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2014 Yankees Spring Training guest instructors

By popular request, here is the list of this year’s Yankees guest instructors for the spring:

Billy Connors (36)
Goose Gossage (54)
Ron Guidry (49)
Reggie Jackson (44)
Hideki Matsui (55)
Lee Mazzilli (24)
Stump Merrill (22)
Jorge Posada (20)
Willie Randolph (30)
David Wells (33)

Day 1: Masahiro Tanaka is off and running

Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan NovaWhat happened: The Yankees held their first official workout of the spring for pitchers and catchers on Saturday morning in Tampa, highlighted by a bullpen group that was comprised of Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. The bullpens went fine, with Tanaka throwing 32 pitches, but Tanaka said that he had trouble with the four lap run (approximately one mile) that concluded the workout.

“I actually didn’t know that I was going to run this much,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I’m a little bit of a slow runner, but that part I really can’t help.”

Tanaka said that his first workouts of the spring in Japan were typically longer, so he was expecting to throw more and he did fine with fielding practice. Chalk it up to one of those cultural adjustments that we’ve been talking about. Joe Girardi and the Yankees crafted the camp that way; Girardi stressed that he only wants his pitchers to build arm strength this week, and that no one is making the roster based upon the first bullpen.

What we learned: To give a rough estimate, the media crowd for Day 1 of Yankees camp seems to have doubled from last year, and obviously that’s due to Tanaka’s presence. Tanaka is used to having a lot of attention, but even he was a bit caught off guard by the crowds waiting on the practice field.

“Honestly, when I stepped out on the field today, I was very, very surprised how many media there were out there,” Tanaka said.

That group typically thins out as camp goes on, but that actually may not be the case this year. One Yankees staffer said it was the largest crowd of media members that he could remember since Hideki Matsui’s first spring.

What we learned II: Kuroda asked Tanaka if he’d like to be his throwing partner for the day, something that Tanaka said he hopes will continue whenever possible. Tanaka said at his Yankee Stadium press conference that he grew up tracking Kuroda’s career, so it must be something of an honor for Tanaka to hear that request.

(Hearing that Tanaka watched Kuroda as a boy also probably serves as a reminder for Kuroda that he’s entering his age 39 season.)

“I think it’s advantageous for Tanaka to have Kuroda here and making those adjustments,” Girardi said. “Because you’re looking at someone you probably watched pitch over there, in the big leagues there, and here. You saw him make the adjustment and how he did it, and that’s advantageous. There’s probably a natural bond there because of where they’re from, and that’s good for us.”

What else: Yankees catcher John Ryan Murphy is now going by his full given name, which is printed on his clubhouse locker. Murphy explained that his father’s name is also John, so their family and friends have always used middle names to differentiate between the two.

It was only when Murphy entered professional baseball that J.R. began to be used. Teammates of the 22-year-old, who played in 16 games for the Yankees last season, are just calling him “Murph.”

What they said: “He’s going to get used to that. When the whole team comes here, it’s going to be the same for everybody. He’s not the only guy who makes $100 million here.” – Francisco Cervelli, on the attention paid to Tanaka.

What’s next: The second day of workouts for pitchers and catchers will get underway Sunday morning. Expect to see the guys on the field shortly after 10 a.m. ET.

Quick hits from Yankees camp

Yankees pitchers and catchers are in the house, and Spring Training is officially underway. Here’s our first installment of report-day quick hits from the clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field:

Masahiro TanakaNo pressure: Masahiro Tanaka arrived in camp to find that he had been assigned a corner locker on the pitchers’ wall, the closest stall to the dining area. That’s prime real estate in Yankee-land. For the past several years, it’s the same place where Mariano Rivera stashed his belongings.

“One of the staff members actually told me,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I was like, ‘I’m not really sure if I should be here.’”

Tanaka played catch on the field today and said that he had a chance to chat with Hiroki Kuroda.

“He told me, ‘Just be yourself. Try not to do too much, do your own pace and you should be OK,’” Tanaka said.

Captain’s call: Both CC Sabathia and David Robertson said they weren’t surprised that 2014 will be Derek Jeter’s final season, but they were caught off guard that Jeter decided to announce his decision so early.

“It didn’t surprise me,” Robertson said. “I just didn’t think he was going to announce it, but I’m really glad he’s going to make sure to give the fans a chance to come out this year and see him in his final season.”

“Not really surprised,” Sabathia said. “You want to think a guy like that is going to play forever. I’m saddened, I guess, because he’s not going to be around.”

CC Sabathia, Larry RothschildCC slims: Sabathia said that he weighed in at 275 pounds this morning, which he guessed was his lightest report-day weight since he was with the Indians. Sabathia said he was closer to 285-290 last spring at this time.

