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The First Taste
2006-03-01 00:45
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees played their first game of 2006 yesterday afternoon in Tampa. Well, sorta. They played an intrasquad game with Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson managing the two squads, but it's something.

As is the tradition, the elder Berra's squad featured the regulars while Jackson's team was loaded with minor leaguers and hopefuls. The reverse was true for the pitchers, as Jackson got to start Mike Mussina, who pitched two scoreless innings against his own kind, while Yogi started things off with Philip Hughes, who hurled a pair of hitless frames against his own kind.

According to a report from Sunday, the remaining pitchers were to be Steven White, Scott Erickson, Darrell Rasner, Matt DeSalvo, Dusty Bergman and Jose Veras for Jackson and T.J. Beam, Jeffrey Karstens, Mark Corey, Frank Brooks and Matt Childers for Berra.

One line-up note for Berra's team: Bernie Williams got his first taste of right field since 1992 (when he was 23), reportedly making a nice snag in the gap on a ball hit by Kevin Thompson.

The reason Bernie was in right was that Gary Sheffield was held out due to back spasms he experienced on Sunday. Sheffield's a back and Hideki Matsui's left knee (Matsui also sat out the intrasquad game due to minor swelling in that knee) are the current crop of spring aches and pains. You all recall how Jorge Posada's stiff neck and Randy Johnson's tight calf derailed their seasons last year, right? No? Oh, that's because they didn't. The reason spring training exists is so that players can get back in game shape and have ample time to nurse such minor boo-boos along the way. There's no point in fretting over each one.

That said, Carl Pavano's back and Tanyon Sturtze's shoulder remain worth watching. There was no new news on either yesterday. Mussina, meanwhile, threw in the intrasquad game to get lined up for his first spring start this Sunday. You'll note that the "Important Dates" section on the side bar has reverted to "Upcoming Schedule." The Yankees kick off their exhibition season on Thursday against the Phillies with Shawn Chacon on the mound. Chacon will be followed by Jaret Wright (who you may recall had a great spring last year), Randy Johnson, Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang in the Pavano-free five-man spring rotation.

Meanwhile, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon are the only Yankees participating in the World Baseball Classic. The US training camp opens Friday at Chase Field in Phoenix. The US squad will play an exhibition against a Giants slit-squad on Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona, then play their first tournament game on Tuesday, also in Chase Field. Tournament schedule here, TV schedule here.

Meanwhile, back in Tampa, the absence of those three could mean extra long looks for Felix Escalona and Russ Johnson in the infield and Kevin Thompson and Kevin Reese in the outfield. Joe Torre has already said that he will not use Eric Duncan at third base this spring, to allow him to focus fully on continuing to learn first base.

It's a bit fractured, but that's our first taste of real baseball news this spring, so savor it. I'll finally get that line-up post up tomorrow. Then Thursday: baseball!

Comments
2006-03-01 03:26:58
1.   Beth
then march 22...red sox vs yankees for the first time in '06!

seemed like the winter would never end...

2006-03-01 05:12:40
2.   mikeplugh
I'm getting that sense of Spring anticipation over here in Japan too. The WBC is on the airwaves in preview snippets, and the Japan team has played 3 or 4 warm ups against squads comprised of Japan All-Stars and such. I watched a short stretch of tonight's game between Team Nippon and the Yomiuri Giants.

Ichiro leading off in his country's uniform was pretty cool, and seeing Oh Sadaharu represent his country as a manager is also nice.

(note: I was always an Oh fan, especially after reading his biography, but he is an ass of a manager. He is responsible for intentionally walking or pitching around two foreign players who have had chances to break his home run record the last 2 seasons. All that after he was excluded from many competitions as a young man because his father is Chinese.)

The Asia pool seems rather weak, so Japan will undoubtedly represent in the later rounds. I'm most curious to see Taiwan and maybe Korea. I'll let you know if I see anything interesting.

2006-03-01 05:43:30
3.   unpopster
Because of today's quiet baseball news day, I decided to scour some Boston news sites to read some info on the Sox. I came across this little line from the Boston Globe site:

"Yesterday's shoot had an added wrinkle. The nine Sox players intending to take part in the World Baseball Classic modeled their new jerseys, though Mike Timlin's Team USA jersey was so small, he wondered aloud if they'd sent him Derek Jeter's by mistake."

Y'know...I'm so friggin' sick of this Yankee-obsession by the Red Sox players. Granted, that comment by Timlin could have been a very innocent little joke, but I just wish the Sox players would just shut the f up about Arod and Jeter and the rest of the Janks.

Am I over-reacting? yes. Am I annoyed that I have to read some little barb taken at a Yankee player? YES.

Last year's ARod pile-on by half-a-dozen Sox players really rubbed me the wrong way and that lack of respect for the Sox players still lingers.

Hey Timlin...Just shut the f up and play the game!

2006-03-01 07:30:13
4.   pistolpete
It's not even a funny joke by Timlin - is Jeter by any means a 'small' man? Hardly.

Maybe you just need to lose a few pounds, Mikey...

2006-03-01 07:51:58
5.   Marcus
Yeah what a weird comment, it doesn't even make sense. Jeter is listed at 6'3", 195 lbs; Timlin is 6'4", 210 lbs.
2006-03-01 08:19:45
6.   Knuckles
It doesn't take much for me to develop a healthy dislike for Sox players, and the first thing that struck me about Timlin is he looks like a nasty alky deadbeat dad from a bad movie.
2006-03-01 13:59:13
7.   yankz
Does the "TV Schedule" link take anyone else back to the Bronx Banter frontpage? If yes, does anyone have the actual link? Thanks.

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