Thoughts from Phillies-Yankees in Clearwater

By Joe Auriemma

The press box is packed here at Bright House Field, so I decided to go to an empty radio room to do my work today. While sitting there alone and editing my videos, in walks a man with a very familiar voice and he asks if I would mind if he sat next to me. It’s Harry Kalas, the Hall of Fame Phillies Broadcaster. All I keep thinking in my mind is him saying, “The career 500th home run for Michael Jack Schmidt!,” in his patented voice. I’m sure most of you have heard the familiar voice if you don’t know the name. The funny thing is that his voice is the same as if he was announcing the game. What a thrill!

Back to the game, Joe Girardi did something that I really think is a good move for this lineup. Derek Jeter is today’s leadoff hitter . Jeter has led off 448 games in his career with a .315 average, 359 runs scored and a .389 on-base percentage. Now I know most of you would say that Jeter is getting a little bit older, and might not have the average or on-base percentage he has had in previous seasons, but I really think that a move like this in the lineup, might get him to see more pitches and give him an opportunity to come to the plate more often. I also think that Jeter, who did hit .300 last season, is going to have a more Jeterian year in 2009.

Hideki Matsui, showing why the Yankees are opting to use him as their cleanup hitter most of the time until A-Rod comes back, hit a two run dinger to right. Matsui is another one of those players that was and is a question mark coming into 2009 after an injury-riddled 2008. Right now it looks as if his pop is back and he’s ready to drive in some runs this season.

Joba Chamberlain gave up back-to-back jacks to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard that may have given him whiplash with how quickly each left the park. The two pitches he gave up the home runs on were very flat. As the game has progressed, he has regained his command and is starting to look sharp.

Cody Ransom hit a solo home run in the top of the 4th inning to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Joe Girardi told me in our Q&A the other day that Ransom has been great this spring. In fact here is the exact quote:

Great spring. Very athletic player. He’s swung
the bat really well and we’ve still moved him around because Alex is
eventually going to be back. I feel comfortable putting him anywhere
and he brings a little thunder in his bat as well.”

I’ll be back with more from Clearwater. I might go bug Ken Singleton and Bob Lorenz for a half an inning and report back on how they are doing.

2:38 PM

I’m back from the booth after bothering Bob (the
official YES blobber) and Ken Singleton. I was in there while they were
talking to Joe Girardi. While talking to Girardi, Joba was pulled from
the game. His final line, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. Not
really his best showing, but he has had a decent spring.

Coke came into the game. Coke, who Chris Shearn interviewed earlier
this week, is back in the game after a very bad left thigh contusion.
This is his first appearance since taking that line drive off of his
leg. Coke looked good. He faced the terrific lefty second baseman Chase
Utley. It was a battle and the count got to 3-2, when Joe Girardi told
Bob Lorenz and Ken Singleton that he would call an offspeed pitch in
the 3-2 situation and wouldn’t you know it, Phil Coke struck out Utley
on the 3-2 offspeed pitch. Great stuff from the booth.

3:05 PM

Brian Bruney now in the game here in the Top of the 7th inning. Bruney needs to have a good outing. Coming into this game he has 8.1 innings pitched this spring with a 7.56 ERA, (7 earned runs). He’s also allowed eight hits, struck out 10 while walking six and has given up three home runs. This is a pitcher that they have slotted in as a possible 8th inning bridge to Mariano Rivera. The Yankees have put a lot of stock in Bruney being a big time reliever for them.

He just allowed a lead off double to Matt Stairs.

3:14 PM

Bruney, after giving up that leadoff double, got out of the jam. This is a good sign for the Yankees. Like I said before, the Yankees need this guy to be good this season.

3:17 PM

Nick Swisher just went yard. Chris Shearn had an interview with him on Monday and he is the clubhouse clown according to his teammates. I know there was a lot of talk about possibly moving this guy in the offseason and there is still rumblings that he may be moved. I think that would be a big mistake. From what I’ve seen down here, Swisher adds some fun and life into the clubhouse. In fact, he even said in his interview with Chris that the clubhouse was, “A little stuffy,” when he got here.

Not only does he add a little pop to the lineup, but he does get on-base a lot. Our own Steven Goldman thinks he should be the everyday right fielder over Xavier Nady, now while I don’t agree with him there, I definitely think he is a terrific piece to this 2009 team.

3:52 PM

The Yankees win this one 10-2 over the Phillies from Clearwater. Some final thoughts from the game.

  • The Jeter move to the leadoff spot was a very favorable move in its trial period today.

  • Chamberlain didn’t have his best outing. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Once again, and something that’s been a knock of Joba’s starting career up to this point is that he runs up his pitch count very quickly. Today he only threw 4.1 Innings, but still managed to earn the victory.

  • Phil Coke and Brian Bruney stepped up and pitched well today in key situations. Finally, with rumblings of Melky Cabrera or Nick Swisher possibly being traded, both smacked a home run today.

  • That’s it from the ballpark. Be sure to catch all of the video interviews from today and another edition of The Diamond Daily.  

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