Hello from Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., where the Yankees will kick off a long day of baseball by playing their first split-squad game of the spring at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Phillies. Bryan Mitchell gets the nod for the Yankees in this one, with Cole Hamels on the hill for Philadelphia.
We’ll drive back across the Courtney Campbell Causeway for action under the lights tonight at George M. Steinbrenner Field, where the Yankees will host the Pirates. Alex Rodriguez is slated to DH in that one, marking his second spring game, and Carlos Beltran will make his spring debut in right field. Chris Capuano gets the start for the Yanks against Jeff Locke.
Here are the lineups for the first game of the day:
Didi Gregorius ss
Chase Headley 3b
Stephen Drew 2b
Mark Teixeira 1b
Greg Bird dh
Gary Sanchez c
Ramon Flores lf
Aaron Judge rf
Slade Heathcott cf
Bryan Mitchell rhp
In relief: Jose Ramirez, Nick Goody, Jaron Long, Matt Tracy, Mark Montgomery
Odubel Herrera cf
Freddy Galvis ss
Grady Sizemore dh
Ryan Howard 1b
Darin Ruf lf
Cody Asche 3b
Carlos Ruiz c
Jeff Francoeur rf
Cord Phelps 2b
Cole Hamels lhp
In relief: Adam Morgan, Ken Giles, Jake Diekman, Nefi Ogando, Andy Oliver, Luis Garcia
What happened: Tyler Austin showed off his impressive power, crushing a long solo home run to left field that cleared a seating area and landed in a grass parking area. Austin’s eighth-inning shot off one-time Mets prospect Deolis Guerra lifted the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field.
“Pretty impressive,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Not sure where it landed, but it’s somewhere back there. The cars probably took a little damage. I’d ask for my money back if I parked back there.”
Esmil Rogers started for the Yankees and pitched two scoreless innings around a hit, with one strikeout. Chase Whitley also worked two scoreless innings. Nick Rumbelow struck out the side in the eighth. Garrett Jones went 2-for-2 with an RBI in a return to his old stomping grounds.
What we learned: Rogers said that he was visited at his locker last week by Mariano Rivera. Rogers said that Rivera talked to him about the mental and physical demands of pitching in the big leagues, and also offered some advice about keeping his front shoulder closed. When Rivera tells you something like that, it’s a good idea to listen. Rogers said that he has also been talking to Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez in camp.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to hear from people like that,” he said.
What we’re talking about: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reiterated comments that he made during Derek Jeter’s final weekend as an active player, saying Thursday that he would not recommend that the Yankees hand out the captaincy to another player for the foreseeable future. Jeter was the 16th captain in franchise history, and if Cashman has his way, he will be the last.
“From my chair, it’s not something I think we have to fill,” Cashman said. “From another chair, it might be a different opinion, but I think we have leaders here now. We have a number of different people that are very strong leaders and high-quality individuals. That doesn’t mean you have to put a ‘C’ on it.”
What else: CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Dellin Betances were among the pitchers throwing simulated games back in Tampa. Joe Girardi said that all of the reports were positive and that pitching coach Larry Rothschild was encouraged. … Girardi said that it was nice to see a young player like Tyler Wade get a hit in big league camp. Wade, a 20-year-old shortstop, singled in the ninth inning. He played last year at Class-A Charleston. … Carlos Beltran will make his spring debut Friday against the Pirates at Steinbrenner Field, playing right field. Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to DH in that night game.
One more thing: I wandered into the Pirates’ clubhouse, where there are ex-Yankees galore, and caught up with Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli said that it was “a little weird” to be traded, but he started feeling at home during the Pirates’ FanFest and that “now it feels like I’ve been here for a long time.” Being teammates with Chris Stewart and A.J. Burnett has helped, too.
“My career’s not done, yet. I did what I could there,” Cervelli said. “I tried, but injuries, I had the opportunity with Chris in 2013 and I got hurt. Now I’ve got a second chance. But I think the Yankees were the best thing that ever happened in my life. My foundation, the way they treat us since the minor-leagues – win, win, win, win, win; that was the mentality. I think they prepared me and I’m ready for this job.”
Cervelli said that he still speaks with Carlos Beltran, but hasn’t talked to Alex Rodriguez — not really surprising, considering they crossed paths in the Biogenesis investigation that resulted in Cervelli’s 50-game drug ban. Cervelli called his 2013 season “a nightmare” and said he looks at it as a learning experience.
“I learned about life,” Cervelli said. “Don’t rush any decision you want to make.”
Injury report: Brendan Ryan (back) rode a stationary bicycle back at Yankees camp on Thursday, according to Girardi.
What they said: “I don’t think there’s any one guy that’s going to step up and do that (replace Jeter). That’s a guy that can’t be replaced. Whether it’s on the field or off the field, his leadership qualities and the things that he accomplished in his career, especially at such a young age. We’ve got a lot of guys in here that might not have been with the Yankees for a long time, but have a long time in the league. They’re good teammates and good leaders. I think we’ve got a good group of guys in here that get along really well. I think it’s going to be a fun year.” – Brett Gardner
Hello from historic McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., where the Yankees will play their third exhibition of the spring this afternoon, visiting the Pirates. Esmil Rogers is making the start for New York, with Francisco Liriano on the mound for the Bucs. It’s 82 degrees and sunny.
Here are the lineups:
Jacoby Ellsbury cf
Brett Gardner lf
Chris Young rf
Garrett Jones 1b
John Ryan Murphy c
Jose Pirela 3b
Kyle Roller dh
Rob Refsnyder 2b
Cito Culver ss
Esmil Rogers rhp
In relief: Chase Whitley, Nick Rumbelow, Cesar Vargas, Fred Lewis, Chasen Shreve.
Jose Tabata lf
Gregory Polanco rf
Andrew McCutchen dh
Starling Marte cf
Andrew Lambo 1b
Jung Ho Kang ss
Chris Stewart c
Sean Rodriguez 2b
Justin Sellers 3b
Francisco Liriano rhp
In relief: Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Tyler Glasnow, Clayton Richard, Deolis Guerra, Jeremy Bleich.
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