Tagged: World Baseball Classic

CC looking to deal aces at Joker Marchant

By Jon Lane
It’s the Big C on the mound today against the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. CC Sabathia pitched two scoreless innings in his Spring Training debut last Friday and is right on track for Opening Day April 6 in Baltimore.

From where I sit, Sabathia is already earning his big bucks by establishing himself as an ace with his work ethic and attitude. He’s gone out of his way to integrate himself with his new teammates and has been completely relaxed throughout camp. Yeah, Alex Rodriguez’s tribulations have had Sabathia flying under the radar, but the heat will intensify and Sabathia has shown throughout his career he can handle it.

If the Yankees do not skip Joba Chamberlain’s turn in the rotation, Sabathia will also start the home opener April 16 against his old friends from Cleveland.

Today’s lineup
Melky Cabrera CF
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Nick Swisher RF
Cody Ransom 3B
Angel Berroa 2B
Ramiro Pena SS
Kevin Cash C

Storylines: Alfredo Aceves, Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, Mark Melancon and Steven Jackson will follow Sabathia … Joe Girardi said on Tuesday that Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Phil Coke have the inside track for bullpen spots based on their performances last season. Ramirez threw batting practice this morning after shut down for two weeks with bursitis in his pitching shoulder. Preceding Ramirez was Mariano Rivera, who told reporters he will throw BP again on Saturday and then should be ready for a game … The Brett Gardner hit parade continued Tuesday night. The spark plug went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is batting .417 (10-for-24). Melky Cabrera, meanwhile, is batting .278 and needs to string together a few good games just to keep pace … Neither Xavier Nady (.211) nor Nick Swisher (.133) are distinguishing themselves in the battle for right field, but being that they’re veterans they’re afforded more slack … The Dominican Republic’s shocking elimination from the World Baseball Classic means Robinson Cano and Damaso Marte are expected back by Friday.

2:15 p.m. Rough day at the office for Sabathia, who was lifted with two out in the second. The Tigers bombed the left-hander for five runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings, including a two-run shot from Gary Sheffield.

3:48 p.m. Melky Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his average to .238. It’s March 11 and there are a lot of spring games left to be played, but Brett Gardner is running away with the job of starting center fielder.

A reprieve – or out for four months?

arod3_250_030509.jpgBy Jon Lane and Joe Auriemma
Yet another A-Rod bait and switch, this time possibly for the better.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters in Tampa., Fla., that Alex Rodriguez has a torn hip labrum and cyst, which was drained. Hoping to avoid surgery, the Yankees’ plan is to try rest and rehab with the hope that he’ll continue to play. One thing is for certain, A-Rod is out of the World Baseball Classic.

Rodriguez is not out of the woods yet. Surgery remains an option, which can keep him out for up to four months according to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti. However, Peter Abraham added that Cashman said A-Rod will need the surgery at some point. The hope is he can get through the season and then have the procedure.

It’s going to be a tense few days in Yankees camp, this time strictly for baseball reasons. Despite the revamping of the starting rotation and the addition of Mark Teixeira, the Yankees aren’t whole without Alex Rodriguez. Period.

Auriemma: Final decision can affect ’09 season
According to ESPN 1050, Yankees VP & GM Brian Cashman has stated that Alex Rodriguez will not require surgery and will try to rehab a torn labrum in his hip. This is good news if they can get him to come back earlier than 10 weeks. There have been rumors that Cody Ransom/Angel Berroa were going to have to hold down the hot corner, but ESPN’s Peter Gammons said that Bobby Crosby and Mark Grudzielanek also could have been options.

My concern is will rehab take care of the problem? Is A-Rod going to try and rehab it and then down the line, they find out that all along he needed surgery anyway, making this a mid-July return instead of a mid-May return. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know, but I’m sure the Yankees and their team of specialists have good reason to believe that this is the best avenue.

This news is definitely better than what was initially reported. Whenever the word surgery is uttered most people think the worst. The Yankees just have to trust the opinion that this is the best route to take and that this won’t be an issue even after rehab throughout the whole season.

