Results tagged ‘ Nick Johnson ’

First W of 2010

 

 

The Yankees picked up their first win this year on Tuesday night

 

The Sunday night heartbreaker seems like a lifetime ago. The New York Yankees got their first loss of the 2010 season out of the way Sunday night but bounced back and picked up their first win Tuesday night over the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4.

 

It feels great knowing the Bombers won’t be 0-8 vs. Boston this year.

 

There were so many things going on tonight, so I will just dive right into the analysis.

 

 


A.J. pitched five innings on Tuesday at Boston 

·       A.J. Burnett  

 

It wasn’t clear which version of A.J. Burnett showed up tonight. In the first inning, the lanky righty gave up a run which wasn’t really his fault. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a sloppy defensive play in the outfield and eventually scored.

 

Really the only hitter who feasted off Burnett tonight was Victor Martinez. The Boston catcher was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs against the Yankee starter.

 

The final line for Burnett: five innings, four runs (only three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and five Ks. If you ask me, his line was mediocre. Not good, but could have been much worse. For his first start he didn’t pitch poorly.

 

The best pitch he threw all night had to be a disgusting breaking ball he got Kevin Youkilis looking on. Burnett introduced the Boston first baseman to his uncle Charlie!

 

Also, he and Jorge Posada looked to be on the same page. We need that!

 

His next start will most likely come Sunday in Tampa against the Rays.

 

 


Fist pump. 

·       The Bullpen

 

What a difference two days make! The Yankee relievers came ready to play tonight. Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson, Damaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera: four innings, two hits, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts.

 

A huge, HUGE improvement over Sunday night!

 

Aceves looked unbelievably good. He can just come into a game and shut the hitters down. He tossed two scoreless innings and for his efforts he picked up the win.

 

And how about Chamberlain? He turned back the clock! His outing was 2007-esque.

 

The big reliever entered the game in the eighth inning with one out and sat down Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew on strikes. But the real story was his velocity. He was lighting up the speed gun at 96-98 mph.

 

First Pumps for everybody!

 

And in the ninth–who else but Rivera. He slammed the door for the first time this year and the 527th time in his career. I think he will get a ton of saves this year.

 

 


NJ and Robbie had RBIs tonight 

·       Nick Johnson and Robinson Cano

 

Both of these guys had pretty big nights.

 

Nick Johnson was 0-for-2 but walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. He also took one for the team and was hit by a pitch. He is a patient hitter and has shown that he can reach base, but I tend to worry about his health. Hopefully he doesn’t get plunked anymore this year.

 

And then there’s Robinson Cano.

 

The young second baseman was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored, and two RBIs. He put on a hitting show tonight and he’s just going to keep getting better. If he continues to play this way for the rest of the year, he may hit 30 home runs and drive in 120 runs.

 

I have so much faith in Cano. Every time I watch him, it’s like he gets better and better. His solo home run in the ninth gave the Yanks a 6-4 cushion to put Boston away.

 

  • Other Notes

 

–Alex Rodriguez drove in a run with an RBI double and Mark Teixeira grounded into a force out which scored Curtis Granderson.

 

–Nick Swisher knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI double in the top of the second. Nick at Nite! 

 

–I didn’t really get great vibes from Marcus Thames tonight. In the first inning, he missed a ball in left field which could have been easily caught by Brett Gardner…or Johnny Damon…

 

Thames only started because he supposedly “wears out” left-handed pitching and Jon Lester (a lefty) was on the mound for the Red Sox. Well, Thames only had 0 hits tonight. Way to wear ‘em out.

 

–Derek Jeter made two awesome plays on defense tonight. I’d like to know who the moron was who said his range has gone down. He is ageless.

 

–The Yankees committed three errors tonight. Boston committed one, but it was a big one–it kept the eighth inning alive for Johnson to draw the bases-loaded walk.

 

–Hideki Okajima was the Boston pitcher who walked in Johnson with the bases chucked. They call him “Okey Dok” in Boston. Okey Dok, thank you for your lack of control.

 

–Tomorrow night the rubber game against Boston will be played. Andy Pettitte will make the start against John Lackey.

 

–The Yankees are off Thursday then open up a three-day weekend series in Tampa Bay.

