The Yanks and Blue Jays played to a tie yesterday, which was no where near the most significant news item out of Yankee camp yesterday. Read on . . .
L – Johnny Damon (CF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Bobby Abreu (RF)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Jason Giambi (DH)
L – Hideki Matsui (LF)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
L – Doug Mientkiewicz (1B)
R – Wil Nieves (C)
Pitchers: Mike Mussina, Brian Bruney, Kyle Farnsworth, Mariano Rivera, Colter Bean, Ben Kozlowski
Subs: Andy Phillips (1B), Angel Chavez (2B), Alberto Gonzalez (SS), Chris Basak (3B), Todd Pratt (C), Miguel Cairo (RF), Melky Cabrera (CF), Kevin Reese (LF), Josh Phelps (DH)
Opposition: All but one of the Blue Jays’ starters.
Big Hits: A two-run homer by Alex Rodriguez (1 for 3) and a triple by Bobby Abreu (2 for 3). Hideki Matsui was also 2 for 3.
Who Pitched Well?: The five Yankee relievers–Brian Bruney, Kyle Farnsworth, Mariano Rivera, Colter Bean, and Ben Kozlowski–were perfect combining to pitch four hitless, walkless innings while striking out five.
Who Didn’t?: It’s a bit unfair to list Mike Mussina here. Technically he turned in a quality start (6 IP, 3 ER). But he allowed nine baserunners on seven hits and two walks and struck out just one in those six innings and a fourth run scored thanks to a catcher’s interference call. Really, it would be more accurate to list Mussina’s first two innings here (all four runs) and his last four scoreless innings in the previous category.
Oopsies: Just that catchers interference by Wil Nieves, which led to a run.
Ouchies:The big news, and this really is big news for a change, is that Chien-Ming Wang’s right hamstring will force him to start the season on the disabled list and he could miss most if not all of April as an MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain (the lowest level). Jose Veras had a bone spur removed this past week. He should be out for two to three months. Jorge Posada was a late scratch from yesterday’s game with what Joe Torre called “overall discomfort.”
Battles: With Wang on the shelf it appears Jeff Karstens will move into the fifth-starter’s spot and break camp with the team, though the Yankees might only need to start Karstens once before Wang returns (on April 8 against the Orioles). Wil Nieves and Todd Pratt had identical 0 for 2 with one strikeout days, though Nieves did have that interference call. Raul Chavez was reassigned to minor league camp. Andy Phillips and Josh Phelps both went 0 for 1, though Phelps struck out in his at-bat. Brian Bruney and Colter Bean continue to be the top contenders for the last right-handed bullpen spot. Bruney retired all three men he faced on two Ks and a grounder. Bean faced two men and retired them on a strikeout and a fly out.
Cuts: In addition to Raul Chavez, Bronson Sardinha, Angel Chavez, Andy Cannizaro, and Ben Kozlowski were also reassigned to minor league camp. I had forgotten Cannizaro was in camp. I can’t remember the last time he got in a game. Meanwhile, with the exception of the rehabbing Humberto Sanchez, Sardinha (who was actually optioned as he’s on the 40-man roster) was the last man in camp who didn’t have any major league experience. Proof of how impressed the Yankees were by him this spring.
Notes: Bobby Murcer reports that test have shown that he is “entirely clear in regard to the [brain] tumor.” Of far less importance, Chien-Ming Wang was on schedule to be the Yankees Opening Day starter, but now that Wang’s on the shelf, the Opening Day hurler will be either Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano or Wang’s replacement Jeff Karstens. Neither Pettitte nor Mussina is a candidate because Pettitte’s return from back spasms (he’s expected to start no sooner than Thursday) won’t allow him time to get in a warm-up start. Similarly, Mussina’s next scheduled turn is Thursday, which would put him on short rest on Opening Day. Torre’s a bit concerned about Igawa overthrowing in response to an Opening Day start, and thus Pavano is considered the frontrunner at the moment. Of even less importance, Brian Bruney and Kyle Farnsworth shaved their heads before yesterday’s game.