As we all know, spring training isn’t really about final scores. It’s about warm-ups, getting in shape, and finding rhythm. Today the Rays handed the Yankees their rear ends for the better part of the day and won 12-7 over the Bronx Bombers.
Instead of getting into all kinds of detail about who scored and when, I’m just going to tell you all my thoughts on what I saw today.
· Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson failed to reach base today and is still without a hit this spring. He flew out twice against two different left-handed pitchers. One of the knocks against him is his inability to consistently hit lefties, so I’m a little concerned for him. But I have a feeling he’ll find his stride.
We’ll give Granderson a little time. I think his bat will come alive soon and he just has to adjust to the new environment. His defense wasn’t bad, but he did however have a fly ball sail over his head. Better to have it happen now than next month.
· Phil Hughes
In the first inning he gave up a solo homer to Sean Rodriguez (who had a career day at the plate, missing the cycle by a single) Other than that hiccup, Hughes wasn’t bad.
Rodriguez’s home run was the only hit Hughes allowed over the two innings he pitched. He walked one batter and did not record a strikeout. Other than that, Hughes’s changeup was good and there was a lot of movement on it.
I know he wasn’t happy with his performance. But that’s the idea of spring training–to work the kinks out and get ready for the season. Hughes wants to be a starter but he’ll have to fight for it.
If you’re counting statistics, Hughes registered the loss today.
· Joba Chamberlain
I saw nothing today from Joba Chamberlain. He only pitched 1 1/3 innings and gave up a total of five earned runs on three hits. He walked three batters and only fanned one.
Chamberlain was extremely flat today; he left everything up in the zone and most of the hitters he faced feasted off him. I would say 85% of the pitches he threw were up and he missed the other 15%.
Not to make excuses for Chamberlain, but he is just getting over the flu. In fact, when the team went out on their “field trip” to the arcade a few days ago, Chamberlain stayed back because of his ailment.
It’s difficult to do anything when you’re sick, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that respect. Catcher Francisco Cervelli even noted after the outing that Chamberlain looked “a little bit off” and said it was probably because of his flu.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Chamberlain can rebound next time out.
· Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher had kind of a rough day.
He was picked off at first on a snap throw in a very sloppy play. He took a secondary lead (although he was so far off the bag, you could’ve called it a tertiary lead) and stumbled trying to get back before he was picked off by Dioner Navarro.
After getting caught napping, Swisher nearly fell into the bullpen trying to run down a fly ball hit by Justin Ruggiano. To me, he looked like a bowling pin out there today. At least he walked in his one at-bat and he looks like he shed some pounds, which is good.
As for the falling and getting picked off–Swisher! Come on, dude!
· Kei Igawa
Sporting a new number (17) Kei Igawa tossed 1 2/3 innings today. And for the first time, I can safely say he did well! Igawa hasn’t had much to feel good about since signing with the Yankees, but today he proved he might just have it.
The Japanese non-roster invitee was perfect, not allowing a hit in his outing. He recorded two strikeouts on the afternoon, including a whiff of Ben Zobrist with a nasty breaking ball. His pitches looked a lot better than they were two years ago.
Igawa will without a doubt be in the minors this year. But if he continues to progress and pitch as he did today, the majors could be in his future.
I was very impressed with him today.
· David Robertson
Pitching the sixth inning, David Robertson had a perfect day. No runs, no hits, no walks, one strikeout. I feel good about him and I think he is going to be a valuable part of the bullpen this season. Robertson had such a good postseason last year. I think that sometimes goes overlooked.
Not to mention he and his family teamed up with Tino Martinez and his family last night. Collectively, the Robertsons and the Martinezs attended a Taylor Swift concert in Florida. I thought that was a neat little factoid Martinez mentioned while calling the game today.
And if you ask me, Martinez needs to call more games on the YES Network. He is more fun to listen to than Michael Kay!
· Jesus Montero
As a late inning defensive replacement, Montero was brought in to replace Cervelli behind the plate. He only had two at-bats. He walked and struck out looking.
Montero was one of my five players to watch this spring and I really feel we’ll see better things from him this month. I didn’t realize until today how big he is! For a 20 year-old kid, he is a monster.
It’ll be fun to watch his growth and development, so keep an eye on him.
· Other Notes
–Tomorrow afternoon at GMS Field, A.J. Burnett will start for the Yankees against the Blue Jays. I believe I heard them say Shaun Marcum will make the start for Toronto.
–Nick Johnson did not start today due to a stiff back. He received heat therapy on his back and his activities were limited. His treatment may continue for the rest of the weekend.
The reason his back stiffened up was because of his shoes, believe it or not. According to the YES Network, Johnson wore regular turf shoes instead of spikes while practicing. Somehow that affected him and he hurt himself.
I don’t understand it either, but he has to be more careful.
–The Yankees are now 1-2 in Grapefruit League play.