 

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

With one week and one day left of spring training baseball, the Yankees are starting to get into regular season form. Saturday afternoon the Bronx Bombers beat the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland by a score of 2-1.

 

Here’s what I made of it…

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 


Dr. Jekyll-Burnett came to play today 

Coming into this game A.J. Burnett was 0-1 this spring, not exactly setting the Yankees on fire. I recently wrote a blog about Burnett, calling out his inconsistency and how everyone compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season.

 

Today, he was “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett.”

 

The Yanks’ number two man tossed 91 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He only gave up three hits, struck out two, and issued three walks. Not a bad day at the office for Burnett and it was a good sign, considering the Tigers played most of their regulars.

 

Manager Joe Girardi liked what he saw from Burnett today too; the skipper said he was “mixing his pitches, using the fastball more effectively, and was demonstrating better control than his last few starts.”

 

Could not have said it better myself. Burnett was also in a good rhythm with Jorge Posada, who was catching him this afternoon. Many people have made issues about the Burnett-Posada battery in the past, but if they work together as nicely as they did today there won’t be many problems.

 

Overall, Burnett looked great. A smooth and effortless delivery, a good fastball, a great breaking pitch, and everything was working for him. Let’s just hope he pitches like this for the better part of the upcoming season.

 

Burnett will have one more start this spring before April 6–his first regular season start in Boston vs. the Red Sox.

 

Former Teams

 

 


Each player who lent a hand in scoring today played for the other team last year 

What was interesting about this game was the scoring. The Yankees scored two runs, both of which were brought on by former Tigers. The Tigers plated one run, which was scored by a former Yankee.

 

In the top of the first, Curtis Granderson knocked in Posada with a two-out RBI single. Of course Granderson played for the Tigers last season, as did Marcus Thames.

 

With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, Thames took Tigers’ starter Nate Robertson deep to left for a long solo home run, a blast that gave the Yankees the lead they would not relinquish.

 

I think Thames needed that home run, considering the abysmal spring he is having. Heading into that at-bat, he was only averaging .114 at the plate. Yikes!

 

As for the Tigers, former Yank Johnny Damon scored in the bottom of the third on an RBI single off the bat of Magglio Ordonez. After Damon hit a two-out double Ordonez drove him in from second with a base hit to right field. I have to give credit to Randy Winn, who nearly made a spectacular outfield assist.

 

Damon just beat the throw to home plate, which was right on the money. A solid effort and a great throw by Winn, but the former Yankee was called safe at home.

 

It was just a strange day in terms of the scoring. Not many runs and a former player on each team lent a hand in each run. Crazy!

 

Joba Chamberlain

 


Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the 'pen 

 

As announced on Thursday, Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the bullpen. Phil Hughes won the fifth starting pitcher’s spot, much to the dismay of many people including Chamberlain.

 

A good friend of mine called me almost immediately after the Yankees made the decision. I answered my phone and he literally went off about how angry he was how Hughes was named the fifth starter over Chamberlain. His argument was that the Yanks wasted time with the “Joba Rules” and how they treated him last year.

 

Think about it: they put Chamberlain on six days rest and then had him go out and throw 4 1/3 innings in some instances. They put him through all of that just to make him a reliever again? My friend said,

 

“He may not have been Roy Halladay right off the bat, but Rome was not built in a day.”

 

Excellent point. Chamberlain is only 24 years old. If he was 34 years old and not performing at a high level as a starter, then I would say leave him in the bullpen.

 

I think many people forget what he did in July 25, 2008 against the Red Sox at Fenway. Chamberlain started the game and tossed seven shutout innings against the BoSox, beating the ace of the Red Sox staff, Josh Beckett. Not only did he pick up the win in that game, he only allowed three hits and fanned nine batters.

 

The capability and talent is there. He just needs a chance to put it to use.

 

Chamberlain said Hughes did a better job during spring training and earned the spot, but he also said he was disappointed. He has a right to feel that way. Everyone was expecting him to be the fifth guy and I can tell he wanted to be. But I think one thing has to be made clear:

 

Even though Hughes is starting the year in the rotation, it doesn’t mean Chamberlain won’t be there. If Hughes struggles (the way he has in the past as a starter) Chamberlain could very well be plugged into that spot and get some starts. Nothing is set in stone; it just means Hughes is starting the year in the rotation!

