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Yankee News For Yankee Fans

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I am going to try to update this thread over the course of the season with Yankee news that catches my eye about these overrated SOB's. Feel free to pick a player off the Opening Day roster and scream at him for the entire season. For myself, I had Robinson Cano last year. This year I have Alfonso Soriano. Who else?

Masahiro Tanaka continues to impress with Yankees as he baffles Braves 'A' lineup

In his 41/ 3 innings and 74 pitches, Tanaka was touched for three hits and one freak run, striking out six while throwing no more than a half dozen pitches in the 90-92 mph range.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, March 16, 2014, 11:19 PM

Masahiro Tanaka mixes in a series splitters, sliders and changeups as he keeps the Braves off-balanced in 4 1/3 innings.

TAMPA – In his gradual indoctrination to major league hitters, Masahiro Tanaka had the ante raised just a tad Sunday when he was asked to pitch through a lineup more than one time and Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez obliged by bringing his “A” team to Steinbrenner Field.

If the Braves were expecting velocity, however, it wasn’t much in the offing. What they got was a varied dose of splitters, sliders and occasional changeups, all of which resulted in the kind of day that left them repeatedly saying: “I’d like to see that pitch again.” In his 41/ 3 innings and 74 pitches, Tanaka was touched for three hits and one freak run, striking out six while throwing no more than a half dozen pitches in the 90-92 mph range. According to his batterymate, Brian McCann, who knows a thing about the Braves’ hitters, it was all by design.

“We’re not gonna tip our hand this early in the spring,” said McCann. “He’s trying to execute certain pitches.”

Which, for the most part, he did.

After B.J. Upton lined a single up the middle with one out in the first and then stole second, Tanaka struck out both Freddy Freeman swinging and Justin Upton looking at an 87-mph splitter. In the third inning, he faced his first bit of trouble when Tyler Greene beat out a one-out bunt single and Jason Heyward drew a walk. Tanaka’s response was to strike out B.J. Upton and rookie Ernesto Mejia, who had replaced Freeman when the Braves’ newly-minted $135 million first baseman suffered a bruised thumb gloving a line drive by the Yankees’ Ramon Flores in the second.

“He probably threw a few more pitches than he wanted to,” said Yankees’ acting manager Robbie Thompson of Tanaka, “but his secondary stuff is so good. When he got in trouble in the third, after the bunt and the walk, and gets those two punch-outs…he really battled.”

The only run the Braves were able to muster off Tanaka came in the fourth when, with two out, he walked Dan Uggla, and Tommy LaStella, a 25-year-old rookie second baseman from Closter, N.J., hit a looping fly ball to left field that got caught up in the wind and kept drifting and drifting before bouncing off the top of the wall for a double.

LaStella, a .327 career minor league hitter who hit .343 in 81 games at Double-A Mississippi last year, was the only non-regular in the Braves’ lineup. In all probability he’ll start the season at Triple-A, but if Uggla continues to struggle at the plate as he did last year (.179), the Jersey kid could be seeing The Show in the near future.

“(Tanaka) throws a lot of pitches and he throws them all for strikes,” said LaStella. “He did a good job of keeping us off balance with all his off-speed stuff.”

“He’s got good stuff, no doubt,” echoed B.J. Upton, “very good off-speed stuff — it was hard to get a good gauge. He has the same arm action so it’s hard to pick up the spin on it. He located and made you swing at his pitches. He also had a good guy handling him behind the plate.”

That, of course, was in reference to McCann, who was the Braves’ catcher and an acknowledged clubhouse leader the last eight seasons before signing on as a free agent with the Yankees during the winter. It was the first time the Braves had seen McCann this spring and, for them, that was a bigger deal than seeing the Yankees’ $155 million Japanese pitching prodigy.

Before the game, I noted to Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez how rare it was to see a team bring most of its regulars to a spring training road game. Was it because Tanaka was pitching?

“No, no,” Gonzalez protested. “We have an off day Tuesday and I wanted to give our regulars a lot of at-bats two games in a row. I didn’t even know Tanaka was pitching until (Saturday). I was curious to see him, but the guy I really wanted to see over there was this ‘McCain’ guy they picked up over the winter. I hear he’s a pretty good catcher.”

Still, Gonzalez was like everyone else around the Grapefruit League circuit, curious to see this 25-year-old righthander who generated a wild bidding war last January after compiling a 24-0 record and 1.27 ERA while pitching the Rakuten Golden Eagles to the Japanese league championship. What he came away with more than anything else Sunday was Tanaka’s poise.

