On Sunday the legendary Mariano Rivera made his spring training debut for the Yankees. He worked a 14 pitch perfect 1-2-3 4th inning in their 3-0 victory over the Phillies. 10 of those pitches came during a Hector Luna at bat. Rivera eventually won the showdown when he got Luna to ground out. Hearing his trademark “Enter Sandman” brought out a little more excitement then usual because it’s widely speculated that Rivera’s 18th year in pinstripes will be his last.
CC Sabathia got the start and threw 28 of his 39 pitches for strikes, which means he’s right where he is supposed to be for March 11th. He worked into and out of trouble in the first inning. With two on and no outs he got two Philly regulars, Shane Victorino and Ty Wigginton, to fly out and end the threat. Things like this are what I look for in spring training. Because these guys know the games don’t count and just want to “get their work in”. But we also know no pitcher, at any level, wants to give up runs. Spring training or otherwise, no pitcher take the mound with the mindset “I don’t care how many runs I let up today.” So two on no out in the first inning against proven, legit MLB hitters (as opposed to roster fodder with a number in the 80’s or young AA prospects) is about as close as you get to simulating a real pressure situation in March.
There wasn’t much offense to talk about. The Captian, Derek Jeter, singled off of Philly starter Kyle Kendrick twice. Again, good signs for Jeter being the hits came off a major league starter who will be in Philadelphia’s starting rotation and not one of their minor league affiliates.
Most of the Yankee offense came from Chris Dickerson. With bases loaded, 2 outs in the 4th, he worked a 2-0 count then slapped a 2 run single to right. One of the Yankee hallmarks is working the count, so this coupled with the great relay throw he had the other day against Tampa to nail a guy a 3rd ,shows he may have enough skills to help out the big club either on the field or as part of a trade down the line if and when the Yankees need to add any pieces. Like say a middle reliever if D-Rob’s foot doesn’t heal.
All in all a shut out by your pitching staff, regardless of when it occurs, is exactly what you want to see if you’re Girardi or Larry Rothschild (the pitching coach). The Yankees have shown that their veteran group of players are right on target to be in the mix for the always contentious AL East crown.
One final note, again, why does Russell Martin have 4 stolen bases? If it’s a matter of conditioning can’t he just run a few extra sprints after the game? When he jams his thumb sliding into second in a meaningless spring training game we are all going to regret this and talk about how stupid/useless it was.