We’re finally back here at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa following yesterday’s journey up Interstate 4 to Kissimmee — a trip that’s supposed to take about 80 minutes one-way, but wound up taking about twice that last night… a few wrecks, a concert in the area, pretty much everything short of a zombie apocalypse. But hey, you didn’t come here to talk about Florida traffic, did you?
The Rays come to town this afternoon for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest that you can watch on YES and will be broadcast on WFAN. David Phelps gets the starting call for the Yankees and Chris Archer is on the hill for Tampa Bay.
Here are the lineups:
Desmond Jennings CF
Matt Joyce LF
Wil Myers RF
James Loney 1B
Sean Rodriguez 3B
Cole Figueroa 2B
Ryan Hanigan C
Jose Molina DH
Jayson Nix SS
Chris Archer RHP
Also scheduled to pitch: Jeff Beliveau, Josh Lueke, Adam Liberatore, Braulio Lara.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano LF
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki DH
Yangervis Solarte 3B
David Phelps RHP
Also scheduled to pitch: Dellin Betances, Bruce Billings.
Hello from Mickey’s doorstep in Kissimmee, Fla., where the Yankees and Astros will meet this afternoon for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Today’s game is being televised and will be shown on MLB Network. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are also here with the radio call, which can be heard in New York on WFAN (man, that’s going to take some getting used to).
Ivan Nova gets the start for New York, but the more interesting storyline will be the spring debut of left-hander Manny Banuelos, who is scheduled to pitch in relief. This is the first time Banuelos has faced hitters since his Tommy John surgery, and after Banuelos declared earlier in camp that 2014 will be his year to get to the big leagues, it’ll be a good opportunity to see what his stuff looks like.
Here are the lineups:
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Kelly Johnson DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Dean Anna SS
Scott Sizemore 3B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Mason Williams RF
Ivan Nova RHP
Also scheduled to pitch: Manny Banuelos, Cesar Cabral, David Herndon, Fred Lewis.
Dexter Fowler CF
Jose Altuve 2B
Jason Castro C
Chris Carter DH
Marc Krauss 1B
Jesus Guzman LF
L.J. Hoes RF
Jonathan Villar SS
Cesar Izturis 3B
Jarred Cosart RHP
Also scheduled to pitch: Chad Qualls, Darin Downs, Jake Buchanan, Jorge De Leon, Paul Clemens.
It’s raining here in Tampa, and the Yankees’ bus to Clearwater has been delayed until 11:15 a.m. Today’s game against the Phillies appears to be in jeopardy of a washout, which means we’ll have to scrap any plans of seeing Masahiro Tanaka’s first spring start, the spring debuts of Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano, and another day of the Derek Jeter watch.
Update 12:15 p.m. ET: OK, so I’m in Clearwater. Just before pulling into the stadium complex, I got an emergency text message telling me there were tornado warnings in the area and that I should seek shelter immediately. There are lakes in the outfield. Other than that, “I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while.“
Here’s the view that the Yankees had of their dugout at Bright House Field, courtesy of traveling secretary Ben Tuliebitz:
— Ben Tuliebitz (@travelingsec) March 6, 2014
In the meantime, let’s roll the clock back to yesterday’s Yankees coverage:
What we learned: Mark Teixeira didn’t feel like he got enough swings during David Herndon’s sim game yesterday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Teixeira has had a tough time getting work in this week; there were no pitchers available Tuesday, he only got three swings yesterday and today Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. Lucky for Tex that it’s so early in camp. Then again, considering he injured his wrist by overuse, a light schedule isn’t the worst thing in the world.
What we wrote:
- Rays 5, Yankees 4: Betances lights-out, Warren solid vs. Rays (…rough spring so far for Robert Coello, wearing Joba Chamberlain’s old No. 62)
- Tanaka to face top of Phillies’ order in first start (…weather permitting)
- After dealing with illness, Soriano set to debut (…weather permitting)
- Ex-starter Betances could earn job in Yanks’ bullpen (…just keep throwing strikes)
- El Duque joins Yanks as Minors pitching instructor
And since you’re already here, and I probably won’t get a chance to post this video again, let’s all do the El Duque.
