03/16/11 11:45 PM ET
Brackman among cuts from Yanks camp
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
New York announced that it has optioned right-hander Andrew Brackman to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, as well as infielders Brandon Laird and Kevin Russo, plus outfielder Melky Mesa.
Left-hander Steve Garrison and right-hander Ryan Pope were optioned to Double-A Trenton.
Joba sidelined by left oblique strain
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain has a strained left oblique and will likely be sidelined for several Grapefruit League games.
An MRI taken on the reliever showed the strain, which Chamberlain thought was a cramp or a spasm when he felt it on Friday against the Braves. Chamberlain said it does not affect him right now.
"I feel fine -- I've done everything that I've needed to do," Chamberlain said. "I guess I'd rather take a couple of days here than have to worry about it in a couple of weeks."
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Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Chamberlain is scheduled to play catch on Thursday but has no set timetable for a return.
"The fact that he's playing catch tomorrow is a good sign," Girardi said. "But doing things in the training room and doing things where there's effort and intensity and torque is different."
Chamberlain said he threw the day after feeling the twinge in his left side and that he has not had issues with his oblique previously.
"There's nothing I can't do," Chamberlain said. "I sleep good, I roll over fine. I can cough, I can sneeze, I can stretch. I guess we'll see what happens."
Additionally, Sergio Mitre -- who missed a start on Monday with an oblique injury -- threw a light side session on Wednesday and felt good, according to Girardi.
In Long's mind, sky's the limit for Cano
TAMPA, Fla. -- Robinson Cano has muscled his way into the discussion of the game's top second basemen, but his hitting coach believes there is even more to offer.
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said on Wednesday that he believes Cano could hit as many as 40 home runs in a single season. The 28-year-old slugged a career-high 29 last year for New York.
When told of Long's comments, Cano replied loudly, "No chance," joking that he might need an extra half-season to get there.
"To be honest with you, that's not even in my mind," Cano said. "I don't think I'm a home run hitter. You see my home runs, I hit line drives. If I hit it, thank God, but it's not like I think about it."
Only three second basemen have hit as many as 40 home runs in a single season, a feat last achieved by Ryne Sandberg for the 1990 Cubs. Davey Johnson hit 43 homers for the '73 Braves, and Rogers Hornsby hit 42 round-trippers for the '22 Cardinals.
Long said that there is still room for improvement in Cano's game, noting that his strike zone discipline can get better, as well as mechanical issues that sometimes lead Cano to get out on his front side at the plate.
The power numbers could benefit from that work, Long said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Cano hit 40 home runs," Long said. "I mean, he hit 29. Could he hit 40? Why not? It's a big number, and not a goal that I'm saying, 'OK, Robbie, we've got to hit 40 home runs this year.' But could he do it? I don't think there's anybody here that doesn't think he could."
Yanks get peek at likely opening lineup
TAMPA, Fla. -- With the countdown to Opening Day closing in on two weeks, Joe Girardi was finally able to scribble out his best lineup on Wednesday, and the Yankees' manager liked the way it looked.
Girardi said that the Grapefruit League batting order the Yankees would send out against the Orioles on Wednesday was likely the same one they'd use on March 31, when they face the Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
"It is nice to be able to do that," said Girardi, who also planned to send the same batters out for Thursday's game against the Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The Yankees' order had Derek Jeter leading off, followed by Nick Swisher, and kept Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano in line as the heart of the lineup.
Jorge Posada followed as the designated hitter, with Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner rounding out the lineup.
"I want them just to do what they're capable of doing," Girardi said. "Last year, they did what they were capable of doing and we scored a lot of runs. I have no complaints about the runs we scored."
Girardi said the Yankees will still experiment with different variations before Opening Day, and Andruw Jones will likely see playing time against left-handed pitching.
But Girardi said he has no plans to move Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano from the 3-4-5 spots, and the Yankees envision Jeter -- who was batting .333 entering Wednesday's game -- beginning the season as the leadoff hitter.
"Most of them are pretty set," Girardi said. "We just might do some different things here in the next two weeks as they start to play together, just to see how it looks."
Setup man Rafael Soriano told the Yankees that he would prefer not to pitch against an American League East team, effectively scratching himself from Wednesday's scheduled appearance against the Orioles. Soriano will pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday instead. ... Mark Teixeira said he was fine after being hit by a Clay Rapada pitch in the sixth inning. Teixeira said the pitch struck both of his hands. ... Nick Swisher hurdled the right-field bullpen fence in pursuit of a foul pop on Wednesday. Manager Joe Girardi said he told the outfielder: "Swish, that was a very good athletic play. Don't do it again." ... The Yankees scouted free-agent right-hander Kevin Millwood on Wednesday, according to the New York Post, but are still willing to offer only a Minor League contract. Millwood is looking for a big league deal. ... Wednesday was Curtis Granderson's 30th birthday.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.