RESULTS WILL DETERMINE YOUK’S FATE

Results, not words will decide Yankees fate for Youkilis

  • By JOEL SHERMAN
  • Last Updated: 6:30 AM, February 16, 2013
  • Posted: 12:55 AM, February 16, 2013
  • Yankees Blog
headshot

Joel Sherman

Blog: Hardball

TAMPA — Can we move beyond the sideshow stories involving Kevin Youkilis now?

He has shaken Joba Chamberlain’s hand. Explained his heart still being in Boston. Professed his love for all things New York and Yankees.

So can we get to the only element that actually will matter in 2013: Can Youkilis replace Alex Rodriguez — and we don’t mean on the back pages with outrageous statements or actions?

Youkilis’ final grade in The Bronx will be computed the same as anyone’s: Can he still play? Not whether he was a member of the Red Sox. Not whether he and Chamberlain ever will stroll hand-in-hand whistling “Kumbaya.”

<br />

Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Kevin Youkilis

If Youkilis helps the Yankees win big will any fan really give a darn where he spent the bulk of his career?

PHOTOS: YANKEES SPRING TRAINING

Did any Yankees fan care where Wade Boggs won his batting titles when he was riding that horse in the 1996 championship aftermath? Did anyone care that Roger Clemens was the all-time Red Sox victory leader when he was helping the Yankees three-peat? Did even the most fervent pinstriped loyalists give two hoots about Johnny Damon’s Idiot past when he was stealing two bases on one play in the 2009 World Series?

If Youkilis is staying healthy and holding his own at third and doing Greek God of Walk things at the plate, Yankees devotees will embrace him. If he doesn’t, the friendly fire that should concern him will not be coming from Joba’s right hand.

Still, Youkilis understood that even silly soap operas have a shelf life, so he wisely attempted to deactivate the drama around him.

He shook hands with Chamberlain in the clubhouse and the two once more declared no lingering bad blood. Will they actually like and respect each other? Who cares? No clubhouse has group love. Besides, neither Youkilis nor Chamberlain carries enough heft in the Yankees world to poison the environment, even if they were at odds. This isn’t like the cold war that existed in the first few years together between Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter that chilled a whole clubhouse.

Chamberlain is more child-like than Phineas or Ferb, so nobody in the clubhouse takes him too seriously anyway. Youkilis seems shrewd enough not to make what likely is a one-year pit stop in New York crumble because he does not get along with a teammate who will play about 70 innings.

As for the supposed tension in switching allegiances in The Rivalry, are we really still doing this? Youkilis will be the 220th player to wear the uniforms of both teams. At some point when we got beyond, say, 150, this should have expired as interesting.

Youkilis exhumed the storyline Thursday by telling reporters, “I’ll always be a Red Sock.” He realized in seeing those words on the Internet later that day that without context the sentence was going to create problems. He was ribbed in his own clubhouse yesterday morning upon his words surfacing on The Post’s back page. He handled it well, jokingly asking a few new teammates when A-Rod was going to show to take the heat off of him.

He then requested to meet reporters again to clarify that the Red Sox will always be part of his life, like being a Yankee now will, and anyone who knows his overt competitive nature will understand his passion now percolates on beating Boston and every other Yankees opponent. Of course, only folks dialed to be unreasonable would expect Youkilis not to cherish years in Boston in which he was a star, beloved and a champion.

Still, as popular and historic as Youkilis might have been in Boston, he was excised last June because he stopped being a good player.

Bobby Valentine, then the Red Sox’s skipper, noticed a lifelessness in Youkilis’ body quickly in spring, a departure of athleticism. Was that because Youkilis was not completely healed from a back injury? Was it because his head was messed up over a growing belief within the clubhouse that he was a source for the Boston Globe beer-and-fried-chicken expose? Or was it simply that his game was in freefall?

He played better with the White Sox, but not close to his 2008-10 stratosphere. The Yankees don’t need that high point. Until A-Rod comes back, and potentially the whole season if he does not, the Yankees need a healthy Youkilis translating his feisty at-bats into 15-20 homers and an on-base percentage north of .350, while making sure all the routine outs are made defensively.

Anything more would be a fringe benefit. Anything considerably less and it will not matter if Youkilis were nurtured in the Yankees farm system as Joba’s best friend. The rules of engagement ultimately will be the same for Youkilis as for any Yankee: Are you helping the team win or not?

joel.sherman@nypost.com

Advertisements

NELSON CRUZ SHOCKED HIS NAME IS LINKED TO PED’S

Cruz shocked name linked to Fla. clinic, PEDs

Published: February 15, 2013 Updated 16 hours ago

Rangers Spring Baseball

Texas Rangers players run during a spring training baseball workout, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Surprise, Ariz.

Charlie Riedel — AP Photo

The Associated Press

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz said Friday it was “shocking” and “depressing” to see his name came up in connection with a Florida clinic now at the center of Major League Baseball’s latest drug investigation.

Cruz, however, said he could not shed any light on why his name is reportedly in the records of Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. The Miami New Times reported last month that it obtained records detailing banned substances purchases by several players, including Cruz, the 2011 AL championship series MVP.

“I want to speak and I want to talk, but my lawyer told me I cannot say anything right now,” Cruz said. “I want to be honest, but this is currently under investigation by Major League Baseball and I can’t really make any comment on it. As soon as it is done, I will talk. I want to comment, but I can’t, sorry.”

Cruz said he has not yet met with any MLB investigators, but would cooperate with them. Cruz, who is represented by Seth and Sam Levinson of ACEs, said he was contacted by his agents the day before the New Times article was published.

“It was shocking, really depressing,” Cruz said. “It can really hurt you.”

He acknowledged it could be difficult in spring training until there is a resolution of the investigation. He said he plans to play for the Dominican Republic next month in the World Baseball Classic; teammates Adrian Beltre and shortstop Elvis Andrus are among Rangers players expected to miss some of camp to participate in the tournament.

“I don’t worry at all,” Cruz said about the investigation. “I know it’s going to come good so hopefully it’s done right and quick as possible.”

Cruz hit .260 with 24 home runs, with career-highs 45 doubles and 90 RBIs in 159 games last season. He has hit at least 22 home runs the past four years.

“We’re just taking it day-by-day,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “There’s nothing much we can do really. We expect he’s going to be our right fielder. If something comes up that impacts that, we’ll deal with that at that point.

“Hopefully, the process speeds up and we get it out of the way and we focus on the year. I’m not overly concerned from a club’s standpoint. It’s an open investigation at this point. We’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode, but we’re going to support Nelly in the process.”

Daniels met with Cruz before the team worked out Friday.

