9:09pm: Robinson Cano left tonight’s game in obvious pain after getting hit by a pitch in the left hand. He actually swung at the pitch and struck out. Kevin Russo took over at second base. We’ll update this post when more information becomes available.
The Yankees are on the road tonight, meaning only four regulars are required to be in the lineup and a lot of non-roster/minor league guys will play in the game. One of the guys scheduled to come off the bench is the 20-year-old Mason Williams, one of the team’s very best prospects who is getting his first taste of big league action in camp. I had Williams second on my annual Top 30 Prospects List, mostly because of the athleticism and overwhelming tools. Pretty much the only thing he lacks right now is power, but hopefully that will come at some point. Here’s the starting lineup…
RHP Ivan Nova
Available Position Players: C Jose Gil, 1B Jorge Vazquez, 2B Kevin Russo, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Brandon Laird, LF Colin Curtis, CF Mason Williams, RF Chris Dickerson, and DH Cole Garner will replace the starters.
Tonight’s game starts at 7pm ET and can be seen on MLB Network. The blackout has been lifted in the Tri-State Area. Enjoy the game.
David Robertson Update: Robertson threw 25 pitches off a bullpen mound today and felt fine. It was his first time throwing off a mound since suffering that bone bruise in his right foot. His goal is to get in a game by next weekend. [Sweeny Murti]
The Yankees have traditionally been one of the biggest spenders on the international market, but last year they only spent approximately $2.93M on players according to Ben Balder. That ranks 11th out of the 30 teams. The Rangers were by far the biggest spenders last year at $12.83M, with most of it going to two outfielders: Nomar Mazara ($4.95M) and Ronald Guzman ($3.45M). Those are the first and third largest bonuses in history. The Yankees top signing was Dominican third baseman Miguel Andujar at $750k.
Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, every team will be allowed to spend just $2.9M on international free agents in 2012 starting July 2nd. The spending pool will be based on winning percentage starting in 2013, with the good clubs getting the least amount of money to spend. Once a team exceeds their spending pool, they lose future international free agent money. Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler can sign for any amount prior to July 2nd, and it sounds like he’s going to get close to $20M, if not more.
It’s been a rough few years for 2009 first round pick Slade Heathcott, who signed for $2.2M and has since undergone two left (throwing) shoulder surgeries and battled alcoholism. As the now 21-year-old outfielder says in the video above, the latest shoulder procedure is expected to delay the start of his season and keep him out until May.
“I’m trying not to rush it,” he said. “I’m trying to take as long as possible without being aggressive. I’m trying to be in games around May.”
Heathcott is known for his very aggressive and hard-nosed style of play, which has been a bit of detriment. He was limited to mostly DH duty as a high school senior because of a torn ACL and a left shoulder injury he suffered diving after a ball. This latest surgery is his third major left shoulder problem in the last four years. Since signing, he’s only played in 132 of ~240 possible games. That’s a lot of development time he can’t get back.
I had Heathcott 13th on my annual Top 30 Prospects List, though Baseball America, Keith Law, and FanGraphs each had him in the top ten. He was having a really nice season in 2011 before the injury (.279/.347/.437 in 242 PA), so now he’s got to just focus on staying on the field. The kid just won’t be able to get any better if he doesn’t stop getting hurt.
Earlier this week we heard about the buzz David Phelps has been generating this spring, but he’s not the only Yankees farmhand drawing attention. Kevin Goldstein posted a list of young Grapefruit League players that have been impressing this month, and Manny Banuelos made the cut. You can read the article on either ESPN or Baseball Prospectus, but you need a subscription for both.
“I had not seen [Banuelos] since last spring, and he just looks strong and more poised,” said a scout to KG. “He’s 93-96 mph and showing three above-average pitches right now. I saw (Michael) Pineda the following day, and while I know that’s not the same Pineda we saw last year, based just on those two looks, I’d take Banuelos.” Manny got hit around quite a bit the other day, his first hiccup of 2012. He’s ticketed for the stacked Triple-A rotation, but I have to think the Andy Pettitte signing hurts his chances of seeing the show in 2012.
The Yankees beat the Astros 6-3 today. Hiroki Kuroda was fantastic, allowing just one run on three hits in his four innings of work. He struck out two and walked zero, and threw a whopping 49 strikes with his 59 pitches (83.1%). That’ll work just fine thank you. Mariano Rivera needed eight pitches to hit a batter and record three outs in his scoreless inning. He hasn’t allowed a Spring Training run since March 15th, 2008 according to the team.
Robinson Cano was the offensive star of the day, clubbing a three-run homer over the right field bleachers and out of the stadium in an 0-2 count. Bill Hall also chipped in a solo shot, and Andruw Jones had a pair of knocks. Both Curtis Granderson (double and walk) and Brett Gardner (two walks) each reached base twice as well. Dellin Betances showed us all he had in his scoreless inning, including nasty offspeed stuff for swings and misses, on-and-off fastball command, and ugly fielding. Here’s the box score and here’s the rest from Tampa…
- Eduardo Nunez played today for the first time in close to two weeks. He took batting practice and fielding grounders before the game to test his injured right hand, then wore a protective glove during the game. “It feels better,” he said. [Chad Jennings]
- Nick Swisher went for a precautionary MRI on his sore groin, which came back clean. He expects to play tomorrow, but since they’re playing a night game an hour away in Sarasota and they have Monday off, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t return until Tuesday. [Bryan Hoch]
- David Robertson will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, his first time back on a mound since suffering the bone bruise in his right foot. [Sweeny Murti]
- Austin Romine resumed baseball activities today. He took some hacks off a tee and soft toss, and played catch as well. He’s been out for most of camp due to back inflammation. [Jennings]
- Ravel Santana was scheduled to take batting practice in minor league camp today. There’s been some confusion about his status for this summer following the brutal ankle injury that ended his 2011 season, but at least he’s taking BP. Running and playing the outfield is another matter entirely. [Josh Norris]
- Rule 5 Draft pick pick Brad Meyers threw live batting practice today. He has yet to appear in a game after hurting his shoulder working out this offseason, so his chances of making the team are basically zilch. For shame. [Jennings]
Here is your open thread for the night. All five hockey and basketball locals are in action, plus MLB Network will be showing games all evening. Talk about whatever you like here.
The Phillies released Dontrelle Willis yesterday after bringing him in as a lefty specialist candidate during the offseason. Joel Sherman says the Yankees did offer the D-Train a minor league contract earlier this winter, but he understandably took the big league contract from Philadelphia. He adds that the Yanks might take another look at Willis, but it’s iffy at best. Buster Olney says they could have signed Mike Gonzalez two weeks ago, but didn’t because of the budget.
Willis, still only 30, hasn’t been an effective big leaguer since 2006 with the Marlins. Following a bout with anxiety disorder late in 2009, he’s held left-handed hitters to .178/.245/.248 batting line with 50 strikeouts (35.0%) and ten walks (7.0%) in 143 plate appearances. Those are some pretty strong numbers despite the obvious sample size concerns. Clay Rapada seems to be separating himself from the rest of the second lefty pack (Cesar Cabral and Mike O’Connor), and while I’m not a big Willis fan, there’s no harm in a minor league contract.