Welcome to my seventh annual spring training liveblog. This year we’re firing this thing up for the third game of the exhibition season. The Yankees enter today’s game against the Rays having beaten the Pirates on a three-run walkoff homer by Colin Curtis and lost to the Phillies on a walk-off infield hit by Wilson Valdez.
Here are today’s starting lineups:
R – Jason Bartlett (SS)
R – Sean Rodriguez (LF)
R – Evan Longoria (3B)
S – Ben Zobrist (2B)
R – B.J. Upton (CF)
S – Dioner Navarro (C)
S – Elliot Dan Johnson (DH)
R – Justin Ruggiano (RF)
L – Chris Richard (1B)
LHP – David Price
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
R – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
R – Marcus Thames (LF)
R – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
R – Francisco Cervelli (C)
RHP – Phil Hughes
Joba Chamberlain will follow Hughes on the mound for the Yankees, and we’re supposed to get a look at Jesus Montero behind the plate today. Nick Johnson is out with what is supposedly very minor lower back stiffness. Granderson has hit second in both of his starts this spring, but has yet to appear in a starting lineup with Johnson.
Outfielder Desmond Jennings, the Rays’ top prospect, did not make the trip for this game, much to my disappointment. Elliot Johnson, who slammed into Francisco Cervelli and broke is arm in a spring training game two years ago, did and is starting.
Thanks to my mom for watching Amelia this afternoon so that I can bring you all this liveblog. She’s a big Yankee fan as well, but a bigger fan of her granddaughter (as am I).
Tino Martinez is making his YES debut with this game. He always sounds like he has a stuffy nose. The announcers are in shirtsleeves rather than the pull overs they wore on Wednesday. So it’s clearly a bit warmer in Tampa, but it’s still quite windy.
Fastball high and in from Hughes to Bartlett gets things going. The next pitch is a belt-high fastball on the inside corner and Bartlett hits it just foul over the left-field wall. He then rips another fastball to short, but Jeter makes a nice back-handed play to get him out. Hard contact from Bartlett who hit .320/.389/.490 last year out of nowhere.
Hughes’s first curve is the 0-1 pitch to Sean Rodriguez, well outside and low. Rodriguez is a second baseman who came over in the Scott Kazmir deal. He can hit, but the Rays have Ben Zobrist at second and are trying to make Rodriguez a utility man (he’s in left field today).
Another curve to Rodriguez is also low and outside. Hughes’ fastball is topping out at 91 mph. Rodriguez reaches out for a fastball out and over the plate. The wind lifts it to the center field wall and it hits on top for a homer. 1-0 Rays. Granderson was struggling to track that ball due to the wind. That’s more hard contact off Hughes.
Top 1st cont.
Rodriguez’s homer was on a 3-2 count.
Evan Longoria hits a hanging curve to deep left, right where Thames is playing. Two outs.
Hughes gets a nice swing-and-a-miss from Zobrist on an 82 mph changeup to even the count 2-2, then missed with another outside. Zobrists grounds out to Teixeira (unassisted, as usual) to end the inning.
The Rays’ BP caps are dark blue with sky-blue piping in all the standard places.
Yankees are in their blue BP tops and pinstriped pants. Rays in blue BP tops that say “Rays” across the chest and grey pants with dark blue piping down the leg.
Jeter singles to right on the first pitch from David Price. Michael Kay breaks out “Jeterian.” I gag on my sandwich.
Price is throwing easy gas around 95-96 mph. Granderson works the lefty for a full count, but flies out to left on a 96 mph fastball.
Bot 1st cont.
Price hits 97 against Teixeira, then comes back with a 78 mph curve. Tex fouls both off. That’s impressive on both counts. Less impressive, Teixeira swings at a fastball around his ankles and hits a would-be double-play ball, but Zobrist bobbles the transfer. Fielder’s “choice.”
I can’t tell if Tino’s any good in the booth because my Sun chips are too loud, though they also drown out Michael Kay, so I might keep eating all game.
Price paints the outside corner with a 96 mph fastball to set Alex Rodriguez down looking.
Hughes starts the second with another curve low and outside.
B.J. Upton, who is still just 25, grounds to Mark “Unassisted” Teixeira.
