A-Rod reports to camp early, circus ensues, nothing really happens

hi h8rs (Presswire)
hi h8rs (Presswire)

Position players are not scheduled to report to Spring Training until Wednesday, but Alex Rodriguez reported to camp today, making it his first day around the Yankees since the end of the 2013 season. A-Rod arrived at the complex this morning, took his physical, and worked out on a minor league field. Players can’t work out on the main field until reporting day.

As part of his workout, A-Rod ran sprints, threw a medicine ball around, fielded ground balls at third base and shortstop, and took batting practice. Pretty much a typical early spring workout. Multiple reporters say he took 71 swings during batting practice and hit six balls over the fence, which means less than nothing but will surely be made into something.

After the workout, Alex signed autographs for a horde of fans and spoke to the media for a few minutes. It was his first time taking questions since being suspended last year. Alex didn’t say a whole lot, but here’s a summary of the main points, courtesy of Jon Heyman, Dan Barbarisi, Jeff Passan, Bob Nightengale, Brendan Kuty, and Adam Berry:

  • On the suspension: “No mistake that I’ve made has any good answer, no justification. It’s unexplainable, and that’s on me. I’ve paid a price personally and professionally … I’m moving on and focused on 2015.”
  • Does Alex feel welcome? “Surprisingly so.” Are other Yankees comfortable around him? “I don’t know. You’ve got to ask them. But I’ve created a big headache for a lot of people,” he added.
  • A-Rod said he will work out at first base or any other position this spring if the team asks. “I’m willing to try anything (Joe Girardi) wants me to try,” he said.
  • Is he secretly plotting to kill or maim new starting third baseman Chase Headley? “Chase is an excellent addition to our team.”
  • And finally, Rodriguez gave a flat “no” when asked if he was on any performance-enhancing drugs at the moment.

All things considered, A-Rod’s first day of camp was not as hectic as I expected. I thought he would say something controversial, for example. The media was watching him like a hawk — following all of this in real time on Twitter was a hoot, we were getting play-by-play of his medicine ball throws — but that was to be expected.

No word on whether A-Rod will return to the complex tomorrow but I wouldn’t be surprised if he took the day off. It’ll be his last day off for a while with position players set to report on Wednesday. Either way, Alex is back with the Yankees. He took his physical, got his first workout in, and that was that. Day One is complete.

Open Thread: 2/22 Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The second official day of Spring Training workouts is in the books. Here is a recap of the day from Tampa:

Here is your open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Rangers and Islanders are both playing tonight, and there’s a little bit of college basketball going on somewhere. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

2015 Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

In a little more than a week, Yankees baseball will be back. The Yankees open their 34-game Grapefruit League schedule nine days from now with their traditional home-and-home set with the Phillies. Twenty-eight of the team’s 34 exhibition games will be broadcast either on television or online, which is pretty awesome. Remember when watching Spring Training games was just a pipe dream? Hooray technology.

YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv have released their Spring Training broadcast schedules, but we’re still waiting for ESPN’s. The Yankees are not making any sort of special trip this spring — they played two games in Panama last year remember, and they were actually no-hit in one of them — other than an exhibition game at Nationals Park to close out Spring Training. Here is the team’s Spring Training broadcast information all in one convenient place. The post is linked in the “Countdown to Opening Day” widget in the sidebar for future reference.

