The great Mariano Rivera checked in, as the Yankees' pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time, and he's not quite as good as Derek Jeter is when it comes to hiding his true feelings about having to pitch through his walk year.
Nevertheless, you know that Rivera's not going to be negatively impacted by the situation. You also know that, at some point this season, Rivera will have a bad week, and we will instantly wonder whether he's done. It's a longstanding tradition, after all.
Early thoughts here: CC Sabathia lost a few pounds, while A.J. Burnett gained a few in his upper frame. Andy Pettitte is his usual, lean self. As I mentioned in the previous post, none of those guys threw off a mound today, as the Yankees are working them slowly after their busy 2009 campaigns. The same goes for returnee Javy Vazquez, who threw 219.1 innings for the Braves last year.
(Which, BTW, computes to about 43.2 innings of American League East action. Just sayin'.)
--Spent some time on the minor-league side, where Derek Jeter worked out with Randy Winn for the first time. Winn, an eminently pleasant man, couldn't have been more frank when I asked him about his poor performance against lefty pitchers last season.
"I was horrible," he said, smiling. Naturally, he thinks it was a fluke, and he spent the offseason working on basic mechanics to make sure he gets back to his old ways against lefties.
--The latest I hear on Johnny Damon is that he prefers to sign with the Tigers, because they train so close to his Orlando-area home. What Damon and Scott Boras are working on is trying to convince Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to follow through on the two-year offer (for between $14 and $15 million) that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has greenlighted; Dombrowski wants to limit it to one year for $7 million. Or, you know, to convince Ilitch to order Dombrowski to make the higher offer.
The White Sox are in the game with their one-year offer with deferred money, for a reported present-day value of about $4.5 million, but Damon would rather not train in Arizona.
--My Newsday teammate David Lennon offers this tremendous photo from the Mets' clubhouse at Port St. Lucie. There are so many joke opportunities there that I'm paralyzed.
--This is "the most talented team in Rays history," the club's executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. I agree. Yet are they more talented than either the Yankees or Red Sox? Probably not.
Another reason for optimism for Rays fans: New hitting coach Derek Shelton is a real asset. Shelton combines the old-school attribute of talking shop with his hitters with the new-school skills of analyzing video and statistics.
--The Indians announced a widely expected move: After this season, Mark Shapiro will graduate from general manager to president, and Chris Antonetti from assistant GM to GM.
There's no denying that the Indians have endured a rough couple of seasons, and Shapiro and Antonetti have taken accountability for that run. For what it's worth, both remain respected throughout the game. But they know they have to turn the franchise back around, which doesn't have to take long in the eminently winnable AL Central.
--This isn't a baseball issue, but given our discussion earlier today about Mark McGwire and apologies and all that, I loved Mike Vaccaro's take about how the media should handle Tiger Woods' apology tomorrow.