On Friday, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was back on the mound facing hitters for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in May of last season. One of those lucky hitters was minor league third baseman Rob Segedin.
“His command was spot on,” Segedin told me. “Cutter was very good. So was his sinker.”
For Segedin, it was not the first time in the batter’s box against Rivera. The 24-year-old infielder had faced Rivera in batting practice last spring as well. Just the same, it stands to reason that for a young player to face legend like Rivera’s is always awe-inspiring the first few times. Segedin’s take on facing Rivera: “Pretty cool...[It’s] cool to say you faced the best closer in history of baseball.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was also impressed with Rivera’s bullpen session. “He looked great,” said Girardi. “He looked like what you expect him to look like, which is a good thing. The delivery, the ball movement, the strikes he’s throwing, he’s throwing it where he wants to, he’s not taking a lot of time between pitches. He looked normal to me.”
As for Mariano, he seemed impressed with how the 20-pitch batting practice session went. "[It was] the first BP that I threw in almost a year, so I'm real happy with the results," Rivera said. "It will get better. The longer I keep throwing, it will get better. ... It's good, man. I feel real good. I feel real good with the results."
Cervelli gets the first crack behind plate
The competition for the Yankees’ starting catching job officially begins with the first spring training game tomorrow, and Francisco Cervelli will be the first one behind the plate. Though he likely will not catch more than four or five innings, it leaves time for Cervelli to leave a good first impression with manager Joe Girardi.
“I’m not going to judge them early,” Girardi said. “For me, they’ve got to get their bodies physically in shape. They’ve got to get their timing down offensively. Get to know the pitchers. They’re going to catch a lot of pitchers early they don’t know. The pitchers aren’t necessarily going to pitch to a game plan early, and you’re not going to see them following a game plan. So the early part is just the physical part. But as we move forward it’ll be the mental part as well.”
Girardi may not be judging the catchers early in the spring, but he most certainly will remember if one of the candidates stands out early on.
Now pitching for the Yankees…
We already knew David Phelps would get the start tomorrow for the Yankees’ spring training opener. The second-year player will throw two innings or 35 pitches before giving way to a litany of minor league pitchers. After Phelps exits, Brett Marshall, Nik Turley, Mike O’Brien, Kelvin Perez, Branden Pinder and Chase Whitley are the names Joe Girardi listed to pitch tomorrow.
As for the next few games after that, Adam Warren will get the start on Sunday for the spring training home opener. Vidal Nuno and Jose Ramirez will get their chances to shine while starting on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
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