They said it: “I thought I was going to get a lot more work the last few days, but I do what I am told.” – Mark Teixeira
What we learned: You just never know what to expect around the Yankees. I came to the ballpark expecting to write something about David Robertson’s first spring appearance, and while we did pay attention to the closer’s scoreless inning, the arrival of Joe Willie Namath seemed to upstage everything. Andy Pettitte also arrived in camp, and Reggie Jackson seemed to enjoy the increased media attention in the Yankees clubhouse.
What we wrote:
- Yankees 4, Nationals 2: Big second, super Nova pace Yankees
- When legends collide: Namath, Jeter meet
- Mariano receives ROBIE Humanitarian Award
- Berra: Sleepover with Cooperstown legends
- Tex takes another step toward game action
- Nova’s control on display vs. Nationals
They said it: “Knowing the scrutiny that he’s had over the years, I can’t imagine how the guy could be an angel like this. He’s to be respected in every phase of his life, it seems.” – Joe Namath on Derek Jeter
Mark Teixeira said that it was “pretty uneventful” to stand in against live pitching on Monday morning, but as the Yankees first baseman inches back toward game action, every step is an important one.
Teixeira took three swings from each side of the plate on the main field at George M. Steinbrenner Field, facing left-hander Manny Banuelos and right-hander Jose Campos. Teixeira ended the session with a solid single to left field off Banuelos.
“I wish I’d gotten a little more work, but we’ll get more work the next time I’m out there,” Teixeira said.
Teixeira said that he has not had any issues with his surgically repaired right wrist, but hitting left-handed is his main concern since it is his bottom hand from that side.
“In BP I’ve been swinging hard, but BP swings and game swings are totally different when you’ve got a guy throwing 90-plus,” Teixeira said. “I didn’t get any inside pitches, which I was hoping for today, but we’ll get more work in and I’m sure it will keep getting better.”
Teixeira said that the plan is to take live batting practice again on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then play on Thursday against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.
“I feel pretty good. We’ve been here over two weeks now and the wrist is getting stronger,” Teixeira said. “That’s the biggest thing. It needs to get stronger. The bat speed is pretty good. We’ll keep building up and hopefully on April 1 it’s feeling really good and the swing’s feeling really good and I’m ready to roll.”
What we learned: Michael Pineda is reclaiming his nasty stuff. He shattered Zoilo Almonte’s bat with a hard inside fastball in live batting practice, and Scott Sizemore estimated that Pineda was throwing in the low-to-mid 90′s. He’ll get to pitch in a game for the first time on Friday against the Tigers. The Yankees would love to start getting some returns from that trade, so if Pineda shows anything approaching the form he had with Seattle in 2011, David Phelps and Adam Warren might fall out of the lead for the No. 5 rotation spot.
“I want to be on the Yankees right away,” Pineda said. “I don’t want to go to Triple-A. But I don’t have control of the situation, you know? I want to be ready to go.”
What we wrote:
- Yankees 8, Blue Jays 2: Beltran, Nunez, Murphy go deep for Yanks
- Tanaka tabbed to start against Phillies
- Beltran concerned with timing, not stats
- Tex set to take the field on Thursday or Friday
- Remnants of flu keep Soriano on the bench
They said it: “He looks great. He’s out there, he’s throwing the ball with authority, he’s competitive. He’s commanding the fastball to both sides of the plate. His fastball, his changeup and his slider look really good. I was really impressed. He looks really smooth, he looks really comfortable.” - Yankees catcher Peter O’Brien, on Michael Pineda.
Derek Jeter is scheduled to play in his first game of any kind since Sept. 7 today, as the Yankees open their home Grapefruit League schedule this afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Today’s game will be televised on YES and also can be heard on WFAN — and, of course, you can access those via MLB.com. First pitch from George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Here are the lineups:
Jeff Decker LF
Gregor Polanco CF
Chris Dickerson RF
Andrew Lambo 1B
Tony Sanchez DH
Chris Stewart C
Josh Harrison 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Michael Martinez 2B
Charlie Morton RHP
Also scheduled to pitch: Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton, Yao-Hsun Yang, Daniel Schlereth and Cody Eppley.
