Friday, February 27, 2015

New York Yankees full squad news and notes

The New York Yankees camp is in full swing now as the position players have reported.  Alex Rodriguez being down there two days early helped as Wednesday wasn't too bad and Thursday when they had their first official workout wasn't so bad either.  Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi are tired of answering questions about  him but that will continue at least for a while. 

The main topic on the first day was of course Rodriguez.  Mark Teixeira may know him best of all the teammates, they were first teammates in Texas and now have been in New York for a few years.  Here is some of what he had to say yesterday about Rodriguez.  He was asked if Rodriguez has changed and said that is a tough question to answer.  He said I don't know he is the same guy I have known a long time.  He said in 2009 it was the same circumstances and had a great year.  He did a great job of putting it behind him and playing baseball.  He said the entire job did a good job of putting it behind them and that is what Teixeira expects this year. 

He said the difference between the two is Teixeira wasn't well past his surgery last year like Rodriguez is this year.  He is not in rehab mode and I think he feels pretty good Teixeira said.  Teixeira said the last thing to come as a power hitter is the carry.  Teixeira was asked about the state of the game with PEDS and said he thinks it is better than ever.  He said when he came up in 2003 there was weird testing and you could still do it and have no penalty.  He said he has been outspoken about the users and he doesn't like it.  He said though if you are willing to take the chance then you have to look in the mirror.  He said it is what it is, there will always be someone trying to cheat.  He said it is like in school you worked hard and got a B and someone else cheated and got an A, nothing you can do about it.  He said a lot of people make bad decisions but that doesn't mean they are a bad person.  He said Rodriguez is not a bad person, he has just made some bad decisions. 

Larry Rothschild brought up the idea of six starters again even though it was overshadowed by Arod.  Brian Cashman said we will see how realistic it is, he said in a perfect world it makes sense but first they have to get five starters.  Masahiro Tanaka threw another bullpen, this one was forty pitches.  Joe Girardi said it was very good that he threw all of his pitches.  He said the arm strength looks good and they will continue to move him along and get him ready for a game.  Girardi said they don't know when he will get him in a game but they will get him ready for that. 

Jacoby Ellsbury said he will hit anywhere in the lineup and Girardi gave no real indication of his plans for the lineup.  I would expect Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to be 1 and 2 in the lineup and that is how I feel it should be.  Girardi said they have thrown around ideas but it is too early to decide on a lineup.  The Yankees had a meeting before their first full squad workout and it doesn't appear Rodriguez spoke but so far so good with his interactions with the fans, media and teammates.  Rodriguez go this first baseman's glove but hasn't started breaking it in yet.  Rodriguez actually did play a little first on Friday but basically just flipping to pitchers when they were working on covering first base.  He did take some more BP and looked better today than he has since he got there according to the reports. 

The Yankees had photo day on Friday.  Luis Severino the top pitcher faced top prospect Aaron Judge in live batting practice on Friday.  That drew a lot of attention and Severino struck him out.  Severino was one of some impressive pitching in the back field.  Nathan Eovaldi split innings with Severino and Jacob Lindgren and Branden Pinder came out for an inning a piece.  The four hard throwers faced Judge, Kyle Roller, Jake Cave and Tyler Austin.  Cave was impressed by Severino but said that he is always impressive. 

The Yankees have their first injury of the spring.  Brendan Ryan will miss about five days because of a mild strain in his back.  He hurt himself lifting weights before reporting to camp.  CC Sabathia threw a bullpen on Friday and has been wearing a protective brace on his knee.  The Yankees are moving slowly due to that knee injury with Sabathia.  Girardi said they have plenty of time and they don't have to rush him.  Girardi said he will wait until Saturday to announce his starters for the first few games of the grapefruit league next week.  It is being speculated that Adam Warren will start the opener on Tuesday.  The Yankees are scheduled for an intrasquad game on Sunday and a light day on Monday before the spring opener on Tuesday.  Teixeira and Beltran have made a strong impression so far by the way they reported to camp which is a good sign, we will see if they can stay healthy though and then they should be productive.  The Yankees were also very impressed with Severino and his sim game on Friday.  Girardi said " Young kid with a great arm."  He said he has a good slider and changeup and it is something to get excited about.  Eovaldi had a two inning simulated game and Girardi was happy with that.  He said "Really good stuff, Powerful arm."  It is interesting and fun with all the young kids in camp and they are generating buzz which is good for the Yankees.  They have been a older veteran team for a while and it is good to see them try to get younger and develop the next wave of homegrown stars. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New York Mets notes before full squad workouts begin