Date Start Time Opponent Broadcast Info
Tuesday, March 3rd 1:05pm ET @ Phillies MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Wednesday, March 4th 1:05pm ET Phillies YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Thursday, March 5th 1:05pm ET @ Pirates
Friday, March 6th 1:05pm ET @ Phillies (ss) MLBN, MLB.tv
Friday, March 6th 7:05pm ET Pirates (ss) MLBN
Saturday, March 7th 1:05pm ET @ Astros
Sunday, March 8th 1:05pm ET Nationals YES and MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Monday, March 9th 1:05pm ET Rays YES and MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Tuesday, March 10th 1:05pm ET @ Orioles MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Wednesday, March 11th 1:05pm ET Red Sox YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Thursday, March 12th 7:05pm ET Braves YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Friday, March 13th 7:05pm ET @ Red Sox MLBN, MLB.tv
Saturday, March 14th 1:05pm ET Tigers (ss) YES, MLB.tv
Saturday, March 14th 1:07pm ET @ Blue Jays (ss) MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Sunday, March 15th 1:05pm ET Phillies
Monday, March 16th OFF
Tuesday, March 17th 7:05pm ET Blue Jays YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Wednesday, March 18th 6:05pm ET @ Braves MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Thursday, March 19th 7:05pm ET Phillies YES, MLB.tv
Friday, March 20th 1:05pm ET @ Tigers
Saturday, March 21st 1:05pm ET Astros
Sunday, March 22nd 1:10pm ET @ Mets YES, MLB.tv
Monday, March 23rd 1:05pm ET @ Nationals MLBN, MLB.tv
Tuesday, March 24th 7:05pm ET Tigers YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Wednesday, March 25th 1:05pm ET Mets YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Thursday, March 26th 1:05pm ET @ Rays MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Friday, March 27th 1:05pm ET @ Phillies MLB.tv live, MLBN tape delay
Saturday, March 28th 1:05pm ET Orioles YES, MLBN, MLB.tv
Sunday, March 29th 1:05pm ET @ Astros
Monday, March 30th OFF
Tuesday, March 31st 1:05pm ET @ Twins MLBN, MLB.tv
Wednesday, April 1st 1:05pm ET Rays YES, MLB.tv
Thursday, April 2nd 1:05pm ET Pirates (ss) YES, MLB.tv
Thursday, April 2nd 1:05pm ET @ Tigers (ss) MLB.tv
Friday, March 3rd 1:05pm ET Nationals YES, MLB.tv
Saturday, April 4th 1:05pm ET @ Nats (Nats Park) MLB.tv

Open Thread: 2/21 Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Saturday was the first official workout for pitchers and catchers in Tampa. Position players are due to report on Wednesday — many of them are already in camp though — and the first full squad workout is scheduled for Thursday. Here are Saturday’s notes from Spring Training:

  • CC Sabathia regained ten pounds this offseason — “I lost a bunch of weight drastically, pretty quick, two years ago, and kinda was off balance and didn’t know really how my body was working,” he said — and received regular platelet-rich plasma injections in his knee over the winter. He threw his first bullpen of the spring and is “able to go 100% and not feel anything.” [Dan Barbarisi, David Lennon, Bryan Hoch]
  • In addition to Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Jacob Lindgren, David Carpenter, Bryan Mitchell, and Chris Capuano also threw bullpen sessions. Betances has already thrown a few bullpens and will face hitters at the end of next week. Esmil Rogers has been told to prepare to start the March 5th game against the Pirates. That’s the team’s third Grapefruit League game. [Chad Jennings, Brendan Kuty, Marly Rivera]
  • Carlos Beltran has reported early and has been doing a lot of work in the batting cage this winter following elbow surgery. He did say the soreness is worse some days than others. Brian McCann, Gary Sanchez, and the rest of the catchers took batting practice. Didi Gregorius has reported early. [Marly Rivera, Kuty]
  • Minor league note: the Yankees have hired former Angels speedster Reggie Willits to be their minor league outfield and base-running coordinator. [Chad Jennings]
  • And finally, Sabathia said Alex Rodriguez‘s return is not a big deal to the Yankees in the clubhouse, just to the media. [Bob Nightengale]

This is your open thread for the night. The Devils are playing and there’s come college basketball on as well. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.