“I was impressed with his ability to make his pitches when he got into jams,” Gonzalez said.

“There was life in all his breaking pitches. But this guy has pitched in some big games on some big stages. It’s not like he just came down from Oneonta.”

The way it’s looking for the Yankees, more like from Heaven.

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Soriano hits homers, and then we fall in love with him again.

Nuñez is my pick, and I really expect Roberts, Jeter and Tex to break down at some point during the season. Ellsbury is a strong candidate for this list as well, but like I said, Nuñez is going to be as bad as ever.

I'll be following this thread :good:

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Soriano hits homers, and then we fall in love with him again.

That isn't the case with me. I've hated him for years now.

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Various Spring Training Photos

Adam Warren


Brett Gardner

Brian McCann

Brian Roberts

C.C. Sabathia

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Yankees mold Kelly Johnson into their starting third baseman

Johnson, expected to play the hot corner most of the time as the Yankees seek to replace the suspended Alex Rodriguez, is a rookie of sorts at the position, having played only 16 games there in his career.


Kelly Johnson must adapt to a new team as well as a new position this spring training.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Early in the morning several times a week, before much of the other activity at Yankee camp begins, Kelly Johnson and Mick Kelleher head out to a back field to continue the behind-the-scenes work of building a new pinstriped third baseman. Kelleher brings his primary tool — a fungo bat.

Johnson, expected to play the hot corner most of the time as the Yankees seek to replace the suspended Alex Rodriguez, is a rookie of sorts at the position, having played only 16 games there in his career. Still, the former second baseman has impressed both Kelleher, the first-base coach who also serves as the club’s infield instructor, and Joe Girardi with his spring play so far.

“I think he’s going to do a good job,” Girardi said Monday before the Yankees’ game against the Pirates was rained out. “I’ve liked what he’s done. I don’t really have a lot of concerns about it.”

That’s comforting for a club with abundant infield questions, including whether the other three infielders — Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Brian Roberts — can stay healthy coming off injury-marred seasons.

Johnson’s progress hasn’t come easily. As Kelleher notes, third is a demanding position, perhaps intimidating, even for someone who has played as much infield as Johnson. The 32-year-old Johnson has played 809 of his 960 games in the majors at second. All of his third-base experience came last year.

“It’s a tough transition,” said Kelleher, a big-league infielder from 1972-82 for five teams. “Third is a reactionary position where you don’t know so much the location, the pitch that’s coming. You have that advantage playing in the middle — you get to see the catcher set up, see the signs, can cheat on your ready position, see the bat come through the zone.

“Plus, the angles. There are a lot of angles you have to take because the ball gets on you so fast. There’s a lot of stuff that happens really quickly. If you think you can get in front of all these balls hit a little to your left or right, you can’t. It’s not like shortstop or second base when the ball is on the ground a lot longer and you have time to range around and set up on it.”

Kelleher calls third base “more of a one-handed position. A ‘pick’ position. You’re moving and picking, you’re dancing with your feet, moving left, moving right. That’s where the practice comes in and until you get all that stuff down, it can be kind of uncomfortable.”

One of the other major adjustments for Johnson is the long throw from third to first, a toss so potentially daunting Kelleher jokes that when one walks to third and looks over to first base the immediate response is “Maaaaaaan, where is (first base)?”

“That’s a huge part of making the transition and he’s done that very well.”

Kelleher knows Johnson is still an unfinished third baseman, noting, “We’ve been playing what, two weeks, two and a half weeks?”

But the coach beamed Monday as he talked about how Johnson flawlessly handled a short-hop on a hard-hit ball in Sunday’s game. “You’ve got to use these,” Kelleher said, holding up his hands. “That’s why it’s great to have great hands.”

For now, at least, the Yankees think third base is in good hands with Johnson.

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Various Spring Training Photos

Carlos Beltran

Cesar Cabral

Chase Whitley

David Phelps

David Robertson

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Impressive Michael Pineda bids for Yankees starting rotation

Pineda has pitched three times this spring, tossing nine shutout innings. He has allowed eight hits and walked only one batter, striking out 14 as he looks to reestablish himself.


Michael Pineda’s perfect spring seems to have thrust him into the lead for the final rotation spot.

