Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Empty-handed at Winter Meetings, Yankees ready to deal

Brian CashmanWith a backpack slung over his shoulder, Brian Cashman stood on the sidewalk in front of the Manchester Grand Hyatt and didn’t mince words in recapping his uneventful stay by the surf in San Diego.

“I didn’t do anything,” Cashman said. “We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we’ve got a long way between now and Opening Day. We’ll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive, and just wait and see.”

The Yanks tried to join the frenzy at a wild Winter Meetings, but their experience will be remembered more for who they lost. It was a week in which the Yankees watched David Robertson take a four-year, $46 million deal from the White Sox, then learned that Brandon McCarthy had scored a four-year, $48 million pact from the Dodgers.

In both cases, the Yankees declined to extend a proposal, other than the qualifying offer that Robertson turned down last month. In Robertson’s case, they decided that they’d rather have the package of Andrew Miller on a four-year, $36 million deal and a compensatory Draft pick, giving them a few extra dollars to spend. As for McCarthy, Cashman said that he “figured the market would take him at a level that we couldn’t play on.”

Thus, the Yankees’ needs are exactly what they were five days ago. Here’s a handy recap of how we covered the team’s business at the Winter Meetings:

Andrew MillerDay 1: Miller joined the beat reporters on a conference call and said that he feels capable of handling the closer’s role, though that opportunity did not come up in his talks with the Yankees and he plans to accept any role that manager Joe Girardi hands to him. Now tracking the Yanks’ Hot Stove moves as an interested observer, Miller said he feels that New York’s bullpen already looks formidable on paper.

“I think I can get three outs at any point in the game, wherever that may be,” Miller said. “Whatever it is, it’s fine with me. I want to win. I want to shake hands and high-five at the end of the game more than anything. If I have to get two outs in the sixth, there’s value in that.”

Cashman and the Yankees contingent arrived just before noon and sequestered in their suite for conversations with teams and agents. Sometime during the day, Cashman met with agent Scott Leventhal and told him that the Yankees would not bid on Robertson. Word of Robertson’s agreement with the White Sox then moved through the hotel lobby around midnight.

Joe GirardiDay 2: Girardi checked in at the Winter Meetings and said that even with the loss of Robertson, he believes that his club won’t have trouble holding late leads next season.

“We feel that our bullpen is going to be very strong again,” Girardi said. “We feel like we have a number of great arms. I’m not really worried about that because of the arms we have down there, and I feel like we’ll have a very good bullpen.”

With Miller and Dellin Betances potentially in line to jump into the closer’s role, Girardi also mentioned Justin Thomas, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley as options to help out in a closer-by-committee situation. The Yanks would prefer to have a set closer by Opening Day. Cashman revealed that he publicly kept the Yankees in Robertson’s mix following the Miller signing to help him maximize his free agent value.

During the week, Cashman confirmed that he spoke to several teams about trades that hit dead ends. Among them — the A’s for Jeff Samardzija, the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, the Tigers for Rick Porcello and the D-backs for Wade Miley. In Porcello’s case, Cashman says that he obviously didn’t have a player like Yoenis Cespedes to offer; in Gordon’s case, the Dodgers were already moving forward in talks with the Marlins.

“I just said, if you see any fits, let me know,” Cashman said.

Prior to last week’s Didi Gregorius trade, the Yanks had also talked to the Phillies about Jimmy Rollins. One minor note from this day – earlier reports that the Yankees hired Marcus Thames as an assistant hitting coach are said to be false, according to Cashman. In fact, Thames was never interviewed. The search to replace Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher is taking a back seat to pursuing trades and free agents.

Scott BorasDay 3: Following the news of Jon Lester choosing the Cubs over the Red Sox, Scott Boras took his annual place as the center of attention at the Winter Meetings (hey, I’m in this photo!) and attempted to dangle Max Scherzer in front of the Yankees’ eyes.

