MRI inconclusive after Cervelli injures foot

Frankie Cervelli fouled a ball off the top of his left foot early in today’s game and was then lifted an inning later. He was noticeably limping after drawing a walk to finish the at-bat. Joe Girardi said during an in-game interview that they didn’t want to risk further injury and pulled him, but a post-game CT scan and MRI came back negative and inconclusive, respectively, according to Marc Carig. Doctors will evaluate the results again, presumably soon, and until then we’re kind of in the dark about Frankie’s status.

Girardi said after the game that he didn’t know if a prolonged absence would result in some time behind the plate for Jorge Posada, though I would imagine that Jesus Montero‘s chances of making the club would increase tremendously.

John Sickels’ interviews Mark Newman

John Sickels of Minor League Ball recently sat down with Yankees president of baseball operations Mark Newman to chat about the team’s farm system. They of course hit on all the usual suspects – Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, etc. – but also spoke about the next wave of prospects, so to speak. Newman discussed Slade Heathcott‘s strikeouts, Mason Williams‘ potential, Gary Sanchez‘s everything, plus a ton more. He also compares a certain infield prospect to a young Robbie Cano, but you’ll have to check it out to find out who.

The RAB Radio Show: March 2, 2011

A.J. Burnett made his first appearance of the spring today. Mike and I talk about how he looked and what he has to do this season. It does appear that he has made some changes, but as with Jeter, don’t expect results to come immediately.

We also run down some other spring training stuff, including plenty from today’s game.

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The Top Storylines of 2011

Every season has storylines, some happier than others. Last year we got to watch Robbie Cano take his game to another level and become an MVP candidate while Phil Hughes came into his own as a starter. That all happened while the Javy Vazquez redux was a spectacular flop and Derek Jeter suddenly looked mortal. The upcoming season will be no different, so let’s look at a few of the bigger storylines…

Jesus is coming. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Jesus Montero‘s Inevitable Arrival

At some point this season, whether it be Opening Day or May 15th or August 1st, arguably the best offensive prospect in the minors will join the Yankees. In what capacity? I don’t know, could be anything from backup catcher to part-time DH to starting catcher to righty bat off the bench, but I do know he’ll be in the Bronx before long. Montero’s bat is ready for the show right now, but the Yankees have some depth behind the plate and no real reason to take him north if they don’t think he’s ready. His arrival will be highly anticipated, and that’s putting it lightly.

Hughes’ Continued Development

Last year, in his first full season as a starter in the AL East, Hughes put up solid totals of a 4.19 ERA, 4.25 FIP, and 7.45 K/9 in 176.1 IP. He did stumble down the stretch and in two of his three playoffs starts, but at age 24 there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Free from innings limitations and aware of his changeup problem, Hughes is poised to continue his ascent. The Yankees are counting on the right-hander to be one of their top three starters in 2011 as opposed to the interesting fifth starter he was at this time last year, so the pressure’s on.

Uh, David. Whatever you do, do not turn around. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Mother of All Bullpens

There seems to be a wide range of opinions on the Rafael Soriano signing, but everyone agrees that he improves the team’s late-game pitching situation significantly. He also pushes Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson into traditional middle relief/fireman roles, which isn’t all that bad when all three guys have one of the 22 best strikeout rates in the game over the last three seasons. Pedro Feliciano adds a veteran, workhorse lefty specialist to join the hard-throwing Boone Logan. And then you have Mariano Rivera to cap it all off. Joe Girardi has a ton of relief options this year, most of them high strikeout players that can get out of jams without the help of their defense.

Cano’s MVP Push, Part Deux

The Yankees second baseman went from complementary player to centerpiece in 2010, hitting .319/.381/.534 (.389 wOBA) and finishing sixth in the league with 6.4 fWAR. Still just 28 years old, Cano is in the prime of his career and capable of making another run at the MVP crown, which would go a long way towards helping the Yankees secure a playoff berth and maybe even the AL East crown.

Jeter’s Pursuit of 3,000

In the long and glorious history of the New York Yankees, no player has ever recorded 3,000 career hits. Lou Gehrig was the franchise hit leader for the better part of a century with 2,721 knocks, but Jeter surpassed him in 2009 and is within shouting distance of the hallowed milestone. The Cap’n will start the season just 74 hits away from 3,000, so he’ll get there in 2011 barring a major injury. Jeter picked up his 74th hit last year on June 6th, the team’s 57th game of the season, so the first few months of the season will feature some pretty awesome history.

* * *

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what Hughes has in store for an encore, even more than I’m looking forward to Montero’s arrival. Jeter’s chase will probably be a million times more hyped than his pursuit of Gehrig’s record, and that’s fine by me, it was definitely a lot of fun (lame Michael Kay calls aside). And, of course, who doesn’t like watching Cano do his thing or a bullpen full of hard-throwing strikeout fiends?

What 2011 storyline are you most looking forward to?
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Spring Training Game Thread: A Look At A.J.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Just about every Yankees starting pitcher has pitched in a game already, except for one guy: A.J. Burnett. He pops his 2011 cherry against the Astros today, and will hopefully show off some of the things he worked on with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild over the winter. I remember reading somewhere that they focused on driving his front leg towards the plate, rather than swinging it around, so I guess we can keep an eye out for that. I’m hardly an expert on pitching mechanics, so I doubt I’ll pick anything up.

On the offensive side of the ball, Robbie Cano is hitting second between Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, which probably has more to do with it being Spring Training and wanting to get him as many at-bats as possible before being lifted. It’ll still be interesting to watch though; I made the case that Robbie should hit second full-time in 2011 earlier this winter. Here’s the full starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Robbie Cano, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jorge Posada, DH
Andruw Jones, LF
Frankie Cervelli, C
Colin Curtis, RF
Justin Maxwell, CF

Available to Pitch: A.J. Burnett, Sergio Mitre, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, Luis Ayala, D.J. Mitchell, Robert Fish, Daniel Turpen, and Adam Warren. Obviously all of them won’t get into the game, but they’re available if needed.

Also Scheduled to Play: Austin Romine (C), Bradley Suttle (1B), Kevin Russo (2B), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), Dan Brewer (LF), Melky Mesa (CF), Jordan Parraz (RF), and Russell Martin (DH).

At some point today, Jordan Lyles will pitch for Houston. He’s their top prospect and one of the better pitching prospects in the game overall. The kid (deservedly) reached Triple-A as a 19-year-old last year (3.86 FIP in 31.2 IP). Today’s game will be aired live on both YES and MLB Network, and begins at 1:05pm ET. Talk about the game here, enjoy.