Spring Game 19: NYY vs. BAL — Not a good Chance at a W today

It was a beautiful day again in sunny Florida as the Yankees traveled about an hour south to face the Orioles at their Spring home field in Sarasota. The Yankees have been having a mixed bag as far as game results recently, which is a huge let-down after a strong start to the Spring. But today certainly wasn’t going to help turn that in the Yankees’ favor.

Chance Adams got the start today and really just struggled his way through 5 outs, giving up 7 total hits and 5 runs, striking out just 1 Orioles’ batter. In the 1st, a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a ground out and then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to get the O’s on the board early. But the 2nd inning spun out of control for the young prospect pitcher. He quickly gave up a single and double to put runners in scoring position. With 1 out, Adams threw a messy pitch that got past Romine, but they hustled and made the out at home in a great defensive show. But then a single scored a run, and another 2-run home run broadened the O’s lead.

That would be all for Adams today. He was just not having a good pitching day. Cody Carroll came on to finish off the 2nd for Adams, but then he found his own issues in the 3rd. His lead-off batter doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a single. But Carroll was able to minimize the damage and hand the ball over to David Hale to finish that inning.

Hale went on to throw through a clean 4th, 5th, and into the  inning, handing things off to Wade LeBlanc for the final out of the 6th. But then LeBlanc had a momentary blip of his own in the 7th. He gave up a lead-off double and a single, and a stolen base put 2 runners in scoring position. A sacrifice fly scored the lead runner before LeBlanc got 2 fly outs to close out the inning. JP Feyereisen threw a beautiful 8th inning, easily the best pitched inning by a Yankees’ pitcher all day. That last opinion is thanks in part to staring at the single statistic of 16 total hits allowed by Yankee pitchers today.

Meanwhile, Yankee batters collected 7 hits (and 5 walks), but only eked out a few runs in comparison to the hefty lead the Orioles racked up so early this afternoon. The Yankees’ biggest opportunity came early in the game, in the 2nd inning. They loaded up the bases quickly as Drury and McKinney worked walks and Romine singled. Ronald Torreyes hit into a little ground out that moved all the runners up and scored Drury. Shane Robinson hit a 2-out single to score the remaining runners, McKinney and Romine. Erik Kratz added one more to the Yankees’ score with a 1-out solo home run in the 4th. But outside of that, the Yankees just weren’t once again capitalizing on their opportunities.

Final score: 7-4 Orioles

Up Next: the Yankees return back to Tampa to host the Pirates tomorrow afternoon. Sonny Gray is to be the starting pitcher.

Before the game today, the Yankees released veteran infielder Adam Lind. Lind is now able to find a spot on another team seeking his skills and veteran presence, which will certainly be an asset wherever he lands. His release comes in part due to the strong Spring for Greg Bird and his assumed back-up Tyler Austin at 1st and with the rest of the infield being dominated by the recent signing of Neil Walker and other strong Springs for Drury, Wade, Andujar, and Torreyes. (And, of course, the lone assured infield spot at shortstop in Didi Gregorius.)

There’s been a lot of conversation about who would end up making the starting roster after this Spring. And while I do much of it privately and in person at games with other fans, I don’t do much on this blog because I don’t like to publish my speculations. Partly because I would have definite proof of how often I’m super wrong. And partly because I prefer to discuss actual facts and opine about tangible things. However, seeing as we have just 12 days left of Spring Training, one MLB writer came up with a pretty good prediction, adjusted for recent issues with injury and Spring performance. I do mostly agree with his opinions on this, but it still gives enough room for the final two weeks of games before Opening Day. Because stuff happens and baseball is certainly not predictable.

And for all those interested, Reggie Jackson‘s knee surgery yesterday went well and is on the mend. He was scheduled to go home from the hospital today and will have a few weeks before him to rest and heal and get back to walking again. Jackson slipped and fell on his knee during a morning walk on Tuesday. Doctors opted for surgery to repair the damage on the 72-year-old Hall of Famer. Get well soon, Mr. October!

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 17: MIN vs. NYY — Opportunities chilled out just short of success

It was 61° at first pitch and windy, and as the sun set, it just got colder. In other words, while the Northeast may be bracing for its 3rd major storm of the winter, Florida was in the middle of its continued winter. I know that must sound like heaven for some of my readers, but when it was just 80-something a few weeks ago, this week is going to be frigid in the busiest home week at Spring Training this year.

