MLB Spring Training Running Notes: Twins-Yankees

Justin SwiderskiSenior Analyst IMarch 5, 2008

I'm a little bit bored this Wednesday afternoon, so I thought I'd try out a running notes column on the Yankees-Twins spring training game that's on ESPN right now.

Ian Kennedy is on the hill for New York and though I've heard a lot about him, I've never seen him throw.

Two things so far: 1) I love the stirrups. We've always needed more pitchers wearing stirrups the right way, but never more so than now with Mark Prior having not been in the big leagues for a while.

2) Kennedy, one of the Yankees trio of ultra-hyped young pitchers, is throwing consistently in the mid-80's.  His hardest fastball that I've seen through two innings has been 88.  I understand that Kennedy had a great college career at USC, but when was the last time we were really excited about a rookie right-hander throwing 88?  Maybe I need to watch him more.

Delmon Young seems to like Kennedy's high 80's fastball—he just drove one over the center field wall.  Interesting move for the Rays to get rid of Young and Elijah Dukes this offseason.  I wonder how much of it was for character issues, how much was to acquire pitching, or how much was Tampa perhaps knowing something we don't about those two?

I think if the league is going to keep putting those silly colored inserts on the side of the spring training and BP hats that they need to follow through and put them on the batting helmets, too.  Let's not half-ass this. If we're going to make professional athletes look ridiculous, let's do it right. 

Robinson Cano is up for the Yanks now and he's someone I really enjoy watching, despite not being a Yankees fan. His swing looks really good and I love any solid-hitting second basemen.  He's making me sound like I know what I'm talking about; he just roped a double to center field.

I hope I'm not the only one who's a big fan of Minnesota's TC logo, which they have on their spring training hats and jerseys. It just looks better than the underlined M logo.

We've got another hot prospect on the mound for the Twins in right-hander Kevin Slowey.  He's throwing a little harder than Kennedy (fastball 90-92), but he hasn't really made any Yankee bats miss yet.  It's only spring training, but how long does it take for a 23-year-old pitcher's arm to get in shape?  I always root for young pitchers to succeed, so I hope Slowey and Kennedy are both just trying some stuff out.  

Another sock note: I don't believe I'm the only person who would credit A-Rod's incredible year last year to his decision to roll his socks up to his knees.  I hope he realizes this too and never wears them down the rest of his career.

The Yankees are beating up on the Twins pitching. Slowey is done now and Julio DePaula is on the mound.  He just struck out Wilson Betemit, but the Yankee lead is now 4-1, all on singles and doubles. 

I really feel like teams with classic stadiums, like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubbies, should build their spring training homes to be miniature replicas of the real stadiums. 

A) That would be adorable. B) We'd have a reminder of what each stadium used to look like before it got torn down, overly-remodeled, or sold to a corporate sponsor. 

Imagine if teams started doing this years ago.  We'd still have miniature replicas of Tiger Stadium and maybe the Polo Grounds.  How entertaining would it be to watch teams playing in absurdly proportioned stadiums from years past? If nothing else, it would feel more like the regular season when these teams are playing their spring training games, and their minor leaguers who play in those stadiums year-round would feel at home when they're called up.  Let's get on this. 

Joba Chamberlain is pitching for the Yanks now and of course ESPN showed us a clip of the "bug game" in Cleveland.  I hope we get shown that clip every time Chamberlain comes into a game this year, just for the sake of consistency.  It feels like the sort of thing ESPN would do. 

In other MLB news, my hometown Tigers are playing a set of split-squad games today.  I really think I'd feel lonely playing in a split-squad game.  I'd be the guy later trying to catch up on what happened in the other game with my teammates who were there.  Can you imagine being on the bench for a split-squad game?  Even with only half the roster, we just aren't going to play you.  

Just got a shot of Goose Gossage in the dugout, and I couldn't be happier that he is still sporting the fu-manchu.  Awesome. 

Derek Jeter just hit a ground ball single.  I'm excited for the day Jeter retires, just because the Yankees could then retire his number and we'd be down to only 6 and 0 as single digit numbers Yankee players can wear.  I always rooted for them to retire Torre's number too, although it doesn't look like that will happen.

I love it when I watch sports movies where the Yankees are playing and everyone is wearing numbers like 51, 73, and 39, because normally that'd be absurd, but those are legitimate for the Yankees.  I believe it was destiny for them to get Bobby Abreu, because he was already wearing 53. That was a match made in heaven. 

Gary Thorne just got done telling us how Chamberlain needs to work on his change-up.  Next pitch: chest high, jerked about 450 feet outta here. It was only 90 mph, which I think might be Joba's change-up.  Yeah, he needs to work on it.  I wish my change-up were 90 mph. 

Oh man, Joba's next pitch is 95 mph off of the ankle of some minor leaguer named Tolbert.  I love baseball.

I'm really disappointed in today's broadcasting duo of Gary Thorne and Rick Sutcliffe.  They're doing a really solid job and not giving us any of the goofy spring training dialogues that I love. 

I need Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. They're always good for at least one conversation about where they ate dinner the night before. It is only the sixth inning, so maybe I just need to stick around longer. 

Nah, I don't need to stick around longer.  I think spring training games should be like high school games: seven innings long. This column is long enough for a double-header anyway. Or maybe two split-squad games.  


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