The Yankees start their spring schedule this afternoon in Dunedin, where they’ll face the Blue Jays starting at 1:05. The game won’t be televised, on the radio, or even available via on-line gamecast, but you can follow it via Peter Abraham’s liveblog over at LoHud. Joe Girardi is running out his B-team, save for the three WBC participants (Jeter, Cano, and Alex Rodriguez). Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher get the starts in center and right. Brett Tomko will take the mound to start.
Check back this afternoon for my recap of the game.
Meanwhile, here’s a recap of some of the things we’ve learned since camp opened:
Injuries: There’s been nothing but good news on the four recovering Yankees. Chien-Ming Wang has experienced no pain in his foot. Jorge Posada has been stretching out his arm without discomfort. Hideki Matsui and Mariano Rivera are coming along more slowly, but without cause for concern. In Rivera’s case, the slow progression is typical of how he gets ready in the spring, as he tends to throw most of his spring innings in the second half of March.
Aches and Pains: Edwar Ramirez has been shut down for a few days with shoulder bursitis. Otherwise, there have just been a few sore hamstrings (Jeter, Marte) and a couple of stomach flues (Sabathia, Cervelli), but nothing thus far that has effected a player’s availability for more than a day or two.
Lineup: Mark Teixeira will bat third ahead of Alex Rodriguez. Hideki Matsui will be the DH making only “emergency” appearances in the field. Neither of these things were unexpected.
Rotation: Joe Girardi just announced today that the opening rotation, barring injury, will be Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, Pettitte, Chamberlain. That order properly staggers the lefties and pitching styles the five starters and puts Chamberlain in the five spot where he can be skipped occasionally to keep his innings down. That said, Girardi also said the plan is for Chamberlain to make about 30 starts. At an average of six innings a start, that would be 180 innings–too many coming off a seasons of 112 1/3 in 2007 and 100 1/3 last year.
Bullpen: Really, the only thing we’ve learned about the ‘pen is that Phil Coke will not be starting, but will indeed be in the mix as a reliever. That doesn’t mean he’s made the team (though he has an excellent chance of doing so), only that the Yankees have recognized where he’s most valuable to them. We’ve also been told the Yankees intend to take a long reliever north, but I think that would be a mistake and will believe it when I see it.
Finally, there was one piece of news that was bigger than baseball, that being Jason Johnson’s optical cancer. After experiencing blury vision, Johnson got himself checked and caught the tumor early enough that his doctors were able to quickly get the disease under control, delaying his arrival to camp only briefly. Johnson’s disease doesn’t change the fact that he has no business being in camp with the Yankees, but while I won’t be rooting for him on the field, I’ll be rooting hard for him off of it. You can read more on Johnson from my good friend, optical cancer survivor Steven Goldman.