The Yankees hosted the Twins for tonight’s game, calling on Masahiro Tanaka to have a better outing than his last one. And overall, he did. Tanaka threw a pretty solid 4 innings, getting a strong 6 strikeouts. His weakest inning was the 2nd, allowing 3 of his 4 allowed hits and his lone walk. Unfortunately, one of those was a 1-out double and the next one was a 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board early. But outside of that Tanaka set a nice pace for the Yankees’ pitchers tonight.

Dellin Betances came out for 2 quick strikeouts in the 5th, and Chasen Shreve finished off the inning quickly to keep the Twins from adding to their lead. Domingo German came on for a solid 3 innings, adding 3 more strikeouts to the Yankees’ pitching total tonight. German kept the ball rolling and handed things over to Tommy Kahnle for a scoreless 9th. All these pitchers just waiting for the Yankees to do something. Anything really.

Despite some, shall we say “questionable calls”, the Yankees did get many opportunities to change the game in their favor, thanks in part to the strong pitching. The lone successful one was Tyler Austin’s big 2-out solo home run over the center field fence in the 4th to get the Yankees on the board.

There was a really close shot in the 3rd with Torreyes’ big lead-off double but he was tagged out coming home on Wade’s double. (Yes, Wade is back after his wrist injury and looking good again.) Two outs later left Wade stranded on base. And in the 8th, Florial and Robinson worked walks and ended up in scoring position before a dribbling ground out ended the threat. A final hope came in the 9th, putting more runners in scoring position, but the final out was a solid catch in left field to hand the win to the Twins.

In other words, the Yankees were pitching well, but not putting together much hitting-wise.

Final score: 2-1 Twins

Next up: the Yankees host the Tigers tomorrow afternoon. The Yankees host 5 games at home this week, their busiest week at home this Spring. CC Sabathia is scheduled for the start.

One to Watch: I’ve got to give this to Tyler Austin today. Of course, he helped this cause by hitting that 4th inning home run. But Austin has been a constant on the roster this Spring and proved his defensive skills are worth being considered Bird’s first replacement at 1st base. Barring some injury, Austin will probably spend this year with AAA Scranton so he can play every day and sharpen those skills, laying in wait for his next shot at the big leagues. It’s hard not to forget how he made his rookie at-bat in 2016.

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees designated outfielder Jake Cave for assignment, released infielder Danny Espinosa, and reassigned infielder Kyle Holder to minor league camp. All of this is because the Yankees officially signed veteran infielder Neil Walker. Walker began his career with the Pirates for 7 years, playing with the Mets and Brewers for the last 2 seasons before becoming a free agent.

Walker was just playing in the “Free Agency Camp” that many unsigned players are using to keep their skills sharp and be a running preview for potential scouts. Hey, it worked for Walker. The Yankees are still playing with who will be their starting second and third basemen, so throwing a veteran presence like Walker (who they have been interested in for a while) in the mix creates more options for the team.

Injury updates: Spring Training fixture, guest instructor, Yankees special advisor, and (oh yeah) Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson tripped while out walking today and seriously injured his knee, forcing surgery tomorrow. Jacoby Ellsbury’s oblique injury continues to plague his Spring, and it’s looking like he may not be fully ready for Opening Day. And Clint Frazier is still dealing with lingering concussion effects. He’s following his doctor’s lead, the progress is slow, but he’s now working on some minimal exercises and hoping to ramp them up sooner rather than later. Get healthy, guys!

And finally a happy birthday to pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who might look like a quiet strength during a game but serves as a lion in the organization.

Go Yankees!

The off-season is over, at least for pitchers & catchers…

Tuesday, pitchers and catchers invited to Spring Training camp reported for duty at the Yankees minor league campus in Tampa. Yesterday, they spent Valentine’s Day working out for the first time together this season, doing throwing and catching drills and starting this season right with a sense of team unity. For the last few days, people have lingered on the sidewalk outside the complex, fans on the right, media on the left, and players have showed up to chat with the media and sign for the fans periodically leading up to this week. Now that things are in full swing, the location has shifted from the smaller facilities (on Himes Ave.) to those at Steinbrenner Field, with limited fan viewing available for the daily workouts (free for anyone with the time).

