Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Wrapping Up Week One
2008-02-22 08:32
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Spring training is officially one week old, but since I posted my look at the 69 players the Yankees have in camp this year, the sum total of our commentary on the goings on in Tampa has been Alex's post of Andy Pettitte's opening statement from his press conference on Monday. Why? Two reasons: 1) there's been no news, and 2) Peter Abraham has it covered.

The back-page stories thus far have been Andy Pettitte's late arrival due to his stopover in Washington, DC to give a deposition about the contents of the Mitchell Report, and Alex Rodriguez sticking his foot in his mouth regarding how often he was drug tested last year. Both stories are dead. Pettitte reported on Monday, four day's late with the team's permission, and is already on a normal pace. Rodriguez just misspoke, and I think the media and fans are finally getting used to the fact that he has a tendency to say the wrong thing and learning to ignore it when he does.

Otherwise it's the usual business. Joe Girardi's focus early on appears to be on conditioning and fundamentals. On the first day of camp, he told his pitchers, "Take care of your bodies. You can't make the team today, or tomorrow, or the next day, so take it slow and make sure you get your arm strength before you start trying to impress people." According to Pete, Girardi has been more active on the field than Torre, going from spot to spot to observe his players up close, but has been relatively hands-off thus far, letting his coaches coach while taking extensive notes.

The one big change in camp this year appears to be an increase in running, with Girardi having the players working on stamina where Torre used to have them do more sprinting. Both Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have joked to the media about their dislike for the increased running. Alex Rodriguez, a workout junkie, kinda likes it. Pete Abe wisely points out that the running has less to do with Girardi than new strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea, who replaced Marty Miller after the rash of hamstring injuries the Yankees suffered early last year (apparently because they weren't doing enough running).

Speaking of workouts, as per the usual spring training script, most of the news in week one was about who has come to camp in great shape, though Abraham attributes some of that to Girardi's having explicitly told his players to do so. The Yankee list includes Johnny Damon, who came into camp last year a bit heavy and has something to prove after a season in which he was slowed by a variety of injuries and terrible in the first half, Bobby Abreu, who also has something to prove after his terrible start to last season and is in the walk year of his contract, Jason Giambi, who was injured and unproductive last year and is likely in his walk year as well as the Yanks are sure to buyout his option at year's end, Derek Jeter, who may finally be accepting the fact that things won't come quite as easy to him as age starts to catch up to him, and Joba Chamberlain, who seems to have put the conditioning concerns that allowed him to slip to the Yanks in the 2006 draft behind him.

In addition to those guys arriving in great shape, Pete Abe said that Mike Mussina, another veteran in his walk year with something to prove after a poor 2007, and Phil Hughes, who lost a lot of time to injury last year, have arrived with a "sense of purpose." I'm not sure what that really means, but Abraham did follow up by reporting on strong bullpen outings from both of them. Hughes and Chamberlain have also been seen working out with Andy Pettitte doing a reduced version of the Roger Clemens workout which, for all of the wisecracks that can be made given the Mitchell Report fallout, is no joke. Bryan Hoch of has more encouraging news on Hughes.

The exception to all of this appears to be Kei Igawa. According to Abraham, the player nicknamed "Quest" because of his affinity for running (or was it his affinity for video games?), is "the only Yankee who looks like he spent the winter on the couch . . . He's so behind in running drills it's like he's carrying his translator." No comment.

The reporters have developed the habit of asking Girardi at the end of each day if everyone is healthy. Thus far the only issue has been some back spasms suffered by center field prospect Austin Jackson, though they didn't seem to be of any particular concern. Abraham reported that Kyle Farsworth survived a staph infection in his leg in January and that Hideki Matsui, despite reports that his surgically repaired knee was bothering him, is moving smoothy during drills and showing no ill-effects.

Giardi has said that Chamberlain and Igawa will both be in the competition for the rotation, that he hopes to get Johnny Damon 600 at-bats as the team's primary left fielder, and suggested that Bobby Abreu will remain in his customary number-three spot in the lineup. Legends Field has been renamed after George Steinbrenner, an appropriate and deserved honor. Morgan Ensberg is wearing number 21, ending the unofficial retirement of Paul O'Neill's former number.

And that's about it. Pete's blog is essential reading for some of his great slice-of-life observances, which lend color to a fairly mundane part of the season. Among the highlights thus far have been notes on the clubhouse attendants' disrespect for Carl Pavano, Sean Henn needling Andrew Brackman about his the college basketball career, Mike Mussina's interior decorating, the wild fielding drills Toñy Pena puts his catchers through, Kevin Long filling Larry Bowa's shoes as a friend to Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano, or Tino Martinez, who is in camp as an instructor for the first time, learning how to hit fungoes. Also, check out this shot of Derek Jeter messing up Andy Pettitte's official photo.

In the meantime, no news is good news.

2008-02-22 09:43:35
1.   Sliced Bread
Thanks for the avalanche of links there, Cliff.

The Yanks should invite Mazzilli to camp to teach Tino the art of fungo. Maz was a wizard with the fungo: accurate, consistent. He was like Minnesota Fats with that stick.

2008-02-22 09:49:31
2.   weeping for brunnhilde
That's an adorable shot with Andy and Derek: the straightman and his sidekick.

Very nice.

I love those guys.

2008-02-22 10:22:21
3.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Funny you should mention it. Maz once hit one right at me in the stands along the LF line while trying to hit caroms of the LF corner for Spencer and Ledee back in 2000. He seemed pretty pissed that he missed his mark, despite the fact that I fielded it cleanly with two hands (and without a glove).
2008-02-22 10:43:15
4.   Knuckles
Running. Man what an idea. Imagine if Zeke asked Randolph and Curry to look into it- they'd have only lost by 30 the other night.
Meanwhile on Baseball Tonight, Kruk is confused. The only running in Spring Training he remembers doing is from the field to the lunch table between practices.

