TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees -- or at least that portion of the roster that remained behind while the rest of the squad went to Panama for the weekend -- started out well Friday, with the first three batters of their game against the Minnesota Twins getting hits, and two quick runs.
But over the next eight innings, all the quasi-Yankees could manage was three walks -- not another hit -- and they went down to a 7-3 defeat today at The Boss.
That left interim manager Rob Thomson's record at 0-1 and, asked, if he thought his job was in jeopardy, said, "It should be. If I was the general manager, it would be."
Working with a lineup that had Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann as its first four hitters, the Yankees got doubles from the first two and an RBI single by Teixeira to take a 2-1 lead. They got a third run on a groundout by Eduardo Nunez in the same inning, and that was it for the day.
Meanwhile, David Phelps, locked into a battle with Michael Pineda for the final starting spot, allowed a run in the first inning on two hits and a walk, and a mammoth solo home run by Brian Dozier in the third. He left after four innings, having already reached his pitch count of 75, clinging to a 3-2 lead.
But Manny Banuelos, making his second appearance of the spring, was charged with four runs on two hits, one a bloop double, and two walks, although two of the runs were allowed to score by Fred Lewis, who inherited them after Banuelos left.
Dellin Betances came on in the seventh and pitched well again, working 1-2/3 scoreless innings and striking out two.
The only moment of drama in the game came when the Twins first baseman Chris Colabello leg-whipped Eduardo Nunez sliding into second to end the fifth, and Nunez's day. The leg caught Nunez in the upper thigh. He said he's OK.
But if you think today's Yankee lineup was a bit thin, just wait until tomorrow's game against the Orioles in Sarasota. Teixeira, Ellsbury, Nunez and McCann all have the day off. It will be Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Austin Romine and a bunch of kids from the minor-league complex playing behind Vidal Nuno, who ostensibly is still in the the competition for the No. 5 slot, too.
New York Yankees
No hard feelings: The Yankees say they believe the Nunez-Colabello play was an accident and that no malice was intended from the 6-4, 220-pound first baseman, although at one point Nunez agreed with a reporter who asked him if the play was dirty.
"It's two out, you slide to the base," Nunez said. "There’s nothing, no broke up double play, nothing like that. I never expected he gonna go that close and that hard for no reason. It’s an easy out."
Thomson, however, said he thought Colabello simply didn't realize there were two out and did think he was breaking up a DP. "It just looked like a funny slide to me," Thomson said. "I think maybe his cleat got caught and the leg came up and hit Nunie in the thigh."
Second baseman Brian Roberts was close enough, he said, to hear Colabello shouting, "My bad! My bad!" after the collsions, and upon further reflection, Nunez said, "I think he was just hustling, that's all."
Nunez was examined by Yankee trainers and proclaimed OK after some icing and massage.
Told that he might see Colabello again this season, Nunez chuckled and said, "I hope not."
New York Yankees
Spring fever: Teixeira said he is happy with the way his spring is going so far. Although he has yet to hit a home run, one of his two hits (12 at-bats) was a double, and he said he would be fine to go through the entire camp without hitting a ball out of the park.
"I’m trying to keep it very simple right now," Teixeira said. "I’m not worried about hitting home runs right now because I haven’t played for so long, so it’s really just hitting the ball hard, squaring up balls, which I’ve been doing. As we get into the season, the power, that’s naturally there. The power will come. I’ve gone springs where I hit one or two home runs in April and ended up with 35, so I'm not worried."
Asked if he would like to hit one out just to be sure he still could, Teixeira laughed and said, "I know I can. Oh, I know I can."
Michael and me: Phelps is ostensibly in a four-man competition, including himself, Pineda, Nuno and Adam Warren, but he spoke today as if the latter two had already been eliminated.
"It is a competition and you try not to make too much of it," he said. "The better we’re both pitching, the better we all pitch, it’s going to help the team."
Later, when he was asked if he had to think more as an individual in order to further his own cause, Phelps again spoke as if it were only between himself and Pineda. "You start doing that, and then you’re going to start rooting against somebody that’s your teammate," he said. "You can’t do that. It’s just bad karma, and it’s bad for the team. I’m pulling for him as much as I’m pulling for myself right now because if we want to be successful, we’re seen year in and year out it takes a lot more than five starters to win games."
Right now, Pineda looks like the leader in the clubhouse, having yet to allow a run in 4-2/3 innings of work. Warren's ERA is 2.08 in 4-1/3 innings and Nuno, who starts tomorrow, has a 4.50 after a single two inning appearance. Phelps is the workhorse of the bunch, having logged 13-1/3 innings. His ERA sits at 2.63.
I'm Dellin you now: Thomson singled Betances out for praise, and deservedly so. With his 1-2/3 scoreless innings today, the 6-8 righty has now thrown 8 scoreless innings this spring, struck out 7, allowed just two hits, and most importantly for him, walked only two.