Let’s get right to it ….
- Chien-Ming Wang has been getting some pitching advice from . . . A.J. Burnett?:
One of the points that Burnett has stressed to Wang since arriving in camp has been the urgency of developing his other pitches, playing off a bowling-ball sinker that has been regarded as one of the league’s best.
The suggestion is not a new one for Wang, who was tinkering with his offspeed pitches leading up to a season-ending injury last season. But hearing it from a power pitcher like Burnett may ratchet up the intensity of the message.
“A.J. told me a lot about changing speeds,” Wang said. “More changeups, more sliders.”
As the days of Spring Training begin to wane, Wang is making a conscious effort to mix in more variety. Though Burnett wasn’t in the ballpark on Wednesday — remaining behind with the Yankees in Tampa, Fla. — credit him with a long-distance assist.
- BaseballProspectus.com has their Team Health Report for the Yankees posted, and as you can expect, BP’s injury database system has lots of “reds” and “yellows” scattered throughout the Bomber’s lineup. A-Rod was a “green” . . . here’s his write-up:
Injuries can happen to even the least risky of players. The hip problem was undervalued by the system since he played through it, leaving him green when we ran the rankings in late January. He’s had the ‘hybrid’ surgery now, and while he’ll miss some time at the beginning of the season, there are no comps at all for how he’ll come back, or even when. The prognosis is solid . . . The interesting thing here is that PECOTA catches a comparison of Rodriguez and Henry Aaron, who had a “down” season at a similar age. (Anyone remember why?) One last thing to keep in mind, since we’ve discussed it already, is the “iron man syndrome” we hinted at with Damon and Matsui; Rodriguez hit the DL last year with a bad quad, and now he’ll begin this season on the DL with the hip. Will this be the new norm for him? . . .
- Speaking of health, Hideki Matsui is making good progress:
Hideki Matsui still hasn’t put his surgically repaired left knee to the full test, saying instead that he is slowly but surely building up steam as he runs the bases.
The 34-year-old slugger enjoyed a well-deserved break on Wednesday, resting after becoming the first Yankee to play in four consecutive games this spring. Driving the baseball and feeling no pain, Matsui is even more encouraged that he will be able to return as a productive player.
“I think it should be fine,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “As long as I don’t have any setbacks and I don’t have any huge problems with my knees, it’s not something that I’m concerned about.”
- Matsui may be getting healthy, but Newsday points out his full-time DH status limits Girardi’s line-up flexibility.
- Tyler Kepner speaks to Ray Negron about his latest Yankee-influenced children’s book:
A bat boy named Ray is the central figure in all three of Negron’s books, the latest of which was released on Tuesday. The co-stars of the others were children stricken with illness, but Steinbrenner shares the lead role this time.
Steinbrenner comforts Ray the bat boy, who cries upon learning that the old ballpark is closing and stages a final game for the Stadium’s ghosts. The emotions were similar for the character’s inspiration.
“It’s my way of being able to finally walk away,” Negron said. “It’s very, very personal.”
- MLB.com is running something called “Moniker Madness”, enabling fans the opportunity to select from the 64 best real minor leaguer names, like Bear Hill and Rocky Roquet.
- Paul Mirabella turns 55 today. Mirabella got into 10 games with the Bombers in ’79, to the tune of 0-4, 8.79 ERA. He was included in two of the more memorable Yankee trades of the late 70s. In 1978, he was sent by the Rangers to the Yanks along with Greg Jemison (minors), Juan Beniquez, Mike Griffin, and a youngster named Dave Righetti in exchange for Domingo Ramos, Mike Heath, “Bronx Zoo” author Sparky Lyle, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, and cash. After the ’79 season, the Yankees traded him, along with the well-liked Chris Chambliss, and Damaso Garcia, to the Blue Jays for Tom Underwood, Rick Cerone, and Ted Wilborn.
- Steve Blateric (who? . . . he pitched in one game for the ’72 Yanks) turns 65 today.
- On this date in 1961, the Yankees formally announce they will oppose any plan that would enable the new National League expansion franchise to use Yankee Stadium. This decision leaves the old Polo Grounds as the only viable option for the new team, the New York Mets.
- On this date in 2006, two-time All-Star Al Leiter announces his retirement after a 19-season career.