All these stories about a renwed sense of purpose, a glint in his eye, etc. are fun to read but I want to wait and see. You'll never read an article about Moose coming to camp unfocused, or not gunning for a rotation spot.

That said, the links are great. I've been slowly collecting ST photos so I can get my damn comix off the ground just gets in the way sometimes- I commend Alex/Cliff and the rest of the diehard bloggers out there for their dogged dedication.

Man am I glad it's Friday.

2008-02-22 11:01:48
5.   weeping for brunnhilde
3 :)

Very nice, Cliff.

2008-02-22 11:38:23
6.   Sliced Bread
5 Damn, you caught "the one" that got away from Maz. Should have him sign it.

The fungo moment of his that sticks out in my memory: Anaheim, maybe 2001, he's hitting to Knoblauch in left. He signals with a backhanded catching motion that he wants Knobby to take a few grounders to his righ -- and proceeds to blast an impressive series of hard groundballs to Chuck's weak side. Knoblauch had to be 200 feet away, and Maz was consistently drilling the ball into his glove on two or three hops. Maz's dead on accuracy, and the hard spin on his line drives had Knoblauch and his teammates (I forget who was out there with him) laughing in amazement. A-Maz-ment.

Man, it's so slow around here we're talking fungoes?

4 yes, Knuckles, more Bronx comix please, when you get the chance -- and yeah, that's some dog show the Knicks are puttin' on these days. Woof.

2008-02-22 11:53:59
7.   Knuckles
Watching Hondo hit fungoes from the right field line tarps almost to the left field foul pole in the early 90's was pretty sweet. He could hit 'em high too. Making it rain before Pacman Jones even thought about it.
2008-02-22 12:11:01
8.   markp
Posada and Molina are saying Hughes added some MPH to his heater.
2008-02-22 12:11:42
9.   joe in boston
Trust me - with 6 inches of snow and more on the way (not to mention stuck inside with a 3 year old and a 5 year old) ... these links are a lifesaver ! I wish I was in FL watching this stuff ....
2008-02-22 13:11:29
10.   Chyll Will
Oops Cliff, your Dana Cavalea link isn't working...
2008-02-22 13:37:57
11.   Chyll Will
Knuckles, I'm looking for your comics, man. At any rate, ya gotta let go of Madison Square Garbage; as bad as Zeke has made things around here, nothing will ever change until Dolan & Ilk are g.o.n.e. ...
2008-02-22 13:46:01
12.   Cliff Corcoran
10 Fixed.

8 Not so much added as "recovered" as he had lost some zip after his injuries last year. Hughes has said that it took a while for him to not be afraid of reinjuring something, but that he's finally back to that point (was in the playoffs last year too) and is now finishing his pitches properly, which as recovered those MPH as well as some movement which had been lost. It all makes sense, given that Hughes initial hamstring injury came when he finished too strong on a curveball, and that he wasn't himself after getting off the DL -- less zip, less movement, and fewer ground balls. If he's the pitcher I saw in Trenton in 2006 again, the AL is in trouble and the Santana non-trade goes from being a safe move to a brilliant one.

2008-02-22 14:00:32
13.   rilkefan
12 "Trenton in 2006 again"

Can't wait to see.

2008-02-22 14:32:32
14.   Chyll Will
Just throwing this in because it concerns value of win shares pertaining to contract (or at least an implication of who's overpaid). David Pinto writes three Yanks into the Top (Bottom) 5 for least fiduciary win-share value; none of them are A-Rod...

(wsporter, I believe you have a Ph.D. in this field >;)

2008-02-22 14:39:44
15.   Zack
This definitely seems like a slower ST than years past. Maybe because there seems to be less pictures, maybe because nothing is really going on and I just remember the games rather than the boring initial workouts, but man do I wish it were March already!
2008-02-22 15:38:28
16.   OldYanksFan
Riddle me this Batman: who IS Edward Salcedo?
2008-02-22 16:05:14
17.   Cliff Corcoran
16 A 16-year-old Dominican shortstop who has Scott Boras as his agent and is supposedly close to a multi-million-dollar deal with the Indians, though the Yanks have been involved as well. Hey, Jesus Montero is in camp and impressing people in BP, even if he's a 1B in catcher's clothing. Talent is talent, even if the hype tends to exaggerate that talent early and often.
2008-02-22 17:38:42
18.   OldYanksFan
I hear Edward Salcedo is a 5 tool guy and good SS? What do you hear?
2008-02-22 19:19:23
19.   Chyll Will
18 The most detail I came across says that his rep may be a fabrication of Dr. Doom (Scott Boras) to drive up his signing price, but the small sample size from scouts who've seen him in international competition say he's worth looking into, though it's too hard to speculate at his age.

I don't buy anything Boras is selling, especially since he may be looking for a potential replacement for his centerpiece client who hasn't spoken to him in months. As Cliff has subtly suggested, there's really nothing to see here.

But just in case...

2008-02-22 21:32:35
20.   Cliff Corcoran
19 I think you read too much into what I wrote.
2008-02-22 21:36:20
21.   Chyll Will
I tend to do that a lot with you, sorry >;) I actually meant that there's not much to go by, not that he wasn't worth talking about.
2008-02-22 22:50:35
22.   Cliff Corcoran
21 Which is indeed what I meant.
2008-02-23 10:44:33
23.   nick
Pete Abe re the Yankee's bullpen: "Outside of Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins, every job is open."

That's two-thirds of a really, really scary sentence!

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