching attention today was on Garcia and Banuelos, but I thought Mitchell look pretty sharp. He’s known for that sinker, but he really has to use his changeup and breaking ball to stay effective, and today he got a swinging strike three with a good changeup that had good movement. He pitched two scoreless, allowing one hit and one walk.

 Juan Cedeno is probably the longest of long shots to make this team as a left-handed releiver, but today he came in to face one batter — big league lefty Freddie Freeman — and Cedeno got a strikeout. Kevin Whelan closed out the win with the final two outs.

Great play by Martin to get Michael Bourne out on a bunt in the third inning. It was a pretty good bunt up the third-base line, and Martin made a kind of twirling throw to get one of the fastest players in baseball. “That’s as good as it gets from a catcher,” Girardi said. “There aren’t too many people who can make that play, just because of his athleticism.”

 Even though the CT scan came back negative, the Yankees are taking things slow with Eduardo Nunez’s sore right hand. “We said, ‘Don’t take (batting practice) today and let’s see where you are tomorrow,’” Girardi said. As of right now, Nunez is not scheduled to make tomorrow’s trip to play the Braves.

No one had more than one hit today, but four Yankees — Martin, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez and Doug Bernier — did have doubles in the win. It was Swisher’s second double of the spring. Robinson Cano picked up his second RBI. Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Melky Mesa and Gustavo Molina also had hits.

For Sunday’s split-squad games, the plan is for the big league outfielders to travel to Fort Myers with Phil Hughes. The big league infielders will stay in Tampa to play behind CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Girardi is going to the road game. I’m still making up my mind.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yankees Thursday Notes

Here are the Yankees Thursday notes.  Ivan Nova did not have a good game, no need to worry right now but he isn't happy with the results.  He will get to work, looking at the video and seeing where he is going wrong mechanically.  He will work with Larry Rothschild the pitching coach.  The notes are courtesy of the Lohud Yankees blog and my two cents thrown in there.

“I know for sure tomorrow we’re going to talk about it,” Nova said.

Nova’s fastball hit 95 mph. He was happy with his slider and happy with his changeup, but much like his previous start against the Phillies, Nova’s command was unreliable at best. He fell behind often against the Blue Jays, and it was a 2-0 pitch that J.P. Arencibia hit for a home run. Hunter Pence homered on a 3-0 pitch from Nova five days ago.

“I throw, for me, perfect bullpens,” Nova said. “Once I get out there, sometimes, I guess I do too much. I think that’s what happened, maybe. I’ve got to figure it out… Sometimes you can be open too much or too quick. The first inning was really good, I wasn’t pushing my body or anything like that. The second and third inning (were bad). It’s got to be something.”

Nova said he doesn’t feel out of shape, and he’s encouraged that his velocity suggests his arm strength is where it needs to be. He just needs to get his mechanics ironed out. Joe Girardi said he’s still a long way from making a judgment about Nova.

“These guys are just getting ready to compete and getting their arm strength,” Girardi said. “We saw some velocity out of him today. We saw some 95s today. They’re still going through all of that.”

The Yankees were on the verge of a second consecutive shutout when Colin Curtis hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to leave the Yankees with a 6-1 loss. Ramiro Pena was the only Yankee with two hit, and other than the Curtis home run, Pena’s double was the team’s only extra-base hit. Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, Brandon Laird, Justin Maxwell and Doug Bernier each singled in the game.

 David Phelps let one of Nova’s runners scored on a passed ball by Francisco Cervelli, but otherwise, Phelps pitched 2.1 innings allowing one hit, two walks and a strikeout. I didn’t think he was especially sharp, but he settled in a little bit.

 If he’s going to have a chance of making this team — and the Yankees seem to be giving him a legitimate look — Cesar Cabral is going to have to retire lefties. Giving up a home run to lefty Travis Snider didn’t exactly help his cause this afternoon. It also didn’t help that lefty Eric Thames singled off him later in the inning.  The Yankees have not had much luck in trying to find a second lefty the last couple of years. 

 Raul Ibanez looked fine in right field. He only had two chances to make a play and one of those was a ground ball. The other was a fly ball near the foul line, and Ibanez made a running catch for the out. Not the hardest play in the world, but he made it with no problem. “You have to take balls, and see more balls hit out there,” Ibanez said. “Today was a great thing to be able to go out there, spend a little time out there, and catch one. Angle off the bat is good.”  It looks like the Yankees will put him out in the outfield at times and feel good about it.  That is a big reason they signed him and not Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. 

 Dellin Betances and Dan Burawa each pitched around some trouble to leave runners on base and pitch scoreless seventh and eighth innings. It was a better-than-last-time appearance for Betances.

 As you can imagine, everyone was pretty focused on Dave Robertson after the game. Most conversations centered on his injured foot, but Girardi really didn’t have many answers. “There’s always something in every camp,” Girardi said. “It seems like there’s something freaky that happens.”  This will continue to be the story, it is crazy that a freak accident like that happened.  It seems like it could be worse then originally though but the Yankees will know more tomorrow.  Joe Girardi has said he could miss up to two weeks without missing Opening day.  We will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings with that.  The Yankees if he is out for a period of time and Joba still coming back will suddenly be a little short in the bullpen. 