Open Thread: 2/20 Camp Notes

Before we get to the first installment of daily Spring Training notes for the 2015 season, we have a very important piece of official business to take of: today is RAB’s eighth birthday. I can’t tell you how big of a life-changer this site has been. I’ve gotten to meet lots of cool people and make some really great friends thanks to RAB. It’s grown into something way more than any of us ever thought it would. Thanks for reading as always. And please, take a second to tell us how great we are.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training today and the first official workout is scheduled for tomorrow. (Workouts through March 2nd are free and open to the public, the team announced.) Joe Girardi held his annual start of camp press conference this morning — recap and thoughts are right here — and there was plenty of other news and notes to come out of Tampa. Here’s the daily recap from Spring Training:

  • Masahiro Tanaka spoke to reporters after Girardi’s press conference. He said his elbow feels “absolutely fine” and he even threw two splitters during his 21-pitch bullpen session yesterday. His next bullpen is scheduled for Sunday. Tanaka had an MRI on his elbow after the season (in October) and everything came back fine. [Brendan Kuty, David Waldstein, David Lennon]
  • Adam Warren has already thrown live batting practice twice and is way ahead of the other pitchers. He has consistently been the “shows up to camp super early and gets way ahead of everyone” guy over the years. It seems like he’s set up to start the team’s first Grapefruit League game on March 3rd. [Chad Jennings]
  • Jose Ramirez is over the lat injury that cost him most of last season and has already thrown bullpens. Chase Whitley‘s wife is due to give birth any moment now, so he’ll probably miss a few days of camp soon. Nathan Eovaldi said he’s thrilled to be a Yankee and needs to work on both his consistency and offspeed stuff. Michael Pineda looks to be in excellent shape, which wasn’t the case a few years ago. [Jennings, Jack Curry, Andrew Marchand]
  • At a Triple-A Scranton event yesterday, Mark Teixeira said his wrist feels better than it has in years. “This offseason, I got a chance to just work out and get strong. That’s who I am. I’m a big, power-hitting first baseman, and I have to be strong,” he said. [Donnie Collins]
  • Among the position players already in camp are Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Chase Headley, and Garrett Jones. Drew is excited about having his regular Spring Training in three years after dealing with injuries and last year’s contract situation.[Brendan Kuty, Jennings]
  • And finally, among the notable guest instructors this year are Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Hideki Matsui, Ron Guidry, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, and Billy Connors. There will be plenty more coming in and out these next few weeks. [Associated Press]

This is your open thread for the night. The Rangers, Devils, Knicks, and Nets are all playing tonight, so talk about those games, the start of Spring Training, or anything else right here. Have at it folks.

Previewing the Yanks’ few Spring Training position battles

Sixth starter or setup man? (Presswire)
Sixth starter or setup man? (Presswire)

Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Spring Training this Friday, though several Yankees players are already in Tampa preparing for the season according to reporters on site. It’s the guys you’d expect to show up to camp early — rehabbing players (Ivan Nova), players new to the organization (Nathan Eovaldi), and players trying to win a job in camp.

The Yankees don’t have many open roster spots, at least not on paper, but that doesn’t mean jobs aren’t up for grabs in Spring Training. Sometimes the job on the line is being the first guy called up when the inevitable injury strikes. Just look at Preston Claiborne two years ago. He didn’t win a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he put himself on the call-up map with a strong showing in camp. So, with Spring Training set to start later this week, let’s preview New York’s position battles.

Sixth Starter
Candidates: Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell

Every team needs a sixth and seventh and occasionally even eighth starter during the season, and the Yankees are more likely to need spare starters than most teams because of the injury risk in the rotation. Warren and Rogers were both told to come to Spring Training ready to work as starting pitchers and Mitchell has been a starter his entire minor league career. You don’t have to try real hard to envision a scenario in which one of these guys is in the rotation come Opening Day.

Warren did very nice work as a short reliever last year but came up through the minors as a starter. Rogers has both started and relieved in the past, and he worked as a swingman last year. Mitchell is a rookie with just a big league cup of coffee under his belt. Warren and Rogers are all but certain to open the season on the 25-man roster in some capacity and I’m sure the Yankees want both to be relievers. That means everyone in the rotation is healthy. Mitchell would go back to Triple-A to bide his time in that scenario.