“I think he would generally like this to be a little further down the line,” Daniels said. “I don’t think he likes having a ‘no comment.’ I think he would like to be able address it a little bit more, but I understand why he can’t.”

The Rangers have had to address sticky issues the past few years. Late during the 2009 season, Washington offered to resign after admitting to using cocaine once and failing a drug test. Outfielder Josh Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol last year. Hamilton, the five-time All-Star and former AL MVP, is now with the Angels.

“We’ve been through a lot and we’ve dealt with some different things over the years,” Daniels said. “You don’t ever want to deal with these things, but they do come up. It’s a reality of the game, society and the industry. We just have to let it play out.”

EDB

TOO EARLY TO KNOW IF RETIREMENT IS FOR MARIANO

Too early for even Rivera to know if retirement is right

Terence Moore By Terence Moore | Archive 2/15/2013 2:56 P.M. ET
Rivera returns to the field00:02:51
Mariano Rivera is thrilled to be back on the field at Spring Training, and says he will announce his future plans before the regular season

Stop it. Just stop it. I’m referring to those who keep wanting Mariano Rivera to reveal — you know, right now — whether 2013 is his last season, and I’m also referring to the man himself.

For the record, Rivera announced Wednesday in Tampa during the opening of Spring Training for the Yankees that he would give his thoughts on retirement to the public before Opening Day.

Why? We don’t need to know.

Chances are, Rivera does not really know what he wishes to do. And no, it does not matter what he said after his first full workout when a bunch of nosey types with cameras and notebooks asked the 43-year-old reliever with the surgically repaired right knee the following: Have you determined if this 19th Major League season will be your last?

“Yes, I have, but I won’t give it up until I’m ready for that,” said Rivera, before he quickly added: “Don’t worry. The time will come. Another day or week won’t hurt.”

This also won’t hurt: Having Rivera remain silent about his intentions to play or not beyond 2013 until after the season.

What’s the hurry? This isn’t one of those Willie Mays things, when the legendary center fielder went from running forever to catch a drive over his head during the 1954 World Series to stumbling while chasing a sinking fly ball in vain during the 1973 World Series.

It was time for Mays to leave.

The same was true for Mickey Mantle at the end, with his crumbling knees, and Tom Seaver, when his fastball was no longer fast.

Then there were the examples of Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski, both Hall of Famers and both letting the world know during the 1983 season that they were finished by the end of October.

Both were done by then, because both had spent the previous two or three seasons looking less than their Cooperstown selves.

Six years later, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brought “The Farewell Tour” to a different level for all professional athletes of high regard. That’s when he announced he was ending his two decades in the NBA at the end of his 1988-89 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

City after city, Abdul-Jabbar received stuff — a yacht, a rocking chair, an Afghan rug and things in between — but you know what?

He was also done by then.

As for Rivera, prior to his freak injury that occurred last May while he was shagging fly balls during batting practice for the Yankees in Kansas City, he was far from done. He was still resembling the guy who had become the greatest reliever ever.

He was still baffling hitters with his cut fastball.

He was still entering games and leaving with a bunch of zeros next to his name. (For instance: After blowing a save on Opening Day 2012, he pitched eight scoreless innings with five saves).

He was still showing no signs of decline.

No wonder that Rivera told the world, on the same day he dropped to the ground with his knee twisted and aching, “I’m not going down like this,” and he spoke the truth. He worked diligently after his ACL surgery to come into the Yankees camp this spring looking fit and trim.

Like the old Rivera.

Until proven otherwise, this is the old Rivera.

That’s “old,” as in the reliever whose 608 saves are the most in baseball history. Rivera also ranks among the primary reasons why the Yankees finished their most recent dynasty producing four world championships.

“I’m definitely expecting good things,” said Rivera, with a light weight-brace on his right knee while he contemplated his role with the Yankees this season. “That’s what I demand of myself. I’m looking for that, or else I wouldn’t be here.”

Doesn’t sound like a guy who is ready to retire.

You should not make these decisions too quickly. Otherwise, you’ll become Brett Favre. Remember?

One moment, Favre was a retired NFL icon for the Green Bay Packers, and the next, he was back, first with the New York Jets, and then with the Minnesota Vikings.

There is also the NFL’s Tony Gonzalez, considered the greatest tight end in history after 13 trips to the Pro Bowl out of his 16 seasons. He announced his pending retirement last summer, and he was hugged around the league, from training camp through the playoffs.

With much help from Gonzalez, the Atlanta Falcons even reached the National Football Conference title game.

Now Gonzalez may return.

Awkward.

Oh, and don’t let star NFL linebacker Ray Lewis change his mind about retiring from the Baltimore Ravens. Several of his teammates said their catalyst for winning the Super Bowl this year was Lewis’ announcement during the season that 2013 would be it.

You should announce your retirement as a professional athlete only if you really and truly know you can’t go anymore.

There is Chipper Jones, for instance. He mentioned in the spring of 2012 that he was beginning his Farewell Tour, and he got more than a few gifts around the Major Leagues along the way. Courtesy of creaky legs, feet and toes, he spent just three of his final nine years of a 19-season career in the Major Leagues playing at least 134 games.

He’s not coming back.

Then again, Jones ended last season hitting .287 with 14 home runs and a respectable .377 on-base percentage in 112 games. He remained as clutch as always. Plus, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin noted that Jones had lost zero bat speed, and that means that, even at nearly 41, Jones could DH a while in the American League.

So maybe Jones announced his retirement too soon. Which brings me back to my message to Rivera: Shhhhh.

EDB

REPORT LINKS BRAUN TO FLORIDA CLINIC

ESPN report links Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun to Florida clinic

Ryan Braun said he’s “happy to cooperate” with any MLB drug investigation. Ryan Braun said he’s “happy to cooperate” with any MLB drug investigation.
ASSOCIATED PRESS / February 15, 2013
This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.

Ryan Braun had already let it be known he was not taking any questions about his reported link to a Florida anti-aging clinic when he faced reporters outside the Brewers’ spring training clubhouse in Phoenix on Friday.

Before anyone asked a question, the Brewers slugger repeated the restrictions he’d placed on his first spring meeting with the media.

‘‘I understand why a lot of you guys are probably here but I made a statement last week,’’ Braun said. ‘‘I stand behind that statement. I’m not going to address that issue any further. As I stated, I’m happy to cooperate fully into any investigation into this matter.’’

Braun’s name appears in records from the now-defunct Biogenesis of America LLC clinic that is alleged to have provided performance-enhancing substances to several players. Braun was not named in the original report on the clinic in an article in Miami New Times because his name did not have a specific substance next to it in clinic records. Braun’s ties first were reported by Yahoo Sports.

