The New York Yankees prepared for their spring training exhibition game scheduled for Tuesday with a simulated and intrasquad game on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL.
Instead of live pitchers the team employed a pitching machine they call “Iron Mike” and simulated situations were set up for each inning. For example, in the first inning each squad started with a man on first.
“It’s hard to get the situations you want with the pitchers on the mound. We could throw the ball in the dirt when we wanted. Throw strikes. Guys can make contact. You just get a lot more out of it,” manager Joe Girardi told reporters.
Alex Rodriguez started the game as a designated hitter for one squad in what was his first game action in 17 months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for taking performance enhancing drugs.
He drew most of the attention of a small group of fans on an 80-degree-plus day with a bright glaring sun overhead.
Rodriguez grounded out to third and flied out to short right-field in his two at-bats.
Girardi said afterwards that he did not spot anything different in A-Rod’s approach at the plate and he added that he is not sure when Rodriguez will be given a chance to play in the field in an exhibition game.
Rather than evaluate Rodriguez by one day’s work Girardi told reporters that he will judge the 39-year-old infielder by the progress he makes throughout the spring.
“I think you’ll look at the progress he’s making from day to day, week to week. How his at-bats look day 10 as opposed to day one. Some guys come out swinging really great, but it’s usually the young guys,. So I think you just look at the progress more than anything,” Girardi said.
Rodriguez will not play in the team’s Grapefruit League opener on Tuesday but he is scheduled to be the designated hitter for Wednesday’s home opener.
Girardi said that Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner will be among the group of players traveling to Clearwater, FL, for Tuesday’s opener will the Philadelphia Phillies. Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley will not make the trip. But they will likely play in Wednesday’s home opener, which also will be against the Phillies. Outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is coming off surgery on his right elbow will not likely play until Friday. “Not because of anything that’s happened in camp. Just going a little slower with him,” Girardi told reporters. . . . Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka faced hitters for the first time in batting practice session on Monday. Tanaka, who missed all but late September starts after early July due to a partially torn tendon in his right elbow, threw just five pitches apiece to Gardner, Chris Young, Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores and Jonathan Galvez. Both Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman watched the session intently from behind the batting cage. “For the first time, I think it went well,” Tanaka told reporters through his interpreter.
The Yankees will open their spring schedule with a road game against the Phillies at Bright House Field.
Girardi selected right-hander Adam Warren, 27, to start the game for the Yankees. He likely will pitch just two innings. The Phillies named journeyman right-hander Jerome Williams to start opposite Warren.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be telecast on a delayed basis at 9 p.m. by MLB Network. The game also is available live through Philadelphia’s WPHT station on MLB Radio.