“I can’t predict what the Yankees are going to do,” Boras said, “but I can tell you that a guy like Max fits into their starting rotation to develop a World Series-caliber set that is similar to what they’ve had in the past when they won.”

Cashman replied: “Good, that means he likes the four we’ve got!” Yankees people still state that they do not plan on issuing another nine-figure pitching contract; industry people are saying they aren’t so sure about that.

By this point, the Yanks had checked in with free agent closers Sergio Romo and Jason Grilli. There was also an Alex Rodriguez update – A-Rod was seen in Miami by strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Krause, who issued a positive report. Rodriguez is heavier than his listed playing weight of 225 pounds, but Cashman said there has been progress.

On the third base front, the Yankees continued to talk to Chase Headley. The switch-hitter is reported to have a four-year, $65 million offer in hand from an undisclosed team, and if that is true, the Yankees are unlikely to match it. Cashman said the Yanks are ready to roll with Martin Prado at third base if it comes to that, giving Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela a crack at the second base job. They could also go after the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie. Boras mentioned that Stephen Drew is willing to sign as a second baseman.

Cashman also reaches out to Hiroki Kuroda’s agent, Steve Hilliard, who tells the Yankees that Kuroda has not reached any decisions about 2015. Kuroda is said to be once again entertaining thoughts of retirement, though Cashman has said that he expects Kuroda to pitch next season.

News of McCarthy’s deal with the Dodgers breaks late in the evening. Cashman soon confirms that the Yankees didn’t make him an offer. I file a fun story about Eric Chavez’s new front office/coaching gig.

The Yanks’ only pickup of the meetings? The reported Minor League signing of infielder Nick Noonan, a move that has not been announced by the club.

Day 4: The quiet Winter Meetings conclude with the Yankees idle in the Rule 5 Draft, opting to keep their three vacant 40-man roster spots clear for future trades and free agent signings. They also do not lose any players. Rumors briefly connect the Yanks to free agent Ervin Santana, who signed a four-year deal with the Twins.

The Yanks’ adjoining suites on the 29th floor are vacated; the room service bill is likely substantial. In wrapping up the meetings, assistant GM Billy Eppler said that the Yankees’ attitude has been one of patience rather than frustration.

“You always want to walk out of here with something to show for it, but when you make headway in certain arenas, it makes you feel like you’ve been able to drill down on some things that hopefully will present themselves in the coming days,” Eppler said.

Pregame briefing: Yankees vs. Rays (Game 143)

The Yankees and the Rays will continue their three-game series tonight here at Yankee Stadium, with left-hander Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.46) getting the start for New York opposite right-hander Jake Odorizzi (10-11, 3.84). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET; Yankees TV is on YES and Yankees radio is on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM.

New York has lost four of seven games on this homestand. Carlos Beltran was scratched from tonight’s lineup around 5:30 p.m. ET with soreness in his right elbow.

Here are the highlights from manager Joe Girardi’s pregame session with the media:

How do you keep your optimism against the bleak playoff odds?

“It’s happened before. It’s very difficult, but it’s happened before. You can only control the things you can control, so go control them. And then worry about where you fall later.”

Pitching for Baltimore series…

Brandon McCarthy in Friday’s first game, TBA in second game (could be a bullpen game with Chase Whitley, Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell, etc.). Shane Greene on Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday night.

Brett Gardner update…

“He has the abdominal strain. He’ll be out a few more days at least because that can become something that’s fairly serious. We’re giving him a few more days and we’ll go from there.”

“There’s always concern because of how hard these guys play and the way they play, and speed’s a huge part of their game. Sometimes when you have that type of speed, you’re subject to some injuries. Obviously if you’re a base stealer, you’re going to be subject to more hand injuries and those sort of things. Yeah, it’s a concern, but he has not missed a whole lot of games this year, and he really has played a whole season. He has not been on the DL. I don’t think, if this was (in the middle of) the regular season, I don’t think this would probably be a DL. Not at this point.”