Hughes just doesn’t look sharp today. His fastball is slow (now upper 80s) and he’s missing with his off-speed stuff. Save for that one changeup in the first, I haven’t seen much that has impressed me.
He walks Dioner Navarro on five pitches, the last an 89 mph fastball that floated high and wide.
Lineup correction, that’s Dan Johnson, not Elliot who is the starting DH. Dan is the former A’s first baseman who spent 2009 in Japan. That makes more sense.
Johnson pops out to shallow second, where Robinson Cano makes an impressive over-his-shoulder catch running away from the infield.
Justin Ruggiano flies out to center to end the inning.
Hughes only gave up one hit, a wind-blown homer by Sean Rodriguez, but his stuff wasn’t nearly as good as his results.
Jorge Posada hits a 94 mph fastball just foul over the right field wall, then strikes out on an 86 mph changeup.
David Price then starts of Thames with a 77 mph curve ball for a strike. He is good at pitching.
YES shows footage of Marcus Thames’ home run off Randy Johnson in his first major league at-bat. We’ll see that eleventeen million more times if he makes the team.
Thames taps out to shortstop.
Robinson Cano singles directly at the center field camera causing Price to flinch and making the ball appear to levitate in mid-air before curving a bit toward right field.
Cano moves up on a passed ball down and in to Nick Swisher (it’s ruled a wild pitch, but the ball was nearly a strike . . . it’s spring training for the official scorer as well).
Swisher works a walk and Price leaves having reached his limit an out short of two full innings.
Bot 2nd cont.
Jeremy Hellickson is in the game. He’s the Rays’ second-best prospect and was ranked 12th on Kevin Goldstein’s list of the top 101 prospects in this year’s Baseball Prospectus annual.
He doesn’t get through an entire at-bat before Nick Swisher wanders too far off first base on a pitch to Francisco Cervelli, slips, and is thrown out by Navarro.
Swisher appears to have jammed his right wrist falling down, but he’s still in the game.
Also in the game is Joba Chamberlain who throws a strike on the upper, outer corner to Chris Richard. His next four pitches are balls, each missing by more than the last.
More hard contact from Jason Bartlett who triples into the left-field gap on a fastball downthe middle. Oy. Granderson’s throw to Jeter bounced in the outfield. Doubel oy.
Sean Rodriguez triples to the same spot, but deeper, just shy of the warning track. Triple oy.
Top 3rd cont.
Still no outs, man on third, Evan Longoria up.
Sean Rodriguez has three homers and a triple already this spring. Perhaps the Rays should make him their right fielder (or put him at second and make Zobrist their right fielder, which is what I thought they might do over the winter).
Longoria grounds out, plating Rodriguez. 4-0 Rays.
Joba’s fastball is topping out at 91, just like Hughes’.
He walks Zobrist, bringing Dave Eiland out to the mound.
Top 3rd cont.
B.J. Upton pops out behind second.
Cervelli throws behind Zobrist at first, but short-hops Teixeira. The ball gets away, but Robinson Cano gathers it up and throws out Zobrist at second. Some good work from Cano in the field today.
Inning over, mercifully.
Jeremy Hellickson in Double- and Triple-A in 2009: 2.45 ERA, 10.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 in 20 starts. He’ll be 23 in April.
I love that Francisco Cervelli doesn’t wear batting gloves. Is there anyone else out there who goes bare-handed like Cervelli and Posada? Moises Alou was the last non-Yankee I remember who didn’t wear batting gloves.
Cervelli is battling Hellickson, fouling off a full-count offering then hitting what looks like a single into the left field gap and hustling it into a triple. Maybe Sean Rodriguez shouldn’t be the right fielder. Rodriguez cut off the ball, but rolled over it and came up throwing air. It was scored a triple, but should have been a double and an error. Even I am not impervious to Cervelli’s scrappy charms.
Hellickson then strikes out Derek Jeter on four pitches getting him swinging through a big curve just off the outside corner.
Granderson taps back to Hellickson. Cervelli is still at third with two outs.
Hellickson falls behind Teixeira 3-0 then gets two quick called strikes and strikes him on with a curve in the dirt. Hellickson is good at pitching, too.
Joba back at it, and by “it” I mean walking Dioner Navarro on four pitches.
Meanwhile, my cable reception is freaking out on me. Weird. I lost the top of the 5th inning on Wednesday. Sigh.
