Johnson takes swings, set to play Monday

Nick Johnson, the Yanks’ own version of Mr. Glass, became the first casualty of Spring Training last week when his back tightened after he caught his cleat on the turf in the batting cage. While many in the media were up in the arms over the Yanks’ reliance on the fragile lefty, Nick and the Yanks insisted he was fine. The team opted to take it slowly so that the DH would be feeling strong, and he probably could have played had it been the regular season. This morning, we learn via Joe Auriemma that Nick took 50 swings in cage, is feelin’ good just like he knew he would and plans to play Monday. And exhale.

Happy Birthday, Frankie

Update (3:20pm): GM Brian Cashman said the CT scan was negative.

2:33pm: Birthday boy and backup catcher Frankie Cervelli left today’s exhibition game after being hit in the head by a pitch from Blue Jays’ reliever Zech Zinicola in the third inning. The impact was so hard, there was apparently an imprint of the seams left on his helmet. Cervelli suffered a concussion, and has been taken to a hospital for a CT scan. Remember, Cervelli suffered a head injury playing winter ball during the offseason.

We’ll update this post if there’s any more news.

Spring Training Game Thread: Brackman in action

A.J Burnett will start against his former team this afternoon while showing off his new changeup for a pair of innings, but the big story is that 2007 first round pick Andrew Brackman is scheduled to pitch today. For many of us, it’s the first time we’ll get to see the 6-foot-10 righthander since he turned a pro. Here’s what he looked in college like almost four years ago, so it’ll be interesting to compare his delivery to what it is today. As luck would have it, Chad Jennings interviewed Brackman yesterday, who said he finally feels normal after coming back from Tommy John surgery (ST cliche alert).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to see the big guy on the mound, as well as Burnett’s change. Phil Hughes‘ looked pretty good yesterday, so let’s how A.J.’s is coming along. Here’s the starting lineup…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Posada, C
A-Rod, 3B
Winn, RF
Gardner, LF
Cervelli, DH
Miranda, 1B
Pena, 2B

Scheduled Pitchers: A.J. Burnett, Andrew Brackman, Jon Albaladejo, Boone Logan, Mark Melancon, Jason Hirsh, Romulo Sanchez, Amaury Sanit

Also scheduled to play: Colin Curtis, Jamie Hoffmann, Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez, Mike Rivera, Austin Romine, Kevin Russo, Jorge Vazquez, David Winfree

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET, and you can watch on My9 locally or MLB Network from afar.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Yanks “heavily interested” in Adeiny Hechevarria

Via MLBTR, the Yankees are heavily interested in Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria, who is now free to sign with any team after being unblocked by the OFAC. Joe told us everything we need to know about the 19-year-old last month, and it’s likely that he’ll receive a larger bonus than the $8.2M the Red Sox gave the all-glove/no-hit Jose Iglesias this offseason. Obviously, the Yankees need to start thinking about a shortstop of the future, but that’s a lot of scratch for a teenager, especially when you consider the track record of Cuban imports.

Open Thread: Forgettable

I’m sure you know what happened during today’s meaningless Spring Training game, so I’ll spare you the details. The most encouraging thing to take from it is the ten or so changeups Phil Hughes threw in his two innings of work, which looked pretty good. He even got a swing and miss on one of ‘em. Jesus Montero drew a pair of walks, though it was technically a walk and a strikeout. The called third strike was definitely out of the zone, it jut looked like the umps were ready to get out of there after such a long game. Eh, whatever.

So here’s tonight’s open thread. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing tonight, and of course there’s always the option of going on this Friday night. No matter what you choose, enjoy talking about it here.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens

Paterson didn’t really want those World Series tickets anyway

On Tuesday, Gov. David Paterson drew headlines for his role in an ethics scandal involving Yankee World Series tickets. He allegedly asked for and received free tickets to Game 1 of the Fall Classic despite the fact that the Yanks are registered with the state as a lobbying organization. Paterson has denied the charges, and the Attorney General is now investigating.

Today, the story gets better as The Observer highlights Paterson’s testimony about the tickets. The governor claims he asked for the tickets because he had to be “part of the ceremony,” and he didn’t even want to go anyway. Paterson, legally blind, says he couldn’t see from his seats and would have preferred to watch the game at home. I don’t think that defense is going to hold up too well in a court of law.

The walls come crumblin’ down

Tom Kaminski in Chopper 880 took his bird up for a trip over the Bronx earlier this week and returned with a few heartbreaking photos of the destruction of Yankee Stadium. The House that Ruth Built is due to be completely dismantled by mid-summer, and as we can see, the wrecking ball has already taken out large chunks of the upper deck. The two lower levels have long since be removed.

The newest scenes from the deconstruction show us the edge of the left field seats, the skeletal innards of the old stadium and the barren outfield where the bleachers once were. From the looks of it, people waiting for the 4 train on the elevated platform at 161st St. should have a clear view into the old Stadium from the southern end of the station. I’ll bring my camera up there in April to grab some shots. In a few months, a vacant lot waiting for a park will sit where the stadium stood for 85 years.