Nick Swisher is making the trip to Port Charlotte today to take on the Rays and will get some time at first base.
Hideki Matsui – his health concerns are not going to go away. He ran three days in a row and Joe is feeling better and better about him every day. He said once you have a knee problem you always have a knee problem. Hideki is off today. Johnny Damon also has the day off. Joe said he gave some guys days off last week and he will do the same this week as well.
As for the Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera centerfield battle, Joe said they are still fighting it out – we still have two weeks – we want to have our lineup situated by the last week so we have another week to play with it and we’ll see where we are then. Joe was asked if both could make it to New York and he said they haven’t made their 25 man roster yet, he couldn’t promise that both would be on the team, but said they CAN carry both.
Damaso Marte will start to work his way back into getting some innings starting tomorrow.
CC Sabathia is great for the clubhouse; he is comfortable in his surroundings and bringing people together. Like any team, the Yankees will have to face some adversity. But he knows that the closer the club is, according to Girardi, the easier it will be for them to get through. Joe was also asked to compare someone to CC on his clubhouse persona and he gave two names, Alfredo Amazega and Tim Raines. Joe also said it is harder in his position as a pitcher as opposed to a position player to hold that kind of a role down. Sweeny Murti from WFAN playfully said to the skipper that CC sounds like he would make a great opening day starter and the manager replied with a laugh and said, “I would say that he is lined up real well for that.”
I asked how Phil Hughes took the news when he was sent down to Scranton yesterday and Girardi said he thought he was pretty good about it … he understood … he said they ran out of innings for him here. He was proud of the way Hughes approached Spring Training. He was looking for improvement and he saw it. I also asked about Phil Coke’s deep left thigh bruise from a liner he took in Kissimmee last Wednesday and he said it was much, much better than it was and should pitch tomorrow in Clearwater against the Phillies.
I talked to Coke after meeting with Girardi and Coke thinks Yankees Trainer Gene Monohan may not let him throw in a game and the bullpen-hopeful lefty will be relegated to a bullpen session here at “The Boss.” Girardi saw the bruise today and said, “That’s nothing catchers get them all the time.”
Joe hopped on the bus after our meeting for the game in Port Charlotte. Pitching coach Dave Eiland and Bench coach Tony Pena will hang back in Tampa to watch Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada do some battery work in a minor league game against the Pirates at the Yankees minor league complex in the shadow of Raymond James Stadium.
Today’s Lineup vs. Tampa
Top of 1st: Joba Chamberlain went three up three down. Struck out Brandon Inge and Gary Sheffield.
Bottom of 1st: Melky Cabrera chopped a double over Inge at third. Johnny Damon advanced Melky to third with a groundout to second. Mark Teixeira walked and advanced to second on a Hideki Matsui strikeout. With runners on second and third, Xavier Nady tapped out to first to end the threat.
Top of 2nd: Chamberlain still pitching. Marcus Thames led off and Joba caught him window shopping with a nasty curveball. Jeff Larish was next — the guy who was destroying the ball in BP — and Larish, is in the gi-hugic shadow of Miguel Cabrera at first for the Tigers, hit a seeing-eye single into right field. Gerald Laird was third in the inning, and the former Texas Ranger lined a solid base hit just out of the reach of Angel Berroa, who is playing short today for Derek Jeter who is still with Team USA in the WBC semifinals. Brent Clevlen was in the hole and singled to center to load the bases. Clevlen was up with the big club for a cup of coffee in June of last year. Ryan Rayburn was next and got a sac fly to right advancing Laird to third, Clevlen stayed put at first. First and third two outs for Adam Everett…and the former Astro and Twin waved at and struck out on an off speed pitch. Tigers 1 Yankees 0
Bottom of 2nd: Robinson Cano led off against 21-year-old rookie Rick Porcello and lined out hard to right field. Cody Ransom was next and got one in on the hands on a 3-1 pitch and grounded out up the middle. Catcher Jose Molina was the last batter of the inning — he flew out to center field.
Porcello is making his third appearance second start of this spring training … he was tabbed as the 21st-best prospect by Baseball America. He was selected by the Tigers in the first round of the 2007 draft. He was the 27th overall pick.
Top of 3rd: Joba still pitching. Inge led off and struck out looking on a fastball outside. Second time Chamberlain struck him out. Polanco did some browsing as well, Joba set him up with a fastball and sat him down with a breaking ball on the outside corner. Sheffield was next, and he hit a rocket line drive into left field for a single. Suzyn had some great information that she said on the air about Sheffield; she said he changed his stance a bit and dropped his bat wiggle. He did that in his first at bat when he lined out, but in this at bat, he went back to the waggle and he is on first with a single. Just proves again how superstitious players can be. Marcus Thames came to the plate next — and during his at bat, Jose Molina nearly picked Sheff off at first with a quick snap throw. Thames grounded out to second to end the inning…Chamberlain 57 pitches through three innings of work with five strike outs.
