Monday, February 17, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. -- Another day, another workout, another notebook full of news. Pitchers, catchers and a handful of position players were back on the field in Tampa Monday morning for the third day of workouts this spring. Brian Roberts made some noise, Joe Girardi said that Kelly Johnson will be the super-utility player, and people still care about Robinson Cano.

Roberts: "I'm not going to go in and be Robbie:" Roberts said he got a call from the Yankees during the offseason, before Robinson Cano signed his 10-year mega-deal with the Seattle Mariners.

Roberts didn't take any meaning to it because he thought the Yankees would end up re-signing Cano.

Well, they didn't, and now Roberts, at 36-years-old, is being tasked with replacing Cano. Not exactly, though.

"Robbie is such a special player, I'm not going to go in and be Robbie," Roberts said Monday. "Nobody will be. Our goal is to put nine guys on the field to win a game. My goal is to try and help us do that. I'm sure there are going to be people who are going to want to look out there and say, 'He is not Robbie.' I'm not going to be Robbie and I'm not going to try to be. I'm going to be Brian Roberts and hopefully that is good enough."

Girardi declared after the day's workout that Roberts is going to be the everyday second baseman during the season, with Kelly Johnson as his backup. Johnson, by the way, is expected to spend most of his time at third base, while also being on hand as Mark Teixeira's backup at first base.

And though Girardi didn't mention this, Johnson is also going to be my backup when I can't cover games during the season.

Roberts hasn't played more than 77 games in the last four years, all with the Baltimore Orioles, because of various injuries, and the Yankees need him to be out there everyday. Good luck with that.

"It's been a while," Roberts said.

In 2013, Roberts started off well in the Orioles' first two games of the season, going 4-for-8 at the plate, before popping his hamstring tendon in game No. 3, trying to steal a base.

"That was really frustrating for me," Roberts said. "I thought I was in a place where I thought I was going to bounce back and be myself again."

Pineda gets some high praise: Michael Pineda threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday morning, and it left many, including Girardi and Pineda, feeling confident in what he can be this year.

“I’m feeling good. Really good," Pineda said. "I’m throwing the same. Mechanics the same. Everything is the same. All pitches are the same. I’m the same Michael Pineda.”

Though he wasn't throwing in front of a radar gun, Girardi said the Pineda was hitting 93 and 94 mph last year in the minors. So we can guess he's in the same range, and possibly better.

"I thought the ball was coming out easier," Girardi said. "I know he’s had time to clean up a couple things too, mechanically, in this two-year span. He just looked like it came out free and easy to me; didn’t look like he put a ton of effort into it, or that he was overthrowing it."

The Yankees are really hoping that Pineda can stay healthy enough through the spring to win the fifth starter job, because this kid has yet to throw a pitch in the big leagues for the Bombers since coming over two years ago.

If he can return to form as anything close to what he was when with the Mariners in 2011, Pineda could be one of the best fifth starters in the game.

Beltran arrives at spring training: Carlos Beltran checked in at the Yankees spring training complex, and after working out, he told reports that he's excited for the upcoming season, his first in pinstripes.

“I feel great, man," Beltran said. "Since we were able to agree on signing the three-year deal, I’m looking forward to the team. I think we have a real good team. We have a lineup that -- hopefully everyone is healthy, that’s the main thing. I believe the lineup we have is a pretty good lineup. On paper, it looks pretty good. We have to get to know each other and find a way to play the game the right way.”

Beltran also said that he is really looking forward to being a part of Derek Jeter's final season.

"Being able to play with a guy that’s a Hall of Famer – a first-ballot Hall of Famer – is a great feeling," he said. "I’m just looking forward to playing with him and hopefully helping this team win a championship. I know he has a lot of championships, but I don’t have [any]. Hopefully I can win one.”

The Yankees asked Cano to hustle more: Not running hard to first base was one of the few negative things associated with Cano when he left the Yankees for Seattle this winter.

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long was one of the people speaking out against the second baseman's lack of effort.

"If somebody told me I was a dog, I'd have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that's your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to," Long told the New York Daily News on Sunday.

Up next:  Sam old, same old Tuesday morning. Workouts for the spring will continue. And looking a couple days down the road, position players officially report Wednesday, with the first full-squad workout on thursday.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).


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