Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the 2011 exhibition season! Today I will be liveblogging the action as the Yankees open their spring schedule at home in Tampa against the Philadelphia Phillies. Just to give you a sense of the pace, I'll likely update every half inning and after each scoring play, but at times I'll update more frequently. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post so that latecomers and future readers can follow the action as it unfolded. Typos will likely go uncorrected. Colin Curtis will likely be called "Chad" at least once. Don't allow that to confuse you. Feel free to comment during the action, but I can't promise I'll be able to read every comment as I go as liveblogging typically requires twice as many hands and computers screens as I have here in front of me.
Getting on with it, then, here is today's Yankees lineup:
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
S - Nick Swisher (RF)
S - Mark Teixeira (1B)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
S - Jorge Posada (DH)
L - Curtis Granderson (CF)
R - Francisco Cervelli (C)
L - Brett Gardner (LF)
P - Bartolo Colon (R)
That's the projected starting nine with the exception of Cervelli, who is starting in place of the injured Russell Martin (knee). Jesus Montero will start tomorrow's game at the Phillies' complex in Clearwater, which you can watch on YES at 1pm (or on delay on the MLB Network at 8pm). As for Martin, the latest is that he's expected to DH early next week and get into a game around Thursday or Friday, so we can finally see how Best Shape of His Life he really is.
Colon is expected to throw two innings, or about 35 pitches, whichever comes first. He will be followed by Joba Chamberlain, Dave Robertson, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, and Eric Wordekemper, though the game might dictate a different order or require an additional mid-inning reliever.
Here are the Phillies' starters:
L - Pete Orr (2B)
L - Ross Gload (DH)
L - Raul Ibañez (LF)
L - Ryan Howard (1B)
R - Ben Francisco (CF)
L - Domonic Brown (RF)
L - Jeff Larish (3B)
L - Brian Schneider (C)
R - Wilson Valdez (SS)
P - Cole Hamels (L)
Jimmy Rollins was a late scratch from the leadoff spot after missing workouts the last two days, while Chase Utley is out due to some vague soreness. Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, and Placido Polanco are the other Phillies starters missing from the above lineup. That's a lot of lefties to go up against a series of Yankee pitchers that are all right-handed, but it's also a lot of filler. Still, I'm pleased to get a look at Brown, who is one of the top five prospects in all of baseball and will be charged with replacing Jayson Werth in right field this season. Hamels will be followed by Vance Worley, ex-Mariner Ryan Feierabend, recently released Yankee camper Brian Schlitter, and hefty lefty Mike Zagurski. Feierabend is the only non-roster pitcher in that bunch.
It's beautiful in Tampa and New Jersey. A definite spring fever day all around, a great day for a spring opener.
Ken Singleton: "the top three pitchers in the rotation all had pretty good years last year with the exception of A.J. Burnett." That only leaves two guys, you know.
The Yankees have added a ribbon board to the sides of Boss Field behind the grandstand under the blue panels that say "Yankees." The first time YES shows a shot of it, it reads "Your Ad Here"
For spring introductions, the Yankees pop out of the dugout just long enough to tip their caps, then go back in.
Tino Martinez, Joe Girardi, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, and Derek Jeter come out to the plate to dedicate the statue of George Steinbrenner placed outside the stadium. They read the contents of the plaque, then depart and are followed by a video tribute. I wonder if Gossage could have imagined being a part of a Steinbrenner tribute back in 1984.
I tend to be hard on Steinbrenner because the eighties were a seminal decade for me, but he deserves to be lauded for his charitable endeavors.
Moment of silence.
. . .
Oh, I see. The players didn't line up on the field during introductions so that the Yankees could do the Steinbrenner cerimony. They now take their places on the baselines for the national anthem.
Rookie umpire Toby Basner will be at third base today.
And the Yankees take the field!
Gload pulls one to the second base side of a diving Cano for an 0-2 single.
Note on Colon's fastball fluctuating from 89 to 93. When he was in his prime, he was known for holding some velocity in reserve for key pitches, so that fluctuation is not unusual.
Raul Ibanez pops out to Granderson in left center.
The one big test in this lineup is Ryan Howard. Colon starts him out with an 88 mph fastball for a low called strike, then an 82 mph changeup low and away is fouled off to go 0-2. He then busts him up and in to give him a different look, 1-2. Then a belt-high fastball tailing away at 89 mph is fouled off. A change up down and in misses, 2-2. Howard then hits another 89 mph fastball to the top of the left field wall, but it has too much hang time and Brett Gardner drifts back to make the catch at the wall for the third out. No score.
The Yankee lineup is ridiculous. I almost forgot.
Cole Hamels starts Derek Jeter off with a sharp fastball down the middle, then throws another inside and one down in the dirt, 2-1. Jeter checks his swing on a 2-2 changeup low to run the count full, then grounds out to shortstop on an 89 mph fastball away. Sigh.