New York Mets lose 5-4 to the Miami Marlins

The Mets were defeated by the Miami Marlins by the score of 5-4 on Thursday afternoon. Mike Pelfrey started for the Mets and did not pitch well at all. They didn’t have any regulars in the lineup. Lucas May had two hits and two RBI to pace the offense. 
Pelfrey pitched 2 2/3 innings giving up six hits and four runs with two walks. Miguel Batista pitched 1 1/3 innings giving up one walk, Frank Francisco took the loss in pitching an inning. He gave up a hit, run a walk and he struck out one. Jon Rauch pitched two innings giving up no hits and no runs and he struck out two, Tim Byrdak pitched a perfect inning and Armando Rodriguez gave up two hits in his one inning of work.

Nieuwenhuis had a hit, Dan Dekker had a hit and Vinny Rotino had a hit. Jason Bay had a walk, Ike Davis had a hit and two walks and Lucas May had two hits and two RBI. Mike Baxter had a hit and an RBI, Adam Loewen had a hit and an RBI and Ronny Cedeno had a walk. Omar Quintanilla had a hit. May had a double, Loewen had a homerun. The Mets were 2-8 with runners in scoring position and they left eight men on base.

The Mets will take on the Braves in Orlando with Dillon Gee making the start. One of their top prospects Matt Harvey will pitch in relief. Andres Torres has a tight glute but they don’t think it is serious. Johan Santana threw another bullpen, felt and looked good. The Mets say he is ready for his next start on Sunday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New York Yankees drop fourth straight in losing to the Toronto Blue Jays

The New York Yankees drop their fourth straight to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1. Ivan Nova made the start for the Yankees and did not pitch well. The offense once again was pretty much missing for the Yankees.

Nova pitched 2 2/3 innings giving up six hits and five runs. He walked one and took the loss. David Phelps pitched 2 1/3 innings giving up a hit, two walks and a strikeout. Cesar Cabral pitched one inning giving up two hits and one run, Dellin Betances pitched one inning giving up two hits and Dan Burawa pitched one inning giving up one hit, one walk and striking out one.

Brett Gardner had a hit, Mark Teixeira had a hit and Brandon Laird had a hit. Justin Maxwell had a hit and a walk, Colin Curtis had a hit and an RBI and Ramiro Pena had two hits. Doug Bernier had a hit. Pena had a double and Curtis had a homerun. The Yankees were 0-7 with runners in scoring position and they left nine men on base. Bernier had an error and Cervelli had a passed ball.

The Yankees will be home at George Steinbrenner Field on Friday afternoon to take on the Atlanta Braves. Freddy Garcia will be starting for the Yankees.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York Yankees lose to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0

The New York Yankees lost their third straight spring game this afternoon.  They lost 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Hiroki Kuroda made his first start for the Yankees and was pretty good.  He basically made one bad pitch which became a two run triple.  That run scored on an RBI groundout.  Kuroda pitched two innings giving up three hits and three runs.  He had groundballs and a couple of strikeouts.  It is easy to see why the Yankees have liked this guy for a couple of years now.  I think he will be a very nice veteran addition to this staff.  He should fit in nicely in the middle of their rotation.  Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless inning giving up a hit and a walk with a couple of strikeouts.  Cory Wade pitched an inning giving up a hit, Boone Logan pitched an inning giving up a hit and he had two strikeouts.  Adam Warren pitched two innings giving up three hits and one run with a couple of strikeouts, Clay Rapada who is trying to make the team as a specialty lefty pitched 1 1/3 innings giving up no hits and no runs with a couple of strikeouts and Kevin Whelan pitched 2/3 of an inning giving up a hit and a strikeout. 

The Yankees had four hits in the game.  Nick Swisher had a double, Dewayne Wise had a hit, Russell Martin had a hit and Jose Gil had a hit.  The Yankees were 0-4 with runners in scoring position and left four men on base.  Martin had a stolen base, Derek Jeter and Jayson Nix each committed an error.  Curtis had an outfield assist. 

The Yankees will take on the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon in Dunedin.  Ivan Nova is the scheduled pitcher.  He should be up to three innings.  I would expect to see Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the lineup with maybe a couple of the other regulars from today that didn't play yesterday.  The Yankees are starting now to play guys on back-to-back days. 

New York Mets shutout the Miami Marlins 7-0

The New York Mets defeated the Miami Marlins by the score of 7-0 this afternoon. Jon Niese made the start and was impressive in his two innings of work. Justin Turner was the offensive hero. The Mets struck early with a run in the first and then two in the second. They didn’t look back after that, taking on three in the fifth and another in the seventh. 
Niese pitched two scoreless and hitless innings. He did walk a batter but also struck out a couple. Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout. Manny Acosta pitched two perfect innings with a couple of strikeouts. Ramon Ramirez pitched 1 2/3 innings giving up two hits and walking one with three strikeouts. 

