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Spring Game 1: Yankees at Phillies

Hello from Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., where the Yankees will open their Spring Training schedule this afternoon against the Phillies. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen live on MLB.tv. It will be broadcast tonight by MLB Network on tape delay at 9 p.m. ET. Conditions are expected to be partly cloudy and in the low 80s — a perfect day to open up the Grapefruit League schedule.

Here’s a glance at some of the topics that came up in Joe Girardi’s early press conference back at Steinbrenner Field –

Batting Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff and Brett Gardner second:
“It’s definitely a possibility. I think that both of them are capable of leading off. Ells has done it a little more in his career than Gardy, but I just kind of like the combination of those two guys together. We’ll take a look at it a lot this spring as we try to keep the outfielders together a lot early on, and the infielders together, just to see how it works. Left-handed, right-handed, in my mind right now I’m not really worried either way.”

Having Ellsbury and Gardner steal more in 2015:
“I would love it to be a successful tool whenever they can do it. That’s the key. Our success rate was really good last year. The one thing you don’t want to do is run yourself out of innings. But they’re both capable of stealing a ton of bases, creating a lot of pressure. Putting pressure on defenses, pitchers; maybe taking 10 percent, 15, 20 percent of their attention off the hitter, which is always great for the hitter, and I like that.”
 
The positive reaction from Steinbrenner Field fans for Alex Rodriguez:
“Everyone is going to look at it differently. Some people are going to look at that he was caught, and he paid his time, and now he’s back, and he’s a Yankee, and we’re going to cheer for him. Some people are going to say, you know what, I might have a hard time cheering for him. And some people are just fans, and they fall in love with a player, and no matter what they do, it doesn’t matter. So I’m not really surprised necessarily. He’s one of the guys that has been here a long time. He was part of our championship in 2009, and I think people still understand that. And I think people are curious how he’s going to do. There are probably a lot of people that are cheering for him to do well.”

Watching Luis Severino’s excitement level during his spring debut:
“You see a lot of times young players trying to do too much, and I bring it up a little bit, (David) Phelps and (Adam) Warren, the growth that we saw from one Spring Training to the next is amazing, because I think the second Spring Training that they came in they were much more relaxed. Our job is to guard against him trying to do too much and if he gets into a situation where we see that, maybe he doesn’t go quite as long as he was supposed to. But I mean he should be excited and that’s normal. We all went through that. I can remember how excited I was. As you tell players that you’re going to have nerves, that’s a good thing, actually. It’s not a bad thing. It’s adrenaline and you care and you to impress, but we’ve got to make sure they don’t overdo it.”

Here are the lineups:

YANKEES (0-0)
Jacoby Ellsbury cf
Brett Gardner lf
Chris Young rf
Garrett Jones 1b
Jose Pirela 2b
Austin Romine c
Kyle Roller dh
Jonathan Galvez 3b
Nick Noonan ss

Adam Warren rhp

Probable relievers: Luis Severino rhp, Jacob Lindgren lhp, Branden Pinder rhp, Nick Goody rhp and Diego Moreno rhp.

PHILLIES (0-0)
Ben Revere cf
Freddy Galvis ss
Grady Sizemore lf
Ryan Howard 1b
Carlos Ruiz dh
Domonic Brown rf
Cody Asche 3b
Cesar Hernandez 2b
Cameron Rupp c

Jerome Williams rhp

Photos from Florida: Thursday edition

If you’ve been following along on this blog (or Twitter/Instagram) for the last few seasons, you know that I always pack my digital camera for Spring Training. I’m not a professional by any means, but I enjoy it. Shooting is a fun side project to work on alongside the thousands of words of copy that you can access every day on yankees.com.

With today marking the first official workout for Yankees pitchers and catchers, it’s a good time to share some of what got captured on the memory card this afternoon. I’ve also added some favorite shots from what I’ve been collecting over the previous days of camp, so hopefully you’ll enjoy those too…

Alex Rodriguez issues apology, open letter to fans

Alex Rodriguez issued a handwritten apology and open letter to fans on Tuesday. Below is the typed out statement:

To the Fans,

I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season. I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I’m sorry.

I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that’s on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer
me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology but I decided the next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job.

I served the longest suspension in the history of the League for PED use. The Commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball.

I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.

This game has been my single biggest passion since I was a teenager. When I go to Spring training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win.

Sincerely,

Alex

Alex Rodriguez apologizes in meeting with Yankees

As they prepare for Spring Training, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees had their meeting this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, and according to the team, Rodriguez apologized to the organization for his actions over the last several years. Here is the press release with some details:

FEBRUARY 10, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JOINT STATEMENT FROM:

Hal Steinbrenner, New York Yankees Managing General Partner / Co-Chairperson

Randy Levine, New York Yankees President

Brian Cashman, New York Yankees Senior Vice President, General Manager

Jean Afterman, New York Yankees Senior Vice President, Assistant General Manager

Alex Rodriguez

Jim Sharp, Legal Counsel to Alex Rodriguez

“Today we held a meeting at Yankee Stadium between Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, Brian Cashman, Jean Afterman, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Sharp. Alex initiated the meeting and apologized to the organization for his actions over the past several years.

“There was an honest and frank discussion on all of the issues. As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in spring training.”