A-Rod might mean more to the run production of this lineup than what any other player means to their team. I do think good pitching can keep the Yankees in it, but eventually they need A-Rod’s bat back in the middle of the order. This is a very important decision for the Yankees and what might become of the 2009 season.

This is like the 2000 Presidential election all over again. In a race to break the story, everyone on the planet reported the surgery story, including myself. Another example of why listening to A-Rod’s brother as a source is never the right decision.

Alright, it’s not exactly like the 2000 Presidential election.

An antidote to Old Man Winter

jeter_250_030409.jpgBy Jon Lane
“Oh I just love the first day of school don’t you?!”
Patty Simcox

“It’s the biggest thrill of my life.”
Betty Rizzo, reeking of sarcasm

Nothing like quoting Grease to get a late start on today’s blog. That sums up how I feel about the wonderful world of winter, especially after spending nearly three hours shoveling two feet of snow off my driveway. Anyone who loves what Mother Nature hammered the Northeast – and parts of Alabama and Georgia – with yesterday is Patty Simcox.

Today baseball casts a bright light on a day in which the high in New York City will reach 25 degrees, and that’s not including a lovely wind chill. The Yankees are back in Tampa, Fla., to host an exhibition affair against the World Baseball Classic’s United States team. Phil Hughes starts for the Yankees against Roy Oswalt, whose teammate will be Derek Jeter. For the first time in his career, Jeter is playing against the Yankees, batting second and playing shortstop for Team USA.

The YES Network airs this live at 1 p.m., so sit back and enjoy what should prove to be a unique game.

The lineups:

Johnny Damon LF
Brett Gardner CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Xavier Nady RF
Cody Ransom 2B
Kevin Cash C
Angel Berroa SS
Justin Leone 3B

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Derek Jeter SS
Chipper Jones DH
David Wright 3B
Adam Dunn RF
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ryan Braun LF
Brian McCann C
Curtis Granderson CF

1 p.m. Steven Goldman kicked off a hot debate over Jeter’s future with the Yankees once his contract expires at the end of the 2011 season. If you ask Goldman, the Yankees should not turn a blind eye to Father Time and re-sign him just because he’s Derek Jeter. If you ask Joe Auriemma, Derek Jeter should retire as a Yankee if he’s willing to make a few concessions.

What do you think?

1:19 p.m. Hughes allowed a leadoff single before getting Jeter to ground into a 4-4-3 double play. Jeter had asked to not be pitched inside, but Hughes apparently didn’t get the memo. Chipper Jones then grounded out to end the inning on a nice play by Cody Ransom.

1:29 p.m. Yankees take a 1-0 lead on Jorge Posada’s RBI single. Brett Gardner got it started with a one-out single and scored when Posada, batting left-handed, poked a blooper to left filed. The stats from these games will not count, but Posada (.625-1-3) and Gardner (.500-2-2, three runs scored) have been two of the Yankees’ best players to date.

1:35 p.m. Hughes looks terrific. He’s thrown two scoreless innings and in the second caught  David Wright and Adam Dunn looking at strike three with nasty breaking pitches.

1:49 p.m. Jeter gets revenge on Hughes with a two-out, two-run single to give Team USA a 2-1 lead in the third. That’s it for Hughes. The Yankees don’t want to extend him beyond the 42 pitches he threw in 2 2/3 innings. Hughes looked good and is still building arm strength, but his stamina and high pitch counts have been causes for concern. That’s why it’s a blessing in disguise he’ll likely begin the season at Triple-A. This kid will be an impact player and time is on his side.

2 p.m. Gardner is 2-for-2 and just swiped second base. It remains early in the spring but the Yankees have to be encouraged with the way Gardner is swinging the bat. Gardner’s meager offense is what’s kept him from getting to that next level. If he continues to have good at-bats and create havoc on the bases he’ll be the Yankees’ starting center fielder. Melky Cabrera may push him, and far and away he has the better arm, but Gardner doesn’t think twice about getting down and dirty, and would be more of a spark from the No. 9 spot in the lineup.

