Notes from Spring Game 2: Phillies 3, Yankees 1
What happened: Alex Rodriguez said he was “nervous” as he returned to the diamond for his first game action in 17 months. Rodriguez singled on an 0-2 Kevin Slowey fastball in his first at-bat, grounded into a fielder’s choice against Paul Clemens in the third inning and worked a walk on a full-count offering from Ethan Martin in the sixth inning before exiting for a pinch-runner.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi made his Yankees debut, allowing a run on two hits in two innings with no walks and a strikeout. So did left-hander Andrew Miller, who pitched around a hit in a scoreless third inning with two strikeouts. Gary Sanchez’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly produced the Yanks’ only run.
What we learned: A-Rod can still catch up with an 89 mph fastball. He swung and missed at the first two offerings from Slowey, which were clocked at 91 mph, before making contact with the third pitch. Rodriguez admitted he didn’t really hit it hard, but it looks fine in the box score. The Yankees have said it will take until the last two weeks of camp to properly evaluate what Rodriguez is and can be for them this season.
“His at-bats were fine,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He got a two-strike hit, worked a walk, hit a ground ball hard today. At-bats aren’t necessarily easy for a lot of guys this time of year. Trying to get your timing, guys are changing speeds, sometimes their command is not as great and some of the at-bats can be uncomfortable. There’s a lot of things that go on early in Spring Training that guys are just trying to get to where they feel comfortable in the box.”
What else: The reaction from the home crowd was largely positive for Rodriguez, though he did acknowledge hearing a smattering of boos. … Masahiro Tanaka threw a 30-pitch bullpen and could appear in a Grapefruit League game by the end of next week. His next step is likely a simulated game. … Carlos Beltran is scheduled to make his spring debut on Friday night against the Pirates, playing right field. … A-Rod is likely to DH in that game, though he worked out with coach Jody Reed on Wednesday morning at both infield corners and the Yanks haven’t ruled out him playing defense as soon as Friday. … Shortstop Cito Culver made a sparkling defensive play to take away an eighth-inning hit. … Scott Baker will start for the Yankees on Saturday against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla.
What went wrong: Stephen Drew made an error on the first ball hit to him this spring, unable to corral a routine grounder from Odubel Herrera. Drew said that he is still working on ironing out the angles at second base, a position he had never played in his career before becoming a Yankee last July.
“It’s still that ticking process in my mind, especially in Spring Training,” Drew said. “Little things I’m running through to get more comfortable. I know I did it last year just on a whim, but to be able to not be thinking during a game — just be able to do it like I do at short, where everything comes natural.”
Injury report: Brendan Ryan (back) “felt a little sore” after throwing, hitting and taking ground balls Tuesday, according to Girardi, so they took it easy with him today.
What they said: “It’s going to be a spring of firsts – everything feels a little odd right now, even stepping into the box with my metal cleats, saying hi to [umpire] Marty Foster and [Phillies catcher] Tommy Joseph behind the plate, everything feels a little strange for me.
“It’s going to take time. I think two or three weeks from now I’ll have a better idea. Right now it’s all about getting into playing shape.” — Alex Rodriguez