David Phelps update…

“Our hope is to bring him back maybe when we go to Baltimore. He’ll throw a bullpen today. He threw a simulated game, and our hope is to bring him back in Baltimore. He would be in the bullpen, a guy that I could use an inning, inning-plus, then I’d have to give him some days off after that.”

Martin Prado update…

“I don’t want him to do too much running, as I told him. I said, ‘Go through BP, take some BP, see how you feel and we’ll go from there. As I said yesterday, there’s a concern there. I don’t think he’s ready to go, but we’re going to let him take some BP.”

“Our feeling is we’ll get him back, it’s just not today. It’s going to take a few days.”

Masahiro Tanaka update…

“He will throw a bullpen again Friday. He felt pretty good today. He’ll throw in a game Monday in Tampa at the minor-league facility.”

More on last night’s play with Stephen Drew/Rule 7.13…

“I think, to me, the confusion comes for the base runner. I don’t think catchers have changed a whole lot. The confusion comes for the base runner where they’re encouraged to slide. And I understand that, and I’ve said all along I think the intent of the rule is a really good idea, but you worry. You worry about them getting hurt now. And I think that’s the hard part. That’s why I’ve said, let’s go back to the way it was, and if a guy goes out of his way to run over a catcher, you’re suspended.”

Have you told your runners to knock the catcher over?

“If that’s your only choice to score the run. That was allowed last week, two weeks ago. Guys knew that. If that’s your only choice, and you feel that you can knock the ball loose, we’re playing for something. That’s the confusion of the rule. You’re encouraging them to slide, but you also want your guys to play all out and get to a playoff spot. So what do you do?”

How is that different?

“It’s not different. It’s not different. And I’ve told our players, it’s not different. If the guy’s blocking the plate, you’re allowed to run him over. The only thing that was different, in a sense, was if he’s not blocking the plate, don’t run him over, because you are subject to being suspended. The rule, in a sense, for the base runners has not changed. But then again, they’ve been encouraged, we want you all to slide. That’s what the rule was originally going to be, you almost had to slide. But then that became confusing. It will be interesting to see what happens this winter. I’m curious.”

More notes –

Derek Jeter has played in 2,730 games with the Yankees, tied for eighth place on the all-time list of players who have played all of their games with one team…with tonight’s game, he will surpass the Giants’ Mel Ott for sole possession of eighth place all time. 

Over their last six games (since 9/3), Yankees relievers have tossed 20.2 scoreless innings (7H, 3BB, 25K)…marks the longest scoreless stretch by Yankees relievers since a span of 28.0IP from 5/5-15/13 (credit: Elias Sports Bureau). … In their last 17G (since 8/22), have produced a 1.20 ERA (52.2IP, 7ER) and held opponents to a .166 batting average (30-for-181, 12BB, 65K).

Since 8/1, Ichiro Suzuki is batting .342 (25-for-73), the third-highest mark in the AL in that span (min. 70AB).

Yanks hold pregame hitters’ meeting: “Enough is enough”

Chase HeadleyThe frustration in the Yankees’ clubhouse bubbled over on Thursday morning as several position players held an informal meeting, challenging themselves to pick up the production with less than seven weeks remaining in the regular season.

“We talked about it before the game, that we needed to come out with a little more energy, and hopefully some emotion and play the way that we’re capable of playing,” Chase Headley said after the Yankees’ 3-0 victory over the Astros. “We understand that we’re a lot better offensively than we’ve shown.

“That was kind of the point, to come out with a little bit of fire and hopefully put some runs on the board. … Some of the position players got together and said, ‘Enough is enough, and let’s go.'”

The Yankees produced a three-run second inning against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, which was enough support as Brandon McCarthy hurled a four-hit shutout. The chat wasn’t a cure-all, but the results were slightly better: in nine games since a 10-run outburst against the Indians on Aug. 8, the Yankees had averaged 2.22 runs per game.