ESPN posted on its website Friday a list written by clinic founder Anthony Bosch that included Braun’s name, and next to it the figure of $1,500. Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, and Francisco Cervelli are also on the list.

That list, reported ESPN, citing a source familiar with the clinic, was for players who received performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch and owed him money. According to the source, there is “no other reason to be on that paper.”

After his name surfaced in the Yahoo report, Braun issued a statement saying he had used Bosch as a consultant during his appeal of his 2011 positive test. Major League Baseball’s 50-game suspension was overturned by an arbiter.

Braun did answer one drug-related question on Friday, regarding the recent announcement by MLB and the players’ union that players will be subject to in-season, unannounced testing for human growth hormone.

‘‘I’ve always been supportive of the system,’’ Braun said. ‘‘I’ve always been supportive of additional drug testing or whatever testing they have that’s available.’’

Speaking from Rangers camp in Surprise, Ariz., outfielder Neslon Cruz, another player connected to the Florida clinic, said it was ‘‘shocking’’ and ‘‘depressing’’ to be caught up in MLB’s latest drug investigation.

Cruz, however, said he could not shed any light on why his name is reportedly in the records of Biogenesis of America LLC. ‘‘I want to speak and I want to talk, but my lawyer told me I cannot say anything right now,’’ Cruz said.

Cabrera talks at Jays camp

Cabrera spent his day at Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Fla., deflecting questions about last year’s 50-game drug suspension as a Giant. The outfielder signed a two-year, $16 million contract with Toronto.

With only slight variations, Cabrera repeatedly said through a translator: ‘‘I made a mistake. I paid the price for it. I’m looking forward to 2013.’’ The reason for his reticence to speak was a pending investigation, he said.

Youkilis: Heart with Yankees

One day after telling the media he will “always be a Red Sock,” Kevin Youkilis entered the Yankees clubhouse in Tampa to some razzing by his new teammates. ‘‘Trust me, there’s no way that was meant to say my heart is in Boston or anything like that. My heart is here with the Yankees,” he said Friday. Youkilis admitted the comment ‘‘by itself looks terrible.’’ Manager Joe Girardi said, “You just can’t erase eight years of anyone’s life, that’s the bottom line . . . I didn’t have a problem with what he said.’’ . . . The Nationals and righthander Jordan Zimmermann agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. Terms of the deal were not immediately known. Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94 ERA in 2012) had asked for $5.8 million, while the Nationals submitted $4.6 million. He made $2.3 million last season . . . On the day the Indians made official their four-year contract with outfielder Michael Bourn, the team’s other big free agent pickup, first baseman Nick Swisher, left camp in Goodyear, Ariz., following the death of his mother. Swisher is expected back at camp soon . . . Veteran first baseman Casey Kotchman signed a minor league deal with the Marlins . . . Righthander Jair Jurrjens and the Orioles finalized a minor league contract. end of story marker

© Copyright 2013 Globe Newspaper Company.
This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.

15 YANKS FIGHTING FOR ROSTER SPOTS

15 New York Yankees Fighting for Roster Spots in Spring Training

By

(Featured Columnist) on February 15, 2013

Hi-res-117975367_crop_650x440 Corban Joseph, right, got to play with a big leaguer in 2011, when Derek Jeter was in Trenton for a rehab assignment. Joseph is in the mix for a roster spot in 2013.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

If you’re one of the many players in a major league spring training camp, whether a young player on the 40-man roster or a veteran or kid who scored an invitation to the big club’s camp, the battle to earn one of those coveted opening-day roster spots can be harder with some teams than it is with others.

Case in point is the New York Yankees. A veteran club with many spots already locked up, barring injury or some sort of catastrophic drop-off in performance, making the Yankees is a tough proposition.

According to mlbdepthcharts.com, the projected 25-man roster for the Yankees includes:

Pitchers (12): David AardsmaJoba ChamberlainPhil HughesHiroki KurodaBoone LoganIvan NovaAndy PettitteDavid PhelpsClay RapadaMariano RiveraDavid RobertsonCC Sabathia.

Catchers (2): Francisco CervelliChris Stewart.

Infielders (6): Robinson CanoTravis HafnerDerek JeterEduardo NunezMark TeixeiraKevin Youkilis.

Outfielders (5): Matt Diaz (non-roster invitee), Brett GardnerCurtis GrandersonJuan Rivera (non-roster invitee), Ichiro Suzuki.

Three players currently on the 40-man roster will likely start the season on the disabled list. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez is out until at least June after hip surgery and was placed on the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday. Pitcher Michael Pineda is coming back from shoulder surgery last May and won’t return until June at the earliest and pitcher Manny Banuelos underwent Tommy John surgery in October and is out for the season.

With that, there are still 15 players either on the 40-man roster or invited to camp who have at least an outside shot of earning a roster spot with an outstanding showing.

Zoilo Almonte  Okay!

Hi-res-140779520_display_image
Nick Laham/Getty Images

CF, age 23, 6’0”, 205 lbs, bats both, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Signed July 2, 2005, as a non-drafted free agent out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 78

Zoilo Almonte hit .277/.322/.487 in 451 plate appearances for Trenton in Double-A last season, with 21 homers and 70 RBI. Almonte showed a propensity for striking out, whiffing 103 times in 419 at-bats while drawing just 25 walks.

Almonte is a switch-hitting prospect with power potential, but he’s unlikely to crack the roster this season.

He would have to beat out either Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson—depending on which of those players manager Joe Girardi decides to deploy in center field—for a starting nod. His development would be better served in 2013 by getting regular playing time in the minors rather than occasional play in the show.

Dellin Betances  I coached against Dellin.  I like him.  He cannot find the plate.

Hi-res-127533937_display_image
J. Meric/Getty Images

RHP, age 24, 6’8”, 260 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Eighth round, 2006 Amateur Draft, out of Grand Street High School in New York

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 68

Dellin Betances split last season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He made 10 starts and one relief appearance for Trenton and was 3-4 with a 6.51 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in 56.2 innings, with 41 walks and just 30 strikeouts. With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Betances was 3-5 with a 6.39 ERA and 1.88 WHIP in 74.2 innings over 16 starts. He walked 69 and struck out 71.

Last season was a huge step backwards for Betances, who came into 2012 ranked as the No. 63 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and No. 41 on MLB.com’s list of top prospects. After making two appearances, including one start, for the Yankees in 2011, Betances did not get a September call-up after his ghastly 2012 campaign.

He followed that up with an unremarkable showing in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in eight relief appearances. In 12 innings, he walked four and struck out 15.

