Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. -- Robinson Cano is still making headlines in the New York newspapers, yet he signed with the Seattle Mariners a couple months ago. His manager fired back at comments about him in Sunday's NY Daily News; Brendan Ryan thinks Yankees fans will hate him; and Masahiro Tanaka threw another bullpen.

All of that, plus some more, in today's edition of the Yankees Spring Training notebook.

Pitching to his value: Tanaka threw another bullpen Tuesday morning, and once again, he was getting some praise for the way he threw.

“Really impressive. Really impressive,” catcher John Ryan Murphy said. “His fastball command was really good today. Cervy told me it was the other day (as well). Masahiro told me it was probably the best of the three bullpens he had thrown.

"The fastball command for me was really good inside and outside. I think his ability to forget a poor pitch and repeat a better pitch the next pitch was really impressive also. If he threw one poor pitch, he was back (to throwing a good pitch) the next one. I think he threw four or five pitches up in the zone, that was it. He commanded all of his pitches. He’s got a short memory on the bad pitches, and I think overall it was very, very good.”

As for the legendary split-finger that we've all been hearing about, Murphy had some good words about that, too.

“He only threw maybe five or six, but he threw a few that were really good and sharp and hard and downward breaking,” Murphy said. “And then he threw a couple for strikes. He did it all today, honestly.”

As for his arm strength...

“What surprised me was the effort level looked minimal and it was coming out really good,” Murphy said. “Velocity-wise, I have no idea.”

He thinks you guys hate him: Brendan Ryan is going to spend a decent amount of time subbing for Derek Jeter at shortstop this season, and he believes that Yankees fans won't be too fond of that.

But that doesn't matter, because Ryan plans to "embrace the boos," he said Tuesday.

"I'm going to get booed regardless," Ryan said. "I've been booed before. Who cares? If I'm getting high-fives from my teammates, I'm doing something right and that's what matters. Hopefully the fans will come around after that."

Jeter, who announced his retirement on Facebook last week. is coming off a season in which he played just 17 games because of various injuries, including multiple re-injurings of his surgically repaired right ankle.

The Yankees acquired Ryan from the Mariners in September, and though he can't hit, he is good enough in the field that the Yanks re-signed him on a two-year contract this offseason.

Now leading off, in center field: Jacoby Ellsbury showed up to Yankees camp today. He said that he is completely healed from the foot injury that caused him problems late last season and into the playoffs.

“It feels good,” Ellsbury said. “I went into the offseason workouts and once I stepped into that weight room it was 100 percent ready to go. Strength and everything is where it needs to be. … I’ll talk to those guys about it, but as far as me being ready to go, I’m ready to go.”

And to the surprise of nobody, Ellsbury said that Joe Girardi has told him that he'll be leading off and playing center field for the Yankees this season.

Back off my boy: Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon had something to say about Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long's comments on the Daily News Sunday that Cano didn't always hustle down the line, bothering Long during Cano's nine-year tenure in the Bronx.

"Last time I checked, I didn't know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees," McClendon told ESPN.com. "That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I'm sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He's concerned with his team and what they're doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.

"I'm a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ["Cage Rat"] proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting."

Long responded to that on Tuesday, saying he wasn't trying to go after Cano in any way, and that "if you look at all the good things that were written about Robinson you would understand there was no malicious meaning behind any of it."

Green with envy, not money: When Yu Darvish came over from Japan to sign with the Texas Rangers two years ago, the posting system that was in place at the time was only able to get him a six-year, $56 million guaranteed deal.

What does he think about the new posting system now that the Yankees were able to give Tanaka a seven-year, $155 million contract this winter?

"I don't know the details of the posting system, but I think the Yankees gave him a little bit too much," said Darvish, chuckling along with his interpreter.

After everyone on Twitter made a big deal over his comments, Darvish tweeted that he was only joking, and the Rangers' PR staff sent out a statement saying, too, that he was only joking. Hmmm...

Parting shot: This comes from Girardi, who was think about the big picture when talking about his club today.....

“I'm encouraged what I've seen in camp so far. It’s a camp that, our staff does a very good job of making sure they see everyone in all the different situations, and that’s why you see BPs spread out throughout the whole day so Larry has a close eye on everyone. But I’m encouraged by what we've got so far.

"Tex hitting the third day in a row, he feels good, and the position players all get here tomorrow, and we’ll get on the field whatever day that is, Thursday.”


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


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