Yankees Spring Training quick hits

Yankees Spring Training quick hits

2007 record
94-68, American League Wild Card

Projected batting order
1. LF Johnny Damon:
  .270 BA, .351 OBP, .396 SLG, 12 HRs, 63 RBIs in 2007
2. SS Derek Jeter:
  .322 BA, .388 OBP, .452 SLG, 12 HRs, 73 RBIs in 2007
3. RF Bobby Abreu:
  .283 BA, .369 OBP, .445 SLG, 16 HRs, 101 RBIs in 2007
4. 3B Alex Rodriguez:
  .314 BA, .422 OBP, .645 SLG, 54 HRs, 156 RBIs in 2007
5. C Jorge Posada:
  .338 BA, .426 OBP, .543 SLG, 20 HRs, 90 RBIs in 2007
6. DH Jason Giambi:
  .236 BA, .356 OBP, .433 SLG, 14 HRs, 39 RBIs in 2007
7. 2B Robinson Cano:
  .306 BA, .353 OBP, .488 SLG, 19 HRs, 97 RBIs in 2007
8. CF Melky Cabrera:
  .273 BA, .327 OBP, .391 SLG, 8 HRs, 73 RBIs in 2007
9. 1B Shelley Duncan:
  .257 BA, .329 OBP, .554 SLG, 7 HRs, 17 RBIs in 2007

Projected rotation
1. Chien-Ming Wang, 19-7, 3.70 ERA in 2007
2. Andy Pettitte, 15-9, 4.05 ERA in 2007
3. Joba Chamberlain, 2-0, 0.38 ERA, 1 SV in 2007
4. Phil Hughes, 5-3, 4.46 ERA in 2007
5. Mike Mussina, 11-10, 5.15 ERA in 2007

Projected bullpen
Closer: Mariano Rivera, 30/34 saves, 3.15 ERA in 2007
RH setup man: Kyle Farnsworth, 4.80 ERA in 2007
LH setup man: TBA

The new guys
Jonathan Albaladejo: Picked up from the Nationals for right-hander Tyler Clippard, Albaladejo will be in the mix for one of the final bullpen slots in Spring Training, and his control could help him. He has a good strikeout-to-walk ratio as a professional, and his 1.88 ERA in 14 games with Washington provides a small sample size to suggest that he could be effective in the Major Leagues.

LaTroy Hawkins: Signed as a free agent, Hawkins effectively fills the void left for the sixth and seventh innings by Luis Vizcaino's departure to Colorado. Though he's had his troubles in the past, Hawkins has also experienced success when not thrust into the closer's role. Having tweaked his delivery to induce more ground balls at Colorado could carry over into New York.

Prospects to watch
Alan Horne: The Eastern League's Pitcher of the Year for '07, Horne developed into one of the game's best prospects as he honed his repertoire while working for Double-A Trenton. With a jump to Triple-A likely in store, Horne is among a group of pitchers who could offer the big league club a spot starter or a viable option in the bullpen, if needed.

Spring Training
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Spring Training info:
MLB.com coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Returning from injury
Duncan: After spending some time in a hospital this offseason with a frightening blood clot in his right shoulder, Duncan says that doctors have told him not to worry and that he should be fine for Spring Training. He'll have his work cut out to lock down the first-base job.

Giambi: The slugger missed two months of the 2007 season with plantar fasciitis and a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. Though orthopedic inserts seemed to help Giambi, he tore the muscle in uncommon fashion -- jogging out a home run hit at Toronto on May 29.

Hideki Matsui: Once billed as an ironman, Matsui was slowed by a right knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery after the season. His rehab will be closely examined in Spring Training (as are all of his actions, with a large Japanese media contingent on his tail). If Matsui is healthy, he should challenge for at-bats with Damon in left field and Giambi at designated hitter.

Carl Pavano: The odds seem to run against Pavano ever pitching in pinstripes again, but never say never. The oft-injured right-hander made just two starts for New York before undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. His best-case prognosis would be seeing Minor League game action by midsummer.

On the rebound
Igawa: What will the Yankees do with Igawa, who has four years and $16 million remaining under contract? For now, the answer is apparently hang on to him and hope that he fits into their bullpen. The lefty struggled with the slicker MLB balls and keeping his pitches down in what the Yankees can only hope was a year of transition.

Jesus Montero: Viewed by many as the Yankees' catcher of the future, Montero is still years away, having played 33 games in the Gulf Coast League last year. Still, Montero is projected as a future run producer and could be pushing for the big leagues by the time Jorge Posada is ready to cede the position.