Betances is unlikely to crack the starting rotation for the Yankees. His focus for 2013 should be to return to the form that earned him such lofty ratings (No. 43 by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season) earlier in his career.

Cesar Cabral  Know nothing about him.

Hi-res-140779558_display_image
Nick Laham/Getty Images

LHP, age 24, 6’3”, 250 lbs, bats left, throws left

Acquired by Yankees: Selected from Boston Red Sox in Rule V Draft, Dec. 8, 2011

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 71

Cesar Cabral missed all of the 2012 season after suffering a stress fracture in the tip of his elbow during spring training last year.

Manager Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog that Cabral had a shot at making the roster last year.

“It’s frustrating because he had a really good camp for us,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you what was going to happen, but he had a good camp for us.”

Cabral was making a solid case for a spot in the bullpen. He struck out 12 hitters and walked just two while battling Clay Rapada for the role of second left-handed reliever last spring.

While mlbdepthcharts.com projects Cabral to fall short of earning a roster spot this spring, it’s worth pointing out that if the Cabral is not on the 25-man roster coming out of camp, he would have to be returned to the Red Sox. However, he would not have to spend the entire year with the big club; he could be optioned to the minors after 60 days on the roster without being subject to being returned to Boston.

His last season with the Red Sox organization was 2011, during which he split the year between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. In 12 appearances with Salem, Cabral was 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 1.20 WHIP while earning eight saves in 16.2 innings. He walked five and struck out 24. With Portland, Cabral did not close, earning one save in 24 appearances while going 2-4 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. He walked 16 and fanned 46 in 38.1 innings.

Cody Eppley  Good last season.

Hi-res-154572416_display_image
Leon Halip/Getty Images

RHP, age 27, 6’5”, 205 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Claimed off waivers from Texas Rangers, April 5, 2012

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 38

Cody Eppley spent most of last season in the Yankee bullpen, making 59 appearances with a 1-2 record, 3.33 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 46 innings. Eppley, a side-armer, walked 17 and struck out 32.

Eppley was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when David Robertson went on the disabled list last May. In seven appearances in Triple-A, Eppley saved two games and was not scored upon. He posted a 0.43 WHIP with one walk and 13 strikeouts in 9.1 innings.

But Eppley appears to be on the wrong end of a numbers game this spring. With Joba Chamberlain back fully healthy for the first time since 2010, Eppley’s middle-relief spot would appear to be in jeopardy. Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog reported last week that Eppley was one of several players in camp who still has minor-league options, so if he doesn’t earn a spot, he could be sent to Triple-A without having to clear waivers.

Dan Johnson  What a star.  He hits for some power, but not average.  Sound familiar?

Hi-res-153329175_display_image
Jason Miller/Getty Images

1B, age 32, 6’2”, 210 lbs, bats left, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Signed as a free agent from Chicago White Sox, Jan. 24, 2013

Status: Non-roster invitee, wears No. 27.

Dan Johnson spent most of last season playing for the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte, where he hit .267/.388/.492 with 28 homers and 85 RBI in 587 plate appearances. Johnson is one of those players known as a AAAA player—he dominates Triple-A pitching but never seems able to have sustained success in the majors.

In 14 games with the White Sox last season, Johnson hit .364/.548/.818 in 31 plate appearances, belting three homers and posting six RBI. But his last season as a regular in the majors was in 2007 with the Oakland Athletics, and any hopes Johnson had of breaking camp with the Yankees likely evaporated when Travis Hafner was signed on Jan. 31.

Johnson was signed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, so it appears likely he will be returning to Triple-A yet again.

Corban Joseph  Don’t know much about him either.

Hi-res-140779570_display_image
Nick Laham/Getty Images

2B, age 24, 6’0”, 180, bats left, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Selected in the fourth round, 2008 Amateur Draft out of Franklin High School in Franklin, Tenn.

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 77

Corban Joseph split 2012 between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With Trenton, Joseph hit .314/.412/.430 with two homers and six RBI in 102 plate appearances, and in Triple-A, he hit .266/.366/.474 with 13 homers and 56 RBI in 386 trips to the plate.

Joseph is in the mix for a utility infielder job this spring. Hunter Farman of the Yanks Go Yard blog at SI.com wrote Thursday morning that the job is Joseph’s to lose in a battle with Eduardo Nunez. However, it’s more likely that Joseph heads back to Triple-A this spring to wait for a phone call from the Bronx.

Shawn Kelley  Looks like he can help.

Hi-res-142065053_display_image
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Shawn Kelley was picked up by the Yankees on Wednesday in exchange for minor-league outfielder Abraham Almonte.

He spent most of 2012 with the Seattle Mariners, who designated him for assignment on Feb. 7 after signing catcher Kelly Shoppach.

Kelley was 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 47 appearances for the Mariners last season. He walked 15 and struck out 45 in 44.1 innings out of the Seattle bullpen. In all, Kelley pitched for the Mariners in parts of the last four seasons, all in relief.

He started last season with the Mariners but was sent to Triple-A Tacoma after the opening series in Japan. He was brought back to the show after going 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 0.65 WHIP in 14 appearances for Tacoma, saving six games. He walked four and struck out 25 in 20 innings.

Kelley will battle for a spot in middle relief but enters camp behind Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma.

Buster Olney tweeted on Thursday that Kelley does have a minor-league option left, so he could be riding the express between Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the Bronx this season.

 

 

Kelley has a minor league option left, so he’ll give the Yankees some flexibility and could be the yo-yo guy.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 14, 2013

Melky Mesa  I would like to see Melky make it.  Maybe an everyday player from the Yankees farm system can help the team.

Hi-res-153213075_display_image
Elsa/Getty Images

CF, age 26, 6’1”, 190 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Signed as an amateur free agent, July 2, 2003, out of Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 63

Melky Mesa has been around the Yankee organization for almost a decade now and made his big league debut last September. He had a single and an RBI in two plate appearances in a cup of coffee with the Yankees.

That came after splitting most of last season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Mesa hit .277/.344/.464 in 369 plate appearances for Trenton, with 14 homers and 46 RBI to go with 17 stolen bases.

But Mesa didn’t hit well in Triple-A, posting a .230/.271/.524 line with nine homers and 21 RBI in 133 plate appearances. He also stole five bags but struck out 43 times with just seven walks.

The clock is ticking on Mesa to establish himself at the big-league level. It’s been a long climb through the organization, as he didn’t begin minor-league play until 2006 in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Mesa looks to be one of the losers of a numbers game in the Yankee outfield, behind more experienced right-handed bats Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, who can also fill in at first base.

Jim Miller  ?????????????