If someone does get hurt in Spring Training and the Yankees do need a replacement starter, I think it would come down to who has the best camp. Not necessarily statistically, but who shows the Yankees they have the best chance of turning over a lineup three times. My guess is Warren would get the first chance to start if necessary, but I’m not all that confident in that pick. I am confident these guys are ahead of scrap heap signings Scott Baker and Kyle Davies on the rotation depth chart, however.

Seventh Reliever
Candidates: Lots

Whitley. (Presswire)
Whitley. (Presswire)

In a perfect world, Warren and Rogers would be in the Opening Day bullpen alongside Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, and Justin Wilson. (Rogers would presumably be the long man in that scenario.) The seventh bullpen spot is wide open and the Yankees have no shortage of candidates on the 40-man roster: Danny Burawa, Jose DePaula, Chris Martin, Branden Pinder, Jose Ramirez, Chasen Shreve, and Chase Whitley. We should probably include Mitchell in there as well. Non-40-man roster candidates include Jacob Lindgren and Andrew Bailey.

At least one of those extra guys is going to make the roster as the seventh reliever. If Warren and/or Rogers are needed in the rotation, several of the extra arms will make the Opening Day roster to fill out the bullpen. And since there are so many viable seventh reliever candidates, I think it will come down to Spring Training performance. I don’t think handedness will matter one bit. And remember, just because someone wins a job in Spring Training, it doesn’t mean they keep it forever. If, say, Martin wins the last bullpen spot but has a 6.00 ERA two weeks into the season, the Yankees will swap him out for someone else. The seventh bullpen spot is always a revolving door.

Backup Catcher
Candidates: Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy

Technically, this is a competition since nothing is final, but it’s widely believed Murphy will be the backup catcher come Opening Day. Everything points in that direction. Romine wasn’t all that impressive during his extended stint as Chris Stewart‘s backup in 2013, and when the team needed a long-term fill-in for Frankie Cervelli last summer, Murphy got the call ahead of Romine. And, when they needed a third catcher after rosters expanded it September, it was again Murphy over Romine. That doesn’t mean Romine has nothing to play for in camp, of course.

“I want it. I want to go out there and prove to them that I want it. That’s why I’m here early and I just want to hit the ground running and go after it and bust my ass to make the team,” said Romine to Mark Feinsand last week. “(There are) a little more doors opening up with Cervelli gone now. Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to show them I want this.”

Romine is out of options, meaning he can’t go to Triple-A without first passing through waivers. That could happen but the Yankees have to proceed as if it won’t. That’s why they signed Eddy Rodriguez to a minor league deal. Even if he can’t beat out Murphy for the backup job, Romine is auditioning himself for other teams this spring, teams that could claim him off waivers before the start of the season or look to acquire him in a minor trade. This is the definition of a healthy competition, even if the job is basically Murphy’s to lose.

Ryan. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Ryan. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

Last Bench Player
Candidates: Brendan Ryan, Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder

This is basically a “can either Pirela or Refsnyder convince the Yankees they’re better off paying Ryan his $2M salary to not play for them?” competition. I’m guessing no — Ryan’s ability to play shortstop is a hard to find skill with real value — but you know how it goes. Stranger things have happened. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman insists Refsnyder will get a chance to win a job in camp.

“I can’t tell you he’s not Major League ready just yet,” said Cashman in a radio interview earlier month, according to Brendan Kuty. “The bottom line is, he’ll go into camp, and he’ll compete, and he’ll have a chance to potentially earn a spot on the roster … We’re all going to see that develop in Spring Training.”

The Yankees could opt for Pirela’s versatility or Refsnyder’s bat over Ryan’s defense, especially since Stephen Drew can cover Didi Gregorius at shortstop. There is a legitimate baseball reason to keep Ryan though. We can’t forget that. Depth at shortstop is necessary. Either way, we’re talking about the 25th man on the roster. This isn’t a decision that will make or break the season.