TAMPA — Joe Girardi says he won’t decide on a No. 5 starter for at least another week. Michael Pineda might be making the decision an easy one.

Pineda threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday, giving up four hits and striking out five without issuing a walk. He threw 45 of his 60 pitches for strikes, his fastball clocking in between 91-94 mph for most of the day.

“This is the guy who we’ve been expecting to see the last couple of years,” Mark Teixeira said. “Now that he’s back in spring training it’s real exciting to see him healthy and pitching well.

“If he’s healthy, if he’s the guy we traded for a couple of years ago, he’s a top of the rotation starter, and those guys don’t come around easily.”

Pineda has pitched three times this spring, tossing nine shutout innings. He has allowed eight hits and walked only one batter, striking out 14 as he looks to reestablish himself (he was an All-Star in 2011 with Seattle).

“I threw the ball great, threw the ball down in the zone,” Pineda said. “I threw a lot of strikes. That makes me happy. I feel better and better. My pitches are a little better and I’m feeling more comfortable on the mound.”

As Girardi said, “It doesn’t look like a guy that’s coming back from a serious injury.”

Pineda’s perfect spring seems to have thrust him into the lead for the final rotation spot, though David Phelps (2.63 ERA in 132/3 innings) and Adam Warren (2.08 ERA in 82/3 innings) have also pitched well.

The Yankees would love to see Pineda bounce back from his 2012 shoulder surgery and be another solid starter to supplement the quartet of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova.

“We’ve got to figure out what’s best for our team as a whole,” Girardi said. “I think he’s getting stronger when he goes out. I think his command was better today — a lot better than the other day. Another good step for him.”

Pineda isn’t spending much time worrying if he could be a No. 5 starter, major league reliever or Triple-A starter. Asked if he believes he has shown enough to win the job, Pineda declined to speculate.

“I don’t know, because I don’t have the control for the situation,” Pineda said. “The only thing I have control is to be ready and pitch a good game every five days.”

Red Sox left fielder Mike Carp has seen Pineda at his best, playing with him in Seattle. Carp had one of Boston’s four hits Tuesday, but he also went down swinging in his other at-bat.

“He looked good; maybe not quite the same he was in Seattle, but he’s getting there,” Carp said. “He’s an imposing figure on the mound. I was curious to see what he would look like and he looked good.”

Boston manager John Farrell was impressed.

“That was quality stuff,” Farrell said. “There was late action on the split and sinker. Recognizing he’s come through a lot physically. I’m sure if he regains close to his previous status it’ll certainly be a boost for that rotation.”

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Various Spring Training Photos

Dean Anna, Infielder

Dellin Betances, Pitcher

Derek Jeter

Eduardo Nunez

Francisco Cervelli

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The thrill and ‘pressure’ of being Derek Jeter’s backup


Brendan Ryan (left) will be backup for Yankees captain Derek Jeter (right), who is retiring after this season.

TAMPA — “It’s a slippery thing,” Brendan Ryan said Monday morning at Steinbrenner Field, and he wasn’t referring to the rain that ultimately canceled the Yankees’ Grapefruit League game down in Bradenton.

No, Ryan and I were discussing his role this season: Backup for Derek Jeter — and possible in-game defensive replacement — during the captain’s farewell/comeback campaign. It could get hairy. It could be boring. No matter where it lands, the Yankees’ selection of an accomplished veteran for this spot probably will turn out to be a good call.

“I relate to the fans a lot. I still pinch myself,” said Ryan, who turns 32 on March 26. “Here I am: I’m insurance to THE Derek Jeter. That’s pretty special. It’s something I’ll tell my kids about. Whether there’s a tremendous amount of glory or not, I think the experience will be super, super special. Something I’ll never forget.”

Jeter, who took Monday off along with the other veterans who made the Yankees’ trip to Panama, has enjoyed a healthy spring, and that’s paramount after playing in just 17 games last year due to the fractured left ankle he suffered in October 2012. What to make of his .133/.212/.167 slash line in 33 plate appearances? Eh. Not much, although you know many folks would be throwing a party right now if those numbers read more like .300/.350/.450.

What’s indisputable is Jeter turns 40 in June, is coming off the most serious injury of his career and displayed limited defensive range prior to that injury. Hence the Yankees re-signed Ryan — whom they acquired from Seattle last September — to a two-year, $5 million contract over the offseason.

