On deck: This week in Yankees camp
The Yankees will enjoy a true off-day on Monday, with absolutely no player activity at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It’s their first of the spring, and that rest is probably a good thing — the Bombers are about to tuck a busy week of activity under their collective belts, highlighted by the upcoming trip to reunite with Mariano Rivera in Panama.
I’ll be away from the ballpark until I head to the airport for the games in Panama, but you can always get the latest updates on what’s happening at camp by clicking to yankees.com. Here’s a look at what’s on deck this week:
Tuesday, March 11: Yankees at Nationals, Viera, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET
CC Sabathia said that he didn’t mind making this long trip because – and this is a veteran move – he motored on up to Orlando on Sunday night and is spending the off-day there with his family. Viera is a much more pleasant drive when you’re shooting over from the land of Mickey. The Yanks have a solid travel roster for this one; Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira are aboard. Masahiro Tanaka will stay behind in Tampa and throw in a simulated game.
Wednesday, March 12: Tigers at Yankees, Tampa, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET
Hiroki Kuroda gets the nod in this one. It really is amazing how Kuroda continues to fly under the radar; he was their best pitcher for the first 4 1/2 months of last season and continues to look solid this spring, but Kuroda is overshadowed time and time again as the spotlight goes to the Derek Jeter retirement tour, Tanaka’s arrival and other key storylines. Something tells me that Kuroda doesn’t mind at all. Neither have guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, for that matter.
Thursday, March 13: Orioles at Yankees (ss), Tampa, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET.
Thursday, March 13: Yankees (ss) at Phillies, Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET
What to watch, what to watch? We’ll have coverage of both games, but to me the more interesting story is probably going to be Michael Pineda on the mound against Baltimore. Pineda showed a lot of promise in those first two innings against the Tigers last week, including a four-pitch strikeout of Miguel Cabrera that was quite nasty. I think a lot of fans probably forgot about Pineda, but if he’s healthy, he will be a factor for this team. Let’s see if he can build on that first outing.
Friday, March 14: Twins at Yankees, Tampa, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET
David Phelps continues his bid for a rotation spot. The competition got a lot more interesting when Pineda came back and looked – at least in a first impression – like a viable candidate. The Yankees are excited about that, but Pineda is still going to be looked at as a wild card for a little while. Phelps is solid and proven, and he’s had success in the rotation and out of the bullpen at the Major League level. To me, Phelps has a roster spot on the team, it’s just determining where he can help the most.
Saturday, March 15: Orioles at Yankees (ss), Tampa, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 15: Marlins at Yankees (ss), Panama, 9:05 p.m. ET
I’m very excited about this trip; it’s not often that you have to pack a passport for a Spring Training game. The Yankees have been looking forward to it as a highlight of the spring, and it’s no surprise that you saw guys like Jeter, Sabathia, Beltran, Brian McCann and David Robertson all quickly raise their hands and volunteer to go. Mariano Rivera will be on the scene for the games at Rod Carew Stadium; Adam Warren starts the first night game. The squad staying behind in Tampa will be managed by Rob Thomson, and they’ll have Vidal Nuno on the mound to face Baltimore.
Sunday, March 16: Braves at Yankees (ss), Tampa, Fla., 1:05 p.m. ET
Sunday, March 16, Marlins at Yankees (ss), Panama, 2:05 p.m. ET
This will be a nice treat for anyone attending the game at Steinbrenner Field: Tanaka is scheduled to make his second start of the spring, tuning up after his simulated game earlier in the week. Down in Panama, Sabathia draws the call for the Yanks. Sabathia said that this will be his second trip to Panama… he joined Andruw Jones for a celebrity softball game at Rod Carew Stadium a couple of years ago, and Sabathia said that he played first base that day. Sabathia said the outfield conditions were a little shaky then, but Major League Baseball has been working on getting the field game-ready. As long as the mound is big-league caliber, Sabathia won’t mind.