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brian Roberts 2B
Francisco Cervelli C
Kelly Johnson 3B
Austin Romine DH
Russ Canzler 1B
Mason Williams CF
David Phelps RHP
Also scheduled to pitch: Preston Claiborne, Jim Miller, Chris Leroux, Mark Montgomery, Cesar Cabral and Robert Coello.
This and that: Eduardo Nunez is feeling better after a bout with food poisoning. He expects to be on tomorrow’s trip to play the Tigers in Lakeland. In case you’re wondering, the salmon at the Nordstrom restaurant is suspect. … David Herndon threw live batting practice this morning. Brian Gordon, Bryan Mitchell, Shane Greene, Vidal Nuno and Matt Thornton all threw bullpens.
What happened: Regardless of what you might have heard, read and seen, Derek Jeter wants to make one thing clear — Wednesday’s gathering in the pavilion beyond left field at George M. Steinbrenner Field was not a retirement press conference. We’ll get to that in September or – if he has his way – October.
For now, Jeter has Spring Training to get through and a whole season left to play, but yes, this will be the final Major League season for the Yankees captain.
“I felt as though this was the right time,” Jeter said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time; this will be parts of 20 seasons that I’ve been playing here in New York and parts of 23 if you count the Minor Leagues. I just think I’ve done it long enough and I look forward to doing some other things in my life. But I can’t reiterate enough that we still have a season to play.”
Jeter said that his decision had nothing to do with his ankle or any other part of health; in fact, he told Hal Steinbrenner that this is the best he’s felt — ever. Jeter said that this offseason was the hardest that he’s ever worked, and he expects to be the Yankees’ everyday shortstop.
“It’s all about the time. You can’t do this forever,” Jeter said. “I’d like to, but you can’t do it forever. I feel as though the time is right after this year. There’s other things I want to do.”
“I want to have a family – that’s important to me,” Jeter said. “I have the utmost respect for all these guys that have kids and families. Being away, I have a young nephew, and you miss so many things. I don’t know how you guys do it, really. So I look forward to that. So there are some things I look forward to doing.”
What we learned: Mark Teixeira said this week that he thought Jeter could play until age 44 or 45. Jeter agreed that he probably has more than one year in him, but it’s the time commitment that is keeping him from signing up for that. As he said: “It’s not a sixth-month season, this is 12 months.”
What we learned II: Jeter reached out to Hal Steinbrenner on the evening of Feb. 11 to tell him about his decision, but Steinbrenner let the call go to voice mail. He didn’t hear it until after Jeter texted him the next morning, with the Facebook post locked and loaded to go.
“I didn’t recognize the area code,” Steinbrenner said. “I didn’t check the voicemail until the next day. It said Florida, but it was some crazy area code. My bad.”
What we learned III: Even though the Yankees do not plan to give out any more big league contracts this spring, Steinbrenner has seen the same things you’ve been talking about. It’s kind of odd that the Yankees could spend more than $500 million and have so many questions coming into the season, but Steinbrenner believes the Yankees will be able to handle any issues on the fly.
“There are areas of concerns and we’re going to keep plugging away, but we’ve got to see how big of a concern they are,” Steinbrenner said. “They’re not problems yet because we haven’t even started playing. They’re areas of concern; I get it. Every team has them and every team works through them. We’re going to do the same thing. We got pretty good at it last year, I thought.”
What we learned IV: Here’s a glimpse of what it used to be like behind the scenes in the Yankees clubhouse, during the Joe Torre administration –
“I remember [Jeter] always yelling at Mr. Torre when he wanted to take him out of games,” Joe Girardi said, “and how was he ever going to break Cal [Ripken Jr.]‘s record if he kept pulling him out of games?”