 

Maybe everything will work out fine. Perhaps Hughes will find his niche in the rotation while Chamberlain finds his in the ‘pen. Just as he has proven to be a dominant starter, Chamberlain can be just as deadly as a reliever.

 

After all, he did pitch a scoreless ninth inning today and pick up a save.

 

Other Notes:

 

 


Spring Training 

–The Tigers’ spring training field is named “Joker Marchant Stadium.” Detroit officially wins the award for silliest Stadium name. Ever.

 

–David Robertson took over for Burnett and got out of the sixth inning. The more I watch him, the more I like him. He is great!

 

–Chad Gaudin was released by the Yankees. He made seven starts for the Bronx Bombers last year and the Yanks were 7-0 in those games. I hope he finds a new team, he can really help a ball club the way he helped the Yankees.  

 

–Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano did not make the trip over to Lakeland today.

 

–Nick Johnson played first base this afternoon. I think it’s good he can play the field, but unfortunately he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate. He did draw a walk though.

 

–As mentioned before, Randy Winn almost made a great outfield assist. Even though he missed it, he still did a great job in right field. He made some nice catches and even doubled up a runner at first after an awesome snag. I’ll give him a lot of credit–he won some battles with the sun and wind today!

 

–The Tigers have a minor leaguer named Michael Rockett. Deik Scram, Michael Rockett…Jeesh, the Tigers are chuck full of minor leaguers with funny names!

 

–Chan Ho Park’s nickname is “Chop.” Cool. Even cooler, he worked his way out of a 1st and 3rd, one-out jam in the eighth inning.

 

–Joel Zumaya of the Tigers struck out the side in the sixth inning. He whiffed Granderson, Winn, and Ramiro Pena. I am officially scared of him again. He has been practically a non-factor these past two seasons, but his fastball hit 99 mph on the speed gun and his curve ball was NASTY. I am not looking forward to facing him this year.

 

–During the telecast, Michael Kay and Tino Martinez had a discussion about the pies to the face after a walk-off win. Kay said the dynasty teams were “very conservative” and that Paul O’Neill (at first) did not like the pies after the walk-off wins.

 

Martinez however liked them and said the team did not look like they were having fun the last five-six years. “The pies loosened them up,” Martinez elegantly stated.

I have to side with favorite player during the dynasty (Martinez) and say he was right.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees take on the Tigers yet again, only this time they will play in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field.   

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

In the first game of a split-squad doubleheader, the New York Yankees topped the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Friday afternoon. 

 

Overall it was a good win. The team looked about as solid as they can be, coming off the 6-4 win over Tampa Bay last night. The Bombers will play the Rays again tonight in game two of their twin bill.

 

A few players and plays stood out this afternoon. All I can say is the Yankees are looking better and better as Spring Training continues!

 

CC Sabathia

 

 


CC Sabathia fanned 8 Tigers this afternoon 

The Yankee ace wasn’t having a great spring coming into today’s start. In fact, his numbers were brutal. 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA was the line on Sabathia up until today, indicating a little rust, I suppose. He pitched so much last season and into the playoffs, so he needed that rest in the off-season. But as the old saying goes, “when you rest, you rust.”

 

Yet Sabathia looked anything but rusty today.

 

The big man tossed 5 1/3 innings, surrendered four hits, and was charged with two runs this afternoon. He walked only two and struck out eight Tigers, making some of Detroit’s best hitters look as silly as the Joker at a comedy show.

 

The breaking ball, the fastball, and the changeup were working perfectly for Sabathia today. I will admit I had some doubts in the first inning. He quickly gave up a run and I thought “here we go again.” But he settled in nicely and found a good rhythm with catcher Francisco Cervelli. They looked to be on the same page all afternoon.

 

After today, I feel a lot better about Sabathia. Not that I ever really felt bad about him, despite the shaky spring. He always finds a way to win and always comes up big when the Yankees need him to.

 

I said it once and I’ll say it again: I believe in CC Sabathia.

 

Alex Rodriguez

 

 


Alex Rodriguez hit a TITANIC homer today!!! 

In the bottom of the third inning, Alex Rodriguez stepped into the box against Rick Porcello. The three-time MVP smacked a long, and I mean LONG, solo home run over the left-centerfield fence. As a matter of fact, the ball cleared the scoreboard and landed well beyond George M. Steinbrenner Field.

