Spring opener: “I think we’re ready to start playing”

The Yankees kicked off their exhibition schedule today at George M. Steinbrenner Field, pouring it on with an 11-0 whitewashing of the University of South Florida Bulls. This marked the third time the Yankees have played USF in Spring Training, having also done it in 2008 and 1982.

You can imagine it’s a huge thrill for the college kids to get their crack on this stage; I can’t pretend to know what the future holds for USF left-hander Matt Reed, for example, but he can always tell people about the time he got Derek Jeter to hit a soft grounder to third base and induced Alex Rodriguez to pop out harmlessly to second base. And for the Yankees, if nothing else, it’s a nice warmup for the 33-game exhibition schedule to come.

Here is the rundown:

What went right: Yankees pitchers combined for nine innings of scoreless, four-hit ball against USF, walking none and striking out 10. Adam Warren picked up the win with two innings of one-hit, two-strikeout ball. Brett Marshall pitched two scoreless innings and was followed by scoreless frames from Dan Burawa, Juan Cedeno, Graham Stoneburner, Ryan Pope and Kevin Whelan.

“I’m really happy with all the strikes that we threw from our young kids,” manager Joe Girardi said.

It was a pretty quick 2:16 game played in front of a crowd of 7,972. Zoilo Almonte was 2-for-2 with a run scored, a triple and four RBIs for New York; Ramiro Pena tripled and scored three runs. Eduardo Nunez also tripled.

What went wrong: Not much; a pretty perfect day all around for the Yankees, except for first base coach Mick Kelleher – he got smacked with a first-inning Curtis Granderson ground ball, starting the season off on a black and blue note. The regulars logged their one or two at-bats and then hit the highway for the afternoon. They were long gone by the time the clubhouse opened after the final out.

What they said: “I think it’s nice for guys to get their first at-bat in. Maybe some of the younger kids, especially, so the first time they go up there in their first big league camp, they have something under their belt.” – Joe Girardi, on what the Yankees got out of this day.

What’s next: The Yankees open their Grapefruit League exhibition slate on Saturday with a 1:05 p.m. ET start against the Phillies at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. Right-hander Ivan Nova will draw the start for New York, with catcher Russell Martin and the starting outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher among those scheduled to make the trip.

Injury update: Catcher Kyle Higashioka (shoulder) was able to catch on Friday and will swing a bat on Monday, Girardi said. Russell Branyan (back) is now day-to-day, while Manny Delcarmen (strained lat), Austin Romine (back) and George Kontos (oblique) remain sidelined.

Pictures of the day

Derek Jeter bats against USF's Matt Reed.

Jeter fires across the infield.

Brett Gardner finishes his BP round.

Joe Girardi has a word with Gardner by the cage.

Mark Teixeira gets his infield work in.

David Adams keeps his eye on the ball.

Nick Swisher gets his hitting in while USF's roster watches.

Don't call it a comeback! The skipper keeps his arm loose.


And so the (semi-)serious games begin. Here’s to what will hopefully be another great season.


I think we’re ready to start watching.


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