“He was signed to be available to come off the bench,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of Ryan on Monday. Added Cashman: “We wanted to give Joe [manager Girardi] some choices.”

Will Girardi choose to insert Ryan as a defensive replacement for Jeter late in games the Yankees are leading? “We haven’t talked about it,” Cashman said. The common-sense conjecture is Girardi, understanding Jeter’s profound pride, will begin the season playing Jeter full games and start the defensive superior and offensively inferior Ryan a couple of times per week — and resort to the defensive-replacement idea only by necessity. Ryan also can play second base and third base.

Ryan recalled the came in as a ninth-inning defensive replacement (for Munenori Kawasaki) to help preserve a Mariners combined no-hitter against the Dodgers on June 8, 2012. He understands what it would mean to relieve Jeter late in a game the Yankees are leading.

“It’s not the most enviable position, but it’s nothing I’ll complain about,” said Ryan, who took batting practice Monday and should return to game action this week after being sidelined with a back injury. “There’s definitely a little bit more pressure put in there, but that makes it more fun, too. At the same time, I don’t imagine Jete would be too excited about those situations. Maybe if it’s a need-be.

“It’s a slippery thing. I don’t want to say too much. I have and still do look up to Jete big time. He was basically my favorite player growing up in grade school and high school and stuff. I wanted to look the way he looked taking groundballs and stuff. It’s cool to see how he carries himself and how he’ll treat [uniform] number 104 the same way he treats [Mark] Teixeira. He’s the ultimate example-setter, and I’m going to try to take it all in this year. It’ll be fun to be part of his last hurrah. Hopefully we send him off on a good note.”

The Los Angeles native came up through the Cardinals’ system and served as the starting shortstop for the St. Louis club that won the 2009 National League Central title. Then he went to the Mariners in a December 2010 trade, and he couldn’t hit enough to keep a starting job despite his excellent defense; of active players who have spent at least half their time at shortstop, he ranks second in defensive WAR (as per Baseball-Reference.com) with 14.4. Only the Pirates’ Clint Barmes stands higher, at 16.

So he has been through some baseball battles and appears capable of handling what’s coming. And very happy to be part of it.

“Here, I feel like I’m finally a part of my own peer group. Whether the salaries are the same or not, there’s a lot of us that are the same age,” Ryan said. “We’ve been playing against each other a lot. We’ve been picking each other’s brains on the organization they’ve played with and some of the guys they’ve played with and all of that.”

This whole Yankees 2014 campaign, expensive and out for redemption, is a high-wire act. Ryan doesn’t mind being a safety net.

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Various Spring Training Photos

Hiroki Kuroda


Ichiro Suzuki

Ivan Nova

Jacoby Ellsbury

Joe Girardi, Manager

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Yankees' Brian McCann knows good, bad Ivan Nova


Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees pitches during the 2nd inning of a spring training game against the Washington Nationals on March 3, 2014 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Brian McCann has been the Yankees' catcher for a little more than a month, but he already knows nice Ivan Nova and naughty Nova.


Well, the Yankees sent McCann four clips of each starter — two good, two bad — to study in the offseason. McCann's takeaway: location, location, location.

"That's pitching," he said. "If you don't locate your pitches, you're not going to be successful. You've got to have fastball command and when you're behind in the count you've got to be able to throw for strikes. The more times you keep the hitter out of a predictable count, a fastball, the better you're going to be."

Nova was good Nova Wednesday, throwing about 80 pitches over 6 1/3 scoreless innings as the Yankees dropped the Braves, 7-zip, at Champion Stadium.

But not the whole time.

Nova was missing high on his first handful of pitches, manager Joe Girardi said. But the 25-year-old righty adjusted, took a breath, and started hitting the zone low, Girardi said.

That's when good Nova showed up, McCann said.

"He had some really good action on his slider," he said. "His four-seamer today kind of made it sink that much better. He was putting it where he wanted it. He was getting into lefties with his four-seamer and once he established it, it made his two-seamer that much better."

Nova has been more good than bad this spring. The expected No. 3 starter, Nova is 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA and 21 strikeouts while allowing 18 hits and two walks.

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Various Spring Training Photos

John Ryan Murphy, Catcher

Jose Ramirez

Kelly Johnson

Kevin Long, Hitting Coach.

Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach.

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Will Mark Teixeira's surgically repaired wrist hold up all season?

