Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Andy's First Comeback Outing

The plan was to take things slow, but Andy Pettitte has been on what seems to me like a pretty aggressive schedule since the announcement of his unretirement.  He started throwing bullpens and BP very early in his short ST stint, got into a ST game earlier than expected at the end of camp, and last night made his first official appearance of the season for High-A Tampa.  The plan was for Pettitte to throw just 2 innings but thanks to a low pitch count he ended up throwing another, once again an aggressive decision.

All reports on Pettitte's outing last night have been incredibly positive, and with good reason.  He threw 32 pitches last night, 26 of them for strikes, and sat 85-86 with his fastball, which is not too far off from the 88-89 he was averaging when he last pitched in 2010.  Granted, it was against much lesser competition than he'll face at the upper levels, but in what was essentially a ST start the results were everything you would want to see.

Andy mentioned at his comeback presser that his legs were much further behind his arm at that point, and given the injury problems he had with his legs at the end of 2010 I thought that was going to be the main reason to take things very slowly with him and for the Yankees to not even consider calling him up until he was absolutely 100% ready, even if it took until June.  But Andy said his legs felt good after last night, and he's scheduled to make his next appearance on Sunday.  He'll get an extra day of rest before that start because of the 3rd inning he threw last night, which is a wise decision, but early on it appears to be full steam ahead for the old pitching Jedi.

Just Say "No" To Raul Ibanez In The Outfield

As important as it is for the Yankees to keep their key veteran players healthy this season, and as much as I want to see guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez get regular rest to avoid wear and tear and trips to the DL, I was a little surprised to see Eduardo Nunez starting at shortstop in the second game of the season while Jeter got a DH day on Saturday.  I was even more surprised to see Raul Ibanez in the lineup in right field Sunday while Nick Swisher got a DH day.  Seeing as how both Jeter and Swish are coming off of Spring Training injuries, it's perfectly understandable that Joe would want to err on the side of caution early in the season and give them a day off from the field.  That being said, I would be lying if I said I wasn't against the idea of Ibanez getting regular time in the field this season at the expense of healthy, better defensive options.  In fact, given the showing he had in the field in his first game, I'd go as far to say that Ibanez should never be playing in the outfield.

With Nunez, there really isn't much the Yankees can do as far as finding a better utility IF/OF option.  As he showed on Saturday, he's more than capable of turning the most routine defensive play into an adventure, but we've already known this about him for some time now and when you factor in all the good things he does bring to the table, it helps a bit to balance out what he takes away defensively.  When you consider that Nunez's issues in the field seem to be rooted more in focus and mechanics rather than physical ability, it does leave room for optimism that he can improve and clean up some of his error issues.  With Ibanez, the situation doesn't look so rosy.

Game 4 Wrap-Up: Super Nova

(Goodbye.  Screen cap courtesy of MLB.com)

The losing streak is over!  The Yanks were able to put good hitting and good pitching together last night for the first time this season, and the result was exactly what you would expect.

Game Notes:

- Ivan Nova was on last night, no other way to say it.  His fastball velocity was up, and he located it well to both sides of the plate.  He threw a ton of strikes to keep himself in control of the at-bats and worked his offspeed stuff in brilliantly.  There was no talk of missing command last night.  Nova was damn good.

- It's a little weird to use the word "scattered" when describing an outing in which the pitcher allowed 10 hits, but that's really what Nova did last night.  The only really bad pitch he made was the changeup he left up on the Matt Wieters HR.  There were a couple instances of balls just finding spots in the field where the defenders weren't, but there was never a sense that Nova was losing control of the game.

- Derek Jeter was the big offensive star of the night, going 4-4 with a double and 1 R and RBI apiece.  It marked the 37th time in The Captain's career that he had 4+ hits in a game and continued the positive trends we've seen from him at the plate since he returned from his ST calf injury.

- Joe wasn't playing around in the 8th and 9th innings, going right to D-Rob and Mo to close it out.  It's nice when he doesn't have to make any real decisions with the bullpen.  D-Rob decided to change things up for his escape act last night, striking out the first 2 batters of the inning, then giving up consecutive hits before finishing things off.

F*ck Yeahs:

- Nova: 7 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.  Command problems?  What command problems?

- Jeter: Doing what you want your leadoff man to do.

- Andruw Jones: 1-2 with a HR, BB, 1 RBI, 2 R scored.  He looks lean and mean this season and absolutely smoked that homer off of Darren O'Day in the 6th.

Oh Nos:

- The "Heart of the order: Cano, A-Rod, and Teix combined to go 2-13 with just 1 RBI and 11 LOB, although they did draw 2 walks.

Next Up:

The Yanks look to turn this one win into a mini-streak with a follow-up W in the second game of this series tonight.  Freddy Garcia takes the hill for the Bombers against Wei-Yin Chen.  Yeah, I don't know who the hell he is either.