By Jon Lane
The Yankees bid farewell to their Spring Training base in Tampa, Fla., this afternoon following their game against the Philadelphia Phillies. CC Sabathia is on the hill for his final tune-up before taking the ball Monday in Baltimore for Opening Day. The team flies back to New York later and will work out at the new Yankee Stadium tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. It’s about time too. I wholly agree with my colleagues Joe Auriemma and Jim Kaat that Spring Training is just too darn long.
Thursday morning marks the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium with a celebratory guitar smash, not a bad way to kick things off. For the record, the HRC sent me its hours of operation:
Non Game Days
11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (for 1:05 games)
11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (other start times)
Phone Number: 646-977-8888
Beginning with the HRC opening, I’ll be on location keeping a diary of the day’s events as well as Friday night during the new Stadium’s first dry run, the exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs. Word has it Cubs fans are equally stoked to see the new place and it’ll be interesting to hear thoughts from manager Lou Piniella (a popular Yankees star and manager in the 1970s and ’80), and former Yankees Ted Lilly, Alfonso Soriano and Luis Vizcaino.
News and notes
Xavier Nady, hit on the left elbow yesterday in Sarasota, Fla., was a precautionary scratch.
According to Peter Abraham, these players have been added to the roster for the Cubs games on Friday and Saturday:
It’s official, Derek Jeter will lead off and Johnny Damon will bat second on Opening Day and beyond.
Former Yankees right-hander Jeff Karstens, traded to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought Nady and Damaso Marte to New York last July, won the final spot in the Pirates’ starting rotation. Good for him. He’s a good guy who though soft-spoken always had something intriguing to say. He’s been vexed by injury, so let’s see what he can do to keep his job secure.
Ross Ohlendorf, another player the Yankees sent to Pittsburgh in the trade, will be the Pirates’ No. 4 starter after a lights-out spring. Ohlendorf posted a sparkling 0.87 ERA and is in position for a breakout season from where I sit.
3:13 p.m. The Yankees released a statement from Joba Chamberlain, who today pleaded guilty to a Nebraska charge of drunken driving and was given probation.
“I am glad to put the legal aspect of this behind me. I made a mistake and hope over time to turn this into a positive learning experience for me and others.”
Chamberlain will rejoin the team tomorrow for the workouts at Yankee Stadium before returning to Tampa., Fla., to pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday. His first regular season start is April 12 in Kansas City.