What else: Jeter said that he can’t picture himself coming to Spring Training as a guest instructor. We’ll see about that. Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte seem to have enjoyed it in years past, as well as plenty of Jeter’s other former teammates. … Ichiro Suzuki said that after the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, his reaction was: “Oops!” … Ichiro and Masahiro Tanaka were teammates in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but Ichiro said that the pitchers and position players tend to run in different circles, so he didn’t get to know him much.
What they said: “I was really shocked, as I think were a lot of people. I didn’t want to believe it. But I was actually shocked that he was doing Facebook. That’s something that I was really shocked about.” – Ichiro Suzuki, on Derek Jeter’s announcement.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 19, 2014
What’s next: The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Thursday morning. Players must dress by 9:45 a.m. and should be on the field shortly after.
What happened: The morning started with Masahiro Tanaka throwing a 35-pitch bullpen beyond the right-field wall at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tanaka impressed manager Joe Girardi with his fluid motion, and catcher John Ryan Murphy said that after hearing so much about the Yankees’ $155 million man, it was a thrill to get behind the plate and see his stuff in real time.
“What surprised me was, the effort level looked minimal and it was coming out really good,” Murphy said. “All the hype, obviously, with him coming over here — it was a neat experience. It was fun.”
Tanaka threw all six of his pitches in the session – two-seamer, four-seamer, splitter, cutter, curveball and changeup. Tanaka said that he is still shaking off the last of his international jet lag, and he hasn’t seen much of Tampa other than the ballpark and the hotel. So what has been the most fun part of being a Yankee so far?
“I think that would be pitching in the bullpen, because I love to throw,” Tanaka said.
And then: Tanaka had left the complex by the time Yu Darvish’s news conference made a ripple in Yankees camp. Speaking in Surprise, Ariz., Darvish made a comment about Tanaka’s seven-year contract that he’d quickly backtrack from.
“I don’t know too much about the new posting system, but I think the Yankees gave him too much,” Darvish said, with a smile and a laugh. “I think [Hiroki] Kuroda, [Hisashi] Iwakuma and I really helped him as far how the scouts and teams evaluated him.”
Darvish’s tone got lost in the quote, which quickly popped onto Twitter and other outlets. Darvish later released this statement via the Rangers’ public relations department: “I am sorry if anyone took my comment seriously about Masahiro Tanaka at the press conference today. I assumed by the reaction in the room that everyone knew I was joking.”
Oh, and then: Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long told the New York Daily News on Sunday that he had been frustrated by his inability to get through to Robinson Cano about those slow jogs to first base.
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long told the newspaper, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
Those comments made it to Mariners camp, where Cano essentially said that he didn’t care to talk about it. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wasn’t shy, telling ESPN.com: “I’m a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ["Cage Rat"] proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting.”
Told of that quote, Brian Cashman laughed. “I would expect Lloyd McClendon to step up for his player. That doesn’t surprise me,” he said.
What we learned: Most people probably assumed it already, but Jacoby Ellsbury got the word from Joe Girardi – Ellsbury is the Yankees’ leadoff hitter and center fielder. Girardi had left a little bit of wiggle room when Ellsbury was officially introduced in the Bronx over the winter.
What we learned II: Kelly Johnson brought three gloves to camp. That’s a good idea — he’s not only the Yankees’ tentative starting third baseman, but also their backup second baseman, backup first baseman, and a reserve left fielder.
What we learned III: Brendan Ryan is big on the Los Angeles Clippers, which puts him in a good frame of mind to know what the fans will be thinking when Ryan is playing instead of Derek Jeter this year. Ryan said that he attended three Clippers games this season where Chris Paul was hurt … so, he gets it.
What else: Girardi said that there have been no discussions about keeping Tanaka from facing American League East teams during Spring Training.
What they said: “I was just catching some sun, to be honest. It’s so early; as long as everybody is free and easy, there’s really not much to tell from the bullpen sessions or batting practice. It was just a chance for me to come out try to turn white into red.” – Cashman, on watching Ivan Nova’s live BP session.