 

“That…was a BOMB!” It was all I could say.

 

Rodriguez went 2-for-3 today and he looks to be in top shape for this season. Last year he did not return to the lineup until May 8 because of the hip injury. The Yankees (and more notably Mark Teixeira) struggled in his absence.

 

2010 might be a different story, though. There are no injuries and he will be starting the season in regular form. I have a feeling he’ll have a typical “A-Rod season.” Look for about 35-40 home runs, over 100 RBIs, a batting average around .300, and probably 100 runs scored.

 

That is, unless, he stupefies us all like he did in 2007. That’s always appreciated, as well!

 

All I can say is “wow” to that homer he hit today. He absolutely crushed the ball and got very good wood on it. I shouldn’t even say “crushed.” Obliterated is probably the operative word. He said after the game he “lost track of it, but knew he hit it a long ways.”

 

That you did, A-Rod. That you did.

 

Derek Jeter

 

 


Derek Jeter was 1-for-3 with two RBIs vs. Detroit 

Last night vs. Tampa Bay, the Yankee captain looked to have tweaked his hand a little bit. He was grimacing as he was taking warm-ups, but stayed in the game. He also said nothing was bothering him (as usual) and he started today.

 

Not only did he start today, but he had a good game.

 

Jeter went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk. The captain knocked in both runs on a single in the bottom of the second, which put the Yankees ahead, 3-1. His hitting is exactly what we all expect at this point. Jeter’s been through Spring Training so many times, I’m sure he is used to it by now.

 

Along with his hitting, his defense looks great, too. Whoever said his range has gone down really needs to get their eyes checked. This spring, Jeter has been moving around just as well as he has his whole career.

 

It’s just good to know he did not hurt his hand last night and he had a good day today.

 

Mariano Rivera

 

 


Mariano Rivera gave up no runs & threw just 10 pitches Friday 

The Yankees’ closer needed just 10 pitches to retire the Tigers in the seventh inning today. Mariano Rivera’s line for the day: no runs, no hits, no errors, no men left on base…one strikeout.

 

It never gets old seeing that.

 

Like the rest of the veterans, Rivera also looks to be in top form. He always is, it’s nothing new for him. I noticed that his velocity was down in the low-mid 80s at first, but he eventually made it up to the 90s toward the end of the inning.

 

I think velocity is not something that really matters when it comes to Rivera’s pitching. So many hitters have already said, “We all know the cutter is coming–yet no one can ever hit it.” My favorite quote was by Mike Sweeney, who once said,

 

“People always ask why you can’t hit Mo’s cutter when you know it’s coming. Well, you know what’s going to happen in a horror movie, but it still gets you.”

 

Best quote about the cutter. Ever.

 

I think people also need to realize, it’s not an easy pitch to hit. The cutter runs inside on left-handed hitters and tails away from righties. One player once remarked, “At first you think the ball is outside, and then it comes right in toward your hands.” Honestly, it’s probably the nastiest pitch there is.

 

Last year Rivera had 44 saves in 46 save opportunities with a 1.76 ERA. With the way he’s been pitching for the last 15 years or so, he might duplicate that in 2010. Knowing him, I would not doubt it. He said he will have about five more outings this spring and he is set to pitch again on Sunday.

 

 

Other Notes

 

 


Spring Training 

–Nick Johnson worked an 11 pitch at-bat in the fourth inning, ending in a walk. I expect more of this from him this year. It’s good to have a patient hitter in the lineup.

 

–Royce Ring pitched yet another scoreless inning. I think a roster spot could be in his future. I like him!

 

–In the 6-4 win over Tampa last night, Chan Ho Park tossed his first inning this spring. No runs, no hits, no walks, and a strikeout, along with making a nice bare-handed play for an out. Good stuff, let’s see if he can keep it up!

 

–In addition to Park’s good outing, Colin Curtis hit another three-run home run in last night’s win. I like this kid. I know he won’t make the team coming right out of the gate, but Curtis may make a case for a call-up this year, even if it’s at the end in September. He has a great left-handed swing, tailor-made for Yankee Stadium. I hope we see more of him, he’s got some pop!

