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Gardner has multi-hit game as Yankees fall to Blue Jays 4-3

With Opening Day rapidly approaching, CC Sabathia was slated to have one last long stretch start before his next outing was a quick one. Sabathia gave up 3 run in 6 innings pitched vs. Kyle Drabek & the Blue Jays in a 4-3 loss in Tampa.

In Spring Training, Sabathia takes the time to build pitch count and go longer in games so of course giving up 3 runs means nothing for the ace who has a locked spot in the rotation. David Robertson came in the game and after giving up a lead-off walk, he got the next 3 hitters; striking out one of them. Cesar Cabral easily got the first two batters but had issues getting the third out when Justin Maxwell‘s error & Chris Dickerson‘s blunder allowed the insurance run to score. Clay Rapada came in the 9th inning and had another scoreless inning.

Brett Gardner had his first multi-hit game of the Spring, going 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and a stolen base. Gardner was the only Yankees regular with 2 hits and was also the only Yankees regular who had an RBI. Gardner was also able to raise his average from .185 to .220 which probably means that Gardner is warming up for the 2012 season.

The big story of the game however was Curtis Granderson as he was scratched from the lineup with soreness in his elbow. Girardi said that Granderson will get a precautionary MRI  since Cashman says it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Andy Pettitte threw a live batting practice to Nick Swisher today and Swisher said that the way Andy was throwing, it felt as if he never left. That’s a good sign for Andy Pettitte. Also some good news for Nick Swisher is that he will spend 2 days at the Minor League complex just to get some at-bats in. If his right groin feels better by Friday then he will be in the lineup.

ROSTER NOTE: Yankees IF Jorge Vazquez won’t get that part-time DH role if he was looking for it. Yankees just re-assigned him to minor league camp shortly after the game.

WHAT’S NEXT: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano & Russell Martin will make the trip to Orlando to play against the Atlanta Braves. The game tomorrow is a televised game on ESPN so if you are in front of the television, make sure to watch. First pitch is at 1:05pm.

Garcia shuts down Tigers as Yankees beat Tigers 4-2 in 10 innings

In game 1 of this 2 game set, the Yankees traveled to visit the Detroit Tigers in a 2011 ALDS rematch. Freddy Garcia & Max Scherzer turned the game into a pitchers duel with the Yankees & Tigers getting to the 7th inning in an hour and 35 minutes since the first pitch until the game got interesting.

Freddy Garcia made it through 4.1 IP with 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 BB & 4 K’s,Kevin Whelan took over for Garcia and pitched a perfect inning, Boone Logan went through 0.2 IP with 1 K , D.J Mitchell went 3 innings giving up 2 runs on 3 hits with 3 BB & 1 K. Cesar Cabral came in the 10th and pitched a perfect inning to get the save.

Raul Ibanez who did not have a good Spring, had a 2 run homer in the 7th inning off Max Scherzer who had a no hitter going until Colin Curtis broke it with a single. Mark Teixeira singled before the homer. The Tigers were able to tie the game in the 9th but the Yankees rallied and won the game on a RBI double by Dewayne Wise that scored Justin Maxwell & Bill Hall.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees will play Game 2 vs. the Tigers but this time at Steinbrenner Field. Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Russell Martin & Curtis Granderson are slated to be in the lineup. Michael Pineda will get the start.

What if Ibanez is Done?

The Raul Ibanez signing was questioned by a lot of Yankees fans. He has done nothing this spring to prove those people wrong. Ibanez is batting an egregious .054 with only 1 extra base hit in 37 spring training AB’s.  As you may have heard me say before I do not take spring training stats very seriously. However, with a player of Ibanez’s age thoughts that he could be in for a long year have to creep into your mind when you see him performing this badly. Now I am certainly not giving up on him or anything, but he will have to be watched very carefully as the season progresses to see if he improves. If he does not he can end up like Randy Winn, whom the Yankees cut in May of 2010 due to his awful play.

The Yankees two main reasons for Ibanez’s poor play is that he is facing lefties in spring training when he will only be facing righties in the regular season. They have also pointed to Ibanez being a particularly slow starter. I have not seen much of Ibanez this spring so it is hard for me to pinpoint the reason for his struggles. Historically, Ibanez’s numbers have been worse in April and May than in the other months so the Yankees do have a point there.

If Ibanez struggles gets to the point where the Yankees have to consider other options they do have some in house options. Andruw Jones is widely known for his ability to hit lefties, but he did hit 5 out of his 13 HR’s last year against righties and had a halfway decent .709 OPS against righties. Eric Chavez would likely be the number one in house option, but he has struggled this spring as well and is often injured. Eduardo Nunez could be another option but he was significantly better vs. lefties last season. As you can see the in house options leave a lot to be desired. There are no outfielders in the minors who are considered major league ready although Justin Maxwell has shined this spring. Also, if you have to use one of the in house options your bench is shortened.  Nick Swisher also must stay healthy or this could turn into an even bigger issue. Swisher has been hurt twice now this spring and it better not be worse than the Yankees are letting on with Ibanez looking the way he is looking.

