Friday’s early camp notes: Rivera throws BP, Posada arrives, travel roster set
Twenty-pitch batting practice sessions to hitters wearing Nos. 98 and 99 aren’t usually a big deal in Spring Training, but you can understandably make an exception when Mariano Rivera is the guy on the mound. Especially when he hasn’t faced a hitter since April 30, 2012.
(The last hitter he faced before throwing to Rob Segedin this morning, by the way, was Baltimore’s Nick Markakis. Rivera induced a 6-4-3 double play and got the save.)
Rivera threw 20 pitches and two pitch-outs to Segedin and Kyle Roller and reported back feeling good about how it went. There’s only so much you can take from a batting practice session, but he was excited — not nervous — to face hitters for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right ACL last year. More than anything, he wanted to see how hitters react and get a better feel for how his command’s coming along.
“I just want to see hitters,” Rivera said. “The one thing that I want to do is go out there in a real game. That’s my goal, to go out there in a real game and see how everything responds.”
How long until that happens remains to be seen. The closer guessed he’d throw a few more batting practice sessions and work in the bullpen to get built up before finally taking the mound in a Spring Training game, but he said he’s not trying to rush at all. He mentioned that he’s got a “long time” — and he tacked on about four or five o’s to that first word.
The real test of the 43-year-old Rivera’s surgically repaired right ACL will come in games, when he might have to cover first or field bunts. He’s been doing that here on the back fields at Yankees camp but said it’s not the same as doing so in a game.
One thing that hasn’t gone anywhere, Rivera said, is his command. He said he wasn’t worried about it disappearing in the time he’s taken off — that’s just not the way he allows himself to think — but he was still pleased with the way he threw the ball Friday morning.
“That’s one thing that, thank God, I never worry about — the command,” he said. “It took no vacation. It’s still there. Hasn’t gone nowhere, guys. Still there. So that’s good.”
In other news…
-Jorge Posada was on the field for Rivera’s bullpen session this morning, as he showed up today to serve as a guest instructor for the Yankees.
-The Yankees posted their travel roster for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Not exactly a star-studded group hopping on board that morning bus to Disney, but as manager Joe Girardi said Thursday, they are sending Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Eduardo Nunez. Right-hander David Phelps will be the starting pitcher.
Melky Mesa is expected to start in center field. Catchers Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine and outfielders Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz will also make the trip, as will infielder Dan Johnson, who’s been getting some work at third base lately.