Nick Swisher strikes out swinging through a 1-2 fastball up in the zone at 87 mph.
Mark Teixeira takes an 0-1 pitch off the top of his left foot. He shows no signs of discomfort as he trots to first.
Alex Rodriguez appears to crush Hamels' 1-1 pitch, but it only goes about 406 feet to dead center, where Ben Francisco reels it in. I clearly need a little Spring Training myself.
Francisco then leads off the second by shooting a BP fastball into the right field gap past Nick Swisher, who cut over too shallow to get even close to the ball allowing Francisco to scamper to third with a leadoff triple.
Domonic Brown is looong (listed at 6-foot-5). He looks like Jason Heyward without the Chester Cheetah head. He works Colon full, then takes a close 90 mph fastball inside at the knee for a walk.
Jeff Larish up. He was with the A's last year, a corner infielder with a Quadruple-A bat. He grounds into a 6-4-3 double play by reaching for a tailing 90 mph fastball away. Francisco scores. 1-0 Phillies.
Brian Schneider hits a hard grounder up the line that Mark Teixeira corrals for the final out on Colon's 36th pitch. That's all for him. Final line:
2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Robinson Cano, sans his carefully sculpted offseason beard, hits a bouncer over the mound that Wilson Valdez can't wrangle behind second. Base hit.
Jorge Posada pops out to the shortstop in shallow left on the first pitch. See you in another few innings, Jorge.
Curtis Granderson, facing the lefty Hamels, works the count full, but misses a changeup down and in by a few feet for Hamels' second K.
Francisco Cervelli, wearing his new number 17, laces a double down the left field line that scores Cano from first. Tie game 1-1.
Curiously, Cervelli has gone back to the standard batting helmet.
Brett Garner works a five-pitch walk against the lefty Hamels. Nice.
Hamels then falls behind Jeter 2-0. Jeter battles back to ground out to third, forcing Cervelli for the final out.
Joba Chamberlain on the mound with a shaggy haircut and some thick sideburns.
Hamels' line: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Joba strikes out Wilson Valdez on . . . oh hell, it's Wilson Valdez.
Pete Orr grounds to second on a pitch that was about an inch off the ground.
Ross Gload looks like an All-Star in this Phillies lineup.
Joba hits 94 on the 1-0 to Gload, who ultimately pops out to third.
Righty Vance Worley on the bump for the Phils. Nick Swisher spins around to hit lefty.
Swisher works it full, then flies out to deep center.
Teixeira grounds out to shortstop.
Worley's fastball is clocking in around 94 mph. Alex Rodriguez sends one of those 94 mph heaters on the inside half of the plate into the right field gap for a two-out double.
Worley falls behind Cano 3-0, then barely hits the outside corner on the gimme strike. Cano tops to shortstop for the final out.
1-1 after three.
David Robertson on the hill. Chamberlain threw just the one perfect frame with one K.
Subs in the outfield: Chad Curtis, Greg Golson, and Justin Maxwell left-to-right. Thanks to Marc Carig on twitter for that. YES doesn't bother to mention the changes.
Robertson strikes out Raul Ibanez swinging on three pitches, finishing with an 85 mph changeup diving away.
Facing lefties Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard, David Robertson throws five straight strikes before a show-me 91 mph fastball up in the zone on 0-2 to Howard. Howard then flies out to Golson in right center on the next pitch.
Righty Ben Francisco draws a two-out walk on a full count.
I was distracted for a second and thought Domonic Brown was a skinny Ryan Howard when I looked back up. On the 2-2 to Brown, Francisco takes off and Cervelli wiffs on a curve in the dirt as Francisco takes second. 3-2 on Brown and Robertson strikes him out with an 89 mph fastball on the outside half of the plate.
Andruw Jones in to face Worley. So Posada's day consisted of one pitch.
Jones is swinging hard early in the count and falls behind 0-2. He then works a walk.
Greg Golson up. He always makes me think of Michael Berryman.
Golson lifts a 1-2 curve into center.
Cervelli remains from the starting lineup, though I just noticed that Robb Quinlan is in at first base for the Phillies. I know it's just spring training, but I do wish the announcers pay more attention to the substitutions.
Cervelli grounds into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Worley's final line: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
David Robertson faced four batters, walked one and struck out two.
David Phelps, #87, on the hill for the Yankees. He works quickly, up 1-2 on Jeff Larish before I could identify him (because YES has yet to). He gets Larish swinging at a 2-2, 82 mph changeup away.
Phelps wears his hat low and pulled to the left. He has a real no-nonsense demeanor on the mound, and he really does work quickly. Get the ball, throw it. Lefty Brian Schneider pops up to shorstop.