Hi-res-152851541_display_image
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

RHP, age 30, 6’1”, 200 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Claimed off waivers from Oakland Athletics, Nov. 30, 2012

Status: Non-roster invitee, wears No. 43

Jim Miller split last season between the Oakland Athletics and Triple-A Sacramento. With Oakland, Miller was 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 33 relief appearances. In 48.2 innings, he walked 27 and struck out 44.

With Sacramento, Miller notched six saves and a 0-3 record in 16 appearances, with a 2.79 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He walked four and struck out 21 in 19.1 innings.

Miller has been kicking around organized baseball since 2004 and had brief stints in the bullpen for the Baltimore Orioles in 2008 and the Colorado Rockies—his original organization—in 2011.

Miller is a veteran, but he’s also a long shot to earn a middle-relief spot in the Bronx. Signed to a minor-league deal, he’s likely headed back to Triple-A yet again.

Jayson Nix  Nice utility guy.  The Yankees like to change their backups every season.

Hi-res-152863620_display_image
Abelimages/Getty Images

INF/OF, age 30, 5’11”, 195, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Signed as a free agent from Toronto Blue Jays, Nov. 23, 2011

Status: Non-roster invitee, wears No. 17

Jayson Nix spent most of last season in a utility role for the Yankees, playing third base, second base, shortstop and left field. He hit .243/.306/.384 with four homers and 18 RBI in 202 plate appearances, with 14 walks and 53 strikeouts.

Once a first-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2001, Nix has never been anything more than a utility guy in the majors, reaching a career-high of 363 plate appearances while splitting the 2010 season between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians.

Nix was moved off the 40-man roster in late November to make room for Mariano Rivera, according to Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog, and he was out-righted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Nix has a shot at a utility role again this year, but he is likely to be usurped by younger players such as Eduardo Nunez or Corban Joseph.

Austin Romine  It would be great if Austin would stick and add some offense.

Hi-res-124788026_display_image
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

C, age 24, 6’0”, 220 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Selected in the second round, 2007 Amateur Draft, out of El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif.

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 66

Austin Romine lost most of 2012 to a back injury. After rehabilitating, Romine split the 2012 season between the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, High-A Tampa and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Romine hit .208/.367/.333 in 30 tune-up plate appearances in the GCL with five RBI, then hit .389/.421/.556 in 19 plate appearances for Tampa, with a solo homer thrown in. In Triple-A, Romine struggled offensively, hitting .213/.296/.393 with three homers and nine RBI in 71 plate appearances.

That followed a solid 2011 campaign for Double-A Trenton during which Romine hit .286/.351/.378 with six homers and 47 RBI in 373 plate appearances. He also had a cup of coffee with the Yankees that September, going 3-for-19 in 20 plate appearances over nine games.

Romine has a chance to win the starting catching job this spring, but general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News last month that it was more likely Romine would start the year in Triple-A.

Francisco Rondon  ??????????????

(Photo by tjperr/flickr.com)
(Photo by tjperr/flickr.com)

LHP, age 24, 6’1”, 160 lbs, bats left, throws left

Acquired by Yankees: Signed as amateur free agent out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2006

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 74

Francisco Rondon rose rapidly through three levels of the farm system in 2012, moving from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton before earning a late promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rondon didn’t allow a run in two relief appearances in Tampa, posting a 0.80 WHIP in five innings, walking two and fanning eight. For Trenton, Rondon was 5-0 with a save in 41 appearances, notching a 3.96 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 63.2 innings. He walked 39 batters and struck out 70.

In one relief appearance in Triple-A, Rondon got rocked, allowing three runs, all earned, on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2.1 innings.

It took awhile for Rondon to find his rhythm, as he spent his first five professional seasons in the lower levels of the Yankee farm system. Last season, though, he made real progress—progress that appears set to continue in 2013 at the Triple-A level.

Josh Spence  A Padre, C’mon now!

Hi-res-123267452_display_image
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

LHP, age 25, 6’1”, 190 lbs, bats left, throws left

Acquired by Yankees: Claimed off waivers from San Diego Padres, Nov. 6, 2012

Status: Non-roster invitee, wears No. 53

Josh Spence is another left-handed reliever with a chance to make the big club but more likely ticketed to Triple-A.

He split 2012 between Triple-A Tucson and the San Diego Padres. In 11 appearances as a situational lefty, Spence was 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in 10.1 innings with the Padres. He walked five and struck out 10. With Tucson, Spence was 4-2 with a 4.20 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 27 relief appearances and four starts. In 49.1 innings, Spence walked 20 and fanned 36.

Spence also made 40 appearances for San Diego in 2011, posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 29.2 innings.

Adam Warren  Okay!

Hi-res-147436087_display_image
Elsa/Getty Images

RHP, age 25, 6’2”, 225 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Selected in fourth round of 2009 Amateur Draft out of the University of North Carolina

Status: 40-man roster, wears No. 61

Adam Warren made an eventful, if not successful, major league debut last June 29, earning a no-decision after surrendering six earned runs and eight hits—including a pair of homers—in just 2.1 innings against the Chicago White Sox. Warren walked two and struck out one in that appearance.

He spent most of 2012 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Warren was 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 26 starts in Triple-A. In 152.2 innings, he walked 46 and struck out 107.

It was his second full season in Triple-A, and the results were just about the same as they were in 2011, when he was 6-8 with an ERA of 3.60 and a 1.30 WHIP in 152.1 innings.

He will be in the mix along with Ivan Nova and David Phelps for the No. 5 starter role and the long-relief spot, but he’s unlikely to earn a place on the 25-man roster without a monster spring. Otherwise, it’s back to Triple-A.

Bobby Wilson  A total stiff.  He can’t hit.  Don’t count games vs. Yankees.  All Angel’s catchers kill the Yankees.

Hi-res-150739265_display_image
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

C, age 29, 6’0”, 220 lbs, bats right, throws right

Acquired by Yankees: Signed as a free agent from Toronto Blue Jays, Dec. 13, 2012

Status: Non-roster invitee, wears No. 45

Bobby Wilson played parts of five seasons, including all of 2011 and 2012, with the Los Angeles Angels before being claimed on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays last October.

Toronto let Wilson go, and the Yankees signed the catcher to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Wilson is a solid defensive receiver but a liability at the plate. He hit .211/.277/.292 in 201 plate appearances for the Angels last season with three homers and 13 RBI. He also spent a short stint on the disabled list last season with a concussion.

Wilson is in the mix with Austin Romine, Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli for one of the catching jobs but will have to show more at the plate to earn a spot over Stewart or Cervelli. He’s likely a coin flip to break camp in pinstripes.

