Here are some random news items revolving around the New York Yankees spring camp in Tampa, FL, this week:
- CHAVEZ SIGNS: As expected the Yankees re-signed 34-year-old corner infielder Eric Chavez to a one-year, $900,000 contract with performance incentives. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the story but the Yankees will not confirm the signing until Chavez passes a physical. Chavez hit .263 with two homers and 26 RBIs in 58 games with the Yankees last season. He missed 2 1/2 months of the season after fracturing a bone in his left foot running the bases in early May. The Yankees see the lefty-hitting Chavez as a Gold Glove quality backup at third base for Alex Rodriguez and he also can sub for Mark Teixeira at first base.
- RAUL IN: The Yankees made it official by signing free-agent outfielder Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $1.1 million contract with plate-appearance incentives that could increase the deal to $4 million. Ibanez, 39, will be the Yankees’ primary designated hitter against right-hand pitching. Andruw Jones likely will handle the DH role against left-handers. Ibanez, like Jones, will also see some time in the outfield. Ibanez batted .245 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs last season with the Philadelphia Phillies.
- SAY IT AIN’T SO, MO: Mariano Rivera is hinting that the 2012 season may be his last. He told reporters he had made up his mind two weeks ago along with his family but he has not informed the Yankees about his decision. Manager Joe Girardi and some Yankee relievers like David Robertson do not want to even contemplate what life on the Yankees would be without their Hall-of-Fame closer. Robertson said that he could “Brett Favre us.” Despite the fact Rivera turned 42 in November he is showing no signs of slowing down. He was 1-2 with a 1.91 ERA and recorded 44 saves in 49 opportunities in 2011. he is in the last season of a two-year contract worth $30 million.
- JONESING TO PLAY: After having arthroscopic surgery to repair a small meniscus tear in his left knee, Jones said he is hoping to have an expanded role in 2012 beyond being the right-handed DH. Jones, 34, would like to play more in the outfield this season. That is good to know because Brett Gardner hit only .233 against left-handers last season and if that number does not improve this season Jones could end up as a platoon left-fielder.
- SAYONARA TO NO. 18: Jones also made news by surrendering the No. 18 he wore last season with the Yankees to free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. In Japan, that number is generally reserved for the ace pitcher of the team so Jones agreed to relinquish the number to his new teammate.
- JOBA DEBUT: Joba Chamberlain will throw his first mound bullpen session on Wednesday since having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last July. Though Chamberlain is making excellent progress in his rehab the Yankees do not expect him to be able to pitch until June or July.
- HURT LOCKER: Right-hand reliever George Kontos became the first Yankees casualty of the spring. He pulled an oblique muscle on Tuesday and he will be sidelined for at least two weeks.
- LESS CC: Bad news for teams in the American League East: CC Sabathia showed up in camp at his playing weight of 290 pounds, dropping about 15 pounds to get there. Sabathia also vowed to continue a training regimen to keep his weight steady throughout the season. Prior to Aug. 6 last season, Sabathia was 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA. After his Aug. 6 start, Sabathia was 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA. He also was 0-0 with a 6.23 ERA in his three appearances in the 2010 A.L. Division Series against the Detroit Tigers. Some in the Yankee hierarchy believe Sabathia gained a lot of weight down the stretch and it hurt his performance. Sabathia disagrees with that assessment but said he will maintain his training regimen to keep it from being raised as an issue in the future.