But for the media, it means official press conferences and pictures that aren’t shot through the chain link fence. Tuesday was new manager Aaron Boone’s first official conference addressing the media, and as expected, most of the questions included how he will approach managing differently. Of course, it’s going to be different because Boone is a different person than his predecessor Girardi or his predecessor (and Boone’s own manager when he was last in pinstripes) Torre. And right now, not a single pitch has been thrown or home run hit or out made, so discussion of play, potential, or even approach is really a little premature. It takes a while for players to gel with each other, and gelling with an almost entirely new different coaching staff could also take some time. Best case scenario: all the kinks get worked out in Spring Training because that’s what it’s for.

Last November, Aaron Judge underwent shoulder surgery to remove excess and loose cartilage in his left shoulder (non-throwing) and has been rehabbing this off-season. According to a press conference Wednesday, Judge has been a frequent face around the minor league complex this off-season and is considered “right on schedule”, despite potentially missing the first few Spring Training games. Fortunately, the goal isn’t February 23 (the first Spring game) but rather March 29 (the first season game).

Meanwhile, other teammates have focused on their own aspects of prepping for 2018. Gary Sanchez spent the off-season refining his defensive skills, something of much discussion last year. Dellin Betances dropped some weight in hopes of being able to have a better 2018 than some of the lag he experienced in 2017. CC Sabathia also focused on his health, adopting a vegan diet, and hoping to build strength to combat lingering knee issues. And new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton used his social media to show #NoOffSeason in anticipation of becoming a Yankee this year.

Pitchers and catchers continue their daily workouts this week, as more fielders show up ahead of their check-in day Sunday (February 18), with the first full squad workout day this coming Monday. Meeting the team this year are an interesting group of guest instructors — veteran guests: Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, and Willie Randolph; and new(ish) guests: Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Alfonso Soriano, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Bernie Williams. I expect the Opening Day cheers to be intense as they see some of these fan favorites back in pinstripes and on the field during introductions.

Spring Training is just days away, and it’s already shaping up to be quite the adventure. One that I think we’re all hoping can translate into that elusive #28, the ultimate goal of every season, but one that is completely possible at this point in the year.

Go Yankees!

Note: I was setting up to work on this post yesterday when the news broke out of south Florida, just 270 miles (about 3.5-4 hours) southeast of Tampa. In light of the unfolding story, it didn’t feel right to preempt the news with baseball preparations and wishing people a “Happy Valentine’s Day”, when for far too many it will now never be a happy day. Instead, we remember those once again lost to mass shooting, our hearts and prayers with their families and friends. I hope I never have to delay a post for such an awful reason or write another of these postscripts. It is heartbreaking and disheartening. Parkland, we mourn with you and anticipate days when such terrible news is as rare as violent home plate collisions are now in baseball.

Game 73: TEX vs. NYY — Falling just short on Old Timers’ Day

Well, it was clear which game today Nature preferred. One was played under warm, sunny skies, the other with the looming threat of nearby storms that never really materialized. And it certainly was a sign of how both games turned out.

After a really fun Old Timers’ Day (more after the recap), the Yankees closed out this homestand and the weekend series against the Rangers, though this homestand has been anything less than stellar. Michael Pineda got the start this afternoon, and just struggled right out of the gate, taking his time to settle in and find that groove that he normally sails through in most of his outings. Pineda lasted just 4 innings, throwing 71 pitches, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 7 runs, striking out just 4 batters.

In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single. A 2-run home run gave the Rangers a strong early lead. Then with 2 outs and 2 runners on base with a single and walk, a big home run scored 3 more runs for the Rangers. And to cap off their scoring, the Rangers sent one more homer into the stands, a 2-out solo home run in the 4th.

After Pineda, the bullpen certainly had a better job of keeping the Rangers in line. Webb’s 5th set things back on the right course, despite getting into a bit of trouble himself, though he came out of it without giving up more runs to the Rangers. Green’s 2 innings were nearly flawless. And closing out the final bit of the game was the tag team duo of Betances and Chapman, the latter wowing the lingering crowd with his 3 consecutive strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense had a hard time breaking through the Rangers’ starter, only managing a few hits until the 5th inning (the starter’s final inning of the game). Williams led-off with a single. Then 2 outs later, Romine technically struck out on a wild pitch, but made it safely to base, moving Williams to 2nd. Aaron Judge broke the zeroes on the scoreboard as his single scored the Yankees’ first run of the afternoon — Williams. Then it was Gary Sanchez’s 3 run home run that got the Yankees back into this game and fighting.