Lucas Duda has been dealing with a left oblique issue and will swing a bat in two or three days.  Curtis Granderson is not concerned about where he will hit in the lineup.  Terry Collins is unsure if Rafael Montero can crack the 25 man roster. 

There was already a bunch of praise for new hitting coach Kevin Long especially from Granderson who worked with him when they were both with the New York Yankees.  There was some talk with a couple of people who are close to manager Terry Collins that he will retire at the end of the year.  Collins denies it though.  He did say he doesn't want to manage to 75 and he turns 66 in May.  He did also say if he has a good season he would want to come back.  I think they will bring him back if they have a good season but if they get off to a slow start he will be in trouble. 

Dillon Gee will be the sixth starter, not prospect Noah Syndergaard.  Collins wants to see similar determination out of Syndergaard as he has seen out of Matt Harvey.  John Mayberry Jr. provides the Mets with a lot of options.  He can play the outfield, back up first base and a righty off of the bench.  Rule five pick LHP Sean Gilmartin will get a lot of work this spring and will get the chance to face lefty batters to see if he can get them out.  Rafael Montero will be looked at as both a starter and reliever this spring. 

Here are some things Syndergaard spoke to the media about on Wednesday.  He said he learned how to become a pitcher more than a thrower last season.  He said especially learned that he can't rely on his fastball all the time.  He put a lot of pressure on himself last season , paying special attention to the Super 2 cutoff date.  He said he eventually deleted twitter from his phone to avoid the news reports and fan comments. 

Syndergaard said he wasn't ready for the major leagues last season and didn't deserve the call up.  He was still disappointed not to get called up in September and will use that as motivation going forward.  He really loved working with AAA pitching coach Frank Viola last season.  Viola helped him with his changeup among other things. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New York Yankees news and notes from the last coule of days before full squad workouts

Ivan Nova threw a bullpen on Tuesday and was very encouraged.  He is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and could be ready by June.  It was Nova's third bullpen session since the surgery.  He threw 25 pitches which were all fastballs.  He is supposed to do that four times before he adds changeups and then after a few fastball/changeup bullpens he will begin throwing breaking pitches. 

"One good thing, you know you're not going to be ready in April," Nova said.  "So you prepare yourself to be ready whenever they tell me.  I don't have to be thinking right now that I've got to be ready in April, so that's kind of fortunate.  I'm just taking it day by day, and I know that - I believe a month before they think I'm going to be ready to go to the big leagues , they're going to tell me.  So that's the time when I'm going to really prepare for that day."

Alex Rodriguez worked out at the minor league complex again and spent some time with Chase Headley.  Chris Capuano threw live batting practice on Tuesday morning and was the first of four to do that.  He said he knows that his spot in the rotation is far from a lock but he is happy to get the oppurtunity to try and win the spot. 

Carlos Beltran had a full day of drills and batting practice.  He is allowed to do that because he is a rehabbing player.  Andrew Bailey is the only experienced closer in camp with the Yankees.  He is still only 30 although he is coming back from a couple years of being injured.  He threw a bullpen on Tuesday afternoon and stated he feels good and is very excited to try and make the team.  He has thrown five bullpens since he reported to Tampa after the Super Bowl.  He is given more time in between them just as a precaution but hopes that will end soon enough.  He expects to throw live batting practice next week and have enough time to get in games and get his innings that he could break camp if he makes the team.  Joe Girardi said he looked good and there was a big difference from last year to this year. 

