TAMPA, Fla. – Typically, minor league camp during spring training is slow with not much going on.
The last few days, however, the minor league complex of the New York Yankees has been full of excitement.
On Friday, New York starting pitcher Phil Hughes paid a visit to the camp, pitching for the Low Class-A Charleston RiverDogs while trying to recover from a bulging disc in his back. He was joined that day by major league designated hitter Travis Hafner. On the adjacent field, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda got the starting nod for Class-A Tampa. His catcher, Francisco Cervelli, was his receiver.
On Saturday, fans and minor leaguers got the biggest treat of camp so far — Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter. The future Hall of Famer, recovering from an ankle injury that ended his season in October, is trying to get in at-bats after being hampered again earlier this spring. He’s being held out of major league games for precautionary reasons after feeling stiffness and inflammation around his left ankle. He hasn’t played in a major league game since March 19, and in case he isn’t ready for Opening Day on April 1, he would only miss the team’s first five games of the season.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday that Jeter would only play in minor league games until camp breaks in five days. His first action came Saturday afternoon playing for a team representing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Jeter went 0-for-4 with four groundouts against Pirates right-hander Phillip Irwin, who pitched at three levels last year, High Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A. Jeter led off three innings and batted second in the other inning. He didn’t play the field.
“The most important thing is to see pitches and that’s what I did and we’ll move from there,” Jeter said. “I don’t think there’s a risk. You just go see pitches, get at-bats and then feel comfortable.”
He admitted to not running at full speed on the grounders as a precautionary reason after a soaking rain drenched Tampa with more than 1.5 inches of precipitation Friday night. The Yankees captain and is still taking a day-by-day approach.
“It takes time but then I was also cautious because the field was also wet and I almost wiped out out of the box,” he added.
Jeter’s next action could be today. The minor leaguers are holding a camp day, in which an intrasquad game is played in the morning. That may be slightly delayed though because of the possibility of rain in Tampa this morning.
“Gonna take it day-to-day and see what happens,” Jeter added.
Unhappy belated birthday
Brett Marshall, who is a strong candidate to be in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s starting rotation when the season begins April 4, had problems on a windy day in Tampa. The right-hander, who celebrated his 23rd birthday Friday, allowed seven hits and nine earned runs in a loss to a team representing the Indianapolis Indians in the Pirates organization. Marshall only lasted four innings and gave up four home runs.
Reegie, Reegie, Reegie
Reegie Corona is known for playing with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2010. His season came to a screeching halt that year when he broke his arm in July and was hurt since then. He’s trying to play in a regular season game for the first time since then. And it may be back with the SWB RailRiders.
The infielder showed promise Saturday, picking up three hits for the Riders in four at-bats.
Also contributing on SWB’s offense was second baseman Jose Toussens, who jacked a home run in three plate appearances. Shortstop Jose Mojica doubled and singled, while catcher Austin Romine singled and scored a run in four at-bats.
SWB grabs TV deal
With the possibility of several Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders games being sold out this season, there’s another way to see the games.
On Saturday, the RailRiders announced that they have signed a five-year deal with WQMY-TV to televise 20 home games this season. RailRiders play-by-play announcer John Sadak will call the action on the telecasts, with help from WOLF-TV sports director Bob Ide as analyst. John Mendola and Erin Dugan will also lend a hand throughout the season.
The 20 telecasts aere in addition to Phillies minor league games that can be seen in the area this season. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (72 games) and Reading Phightins (22) can be seen on Service Electric Cable.
The first telecast by WQMY will be on Friday, April 19, against the Syracuse Chiefs. The home opener will be televised by WNEP.
All RailRiders games can be heard on “The Game,” 1340-AM, 1400-AM and 100.7-FM.