 

WOOPDY DAMN DOO..YANKS KEEP TABS ON CHIEN MING WANG

New York Yankees: Bombers ‘Keeping Tabs’ on Former Ace Chien-Ming Wang

By

(Featured Columnist) on February 15, 2013

Hi-res-88566346_crop_exact Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

People disagree with me that this guy is a bum.  They tell me that he won 19 games, two years in-a-row.  Yeah, with a high E.R.A.  If you remember, Wang took SCAOI67O7CAN9H7ACCAMPN0FGCAF001ZNCAI3CDGPCAKM4CODCA1DB1M9CATMD6BSCAEOAJSFCAQ64TVNCA31SB3VCAOPDL3ICAWRXFY6CARTNVOWCAXJCZ44CASEAFD6CAZUPULECARHYYBPCAYTHGAM a shit in his pants in the playoffs.  He did absolutely nothing.  The excuse was that his sinker was not sinking.  To top it off, Wang hurts his foot  running the bases in an inter-league game.  He’s supposed to be an athlete and all pitchers do is run.  Give me a break!

The last time Yankee fans saw Chien-Ming Wang in pinstripes was almost four years ago.

After suffering a severe injury in 2008, Wang’s 2009 season was marred with inconsistency and ended with season-ending shoulder surgery.

After missing all of 2010, Wang has tried to get his career resurrected with the Washington Nationals, the team whom Wang has been pitching for since 2011.

According to George King of the New York Post, the Yankees are “keeping tabs” on Wang, as he threw off a mound for Billy Connors, the Yankees V.P. of player personnel.

On a minor-league deal, should the Yankees bring back Chien-Ming Wang?

Yes No Submit Vote vote to see results

On a minor-league deal, should the Yankees bring back Chien-Ming Wang?

  • Yes

    90.0%
  • No

    10.0%

    Total votes: 920

Wang is expected to pitch for his home country of Taiwan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic and the Yankees will be sending scouts to the WBC to scout Wang’s performances.

The former Yankee prospect got off to a great start with the Bombers, posting a 55-26 record from 2005-2008.

Back in 2008, Wang suffered a season-ending foot injury while running the bases in an inter-league game against the Houston Astros; one of the many injuries to the team that cost the Yankees a shot at the playoffs.

In 2009, Wang never seemed like the ace he once was for the Yankees and struggled with his command on the mound, posting a 1-6 record with a 9.64 ERA in 12 games.

In 2012 with Washington, Wang was 2-3 with a 6.68 ERA in 10 games, five of which he made starts in.

Hi-res-88821860_crop_exact Nick Laham/Getty Images

Currently, the Yankees have six starters vying for five spots, but it can’t hurt to sign Wang to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.

The Yankees did that with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia back in 2011 and both pitchers ended up pitching past everyone’s expectations; as a result Colon got a pay raise with the Oakland A’s and Garcia got a major league deal with the Yankees in 2012.

Back in 2006, Wang finished second in the A.L. Cy Young voting with a 19-6 record and a 3.63 ERA.

According to King, Yankees GM Brian Cashman hasn’t had contact with Wang’s agent, but if he likes what he sees from his outings in the WBC, the Yankees could be tempted to bring back their former ace on a minor-league deal and see what happens in the spring.

It would be fitting if Wang got one more opportunity to pitch for the team he started with and at one time, dominated with.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

WILL A-STIFF’S FORMER CONTRACT DEMANDS SCARE OFF YANKKES CONCERNING CANO?

Will the A-Rod Contract Scare off Yankees from Robinson Cano’s Huge Demands?

By

(MLB Lead Writer) on February 15, 2013

Hi-res-114168384_crop_exact Al Bello/Getty Images

The 10-year, $275 million contract Alex Rodriguez signed in 2007 is one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the New York Yankees. The only good thing that can be said about it is that it has taught the Yankees precisely where they should draw the line when it comes to long-term contracts.

Hence the reason they must proceed with caution with star second baseman Robinson Cano.

Cano is due to hit free agency at the end of the 2013 season, and the word from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is that there’s a “pretty decent chance” that the Yankees won’t stop Cano from hitting free agency by locking him up to a contract extension beforehand.

Cano and the Yankees don’t even appear to be anywhere close to an extension. The Yankees and Cano’s agent, the almighty Scott Boras, disagree on exactly how good Cano is. The Yankees think he’s a top-10 or maybe a top-15 player. Boras is peddling Cano as a top-five player.

“There are few elite players. That just is a very short list — less than five,” Boras told Heyman.

Cano is a career .308 hitter who has averaged 29 home runs over the last four seasons. He’s developed into an elite defensive second baseman, winning Gold Gloves two of the last three years. He’s finished in the top six of the AL MVP voting three straight years, and he had a higher WAR in 2012 than AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, whether you consult Baseball-Reference.com or FanGraphs.

All of this makes it very hard for the Yankees to argue with Boras about Cano being a top-five player, in which case he should be in line for a contract similar to the top five contracts in the league.

Those belong to A-Rod, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Joe Mauer. The average worth of their contracts, as Heyman pointed out, is $223 million. The shortest of the bunch is Mauer’s eight-year deal with the Minnesota Twins.

Thus, it’s going to take a contract in the eight to 10-year range and for at least $200 million for the Yankees to retain Cano. Even in a day and age when contracts are getting more and more ridiculous, that’s no small commitment.

 

Hi-res-154604924_crop_exact Cano likes the sound of all this.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Yankees can handle the money part. They want to get under $189 million in 2014 and stay there if they can help it, sure. But they certainly have the funds to afford another $20ish million-per-year deal, and they presently only have about $81 million committed for 2014 and $68 million committed for 2015, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

It’s the years the Yankees should be worried about. Cano will be embarking on his age-30 season in 2013. That puts him a little too close to A-Rod circa 2007 territory, as he was coming off his age-31 season when he signed his 10-year megadeal. The Yankees know from the way his deal has panned out that they should fear the long-term future.

Heyman brought up some good points about Boras’ likely defense if/when the Yankees bring up the A-Rod situation, saying Boras “will counter by saying Cano is his own entity and personality, a clean liver with a clean resume whose only similarity with A-Rod is that they share a clubhouse.”

Reading between the lines, the general message will be that there’s less to fear in Cano’s case because he hasn’t been doing anything he shouldn’t be doing. Outside of some silly rumor from last season, he’s never been linked to PEDs. His body isn’t a ticking time bomb.

The problem with any argument such as this one is that it chalks up A-Rod’s decline to his admitted PED use in the early 2000s. In reality, he’s aged about as well as any other player, and that’s to say not well at all.

