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Duncan Goes Nuts

In the first official game of spring training the Yankees treated the defending NL East Champions a lot like they treated the University of South Florida the day before, cruising to a 9-3 win.

Lineup:

L – Brett Gardner (CF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Bobby Abreu (RF)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
R – Shelley Duncan (1B)
R – Morgan Ensberg (DH)
R – Jose Molina (C)
L – Greg Porter (LF)
R – Chris Woodward (2B)

Pitchers: Chien-Ming Wang, Darrell Rasner, Billy Traber, Chris Britton, Heath Phillips, Jonathan Albaladejo, Dan Giese, Ross Ohlendorf

Subs: Wilson Betemit (1B-2B), Eric Duncan (1B), Eduardo Nuñez (SS), Marcos Vechionacci (3B), Jesus Montero (C), Jason Lane (RF-LF), Jose Tabata (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), Bernie Castro (DH)

Opposition: The defending NL East Champion Phillies’ starters.

Big Hits: A three-run homer by Shelley Duncan, who also delivered a two-run double. He was 2 for 3 with 5 RBIs. Solo homers by Alex Rodriguez (2 for 3) and Jesus Montero (an opposite-field shot in his only plate appearance), and a two-run dinger by Wilson Betemit (1 for 2) of ex-Yank Tom Gordon.

Who Pitched Well: Almost everyone save for Darrell Rasner. The other seven Yankee pitchers combined for this line: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K, the lone run coming on a home run off Giese by non-roster invitee Greg “Goose” Golson, who was the first batter Giese faced and the only baserunner he allowed. Jon Albaladejo struck out two in a perfect inning. Billy Traber faced three lefties and retired them all. Chien-Ming Wang allowed a booming double by Ryan Howard, but retired the other six men he faced, four on groundouts, one via strikeout. Heath Phillips gave up a single to Howard, but struck out the next two men (a righty and a lefty) and got lefty Greg Dobbs to fly out to strand Howard.

Who Didn’t: Rasner pitched in and out of trouble with two outs. Following a single sandwiched between a pair of groundouts, he walked Shane Victorino, and gave up an RBI double to Chase Utley. He then walked Ryan Howard to load the bases (likely somewhat intentionally as it came on four pitches), and got Pat Burrell to fly out to leave ‘em loaded. The result was the ugliest line of the day, but he probably impressed his coaches by getting himself out of the jam.

Oopsies: After walking and stealing second, Derek Jeter got picked off second base ahead of Rodriguez’s homer (Anthony McCarron reports the steal sign was on yet again). Chris Woodward let a grounder through the wickets at second for the game’s only error.

Battles: Traber and Phillips kicked off the battle for the lefty spot in the pen. Traber’s ability to get lefties out isn’t in question, but he needs to prove he can retire righties in order to make the team, and he knows it. Phillips pitched well overall, but the purpose of having a lefty in the pen is to get the big lefties like Howard out, and that he failed to do. Hitting directly behind Duncan in the order, Morgan Ensberg went 0-for-3 with two strikouts. Jason Lane singled and struck out in two trips. In addition to his six bases and five RBIs in three trips, Duncan got good marks for his fielding today. Chris Woodward played the entire game at second base and went 2 for 3, but also committed that error.

More: Jason McAdams of My Baseball Bias liveblogged the entire game. Wang threw just 24 pitches, but was mixing them well. He struck Pat Burrell out on a curve ball and even worked in three changeups. Don’t get too excited about that pitch just yet, however. Remember all the hype about Mariano Rivera throwing a change in spring training last year? Well, according to the new edition of The Bill James Goldmine, Mo threw exactly one (1) changeup during the regular season (though James does list 11 Rivera pitches as “uncharted”). If there was just one, Emma Span caught it. Tyler Kepner reports that Joe Girardi’s plan is to have Jason Giambi start at first base every other day this month. Finally, check out Pete Abe’s piece about the Yankees’ long-term center field picture. Quoth Cashman: “In the end, I think we’re going to have a great [homegrown] center fielder. It’s just a question of who that is.”

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