Three notable Spring Training invitees and three notable omissions

Jagielo. (MiLB.com)
Jagielo. (MiLB.com)

A few days ago the Yankees announced their list of 26 non-roster Spring Training invitees, so they’ll have a whopping 66 players in big league camp this year when you include the guys on the 40-man roster. The crop of non-roster invitees is pretty standard in the sense that some are top prospects, some are journeymen on minor league contracts, and some are spare bodies who will help carry the workload in March. Extra arms, extra catchers to catch bullpens, that sort of thing.

Some of the non-roster invitees are more interesting than others, of course, and there are several other players who are notable because they did not receive an invitation to big league camp this year. We’re all jonesin’ to see OF Aaron Judge and 1B Greg Bird and RHP Luis Severino in action in the coming weeks, but here are three other non-roster invitees I’m looking forward to seeing. And, on the flip side, here are three guys we somewhat surprisingly won’t get to see in camp.

Notable Invitee: RHP Andrew Bailey

The Yankees signed Bailey to a minor league contract last offseason knowing he likely wouldn’t pitch in 2014 following shoulder capsule surgery. The move was geared towards 2015, and, after Bailey suffered a few setbacks last summer, the Yankees opted to decline is 2015 club option (reportedly worth $2.5M or so) and instead re-signed him to another minor league contract.

Bailey is supposedly healthy now — “He’s in a throwing program, and there’s been nothing adverse reported from him,” said assistant GM Billy Eppler to Chad Jennings recently — and will get a chance to show what he can do post-capsule surgery in camp. Torn shoulder capsules are very serious and there’s a really good chance Bailey will never get back to where he was from 2009-13 (2.64 ERA and 3.13 FIP), but that doesn’t man he can’t help. Instead of being a shutdown late-inning guy, maybe he’s only a serviceable reliever. That’s still useful. Spring Training will give us a chance to see if Bailey has anything left.

Notable Omission: 3B Eric Jagielo

Jagielo, the team’s first of three first round picks in the 2013 draft, did not get an invitation to Spring Training. Judge, the team’s second first rounder that year, did get the invite. (The third first rounder, LHP Ian Clarkin, is a Single-A pitcher less than two years removed from high school, so he understandably didn’t get an invite to camp.) Judge has obviously passed Jagielo as a prospect but it’s still surprising the team didn’t give a recent first rounder — a polished college hitter at that — an invitation to big league camp.

Now, it’s important to note this could be health related. Jagielo took an errant pitch to the face in Instructional League back in late-September and suffered fractures that required surgery. He didn’t suffer a concussion and there was no other neurological damage. Jagielo was expected to need 4-6 weeks to heal from the injury, but, since it’s a head injury, the Yankees could never be too careful. Jagielo’s recovery might be going slower than expected and that could be why he didn’t get the invite to camp.

If that’s not the case, Jagielo was simply the victim of a number’s crunch. Not only will Chase Headley and yes, Alex Rodriguez, get work at third base in camp, so will Brendan Ryan, Jose Pirela, Nick Noonan, Jonathan Galvez, and Cole Figueroa as well. Maybe even Stephen Drew. “There’s a limited number of at-bats and innings to hand out in Spring Training. You don’t want to water it down,” said Eppler to Jennings. It’s understandable yet still a bit of a bummer Jagielo wasn’t invited to camp if he is indeed healthy and over his facial injuries.

Notable Invitee: RHP Nick Goody

Goody. (AP)
Goody. (AP)

The Yankees have built quite a bit of bullpen depth this offseason, and that’s all on top of the bullpen prospects they have in the minors. RHP Nick Rumbelow, LHP Tyler Webb, RHP Wilking Rodriguez, RHP Diego Moreno, and LHP Jacob Lindgren are all Triple-A relievers coming to camp as non-roster players. Goody has been lost in the minor league bullpen shuffle so to speak because he’s only thrown 66 innings since being the team’s sixth rounder in 2012. You can blame Tommy John surgery for that.

