As February ends, spring training begins. Arizona and Florida become populated with professionals and hopefuls all counting down the days (37 as of Feb. 27) until the opening pitch on April 4.
Every year brings new challenges for every team. Trades break fans hearts and new hires give fans hope. The Los Angeles Angels added all-star Albert Pujols, pretty much breaking the collective hearts of St. Louis fans. The Cubs hired Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations, which of course diehard Cubs fans took as a sign from God that they will win this year. Hey, they’ve only had a bad century. They’re due, right?
But now on to the biggest baseball empire of them all: the Yankees.
Now, for most baseball fans you either love ’em or you hate ’em. It’s a rarity to get a “ehh, you know, I don’t have feelings either way.”
Coming into spring training, pitching continues to be a point of importance for the Yanks. Mariano Rivera threw for the first time in camp yesterday, but the question remains: how much longer will he pitch? Mo is getting up there in age (for an athlete), but don’t count him out yet. He’s still the greatest closer ever, but ESPN’s Wallace Matthews thinks Rafael Soriano is the man to replace him, so let’s see what So is made of in 2012.
Girardi announced his spring rotation this afternoon. Adam Warren gets the start in the team’s first pre-season game. Ivan Nova gets the start on March 3. Freddy Garcia on March 4; Michael Pineda makes his pinstripes debut on March 5. CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes on March 6. Hiroki Kuroda also makes his debut on March 7.
In addition to the two new pitchers, the Yanks also added Raul Ibanez during the off-season. His addition as a left-handed DH will definitely come in handy during the season.
Eric Chavez became a Yankee (again) this afternoon. And as the ESPN blurb put it “In other news, sun to rise in East, set in West.”
One interesting point that came out during training was that Nick Swisher, in the walk year of his contract, said he won’t seek to negotiate a new deal during the season. He said he plans on testing free agency during the winter, so he may very well not be in the pinstripes next spring.
And on to A-Rod we go. A-Rod gave a press conference this afternoon addressing his place in the lineup and his health. He apparently will be batting eighth this season instead of clean-up. Uhmm. Let’s see how long that lasts. But he did say that he is healthy. I’m sure Yankees fans will be holding they’re breathe until October on that last point.
While the Yankees are getting older (Jeter is 38, A-Rod is 36, Ibanez is 39 and Rivera is 42), they hope to continue to be the team to beat in the AL East.
We only have 37 more days until we get to find out what these Yankees are made of.