It’s understandable if you might have missed a story or two coming out of Yankees camp last week. There are only so many panels and headline slots on the main Yankees.com page, and the Bombers were providing more than enough to keep the store fully stocked. Here’s a look back at the content we sent out to the ‘net:
- Masahiro Tanaka is getting adjusted to life in Yankees camp. He seems to be the real deal, according to Brian McCann.
- Derek Jeter held a press conference and said that 2014 was the right time to retire. Hal Steinbrenner missed Jeter’s first call. Jeter explained why he used Facebook to make his announcement. The captain was the star of the team’s first workout.
- Mark Teixeira said that he expects to play 150-plus games. Brian Roberts didn’t go quite that far, but he expects to be on the field more than he was with Baltimore. The pinstripes are feeling right so far for Jacoby Ellsbury & Carlos Beltran.
- Entering an uncertain spring, Ichiro Suzuki still thinks he’ll be able to find a niche with this team. Brett Gardner does too. David Phelps would like to figure out a role.
- Hideki Matsui is in camp; so is Jorge Posada. Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera indirectly convinced Hiroki Kuroda to pitch another season.
- CC Sabathia checked out his mechanics over the winter in Birmingham, Ala. Andrew Bailey is coming to town on a Minor League contract.
- Yankees president Randy Levine joined MLB.com for a Q&A. He expects a special season ahead.
- MLB.com’s Barry Bloom dropped by to compare the Yanks’ Joes: Girardi vs. Torre. Anthony Castrovince wondered if we’ll ever get to know the real Jeter. Alfonso Soriano has the flu.
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If you’re just counting from the official date for pitchers and catchers, the first week of camp is in the books for the Yankees, and so here are the photos to prove it. Today’s main attraction took place early in the morning, as Masahiro Tanaka faced live hitters for the first time since he closed out the Japan Series for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles last Nov. 3rd.
There’s plenty of the big stars in today’s gallery of snapshots — and a few that wound up on the cutting room floor, too. Here’s the best ones I gathered. I think we’ve gone a little light on the pitchers so far this spring, photo-wise. Now that we’re getting in the swing of things, that’ll be something to look for in the near future.
As for our stories, I’m be handing the game ball over to MLB.com’s Adam Berry (@adamdberry) for the next few days. Stay tuned to his feed — and, of course to Yankees.com — more updates from camp. Enjoy the weekend!
All photos credit: Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Spring Training is a great time to break out the old camera and play photographer for an hour or so. Here’s an assortment of shots I was able to snap this afternoon while the Yankees held their first full-squad workout of the spring. Today’s photos were only on the main diamond at George M. Steinbrenner Field, but we’ll aim to have more posts like this one periodically between now and Opening Day.
All photographs credit: Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
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.