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
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
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
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
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
–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.