Under a new reliever in the 7th, the Yankees struck again. Ronald Torreyes led-off with a solid home run into the 1st row of the left field seats. Two outs later, Judge and Sanchez both worked walks before the Rangers called on a new reliever. Didi Gregorius promptly singled home Judge, but Sanchez was thrown out trying to get to 3rd on the throw.

Despite their best efforts, especially getting runners in scoring position, the Yankees fell just short in their last-minute attempts at a rally.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees, Rangers win series 2-1.

Unfortunately, there is also an extensive injury list: Aaron Hicks came out of the game after the 4th inning (moving Williams from right to center field, 1st baseman Tyler Austin to right field, and adding Austin Romine in the game at 1st base). Hicks started feeling a tightness in his right oblique, and after an MRI during the game, Hicks said he’s headed for the Disabled List, which could see him out for 3-4 weeks.

Now, Starlin Castro was out of today’s game due to injury to right wrist (a lingering injury he sustained about six weeks ago). Other than rest, Castro has undergone a cortisone shot as part of his recovery. And Matt Holliday had allergic reaction to something he ate in Oakland last weekend and is still suffering from fatigue that can linger after a bad allergic reaction

So with Jacoby Ellsbury still working with AAA Scranton until he is cleared and recalled, local Ellsbury fans might be sooner now due to Hicks’ injury. Especially if the hot offense he’s been showing in Scranton can translate well here.

Okay, so it was basically one of the coolest (ironically) days at Yankee Stadium. Today, the Yankees hosted their 71st annual Old Timers’ Day. The Yankees spent time introducing each honored guest, mostly former players and a few former coaches. Plus, the wives of some legends who are no longer with us represented their famed spouses well. It was a delightful ceremony only capped off by a highly amusing and enjoyable exhibition game between former legends on the “Bombers” or the “Clippers”. The Clippers won 2-1, thanks to younger “Old Timers” like Tino Martinez, first-timer Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams and a bit of a boost from Reggie Jackson.

Other former teammates of Jackson from the 1977 team were entertaining (I’m looking at you, Sparky Lyle) , and pondered their 40 years since that iconic championship run, something they’ll be celebrating and remembering later this year. Plus, they honored Tim Raines, who briefly played with the Yankees (during their championship years, 1996-1998) and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this July, gifting him with 2 seats from the old stadium Raines actually played ball in years ago.

{Media links: highlights of the Old Timers’ Game — Mickey Rivers’ catch (he’s still got it!), starter Sparky Lyle’s amusing tumble trying to field a soft grounder, Tino Martinez’s single scoring Bernie Williams’ dramatic slide, Lee Mazzilli’s RBI double and his own score on an error.}

Basically, despite the actual game falling short and the looming potential storm that never quite came into existence, the fun of the morning wasn’t really lost. If anything, it gave loyal, long-term Yankee fans the chance to compare the stars of yesterday with the stars of tomorrow. And while everyone certainly seemed to have an opinion, the reality is that of the legends of yesterday are actually a mixed bag of success stories. Some of them you know (like the ones I mentioned), but others are in the “yeah, I sorta remember that guy” (but you really don’t). And some of both of those categories certainly had their mixed reactions in their own playing days.

You just never know who’s going to be a “somebody everyone knows” and “somebody I think I used to know” at one of these games in the (not-so-very-distant) future. Some of those great players today were on teams when the Yankees were just terrible, despite being really great players. Which unfortunately, often makes them rather forgettable sometimes. And then today there was still Don Larsen or Whitey Ford or Joe Torre — legends today who were part of what made the Yankees’ one of the most successful franchises, the dynasty moments in Yankee history. (All 3 got pretty extensive standing ovations, by the way.)

Go Yankees!

Game 58: BAL vs. NYY — Home field advantage, home field dominance

It was Reggie Jackson bobblehead night in the Bronx, Mr. October himself having a bit of fun with it as he too bobbled his head in response to the recognition before the game. Also, it was basically a gorgeous Friday night for baseball, the weather quite a bit warmer and the sky streaked with colors of the coming sunset as the Yankees prepared to continue their home dominance in this new series against the visiting Orioles.

The rookie pitcher Jordan Montgomery got the start, and really had a fantastic outing. In his 7 innings, he threw 94 pitches, giving up just 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 8 Baltimore batters. After a near flawless 3 strikeout, 15-pitch 1st inning, Montgomery found his only real trouble of the game in the next inning. He gave up that lone walk to lead off the inning who promptly scored on a 2-run shot up the middle for the O’s only runs of the night. Then Montgomery dialed back in and fairly breezed through the rest of his outing.