Bottom of 3rd: Angel Berroa looking to continue his scorching spring start, and he was the first to face Porcello who has only given up one hit through two innings. Porcello out of high school got a pretty decent bonus according to Suzyn, over $7 million. Berroa picked up the second hit of the day hitting one between first and second. I miss blogged before, by the way, Porcello is only 19 years old. Not 21 as erroneously reported by yours truly before. This, boys and girls, is why I was a communications major. I stink at math, and I beg your pardon. Melky Cabrera was next and chopped one to second on a hit and run, Berroa got to second, Cabrera out at first. One out man on second for Johnny Damon, and he spanked one, one-hopping it off the right-field wall for a double, Berroa scores, so the hit and run was a blessing in disguise. Mark Teixeira followed Damon with a double down the left field line, back to back doubles for the Yankees. Damon scores, and the Bombers are in front 2-1. Porcello’s day is done after the back-to-back doubles. The rookie came into the inning allowing only one hit, but the second time through the order, the Yankees were wise to his craft. Clay Rapada replaced Porcello. His style very much like Mike Myers — a perfect description by John and Suzyn in the booth. Think of that side arm waving whiffle ball type curve ball and that is Rapada. Matsui was first to face him and he worked a walk after being down in the count 1-2. Xavier Nady was next, coming to the plate to “Without Me” by Eminem quality song, but X-man grounded into a 6-4-3 to end the Yankees threat. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Top of 4th: Joba still in…Larish grounds out to Teixeira for the first out on a 1-2 pitch. Joba’s day was done after that ground out. Just two and a third – 61 pitches in total – 41 strikes/20 balls … one run on four hits. Jonathan Albaladejo is in now in relief of Chamberlain and Gerald Laird lined Albaladejo’s second pitch into right field for a single. Laird is now 2 for 2. Brent Clevlen who singled his last time up is now facing the big Yankees righty … Clevlen singled hard up the middle and, as John Sterling brought up, Albaladejo did a stupid but instinctive thing trying to barehand the comebacker, Melky Cabrera’s throw got by Ransom and Clevlen made it to second. Next batter Ryan Raburn flew to left…Johnny Damon made the catch and also threw home and nailed Gerald Laird trying to tag up. Great block of the plate by Jose Molina. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Bottom of 4th: Rapada faced just one batter — Robbie Cano, and he singled under the glove of Larish at first and into right before Jim Leyland came out to get his sidewinding lefty in favor of righty Zach Minor. Minor’s first batter was Yankees’ third baseman Cody Ransom — first pitch swinging, and he flew out to Raburn in center. Robbie Cano was on the move on the hit and run and had to return to first. Jose Molina hit a 3-2 pitch to third. Cano was on the move and kept the Yankees out of the double play, but Molina was thrown out at first. Two out, Cano on second, Berroa at the dish…hit one back to the box, and Minor knocked it down and threw him out. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Top of the 5th: Albaladejo still in…Adam Everett hit a ball into the Bermuda Triangle…in between Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, and Xavier Nady. The ball just dropped in between all three, hence the triangle reference. Everett safe at first with a single. The line-up turned over once again and Brandon Inge was the next hitter…Inge struck out twice and then in this at bat popped out by the Yankees on deck circle…Teixeira made the squeeze. One out, one on for Placido Polanco who struck out his last time against Joba Chamberlain…this time facing Albaladejo and different at bat same story Polanco caught browsing for the second out. Gary Sheffield singled in his last at bat looking to tie things up or even give Detroit the lead…the Yankees had the Sheffield shift on with Robbie Cano behind second and he popped out sky high to Berroa at short. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Bottom of the 5th: Melky Cabrera led off and grounded a single on the second base side into centerfield…Johnny Damon followed took the first pitch for a ball and watched as Cabrera stole second, the throw from Laird as Suzyn pointed out on the air, was not good. Second time today Damon did his job, its an oh-fer in the box score but Damon grounded out to second allowing Cabrera to reach third with one out and Mark Teixeira came up next and struck out swinging. Hideki Matsui grounded out to second to end the threat. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Mariano is in for the Top of the sixth.
