3/11/2014 5:22 P.M. ET
Girardi: Panama trip won't disrupt normal spring
By Andrew Simon / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- The Yankees' Grapefruit League schedule will be interrupted this coming weekend with a trip to Panama to play the two-game "Legend Series" against the Marlins. On both Saturday and Sunday, the Yanks will have one squad playing there and another back in Florida, but manager Joe Girardi doesn't think the situation will cause any problems.
"The issues you have to work out is you basically have split squads every day, in a sense, so you have to call some kids up from the Minor Leagues," Girardi said on Tuesday before the Yankees played the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. "They like that."
The Panama series, to be played at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium, will honor retired closer and Panama native Mariano Rivera. Yankees players headed there include Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano, while Adam Warren and CC Sabathia will start on the mound.
"I think the guys are excited to go for Mo," Girardi said.
While some have wondered if Rivera could get back on the mound there, Girardi's understanding is that the 44-year-old's involvement will be "all ceremonial." The Yankees skipper did have one idea, however.
"I thought he should play an inning in center [field]," Girardi joked.
The other group of Yankees will face the Orioles on Saturday in Sarasota, Fla., and then host the Braves on Sunday in Tampa. Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira will be among the players available for those games, and Masahiro Tanaka is slated to start on Sunday.
Despite results, CC 'light years' ahead of last spring
VIERA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia offered a blunt assessment of his performance after a rocky three innings against the Nationals on Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium.
"I [stunk] today," Sabathia said.
The left-hander, making his second start of the spring, was having trouble with his delivery, flying open and leaving the ball up. He gave up three earned runs on four hits, walking two and striking out three, while throwing 37 of 62 pitches for strikes. His fastball velocity continued to lag, topping out in the high 80s.
But it wasn't all bad, as Sabathia described himself as "light years" ahead of where he was at this time a year ago. He also is continuing to work on his new pitch, a cutter, estimating he threw eight or nine, none of which were put in play. Former Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte has helped Sabathia develop the pitch, which he hopes will allow him to throw inside to right-handed batters.
"It's tough, but as long as I keep it in perspective and don't try to overthrow it, it'll be a good pitch for me," Sabathia said. "I don't know if it's going to come right away or be something that takes me a whole season. When I first started throwing my slider, I was able to pick it up right away and took it right into a game, so we'll see."
Although it's a difficult pitch to throw, Sabathia plans to stick with it. On Tuesday, catcher Brian McCann already could see it working.
"He got it in there, got some foul balls on it," McCann said. "It'll help him command both sides of the plate."
Sabathia also has noticed that his slider has gotten tighter since he began throwing the cutter. Although he hung one that Anthony Rendon ripped for a two-run double in the second inning, he also used the slider effectively in several other instances, including a strikeout of Ian Desmond in the first.
As for the diminished velocity, manager Joe Girardi insisted that he is not concerned. Command and deception are more important, in his opinion.
"I don't get so caught up in it," Girardi said. "I know it was a big issue last year, and I think it probably led to some of his issues on the mound where he probably was trying to overthrow. The bottom line is outs and swings. What types of swings are they getting?"
Not many hits, but Teixeira enjoying being out there
VIERA, Fla. -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira played his third Grapefruit League game on Tuesday against the Nationals, and the excitement of getting back on the field has not worn off just yet.
"I had fun today, just running around," said Teixeira, who played six innings in the field. "Usually Spring Training games are boring, at this point in your career, but I'm enjoying myself, which is good. Hopefully that lasts all season long."
Teixeira went 0-for-3 at the plate, getting robbed of a hit on a diving catch by Nationals center fielder Nate McLouth in the fourth inning. The first baseman is 1-for-8 so far this spring, but he said he "couldn't be happier" with how he feels, coming off right wrist surgery and a 2013 season that included only 15 games played.
"I've swung at good pitches and taken good swings," Teixeira said. "My [batting-practice sessions] have been solid. Nothing has happened where I've said, 'OK, let's reassess something.' So it's boring, but that's good. It's very good."
Manager Joe Girardi said that Teixeira soon will begin to play in consecutive games, another step toward being ready for the regular season. However, Teixeira won't go on the Yankees' trip to Panama this coming weekend, as the training facilities there are not conducive to all of the extra work he still must do to rehab and strengthen the wrist.
• Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka faced a pair of Minor League hitters during a simulated game at Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday morning. According to multiple media reports, Tanaka threw 63 pitches, 49 for strikes. He racked up nine strikeouts, but gave up one home run, to Jake Cave.
Tanaka has made two Grapefruit League appearances, the latest a three-inning start last Thursday against the Phillies. His next outing is scheduled for Sunday against the Braves in Tampa.
• During Tuesday's fourth inning, Washington's Scott Hairston hit a foul popup near home plate, a little bit up the third-base line. Catcher Brian McCann made the catch, but not before tossing his mask further down the line. When third baseman Dean Anna charged in, he tripped over the mask and fell forward, taking McCann's legs out from underneath him. Both players wound up on the ground, but remained in the game and suffered no ill effects.
Joked Girardi: "I told Anna, 'Around here, we wrap up when we make tackles. We don't just dive for his legs.'"
• Shortstop Brendan Ryan, who hasn't played since last Tuesday because of lower back soreness, could be making some progress. Girardi is hoping that Ryan will be able to take some dry swings on Tuesday, then move on to "tee and toss" on Wednesday.