Kelley wants to show Yanks what he can do
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com | 02/17/2013 5:45 PM ET
Why do we have here a photo of Travis (Nick Johnson) Hafner? Travis will spend loads of time on DL this season.
TAMPA, Fla. — One of the first orders of business for new Yankees pitcher Shawn Kelley was picking a new uniform number. No. 23, which he wore for the Mariners, has been off-limits here since Don Mattingly’s days.
Kelley settled into Yanks camp with No. 27 on his back, and now the right-hander is hoping to get a chance to show it off in New York when the season begins.
“I’m excited. You don’t always get a chance to put on the pinstripes and play for an organization like this,” Kelley said. “Seattle was a great organization, great people, but I’m excited for a new start and the challenges that come with pitching for the Yankees.”
Kelley was acquired from the Mariners last week for Minor League outfielder Abraham Almonte and said that the trade developed quickly.
He had already reported to camp with the Mariners in Phoenix, but he didn’t mind having to fly to Florida. After two Tommy John surgeries, Kelley said he is happy just to be healthy and pitching.
“As far as I know, I’m just one of the guys here competing for a spot,” Kelley said. “I’ll just show them what I’m about in the spring and see what happens. Hopefully, I get to pitch in Yankee Stadium.”
Yanks counting on Hafner’s bat to be a force
TAMPA, Fla. — Every spring, Travis Hafner receives a shipment that packs in a couple of first basemen’s gloves, sent to his team just in case. He hasn’t needed to break one in lately.
“Usually people that need first-base mitts will call me, because they know,” Hafner said.
An arthritic right elbow has kept Hafner out of the field since 2007, and the 35-year-old said that he has not done much throwing over the past five seasons.
While Hafner said that he felt “great” physically as he reported for his first day as a Yankee, manager Joe Girardi made it clear that the only equipment required of the left-handed slugger will be his bats.
“He’s a DH,” said Girardi, who then twice spelled out emphatically, “D … H.”
Hafner has been limited to an average of 86 games over the past five seasons due to injuries. The Yankees will try to keep Hafner healthy by using him as a DH against right-handed pitching, with hopes of having his lefty stroke do serious damage in Yankee Stadium.
“I think that’s a really good fit,” Hafner said. “I think it was the best spot for me.”
Hafner played the last 10 seasons with the Indians, for whom he hit 200 big league homers, and he said that the chance of playing for a championship in New York was very appealing.
“I’ve only been to the playoffs once in the last 10 years,” Hafner said. “I know here we have a great chance, and I’m very excited about that and looking forward to the opportunity. That was probably No. 1 on the list, just having a great chance to win.”
Teixeira hopes early spring start means fast open
TAMPA, Fla. — Mark Teixeira hopes that revving up earlier to play in the World Baseball Classic will help him avoid a sluggish start to his season.
Teixeira is one of two Yankees participating in the tournament, joining second baseman Robinson Cano. He said that once he committed to the Classic, Teixeira reached out to hitting coach Kevin Long and wanted to speed up his preparation for the season.
“When I found out I was going to play in the WBC, I called K-Long and said, ‘Let’s not build up to Opening Day; let’s build up to the WBC and the first of March,'” Teixeira said. “I think that will be good. There’s never really a sense of urgency because Spring Training is six weeks long.
“Now I kind of have two weeks to get ready, so I’m in great shape. I have no problem kind of ramping up the baseball activities, making sure my swing is right and my timing is right. Hopefully, it’s going to be great for the WBC.”
Teixeira also said that the quick start “absolutely” could ward off the April struggles that have marked his career; last year, it was slowed by a nagging cough, Teixeira hit just .244 with a .290 on-base percentage in the season’s first month.
“I spend almost all offseason and all Spring Training lifting weights very hard, getting my body in shape for 162,” Teixeira said. “Because of that, I think [in] April I’m a little tight, maybe a little sore. This year, I’ve cut back on that.
“I’m not really going to get any stronger as I get older. I just want to keep that strength, keep that flexibility, so I’ve cut back a little bit on the weightlifting already to make sure I’m not tight for the beginning of the season.”
A-Rod’s absence in camp to be a weird feeling
TAMPA, Fla. — With 84 players invited to camp, space is at a premium in the Yankees’ clubhouse, but there is no problem finding a little extra breathing room around Alex Rodriguez’s vacant locker.
A-Rod is expected to be the only absent player as the Yankees hold their first full-squad workout on Monday, because Rodriguez has been instructed to stay in New York all spring to complete his rehab from hip surgery.
“It’s going to be odd that he’s not here,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “It’s going to be weird not having him here. He’s been a part of this team since 2004, so it’s going to be awkward.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he has been keeping in touch with Rodriguez, who could rejoin the big league roster after the All-Star break.
“I keep in touch with him to see how he’s doing and make sure he’s rehabbing,” Girardi said. “Everything’s going good.”
• Infield prospect David Adams will be sidelined for “a couple of weeks” of big league camp while he rehabs a back injury, according to manager Joe Girardi. The 25-year-old Adams played last year at Double-A Trenton, batting .306 in 86 games.
In July 2010, Adams was nearly traded to the Mariners in a package for left-hander Cliff Lee, but Seattle called the deal off because Adams was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. The injury was later revealed to have been an ankle fracture.