Ruben Tejada had a couple of walks leading off. Turner had three hits and three RBI. Lucas Duda had a walk, Josh Thole had two hits, a walk and an RBI and Mike Nickeas had two hits and an RBI. Puello, May and Dekker each had a hit.  Quintanilla had a hit and a walk.  The Mets were 5-13 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 men on base.  Quintanilla had a stolen base

One of the interesting battles this spring will be who will be the leadoff hitter. Tejada is in the mix along with Andres Torres, Daniel Murphy and I think that is just about it. I think tejada would be the best candidate if he had more experience. Tejada is a superb defender but has to work on his offensive game. He has some speed so if he could have a high on base percentage and be consistent with that, he could be the leadoff guy. It may be too much pressure too soon though. Tejada will have a hard enough time with trying to replace Jose Reyes who took off for South Beach.

The other good thing to see for the Mets was Niese. The Mets need Niese to take the next step and be a really good major league pitcher. If they can have him and have Santana be healthy and effective they will have a pretty good one/two punch on their staff. The Mets are battling very low expectations but sometimes that is the best time for the team to respond. They have to just keep working and not let what others think affect them. It will be interesting to see how this season goes for the Mets. I find it hard to believe though that they could win much more then 75 games or so myself.

New York Yankees Wednesday notes

Here are the Wednesday Yankees notes.  The team lost their third straight game today.  They lost 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Who really cares though, it doesn't mean anything, they just want to get in shape and avoid any major injuries.  It isn't like the old days where the Boss wouldn't be too happy right now.  He didn't like to lose no matter what time of the year it was and especially not to Tampa Bay or the New York Mets.  Here are you notes from me and also some from Chad Jennings of the Lohud Yankees blog.

Finally, a pitcher who’s not working on a changeup.

Hiroki Kuroda throws fastballs and cutters, curveballs and sliders, but he doesn’t throw a change. And the Yankees don’t want him to. Kuroda’s out pitch is a splitfinger, which some pitchers use much the same way as a changeup.

“He doesn’t necessarily need to throw one because of that,” Joe Girardi said. “… His split is different from what some of our other guys have. I know he’ll throw his share of cutters as well. He starts with the location of his fastball, but I really like the split. I think if you look at the couple of strikeouts today, they were both very good splits. That’s a different look.”

Freddy Garcia has been effective with a splitfinger, but it’s not an especially common pitch these days. It’s been effective for Kuroda, and Russell Martin — who caught Kuroda in Los Angeles — has been talking about the effectiveness of that pitch since camp opened. Kuroda said he was happy with it today, and happy that he was able to mix all of his pitches in his first spring outing.

“Usually it takes the full spring training before everything is to the level I need it to be in the regular season,” he said. “… The most important thing that I wanted to accomplish was a feeling for the real game, and I think I was able to do that, so I’m happy.”

 Before today’s game, Rafael Soriano told the coaching staff that he felt ready to pitch in a game. In the past, Soriano has been opposed to pitching against division opponents in spring training. “For whatever reason he wanted to pitch today, so I didn’t ask any questions,” Girardi said. “I think it’s good for him to get out there, and I was pleased with what I saw.”  I think he has a better idea now of what he needs to do in New York and he has adapted himself to that.  I think he is going to be very good for the Yankees this season and probably opt out next year unless Rivera retires and he can become the Yankees closer, he may stay then. 

 Soriano struck out two batters in a scoreless inning. Boone Logan also had two strikeouts in an inning, and Cory Wade threw a scoreless frame with one hit and no strikeouts.
That is a good day for some of the regular bullpen pitchers.

 Martin is the Yankees early spring leader in stolen bases. He’s swiped two bags. Chris Dickerson is the only other Yankees player with one.

 Derek Jeter bobbled a ground ball for his first spring training error. Jayson Nix threw a ball away for his second. … Colin Curtis had an outfield assist, throwing to Nick Swisher who relayed to third base for an out that ended the sixth inning. … Clay Rapada pitched a scoreless eighth inning and stayed in to face a lefty to open the ninth. He struck out the lefty before giving way to Kevin Whelan for the final two outs. Rapada is trying to make the team as a left-handed specialist.

 Eduardo Nunez hit with a tee and soft toss today, and he’ll take light batting practice tomorrow, but he’s still not ready to get in a game and won’t play tomorrow. Nunez said his bruised right hand is still “a little bit” sore, but he’s been able to do full fielding drills with no problem. Today he was working out at third base, making the throw across the diamond from foul territory.

 Mark Teixeira had a regularly scheduled day off. His thumb — which he jammed making a tag yesterday — is fine.  He will be back in there soon, maybe even tommorrow. 

Girardi on Yogi Berra’s arrival in camp: “I felt like camp started today. Yogi’s here. It’s great to see… Just kind of puts a smile on everybody’s face. Things pick up around here a little bit. Really good to see.”  Everyone loves Yogi and he does liven up camp.  The team loves to see him. 