What’s next: Position players report to camp on Wednesday, but the big event of the day will happen in the pavilion at 11:30 a.m. ET, as Jeter discusses his decision to retire. The news conference can be seen on MLB.com, as well as the YES Network, MLB Network and ESPN.
What happened: Well, maybe not the full pinstripes, but close enough. Carlos Beltran stopped by the Minor League complex this afternoon, which is as good a sign as any that the report date for position players is right around the corner. Beltran worked out with Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez across the way and told reporters that he is excited to begin his first season with the Yankees.
“I feel great, man,” Beltran said. “Since we were able to agree on signing the three-year deal, I’m looking forward to the team. I think we have a real good team. We have a lineup that — hopefully everyone is healthy, that’s the main thing. I believe the lineup we have is a pretty good lineup. On paper, it looks pretty good. We have to get to know each other and find a way to play the game the right way.”
Beltran also said that he’s looking forward to being a part of Derek Jeter’s final season.
“Of course. Being able to play with a guy that’s a Hall of Famer – a first-ballot Hall of Famer – is a great feeling,” Beltran said. “I’m just looking forward to playing with him and hopefully helping this team win a championship. I know he has a lot of championships, but I don’t have [any]. Hopefully I can win one.”
What else happened: Michael Pineda threw a 35-pitch bullpen early this morning, and Joe Girardi said that he thinks Pineda looks a whole lot more fluid than he did two springs ago. There’s a long way to go between now and Opening Day, but if Pineda is anything close to the pitcher he was with the Mariners – and he says he is – then the fifth starter battle could be less of a competition than we thought.
“I’m feeling good. Really good,” Pineda said. “I’m throwing the same. Mechanics the same. Everything is the same. All pitches are the same. I’m the same Michael Pineda.”
There was no radar gun on Pineda, but Girardi said that Pineda was hitting 93 and 94 mph last year in the Minors.
“I thought the ball was coming out easier,” Girardi said. “I know he’s had time to clean up a couple things too, mechanically, in this two-year span. He just looked like it came out free and easy to me; didn’t look like he put a ton of effort into it, or that he was overthrowing it.”
What we learned: It’s a conversation that Derek Jeter probably doesn’t remember, but Brian Roberts will never forget it.
“I think it was maybe 2004,” Roberts said. “I was on second or something and he just said, ‘You can hit .300 in this league.’ That was kind of, to hear it from someone like that, it just kind of opens your eyes. I don’t think it’s just me, I think he does it to everybody, but for some reason when he tells it to you, you think you’re the most important person in the world. He’s just kind of got that personality, and he’s so good with people.”
What we learned II: This shouldn’t be a surprise, but Girardi seems to realize that he can’t count on Roberts to play 150-plus games, since he hasn’t it done it since 2009. Girardi listed Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez as players who will see time at second base this spring, and you can toss Dean Anna into that mix as well.
Mark Teixeira said he plans on playing 150-plus games, and surely that would be wonderful for the Yankees. It’s also quite likely we’ll see Girardi shuffle around playing time at every infield position.
“There’s some age in our infield, as there has been in the past,” Girardi said. “I need to give guys days off and spell them. It’s not the infield that we had in 2009, when you knew who you were going to run out there every day. But we believe that there’s a lot of capable players here that can put up offensive and defensive numbers. When you look at those numbers as a whole, they’re going to be pretty good.”
What else: Beltran was messing around taking ground balls at second base this afternoon. If that gets anywhere close to a game situation, something will have gone horribly wrong. … David Phelps, Adam Warren, Jim Miller, Vidal Nuno and Preston Claiborne pitched live batting practice. … Teixeira took about 90 swings in the cage, including those off the tee, from both sides of the plate. He also fielded ground balls at first base.
What they said: “Of course we have to win. I don’t know how far we will go, but at least we have to do something positive, better than what they did last year, no doubt about that. They went out and spent a lot of money on players to try to improve the ballclub.” – Beltran
What’s next: Another day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. Position players report on Wednesday, with the first full-squad workout set for Thursday.