“We just had a little meeting this morning and talked about some things, kind of cleared the air,” Brett Gardner said. “A lot of guys talked. It was good. Hopefully a game like today kind of gets us going a little bit and we can carry that momentum over into the weekend.”

Gardner said that the meeting could be a turning point for the Yankees, who have lost seven of their last 10 games and trail the Tigers by four games for the second Wild Card.

“I don’t think it ever hurts. At this point, we’re trying to mix things up a little bit,” Gardner said. “What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working, so hopefully we can take this momentum, carry it over into the weekend and play some better baseball.”

Headley said that the Yankees are feeling a sense of urgency, but not because of the Wild Card race. Coming off two losses to the sub-.500 Astros and with the White Sox due in town, the reality is that if they do not win their games, there will be no point to continue scoreboard-watching.

“It was just, let’s get on the same page and let’s go,” Headley said. “I know everybody wants to win, everybody’s working, everybody’s doing the right things. You need that little extra sometimes and I think sometimes those little discussions – I don’t know if you’d really call it a meeting – but getting those guys together and getting guys on the same page can go a long ways.”

Before Thursday’s game, manager Joe Girardi said that he continues to believe that the players in his lineup are good enough to turn the season around.

“The effort is there every day,” Girardi said. “[Wednesday] we had seven or eight guys hitting early trying to figure this out and get going. So I will be optimistic as long as they continue to prepare correctly and they work hard.”

Mark Teixeira hoping for two healthy months

Mark Teixeira took on-field batting practice Monday for the first time since he sustained what the Yankees called a lower lat strain, and the first baseman hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park.

“I’m very happy,” Teixeira said. “The back spasms are gone, which I’ve been dealing with for a long time, so that’s really good. It’s good to see that the treatments worked and the time off helped, so hopefully they won’t come back.”

Teixeira has not played since July 20 against the Reds; he had a platelet-rich plasma injection and at the time, the team said that he would miss three to four days. It has been longer than initially anticipated, but Teixeira has at least been able to avoid the 15-day disabled list.

“I wasn’t expecting all the little annoying things that come up. That’s part of the game,” Teixeira said. “Hopefully this is it, and I have two healthy months to finish the season, but missing a couple of games here, a couple of games there, it’s never fun.”

Teixeira said that last season’s wrist injury made him consider his baseball mortality, and the fact that he could no longer play through injuries that he might have in his 20s.

“I’ve played through so many things. I can’t play through them anymore,” Teixeira said. “That’s just the fact of the matter. The guys ask me, ‘How did you play in Texas for five years, 100 degrees every night?’ I was young. I was a kid. I played through everything.

“You fouled a pitch of your leg, go get ‘em. Strain something in your back, go get ‘em. That’s just the way it is when you’re young. I can’t play through those things (now). I don’t think I would have had to miss games with back spasms.”

Teixeira said that maintenance will be a key for him, and that he’d prefer to play until something hurts rather than take precautionary days off. But it’s pretty much inevitable at this stage that sooner or later, there will be another issue to deal with; as he said with a smile, “Father Time is undefeated.”

“I was very lucky that I could play through those things and stay on the field as long as anybody,” Teixeira said. “But at a certain point, you hit a wall. I hit a wall last year and hopefully I won’t have a lot of these, but if they do pop up, it’s just harder to play through it.”


Joe Girardi has more of an inside track to the Yankees’ trade rumor scene than the average observer, but the manager said that he prefers to give general manager Brian Cashman his space to work, rather than get excited about moves might happen.

“We talk on a daily basis anyway during the course of the day, so it doesn’t really change much,” Girardi said. “I know he’s always trying to improve our club, and I’m not going to keep bothering him and take up his time when there’s things he’s doing.”

Cashman has said that he has more work to do in what has been a busy July; upgrading starting pitching is a focus, but various media reports have also connected the Yanks to discussions of some level for outfielders Marlon Byrd (Phillies), Chris Denorfia (Padres), Alex Rios (Rangers) and Josh Willingham (Twins).