Mark Teixeira makes a sliding catch of a flyout by Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla in the second inning of a spring training game in Tampa, Fla

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Mark Teixeira was on all the morning news shows Wednesday.

It wasn't because of the two-run single he hit in the Yankees' 8-1 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday. It was for holding up two bottles of honey from the dugout as a joke during a seven-minute bee delay in the third inning.

The Yankees are much more focused on Teixeira's wrist bone than his funny bone as he returns from a lost season due to a serious tendon sheath injury.

But "Good Morning America" and its morning-show ilk couldn't resist video of bees swarming leftfield at Steinbrenner Field and a star player inexplicably shaking bottles of honey at the grounds crew.

"What I thought was," Teixeira later explained, "if you could just do a line of honey out to the parking lot, the bees would maybe follow it, and then just leave us alone."

As to how he happened to have two bottles of honey, Teixeira said: "I'm a big peanut butter and honey guy. Love it. So I always know where the honey is."

So now you know that about Mark Teixeira. What you don't know is if his surgically repaired right wrist will hold up all season after the injury limited the Yankees first baseman to 15 games in 2013.

So far, so good, Teixeira said. The results haven't been there -- he's batting .188 with a double and three RBIs in 16 at-bats -- but the absence of pain has Teixeira feeling positive.

"I feel really good," Teixeira said. "I feel really good about my wrist. I feel like it's getting stronger and it'll continue to get stronger all year. And that's the exciting part. It's not like this is a good as it's going to get. It'll keep getting stronger all year."

At least that's the hope. Teixeira first injured the wrist last March in batting practice for the World Baseball Classic. He returned without surgery in late May, but that didn't work out. He had season-ending surgery on July 2.

"What I've been most pleased with is you look at this whole spring training, there's never been a point where he was scheduled to work that he had to say, 'You know, I could use a day,' '' manager Joe Girardi said. "And that's really encouraging to me. Everything that he has been scheduled to do, he has done."

In 2012, Teixeira hit .251 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs. Including this season, when he will make $22.5 million, the 33-year-old is signed for $67.5 million through 2016.

After adding Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees don't need Teixeira to be an MVP candidate. But they have zero other options at first base if he is unable to play because of injury.

Kelly Johnson, the starting third baseman, is the backup first baseman. Girardi seems to have abandoned an early-spring thought of having Alfonso Soriano work out at first.

So it's Teixeira or bust.

"He's important to our club," Girardi said. "What he does on a daily basis. He's so important."

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Various Spring Training Photos

Mark Teixeira

Masahiro Tanaka

Matt Thornton

Michael Pineda

Mick Kelleher, First Base Coach.

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Jacoby Ellsbury's calf problem not serious


Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury strikes out during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury skipped Thursday's road trip to JetBlue Park, the spring training home of his former team. But Ellsbury, a frequent visitor to the disabled list with the Red Sox, still wound up in a familiar place that afternoon when the Yankees sent him to an MRI tube for a precautionary test on his ailing right calf.

After the relentless stream of injuries last season, the Yankees have been conditioned to fear the worst from the mere mention of an MRI. This time, however, Joe Girardi was relieved to announce before Thursday night's game that Ellsbury's test came back negative. "This is good news," Girardi said.

Ellsbury's leg may be structurally sound, but the worrisome part is how an injury that initially was described as minor "tightness'' in his right calf wound up resulting in an MRI visit five days later. Clearly, Ellsbury is not healing as quickly as the Yankees expected -- or the calf issue was more serious than previously thought.

Girardi said he is hopeful that Ellsbury will be able to take batting practice Friday, with a possible weekend return. But with Monday's break in the schedule, it seems more likely that the Yankees will wait until Tuesday, when the Phillies visit Steinbrenner Field.

"We want to make sure he's 100 percent before we send him out there,'' Girardi said. "I think he feels it a little bit -- that's why we're just being cautious. We want to make sure he's healthy.''

Given Ellsbury's medical history, that could be difficult to pin down. In two of the past four seasons, he was limited to 18 games and 74 games because of injured ribs and a dislocated shoulder, respectively.

Those were the result of collisions -- much more serious incidents than what he is dealing with now.

The problem with Ellsbury's calf injury is the timing. After this weekend, the Yankees will have only five Grapefruit League games left before the April 1 opener, and Girardi would like to get a few looks at his regular lineup in the last remaining days leading up to Houston.