Goody, 23, returned with his new elbow in the middle of last season and had a 4.60 ERA (3.63 FIP) in 31.1 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, showing the control problems (10.7 BB%) that typically plague a pitcher soon after having his elbow rebuilt. He still missed bats though (32.9 K%), and he was dynamite before getting hurt, putting up a 1.29 ERA (1.76 FIP) with excellent strikeout (40.4 K%) and good walk (8.2 BB%) rates in 35 innings from 2012-13.

Goody is a short little righty (listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 lbs.) with a low-to-mid-90s heater and a sharp low-80s slider, and he was projected to be a quick moving strikeout artist before blowing out his elbow. All the bullpen depth means he may not get to MLB this summer — I expect Goody to start the season with Double-A Trenton — but he’s someone who could be on the map for 2016. He’s a nice little relief prospect and I think he’ll sneak up on some people and open eyes during Grapefruit League play in March.

Notable Omission: RHP Johnny Barbato

Acquired from the Padres for Shawn Kelley a few weeks ago, the 22-year-old Barbato had a 2.87 ERA (3.31 FIP) with a 25.6 K% and 7.8 BB% in 31.1 innings for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate last season. He missed the second half with an elbow strain that did not require surgery. Eppler told Jennings that Barbato is healthy and even pitched in Instructional League for the Padres in the fall, so it doesn’t seem like he was excluded from camp for health reasons. It appears he was another victim of the numbers crunch.

Despite his strong performance last year, Barbato will likely return to Double-A this season because there doesn’t figure to be any room for him at Triple-A. At least on Opening Day. Like Goody, he is probably looked at as more of a 2016 bullpen candidate than a 2015 bullpen candidate, yet one is going to big league camp and one isn’t. Weird. I just figured the Yankees would invite Barbato to camp after getting him in a trade for a real live big leaguer. But I suppose there just aren’t enough innings to go around.

Pazos. (Robert Pimpsner)
Pazos. (Robert Pimpsner)

Notable Invitee: LHP James Pazos

Even before signing Andrew Miller and trading for Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve, the Yankees had built up a healthy amount of left-handed bullpen depth. Lindgren is the most notable as last year’s top draft pick, and Webb put up unignoreable numbers at three levels last year, but Pazos shouldn’t be overlooked either. In fact, after the Yankees let Matt Thornton go on waivers last August, both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi mentioned Pazos by name when discussing the club’s lefty bullpen depth.

The 23-year-old Pazos was New York’s 13th round pick in 2012 and he had a 2.42 ERA (2.38 FIP) with a ton of strikeouts (27.4 K%) and perhaps a few too many walks (9.1 BB%) in 67 innings split between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last year. According to PitchFX data from the Arizona Fall League, he averages 94 mph with his fastball and the low-80s with his slider, so he’s not some soft-tosser. A hard-throwing lefty who has had success at the Double-A level is always worth keeping an eye on.

Notable Omission: RHP Mark Montgomery

Three years ago, Montgomery was the top relief prospect in the organization after a ridiculous 2012 season in which he posted 1.41 ERA (1.56 FIP) with a 40.2 K% and 9.1 BB% in 70.1 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Then he suffered a shoulder injury in the middle of the 2013 season and hasn’t been the same guy since, mostly because his once low-90s fastball is now more mid-80s, and his trademark slider simply isn’t as effective.

Montgomery was invited to big league camp in both 2013 and 2014, but he didn’t get an invite this year because he’s not nearly the same level of prospect anymore. Jagielo and Barbato appear to have been squeezed out by the numbers crunch. That’s not the case here. Montgomery’s stuff hasn’t been the same since the shoulder injury and he’s not much of a prospect anymore. That’s baseball. And that’s why you need a deep reserve of relievers.