Girardi often says that he has to worry about the 25 players in his clubhouse, but he does regularly communicate his views on the roster and specific needs to Cashman, something that will continue even after Thursday’s non-waivers Trade Deadline.

“I try not to get excited, because as I always say, it takes two teams to really want to do a deal,” Girardi said. “And do I expect it? I never expect to get new people. I always think, ‘This is who we’ve got, this is who has to get it done.'”


The Yankees recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, immediately inserting the 25-year-old to play left field and bat ninth against the Rangers.

It is Almonte’s third stint with the big league club this year, where he has batted .160 (4-for-25) with one homer. Almonte was batting .281 in 75 games at Triple-A, leading the RailRiders in homers (16) and RBIs (57).

In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees designated left-hander Jeff Francis for assignment, reducing the number of active pitchers on the staff to 12.

Francis was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two relief appearances, spanning 1 2/3 innings. He was acquired from the Athletics with cash considerations for a player to be named later on July 11.


Jacoby Ellsbury received a day off for rest on Monday against the Rangers. Ellsbury had played in all 10 of the Yanks’ games coming out of the All-Star break, batting .289 (11-for-38) with a double and two homers on the homestand. He said manager Joe Girardi told him about the day off on Sunday’s flight to Texas.


Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament) stayed back in New York to continue receiving treatment at Yankee Stadium. Aug. 4 will mark three weeks of full rest since the right-hander received a platelet-rich plasma injection.

“We’re still waiting for that three-week mark. Nothing’s really going to change until the three week mark,” Girardi said. “He’s staying back and doing treatment every day. He feels better and better. You just kind of wait to see where you are after three weeks.”


Carlos Beltran (bone spur in right elbow) has increased to throwing at 100 to 120 feet. The Yankees are hopeful that Beltran, currently only a designated hitter, could return to play some outfield after this road trip.


Michael Pineda (strained muscle in upper back) is scheduled to throw three innings or 45 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. The Yankees are hopeful that Pineda can rejoin the big league roster in mid-August.

First cup of Joe: Girardi meets the media

Joe GirardiIf you think about it, today marked the first of the hundreds of press conferences and interviews that Joe Girardi will give during the season — usually two a day during the 40-plus days of Spring Training, two a day for each of the 162 regular season games, and we’re not even counting his appearances on the YES Network and other news outlets.

So it’s safe to say we’ll all be hearing Girardi’s voice quite a bit for the rest of the year, but there’s only one official report day for pitchers and catchers. Girardi’s flight from New York to Florida was delayed by weather, so he went directly from the airport to the podium at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Here are the highlights of his 20-minute session:

What was your reaction to Derek Jeter’s announcement, and did you know it was coming?
“I had not heard before that, so I think we were probably all a little bit taken aback by it. You’re never sure how someone’s going to do it, but I had no inkling that that’s what he was thinking, so I was a little taken aback by it. I listened to some of his comments on the article that he had written about how more difficult to get ready and he said when it becomes more of a job than playing then it’s something you have to think about. I can remember a long time ago, Kevin Tapani telling me that it wasn’t the day he pitched. It was the work the four days prior to pitching that became so much more difficult for him. He’s played a lot of games and played a long time, and obviously he’s been so important to this organization. We’re going to miss him.”

Did you get a sense last year about how difficult it was for him?
“That was really clear. We all know how much he loves to be out there. Even when he was trying to fight through it, he would tell me he felt great. His words that he always uses to me: ‘I feel great.’ But you could see how frustrated he was that it just wasn’t healed completely. I’m looking forward to this year.”

You saw what it was like last year with Mariano Rivera… what will this be like?
“I’m not sure how he’ll do it. I thought Mariano, the way he went through it, was special. Mo was in a different situation because Mo doesn’t start to get ready until the fifth or sixth. As a position player, you can’t necessarily do that. I’m sure it’ll be a little bit different. I think watching Mo, he really enjoyed his final season, and I hope Derek is able to do that as well.”

