TAMPA, Fla. - It is a Yankees pitching staff breaking in not only a new catcher but a new pitching coach. Joe Girardi said he sees neither as a problem for anyone involved - the pitchers, coach Larry Rothschild or catcher Russell Martin.
"I think Larry's so experienced, that learning curve will be very quick for him,'' Girardi said, "and Russell's not a rookie catcher. I think he'll pick it up very quickly."
Rothschild, who lives about 15 minutes from the Yankees' minor-league complex and Steinbrenner Field, has been working with some pitchers since early January.
He also has instituted early-morning bullpen sessions that have become popular with the pitchers, allowing him time for more individual instruction.
"I think Larry's done a great job of learning the pitchers," Girardi said.
Martin's stiff right knee, which he and GM Brian Cashman aren't concerned about long-term, will prohibit him from starting Saturday's exhibition opener. Girardi said learning a new staff "can be hard," and Martin said some of that learning has taken place in catchers' meetings - with an assist from Jorge Posada, who knows the staff "better than anyone."
But much of that learning won't take place until the real games start, the reason Martin isn't worried about missing one, two or however many exhibition games at the beginning.
"The big deal,'' he said, "would be missing games during the regular season."
For much of A.J. Burnett's first two seasons with the Yankees, he was caught almost exclusively by Francisco Cervelli, who is in a battle for the backup job with Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. "I don't have any plans on doing anything like that this year," Girardi said, adding that Cervelli "probably" will start Saturday's opener.
The last two years, Girardi took the team on a field trip the day before the first exhibition game. But with a condensed spring training this year, Friday will be a regular work day. There won't be any team excursions, such as the one to an arcade last year and to a pool hall in 2009.
"I'm not saying we won't have a get-together," Girardi said. "I'm just saying we're not having it [Friday]. We can't really take a day away from practice right now. We don't have the time."
Hector Noesi, who missed the first week of camp because of visa issues, looked sharp in his first live BP session . . . Shortly after the Yankees' workout at Steinbrenner Field, Hank's Yanks - Hank Steinbrenner's travel team - played the Mariano Rivera All-Stars. Rivera's eldest son, Mariano Jr., wore No. 13 and was the starting pitcher.