Notes: Ex-Yank now a spring foe

Notes: Ex-Yank now a spring foe

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tino Martinez isn't usually the type to withhold information, but in terms of divulging a scouting report on the Bombers' first spring opponent, the former Yankee is playing it close to the vest.

"Tino's holding out on us," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's got to wear two hats."

Martinez, 40, will be a popular figure on Friday, when the Yankees open their exhibition schedule, facing off against the University of South Florida at Legends Field.

Retired since his second stint with the Yankees in 2005, Martinez has been serving as a volunteer assistant coach at South Florida, where his brother-in-law, Lelo Prado, is the head coach.

A lifetime .271 hitter over 16 big league seasons, even Martinez has been surprised at how much he has enjoyed coaching. He recently accepted an offer to return for a second season in the role with the university.

"I'm going to wear my Yankee uniform to remind my college guys I used to play baseball as well," said Martinez, who is in camp with the Yankees as a guest instructor for the first time.

Martinez believes the crosstown exhibition with South Florida will have a major impact for the university's recruiting program. Fifteen former USF Bulls are currently playing professional baseball, according to the school, as well as notable alumni such as Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland.

"They've really been building the USF baseball team the last couple of years, so this game is huge," Martinez said. "Just to have the chance to play on the same field as these guys, as [Derek] Jeter and A-Rod, it's something they'll never forget in their lives -- once in a lifetime. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Martinez has been an ever-present figure during the first two weeks of Spring Training, working closely with the Yankees' first basemen. He has practiced footwork around the bag with Jason Giambi, Shelley Duncan, Morgan Ensberg and Wilson Betemit and continues to work on his fungo bat stroke after so many years of wearing out big league hurlers.

Lineup revealed: The Yankees' lineup for Friday's exhibition could very closely resemble the one Girardi puts on the field in New York on March 31 for Opening Day.

"It's a possibility," Girardi said. "Just leave it at that."

Girardi tabbed, in order: Johnny Damon, Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Rodriguez, Giambi, Robinson Cano, Duncan and Melky Cabrera. Duncan will serve as the designated hitter and regular players will play about four or five innings.

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"Seeing guys compete for spots, I like that," Girardi said.

Sprint shift: Now that the Yankees are about to head into the routines of playing games, Girardi said the team will ease off the cardio-intensive regimens that marked the first weeks of camp. Players will still condition, but the programs will be altered.

"We came out very healthy the first two weeks," Girardi said. "Guys are in shape. Once you start playing games, it turns up a notch from the intensity standpoint. You have to watch carefully."

No Mo hurry: The Yankees will wait a bit longer before getting Mariano Rivera into game action. The 38-year-old closer, building up his arm strength, will throw a side session on Friday and is not expected to pitch in a Grapefruit League game until Wednesday against the Twins.

"No one knows his body better than he does," Girardi said.

Snap shot: Rodriguez, Martinez and Reggie Jackson posed for a photo during batting practice on Thursday, prompting A-Rod to loudly announce, "We've got nine [World Series] championships in that picture. We need 10."

Martinez (four World Series titles) and Jackson (five) didn't argue the point.

Bombers bits: Yogi Berra made his annual Spring Training arrival, watching batting practice on the field. The Hall of Famer was wearing a satin jacket, dress slacks and a Yankees batting practice cap. ... Hideki Matsui (right knee rehab) will be brought along slowly and is not likely to see game action until the second week of action. He is participating in all running drills and Girardi said he is doing fine. ... Yankees coaches Bobby Meacham and Tony Pena wore helmets in Wednesday's intrasquad game and will do so again on Friday. The change is in accordance to a new rule enacted after Mike Coolbaugh, a third-base coach in the Rockies' Minor League system, was killed last year after being struck in the head by a line drive. ... Yankees individual game tickets go on sale on Friday at 10 a.m. ET at yankees.com.

Coming up: The Yankees will play South Florida on Friday at Legends Field, with first pitch slated for 1:15 p.m. ET. Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to start for New York and will pitch two innings, followed by Ian Kennedy, who is also expected to pitch two innings. Slated to pitch one inning apiece for the Yankees are: Phil Hughes, Kei Igawa, Jeff Marquez, Alan Horne and Chase Wright.

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