Girardi said he expects Rodriguez, Beltran and CC Sabathia to be ready to go in games when the exhibition schedule begins.  He said on Wednesday that he expects Rodriguez to play in the first or second spring game.  Rodriguez was asked about the leadership void on Tuesday with the retirement of Derek Jeter.  "First, no one can replace the Captain," Rodriguez told reporters.  "I know I'm going to miss him tremendously.  I've been around a long time, and I've seen a lot of things.  If guys want to ask questions, I love talking baseball, and you guys know that better than anyone.  I love the game, and I love to talk it.  Whoever needs my help, I'm available." 

Didi Gregorius the new shortstop said that he got some hitting tips from Rodriguez on Tuesday.  "He's a good teammate," Gregorius said.  He said that he walked in to the complex and introduced himself to everyone.  So far so good with injuries as there has been nothing to report. 

Girardi spoke with Rodriguez about playing first base on Wednesday and Rodriguez said I will do anything for Joe.  The big story on Wednesday was Mark Teixeira and that he isn't doing his little internet show Foul Territory anymore.  He also stated that he lost fifteen pounds of fat and then put back on 13 pounds of muscle.  He said he was happy to get back to weight lifting and being a big strong guy who will be a power hitter again.  He said that he isn't going to hit the ball the other way and be a slap hitter. 

Mariano Rivera showed up and will be there for about ten days.  He is a guest instructor and is allowed to do what he wants to do basically like when he was a player.  Luis Severino threw another bullpen on Wednesday afternoon and drew a big crowd.  Everyone reported on time and there were no issues, everyone passed their physicals. 

The new hitting coach Jeff Pentland introduced himself to the writers.  He talked a little bit about being excited to work with Arod and his views on the shift.  He said he is only a good hitting coach if they have good players.  It is pretty much true although I think they could make some difference with certain players especially younger ones.  Girardi said he expects to have some intrasquad games before the exhibition schedule begins next week. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

New York Mets camp was pretty quiet on Monday

Here are some notes about the Mets on a Monday a couple of days before the full squad reports and it gets louder and more active with games beginning next week.  These notes are courtesy of Matthew Cerrone and 
Terry Collins the manager met with the media and here is some of what he had to say.  Matt Reynolds will get a lot of playing time at short this spring as will Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores. 
Juan Lagares will most likely bat leadoff. 
Lucas Duda will play first base against lefties, but there will be days where Michael Cuddyer or John Mayberry Jr. play first base. 
Collins will use rule five pick LHP Sean Gilmartin early and often to get a good look at what they have with him. 
LHP Scott Rice, LHP Jack Leathersich,  and RHP Erik Goeddel also have a shot at the last bullpen spot. 
Eric Campbell the utility infielder is working hard to also be a catcher.  He is taking some ribbing from his teammates but he is serious about it.  It isn't just fooling around during spring training. 
Cuddyer met with the media also on Monday and here is some of what he had to say. 
The biggest thing was him talking about Troy Tulowitzki and how he would be a great fit on the Mets.  I understand the risk with him, he has to be healthy and his splits are pretty start home and away but he is a talent that a team like the Mets should go for.  He could put them over the top, of course he has to be healthy and stay healthy which is an issue with him. 
Cuddyer said he liked what he saw from the Mets last season and said he liked the potential that he saw in them. 
Quite a few teams expressed interest in him, and he was close to accepting the qualifying offer from Colorado until the Mets sent a deal to him. 
He's not worried about moving away from Coors Field, as long as he keeps the same approach that works for him.  "I don't see it being a problem at all," he said. 

