Catcher Montero making strides on defense

Jesus Montero #83 of the New York Yankees Jesus Montero #83 of the New York Yankees works on his defense at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Feb. 21, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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BRADENTON, Fla. - Jesus Montero's defense has been questioned since the Yankees signed him in 2006, but the catcher's right arm never has.

He put on an impressive display with it Tuesday against the Pirates.

The 21-year-old, getting his second start of the spring, threw out two baserunners, one on a strike-him-out, throw-him-out in the third inning and the other on a straight steal in the fourth.

"He has a lot of arm strength," Joe Girardi said.

Girardi said the Yankees had Montero's pop-up time on his fourth-inning throw that caught Alex Presley stealing - the straight steal - at less than two seconds.

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"He's been able to shorten up his arm motion; he stays down," Girardi said. "I can't tell you how many strides he's made since last year."

Work on Jeter goes on

Derek Jeter, who wasn't scheduled to travel, did extra work in the cage with hitting coach Kevin Long, who oversaw the session before driving to Bradenton.

"I thought it went outstanding," Long said.

Long once again said eliminating Jeter's stride is "a work in progress" that is going to take some time. Long said the front foot coming up, similar to Albert Pujols', is fine; it's the stride forward that the pair is working to get rid of.

"You're going to have good days with it and bad days with it," he said. "It's something we're going to work on every single day."

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On his own schedule

Asked if he was throwing a bullpen session yesterday, Mariano Rivera smiled.

"A bullpen? It's raining," he said.

When would he throw again? "Tomorrow, maybe," the 41-year-old said. "It's March 1. It's early."

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Rivera threw just six innings last spring and will throw about the same this year.

Brackman's return

Andrew Brackman (groin) threw indoors - about 20 pitches - in front of pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

"He's fine," Rothschild said afterward.

Brackman will throw a bullpen Thursday.

Extra bases

Girardi said OF Greg Golson, hit in the head Sunday by an A.J. Burnett pitch during batting practice, took BP Tuesday and likely will play Wednesday . . . Russell Martin will get his second game at DH Wednesday but Girardi said he didn't know yet when he would catch for the first time . . . Bartolo Colon is scheduled to start Friday, with CC Sabathia going Saturday and Phil Hughes on Sunday.

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