Rodriguez was at the height of his career between 2003 and 2007, his age 27-31 seasons. His latest five-year sample size between 2008 and 2012, in which he’s gone from his age-32 season to his age-36 season, hasn’t been nearly as productive.

As the following table shows, he’s not alone there.

Player Age 27-31, 2003-2007 Age 32-36, 2008-2012
Alex Rodriguez 37.9 WAR 20.0 WAR
David Ortiz 23.8 WAR 11.0 WAR
Lance Berkman 21.3 WAR 14.9 WAR
Placido Polanco 19.4 WAR 11.5 WAR
J.D. Drew 19.2 WAR 8.3 WAR*

*Retired after 2011.

There’s no ignoring the trend. A-Rod isn’t the only player who went from being a star player between the ages of 27 and 31 to being much less of a star player between the ages of 32 and 36. He’s been better than the others but well short of his past greatness.

The only player in the above list who is still going strong is David Ortiz, and his situation comes with a couple caveats. One is that his body has been saved by years of DH duty. The other is that he’s not going that strong, as a good chunk of his 2012 season was lost to an Achilles injury.

The trend isn’t all that different if the ages are adjusted to be more in Cano’s territory. He’s come into his own between the ages of 26 and 29 over the last four seasons. Here’s a look at players who did the same between 2005 and 2008, and how they played over the next four years between the ages of 30 and 33.

Player Age 26-29, 2005-2008 Age 30-33, 2009-2012
Chase Utley 30.6 WAR 20.3 WAR
Jimmy Rollins 20.5 WAR 8.3 WAR
Adrian Beltre 16.6 WAR 22.7 WAR
Jason Bay 13.0 WAR 6.0 WAR
Kevin Youkilis 12.9 WAR 16.4 WAR

Three of the five players here regressed with age. Chase Utley’s career is nearing its end due to knee problems. Jason Bay’s own career has been derailed largely due to injuries. Kevin Youkilis’ star status has gone away in a hurry over the last two years thanks to injuries.

The only player in this table who’s still going strong is Adrian Beltre, but it seems like he’s always playing through one nagging injury or another at any given time.

Hi-res-152644852_crop_exact Utley has only played in 301 games over the last three seasons.
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

This data suggests that the Yankees would be taking their chances with Cano even if they were to sign him to a mere three- or four-year contract, as things get a little dicey when players get into their mid-30s. Utley’s case is particularly scary because he and Cano play the same position.

But the Yankees, of course, are going to have to give Cano an eight to 10-year contract to keep him. Such a contract would lock him up for his age-31 season through his age-38 season, at the very least.

Naturally, the recent track record for players in their late 30s is even less encouraging for players in their early 30s. Since 2005, only four players have accumulated at least a 10 WAR between their age-35 and age-38 seasons: Chipper Jones, Mark Grudzielanek, Derek Jeter and Jim Thome.

At the rate he’s going, A-Rod likely won’t be joining their company. He’s compiled a 5.7 WAR over the last two seasons, his age-35 and age-36 campaigns, and he’s going to miss at least half the 2013 season recovering from his latest hip surgery. Whether he’ll ever be a productive player again at his age and on two surgically repaired hips is doubtful.

At least A-Rod’s contract isn’t back-loaded. If Boras is looking to take after the contracts signed by Pujols, Votto and Fielder, Cano’s next contract will probably be back-loaded. Whoever signs Cano, be it the Yankees or somebody else, wouldn’t be getting poor performances at discounted rates if he were to be undone by age.

If I’m the Yankees, I’m only signing Cano to a long-term contract if the total cost is less than $200 million and if the years are in the five to seven range. To do this, I’d basically be doing the same thing they’re supposedly already doing, and that’s trying to convince Boras that Cano isn’t a top-five player worth a long-term contract for over $200 million per year.

As long as Cano is characteristically productive in 2013, the Yankees aren’t going to have any luck talking Boras down. Whether or not the Yankees are the ones who grant it, Boras will get his wish for Cano’s next contract one way or another.

So don’t think the Yankees won’t walk away from Cano after 2013 if the price tag doesn’t drop. They know all too well from A-Rod’s contract about the risks that come with long-term deals for players over 30, and they have every reason to believe that A-Rod’s slow destruction with age is not a freak occurrence. He’s not the first big-time ballplayer to be undone by age, nor will he be the last.

Come 2014, there could be somebody else manning second base for the Yankees, and they might have zero reservations about that.

 

EDB

YANKEES WILL PRACTICE PATIENCE WITH PINEDA

Yankees Practice Patience With Pineda’s Return

Scott Iskowitz/Associated Press

Michael Pineda at camp Friday with Larry Rothschild, the Yankees’ pitching coach.

If the Yankees show enough patience he can become another genius Cashman find like  BCAPSY7JTCAVIF75PCA2JC70KCAMBSOZ3CA80K7FWCAUQ8OK8CA2JUVTTCAEM0A73CABMNRGGCAAKS2D6CAXO6V5RCAW7C4S0CASHYU7WCA11GSTHCAAIY2LACA39QR3ZCAAB54XVCA9RR8N0CA5X3NKE Pedro Feliciano, who never threw a pitch in the regular season for the Yankees.  he is back with the Mets.  Pineda has topped that.  Put the Genius traded the Yankees top hitting prospect, Montero for him.
By PAT BORZI
Published: February 15, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. — The rehabilitating pitchers always go first. Half the Yankees pitchers and catchers were still getting dressed or eating breakfast when Michael Pineda walked into the clubhouse Friday morning, toweled off his sweaty face and ditched his cap in his locker before heading to the training room.

Scott Iskowitz/Associated Press

Acquired in a trade 13 months ago, Michael Pineda missed the 2012 season and is not expected to be ready before June.

Pineda had just finished his second bullpen session in four days, a small step in his recovery from a torn labrum in his right shoulder. On a cool, overcast morning, Pineda threw 25 fastballs under the pitching pavilion on a back field, with the pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Manager Joe Girardi watching.

Cesar Cabral, a left-handed relief prospect recovering from a stress fracture in his pitching elbow, threw alongside Pineda. He might as well have been invisible. Cabral could be a decent reliever one day, but he is not Pineda, a 6-foot-7-inch physical specimen with electric stuff who cost the Yankees a top prospect, Jesus Montero, when they pried him from Seattle 13 months ago.

Since that blockbuster deal, the Yankees have gotten nothing out of Pineda, who turned 24 last month. Last year he reported to camp 20 pounds overweight and wrecked his shoulder. Surgery ended his season before he threw a single major league pitch. A drunken-driving arrest in Tampa last August, after the police pulled over Pineda’s Nissan S.U.V. at 2:35 a.m. with the headlights off, hardly endeared him to Yankees management.