You’ve had to transition established stars into the later phase of their careers. You don’t have to do that with him now. Is that easier on you?
“I don’t know if it makes it easier. It’s clearer. The picture is clearer. This is a guy that’s going to be hard to replace in your clubhouse and on your club. It’s the nature of the business where people age and they move on and they go and do different things in their life, and in our life it’s a little bit quicker than some of the other working people of this world. It’s not something that we’ll think about all year. ‘Is this going to be it? Is this going to be it?’ Because he said it’s going to be it. From that standpoint, that will be easier.”

Any sense how much he can play this year?
“I’ve said all along that he’ll basically determine that on how he’s doing and how he’s feeling. Obviously as a manager, you would love to be able to run out Derek Jeter out there every day, but we know that’s not the case and you don’t do that with many players today anyway. There will just be constant communication like it has been the last few years.”

‘Taken aback’ means you were surprised. Were you saddened or disappointed?
“Yeah. I was there in 1996 when he broke in as Rookie of the Year. And to be able to play alongside such a great player and be able to coach a great player and manage a great player has been a thrill for me — and what he’s meant to this organization. Yeah, I think about the guys that I played with that have retired while I’ve been the manager, these guys were really important to their club and it saddens you. I remember coming to spring training when Jorge wasn’t in that first group hitting. It was like shocking not to see him there. It’ll be strange next year without Derek. So it does sadden you, and you hate to see players get older, but unfortunately it happens.”

Will you resist the pressure to play Jeter more because it’s his last year?
“I’ve got to do what’s best for our team and best for him, is the bottom line. As I’ve said, he’s going to play as much as he’s capable of playing. That’s the bottom line for me. We want him out there, we want him out there every day. I know it won’t be every day, but I want to run him out there most of the time. I’ve just got to do what is best. I kind of had to deal with it with Mo a little bit, I had to deal with it with Andy a little bit. I’ll just do what’s best for our club.”

Do you know how much you can play Jeter?
“I think you’ll have a pretty good idea. At no point in Spring Training will I run him out five or six days in a row, but I think that you’ll be able to tell running him out there two and three days in a row how he’s responding and how he’s bouncing back. It’ll give you a pretty good inkling.”

What has it been like to manage the final days of the Core Four?
“It’s been a thrill. I think about playing alongside these guys and watching these guys go out on their own terms, it’s been pretty exciting. I feel like I’m really blessed to have that opportunity to manage these guys and watch them end their careers the way they want. You wish you could bring them back, and I joked with Mo when I saw him a couple of times at some events this winter, but I feel like I’ve been able to experience so many great things at the stadium because of these guys and I love it.”

Will Jeter hit second?
“That would be the ideal thing, if you could break up your left-handers, but we’ll just have to see. We’ll play with lineups during spring training.”

Did CC Sabathia’s weight affect his velocity last year?
“I think that could be part of it. I think not having a normal offseason because he was rehabbing his elbow is part of it as well. I can’t tell you exactly where his velocity is going to be, but the bottom line for his success is not his velocity. Obviously it helps a little bit, but it’s his location. I think he got behind the eight-ball a little bit because of the injury last year, but I think he’s had a normal winter. I think his location will be much better and I do think his velocity will be better, I do.”

Without Robinson Cano, do you have a ‘best hitter’ to build your lineup around?
“I think we have a collection of very good hitters this year. I think our lineup is much deeper than it was last year from top to bottom. There’s more balance with some of the switch-hitters; Tex coming back and Beltran. Having Soriano the whole year, bringing Jeet back, I think there’s much more balance in our lineup. But as far as having that one guy that maybe you center the lineup around, I would say no.”