Update: it’s not the cable, it’s YES only that isn’t working, HD or standard. Grrrr.
Update: aaaaaand we’re back!
Men on second and third, one out after Justin Ruggiano doubles down the right-field line. Joba’s out of the game.
Top 4th cont.
Swisher is giving up his body in spring training. He sailed by Ruggiano’s double and tumbled over the fence into the bullpen.
So I guess Hughes won today’s battle in the 5th starter war, but neither pitcher impressed. Does that mean Gaudin, Mitre, and Aceves are in the lead? (Answer: no.) The best thing Joba did today was wear his regular game cap instead of that stupid BP hat.
Kevin Whelan is on the hill throwing with his ex-catcher delivery. Think Keith Foulke, he pulls his arm back like he’s shooting a bow and arrow or throwing a punch. Whelan walked 5.5 men per nine innings between Double- and Triple-A last year and walks Richard to load the bases with one out here.
Big Hittin’ Jason Bartlett up with the bases jacked. Whelan’s 1-1 pitch barely makes it to the dirt, bouncing wild and moving the runners up, 5-0 Rays.
Bartlett hits a worm burner to Jeter’s left that hits off the Captain’s glove for a two RBI single. Not what I wanted to see from Jeter, looking bad on what should have been a gimme out to his left. 7-0 Rays with one out in the fourth. Ugh.
Top 4th cont.
Sean Rodriguez doubles over Granderson’s head in dead center. He’s doing the cycle in reverse. Granderson came close to the ball at the warning track, but it was over his head.
Second and third one out for Longoria. Seems every Yankee pitcher is topping out at 91 mph. I’d think the gun was broken if not for Price. Wehlan just hit 92. Okay.
Wehlan looks awful. He can’t find the plate. He walks Longoria and gets the hook. He should think about returning to catching.
Jeez, two mid-inning pitching changes in spring training. This is ugly. Bases loaded and one out. 7-0 Rays.
Top 4th eternally
Hey, it’s Kei Igawa. Now we know how bad things have to get for the Yankees to give him some work in a spring training game. I’m guessing they try to unload him this spring and release him if they can’t.
Maybe I’m projecting, but Igawa has the body language of a guy who knows he’s being humored. He gets Zobrist on a check swing on a 2-2 curve down and in. He then floats another curve head-high to Upton.
Joba threw 14 strikes in his 33 pitches and topped out at 91 mph. Awful.
The 1-2 to Upton looks like a strike, but Upton pops up the 2-2 to Jeter to end another ugly inning. Good work by Igawa to strand three runners. Clearly today is opposite day.
Carlos Hernandez is on the mound for the Rays. Hernandez started for the Astros in 2001, 2002, and 2004.
Reid Brignac is at shortstop for Bartlett.
Alex Rodriguez swings through an 89 mph fastball up around the armpits for strike three.
Posada hits the first pitch to the second base hold, but Zobrist makes a nice ranging play for the second out.
Thames works the count full, then grounds to short.
Joe Girardi has braces this year, which effects his speech.
Igawa still in. Navarro grounds out to third.
Girardi points to Joba’s flu as a reason for his poor outing.He also says Nick Johnson won’t be on the road trip on Sunday (bad back + bus = worse back) and thus might not play until Monday.
Dan Johnson pops out to Alex Rodriguez behind the mound.
Igawa strikes out Justin Ruggiano for a 1-2-3 inning. Kei Igawa has been the Yankees’ MVP in this game thus far. Blerg.
Hernandez still on for the Rays.
Cano doubles down the left-field line for his second hit off a lefty in this game. He also has two excellent plays in the field.
Kay: “there’s also a real delicate tight walk rope with him . . .”
Swisher reaches on a throwing error by Evan Longoria. Cano to third.
Gritty gutty Francisco Cervelli singles to right to plate the Yankees’ first run.
Captain Jeter grounds into a double play.
Jack Curry has Joba looking tired and beaten. Joba says it’s easy to forget how out of whack you can get after being inactive for a couple of days.
Granderson puts a charge into one from the lefty Hernandez, but B.J. Upton coasts to it in center for the third out.