2:31 p.m. Gardner slaps a double down the left field line and is 3-for-3. Cabrera isn’t quaking in his cleats, however. He had one down year and remains an asset when his head is in the game. He’s also out of options, which will make for an interesting decision if Joe Girardi does in fact deem Gardner his starter.

2:48 p.m. Phil Coke’s line: 2.1 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 walks 2 strikeouts. I love the potential of the bullpen’s underbelly with Coke and Damaso Marte serving as the left-handers.

3:07 p.m. Cody Ransom is 2-for-3 with an RBI. Michael Kay and John Flaherty is talking up Ransom as the ideal utility infielder who’d be content being a bench player and ready to play at a moment’s notice. Certainly not an everyday player, but you worry about that only in the event the Yankees lose one of their starters. Ransom looked good in spurts last season and would fit the role player bill nicely from where I sit.

3:35 p.m. Cabrera entered the game for Gardner and struck out looking in his first at-bat. It’s 6-4, Team USA at the end of seven.

4:20 p.m. Yankees lose 6-5. Nice at-bat by Cabrera in the bottom of the ninth. He battled Matt Lindstrom to a full count before slapping base hit to put runners on the corners with nobody out and stealing a base to put himself in scoring position.

Flaherty said it best when he noted that such at-bats is a confidence builder. Judging by the recent performances of Gardner and Cabrera, this competition will go down to Spring Training’s final week, or perhaps by the time the Yankees open their new home April 3 and 4 with two exhibition games against the Cubs.

Winter Blunderland

winter_350.jpgBy Jon Lane
It’s been said that March comes in like a lion. This beast is the king of the jungle. While the Yankees prep for another Spring Training game in sunny Florida, the New York metropolitan area is being belted with up to 14 inches of snow. Right now the temperature is 25 degrees and will top out at 26. In Tampa it’s 50 with an expected high of 59.

“Winter Wonderland” is a pop standard written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (composer) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). That duo obviously had a bit too much to drink. Memo to Jack Frost: The harder you hit, the more we look forward to spring, summer and baseball that much more.

The Yankees travel to Kissimmee (Disney World) to play the Houston Astros at 2-3 on the Grapefruit season. Peter Abraham posted today’s lineups and reports that CC Sabathia will throw roughly 25 pitches in a simulated game.

Johnny Damon LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Cody Ransom SS
Jose Molina C
Juan Miranda 1B
Angel Berroa 2B
Doug Bernier 3B

The main story is Chien-Ming Wang pitching in his first game since he tore a ligament and tendon in his right foot while running the bases against the Astros last June. Wang has been making fine progress and is lined up to be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter between Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Not a bad choice. He won a combined 38 games in 2006 and ’07 (19 each).

Over the weekend, Joba Chamberlain experimented with a four-seam fastball on Saturday. Jorge Posada was a late scratch from that game as a precaution with tightness in that surgically-repaired right shoulder, but will play long toss before today’s game. Lastly, Alex Rodriguez met with officials from Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations and Labor Relations Department to discuss his past steroid use. A statement released by MLB deemed A-Rod “cooperative” before he left to join the the Dominican Republic team of the World Baseball Classic. Robinson Cano and Damaso Marte joined A-Rod, Francisco Cervelli will play for Italy, and Derek Jeter for the United States.

I’ll be back later with random observations via the Astros radio broadcast.

1:51 p.m. Wang threw 28 pitches in two scoreless innings while the Yankees staked him to a 4-0 lead. The good news: Jorge Posada, playing as the DH, had an RBI single. The better news: Melky Cabrera is 2-for-2 with two RBIs on a triple and a two-out single. It’d be great to see Cabrera and Brett Gardner play well all spring and make Joe Girardi’s decision that much tougher.
2:07 p.m.┬áRobinson who? Angel Berroa is 2-for-2 with a solo home run and two runs scored. Berroa’s blast upped the Yankees’ lead to 5-0 in the fourth.