The Yankees were limited to four singles and a walk, losing to the Phillies 3-0 at home.
Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Gary Sheffield RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jason Giambi 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Kelly Stinnett C
Subs: Andy Phillips 1B, Miguel Cairo 2B, Felix Escalona SS, Russ Johnson 3B, Omir Santos C, Bernie Williams RF, Bubba Crosby CF, Luis A. Garcia LF
Pitchers: Scott Proctor, Carl Pavano, Mariano Rivera, Tanyon Sturtze, Mike Myers
Big Hits: none
Who Pitched Well?: Scott Proctor made his second strong start of the spring, allowing just one run on a Sal “Thurman” Fassano homer in five innings while allowing just two other hits, both singles, and a walk against five strikeouts. Mike Myers and Mariano Rivera both pitched perfect innings.
Ouchies: The biggest news is Carl Pavano’s return to game action. Pavano, who last pitched with the major league club on June 27 of last year and hasn’t pitched in a game of any kind since an A-ball rehab start on August 3, allowed one run on a Shane Victorino solo homer in one inning of work, throwing 11 of 14 pitches for strikes and surviving a dive into first to retire Bobby Abreu on a slow grounder up the line. Jorge Posada also returned to action, going 0 for 3 as the Yankees’ DH. He’s expected to catch Thursday’s Grapefruit League finale. Chien-Ming Wang threw 61 pitches in the bullpen and will take his scheduled turn in Phoenix on Friday. Octavio Dotel threw his first batting practice of the spring. Scott Erickson (remember him?) is expected to pitch in today’s game.
Roster Crunch Time: Randy Johnson will start for the minor league campers today, giving Jeff Karstens the major league start. Jaret Wright will start the minor league game tomorrow with Wang and Chacon pitching the two games against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Though only Johnson and Mussina have been officially announced, barring a disaster start from Wang or Chacon and a dominating performance by Wright (and likely not even then), Wang will start the finale of the A’s series with Chacon going in the first game of the Angels series a week from Friday. Wright would then be in line to take the fifth starter’s turn on April 15 in Minnesota.
The battle for the last spot in the bullpen, however, has heated up with Ramiro Mendoza (1.93 spring ERA) feeling heat from Proctor (1.06 ERA with the third most innings in camp), Matt Smith (1.69), Matt Childers (0 runs in one start and three relief appearances) and, sadly, Scott Erickson, who will return to action today with a 2.61 spring ERA. I’m still rooting for Mendoza or Smith, preferring to see Proctor find a spot in the Clippers rotation and Erickson find himself in another uniform. Childers is just 27 and is better utilized as roster insurance in Columbus than as a pitcher expected to produce as a member of the opening day roster.
While we’re at it, the final spot on the bench seems to be down to Wil Neives (.269/.321/.423 this spring) and Felix Escalona (.263/.333/.421), unless Joe Torre has been seduced by Luis A. Garcia’s eleven at-bats, which started with a pair of homers and have since featured three singles in nine trips with just one strikeout and no walks. Nieves is out of options, but just might slip through waivers. Escalona would be my choice, though with the Kevins gone and Russ Johnson not hitting, there’s really very little added value to be had with any of these guys. All the more reason to offer Carlos Pena, who could be useful as a lefty bat off the bench later in the season, a minor league deal.