Hey look, the infield subs are in: Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo to second. Teixeira and Cervelli are the only Yankee starters remaining.
Wilson Valdez singles to center on an 89 mph fastball down and in.
Pete Orr crushes a high 89 mph fastball to right. Maxwell was playing in the gap, so the ball goes to the wall. Valdez races around. Relay through Russo. Close play at the plate, but Valdez is clearly safe, 2-1 Phils.
Giving up a two-out run to Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr puts Phelps in an early hole in the darkhorse race for the rotation.
Gload singles over the leap of Russo at second. Maxwell's throw home is up the line. Cervelli's throw to second is late. Gload safe at second. Orr scores, 3-1 Phils.
[note changes in subs paragraph above]
John Mayberry Jr. is in for Raul Ibanez with two out and Gload on second. A foul makes it 2-2. Phelps is throwing a lot of pitches. This may be his only inning.
Break in the action as Cervelli walks off that foul ball, which hit him in the foot. He's back to springing around a moment later.
Mayberry flies to center on what YES reports is Phelps' 46th pitch. That can't be right. At any rate, that should be it for him.
Colin Curtis strikes out on a curve low and away from lefty Ryan Feierabend.
Eduardo Nunez lines a hard single back through the box on an 89 mph fastball.
Jack Curry says Eric Chavez has "still got it" at third base, which is nice. I still doubt that he can still hit enough to make the roster.
Justin Maxwell is a tall dude (6-foot-6), and he wears his socks high, which makes it look like he's hovering a foot off the ground.
Nunez runs on 2-0 and just gets in there ahead of Dane Sardinha's throw.
Maxwell flies out on a flat curve low and away, pulling it to left. You can tell he has real power in that swing.
Mark Teixeira still in the game in the fifth taking his third at-bat. Interesting. Batting righty, he hits a changeup off the wall in the left field gap for a stand-up RBI triple. 3-2 Phillies.
Brandon Laird up, falls behind 0-2. Has a face like he just got punched. Pops a changeup behind third for the final out, but you can see the power in his bad swing as well.
Hector Noesi on the hill. Tall, lanky righty wearing #74. Squooshed into a tiny box in the upper right of the screen during a puff interview with Robinson Cano, he gets Quinlan to fly out to right.
Delwyn Young hits a fly down the line in left. Colin Curtis loses it in the sun, but it lands just foul. Young goes full.
Phelps' line, by the way: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Young extends the at-bat with foul balls as Noesi shows a fastball at 92/93 mph.
Young ends it by giving a 93 mph heater a ride to deep right center, but Golson is under it for the second out. Noesi is living up to his fly-ball reputation.
Domonic Brown is still in. Lines out to right on an 0-1 changeup. Three up, three down for Noesi, just the second perfect frame by a Yankee pitcher in this game (Joba had the first) but all fly balls.
Apparently they turned Cano's hit in the second into an E6 and made Hamels' one run unearned. Whatever. Looked like a (cheap) hit to me.
Kevin Russo up against the lefty Feierabend, strikes out on a changeup. I think I've been calling some of Feierabend's changeups curveballs because they sit in the mid-to-upper 70s and some had decent breaks. That "flat curve" to Maxwell in the bottom of a fifth was clearly a changeup in retrospect. I blame a lack of familiarity with Feierabend's repertoir. Checking now, his curve is low-70s. Change high-70s. Slider a tick above that. Fastball in the 80s. Lots of lefty junk there.
Andruw Jones draws another walk. Nice. He then takes off to steal too early and is picked off. Not nice.
Golson works a full count walk, which is a great thing from a player with a terrible approach at the plate. Feierabend then balks him to second with a throw over. Take that, Andruw.
Austin Romine up now for Cervelli, pops out ot the catcher on a 2-1 change for the last out.
3-2 Phils, still.
If you care, Feierabend's line: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, balk, CS
Noesi in for another frame.
Hey, a groundball. Jeff Larish is the gift that keeps on giving in this game. One out.
Dane Sardinha, brother of former Yankee farmhand Bronson, crushes an 84 mph changeup to the wall in left. Chad Curtis looks a bit lost again, bounces off the wall near the ball. Sardinha into second with a double.
Brian Bocock in for Valdez in the nine-hole. Jorge Vazquez, incidentally, is now in for Mark Teixeira at first base, so all of the Yankee starters are out. Bocock obliges by popping out to Vazquez in foul territory.
Josh Barfield, son of former Yankee Jesse, is up. Barfield was once a heralded second-base prospect, but went bust with the Indians and is now trying to make it back to the bigs as a utility man. He beats out a chopper to short after Nunez had to sit back to wait for a good hop
Justin Maxwell makes a nice diving catch on a sinking liner in the right field gap from Gload. I hold my breath for a moment as Maxwell has hurt himself making diving catches in each of the last two seasons.
