This may surprise you but I am not going to start with the pitching. Eric Chavez has done a great deal to turn some heads. He is batting .417 this spring and has shown range with his glove by learning to play first base. Chavez is looking to make the roster has a backup corner infielder and as long as he stays healthy, it seems the job is his.
By adding Chavez to the team, the Yanks are adding a veteran player who has the ability to play everyday and can fill in for A-Rod and Teixeira when needed without giving up a whole lot in the field. He has had some problems staying healthy recently but is looking to put that behind him.
Russell Martin has quietly had himself a nice spring. He has shown that he can be an asset at the plate as well as behind it. Martin's bat hasn't been quiet, even hitting his first spring homerun a few days ago but it is his ability to work the count and walk that had really caught my eye. He has done what the Yankees intended Nick Johnson to do last season. What has really impressed me about Martin though is his ability to call a game. He has learned the staff very well and seems comfortable catching everyone. His arm is also very impressive, which will hopefully minimize the opponent's running game.
O.K., now its on to the pitchers.
Bartolo Colon is pitching for a spot in the rotation and he has really turned some heads. His dominant command is making him a front runner for one of the two available spots in the the starting rotation. He has given up a couple of runs but he rebounds nicely and makes his pitches. I would have to say that right now he is the only front runner for a spot. It is not for lack of pitching though. It is because the other 3 guys are also bringing their A game.
Ivan Nova has been pitching very well but his last outing was less than stellar. Nova looks like the type of pitcher who always has to overcome that one bad inning during a start. Although there is hope for Nova because early on, Phil Hughes looked that way as well.
Freddy Garcia gave up 4 runs in his outing yesterday but previouly had not given up a run. It will be important to see how he bounces back from this start but he seems healthy and comfortable. You have to remember, these guys are not always going to be perfect. In fact, you expect the back end of your rotation to have the most amount of losses. With the setup the Yanks have now, I believe they are not only going to be good, but I am also havinga hard time believing this "underdog" label they have been given.
SIDE NOTE: Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera gave us our first preview to the 8th and 9th inning combo. Soriano pitched well giving up 1 hit in a scoreless frame. Mo dazzled hitters with his cutter as usual. Rivera struck out all three batters he faced, two of them looking. He threw 12 pitches, 9 for strikes in what was a dominant first outing of the spring for the closer. Mo has started his spring late as usual and is expected to throw 6-8 inning before the start of the season. Soriano is comfortable with this number and seems to be following Rivera's lead.
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