Will Michael Pineda be the fifth starter?
“When we traded for him, we expected him to be in our rotation. He’s had some injury-plagued seasons the last couple years. Obviously you want someone to rise to the top to become the fifth starter. It’s an interesting year as a manager. I’ll say it tomorrow when I speak with the pitchers; don’t try to make the team in the next few days because there are some open spots. There is some really good competition here where you have the competition for the fifth starter, and the guys that aren’t necessarily the fifth starter could be in your bullpen. I want to make sure these guys aren’t pushing too hard, too early where they have a setback. If you have a setback, that could cost you a spot on this club. It’s really important to me that I stress to all these guys – Michael Pineda, Phelps, Warren, Nuno and all these young kids that have a chance to earn a spot in our bullpen – you can’t do too much in the next couple weeks. Get your arm in shape, get strong and then we’ll go from there.”

With changes all over, how is your job different?
“It’s trying to learn your pieces from a mental and a physical standpoint. From a mental standpoint, what gets them going, can you read when they need a day off, are they honest about when they need a day off? Physically, how many days in my mind should I play a guy? What makes me think that they need a day off? Bringing the guys close together as a team. A lot of times, people say, ‘What comes first? The chemistry or the winning?’ Winning can help chemistry a lot. We’ll do some of those things and I’ll pay attention to signs from players, try to listen really carefully and use some of my coaches and other people to find out sometimes what a player is really saying. I think that’s important.”

What are your thoughts on Masahiro Tanaka?
“I did spend some time watching video of him this offseason and watching his ability to turn it up a notch when he needed to. Being able to add velocity; to having a couple of different fastballs; a couple of different sliders, a curveball, a split, a changeup. I even saw him get a hit. I don’t know if that will come into play if he gets to in a National League ballpark. What I like is his competitiveness. I’ve been a guy that is careful about labeling people. Is he your No. 1 starter? Is he your No. 4 starter? Is he No. 5? Two? Three? I believe that every day, the guy that pitches is your No. 1 starter. That’s how I think of it, because that’s your guy. That’s your guy that day, and one of the other guys can’t really sub in for him unless you happen to have some days off. I like his ability. I like his competitiveness. Now it’s just making some adjustments to American baseball. We’ve seen where it’s taken American players a little time to adjust to New York. He seems to really enjoy the stage and the spotlight and being a big part of a club. Let’s give him a little time to adjust.”

Could Pineda begin the year in the bullpen?
“We envision him as a starter, but I think that when we take a look at this, we’ve got to see how he’s doing as a starter. Then, once we pick our starters, we’ve got to pick what we believe is our best bullpen. So the answer to that is, I think anything is possible, but we envision him as a starter.”

Who is your backup first baseman, and what reports have you received on Mark Teixeira?
“I would say right now our backup first baseman would be Kelly Johnson if Tex needed a day off, and he’s going to need some days off. Everything has been positive signs for Tex. At times I talked about, it’s one thing to go through minor league rehab games and your workouts and your BP, because it can be a little bit guarded. But it’s another thing when you get into a big league game and it’s not so guarded. So I think you just have to pay attention to what he’s saying and the signs that he’s giving off. But I feel pretty good about his wrist, and I’m really looking forward to having him back.”

Would you play Brian McCann at first base?
“It’s not something that we’ve talked about. I guess it could be, though.”

Why do you think David Robertson will be ready for the ninth inning?
“I think he has all the ability in the world. You think about closers, and you want pitchers that are strikeout guys, and that’s exactly what he has. I think for Robby, I remember coming in at a much smaller stage and you’re compared to someone (Mike Stanley). And then Tino was compared to Don Mattingly. And it’s important for Robby that he’s just himself, and that if something does go wrong one day, you’re going to be compared to Mo. You know what, I think Mo blew six or seven saves last year. Mo was human too, and you can’t get too caught up in just one game. I would love to say he’s going to go 45-for-45, but even the greatest closers of all time don’t do that. So for us, it’s just if it does become a media buzz or something, we just have to help him control it.”

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