Tyler Clippard then followed suit with a beautiful 10-pitch 8th inning, and birthday boy Jonathan Holder (Happy 24th!) closed out the game in the 9th to give the Yankees (and Montgomery) the win.

Technically, if the winning team is not the first ones to score, it is considered a comeback win. Which I think is ridiculous, as it should only be a “comeback” if there’s an incredible run difference and it’s late in the game. Like it truly matters. But it’s the way it is, so whatever.

So, despite being down 2-0 going into the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Yankee staged their “comeback”. Starlin Castro led-off with a solo home run. Sanchez then doubled, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Chase Headley’s long (and just about 2 feet shy of a homer) sacrifice fly to tie up the game. Aaron Hicks smacked a lead-off solo home run in the 6th inning (into the new “Judge’s Chambers”) to push the Yankees into the lead.

In the 7th, with a new pitcher, Chase Headley reached 1st on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, ended up at 3rd on a ground out, and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2nd home run of the game (and 10th homer of the season), this one off the 2nd deck in right field. Judge then worked a walk and made a nice slide to come in and score on Matt Holliday’s (just inches shy of a homer so it bounced off the back wall) double.

Another new reliever didn’t seem to help the Orioles as the Yankees loaded up the bases in the 8th with 2 singles and a walk. Austin Romine’s single scored Sanchez and Gregorius, but Headley ended up getting thrown out going to 3rd (also the 1st out of the 8th inning). The defense buckled down and got the final 2 outs of the inning on fielder’s choice ground outs.

But the dent had been made. And the Yankees racked up 11 hits tonight.

Final score: 8-2 Yankees.

Injury updates: Aroldis Chapman is on his way to Florida to begin his rehab after his shoulder injury. He will work his way back into baseball activities with a goal to rejoin the team in the Oakland series next weekend in California.

And HOPE Week continues around the Yankee farm system. The Single-A Charleston RiverDogs had their own HOPE week at the end of May honoring great organizations around the Charleston area.

And AA Trenton Thunder are in the middle of their HOPE Week. They are out this week serving the greater Trenton area (which often extends from Philadelphia to Princeton). The AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will start their HOPE Week on Jun 19, and other affiliates are scheduled to join in the fun later this summer.

Basically, it’s good to see the Yankees all across Yankee Universe continue to give back in whatever community they’re planted. A good reminder for all their fans across the globe — you can make an impact wherever you are, but just reaching out to fill a need or taking the time to care about someone. You may not change the whole world in that moment, but you certainly can change someone’s world. And that’s really what matters.

Go Yankees!

Game 63: DET vs. NYY — A Grand Old Time, but a disappointing loss

In Motor City, they have a small reason to celebrate. Today’s win for the Tigers made it the first time since the Tigers have won a series at the new Yankee Stadium (built for the 2009 season). This, of course, means the Yankees have slipped back under par in the standings. This weekend hasn’t exactly been the strongest showing for the Yankees in some aspects, but they’ve been pretty good in minor areas that unfortunately collectively don’t add up to wins.

For example, Michael Pineda started this afternoon’s finale against the Tigers, throwing 114 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and solidly striking out 8 batters. In what amounted to a weird summary of the game, the 4th inning was a bit of an issue. Pineda quickly loaded the bases with singles from the strongest hitters on the Detroit roster. A sacrifice fly scored one and a single quickly loaded up the bases again. But then things started working for the Yankees as a great line out to Gregorius and nice strike out closed the door on what could’ve been a messy outing. In the 5th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, a ground out scored the runner from 3rd to double the Tigers’ lead at that point.

But that was all Pineda allowed in the scheme of things. Anthony Swarzak picked up the ball in the 7th inning. A single and a 2-run home run kicked things off roughly for him, but then between his strikeout and a couple of fly outs for the defense, that would be it for the Tigers. Goody and Green closed things out with an inning a piece without allowing any further Tigers’ runs.

So we turn to the quieted offense once again for a sign of something off. They Yankees even faced two former teammates now with the Tigers’ bullpen, but with a single exception, it didn’t seem to make much of an impact. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Yankees poked through the Tigers’ pitching. Ellsbury led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Beltran’s 1-out walk, and then scored on Chase Headley’s 2-out single.

Yankee pitchers managed to strike out 12 Detroit batters, yet gave up 9 total hits. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense managed 4 hits and 4 walks and struck out 9 times, and only managed a single run.

