Yanks feel they have pieces to win another title
After taking physicals, pitchers, catchers will hold first workout Wednesday
TAMPA, Fla. -- The demands haven't changed as the Yankees filtered into town, looking ahead to the first mandatory workout for pitchers and catchers. The expectation is a championship-caliber club that will make a serious run at a 28th World Series title.
New York's hurlers and backstops reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday, going through a gauntlet of physical examinations and preparing for the first on-field workouts on Wednesday morning. CC Sabathia is among those who sees a bright future ahead for the Bombers this year.
"Everybody talked about the guys that we didn't sign, but talk about the guys we have coming back," Sabathia said. "[Hiroki Kuroda] is coming back, Andy [Pettitte] is coming back, we'll get [Mariano Rivera] back for a full year. I think we already had the pieces here in place to compete and try to win a championship. We'll just go with what we've got."
Sabathia had surgery after the American League Championship Series to clean up a bone spur in his left elbow, and he'll be just one of the rehabbing stars that manager Joe Girardi's staff will keep a close eye on as camp begins.
"If other clubs want to think we're vulnerable, that's OK, but I love the character in that room and the way they find ways to win games," Girardi said. "That's important because every team is going to go through some difficulties this year in our division, whether it's injuries, whether it's maybe a guy's having a down year. It's how you overcome those that's probably going to determine our division, and our guys have done that before, so I like that."
Shortstop Derek Jeter, last seen on a field lunging for a ground ball and shattering his left ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, has been working out at the club's Himes Avenue Minor League complex, and he will soon be cleared to resume running at full speed.
Jeter has said he expects to be playing on Opening Day, but the Yanks will proceed cautiously since time is on their side. Not surprisingly, Jeter also has a sunny outlook toward the team's chances in 2013.
"To me, age doesn't make a difference," Jeter said. "If you do well, they say you're experienced. If you don't, they say it's age. It just depends on the angle of the story, so I like our team. We'll see what happens. There's always changes. We'll be fine."
Then there is Rivera, the ageless closer who looked mortal writhing in pain on the Kauffman Stadium warning track last May with a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. In what could be his final big league season -- though we've heard that before -- Rivera expects to make a healthy return to dominance in the closing role.
"I would be more concerned with Mo if it was his arm than his knee," Girardi said. "He's had ample time to heal, and I believe he's a great athlete, and I don't believe it should affect his pitching."
The Yankees have 22 pitchers and three catchers reporting from the club's 40-man roster, with 19 additional pitchers and five catchers receiving non-roster invitations to camp. New York is expecting to have a staggering 84 players in camp.
While pitching coach Larry Rothschild will have his hands full keeping an eye on the numerous bullpen sessions scheduled each day, the Yanks also have a curious situation developing with their catching.
Francisco Cervelli spent most of 2012 in Triple-A after a surprise demotion near the end of Spring Training, but Cervelli now appears to be a front-runner for the starting job that was left vacant when Russell Martin signed with the Pirates.
Chris Stewart and rookie Austin Romine are also entering what Girardi expects to be a wide-open competition to make the roster.
"It's hard to quantify how many runs a catcher can save," Girardi said. "I believe we have two catchers that can do a lot of that, the two that we take will save a lot of runs for us."
Cervelli will also have to handle some off-field drama early in camp, as his name turned up on a document from Anthony Bosch's Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., a now-shuttered facility that is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Major League Baseball.
Following my foot injury in March 2011, I consulted with a number of experts, including BioGenesis Clinic, for (cont)— Francisco Cervelli (@fran_cervelli) February 6, 2013
(cont)legal ways to aid my rehab and recovery.I purchased supplements that I am certain were not prohibited by Major League Baseball.— Francisco Cervelli (@fran_cervelli) February 6, 2013
Via Twitter, Cervelli said that he purchased legal supplements from the clinic to rehab a 2011 foot injury, but is certain he did not use any banned substances. Cervelli plans to discuss the situation in more detail on Wednesday.
The Biogenesis clinic, of course, is the same facility that ensnared Alex Rodriguez in his most recent PED scandal. The Yankees are keeping a tight lid on their spring plans for A-Rod, who is slated to miss at least the first half of the season following hip surgery and will continue his rehab in New York.
Position players are scheduled to report on Sunday, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Monday.
The Yankees' first Spring Training game will take place on Feb. 23 at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Braves at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Yanks will host their first Major League spring home game Feb. 24 at 1:05 p.m. vs. the Blue Jays.
All this leads up to April 1, when the Yankees will open the 2013 season with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.