 It was announced today that the Yankees Triple-A affiliate officially will be called the Empire State Yankees this season. There’s even a slightly modified logo. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre stadium is being rebuilt, forcing the team to play all of it’s games on the road, including multiple “home” games in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and Batavia. The team is expected to return to its home stadium — and it’s original name — next year.  I think this is a good move since they won't be in Scranton/Wilkes Barre at all this season.  They will be back there next year and should have a beautiful new facility to call home.  I am looking forward to seeing it next year. 

Yankees Tuesday notes

Here are the Tuesday notes for the Yankees.  Hughes was a big topic, these of the Lohud Yankees blog.

Joe Girardi didn’t exactly rip Phil Hughes this morning, but he did address the fact that Hughes wasn’t in great shape last spring. Girardi talked about expectations, entitlement and work ethic, and Girardi more than implied that he wasn’t happy with the way Hughes approached last spring.

“There’s a concern,” Girardi said. “The thing is, I’d seen him work very hard before. But yeah, it does question where their mindset is. Where’s their mindset?”

This spring?

“I think you could tell by the way he came into camp that there’s a little bit more of an edge,” Girardi said.

After the game, Hughes was very good about addressing those conditioning concerns. It’s not the kind of thing players like talking about, but Hughes touched on a little bit of everything, from the disappointment of last season to the notion that complacency might have played a role.

“Last year was a failure and I didn’t want to do that again,” he said. “I didn’t want any excuses coming into spring. I needed to be strong and I needed to pitch well, so that’s on me. Everyone can want you to succeed as much as they want but at the end of the day I have to go out and do it.”

On last winter’s training program: “Maybe I thought I needed more rest than I really did in that off-season. Maybe just didn’t push it as hard as I could have. At the end of the day, it falls on me, and I paid for it with a disappointing year.”

On this winter’s training program: “I don’t think there was necessarily a message sent in my direction. I did my offseason program on my own. I actually had to call the team and make sure it was OK that I did it. So it wasn’t like I was being punished and sent to boot camp somewhere. It was something I wanted to do.”

 In his first spring start CC Sabathia allowed hits to the first three batters he faced, then he retired the next five. “I’ve still got a little work to do, but my arm feels good and my body feels good,” Sabathia said.  I wouldn't worry at all about the big guy.  He is the ace and one of the best in the league.  If you have to worry about him you will have a lot to worry about so you don't.

 Someone asked whether Sabathia can more easily dismiss some of those first-inning hits because they were helped by the wind. “No because the two balls that were outs in the next inning were crushed,” he said. “It’s just baseball.”  I agree with this, that's baseball Suzyn.  Sometimes the game doesn't make sense but it does seem to even out. 

 Hughes was at 38 pitches when he came out of the game in the third inning. He laughed about Larry Rothschild’s trip to the mound that inning. “That was kind of a stall there, a little bit,” Hughes said. “I think he talked about the hitter that was up there. I’m pretty sure he was making it all up.”

 With Hiroki Koroda pitching tomorrow, the Yankees starters will slide into their regular five-game routines. It’s pretty much the usual rotation — with Hughes and Sabathia on the same day — from here on out. Girardi said Sabathia might pitch in a minor league game when it comes his turn next week.

 Despite the fact he played today, Derek Jeter said he’s planning to play tomorrow. He didn’t explain, but it’s pretty easy to look at the schedule and figure out why. Tomorrow and Friday are home games. Thursday and Saturday are on the road. Jeter might not be Mariano Rivera, but he’s got some clout.  I would say so, he is pretty close to Mariano Rivera.  He is an everyday player though, that is why he makes some road trips but he still gets a preference and won't go on any long trips. 

Girardi said he didn’t think Mark Teixeira was scheduled to play tomorrow, so if he’s out of the lineup, don’t read anything into it. Today’s thumb incident — he jammed his thumb a little bit applying a tag — seems to be a non-issue.

George Kontos came through long toss yesterday with no problem. He was cleared today to resume full workouts with core work and regular lifting. He’ll do long toss again tomorrow and hopes to be in a bullpen within a few days.

 Zoilo Almonte’s perfect spring training came to an end with an 0-for-1 afternoon. He was 5-for-5 until now.  It had to come to an end eventually, he still has been impressive thus far, hopefully for him this isn't the start of a slump. 

New York Yankees lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates

The New York Yankees lost in Bradenton to the Pittsburgh Pirates today by the score of 7-4. CC Sabathia made the start and Phil Hughes came on in relief of him. Sabathia wasn’t perfect but he wasn’t bad either. Hughes struggled a little but his velocity was up which is a good sign for him. The Yankees had eight hits but not one guy had more then one hit. 