Final score: 4-1 Tigers, Tigers win series 2-1.

Roster moves: After the game, the Yankees optioned reliever Chad Green to AAA to make room for their other big move today. The Yankees signed 1st baseman Ike Davis. After all the recent blows their string of 1st basemen and their replacements have taken, the Yankees were looking for a strong, tested (albeit somewhat ideally temporary) veteran presence at 1st. Davis is mostly known for his time with the Mets (2010-2014), but after a short stint with the Pirates and the Athletics, Davis spent most of this year with the Rangers’ AAA team before being released and then signed by the Yankees today.

Also, today, the Yankees celebrated the 70th Annual Old Timers’ Day. On the roster for the game between the “Bombers” and the “Clippers” included Hall of Famers like Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, and Joe Torre and other Yankee greats like Don Larsen, Stick Michael, Lou Pinella, Willie Randolph, John Wetteland, and Bernie Williams. But the talk of the day was 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui celebrating his 42nd birthday today with a monster 2-run homer into the 2nd deck in right field off another great Yankee David Cone.

But the greatest presence this afternoon was the greatest absence. Yogi Berra was a fixture at this day nearly every year, and today’s OTD game was played in his honor, complete with special plaques on the bases and patches on the uniforms. Berra continues to be honored and celebrated this year, deservedly so.

{Media note: you can watch the entire Old Timers’ Day pre-game ceremony, including all the introductions of the former Yankee greats here. Or watch the shorter version and game highlights here.}

Go Yankees!

Also, I want to send my thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families of today’s terrible tragedy in Orlando. My heart goes out to the city in light of this and the other tragic loss of just a few days ago. May we learn how to bind together as a community to make smart, active decisions on how to prevent such terrible things from happening ever again and become a community that prove our differences are really our greatest strength as they become such an amazing unique pattern that is humanity at its strongest and most beautiful.

Reporting for duty, part 1

Well, it’s that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen. Today, the Yankees Minor League Complex in Tampa swarmed with pitchers and catchers reporting in for Spring Training. As usual, many are already in town taking advantage of a week of 70°+ highs to get back into pinstripe-worthy shape.

Joe Girardi gave his usual pre-season press conference, focusing the season on some retooling, especially in the bullpen so that the annual goal of being World Series Champions doesn’t get pushed back to “next year” once again. If it seems like he says the same thing every year to you, imagine what it must feel like on his side of the table. He’s asked to make predictions based on guys he’s never really seen play, some he’s had limited interaction with, and somehow promise people a championship. Realistically, the goal is championship, but the failure to get there is a combination of factors, most of which cannot be predicted or even imagined here in February.

Masahiro Tanaka was also available for the press, who were keen to know more details after his off-season surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow. It caused a bit of a stir when he mentioned the other day that he may not be ready for Opening Day (April 4), but let’s clear something up. First, Tanaka may not be the guy they choose for Opening Day anyway in the grand scheme of things. And second, I think it’s just wisdom to not make blanket promises. The most important thing isn’t that Tanaka is ready for April 4th, but that he will still be ridiculously healthy and fierce come October.

Some old faces popped up at the complex this past week to lend their experienced voice to the young players hoping for a roster spot or at least some encouragement to keep chasing their dreams. Both Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter contributed in their own way — Pettitte threw batting practice to prospects like Aaron Judge (the veteran was impressed with the power from Judge’s bat), and Jeter took the invitees out to dinner for a chat about being a young Yankees (about the same time most of those guys were born).

Other former Yankees are scheduled to appear at camp as Guest Instructors include many familiar faces like “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez, Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, and Willie Randolph. Comforting sights every Spring as it represents the continuing legacy of the Yankees — one generation helping the next succeed and even surpass them. I mean, you never know which of these random invitees might one day have their likeness emblazoned on the walls in Monument Park, or even Cooperstown.

Position players report on Wednesday, with the first full-squad workout held next Thursday. And from there, it’s just 6 days until the Yankees host the Tigers for their Spring Opening Day. Winter, your days are numbered! It’s almost Spring!

Masahiro Tanaka and his wife welcomed their first child, a son, born Monday in New York. A great addition to the Yankee family! Congratulations to their growing family!

Select single game tickets for Yankees regular season games are open to MasterCard ticket holders this weekend. All tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, February 22 at 10:00 am EST (including online tickets).

And a little motivation via a sign posted in the Yankees’ Clubhouse…

 

Go Yankees!