Report: Hechevarria close to signing with Toronto

Via GAK3, Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria is close to signing with the Blue Jays, who will pay him $10M. The 20-year-old reportedly didn’t like his chances of playing shortstop for the Yankees anytime soon, so he instead went with the Jays. We heard the Yanks were favored to sign him just  few days ago.  That’s a lot of cash for a guy who’s basically all projection, but good for him.

Spring Training Game Thread: It’s not raining in Florida

There’s nothing better than baseball on a lazy, rainy Sunday. Even if it is just Spring Training baseball.

CC Sabathia will take the mound for the third time in the exhibition season after getting touched up for nine hits, three walks, and five runs in 4.1 IP during his previous two outings. He said he was having a problem collapsing on his back leg, which left his pitches flat and up in the zone, so let’s see if he corrected that.

Meanwhile, Nick Johnson has been the team’s most impressive hitter in March after working with Kevin Long to use his legs a little more in his swing. He’s 5-for-11 (.455-.571-1.182) with two homers, two doubles, three walks, and just one strikeout, and even his outs have been hard hit. Johnson has more walks (432) than strikeouts (410) since 2003, which is pretty cool, though I’d expect it to change as he faces AL East pitching.

Anyway, here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Johnson, 1B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Thames, LF
Gardner, CF
Winn, DH
Cervelli, C
Vazquez, 3B – yeah, that Jorge Vazquez, who has played four games at third since 2003 … should be fun

Scheduled Pitchers: CC Sabathia, Jon Albaladejo, Mark Melancon, Zach McAllister, Dustin Moseley, Ivan Nova

Also scheduled to play: Greg Golson, Reid Gorecki, Brandon Laird, Juan Miranda, Eduardo Nunez, Mike Rivera, Kevin Russo, Jon Weber, David Winfree

According to a release, MLB Network has lifted the NY/NJ/CT area blackout on today’s game, so it’ll be shown live at 1:05pm ET. We’ll just have to deal with the Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Photo Credit: Brian Blanco, AP

How Mariano became Mo

If you’re looking for a little light reading on this Sunday morning, check out this amazing profile of Mariano Rivera, courtesy of Christian Red of the Daily News. It touches on everything from young Mariano’s days as a sardine fisherman to his desire to become a mechanic to his high and low points on a big league mound. It’s long, but it’s well worth the read. Make sure you check it out.

Jeter, Rivera could be dragged into Clemens/McNamee fray

As Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens continue their “he said/he said” spat, most people — and particularly the Yankees — would prefer it if this mess would stay far, far away from the Bronx. McNamee, however, has other plans.

According to the Daily News, in a brief filed on Friday and not yet available to me via the PACER system, McNamee has named a handful of current Yankees as potential witnesses in Clemens’ defamation suit against McNamee. Nathaniel Vinton has more:

The Yankees have never relished the destructive defamation suit former pinstripe hero Roger Clemens brought two years ago against his accuser, former Yankee trainer Brian McNamee, but bigger headaches for the club may yet lie ahead according to a new appeals-court brief issued by McNamee’s defense attorneys.

A footnote deep in the 60-page brief lists current Yankee stars Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter as witnesses McNamee might call to the stand for sworn testimony about Clemens’ purported use of steroids and human growth hormone. Also listed among potential witnesses for McNamee is Angela Moyer, an alleged mistress of Clemens who tended bar near the Upper East Side apartment where McNamee said he visited Clemens after Yankee games to inject the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone (Clemens has testified he thought the syringes contained vitamin B12).

The brief, which McNamee’s attorneys sent Friday to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, portrays Clemens’ defamation suit as nearly dead in the water. It comes in response to Clemens’ appeal of a lower court’s ruling last year that eviscerated the suit, which Clemens first brought against McNamee on Jan. 6, 2008, three weeks after a report by former Senator George Mitchell first publicized McNamee’s accusations. Mitchell was also listed as a potential witness. He and the others could also be summoned to testify as part of a defamation countersuit that McNamee himself brought against Clemens last year in a federal court in Brooklyn — and will likely pursue, at least in order to recover his monumental legal fees.

If McNamee’s brief is as convincing as the Daily News says it is, the Yankees could be free of having to send their star players to testify. McNamee’s side could file for summary judgment and hope to get the case’s original dismissal affirmed. However, McNamee will continue to push his countersuit in Brooklyn, and only a settlement would stave off a trial.

For the Yankees, Spring Training steroid stories are becoming old hat, and the Roger Clemens mess has been lingering like a bad taste in the back of the team’s mouth since the Rocket’s ill-fated 2007 return to the Bronx. Hopefully, this story will just go away, but then again, we’ve all been hoping that for years with no end in sight.

Open thread: Yanks split games

Today’s game against Detroit was inevitable. After five scoreless innings, we saw plenty of headlines asking whether Sergio Mitre was the frontrunner for the fifth starter gig. Yet, as happens often in the spring, he got rocked today, allowing three runs, including a solo home run to Johnny Damon, in four innings of work. Chad Gaudin, who started the game, allowed three runs of his own in three innings. Boone Logan finished with a scoreless frame.

On the offensive side, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Francisco Cervelli eached picked up two hits, while A-Rod added an RBI double. Nick Swisher, Jamie Hoffmann, and Austin Romine added singles of their own.

In Tampa, Javier Vazquez had a somewhat tough go in his three innings, allowing four hits and walking one, leading to two runs, including a Ty Wigginton home run. Aceves came on to pitch four innings of one-run ball (solo shot to Garrett Atkins), while Royce Ring and David Robertson pitched scoreless frames at the end. Jorge Posada powered the offense, going 3 for 4, while Nick Johnson went two for three with a walk. Brandon Laird continued his hot spring, going 2 for 4. Johnson’s was the only extra base hit.

Now that you’re caught up on the spring training happenings, enjoy your open thread. I’ve got a radio hit coming up at 11, but we’ll have a post with details about that around 10.

Nine reassigned to minor league camps

On the same day we learned that the Yankees re-upped with their pre-arbitration players, we also heard of the first round of Spring Training cuts. Bryan Hoch has word of nine reassignments. Of the big names, Andrew Brackman is bound for Class A Tampa while Christian Garcia will go to Trenton and Wilkin De la Rosa will open the year in AAA. De la Rosa could very well see the Bronx later this year. Six other players — Wilkins Arias, Jeremy Bleich, Kyle Higashioka, Kei Igawa, D.J. Mitchell, Kevin Whelan — were sent to the minor league camp with no word of their ultimate assignments. At least the winningest pitcher in Scranton history will be able to improve upon his record.