As snow falls in New York, spring is getting a little closer

While we all sit back and wait to see who the Yankees will sign as that smaller, right-handed hitting outfield piece (Chad Jennings has a great rundown of their possible options), it sounds like Kevin Long is in the running as the busiest person on the Yankees payroll.

K-Long is down in Miami working out with A-Rod, who started swinging a bat again on Monday and looks just like the “explosive” slugger of old – good news for the Yankees, certainly. That follows a lengthy December session with Nick Swisher, who is a “man on a mission” to correct certain flaws in his swing, specifically to better react to breaking balls.

That’s what killed him during the playoffs, as he was fed a steady diet of anything but fastballs (remember that heartbreaking pop-up in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Angels’ Brian Fuentes? I had to talk to Swisher for a Q&A after that game and I’ve never seen him so dismayed and … just un-Swisherlike, if I can create a word). Perhaps that approach won’t work so well for opponents this year.

Hey, speaking of Swisher, I’m updating the links lists on this blog (a fun January task) and just noticed there’s a Swish Shop on his official site. I’ll say this for those t-shirts — they look like something he’d wear, for sure. How about you guys?

Back to baseball, next week, Curtis Granderson is planning to check in with Long in Arizona, trying to get a jump on that pesky problem of hitting left-handed pitchers. Even Robinson Cano expressed interest this week in getting in on the act, but as Long said, he’s not sure how he can fit in a trip to the Dominican Republic given this busy dance card.

Joba Chamberlain will be honored on Feb. 2 in New York as a recipient of the Thurman Munson Award, recognizing philanthropic endeavors in the community, and CC Sabathia made a late-night appearance with Jay Leno on Thursday, taking on Denzel Washington in a battle of Yankees trivia wits. No truth to the rumor that CC will be accompanying Leno to the 11:30 time slot.

Meanwhile, the World Series trophy is in the Dominican Republic, and it’s in good hands. Robinson Cano, Damaso Marte, Francisco Cervelli, Tony Pena and Felix Lopez made sure the trophy arrived safe and sound for a visit with President Leonel Fernandez (thanks to WasWatching.com for the alert).

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