Open Thread: 3/28 Camp Notes

The Yankees and Braves played to a 5-5 tie today. Hiroki Kuroda was fantastic yet again, allowing two runs in seven super-efficient innings. George Kontos surrendered the game-tying, two-run homer to Jason Heyward in the bottom of the ninth, the only runs he allowed in his two innings of work.

Eduardo Nunez (two hits) and Eric Chavez (three hits) drove the offense (one double each). Jayson Nix had a pair of hits off the bench. Raul Ibanez went for 1-for-3 with a bloop single but it should have been 2-for-3 with a bloop single and a homer. Heyward climbed the wall in right and took the dinger away from him (video). Poor Raul can’t catch a break. Here’s the box score and here’s the latest from Tampa…

  • Nick Swisher (groin) got ten at-bats against Manny Banuelos and Brett Marshall in minor league camp today. They went single to center, ground out, swinging strikeout, ground out, fly out to right, single to right, double down the left field line, walk, homer, walk. Swisher reported no soreness or pain afterwards. Give Conor Foley a follow on Twitter, he provided the play-by-play.
  • Ivan Nova will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow to keep the Orioles from seeing him. D.J. Mitchell will start in his place with David Phelps picking up the slack out of the bullpen. Freddy Garcia is likely to pitch in a minor league game on Friday. [Chad Jennings]
  • We known CC Sabathia and Kuroda will start the first two games of the season, but Girardi said today that the rest of the rotation will be decided within “three or four days.” I’m putting my money on Nova, Michael Pineda, and Phil Hughes following Sabathia and Kuroda, in that order. [Erik Boland]
  • In case you were sleeping like a normal person and missed it this morning, the 2012 MLB season officially started in Japan. The Mariners beat the Athletics 3-1 in ten innings (box score). Jesus Montero went 0-for-4 with three ground outs and a fly out, so clearly the Yankees have won the trade.

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Rangers, Knicks, and Nets are all playing tonight, but talk about whatever you like here. Go nuts.

Austin Romine suffered setback of back injury

Via Mark Feinsand and Chad Jennings, Austin Romine has suffered a setback while attempting to recover from the back inflammation that has sidelined him for most of spring. He had resumed workouts not too long ago, but felt a “little pinch” at some point recently. The setback led to the Craig Tatum waiver claim. Romine dealt with a similar problem last season, so this is an obvious concern. Back problems are scary, and recurring back problems are even scarier.

Manny Banuelos’ new toy

Via Conor Foley, Manny Banuelos broke out a new cutter during his minor league start today. He’s been working on the pitch on the side, but today was the first time he used it in a game situation.

Guys like Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Kenny Rogers, Cliff Lee, Ted Lilly, John Danks, and Jamie Moyer are what I pathetically call Four-C lefties, meaning they rely on a cutter, changeup, curveball, and command. Those types of pitchers traditionally have a lot of success in the bigs and remain effective for as long as they stay healthy. If the cutter sticks, Banuelos is going to be cut from the same cloth, and that’s exciting.

Yankees claim Craig Tatum

The Yankees have claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Diamondbacks, the team announced. The 29-year-old is a no-hit, defense-first backstop. He’s produced a .256 wOBA in 299 big league plate appearances, most coming with the Orioles. He’s thrown attempted basestealers out at a 21% rate in the show and a 35% rate in the minors, but that doesn’t do his glovework justice. Tatum figures to be just a depth pickup given Austin Romine‘s persistent back trouble, but he is out of options and will have to pass through waivers to go to the minors. No corresponding 40-man roster move is needed.

Report: Astros, Orioles have interest in Maxwell

Via George King, both the Astros and Orioles have interest in Justin Maxwell. They have yet to call Brian Cashman about the right-handed hitting outfielder, however. Maxwell is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers, so the Yankees will have to decide what to do with him relatively soon. With Curtis Granderson (elbow) and Nick Swisher (knee) banged up, I’m sure they’re going to hold onto him for just a little bit longer.

ST Game Thread: Number Two Starter

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

The writing had been on the wall all Spring Training, but yesterday Joe Girardi officially announced that Hiroki Kuroda will start the second game of the regular season behind CC Sabathia. The veteran right-hander has flown completely under the radar since joining the Yankees, but that will happen when you sign the same day the team trades Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. Kuroda has been just as advertised so far, quietly effective and reliable. Can’t wait to see him in a game that matters. Here’s the lineup…

SS Eduardo Nunez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
C Francisco Cervelli
CF Dewayne Wise
RF Chris Dickerson
LF Justin Maxwell

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Available Pitchers: RHP Cory Wade, RHP Adam Warren, RHP George Kontos, LHP Juan Cedeno, LHP Cesar Cabral, RHP Cory Arbiso, RHP Ryan Flannery, and SwP Pat Venditte.

Available Position Players: C Gus Molina, 1B Addison Maruszak, 2B Jayson Nix, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Bill Hall, and LF Tyler Austin will replace the starters. C Mitch Abeita, IF Walt Ibarra, SS Cito Culver, and OF Abe Almonte also made the trip and are available if needed.

Today’s game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. We’re going to chat for the first few innings of today’s game, so join in the fun after the jump.

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Yankees sign Jack Cust

Via Sweeny Murti, the Yankees have signed Jack Cust to a minor league contract. The Astros released the 33-year-old left-handed slugger just yesterday. He gives them some decent Triple-A insurance in case Raul Ibanez‘s bat speed continues to be measurable on the Molina scale. It’s also a pretty clear indication that Russell Branyan’s back isn’t getting better anytime soon.

Cust has hit .251/.379/.441 against right-handers over the last three years, though he’s a classic three-true outcomes type. Nearly 50% of his plate appearances since the start of 2009 have ended with a homer, a walk, or a strikeout (49.3% to be exact). Cust has negative defensive value, capable of faking left field and first base on the rarest of occasions. He’s a DH all the way. Chances are we’ll see him get a few at-bats before the end of camp next week.