RHP – David Robertson
1B – Juan Miranda
2B – Reegie Corona
SS – Eduardo Nuñez
3B – Kevin Russo
RF – Jon Weber
CF – Greg Golson
LF – Reid Gorecki
Jack Curry has a misshapen right pinky. So I guess he is an appropriate replacement for David Cone.
With Sean Rodriguez a single away from the cycle, Joe Maddon hits Fernando Perez for him. Robertson strikes him out for a 1-2-3 inning.
From Marc Carig on twitter: “Joba says he physically felt about 60-70 percent out there, stomach flu took off 8 pounds off since Tuesday.”
Jeff Bennett on the hill for the Rays. YES is in no hurry to identify the other subs. We already know Brignac is at short and Perez is in the game. The others:
1B – Ryan Shealy
2B – Joe Dillon
3B – Angel Chavez
C – John Jaso
RF – Elliot Johnson (there he is)
CF – Fernando Perez
LF – Baseball Hall of Names-er J.J. Furmaniak
Juan Miranda grounds out. Kevin Russo walks.
Mexican League slugger Jorge Vazquez hits for DH Posada. He grounds to third and moves Russo up, but Gorecki grounds out to end the inning.
Hector Noesi in the game with Jesus Montero behind the plate.
Apparently Nick Johnson’s footwear had something to do with him hurting his back. Curry wasn’t clear on that.
Ah, per Curry Sean Rodriguez is in the running to be the second baseman and push Zobrist to right field. The alternate plan would be for Matt Joyce to be the right-fielder and Zobrist to remain at second.
Elliot Johnson doubles to start the inning.
Joe Maddon jumbled his batting order when he made those subs, so I may start losing the names of the Rays players here.
Juan Miranda makes a nice backhanded catch at the wall on a foul by Joe Dillon then fires to third to hold Johnson. Good play. Miranda then drops a low throw from Nunez, allowing Johnson, who was off with the crack of the bat, to score. Bad play.
Stretch, it’s 8-2 Rays.
Mike Ekstrom on the hill for the Rays. He made 12 relief appearances for the Padres last year.
Ekstron walks Reegie Corona. That’s good for Corona, his one distinctive skill as a futility infielder candidate is his willingness to take ball four.
Weber up, Montero on deck.
Weber singles. Men on first and second, none out for Jesus Montero. Cool.
Oh, please interview Francisco Cervelli during Montero’s at-bat . . . thanks, YES!
First pitch in the dirt, trickles to the wall, runners advance.
Frankie says it’s too early to evaluate Hughes or Chamberlain. He’s right.
Breaking ball called strike.
Fastball called strike. Both hittable pitches as best I could tell from the tiny window in whcih YES has put the game. Low 2-2.
Frankie says Joba was sick, so lay off him (sorta). He’s right.
Big swing at a changeup fouled back.
Okay, seriously, though, Montero stuck out his but and fouled off a pitch and it really did make that sound.
Another in the dirt, runners move up, 8-2 Rays. I knew Montero would get that run home (heh). Full count.
Ekstrom’s 3-2 pitch is at Montero’s head. Montero hits the dirt. Ball four. One swing in seven pitches. Runners at the corners, none out.
Bot 7th cont.
Eduardo Nuñez doubles down the right-field line, 8-3 Rays. Men on second and third none out.
Did Ekstrom have the flu, too?
Golson grounds to short, driving in another run, 8-4 Rays.
Bot 7th cont.
Another in the dirt trickles up the third-base line, Nuñez holds.
Miranda doubles over the center fielder, 8-5 Rays.
For the third straight game, the Yankees only score after the starters come out of the game.
Ekstrom is pulled having gotten just one out.
Bot 7th cont.
R.J. Swindle in the game.
Swindle throws a 70 mph something that seems to float like a feather. Kevin Russo waits, waits again, then laces it into the opposite field corner for an RBI double, 8-6 Rays. Great piece of hitting by Russo on a really wacky pitch from Swindle.
Jorge Vazquez pops up near the Yankee coaches and the ball drops safely behind them as Jaso and Shealy fight the traffic.
Swindle throws that pitch again and Vazquez fouls it off. I love that pitch. It’s an ephus without an arch.
Vazquez laces an 81 mph pitch over Furmaniak who was playing way too shallow in left for a right-handed power hitter. 8-7 Rays!