Brett Marshall pitched 1 2/3 innings giving up a walk and he struck out one.  Graham Stoneburner pitched two innings giving up four hits and two runs with one of them being earned and he struck out one.  Chase Whitley gave up five hits and three runs in one inning.  He did also strike out a batter. 
Sabathia pitched two innings giving up three hits and one run. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out one. Hughes pitched 1 1/3 innings giving up four hits and two runs with one of them being earned. He struck out one batter. The Yankees used three other relievers, none of them will be on the major league team this year.

Derek Jeter had one hit in three at bats. Robinson Cano had an RBI, Alex Rodriguez had a hit and a walk to continue his good start to the spring. Mark Teixeira had a hit and a walk, Francisco Cervelli had an RBI. The Yankees did not hit a homerun in the game. Teixeira and Rodriguez each had an error in the game. David Adams had a hit and two RBI, Melky Mesa had a hit and Chris Dickerson had a hit.  Justin Maxwell and Ramiro Pena each had a hit.  The Yankees were 2-11 with runners in scoring position and they left eight men on base. 

The Yankees will return to Tampa and George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday to take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05PM. The Yankees are expected to play their starting outfield in the game.

The story of this game though was Hughes. The results weren’t what Hughes and the Yankees would want. The results at this point don’t really matter though. The Yankees liked what they saw out of him today. Hughes himself was also pleased and feels he is in better shape and that is also leading to being in better shape pitching wise. He said he feels good and was happy with his velocity. Hughes velocity in this game was sitting at 92-93 which is a little higher then he or the Yankees could of expected in his first outing. That is basically where he needs to be and maybe a little more. Hughes feels that if he is there he can be a very good pitcher. Hughes didn’t think he hit even 90 last spring. He said he was motivated to put last season behind him and show that he is more like the pitcher everyone saw in 2010. Hughes went to an off-season workout program that was very intense but made sure he said it was his choice. He said he feels really good right now and will get better as he goes through spring. He also seems to be right mentally which is a good thing. He seems like he has been around forever but is still just 25 years old and the Yankees hope he will be in their rotation for years to come.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yankees notes after their first spring loss

The first time Michael Pineda was approached by a massive group of Yankees reporters, he’d just thrown batting practice in Tampa, and as soon as the crowd began to surround his locker, Pineda looked like a deer in the headlights. It had been quite a while since he’d pitched — he wasn’t mobbed as soon as he got to the clubhouse — but he seemed overwhelmed by the attention. You couldn’t help but wonder if it would be a bit much for him.

Today, he stood up in the corner of the clubhouse and gave an easy, light-hearted interview. Asked whether he was nervous to pitch today, he said “Hell no!” and started laughing. He didn’t come across as arrogant, just young and confident and perfectly at ease.
“I feel very good now,” he said. “I feel (a part of) the Yankee team right now.”

Freddy Garcia said yesterday that Pineda has been asking a lot of questions about what it’s like to pitch in New York. Larry Rothschild said he’s been more than willing to try new things that might make him better. Russell Martin was impressed with his willingness to use his developing changeup his first time out.

“In the meeting we had before the game, he was like, ‘I really want to work on my changeup today,’” Martin said. “And I told him, we’re going to use it, and use it the way you would use it during the season. I like him because he wants to work on stuff that he hasn’t mastered yet. He has a really good feel for his slider, his fastball. The velocity wasn’t where it’s going to be during the season but he has good fastball command and that was key.”

“He seems to have that attitude that nothing really seems to bother him,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m curious to see as we move along how he carries himself on an everyday basis because I don’t know him. You try to learn a guy as soon as you can but you want to see, as they go through things, how they carry themselves.”

No radar display at the stadium, but I was told Pineda’s fastball was roughly 89-91 mph and reached 92 once. That’s quite a bit lower than he’s expected to be in the season, but Larry Rothschild seemed unfazed. “Not what it’s going to be later in spring,” he said. “A little bit below, which you expect. Guys that are power pitchers usually take a little bit longer.”  I don't get carried away with velocity yet either, and sometimes not at all.  I think a lot of times too much is made of velocity.  He will build up arm strength and be where he needs to be in the next couple of weeks. 

 Pineda said earlier this spring that he showed up weighing about 10 pounds more than last season. He said today that he’s already lost seven to eight pounds and would like to drop two to four more.

 Nick Swisher fouled a ball off his shin but should be fine. No real concerns there.

 Dave Robertson struggled with his command in his spring debut. He allowed a run on a hit and a walk. “Sloppy, very sloppy,” Robertson said. “I just felt like my timing was off… Usually I feel like if you can throw it pretty close to the strike zone, the guys are going to swing (because) they’re not used to seeing it. I wasn’t able to get it in that zone today. I just couldn’t quite find it.”
 Jimmy Rollins stole two bases in that third inning, and Robertson said neither one was Russell Martin’s fault. “Nothing Russ could do about it,” Robertson said. “Because I was so slow to the plate.”

Zoilo Almonte. 1-for-1. RBI. Still the late-inning star of these first few games.

 The only Yankee with more than one hit was Gustavo Molina who went 2-for-2. Brett Gardner had a triple, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Jayson Nix and Colin Curtis each singled.