A quiet day turned not so quiet in New York Yankees camp

It started out as a normal Monday morning during pitchers and catchers.  There wasn't too much going on, the biggest thing was going to be Luis Severino facing hitters.  Then the news broke this morning that the Boston Red Sox signed Yoan Moncada.  Then if that wasn't enough around 11:00AM who showed up but none other than Alex Rodriguez to take his physical and then to head over to the minor league complex to have a workout.  It was a crazy day for sure in Tampa. 

The Yankees did make a 25 million dollar offer to Moncada but they really didn't want to budge off of that.  They said they would go to 27 million if he would sign and from the reports it sounded like Brian Cashman the GM was pushing for him but the owner Hal Steinbrenner said no.  The Red Sox ultimately bid 31.5 or around there and got him.  The thing about him is he is so young and will be in the minors for a couple of years most likely.  He also costs double do to the tax most teams would have to pay on him.  Moncada liked the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres equally and it was going to come down to who bid the highest and everyone started at 25 million of those teams.  I think he would of been a good fit on the Yankees and don't see a really good fit for Boston but they ended up getting him and we will see in the future how that works out. 

Alex Rodriguez was of course the main story of the day.  He showed up took his physical and then had an hour workout at the minor league complex.  He started out throwing around a medicine ball, he took some grounders at third base and took 70 swings and hit six homeruns if you care about that stuff.  Yes there were people keeping track.  He then posed for pictures and signed autographs with all the fans and spoke to the media for around eight minutes.  Here is some of what he had to say. 

Arod said he is still training to play 3B even with the presence of Chase Headley.  He said "I think Chase is an excellent addition to our team,"  Rodriguez said.  "We had a nice conversation a little bit ago.  Talked about winning, talked about how great it is to play in New York, in front of the greatest fans.  Talked about the Stadium.  I'm looking forward to being his teammate." 

He didn't take any groundballs on the right side of the infield but did say he was open to playing 1B if he was asked.  He said whatever Joe wants him to do he will do.  He said he felt very welcomed and that he has strong relationships in the locker room.  As for any lingering bad feelings he said. " I created a big headache for a lot of people."  He said he still thinks he can play third base.  He said he will still be productive as long as he is healthy and said flatly that he isn't currently taking any illegal substance. 

He said, "No mistake that I made has a good answer, or no justification, and that's on me.  I've dug a big hole for myself and paid a price.  I'm fortunate for a lot of people, especially the commissioner's office, the players union, the Yankees, to give me an opportunity to play the game that I love."

I would say it went pretty well for him arriving and having the media storm.  I think it was a good idea for him to arrive early.  There will probably be a large crowd tomorrow and every day for a while but he got the questions out of the way and the shock of him showing up out of the way and now he can just go to work.  If he keeps his mouth shut and stays clean eventually all the talk will be about his play on the field and that is what everyone wants at this point.  You can't go back in time, the damage has been done but he can write another chapter and make it a good one.  Stay tuned to see what tomorrow brings. 

New York Mets begin spring training with some optimism

The New York Mets pitchers and catchers reported on Thursday.  The Mets for the first time in a long time have some real optimism and are looking at competing for a playoff spot.  That is mainly because of the good  young pitching they have and especially getting their ace back Matt Harvey.  Harvey is good but he also brings something extra to the team.  He is a confident guy who won't settle for losing and that has rubbed off on the Mets. 

Mets manager Terry Collins addressed the media on Saturday which was their first official workout.  Here are some of the highlights of what he had to say.  Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games of the season.  He isn't sure if Harvey will pitch the home opener though.  They open on the road against the Nationals and the Braves.  Harvey will be used the same way that the Cardinals used Adam Wainwright back in 2012 when he was coming back from Tommy John surgery.  He pitched 198 2/3 innings that season. 

Harvey will not be skipping any starts but he will have five inning starts from time to time.  Collins wants Bobby Parnell to close when he returns but if Jenrry Mejia or another reliever is dominant as a closer he will remain there.  Dillon Gee will prepare for a starting role but if all six starters are still with the team come the end of the spring he will move to the bullpen.  The leadoff spot is up in the air between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson.  He said the Mets are absolutely a playoff team and added "We have been sitting around for four years saying to be patient.  It's time for guys to step up and play the way they are expected to play". 

