The Yankees will be cautious with Mariano Rivera, who will start the season on the disabled list with a strained groin. The Times reports:
"I'm not even going to think about him until the latter part of April," Manager Joe Torre said tonight. "We certainly want to be sure and don't want to take a chance, especially with his history of shoulder problems."
Rivera's aura of invincibility continues to erode. He closed out three consecutive championships from 1998 to 2000, but he faltered in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and has had health problems since.
"Let's admit it ¡ª the run we had with him was pretty superhuman anyway," Torre said. "It was awfully tough for anyone to live up to that, including himself."
Buster Olney, the erstwhile Yankee beat reporter for the Times, has a good article on David Wells today. I was a big fan of Olney's Yankee coverage and was sad to see him leave the beat (he covers the NY football Giants these days). He usually was able to pull a telling detail from a story. His piece on Wells illustrates how most of Boomer's teammates view the fat man as a benign clown.
Wells has dominated the papers in New York for the past month. Derek Jeter, who has enjoyed a quiet spring after the broo-ha-ha with the Boss earlier in the year, must be thankful.
GO SOUTH OLD MAN
According to the New York Times, David Cone will start the season in the minors:
Today the Mets indirectly unveiled some of their decision making, and their starting rotation, when General Manager Steve Phillips announced that he had optioned the right-hander Jason Middlebrook to the minor leagues. David Cone's status was still unresolved, but indications were that the Mets would ask him to continue his comeback in Florida and then the minor leagues, leaving the final two spots in the rotation filled at the start of the season by Mike Bacsik and Jae Weong Seo.
Pedro Martinez had his final tune-up of the spring, and appears ready to roll. The major looming issue for Martinez is his desire to sign a contract extension:
Martinez was even presented with the scenario that after 2004 the Yankees could sign him as a free agent. He played along with it saying, ''Imagine that. Pedro Martinez being in New York. The whole Dominican population. How many Dominican flags every day? Now it's not just Pedro Martinez fans but Yankees and Dominicans. I don't even want to think about that. It's a business to [Yankees owner George Steinbrenner]. Great for George, not good for the Red Sox.''
Dream on, Yankee fans.
Meanwhile, the Sox cut junk-baller Frank Castillo, proving that management is as bright as advertised. Dag. Speaking of which, Gordon Edes excerpts a portion of a Q & A with GM Theo Epstein that will appear on Boston television later tonight.