“I really lost a lot of weight last year,” Sabathia said. “I went from about 315 to like 280. I just did no carbs and then really worked out. This offseason I watched my diet and worked really hard and I lost five pounds.”

iCatch: Brian McCann said that he received a special package in the mail from the Yankees in November, and it helped give him a head start in learning a new pitching staff this spring.

“I got an iPad in the mail two days later with everybody’s two good games, two bad games, all the hitters in the AL East,” McCann said. “As soon as we signed Tanaka, I got all his starts, so I’ve seen it. Now I want to get to know everybody and what their mindset is.”

New core? Not so fast: McCann shrugged off a reporter’s suggestion that he might be part of the equation in replacing Jeter as the face of the Yankees.

“I haven’t even played a game. It’s not the case,” McCann said. “I haven’t even put the uniform on yet. I think that word gets thrown around a little bit too much for me. No one is going to replace that guy.

“I got to see it first-hand with Chipper. No one is going to come in and replace Chipper Jones. It’s not happening.”

Mo’s stamp of approval: Robertson said that it was important to him that Rivera gave him a vote of confidence as the Yankees’ new closer.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Mariano and I think he knows what I’m capable of and he’s always told me what I’m capable of. I  think I have the abilities to be the closer. It’s not proven yet. But I know in my heart I can do it, I just have to go out there and prove it to myself.”

What’s in a number?: The Yankees wasted no time re-assigning uniform No. 24, with Robinson Cano now a member of the Mariners. That number will be worn this spring by non-roster invitee Scott Sizemore.

Absent: The locker normally occupied by Alex Rodriguez is empty with no name plate. Rodriguez will be serving a 162-game suspension this season and does not plan to attend Spring Training.

2014 Yankees Spring Training uniform numbers

You can’t tell the players without … a print-out of this 2014 Yankees numerical Spring Training roster, highlighted by the fact that the Yankees quickly re-issued Robinson Cano’s No. 24 to non-roster invitee Scott Sizemore.

2 – Derek Jeter
11 – Brett Gardner
12 – Alfonso Soriano
14 – Brian Roberts
18 – Hiroki Kuroda
19 – Masahiro Tanaka
22 – Jacoby Ellsbury
24 – Scott Sizemore
25 – Mark Teixeira
26 – Eduardo Nunez
27 – Shawn Kelley
28 – Joe Girardi (manager)
29 – Francisco Cervelli
30 – David Robertson
31 – Ichiro Suzuki
33 – Kelly Johnson
34 – Brian McCann
35 – Michael Pineda
36 – Carlos Beltran
38 – Preston Claiborne
39 – Brendan Ryan
40 – Matt Daley
41 – David Phelps
43 – Adam Warren
47 – Ivan Nova
48 – Matt Thornton
50 – Mick Kelleher (coach)
52 – CC Sabathia
53 – Austin Romine
54 – Kevin Long (coach)
55 – David Herndon
56 – Tony Pena (coach)
57 – Chris Leroux
58 – Larry Rothschild (coach)
59 – Rob Thomson (coach)
60 – Gary Tuck (coach)
61 – Jim Miller
62 – Robert Coello
63 – Yoshinori Tateyama
64 – Cesar Cabral
65 – Zoilo Almonte
66 – John Ryan Murphy
67 – Vidal Nuno
68 – Dellin Betances
70 – Russ Canzler
71 – Brian Gordon
72 – Corban Joseph
73 – Antoan Richardson
74 – Bruce Billings
75 – Manny Banuelos
76 – Jose Ramirez
77 – Francisco Rondon
78 – Slade Heathcott
79 – Nik Turley
80 – Jose Gil
81 – Ramon Flores
82 – Gary Sanchez
83 – Chase Whitley
84 – Mark Montgomery
85 – Bryan Mitchell
86 – Jose Pirela
87 – Francisco Arcia
88 – Danny Burawa
89 – Yangervis Solarte
90 – Shane Greene
91 – Tyler Austin
92 – Fred Lewis
93 – Dean Anna
94 – Jose Campos
95 – Adonis Garcia
96 – Pete O’Brien
97 – Mason Williams
98 – Zealous Wheeler

Bernie, Jorge weigh in on Jeter’s announcement

These statements were released via the Yankees:

Bernie Williams: “I’m so happy that Derek will get to go out on his terms — and his way. He was as special a teammate as any player could ever have. I’m blessed to have played with him. Yankees fans and baseball fans all over the world will have a lot to celebrate this season.”

Jorge Posada: “It was an honor and privilege to have Derek next to me for all those years. He made me a better player and a better person. I’m so proud of our friendship and I love him like a brother. Derek was a true champion and the greatest teammate I ever had.”

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