Quick hits from Yankees camp
Yankees pitchers and catchers are in the house, and Spring Training is officially underway. Here’s our first installment of report-day quick hits from the clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field:
No pressure: Masahiro Tanaka arrived in camp to find that he had been assigned a corner locker on the pitchers’ wall, the closest stall to the dining area. That’s prime real estate in Yankee-land. For the past several years, it’s the same place where Mariano Rivera stashed his belongings.
“One of the staff members actually told me,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I was like, ‘I’m not really sure if I should be here.’”
Tanaka played catch on the field today and said that he had a chance to chat with Hiroki Kuroda.
“He told me, ‘Just be yourself. Try not to do too much, do your own pace and you should be OK,’” Tanaka said.
Captain’s call: Both CC Sabathia and David Robertson said they weren’t surprised that 2014 will be Derek Jeter’s final season, but they were caught off guard that Jeter decided to announce his decision so early.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Robertson said. “I just didn’t think he was going to announce it, but I’m really glad he’s going to make sure to give the fans a chance to come out this year and see him in his final season.”
“Not really surprised,” Sabathia said. “You want to think a guy like that is going to play forever. I’m saddened, I guess, because he’s not going to be around.”
CC slims: Sabathia said that he weighed in at 275 pounds this morning, which he guessed was his lightest report-day weight since he was with the Indians. Sabathia said he was closer to 285-290 last spring at this time.
“I really lost a lot of weight last year,” Sabathia said. “I went from about 315 to like 280. I just did no carbs and then really worked out. This offseason I watched my diet and worked really hard and I lost five pounds.”
iCatch: Brian McCann said that he received a special package in the mail from the Yankees in November, and it helped give him a head start in learning a new pitching staff this spring.
“I got an iPad in the mail two days later with everybody’s two good games, two bad games, all the hitters in the AL East,” McCann said. “As soon as we signed Tanaka, I got all his starts, so I’ve seen it. Now I want to get to know everybody and what their mindset is.”
New core? Not so fast: McCann shrugged off a reporter’s suggestion that he might be part of the equation in replacing Jeter as the face of the Yankees.
“I haven’t even played a game. It’s not the case,” McCann said. “I haven’t even put the uniform on yet. I think that word gets thrown around a little bit too much for me. No one is going to replace that guy.
“I got to see it first-hand with Chipper. No one is going to come in and replace Chipper Jones. It’s not happening.”
Mo’s stamp of approval: Robertson said that it was important to him that Rivera gave him a vote of confidence as the Yankees’ new closer.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Mariano and I think he knows what I’m capable of and he’s always told me what I’m capable of. I think I have the abilities to be the closer. It’s not proven yet. But I know in my heart I can do it, I just have to go out there and prove it to myself.”
What’s in a number?: The Yankees wasted no time re-assigning uniform No. 24, with Robinson Cano now a member of the Mariners. That number will be worn this spring by non-roster invitee Scott Sizemore.
Absent: The locker normally occupied by Alex Rodriguez is empty with no name plate. Rodriguez will be serving a 162-game suspension this season and does not plan to attend Spring Training.