Here is what Harvey had to say to the medial also on Saturday.  There is no easing into it for him.  He anticipates that he won't reach the low 200s in innings pitched.  He said somewhere around 180 or so which is just throwing a number out there.  He said there was a mention of skipping starts in a brief meeting with GM Sandy Alderson.  He said it was a tough question to say if he would rather skip starts or be limited to five inning starts.  He said it is the managers call in the end but all five guys wouldn't want to do that and coming out of a game early is a tough decision. 

He said there really was no tension between him and the team during rehab last year and he thinks a lot of it was made up.  He said internally they were fine.  He said he will discuss scaling back his workload between starts. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New York Yankees first official workout

New York Yankees pitchers and catchers and Carlos Beltran because of his injury took the field for the first time as a team on Friday morning.  It was a welcome sight for many in the northeast as the winter has everyone looking forward to spring.  There wasn't too much going on as is standard early in the spring.  There were some easy bullpens, some PFP which is pitchers fielding practice if you didn't know and some jogging and stretching.  The catchers also took some batting practice. 

A big topic on the first day was CC Sabathia and gaining his weight back.  He lost a lot of weight over the last two seasons and everyone was asking for him to get heavy again because they felt it affected him.  It turns out they may have been right as Sabathia talked about not having the right balance, we will see though as the games start if he is just done or if he has anything left.  I will say that the extra weight can't be good for his degenerative knee. 

Joe Girardi acknowledged on Saturday that the Yankees will "do things more in this spring training" to teach hitters to beat the defensive shift.  It doesn't look like the Yankees are trying to force anything on the hitters but they are talking about it and preaching it which I think is a good thing.  The game has changed and offense is down, in my opinion the hitters need to adjust and take what is given to them.  If they hit enough balls the other way and beat the shift, the shift will stop eventually. 

McCann was one of the guys affected by the shift the most.  He has been working on beating it all winter but said that wasn't the biggest reason for his numbers being down.  He said that his bat path last year was out of whack.  He said he had to go back during the off-season and study what he was doing wrong.  He said he was able to pinpoint what the problem was and he feels good coming into camp.  McCann caught only one bullpen on the first day but it was from a new guy.  The new guy is not new to McCann though as he and David Carpenter worked together in Atlanta.  He is high on him saying he setup for Kimbrel in Atlanta and the Yankees are expecting big things this year from him. 

McCann said he was sent about 10-15 video clips of every new pitcher this year and they must of been pretty long clips.  He said he feels like he saw pretty much every outing from last year of all of those pitchers. 

Carlos Beltran went through outfield drills with Rob Thomson and took batting practice with McCann and also John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine.  There were three pitchers who attracted the most attention from the media on day one.  They were Sabathia because of being injured last year, Jacob Lindgren who was last year's top pick and is quickly rising through the ranks.  They feel he could be on the big league club this season.  The last guy is Luis Severino who is considered the Yankees top prospect.  Joe Girardi said "It's a live arm", It's a player who is bigger in stature than I thought when I heard some of the comparisons.  He's bigger than I thought.  A lot of times you worry about the rigors of players that are extremely thin, but he's a strong young kid, I believe, with a lot of talent." 

The Yankees hired former Angels outfielder Reggie Willits to be their minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator.  He'll be one of several minor league coaches working with the players in big league camp this year. 

The former Yankees who are listed as special guest instructors this spring are: Eric Chavez, Billy Connors, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill and Andy Pettitte. 

Joe Girardi said this after day one,  “There’s a collection of good young arms here. Obviously there’s guys that you’ve seen, but you look at the younger players that we had a chance to look at today. Those are some pretty good arms. And it’s not just from one side. It’s not just right-handed or left-handed, it’s both. And that’s exciting to us.”

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