By Jon Lane
Down the home stretch of their Grapefruit League schedule, the Yankees are back in Clearwater, Fla., for another game against the Phillies (YES HD, 1 p.m.). Joe Auriemma and Chris Shearn are at Bright House Field, where bright and early, Auriemma sat down for exclusive interviews with Brad Lidge, Miguel Cairo and Ryan Howard. You’ll find these conversations with members of the reigning World Champions, as well as a chat with YES’ own Ken Singleton and a lot more, on YESNetwork.com later this afternoon.
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Cody Ransom 3B
Jose Molina C
Melky Cabrera CF
Pitching: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Jon Albaladejo.
After a brutal beginning to Spring Training, Chamberlain (2-0, 3.48 ERA) is in a groove. The last time he faced the Phillies he held them to two hits over three scoreless innings in a 12-0 Yankees victory on March 16.
Cabrera has picked up his game too and is batting .295, but Brett Gardner (.409) is riding an eight-game hitting streak (8-for-18). All indications are that Gardner will be in center field Opening Day, but you never know.
This feature on Mark Teixeria, written by Howard Bryant, is a must-read. As Bryant writes, Teixeira is “the latest to try to climb the baseball equivalent of Mount Everest: playing in New York as the top-dollar free agent and coming through on the other side.” It’s a mission where many others, including Alex Rodriguez, have failed.
9:42 a.m. Joe Girardi made the inevitable official when he named CC Sabathia the Yankees’ starter for Opening Day April 6 in Baltimore. Sabathia will also christen the new Yankee Stadium when he takes the mound for the building’s first regular season game on April 16.
Chamberlain will start the sixth game of the season April 12 in Kansas City.
Meanwhile, Girardi will be tinkering with the idea of Derek Jeter leading off and Johnny Damon batting second, an idea Damon endorsed.
1:28 p.m. With one swing, Hideki Matsui staked Chamberlain to a 2-0 lead. With two swings, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each went yard of the right-hander to tie the game at two. Let the Joba back-to-the-pen cries resume.
1:36 p.m. Great point by play-by-play man Bob Lorenz. Unless the Yankees are blown away, it’s not a wise idea to trade Melky Cabrera yet. Should Brett Gardner lose his hitting stroke, or Johnny Damon be felled by injury, you never know when you may need him. If Cabrera isn’t on the Major League roster, there’s a strong chance the Yankees will lose him because he’s out of options, so why not keep him in reserve and see where his value lies come July?
The Blob, incidentally, is a unique read.
2:09 p.m. Cody Ransom goes yard in the fourth to put the Yankees back on top 3-2. Peter Abraham offered a suggestion to John Sterling for a home run call: “Pay the Ransom!” Here’s one from me: “Handsome Cody Ransom!”
How nasty is Chamberlain’s breaking ball, BTW? Ryan Howard, who homered off him earlier, was left fooled.
2:24 p.m. Through 4 1/2 innings here’s how the revamped top of the order is doing:
Jeter: 2-for-3, two runs scored
Damon: 1-for-3 with with an RBI single that pushed the Yankees’ lead to 4-2.
My colleague, Joe Auriemma, has more on why this can work. Jeter has hit from the top spot before and has enjoyed success.
2:30 p.m. Chamberlain was pulled with one out in the fifth after putting two runners on and with his pitch count in the high 70s. This has been his biggest bugaboo. The Yankees want to see him working quicker innings and there’s a way to go about it. Throughout the spring, Chamberlain has picked the brain of A.J. Burnett, who while in Toronto learned how to pitch effectively and economically from a pretty good source, Roy Halladay.
2:45 p.m. Bad news courtesy of Newsday: Longtime Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard is not expected to work Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium. Sheppard, in his late 90s and the Yankees’ P.A. since 1951, missed the entire 2008 season recovering from a bronchial infection. His wife, Mary, tells Neil Best that warmer weather hopefully may ease her husband’s return.
2:49 p.m. Cabrera works his way back from an 0-2 count to poke an RBI single to right field. Girardi wants to make a decision on who will start in center field by the weekend. While it’s expected to be Gardner, Cabrera is looking like he’ll earn a role on this team.
3 p.m. Edwar Ramirez and his change-up made mince meat out of the heart of the Phillies’ order. I wrote this earlier this spring: When he’s bad, he’s really bad, but when he’s good, he’s real good.
3:28 p.m. This game is officially in the silly stage. Yankees lead 10-2 thanks to a home run from Cabrera. To his credit, the Melk Man didn’t bury his head in his locker after Gardner’s hot start to the spring.
