I got outside to enjoy some of this gorgeous weather down here in Tampa…82 degrees…sunny…a nice little breeze…not that I’m rubbing it in or anything. I got the opportunity to watch some Yankees and Tigers BP. The Yankees took their cuts on one of the practice fields, while the Tigers hit inside “The Boss.” Here are some of the highlights from what I saw.
Mark Teixeira’s group included Hideki Matsui, Xavier Nady, and Cody Ransom. We always hear of the sweet effortless swing of Ken Griffey Jr. right? Well, from watching Big Tex in the cage, Yankees fans are going to be treated to this guy’s sweet swing for the next eight years. He was hitting from the left side and the ball was just jumping off his bat. One of his swings was so smooth it faked the heck out of me. When he hit the ball I figured, eh line drive into right center. The ball cleared the right center field wall on the practice diamond behind the first base side of George M. Steinbrenner Field. His other swings, all from the left hand side, were peppered into both gaps and all were hard line drives.
Xavier Nady was also a line drive hitting machine, along with Cody Ransom. All three of these guys did a little yard work. Hideki Matsui was also spraying the ball to all fields and jogging the bases testing that surgically-repaired knee; and Godzilla looked fine. I hung around just a bit more to check on a personal favorite … can’t help it … but I’ve followed the career of Brett Gardner since he was down in Single A Staten Island. Gardner was a line drive machine as well, and with his speed sometimes all he has to do really is put wood on the ball and use his legs. It’s always nice to see guys make their way through the entire organization and realize their dreams and Gardner, just four years removed from helping the SI Yankees win the 2005 New York Penn League title, can be the opening day centerfielder for the New York Yankees. We’ve also heard down here that Gardner and Melky Cabrera could both make their way north with the club to start the season. Either way it just goes to show what hard work will do for you.
We also got to watch the Tigers take some BP before the game inside Steinbrenner Field. I talked about the sweet swing of Mark Teixeira; well, we got the antithesis with former Yankee Gary Sheffield. He still has the most violent and lethal swing in all of baseball. Watching him take BP is awe inspiring. Sometimes you hear, “Go up there and hurt it” in the baseball vernacular; well, if balls needed medical attention, they’d need to open a triage unit here at “The Boss.” Also, eye opening was Tigers first basemen Jeff Larish. The 26 year old came up and played 42 games for Detroit last year. He hit .260 with two home runs and 16 ribbies in 104 at bats. Today, he was destroying the ball in BP, hitting towering shots into the bleachers in right field. One of his monster hits almost hit the Tampa Tribune sponsored bar up at the top of the bleachers here.
I also had the honor of interviewing Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. We talked about the spring so far, the pitching staff, and Mariano Rivera. WATCH
It has been my pleasure to serve you today and every day whilst I am down here in Tampa. I’m living the dream. TTFN (ta ta for now)