"I think if he gets three or four games in, he'll be fine,'' Girardi said, adding that Ellsbury could stack up at-bats in minor-league games if necessary.

Ellsbury wasn't available in the clubhouse after his MRI, but he has said getting ready for the season won't be a concern. Through Thursday, he was batting .174 (4-for-23) with two doubles and a home run in nine games. "I'm very confident he'll be ready April 1," Girardi said.

Ryan "in jeopardy" for opener. Brendan Ryan, who last played March 4 because of lower-back stiffness, was scratched from Thursday night's lineup with upper-back spasms and could begin the season on the disabled list because of time lost to injury. Ryan has only eight at-bats to this point and is not expected to play this weekend, raising the possibility he could miss Opening Day. "It's in jeopardy," Girardi said after the Yankees' 3-2 win over the Red Sox. Ryan felt his back tighten up Thursday on a throw during pregame infield practice, and if he's unable to start the season, that will force the Yankees to choose between Eduardo Nuñez, Dean Anna or Yangervis Solarte as Derek Jeter's primary backup.

Masahiro Tanaka will start Saturday against the Twins in Fort Myers, but Girardi refused to reveal when Tanaka will make his regular-season debut. "We're just not ready to share it yet," he said. "I want to make sure that everything goes according to plan, that everyone feels good before we decide to do it." Recent comments by pitching coach Larry Rothschild suggest that Tanaka will start April 4 in Toronto.

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Various Spring Training Photos

Nik Turley

Preston Claiborne

Rob Thomson, Third Base Coach.

Scott Sizemore, Infielder

Shawn Kelley


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Ichiro Suzuki's role in flux for Yankees and packed outfield

The future Hall of Famer was in the lineup Thursday night against the Red Sox and was 1-for-4 with two RBI in the leadoff spot as the Yanks won, 3-2. But it remains to be seen what type of role Ichiro will have.


Ichiro Suzuki could find himself the odd man out in a crowded Yankees outfield.

FORT MYERS, Fla. - With the exception of Jacoby Ellsbury’s lingering calf issue, things have pretty much gone as well as the Yankees could have hoped during the past five weeks.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira have been healthy, Masahiro Tanaka seems to be making a smooth transition to the big leagues and the players fighting for jobs are playing well, giving Joe Girardi plenty to think about.

“Don’t jinx anything, man,” Jeter said when asked about the state of the team less than two weeks from Opening Day. “We’re working our way there and headed in that direction.”

With 10 days left until the Bombers break camp, Girardi still has some big decisions to make.

The fifth starter job remains open, as do four spots in the bullpen. The position players appear to be set, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things for Girardi to figure out.

Take Ichiro Suzuki, for example.

The future Hall of Famer was in the lineup Thursday night against the Red Sox and was 1-for-4 with two RBI in the leadoff spot as the Yanks won, 3-2. But it remains to be seen what type of role Ichiro will have during the season, assuming he has one at all.

“When the offseason started he was an everyday outfielder, and then some things changed,” Girardi said. “We signed some outfielders and his role has possibly changed now. But you have to prepare guys as if they’re going to play every day because you don’t ever know what’s going to happen. And we’ve done that.”

With Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran inked in as the regular outfielders and Alfonso Soriano tabbed as the primary designated hitter, there isn’t much room for Ichiro to find at-bats.

If Ellsbury’s injury carries into the season, Ichiro would help make up for his loss. But the Yankees insist Ellsbury will be fine, turning the 40-year-old Ichiro into a $6.5 million fifth outfielder who may occasionally spell the 38-year-old Soriano and 36-year-old Beltran.


Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda also finds himself with an undefined role with the Bombers.

“I have some couple of outfielders who have a little age in them, and you kind of look at that, see how the guys are doing,” Girardi said. “You look at some matchups and if you think a guy needs a day off, you might do that. Maybe if a guy’s a little nicked up you give him a couple of days off. There is no exact plan on how I’m going to do it. It’s just managing a season and how guys are doing.”

Michael Pineda looks to have the inside track on the No. 5 starter job, though David Phelps continued his own impressive spring with six innings of two-run ball against Boston, which played most of its regular lineup.

“I’m not going to try to handicap it,” Phelps said. “I’m happy with the way I’m throwing. Hopefully they are, too. We’ll see what happens.”

Should Pineda get the spot, it would relegate both Phelps and Adam Warren to the bullpen, filling five spots along with Dave Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton.