Top 6th: Mariano Rivera in…to this point in his return from shoulder surgery…he’s worked two innings and threw just 16
pitches. Just five in his last outing…he threw that many to his first batter Marcus Thames and struck him out swining. Jeff Larish first pitch swinging grounded one weakly to second for the second out. John Sterling said it was a cutter and tied Larish up so much that it looked like he hit a nerf ball. Gerald Laird though continued his perfect day at 3-3 he singles into right – the first base runner allowed by Mo, in this his third inning of work this spring. He retired the first eight batters he saw. Brent Clevlen followed and struck out looking for out number 3. 12 pitches, ten for strikes, bringing the total for the spring to 28 pitches in three innings of work. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Bottom 6th: Minor still dealing…Nady grounded out to third on the second pitch of the at bat. X-man 0-3 on the day. Robbie Cano singled in his last plate appearance and this time against Minor flies out to Clevlen in right center for the second out. Cody Ransom looking for his first hit in his third at bat…and he did smacking a line drive into center…one on two outs for Jose Molina looking for his first hit of the day as well, and Molina hit one up the middle it was stabbed by the shortstop Adam Everett but his flip to second didn’t get Ransom who was hustling all the way. Molina on, on the fielders choice, first and second for Angel Berroa…one for two on the day…make it one for three as he grounds out to Brandon Inge at third…Inge won the foot race with Ransom to the bag for the final out. Tigers 1 Yankees 2
Changes for the Yankees 1st base Juan Miranda 2nd Doug Bernier SS Eduardo Nunez 3B Justin Leone RF Todd Linden C Francisco Cervelli LF John Rodriguez P Edwar Ramirez
Top 7: Ryan Raburn facing Edwar Ramirez and he reaches first on a bunt to 3rd base. New Yankees third baseman Justin Leone charged, fired, and Juan Miranda couldn’t come up with the scoop at first Raburn safe with a single. Everett grounded out to short for the first out Raburn advanced to second he was on the move on the hit and run. Inge followed flying out deep to center to Brett Gardner, Raburn tagged and went to third. Will Rhymes singled to right and Raburn scores to tie the game at two bringing up Gary Sheffield who has been hearing a hefty amount of boos here today from the George M. Steinbrenner field crowd. Another sell out by the way here at the Boss. Sheffield worked a walk against Ramirez and then came out of the game. Clete Thomas came into pinch run for Sheff. First and second two out for Wilkin Ramirez and after drilling one just foul down the left field line, the 23 year old Ramirez who hit 303 with 19 homers and 73 ribbies on the farm last year, whiffed on a change up to end the inning. Tigers 2 Yankees 2
Bottom 7: Get up and stretch! Fernando Rodney in to pitch for the Tigers. Leading off the inning – Brett Gardner – he took over for Melky Cabrera and laid down a perfect bunt and beat it out without a throw – right in front of the mound. Gardner flew down the first base line. You have to see this kid in person to really get an idea of just how fast he is. New left fielder Johnny Rodriguez grounded into a fielder’s choice erasing Gardner from the base paths. The new first baseman Juan Miranda now up, with one on, and one out. Miranda absolutely TATTOOED one over the right center field wall to give the Yankees a two run lead. I have to tell you being in here listening to Mr. Sterling’s live call of a homer is in a word…tremendous. Shelley Duncan resident great guy with a tough act to follow and he grounded out to short stop for the second out of the inning…Todd Linden now up … his music of choice … Standing on Top of the World by Van Halen…not Van Hagar…solid tune…wasn’t a fan of the Van Hagar days…maybe a couple tunes…but I was a David Lee Roth guy…okay back to the game…Linden almost took the head off of new Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher with a foul line drive…Kelleher is okay…got up and tipped his helmet…and Linden flies out to right to end the inning. Tigers 2 Yankees 4
Jose Veras in to pitch the 8th for the Yankees.
Top 8: Jeff Larish led off the inning against Veras and quickly deposited Veras’ second pitch of his afternoon over the wall in right into the bleachers. As I mentioned in my earlier BP blog, Larish was destroying the ball and that looked exactly like his BP session. After an error by Justin Leone allowed an unnamed Tigers batter get on (I apologize I did not have him on my roster) – Another unnamed Tiger grounded out to second followed by Raburn striking out with pinch runner Jeff Frazier on at second with two outs. Brent Delugich followed and grounded to short…the ball was booted by Nunez at short…ruling was E-6…Frazier had a thought to try and score…but stopped after three steps and got back to third…first and third two outs for Mike Hessman and he flew out to Brett Gardner in left center…a lazy fly ball…Tigers 3 Yankees 4
Bottom 8: Eddie Bonine is now in to pitch for Jim Leyland’s team…Doug Bernier led off the inning – his first at bat of the afternoon – and he singles right back up the middle – directly over the bag for a leadoff single. Justin Leone trying to atone for his error in the top of the inning – and Leone – popped out to Larish at first. Francisco Cervelli was up next and rocketed a line drive double painting the line in left. Yankees set up second and third and Eduardo Nunez at the plate…fielder’s choice for Nunez…he grounded to third…Bernier was thrown out in a rundown trying to score…Cervelli advanced to third…Nunez safe at first…Brett Gardner now up…one for one…after a perfect bunt in his first at bat after taking over for Melky Cabrera in center…wild pitch to Gardner…Cervelli tried to score but was thrown out at the plate…we head to the 9th…Tigers 3 Yankees 4
Top 9: Will Rhymes led off and tried to bunt his way on against the new Yankees pitcher Zach Kroenke, but Francisco Cervelli made a TREMENDOUS play to gun down Rhymes out at first…words don’t put the play into perspective and I’m sorry you couldn’t see it. It was a web gem. Clete Thomas was second and grounded out to second for the second out…Kroenke then hit a batter…and then faced Jeff Larish who pulverised a Jose Veras pitch in his last at bat. Larish this time…pops out in foul ground to Leone right near the rail of the Tigers dugout. BALL GAME OVER…YANKEES WIN THAAAAAAAA YANKEES WIN! Their 9th straight… Special thanks to John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman and Carlos Silva their producer – for letting me hang in the booth as they called the game. It was a great experience and I would hope I am able to do it again in my time down here in Tampa. Have a great rest of your day everyone.
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)