Yankees announce Minor League signings, spring invitations

We’re getting close now. The Yankees have officially announced a few Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training, as well as a few hot prospects who will get a look in camp. Here’s the official news release: 

YANKEES SIGN SIX PLAYERS TO MINOR LEAGUE CONTRACTS WITH INVITATIONS TO MAJOR LEAGUE SPRING TRAINING; INVITE A TOTAL OF 26 ADDITIONAL PLAYERS TO 2015 SPRING TRAINING

The New York Yankees today announced that they have signed six players to minor league contracts with an invitation to Major League Spring Training: RHP Scott Baker, INF Cole Figueroa, INF Jonathan Galvez, C Juan Graterol, INF Nick Noonan, and C Eddy Rodriguez.  The club has also invited 20 additional players to 2015 spring training, bringing the total number of invitees to 26 (11 pitchers, five catchers, seven infielders and three outfielders).  The number of players now scheduled to report is 66.

Baker, 33, owns a 66-52 record with a 4.25 ERA (1,053.2IP, 497ER) in 191 games (170 starts) in nine seasons at the Major League level with Minnesota (2005-11), Chicago-NL (2013) and Texas (2014).  He spent the majority of the 2014 season with Texas, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA (80.2IP, 49ER) and 55K in 25 games (eight starts).  He also spent time with Triple-A Round Rock, going 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA (38.0IP, 14ER) in six starts. Baker was born in Shreveport, La., and was drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Oklahoma State University.

Figueroa, 27, made his Major League debut with Tampa Bay in 2014, batting .233 (10-for-43) with 6RBI in 23 games.  He also played in 71 games with Triple-A Durham, where he hit .282 (74-for-262) with 3HR and 33RBI.  In 674 career minor league games, he has batted .290 (707-for-2,439) with 26HR and 325RBI. The left-handed batter was born in Tallahassee, Fla., and was selected by the Padres in the sixth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Florida.

Noonan, 25, appeared in 62 career Major League games with San Francisco (all in 2013), batting .219 (23-for-105) with 12R, 2 doubles and 5RBI.  In 793 games over eight minor league seasons, he has hit .262 (787-for-3,008) with 149 doubles, 40HR and 351RBI.  In 2014, he appeared with Single-A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno, combining to bat .234 (93-for-398) with 4HR and 26RBI in 108 games.  Born in Poway, Calif., Noonan was originally selected by the Giants in Compensation Round A of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft (32nd overall).

RHP Andrew Bailey was signed by the Yankees to a minor league contract on March 7, 2014, but spent the season recovering from right shoulder surgery, which was performed on July 24, 2013.  In 206 career Major League relief appearances with Oakland (2009-11) and Boston (2012-13), he has gone 11-12 with 89 saves, a 2.64 ERA (218.0IP, 64ER) and 227K.  Bailey was born in Voorhees, N.J. and graduated from Wagner College (N.Y.).  He was selected by the Athletics in the sixth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

RHP Luis Severino earned an invitation after combining to go 6-5 with a 2.46 ERA (113.1IP, 31ER) and 127K in 24 starts with Single-A Charleston, Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2014.  Following the season, during which he led all Yankees minor league pitchers in strikeouts, he was named the Yankees’ top prospect by Baseball America.  In 48 career minor league appearances (46 starts), he has gone 14-9 with a 2.23 ERA (221.2IP, 55ER) and 225K.  A native of Sabana de la Mar, D.R., Severino was originally signed by the Yankees as a minor league free agent on July 20, 2012.

Of the Yankees’ 26 non-roster invitees, 14 were originally drafted by the Yankees, including the Yankees second round pick in 2014, LHP Jacob Lindgren.  Lindgren made his professional debut after being drafted, combining to go 2-1 with one save, a 2.16 ERA (25.0IP, 6ER) and 48K in 19 relief appearances with the GCL Yankees, Single-A Charleston, Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.  Following the season, he was tabbed by Baseball America as the Yankees’ eighth-best prospect.  A native of Mississippi, Lindgren played three seasons for Mississippi State, going 12-6 with a 2.64 ERA (139.2IP, 41ER) and 189K.

Also invited are four players who were selected by the Yankees in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft: OF Aaron Judge (first round, 32nd overall), RHP Nick Rumbelow (seventh), LHP Tyler Webb (10th) and C Trent Garrison (28th).  In 2014, Judge made his professional debut, combining at Single-A Charleston and Single-A Tampa to hit .308 (144-for-467) with 24 doubles, 17HR and 78RBI in 131 games, leading all Yankees minor leaguers in RBI, while ranking fifth in home runs and sixth in batting average.  Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the second-best prospect in the Yankees organization.

The Yankees remaining draft picks attending spring training as non-roster invitees are selections from 2012: INF Rob Refsnyder (fifth round), RHP Nick Goody (sixth), LHP James Pazos (13th); 2011: INF Greg Bird (fifth round) and OF Jake Cave (sixth) and 2010: INF Cito Culver (first round, 32nd overall) and INF Kyle Roller (eighth).  Rounding out the Yankees draft picks in attendance are OF Slade Heathcott (first round, 29th overall in 2009) and C Kyle Higashioka (seventh round in 2008).  Bird, a native of Cordova, Tenn., combined at Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton to bat .271 (100-for-369) with 14HR and 43RBI in 102 games.  Following the season, he played for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League and hit .313 (31-for-99) with 21R, 6HR and 21RBI in 26 games en route to being named the 2014 Joe Black MVP after ranking among league leaders in runs (first), home runs (tied for first), RBI (second) and batting average (sixth). The left-handed batter enters the 2015 season tabbed by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the Yankees organization. Refsnyder, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, combined with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to bat .318 (164-for-515) with 82R, 14HR and 63RBI in 137 games in 2014, ranking third among Yankees minor leaguers in batting average.  He attended the University of Arizona and finished the season ranked as the Yankees’ seventh-best prospect by Baseball America.

Rounding out the Yankees’ invitees are C Francisco Arcia, RHP Vicente Campos, RHP Diego Moreno and RHP Wilking Rodriguez.

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