 

–Joe Girardi stated that he hopes to have a decision on the fifth starting pitcher by March 25 or 26. If you ask me…anyone but Joba Chamberlain at this point. I have no clue who I would choose for that spot at the moment.

 

–Johnny Damon did not make the trip to GMS Field today. We didn’t see our old friend.

 

–We did however see Austin Jackson (we barely knew ye) and Phil Coke today. I have to ask…WHAT did Phil Coke do to himself? He looks like a hippie straight out of the 1970s! He has long hair and a mustache and looks…not right. Cut your hair and shave, Cokey!

 

–Coke did however have a good outing, as he struck Alex Rodriguez out swinging and then proceeded to retire Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames in order.  

 

–The Tigers played one of their AA minor leaguers by the name of Deik Scram. He is a centerfielder. Nice name! Kind of reminds me of Stubby Clapp.

 

–Tomorrow the Yankees will play the Houston Astros, Sunday the Tigers again, and then Monday they travel to Clearwater to play Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Final Thought:

 

Francisco Cervelli played today. As we all know, he has suffered three concussions and needs to wear a somewhat large, protective helmet. The YES Network made a reference to Gazoo, an imaginary cartoon character who always talked to Fred Flintstone.

 

I have to admit, Cervelli’s helmet does resemble Gazoo’s…


Hello dum-dum!!

Yankees vs. Pirates: Thoughts and Notes

It was not a good day to be a Yankee. In another exhibition from “The Boss” on Tuesday, the Yankees dropped a 12-7 decision to the Pirates.

 

Yes, you heard right. The Yankees lost to the Pirates. I was surprised, not just because the Yanks started most of their regulars and were beaten, but because just yesterday they had shutout the Bucs at their camp.

 

My thoughts…

 

 


CC Sabathia was roughed up Tuesday afternoon 

·       CC Sabathia

 

The big man did not have it today.

 

CC Sabathia tossed 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two. It had been noted before the game that Joe Girardi wanted his ace to pitch at least three innings and top out somewhere around 50 pitches. He tossed 53 pitches to be exact, but obviously did not make it out of the third frame.

 

The worst pitch Sabathia threw today was a fastball, middle-in that Garrett Jones crushed for a three-run homer in the first inning. The first inning–mind you–that Sabathia gave up four straight hits and runs before getting anyone out. In fact, the Pirates sent eight batters to the plate in the first.

 

Not exactly a banner day for Sabathia, if I may say.

 

It seemed to me that he had some delivery issues. Everyone is familiar with Sabathia’s windup, hesitation, and release of the ball. He didn’t seem to be hesitating as he usually does and I think that threw him off today. Sabathia even said after the outing that he was “collapsing his back side” which caused some problems in his mechanics.

 

The delivery problem may have been something that was addressed after the first inning, because after the rough first, Sabathia came out and dazzled in the second inning. He was able to retire the side in order, but in the third ran into more trouble and was pulled.

 

When it comes to a pitcher of Sabathia’s caliber, I tend not to worry so much. Something tells me he won’t have too many days like today. When Opening Day rolls around, I’m confident he’ll be the same pitcher we saw last year. I just hope he doesn’t start slow, which historically he has.

 

Either way, he’ll be fine. I believe in CC Sabathia.

 

Nick Johnson smacked two homers today 

 

·       Nick Johnson

 

OK, I know I just wrote about Nick Johnson yesterday (and sort of bashed him) but he shut me up today. The Yanks’ new/old designated hitter had two at-bats this afternoon.

 

And in both at-bats, he homered.

 

Both shots were quite impressive, too. The first of Johnson’s two home runs came in the first inning. He took a fastball deep to right-center field for a solo job. In the third inning he one-upped himself with a moon shot over the right field wall, another solo blast.

 

Johnson would have had three at-bats today, but Girardi pinch-hit for him in the fourth. The Yankee skipper said that Johnson is going to play tomorrow and he wants to keep him healthy, so he took him out of the game.

 

Again, it all goes back to Johnson staying healthy and the question of whether or not he can. He has already sustained a minor injury this spring. He has a history of injuries. Every analyst in the baseball world questions him every year. We’ll have to wait until the season begins and moves to really find out if he can stay healthy, that’s really the bottom line.