Humberto Sanchez: A Bronx native who came to the Yankees in the Gary Sheffield trade, the 6-foot-6 Sanchez is a hard-throwing right-hander who lost last season to Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Targeted to be on a mound close to the start of the Minor League season, Sanchez could give the Yankees options for their bullpen by midseason if all goes well.

Jose Tabata: A sweet-swinging 18-year-old, Tabata will be in Major League camp for the second consecutive year in 2008. The Yankees regard Tabata as a pure hitter with strong future big league potential, with room to grow in the power department. He batted .307 in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League in '07.

Who will lead the Yankees in strikeouts in 2008?
Chien-Ming Wang
Andy Pettitte
Joba Chamberlain
Phil Hughes
Ian Kennedy

Mussina: The Yankees still believe that "Moose" has something left in the tank, and as far as fifth starters go, there are worse options around the Majors. When things went wrong in 2007, they really did for Mussina, who lost his job in the rotation after being battered in August. But he returned to log three consecutive victories in a September surge.

Long gone

Roger Clemens: Before his inclusion in the Mitchell Report made headlines, Clemens may have thrown his final pitch in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, striking out Victor Martinez on a 92-mph fastball. He has other problems to contend with now, but Clemens' final tour on the Yankees stage was marred by injury and produced just six victories.

Tyler Clippard: "The Yankee Clippard" is no more, having been shuffled off to the Nationals. Clippard was 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in six starts for New York, including beating the Mets in his debut, but he was an extra arm in the Yankees' plans going forward. He'll have a legitimate shot at making Washington's rotation.

Matt DeSalvo: The studious right-hander will be doing his reading in a Braves uniform this season. DeSalvo was 1-3 with a 6.18 ERA in seven games (six starts) for New York last season, finally making his debut after toiling in the Yankees' system. He signed a Minor League deal with Atlanta.

Doug Mientkiewicz: The slick-fielding Mientkiewicz missed a good portion of the schedule due to injuries suffered in an ugly Fenway Park collision, but he made it back to the club for September and finished batting .277. He didn't seem to fit into the Yankees' future plans, however, and was cut loose into free agency.

Andy Phillips: If he hadn't broken his hand being hit by a Jason Hammel pitch on Sept. 2, Phillips very likely could have been the Yankees' starting first baseman for their playoff run. Instead, he declined an assignment to Triple-A and elected free agency, latching on with the Reds.

Ron Villone: Left off the Yankees' playoff roster until he replaced Clemens for Game 4 of the ALDS, Villone had a 4.25 ERA in 37 appearances for the Yankees after initially opening the season riding buses in the International League. Named in the Mitchell Report and now 38, Villone remains a free agent.

2007 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Posada, .338
OBP: Posada, .426
SLG: Rodriguez, .645
Runs: Rodriguez, 143
RBIs: Rodriguez, 156
Hits: Jeter, 206
2B: Posada, 42
3B: Cabrera, 8
HR: Rodriguez, 54
SB: Damon, 27
2007 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Pettitte, 215 1/3
W: Wang, 19
L: Mussina, 10
Win %: Wang, .731
S: Rivera, 30
ERA: Wang, 3.70
K: Pettitte, 141
K/9: Pettitte, 5.89
WHIP: Wang, 1.294

Triple play: Three questions that need answers

1. What's the plan for Chamberlain?
So many people have a difficult time grasping how the Yankees can remove Chamberlain from a role he has proven dominant in, setting up for Rivera, and try him in the rotation. But the Yankees' plan all along has been to develop Chamberlain as a starter, where they believe he has ace-type stuff and can be what Josh Beckett has been to the Red Sox. Hitters barely even saw the changeup and curveball in Chamberlain's repertoire in 2007. If you think he was dominant for one inning, the Yankees feel he can be that good over six or seven frames.

2. Who's in the rotation -- Mussina or Ian Kennedy?
For the first time in more than a decade, Mussina will head to Spring Training needing to make a good impression. His veteran presence earns him points of respect, but the bottom line is pitching effectively -- something he just didn't do for extended periods in '07. He may love his 1980s movie T-shirts, but there's no DeLorean waiting to transport Mussina back to regain his velocity from years past. A rough spring could put Kennedy in the rotation and relegate Mussina to long relief.

3. Who fills out the bullpen?
The Yankees will have open competition for Joe Girardi's first camp, with just three relief jobs cemented -- Rivera, Farnsworth and Hawkins. From there, the Yankees need to figure out if their random cast of characters can handle the job. They have the internal candidates and, perhaps just as importantly, the flexibility to swap hurlers at will if Girardi's first combination doesn't click.

The bottom line
It's a spring of continued transition for the Yankees, who continue to pump their rebuilding effort even while keeping the checks rolling out of the payroll department. Girardi's first camp should take on a different flavor than those of the Joe Torre era, and player development will be a key.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.