 As planned, George Kontos threw long toss today. That’s his next step back from a sore oblique.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The New York Mets get their first game out of the way

The New York Mets lost to the Washington Nationals by the score of 3-1 on Monday evening.  There wasn't much offense for the Mets.  The pitching did a pretty good job though. 

Dillon Gee started the game and pitched two innings giving up two hits and one run with a walk and a strikeout.  Matt Harvey pitched two innings.  He didn't give up a hit or a run but walked three and struck out one.  Frank Francisco took the loss, he pitched one inning giving up two hits and one run.  Daniel Herrera pitched an inning giving up two hits and striking out one.  Tim Byrdak pitched an inning giving up a walk and Miguel Batista pitched two innings giving up two hits and one run with a walk and two strikeouts. 

Andrus Torres had a hit and a walk.  It was a good start for him out of the leadoff spot where he will probably be come Opening Day.  Daniel Murphy had a hit and an RBI, Ike Davis and Josh Satin each had a hit.  Mike Baxter had a hit, Lucas May had a hit and Ruben Tejada had two hits. 

Torres had a stolen base.  The Mets were 2-11 and left eight men on base in the game.  Satin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter each had a stolen base in the game.  Cedeno was caught stealing.  Turner and Nieuwenhuis each had an error and Baxter had an outfield assist. 

The Mets will play split squad games tomorrow.  Johan Santana will be getting on the mound in Port St. Lucie.  It will be his first game action in quite a while and the team and media will mostly all be there to watch it. 

The New York Yankees lose their first spring game

The New York Yankees lose their first spring game today.  They lost 9-3 in Clearwater to the Philadelphia Phillies.  Michael Pineda made his first start for the Yankees and was impressive.  He pitched two scoreless innings giving up one hit and striking out two batters.  Dave Robertson was the only other regular pitcher to get into the game.  He struggled a little bit giving up a hit, run and a walk in one inning of work.  Cesar Cabral pitched an inning giving up a hit.  Daniel Burawa pitched an inning giving up two hits, Adam Miller did the most damage getting a blown save and a loss.  He gave up two htis, five runs and three walks in 1/3 of an inning.  Juan Cedeno was not good either giving up three hits and three runs in one inning.  He walked one and struck out one.  Ryan Pope pitched 1 2/3 innings giving up no runs and no hits.  He struck out two batters. 

The offense was led by Gustavo Molina.  Molina had two hits.  Eric Chavez, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Zoila Almonte continued his perfect spring with a hit and an RBI.  He is hitting 1000 so far, I believe it is only four at bats maybe five but still.  Colin Curtis, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena each had a hit.  Nunez was hit on the hand and went back to Tampa for X-rays.  The X-rays came back negative and he is just day-to-day with a contusion.  Jayson Nix had a hit and an RBI. 

The Yankees will play the Pittsburgh Pirates tomorrow afternoon away.  The starting infielders should be playing in this game. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yankees sunday notes

Here are the Sunday notes for the Yankees after their win over the Phillies.  I have my thoughts along with some notes from Chad Jennings of the Journal News and Lohud Yankees blog.

When he signed back in December, Freddy Garcia fit easily into the back of the Yankees thin rotation. By the time he took the mound this afternoon, Garcia’s situation had changed completely. Despite coming off a strong season, Garcia has to win his job back. He’s 35 years old and he’s never been a reliever in his career, but it’s suddenly a very real possibility.  I think he will be fine with that role though.  He will still have starts when people get hurt and at times it is a very important role being the long man. 

But Garcia said he has no regrets about re-signing early this offseason.

“I came here last year and I like it here,” he said. “I do like it here. Like I say, I have to pitch good to deserve the spot. I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ve got to go out there and pitch. That’s the way it is.”

Today was hit-and-miss for Garcia, but he was able to joke about how hard Hunter Pence hit that first-inning home run — “If there’s no wind, that ball lands in the (car) dealership,” he said — and he seemed at ease with both his outing and his situation.

“The good thing, I was throwing strikes,” he said. “For me that’s the more important thing, throw strikes. I’ll try to pitch better next time… Too many starters is always good to have many arms on the team, because spring training or whatever, always something happens. So everybody will be ready for whatever happens.”

Garcia has historically struggled in spring training, and Joe Girardi said he’s not using spring results to truly evaluate the veteran. Last season’s success seems to carry more weight.  I don't think he will use the results as a barometer unless they are soo good or sooo bad.  I think Hughes is the front runner for the position and the Yankees want him to win the fifth spot.  We will see what happens though, it isn't always what you think it will be. 

“That’s what’s freshest in our mind,” Girardi said. “You expect a guy to go out and compete like he did last year. He did a good job. He seemed to really take it up a level when runners got on, where he didn’t panic, and he knew how to make pitches and relax in those situations.”