Bot 7th, now it’s personal
Furmaniak is positioned just right for Gorecki who flies right to him for the second out. Yes, just the second out.
Gene Monahan was a bat-boy in Ft. Lauderdale for the Yankees in 1962!
Former Yankee camper Angel Chavez makes a nice sliding scoop and spin on a hard grounder by Corona to end the inning. Yanks pull within one:
Tall fireballer Grant Duff is in the game for the Yanks.
Michael Kay explains how George M. Steinbrenner Field is laid out identically to Yankee Stadium, failing to adjust for the fact that Yankee Stadium isn’t identical to Yankee Stadium any more.
Duff walks Shealy.
Amelia’s taking a nap, so mom has joined me. “These are their new caps? They look like ducks.”
Shealy to third on a pitch in the dirt that gets past Montero. Montero didn’t move his body at all on that pitch at his right ankle, just reached his glove, then went to go retrieve it. Hmmmm. The 2-2 is also in the dirt and Montero does a good job blocking that one.
Duff walks Furmaniak.
Reid Brignac kills a belt-high fastball, sending it into the right-field corner for a triple, 10-7 Rays.
Top 8th cont.
Duff throws a first-pitch strike down the middle to Perez. Mom: “Good, that’s what a pitch should look like.” Duff strikes out Perez on three pitches.
Elliot Johnson singles home Brignac, 11-7 Rays.
Two flies to center end the inning.
Kay and Flaherty (via text message) are teasing Tino for the fact that his first spring training game has lasted well over three hours already. Tino isn’t feeling it, he only talks when Kay asks him a question.
Weber strikes out on a full count. Does anyone care?
Hey, Montero again! Just when I was starting to zone out . . .
Ball one outside. Fouled back. Ball just outside, 71 mph. Fouled off. Swindle is staying away and throwing his side-arming junk. Low, full count. Sixty-nine-mile-per-hour floater called strike three.
Swindle seems to have pulled something in his right side while throwing left-handed junk. Pitching change.
Bot 8th cont.
Heath Rollins in. Kay: “‘Heath Rollins’ actually sounds like a character in The Great Gatsby.” Mom (a retired English teacher): “No it’s not. What an idiot.”
Nuñez lines out.
Center Stage: Lynn Swann? I could swear he’s been on already.
Dustin Moseley pitching for the Yanks. Plate in dark shadow now.
Moseley walks Angel Chavez on five pitches. Alvin Colina up now for . . . someone (I didn’t think to keep score while doing this today, though I typically do). Colina appeared in two games for the Rockies in 2006.
Montero makes a nice block on the 0-2 pitch in the dirt and again on the 2-2 pitch. Chavez,who led off with a walk, steals on the pitch, but that was on the pitcher.
Corona makes a big ranging play in shallow left on a bouncer, but Colina beats the throw. Juan Miranda might have had a play, but got caught in between. Runners on the corners no out. This game will never end.
Mosely walks the bases loaded. Eiland to the mound.
Kay and Singleton bring up Rafael Palmeiro’s ill-gotten Gold Glove to Tino. That’ll happen a few hundred times this season as well, along with footage of his Grand Slam in the 1998 Series and homer off Kim in the 2001 Series.
Moseley strikes out Furmaniak.
Brignac singles “so hard only one run can score” says Kay. 12-7 Rays.
Moseley strikes out Perez, who jumps out of the way of a running fastball that comes back over the plate for called strike three.
Eiland takes out Moseley.
Top 9th cont.
Only 3,800 words thus far in this liveblog. Feels like more (I guess it is now).
My wife’s going to get home from work before this game is over. I thought it would be over around 3:30. Harhar.
Jeremy Bleich comes on and gets the third out on a first-pitch grounder to short.
Are the commercial breaks getting longer?
Oh boy, Tino reading copy. “Duh plays ub du gameb . . .”
Still Heath Rollins for the Rays, Yanks down by five. Golson, Miranda, Russo due up.
Grounder to short. Brignac has to make an athletic play to get the speedy Golson by a step.
Miranda takes a 2-2 fastball at the knee for strike three.
Russo grounds to short.
Rays win 12-7
Thanks to everyone who followed along throughout this three-hour, 50-minute liveblog. I’ll have my usual game recap later tonight.