That would leave two spots open for Dellin Betances, Preston Claiborne, Cesar Cabral, Vidal Nuno, Fred Lewis, Matt Daley, Danny Burawa or Chris Leroux, all of whom have done their part to make a case.

“I think ironing out your pitching staff is a big one, because that’s half of your team,” Girardi said. “What happens to your rotation, and then what happens to your bullpen is a big thing.

“We’re starting to formulate it. Obviously it will be much clearer for us when we decide who our fifth starter is. I don't know if we'll decide it by the end of the weekend, or if we'll wait a little bit longer."

Robertson is locked in as the closer, while the Yankees hope Kelley can step up into the eighth-inning role. Thornton will be the primary lefty out of the bullpen, but the rest of the roles are up for grabs and look to be a fluid situation heading into the season.

“I think that’s something that’s going to have to work its way out a little bit,” Girardi said. “Will it be as clear-cut as last year? Probably not. Not in the beginning. Part of the problem right now is I don’t have all the pieces in the bullpen yet in mind to be able to do that.”

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Various Spring Training Photos

Tony Pena, Bench Coach.


Zoilo Almonte, Outfielder.


And taking this year off for personal reasons, Alex Rodriguez.


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I have a picture of Yankee catcher Pete O'Brien. It's in .jpg format just like these other ones that I have posted in here and I keep getting a message that "this format is not allowed in here." Very odd.

Let me see if I can do this as an attachment.

Pete O'Brien, Catcher

EDIT: What the hell, this one worked. If anyone wants this photo just click on it and you will see it full sized as it was meant to be.

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Weight of following Mariano closing in on Robertson


David Robertson heads out of the dugout and onto George Steinbrenner Field earlier this spring.

TAMPA — David Robertson is barely more than a week away from officially taking over for one of the most iconic players of all time.

He just doesn’t think it actually has happened yet.

“Do I feel like the closer? No,” said Robertson, who is inheriting the role of Yankees closer from Mariano Rivera. “I feel like I’m just another part of the team, kind of like I always have.”

That’s all well and good, but even Robertson knows it’s not true.

“I absolutely know how big a deal this is,” Robertson said before he threw a perfect ninth inning in the Yankees’ 4-0 victory over the Pirates Friday night at Steinbrenner Field. “I’m up to the challenge, that’s for sure.”

Once the team gets to Houston for Opening Day, Robertson believes reality will set in.

“I don’t think I’ll really feel like I’m the closer until then,” Robertson said. “It won’t happen until the games get started.”

Really, though, it has been clear Robertson would be Rivera’s successor since the Yankees didn’t add a closer during their free agency spending spree this past offseason. That eliminated the possibility of a competition in camp.

Manager Joe Girardi said he’s fine with Robertson at the end of the bullpen.

“I’m very comfortable,” Girardi said. “We said all along with the people that we had, it was basically his job. Sometimes through free agency, people are added and then it changes the dynamic. You never commit to someone completely until the offseason’s over. He’s our closer.”

Regardless of the confidence both Girardi and Robertson have that he’ll fit into the role, Robertson enters the season with only eight career saves.

“I plan on doing the same things I did when I threw in the eighth inning,” Robertson said. “Just a little later in the game.”

Robertson didn’t get to spend much time with Rivera during the team’s recent trip to Panama, since as Robertson said: “He had more important people to talk to.”

Rivera did have some words of wisdom for his successor, according to Robertson: “Stay healthy.”

That’s one key, but that’s far from the only thing Robertson has to do to prove he’s capable of doing the job after having mixed results when called upon to fill in for Rivera at various times throughout his career.

Don’t expect Robertson to change how he approaches the game.

“I can’t pitch with an angry mentality,” he said. “I try to stay controlled and keep everything calm.”

No matter how simple he keeps things, Robertson will have to deal with a brighter spotlight than in the past.

“Hopefully nothing changes,” Robertson said. “That would be good. It’s nice to be able to go places and not be noticed.”

Those days are likely over.

One of the things that will stay the same, Robertson insisted, is his music.

He has been trotting into games to “Sweet Home, Alabama” as the setup guy, which is about as different from Rivera’s “Enter Sandman” as one can get.

“I’m sure they’ll want me to change, but I don’t really need to get fired up before I pitch,” said Robertson, who has bigger things to worry about.

“First, let me get some saves before I start thinking about anything else.”

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