 

I’ll tell you one thing, however; those two homers today looked awfully nice. If he does stay healthy and he swings like he did today, it will mean only good things for the Bronx Bombers.

 

Randy Winn must prove he is worthy of the pinstripes 

 

·       Randy Winn

 

Yesterday Marcus Thames started in left field and did not impress anyone. He was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Talk about a bad day!

 

Well Randy Winn started in left today and wasn’t much better.

 

In two at-bats today, Winn was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. He did score a run, but he also left three runners on base. His defense was not stellar either, as he missed a fly ball in left field sliding and missing the catch.

 

So far none of the left fielders have impressed me.

 

Winn hasn’t gotten much playing time this spring. I think today was really his day to showcase his stuff and he did not do it, which is unfortunate for him. He didn’t have the best numbers last year, hitting only two homers and averaging .262 at the plate.

 

Maybe the Yankees signed him in hopes of a bounce-back type year, but he looks so out of place. I feel for him because it was mentioned today that he had a rough time off the field last year. Winn’s father-in-law died and apparently that hit him hard (as it would anybody) so he did not have the best year in ’09.

 

I can only hope at this point that he comes back strong. It was only one game, but he has to earn that spot in left field. Same goes for Thames and Jamie Hoffman, who are vying for that position.

 

Brett Gardner would be the logical choice (and probably will be) the Opening Day left fielder. Yet that final roster spot has to be filled and one of these players must show off what they can do. And collectively, they all need to do better. They looked very sloppy the last two games.

 

 

 


Spring Training 

·       Other Notes

 

–Francisco Cervelli will play again Friday. It turns out he has sustained three concussions in his young career. He needs to be careful. Concussions are nothing to take lightly. They have ended many young players’ careers in almost every sport.

 

–Royce Ring looked great in the fifth inning, setting the side down in order while recording a strikeout in the frame. He might not make the Opening Day roster, but if anything were to happen to one of the relievers, he would make a good case to fill in.

 

–Curtis Granderson continued to struggle up until his final at-bat today. He struck out looking and grounded out before wrapping a leadoff triple in the fifth. Hope we see more of this.

 

–Romulo Sanchez tossed a perfect sixth inning, lighting up the speed gun at 96 mph. It was nice to see one of the Yankee prospects throwing so hard.

 

–Hector Noesi pitched today. When he came on in relief the other day I thought he was Edwar Ramirez! They look like the same guy.

 

–Speaking of Ramirez, he was traded to the Texas Rangers for cash today. We’ll all miss “Flaco.” (If you didn’t know, “flaco” means “skinny” or “thin” in Spanish. This was Ramirez’s nickname in the Yankee clubhouse)

 

–Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira did not start today. Both had the day off.

 

–Nick Swisher had an RBI single and a walk today. He is hitting very well so far!

 

–Jorge Posada was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored. That’s a good sign.

 

–Grapefruit League play resumes Wednesday, as the Yankees will travel to the Detroit Tigers’ camp for an exhibition tomorrow afternoon. Thursday night the Yankees come back home to host the Atlanta Braves. It’ll be nice to see Melky Cabrera again.

Yankees vs. Phillies: Thoughts and Notes

The Yankees had lost four straight games going into today’s spring training match-up, but were finally able to break out of it. The Bronx Bombers beat their 2009 World Series opponents, the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5 in an exhibition game.

 

Here’s what I made of today’s win:

 

 


Javier Vazquez gave up a homer, but struck out four in his spring debut 

  • Javier Vazquez

 

The first pitch Javier Vazquez tossed this spring was a meatball. Jimmy Rollins launched Vazquez’s offering over the right field wall for a leadoff home run. It makes sense to me, because the last pitch I remember him throwing in a Yankee uniform was a grand slam in the ALCS. So the first pitch Vazquez threw back in pinstripes had to be a homer.

 

I guess it was only fitting.

 

But after the long ball, Vazquez settled down very nicely. He pitched two innings and only gave up one run on two hits. He did not walk a batter and he struck out four of the eight Phillies he faced.

 

Mixing pitches and pounding the zone, Vazquez looked very good. I think the best-looking pitch he threw today was a changeup that he fooled Chase Utley on for a strikeout. He was able to change speeds effectively as well, bringing the fastball up to the mid 90s before dropping down to the low 80s.