The Yankees will have to look for a DH to hit righties in a trade if Ibanez fails. It is to early to really speculate on who that could be.  The Yankees have the minor leaguers to get a deal done if necessary. If the RH platoon DH is the Yankees biggest weakness this year it is going to be a successful one. They survived it last year with limited production form Jorge Posada at times. However, the Yankees are always looking to make the team the best it can be and if Ibanez continues to hit like this a change may be in order.

Offense comes to life as Yankees beat the Pirates 10-3

For the first three innings the story revolved around Michael Pineda. He was scheduled to have a 75-80 pitch count which should have lasted about 5 innings. He needed 30+ to get out of the 1st inning. Pineda had fastball control issues, getting into multiple full counts before allowing a 2 run HR to Andrew McCutchen. The Yankees were able to back Pineda up and prevented him from getting the loss.

Justin Maxwell (who went in for an injured Nick Swisher) got 2 RBI’s while Alex Rodriguez recieved 3. Mark Teixeira, Andruw Jones, Robinson Cano & Colin Curtis each had an RBI as well.

Mariano Rivera (2-0) came in and pitched for the Yankees in the 4th with another dazzling inning, Boone Logan was able to get out of a small jam by getting the double play (and ended the 5th Inning with Joe Girardi segment), Cory Wade allowed 1 run, Juan Cedeno had a scoreless inning, George Kontos had a scoreless inning & Branden Pinder had a scoreless 9th to seal the Yankees 9th Spring Training win of the season.

THE GOOD: Curtis Granderson made it on base all 4 times (2 hits, 2 walks), Russell Martin showed that a groin injury wasn’t going to stop him & Brett Gardner had a bunt base hit today, and if you didn’t see it boy it was a beauty. Also today, Andy Pettitte threw a 50 pitch bullpen session today and impressed everyone who was there, including pitching coach Larry Rotschild. Pettitte set his return to the Major Leagues to May 1, so pitchers in the rotation…beware.

THE BAD: Nick Swisher had to come out of the game after aggravating his right groin. Girardi said that Swisher will have 4-5 days off before coming into another game. Derek Jeter is not scheduled to play until Friday.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees will take a trip to Pt. Charlotte where they will face the Tampa Bay Rays. The game is at 1:05pm on ESPN & MLB Network. Phil Hughes (who has been impressive all season) will make the start.

Yankees split squad games with 3-0 win vs. Phillies & 5-1 loss vs. Twins

The Yankees had a split squad today with the Yankees playing in Tampa & in Fort Meyers vs. the Phillies & Twins. The Yankees were able to come away with the victory vs. the Phillies winning 3-0 while falling to the Twins 5-1.

Let’s start with the Tampa game. Coming into the game, CC Sabathia knew that he didn’t have a great start last time, but this time he came through, pitching 3 scoreless innings while making lefty hitters look foolish. Chris Dickerson had a 2 run single, Russell Martin swiped a base & Justin Maxwell scored on an error. To add to the excitement of the game, Mariano Rivera made his first Spring start of the season and of course Mariano pitched like Mariano.

Moving onto Fort Meyers, the Yankees hitters were quiet during the 5-1 loss to the Twins but the story was Phil Hughes. Hughes also had 3 scoreless innings and his fastball hit 94 MPH on the radar gun. Girardi joined the players to Fort Meyers to see Hughes, and he wasn’t disappointed. Brett Gardner got on base 2 out of 3 times (HBP & walk) and swiped second (watch out Russell Martin), Curtis Granderson hit a booming double (Gardner was cut down at the plate by Joe Mauer after a HBP to the leg), Nick Swisher hit a double & Francisco Cervelli was impressive, hitting a single, double and scoring the lone Yankees run. All and all, it was a successful day for the Yankees despite the loss in Fort Meyers.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees will play the Braves once again. The Braves game is not televised but it is on Braves radio.

Yankee Activations

Yankee Activations

by Matt S.

Yankees activated INF Reegie Corona from the 60-day disabled list; sent him outright to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Corona sat out all of the 2011 season due to a fractured right elbow. He should be ready for 2012.

Yankees activated RHP Joba Chamberlain from the 60-day disabled list.

Chamberlain is a few weeks ahead of schedule in his ongoing recovery from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He’s aiming to get back to full health by mid-April.

Yankees activated OF Justin Maxwell from the 60-day disabled list.

Maxwell had his 2011 season cut short by a torn labrum. He also underwent Tommy John surgery just one year ago. The 27-year-old outfielder is running out of time.