Girardi said Pineda would not pitch in any games this spring as he gradually built arm strength. Though Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman hope Pineda can begin a rehabilitation assignment by June, Rothschild is not so sure.

“I don’t know that,” he said. “I don’t even look at the time frame. Any little setback will be a pretty large chunk of time. It might not be anything, but you’re not going to take a chance. And it happens with shoulders a lot.”

Torn-labrum recoveries are especially tricky. Chris Carpenter won a National League Cy Young Award in 2005, more than two years after surgery. Curt Schilling pitched 12 seasons after his 1995 surgery, winning 20 games three times, before another labrum tear ended his career.

But Brandon Webb and the former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang never regained their effectiveness. Webb recently retired, and Wang remains a free agent.

With so much invested in Pineda, an All-Star as a Seattle rookie in 2011, the Yankees will not rush him. Pineda’s program includes bullpen sessions twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Rothschild has Pineda throw before the main squad hits the field. He has to. The Yankees have 42 pitchers in camp.

“We do the guys who are rehabbing earlier because it gives us more one-on-one time with them, and we can watch them a lot closer,” Rothschild said. “The trainers can do their stuff with them before people come in and it gets too crowded. He can do a lot more conditioning at that point because there’s enough time in the day and he doesn’t have to wait to do it.”

Girardi said: “This is the way Larry’s done it since he’s been here. He likes to give that individual attention to a lot of guys. When you get five guys on the mound at once, it’s a little bit harder to give each one that individual attention. The major league pitching coach is right there in your ear all the time watching everything you do. I think it’s kind of an advantage.”

Before camp opened, the minor league pitching instructor Greg Pavlick, a former Mets pitching coach, supervised Pineda’s throwing program. Pavlick will continue working with Pineda once camp breaks. “He spent a lot of time with him this winter, really been diligent with him,” Rothschild said. “Mike is lucky he’s been with him.”

Once Pineda shows he can handle a 25-pitch workload, Rothschild will gradually increase the count, then work with Pineda on breaking pitches.

“You do it with the goal in mind that whatever you do today, you feel good tomorrow,” Rothschild said. “That’s a reminder we use a lot. Look, if you feel that good today, we want you to feel this good tomorrow, and monitor a little bit what you’re doing today.”

Even this early, Rothschild said, he and Pavlick stress good mechanics. Pineda tends to spin sometimes as he delivers a pitch instead of stepping toward the plate. His arm drops, stressing his shoulder and elbow, and the ball sails wide of the plate.

“We’ve shown him tape,” Rothschild said. “He’s worked hard on it.”

Pineda helped himself by reporting at a firm 260 pounds instead of a bloated 280. The difference, he said, is striking. “I’ll never come too heavy anymore,” he said.

The Yankees expected Pineda to be out a full year after his surgery on May 1. That has not changed. Cashman thinks Pineda could return to the Yankees before the All-Star break, but he is not counting on it.

“It’s not unusual for guys to have a setback, especially when they get on the mound,” Cashman said. “I always thought about June as something we could realistically think about. It doesn’t mean he’ll be in the big leagues. We just want to get him to the point where he’s 100 percent healthy, and then it’s performance-driven.”

Rothschild, though, has seen too many prolonged shoulder recoveries to guess when Pineda might return, or to press him toward a target date. “They can end up putting themselves in a bad spot by trying to achieve that goal,” he said.

Many more early-morning sessions await Pineda, and many more days before he sees a mound in the Bronx.

JABA AND YOUK SHAKE ON IT!

Joba Chamberlain, Kevin Youkilis shake hands at Yankees spring training camp

The two former rivals spoke face-to-face on Friday, putting whatever dispute there was between them in the past

By / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Saturday, February 16, 2013, 12:21 AM
<br />
	Joba Chamberlain (r.) chats with Mariano Rivera at the Yankes spring training complex in Tampa. <br />

REUTERS/ Scott Audette

Joba Chamberlain (r.) chats with Mariano Rivera at the Yankes spring training complex in Tampa.

TAMPA – There were no hard feelings as Kevin Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain greeted each other Friday morning in the Yankees clubhouse, but there was plenty of talk about mustaches.

The former rivals finally met face-to-face as Youkilis made his second visit to Steinbrenner Field. Both players professed they did not feel awkward about shaking hands.

“I said hi to Joba today; we shook hands, he’s growing a mustache,” Youkilis said. “It’s all good. Tomorrow we’ll hug and it will all be fun. Everything is good. Life is good. There’s no reason to get all worked up on the second day.”

Chamberlain and Youkilis may not own any bad feelings toward each other now, but that wasn’t always the case. He had unleashed multiple pitches in the direction of Youkilis’ head in recent years, often drawing intense stares from the third baseman.

“We don’t live in the past, we live in the present,” Chamberlains said. “It’s one of those things where it’s done, it’s over with. It’s a handshake and a (fist) pound, and ‘Hey, let’s get after it.’ ”

Joe Girardi recalled Derek Jeter wearing full catcher’s gear the first time he took batting practice against Roger Clemens, who had drilled him many times before joining the Yankees.

“Your paths cross eventually; usually when you’re on the same team, things are okay,” Girardi said. “You remember those things, but you understand that it’s part of the game.”

Facial hair seemed to dominate their brief discussion. As per Yankee regulations, Youkilis reported to camp clean-shaven after sporting a goatee for many years in Boston.

RELATED: HARPER: PETTITTE FEELS NEW TEAMMATE IS KEVIN-SENT

The conversation left Chamberlain with one impression: Youkilis wasn’t as imposing up close as he remembered him being at the plate.

“He’s smaller than I thought,” Chamberlain said. “I thought he was bigger; you really don’t see him that close when you’re on the field.”

PACING PINEDA

Unlike last spring, when Michael Pineda’s radar gun readings became a daily topic, Girardi said he won’t even ask about them until the righthander has made a few rehab starts.

“I think we have to get into games – and not the first game, but get into three or four rehab starts before we start thinking about where we think his velocity is going to project out to be,” Girardi said after watching Pineda throw a 25-pitch mound session.

JORGE ON WAY

Jorge Posada is listed on the roster of guest instructors this spring, though Girardi said he wasn’t sure when the former catcher would be showing up.
Yogi Berra won’t be showing up this spring as travel has become difficult for the 87-year-old Hall of Famer.

“We’re all disappointed that he’s not here,” Girardi said. “He’s a fixture here. We miss him. I look forward to seeing him when we get back.”

For all of those of you who spend your days thinking of Joba.  EDB