 Girardi’s take on Garcia’s outing: “He looked alright, and I thought he looked better the second inning. I thought he was sharper the second inning. To me, that’s positive. First time out there, but I thought he made some really good pitches in the second inning.”
 Girardi on how much of a workload he’ll give Alex Rodriguez in spring training: “I think you try to get guys 50 to 60 at-bats. The first week of Spring Training, I usually play these guys about every other day and try to get them about three at-bats in a game. If you’re in the seventh or eighth inning and you’re only getting your third at-bat, you’re probably only getting about two that day.”

 Larry Rothschild pretty much handles the pitchers schedules on his own, and it was actually Mariano Rivera himself who told Girardi that he’s throwing to hitters tomorrow. Girardi said Rivera could be in a game by next weekend. “When he tells me he’s ready, I’m going to put him in,” Girardi said.  Rivera has always been on his own schedule and he knows what he has to do so the Yankees just go with it.  It is hard to argue with the greatest closer of all time. 

After his big game yesterday, add Cole Garner to the injured list. He has a sore hamstring. “He’s kind of day to day,” Girardi said. “I won’t play him tomorrow and then we’ll re-evaluate him after Monday.”

 Speaking of big games, Zoilo Almonte had another hit and is still batting 1.000 this spring. He was 1-for-1 today, 1-for-1 yesterday and 2-for-2 on Friday.  He is really trying to make a good impression on the Yankees here. 

As for pitching… I thought D.J. Mitchell looked pretty good, especially in his first inning. He picked up the win. Boone Logan had two strikeouts in a scoreless inning, and Cory Wade allowed one run in his inning. Clay Rapada also had two strikeouts in an inning.  Mitchell kind of reminds me of Hector Noesi, anyone else think the same thing??

 David Aardsma said this morning that his Tommy John rehab has not changed since signing with the Yankees, and the team still hasn’t talked to him about a timetable for his return. The Yankees were following his progress all winter, so they were well aware of his rehab progress when they signed him. His only changes have been minor tweaks to fit into the spring training routine. He’s still throwing at 90 feet.

 Rule 5 pick Brad Meyers said he’s actually been throwing early bullpens for a while now, he’s just never been listed until today. The Yankees have told him to stay patient and make sure he’s healthy, but obviously they have to make a decision on him sooner rather than later. His window to make an impression on this organization is growing pretty small.

 Michael Pineda makes his Grapefruit League debut tomorrow. “He’s really relaxed, what I see so far,” Garcia said. “He’s confident. That’s real important. If you play in New York, you have to be confident and go out there and show people you can play there.”  I feel good about this guy and I know everyone wants to see him get going here. 

New York Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in spring home opener

The New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies today by the score of 7-4 in Tampa, Florida.  Freddy Garcia was the starting pitcher and pitched two innings giving up two runs on four hits.  He struck out two batters.  The only other two regular pitchers for the Yankees were Cory Wade and Boone Logan.  Logan pitched an inning giving up one hit and striking out two batters.  Wade gave up two hits in one inning and a run and strikeout. 

The offensive star was Alex Rodriguez who had three hits.  He hit a solo homerun, a single and an RBI double.  Robinson Cano and Andruw Jones were the only regulars with a hit.  Jose Gil had a hit, RBI and a walk.  Francisco Cervelli had a walk and an RBI.  J.R. Murphy had a hit and an RBI, Chris Dickerson had a walk and Zoila Almonte had another hit.  Almonte has been impressive so far in the three games.  Jayson Nix had a hit and an RBI. 

The Yankees and Phillies will play once again on Monday afternoon.  Michael Pineda will see his first action of the spring. 

Yankees notes from their first exhibition game

Here are some of the notes from today as the Yankees began their grapefruit league schedule.  They will have two days off this month.  They will finish the exhibition schedule with four games in Miami.  They will play the Miami Marlins twice to open their new stadium and then the Mets twice.  They will then open the season on April 6th in Tampa against the Rays.  The opener is on Good Friday.  Here are some of the notes from me and Chad Jennings of the Journal News and great Lohud Yankees blog.

A year ago, Curtis Granderson’s first spring training home run came on the road, against the Phillies, in his second at-bat, during his second game. Here he is playing the Phillies in his second game since he played against USF yesterday and homerun on the road. If he’s looking to repeat last year’s results, today was certainly a good way to start.

“Gotta take advantage of the elements out there, that’s pretty much it right there,” Granderson said.  It was a wind aided opposite field homeruns but he will take it. 

He was laughing because the wind helped him get that ball out, but even so, he’s 3-for-3 this spring with a single, a double, a home run and two RBI. Way too early to mean anything, obviously, but for a guy who says he’s still fighting his mechanics in the batting cage, it’s a good start.

“I felt like it was a good pitch to hit,” Granderson said of the home run. “I missed it, but the approach and everything was good, which is all we’re trying to work on right now… (In the cage) I’ll get one good swing and then a bad swing, or two good swings and two bad swings. I want to get it where nine times out of 10 the swing always feels good and I have a chance. That’s where the mechanical stuff comes in. Kevin Long and myself are trying to work at it. Every time I have a chance to attack the ball, we give ourselves a chance.”

