New York Yankees: 5 Things Fans Have to Look Forward to in Spring Training
Baseball season is almost upon us.
On Tuesday, pitchers and catchers will report for spring training and get ready for the 2013 season.
Yankees players will slowly file into Tampa at Steinbrenner Field, shake off the rust from the offseason and get back into baseball shape.
For those fans who aren't into basketball or hockey, baseball season is always an exciting time to get back into.
For those fans who follow the action on the YES Network or the MLB Network, what are they expecting from the Bombers this spring?
Here are five things Yankee fans can look most forward to during the team's spring training.
The Return of Derek Jeter
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The last image we all have of Derek Jeter was him on the ground screaming in pain at Yankee Stadium.
Jeter broke his ankle during Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, and it seemed like the team never recovered without its leader.
Jeter had offseason surgery on the ankle and is expected to be back and ready to go for 2013, which is great news for the team and fans, who still come out to cheer Jeter every time he steps foot on a field.
The 38-year-old hit .316 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI with the Yankees in 2012. Jeter also hit .333 in the 2012 postseason for the Bombers.
The Yankees captain is in the final year of his contract, but he does have an $8 million option for the 2014 season, which I could see him choosing to pick up.
I'm sure the team will be monitoring the status of Jeter's ankle and won't push his ankle given his age, but I know the team is looking forward to seeing No. 2 back at shortstop and leading off in the offense.
No Alex Rodriguez
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We all know the PED scandal that Alex Rodriguez is involved in.
It has yet to be determined if in fact A-Rod used performance enhancing drugs from the Miami clinic, something Major League Baseball is investigating.
The Yankees have been looking into voiding the remainder of the five years and $114 million owed to the 37-year-old.
However, with A-Rod needing at least six months of recovery time, it's unlikely that he will be at Tampa with the team, and he won't be a distraction.
If A-Rod were healthy, the PED scandal would be all the reporters would be talking about with him, his teammates and anyone else involved with the club.
But with A-Rod recovering from the injury, all the Yankees have to do is say MLB is investigating the matter and we have nothing more to say.
So with no A-Rod down in Tampa, the distraction doesn't have to be there, and that's great news for the Yankees and their fans.
How Kevin Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain Get Along as Teammates
The rivalry between Kevin Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain has been well documented.
It all started when Chamberlain threw over the head of Youkilis at a game in 2007, and did it again in 2008, in which Youkilis stepped toward the mound in anger.
That was when Youkilis was a member of the rival Boston Red Sox.
Now in 2013, they are teammates on the Yankees, as Youkilis was signed in the winter to a one-year, $12 million deal to play every day at third base.
When Youkilis first came to the team, Chamberlain tried to contract Youkilis, but said he hadn't heard anything and rumors started regarding whether the two could even get along as teammates.
However, Chamberlain has in fact heard from Youkilis, and said there won't be any hard feelings when the team reports for spring training.
All eyes and cameras will be on the two and the media will be very interested to see how the two interact as Yankees teammates.
I'm sure there will be photo-ops that Youkilis and Chamberlain will take part of, but once the media frenzy ends, they know they are professional baseball players with one goal in mind: to win a championship.
The fans, however, will still be interested to see how they interact with one another.
If Travis Hafner Can Return to His Old Form
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The Yankees never offered postseason hero Raul Ibanez a contract and let him leave as a free agent to return to the Seattle Mariners.
So, for the second year in a row, the team pursued a DH and found one a few weeks ago when they signed former Cleveland Indians slugger Travis Hafner to a one-year, $2 million deal.
Once upon a time, Hafner was an MVP candidate who could slug 40 home runs and 110 RBI, but injuries have gotten the best of his career.
After spending the last 10 years in Cleveland, the 35-year-old Hafner will get a chance to hit everyday at Yankee Stadium, a ballpark that is very friendly to lefties due to the short porch in right field.
Hafner could really benefit from a change of scenery and playing for a contender.
Even in 66 games in 2012, Hafner still hit 12 home runs for the Indians.
Imagine what he could do if he got to play 140 to 150 games and stayed healthy.
With the Yankees lineup, Hafner could easily hit 25 to 30 home runs and drive in 80 to 90 runs. But that all depends on if he can stay healthy.
If he stays healthy and drives the ball, Hafner could be a joy for the fans to watch every day.
The Potential Final Hurrahs of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte
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They both came up together as rookies with the Yankees in the 1995 season.
Both of them have been known as members of the "Core Four," and there's a good chance that the 2013 season could be the final season for both Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.
Pettitte shocked all of baseball when he decided to come out of retirement and pitch for the Yankees in 2012.
The 40-year-old was pitching very well before suffering a fractured ankle, which took almost three months to recover from. Despite the injury, Pettitte finished with a 5-4 record with a 2.87 ERA.
Pettitte also decided to come back for one more season, signing for a one-year, $12 million deal for 2013.
Which leaves Rivera, who everyone expected to retire after 2012.
A torn ACL in May ended Rivera's 2012 campaign, and he didn't want to end his Hall of Fame career on an injury, which is why he resigned for a one-year, $10 million deal for 2013.
At ages 41 and 43 respectively, Pettitte and Rivera could be playing in perhaps their final season together as teammates on the Yankees.
Both have won five World Series together and really have nothing left to prove except for playing for the love of the game and for the chance of one more championship.
I honestly don't see Pettitte and Rivera playing past this season, and if this in fact the last season they are playing together, then fans need to soak up every single moment that they see No. 42 and 46 in pinstripes.