Friday, March 4th…. was the first match-up between the oldest rivals in sports, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox won 5-3, but that doesn’t matter because it is Spring Training and half the Red Sox starters didn’t make the two-hour trip to Tampa.
Still, lots to report from Yankee Camp.
It was pleasant to see the out-of-shape Bartolo Colon impress once again in his second outing. Colon isn’t likely to get the job, but he sure is keeping himself in the race.
Clearly, the most notable performance of the evening came from Yankee pitching prospect Manny Banuelos.
I have written about Banuelos on Lady Loves Pinstripes numerous times before because the 19-year-old, southpaw is that good.
Developing into a certifiable star, Banuelos displays poise, confidence and control on the mound way beyond his years. He attacks the strike zone with a fastball clocking at 95+ mph. His arsenal includes a fastball with remarkable movement; an absurd change-up and a most recently added curve-ball.
This kid is turning into the real deal, but the Yankees have to stick to a game plan this time, as Banuelos is way to precious to risk anything near a Joba Chamberlain outcome.
Yankees new catcher Russell Martin, whose knee felt great after catching for the first time against Boston, had this to say about Banuelos:
“He’s tremendous. He’s poised out there. You forget that he’s 19 years old. He’s not scared at all. He just gets the ball and throws it, whatever you put down. He actually has an idea; he’s not afraid to shake off. He has a good idea how to pitch and he’s only 19, but he knows how to do it.”
Martin also went on to compare Banuelos to 22-year-old Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who posted a 2.91 ERA in 32 starts in 2010.
When Girardi was asked about the possibility of promoting Banuelos in 2011, his answer left the door open. Well, nothing else could be presumed after witnessing this 5’9 kid throw like a giant. It would be a waste if he were left down in the minors all season long.
I truly hope the Yankees bring Banuelos up halfway thru the season, pending all is in order. These uber-talented prospects have proved to make huge differences for teams down the stretch and in the post season. Banuelos self-assurance reminds me of the look San Francisco Giants Madison Bumgarner had in the World Series last year.
Another old star trying to reclaim some glory, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning was ex-Cub and new Yankee Mark Prior.
I remember seeing Prior at Shea Stadium back in his glory days and other than Cliff Lee; I have never witnessed a better pitcher. Well, those will be forever just memories for me and for Prior, but he could be relevant in the bullpen at some point.
Also, look for Rafael Soriano to throw a live inning soon, as Soriano was absolutely nasty in his first BP session prior to the game.
Okay, the bad came as skipper Joe Girardi confirmed the unfortunate news that Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli’s MRI revealed a fractured bone in his left foot. Cervelli will be sidelined for a minimum of four to six weeks.
This leaves a space open for a prospect in the Bronx. Presumably, it will be the jewel of the Yankee farm system Jesus Montero, who fans are dying to see. Unless injury or implosion happens to Montero, I don’t see his competition Austin Romaine beating him out.
It does leave the possibility of never seeing Cervelli behind the plate in pinstripes again.
That could become reality but only if Montero flourishes. Not only with his imposing bat, but behind the plate is what he will be judged on. The 6’5, 23-year-old has struggled defensively but has displayed noticeable improvement this spring.
Other than Cervelli, who won over Yankee fans with his dedication and energy in 2010 being sidelined, things are going way better than forecasted so far.
There are still weeks to go before Opening Day, but I will be the first to admit that if the Yanks keep rolling on like this, GM Brian Cashman deserves an HUGE apology.
Maybe this will be another chapter in lessons learned for Yankees fans, me very much included to just shut the heck up.
- Martin’s knee fine after first game action (mlb.mlb.com)
- Yanks C Cervelli out indefinitely with broken foot (boston.com)
- Yankees’ Cervelli out with broken foot (cbc.ca)
- New York Yankees’ Francisco Cervelli out month-plus with broken foot (sports.espn.go.com)
- Yanks C Cervelli out indefinitely (broken left foot) (cbssports.com)
- Yankees’ Cervelli out four weeks with foot fracture (aol.sportingnews.com)
- Cervelli Out 4 Weeks as a Door Opens For Montero (slidingintohome.blogspot.com)
- Prospect Smackdown: Manny Banuelos vs. Martin Perez (minorleagueball.com)