The day began with a moving tribute to "The Boss." Their has already been several pre-game tributes to George Steinbrenner, but today was to recognize his importance to the city of Tampa. I never get tired of that last line of his tribute video. Steinbrenner is on stage at "Saturday Night Live" and he is talking about which category of host he falls under. He says, "I'm not an entertainer. So the way I see it, I must fall into that other category. Beloved American from another walk of life." He truly was a beloved American. The tribute was moving and incorporated a reading of the plaque from the new statue of "the boss" outside George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tino Martinez, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter all read from the plaque. After the tribute it was on to Baseball.
Although the Yankees dropped this one 5-4 to the Phillies, it was a promising outing for most. Bartolo Colon took the mound for New York. He looks big and admits he needs to lose weight but he looks strong and healthy. His velocity was in the high 80's for the first inning and looked solid. He allowed a triple in the second inning and after that seemed to be able to gas it up to 92 and 93mph. His velocity topped out at 94mph, so his arm strength is good for a guy who dealt with a torn rotator cuff. He got himself into a jam but worked out of it by inducing a much needed double play while giving up 1 run. All in all, it was a positive step towards earning a spot in the rotation.
Joba Chamberlain took the mound in the third and did nothing short of dazzle. He looks broader but I am starting to buy that he is stronger. Joba is sporting a new delivery. The new pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, approched Joba and told him he need to bring his hands down at the start of the delivery. Joba informed him that he had already made that tweak after studying tape. Joba liked the idea that him and his new pitching coach are on the same page. Joba is starting his delivery at the waste rather than at his chest. The tweak allows him to be quicker to the plate and makes him more deceptive. His velocity was in the mid 90's but it's still early. Joba worked quick by getting himself a 1-2-3 inning. Looking forward to see what he can do.
Dave Robertson started his work looking solid but seemed to have control issues at the end of his inning.
He was able to work through the control problems and get out of the inning without a run scoring.
Phelps and Noesi showed promise but both ended up having shaky innings and Wordekemper didn't look too good at all. Phelps is someone to get excited about but it seems that all three of these guys are destined for another season in the minors. It is just the first game, however.
As far as hitting went, there is much to talk about there. Jeter went 0 for 2 but his batting stance looks good. Jeter's issue was that his footing was off, he was stepping toward the plate too much causing him to hit the ball down. He seems to have stopped doing that and is able to hit the ball hard. I expect to see results as long as he sticks with his new footing.
Nick Swisher looks to be in great shape again this season. His hands seem quick but he went 0 for 2 as well. He had a career year last year and is looking to improve on those numbers this season.
Mark Teixeira was the only starter besides Cervelli to get more than 2 at bats. Tex was hit in the foot for the first at bat, chopped the ball to short on an off balance swing in his second at bat. In the third at bat, Tex showed real power. He almost hit the ball out to center field but settled for a triple. It seems they may work Teixeira extra hard this spring to hopefully get him into a groove so that he does not struggle in April.
Alex Rodriguez looks like he is in mid-season form. His swing looks outstanding and he had a solid double to the right center field gap. Somehow, A-Rod is in even better shape than he has been before and is looking for a sort of bounce back season this year.
Robinson Cano has become one of he hardest workers on the team. No hits today but his swing is picture perfect and his patience seems to be continuing from last season.
Jorge Posada didn't look great in his first time as a full time DH. He popped up to short on the first pitch of his at bat. We have plenty of time to see what he can do over the next 5 weeks. I'm not worried.
Curtis Granderson showed a lot of patience in his only at bat but ultimately swung at a pitch out of the zone to strike out.
Francisco Cervelli had a great game. He looked solid behind the plate and even tried a snap throw to first. It was unsuccessful but it looked great. He also had a double down the left field line. Cervelli has been working with Cano at Cano's home in the Domincan since early December. He is kind of the lost catcher this year in camp and feels he can prove a lot by making his hitting more consistent.
Bret Gardner only had 1 at bat and walked. He looks to be in great shape as usual. His goal this spring is to make bunting more a part of his game.
As far as the rookies and backups go, I am not going to touch on everyone. There were a few notable mentions for the day.
Andruw Jones showed that he can have great discipline at the plate. He walked twice but after the second walk, he was thrown out stealing. Seems as though the speed isn't what it used to be.
Greg Golson did nothing special today but just from observing him, it seems that his bat is improving and he has great speed. Lets not forget that canon of an arm, as well.
Eduardo Nunez is showing power and solid strokes. He had a nice liner to center field and even showed off his speed by stealing second base. Nunez wants the spot on the team as the utility infielder.
Austin Romine looks very confident behind the plate. Nobody questions his ability to call a game. It's pretty much common knowledge around Yankee camp that Romine is a better defensive catcher than Montero but that his bat isn't quite there yet. Romine is showing improvement at the plate and even had a solid single today. If his bat can catch up it is very possible that Montero gets traded in a blockbuster deal this season and Romine is next in line to catch for the Yanks.
That's all for today folks check back tomorrow for an analysis on Yanks at Philles.