 

If he can match what he did today during the regular season, Vazquez can win a good amount of games.

 

Overall, I liked what I saw from him today. Aside from the homer, he was outstanding. And I feel it was important that he bounced back from the leadoff home run as nicely as he did. Vazquez showcased his nerves today and that he can get into some early trouble but rebound in a solid way.

 

 


Robinson Cano is having a good spring thus far 

·       Robinson Cano

 

The young second baseman was brilliant as usual this afternoon.

 

Robinson Cano boasted some of his defense today, making a brilliant diving catch in the first inning. That play stood out to me because he really showed great lateral range, but the story today was really about Cano’s bat.

 

In his first at-bat, Cano smacked a double inside the third baseline. He drew a walk in his second at-bat, and finally crushed a go-ahead, two-run single before calling it a day.

 

Right now Cano is showing that he knows how to play ball in the MLB. Even if he is without his buddy Melky Cabrera.

 

I love what I am seeing from Cano so far. I’m sure he will keep up the excellent work.

 


Nick Swisher had a good day, a rebound from his forgettable Friday   

 

·       Nick Swisher

 

Let’s just say Nick Swisher’s day was a lot better than the last time I wrote of him.

 

The right fielder knocked in three runs on the day, all with two outs in the inning. In the fourth, Swisher cracked a two-run double and then followed it up with an RBI ground rule double in the fifth.

 

Swisher’s hitting was great today. I just hope he can be a little more consistent defensively this season. He isn’t exactly the most athletic player on the field, but he certainly has a lot of athleticism. He’s proven that in the past.

 

On a Swisher side note, he looks to have shaved his head. Will the “swish-hawk” make a return this year? Or have we seen the last of it?

 

We’ll see. He will need to grow the hair out again, though. I don’t like the shaved head look for him. Not saying it doesn’t work for some other players, but Swisher…

 

Come on, Dude!!!

 

 


Nick Johnson was 0-for-3 with a walk today 

 

·       Nick Johnson

 

Playing in his first game since going down with a stiff back, Nick Johnson laced up his spikes and played today. The Yankees’ designated hitter had three at-bats and did not record a hit.

 

Johnson popped out twice and walked.

 

I just don’t have a great feeling about him. Johnson was second in the National League in terms of on-base percentage (with .462). The only other hitter in the N.L. with a higher OPB was Albert Pujols. So obviously Johnson knows how to get on base.

 

But he only hit eight home runs all of last year even though he did average close to .300 (he hit .291). The home run count has the possibility of climbing, what with Johnson being a left-handed hitter and the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

 

But we’ll have to wait and see if his power translates from the N.L. back over to A.L. I’m sure it might, if he stays healthy long enough.

 

I will admit the fact that he had a stiff back so early got underneath my skin. It was not a great first impression. The injury sidelined him for a couple of games, so I’m not really buying into Johnson just yet.

 

He has to prove to me he can stay healthy. Until then, sorry Nick.  

 

 

 ·       Other Notes

 

 


Spring Training 

 

–Ramiro Pena showed some speed and defense today. First he had a bunt single that should have been a routine play, but he beat it out for a hit. Then he made a nice defensive stop at short that he helped turn into a double play.

 

Nice work, Pena!

 

–Marcus Thames started in left field. He was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Ouch!

 

–Francisco Cervelli did not play. He was hit in the head with a fastball on Saturday vs. Toronto and sustained a concussion for it. He did however see a neurologist and Cervelli is cleared to resume activity tomorrow.

 

If anything extreme were to happen to Cervelli and he would not be able to begin the season, Mike Rivera would be the logical choice to be Jorge Posada’s backup. At press time, Cervelli is slated to be the number two catcher.

 

–Chan Ho Park was scratched from his bullpen session today with a sore gluteus. I have no comment for this one.

 

–While one half of the team stayed home and beat Philly, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and the rest of the squad traveled to the Pirates’ camp this afternoon. The captain and A-Rod helped lead the team to a 6-0, one-hit shutout win over the Bucs.

 

Alfredo Aceves pitched four shutout innings against Pittsburgh. He did not allow a hit and he fanned three, giving the Yankees a little reassurance that he is in good shape.

 

–The Pirates will travel to Tampa tomorrow afternoon and the Yankees will host them in another exhibition.

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