Pitchers and catchers report to camp in less than 3 days. Yeah, I know, fucking awesome, right?! With all that happened and didn't happen this offseason, there will be plenty of buzz, plenty of new faces, and plenty of storylines when everything kicks off Monday. Here are the 5 things I'm really going to follow:
1) Phil Hughes' changeup development
I touched on this earlier in the week, but I think it warrants repeating given that Hughes could be assuming the #2 starter role this year behind CC. Come to think of it, I want to know exactly what Hughes is working on at all times during ST, hour-by-hour updates, but definitely want to know how he plans to improve the changeup and implement it more in 2011 and what plans Rothschild has for him and the pitch he needs to master to take the next step towards becoming a big time pitcher.
2) Russell Martin's knee
Maybe I'm overreacting a bit, but I didn't exactly get a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach when reports were coming out a few days ago about Martin still not being 100% recovered from his knee surgery. I'm anxious to see how that knee holds up to crouching and getting through the grind of real catching activities. Martin and Cash are all saying the right things and both say he's going to be good as gold heading into the start of the regular season, but when it's a guy who's been ravaged by injuries the last couple years, I'll believe it when I see it.
3) A.J.'s everything
There continue to be reports coming out from Rothschild discussing the plan for A.J. this season. I want to see how the early talks and offseason work they did pays off right from the start. How's his velocity? How's his command? How's his demeanor? If anybody can fix A.J. and maximize the stuff he still has, it should be Rothschild. The earlier A.J. has success, the better off he's going to be as the regular season starts.
4) How the Triple-A kids perform
Very few people around the blogosphere have any faith in Garcia and Colon (and with good reason) and regardless of what the Yankees expect or hope to get out of them, you have to think that the Hector Noesis, David Phelpses, Adam Warrens, and D.J. Mitchells of the world are going to get a fair shot to prove themselves worthy of winning the job. Innings limits wouldn't be a concern for any of them, so I'm curious to see how they hold up against everybody else and what the coaches and Cash have to say about them if any of them pitch well.
5) The Jesus
He probably won't make the 25-man out of ST, but it will be fun to see what he can do and how hard he will work to prove he's ready. How will he handle the pitchers? How quick will his release to 2nd be? How many home runs will he crush? Will he walk on water? Will he turn water to wine? If that's still not enough to impress the coaches, will he make a blind man see? Given Martin's new health concerns, it will be worth watching what happens if he struggles/gets banged up and Jesus wows. Just like Hughes, this is something I feel warrants 24/7 coverage. Assign somebody to just follow and report on Jesus. I'm talking Twitter updates every 30 minutes.
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