Tampa, FL., March 7 — Ten years ago, Brad Radke pitched one of his better games against the Yankees in the Bronx on a cool summer evening, with soutpaw Jimmy Key providing the mound opposition. Radke calmly retired the first 20 Yankee batters until Paul O’Neill smacked an opposite-field double down the left field line with two down in the seventh, and Tino Martinez hooked a 320-foot line drive around the right field foul pole. The Yanks completed their 2-0 victory, and the paying customers found themselves in the unaccustomed position of being outside the ballpark shortly after 9:00 pm. Continue reading
Tampa, FL., March 6 — Well, the morning broke upon another gorgeous day in Tampa Monday, with the Yanks hosting the Blue Jays after having gotten off the losing train in Dunedin the day before. But although Yankee fans may think they’re not prey to the frailities and fears inherent to fans of lesser teams, they sometimes need something to fret about. The Bombers had reached two pretty good pitchers in Ted Lilly and B.J. Ryan for eight line drive hits in three frames Sunday, but it seemed something was missing. The lack of power hitting was a lingering concern. Andy Phillips’s singleton opposite-field shot on Thursday was still the only Yankee home run after four games. Continue reading
Dunedin, FL., March 5 — The first thing I noticed once the Yanks finished their pregame bp before Sunday’s game in Dunedin was that Joe Torre was carrying a small binder in his left hand as he watched his team assemble in the dugout. And it’s no wonder. Joe is seeing more players than ever this spring as he manages his WBC-depleted team through these early games, and it seems each and every one of them is taking advantage of the opportunity to show their stuff on baseball’s biggest stage. Melky Cabarera and Kevin Thompson continued to carry much of the offense, Mitch Jones made a diving grab in right to blunt the Jays’ biggest threat, and 19-year-old Philip Hughes made his debut against major league hitters. Continue reading
Tampa, FL., March 4 — To view Saturday’s 4-1 Yankee loss to the Reds in Legends Field through any other prism than the one entitled “Spring Training” would be to paint a fan into a corner where proclamations best saved for August would have to come into play. The Yanks are 0-3, and with four of nine starters elsewhere and two nursing minor nicks, the name of the game is to work the pitchers and let the kids carry the scoring load. Randy Johnson was reached for a two-run home run and run-scoring double in three innings this day, and a misfiring Yankee offense never recovered.
Clearwater, FL., March 3 — The 11-10 barnburner of a ballgame the Yanks lost to the Phillies in their spring home opener in Clearwater Friday afternoon had something of everything except for good, crisp play. This may not explain why it was very entertaining but it rarely got boring. At three hours, 20 minutes it eclipsed the running time of Thursday afternoon’s loss by the better part of an hour. The game exploded early on the Yanks, and the man who detonated the charges was Phils first baseman Ryan Howard.
Tampa, FL., March 2 — Yankee fans didn’t have to wait long for early answers to some of the questions confronting the team as it christened its 10th year of Spring Training at beautiful Legends Field in Tampa Bay under dazzling sunshine and 75-degree temps Thursday afternoon. Would newly signed center fielder and leadoff man Johnny Damon adapt to playing for the “Evil Empire”? How would the man he is replacing, long-time star Bernie Williams, handle spot duty DH’ing and fielding the corner positions after so many years playing center field in Pinstripes?