For the first time this Spring, YESNetwork.com is heading into “enemy” territory as we go to Clearwater, Fla., to cover today’s Yankees game against the Phillies. Keep checking back here for a diary of today’s events.
The Phillies’ Spring Training complex is truly amazing. This place is top notch, as are the Phillies staff. Very accommodating.
Phillies batting practice originally appeared just like every other MLB BP. Then Ryan Howard stepped to the dish. With the batting donut still on his stick, he managed to whack the ball to all fields. Very impressive.
The Yankees make their way out of the clubhouse for the first time. Fans nearly trample themselves in an attempt to secure autographs. Looks like we might get some rain.
Chris Shearn just interviewed Nick Swisher. It was a fun piece that talked about loosening up the clubhouse. Brian Bruney messed with Swisher during the Q&A session. Look for the video later today.
YesNetwork.com’s Jim Kaat
makes his way onto the field to watch Phillies BP. Having Kaat here
clearly surprised Joe Girardi, who made a beeline to see his old buddy.
The two men are currently having a conversation with Philadelphia
manager Charlie Manuel.
The oft-comical Nick Swisher joked with hitting coach Kevin Long: “Hey, Long is here. [Derek] Jeter must be coming back.” Both men shared a healthy chuckle over the funny comment.
Melky Cabrera CF
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Xavier Nady RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Cody Ransom 3B
Jose Molina C
Ramiro Pena SS
Pitching rotation: Brett Tomko, Dave Robertson, Jon Albaladejo, Dan Giese and Brian Bruney.
Jim Kaat just agreed to do a live chat on YESNetwork.com during the first game at the new Yankee Stadium. He will be fielding your questions while the Cubs and Yankees christen the new home in the Bronx on April 3.
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Yankees continue to take BP as the rain starts to come down pretty hard.
The Yankees bolt off the field as the grounds crew put the tarp on the field. Looks like we might not get any baseball today.
The sun looks like it wants to come out, but the clouds appear to be winning this war. We’ll keep you updated.
The crowd erupts as the grounds crew takes the tarp off the field. Projected game time: 1:45 p.m.
For those who care, it looks like the Phillies use Hooters girls as their ball girls down the lines … gives the gentlemen something to look at in between innings. We’ll try to get a photo of them in action once the game starts.
First pitch. Game time temp: a chilly 66 degrees. Chris Shearn will have inning-by-inning analysis of the game. Check it out here. But also stay here on YES Blog for additional analysis from Bright House Field.
Turns out Hooters is a major sponsor of this stadium. In addition to having their famed owl logo all over the place, there is a special Hooters dining area, hosted by the girls in orange, Adrienne, Ashley and Liz. (game analysis)
A mild “hip, hip, Jorge” chant gets going from the Yankees faithful that made their way to the Phillies complex. It’s amazing how many Yankees fans made the trip. Although, the Yankees Spring Training complex is only about 25 minutes away. (game analysis)
As was the case with his first at bat, Chien-Ming Wang is as far away from the plate as possible, with zero intention of swinging the bat. Very amusing. (game analysis)
Similar to minor league games, the Phillies have some entertainment in between innings. One lucky fan just chose “box No. 3” during a Let’s Make a Deal game. She won a Chase Utley autographed baseball and a Phillies hat. Pretty cool.
Wang goes down looking again. Watching him not swing in the box is simply hilarious … he’s obviously being told not to swing. The Yanks don’t want him on the basepaths in a Spring Training game. (game analysis)
Wang leaves the game to a nice ovation. Brian Bruney in. We interviewed Bruney earlier today, he said he’s excited to have his own personal clown in the clubhouse (Nick Swisher). (game analysis)
More rain. Fans are starting to make their way to drier ground.
The rain is clearly impacting the batters. Raul Ibanez had his bat slip out of his hands twice in an at bat. The first time it happened, Mark Teixeira ran like he never ran before in an attempt to get out of the way. Luckily, he did. The bat ended up in shallow right field.
Typical Florida – the rain has ceased (almost). But most of the fans have already made their way to the exit. The once-packed Bright House Field is emptying quickly here in the bottom of the 7th. Phillies lead 8-2. (game analysis)
The Phillies announce that today’s game is a sellout of 9,394 fans.
Brett Gardner flies to left to end the game. Phillies win 8-3. Thanks for reading. And a special thank you goes out to the Phillies for their amazing hospitality. Finally, sorry no Hooters photos. They weren’t in their usual Hooters garb anyway, due to the poor weather.