Really nice reception for Raul Ibanez coming back to play his old team. The crowd cheered when he was introduced and every time he came to the plate. There were also plenty of people yelling his first name, which sounded like “boos” if you didn’t know better. “I’d like to think that they were Rauuul’s,” Ibanez said, laughing. “I think that those were good ones.”  Ibanez is considered the nicest or second nicest guy in baseball by just about everyone so I am not suprised by this at all. 

David Phelps looked pretty sharp today, but Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances struggled a little bit with their mechanics and their control. Betances and especially erratic in his two-walk inning. “I just felt that I didn’t have my legs under me as good as I wanted to,” Betances said. “I was yanking, opening up, and I’ve got to have better concentration. I’ve got to be able to focus pitch by pitch instead of worrying about the pitch before.”  This is the biggest knock on Banuelos and Betances who may be the top two pitching prospects.  They are both still very young though and will be starting at AAA.  They have time to develop. 

 Girardi has said Banuelos looks better this spring than last spring. “I feel the same,” Banuelos said. “I don’t feel different. Last year was better command of the fastball. That’s easy when I have my fastball command. If I get that again, I know I will do good again.”

Yesterday was Zoilo Almonte’s day, today it was Cole Garner’s. The new guy who came up in the Rockies organization went 2-for-2 with a double, home run and two RBI. Almonte also had RBI, Chris Dickerson also had a double and Dewayne Wise also had two hits. Good day for backup outfielders, I guess.  If anything these guys are trying to make an impression for later in the year if an injury happens. 

Girardi gave a quick evaluation of every pitcher who got into today’s game: “Nova, I thought he had three pretty good pitches today,” Girardi said. “The error kind of led to the couple of runs he gave up, but his changeup was good today, and that’s a big pitch for him to somewhat improve. Phelps, much different guy than what we saw last year. Much more relaxed. Much better command. I thought he did a nice job. Banuelos, a little around the zone. He got behind on some hitters. Same thing with Betances. Made pitches when they had to, basically. Cabral looked pretty good, and O’Connor struggled a little bit.”

 Granderson and Ibanez were the only sure-thing big leaguers who had a hit today. Bill Hall had a bloop single and Jorge Vazquez — who made a big impression last spring — had an RBI single.

Terrific gesture by Girardi before the game. It was Michael Kay who pointed Girardi toward Matthew Smith, a fan holding a sign behind the Yankees dugout. Smith’s son Steven — who some of you might have known through Twitter — died tragically in December of 2010, and the sign was covered with pictures of Steven wearing Yankees gear. Girardi brought Smith onto the field for batting practice, then took the sign to have all of the Yankees sign it. It was Smith’s first game since his son died. “I’m not really looking for anything today,” Smith said. “I just didn’t want Steven to be forgotten.”  You have to love stories like this, good job by Kay to point it out and good job by Girardi to act on it.  The Yankees and I will be back at it again tomorrow with another game against the Phillies. 

The New York Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in grapefruit league opener

The New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies by the score of 8-5 on Saturday afternoon. It was the grapefruit league opener for both teams. The Yankees did play a game on Friday afternoon against the University of Southern Florida and won that game 11-0. In this game Ivan Nova made the start and looked pretty good for two innings. He did give up a two run homerun but one of the runs was unearned. The Yankees defense behind him was sloppy as they made three errors in the first two innings. Nova had one of the errors though on a attempted pickoff play. Eric Chavez was playing first and should of at least knocked the ball down if not caught it. 
David Phelps pitched two scoreless innings giving up a hit. He struck out one. Nova also had two strikeouts in his outing. Manny Banuelos the Yankees top pitching prospect got the win pitching two innings and giving up a hit. He walked two though, that is the biggest thing with him his control. He is only 20 years old though and will be in AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre this season. Dellin Betances another top prospect pitched one scoreless inning. He also struggled with his control walking two guys. Michael O’Connor did not have a good debut. The Yankees are still looking for a second lefty out of the pen and he didn’t leave a good first impression. O’Connor pitched one inning giving up three runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout. He turned an 8-2 blowout into an 8-5 tight game.

Curtis Granderson was the offensive star starting out as he left off last year. Granderson had a double and a homerun in the game. Raul Ibanez had a hit and an RBI, they were the only regulars with hits. Bill Hall did have a hit but he is a longshot to make the team. Chris Dickerson who could be a fifth outfielder candidate had a hit and a walk. Dewayne Wise who is best known for his catch to preserve Mark Buehrles perfect game had two hits and an RBI. Cole Garner who the Yankees picked up from the Rockies organization had two hits and two RBI including a two run homerun. Zoile Almonte who was the star yesterday had another hit and two RBI.

The Yankees will play their first home grapefruit league game of the season on Sunday afternoon. The Yankees will once again play the Phillies. The game will be broadcast on the YES network and will begin at 1:00PM.

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