With that Noesi escapes a two-on jam. His line: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, five of six outs in the air.
Steeeeeretch . . .
On the hill for the Phils is Brian Schiltter, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees when they designated him for assignment to make room for Andruw Jones belated official signing. He walks Colin Curtis on five pitches to make the Yankees feel better about all of that.
Nunez puts some air under a 90 mph fastball, flying it to left center. Justin Maxwell does the same, flying out to the warning track in right.
Jorge Vazquez looks like Brandon Laird got punched in the face. He kills an 81 mph changeup to dead center. The ball just vanishes and the Yanks are up 4-3. Vazquez hit that one over the batters-eye in center. That is, over a 30-foot wall 408 feet from home plate. That is what Jorge Vazquez brings to the table: massive power, but little else.
Laird follows with a double down the left-field line on a high, 88 mph fastball.
Brian Schlitter will not be missed, even though he gets Kevin Russo to ground out to end the inning.
Eric Wordekemper in. Mayberry greets him with a hard single in the shortstop hole.
Bit late to note this, but with Davey Lopes gone back to the Dodgers, the Phillies new base-coach alignment is Sam Perlozzo moving from third to first and Juan Samuel coming over from the Orioles to coach third.
Nunez almost makes a good play to his left, but the ball doesn't stick in the top of his webbing. That's a hit for Quinlan.
Man, Francisco Cervelli has so much personality. I wish he could hit.
Delwyn Young pops out to first.
Utility man Michael Martinez (playing center in this game) flies to left.
Can you tell we're just marking time to the last out at this point? I've given up getting a decent look at Wordekemper, in part because he's not a contender for the roster, in part because YES is showing more of Cervelli talking than Wordekemper throwing.
Wordekemper walks Jeff Larish to load the bases with two outs for Sardinha, who's middle name (Kealoha) pales next to his brother's (Kiheimahanaomauiakeo).
Count goes even. Sardina fouls a few off. Wordekemper sits around 92 with his fastball.
Sardinah lifts an 80 mph changeup into shallow left. Colin Curtis, whose first step was back, slides but can't get it. Two runs score. Larish goes to third. Sardinha has a two-RBI single and the Phillies are up 5-4. Not a good day for Curtis in left, though he's had some tough plays to make out there. Can't blame him for not making any of them, but he still hasn't looked good out there.
Wordekemper makes a nice play falling off the first-base side of the mound to get Bocock on a grounder to end the inning. He was more nicked than beaten in that frame, but it left a bad taste to be sure.
Looks like the Yankees will need an unscheduled pitcher in the ninth due to Phelps' inability to go two frames and Wordekemper having a tough eighth.
Mike Zagurski on the hill for the Phils. He's a plump lefty who comes from a low-three-quarters angle and spends a lot of time hiking his pants back up.
He strikes out Andruw Jones looking at a breaking ball coming in that finished out of the zone.
Greg Golson grounds out to short.
Austin Romine hits a solid ground ball single through the six-hole.
Colin Curtis taps out to second.
On to the ninth . . .
The Yankees are down by a run and have Eduardo Nunez, Justin Maxwell, and Jorge Vazquez due up on the bottom of the frame. Luis Ayala is the bonus pitcher for the top of the frame against Barfield, Gload,and Mayberry.
Ayala, a small righty, comes from a low three-quarter angle.
Barfield hits a broken bat dribbler to the third base side of the mound. Laird charges and scoops with his bare hand, but his throw is lame. Good work by Vazquez coming off the bag to flag it down. Another infield single for Barfield, his second in as many at-bats in this game.
Baltimore chop to second from Gload is short-hopped by Russo to force the speedy Barfield at second. One out.
Mayberry strikes out in a tiny box while YES runs a pre-taped soundbite from Jorge Posada. Rob Quinlan grounds out. Michael Kay goes to his "do the Yankees have a rally in their bones" line.
Jason Grilli, who I didn't even know was in camp with the Phillies (and I rechecked their roster last night) is on protecting a 5-4 lead.
Nunez puts a charge into a 93 mile per hour fastball, but it's just a deep fly to left.
Justin Maxwell hits a sharp groundball single between third and short. Neither infielder moves.
Maxwell is on the move on the 0-1 to Vazquez, but Vazquez fouls the pitch back. Vazquez then gets Maxwell to third with a sharp single to left on a 92 mph fastball on the inside corner. Runners on the corners with one out.
Grilli strikes out Laird on a 1-2 fastball above the zone at 93 mph.
It all comes down to Kevin Russo, who is 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a groundout.
Russo grounds to short. Bocock flips to second for the force. Game over. Phillies win 5-4.
Thanks to all who followed along. I'll have my capsule recap up later tonight.