Monday, March 06, 2006

Yanks Tidbits

After three straight losses to open the unofficial season, the Yanks finally offed their AL East rival Blue Jays 3-2 on Sunday, with a return match set for 1 p.m. on Monday. Mike Mussina started the game and was pulled after allowing four hits and a run over 2 2/3 innings. I didn’t watch the game (non-televised event), so I can’t speak to Mussina’s stuff. But judging from the lineup he faced, it probably wasn’t all that great.

Phil Hughes came in to retire the final out in the third and did well enough for himself in the fourth, though he did allow a run on two walks and no strikeouts. It seems like a double standard, bashing Mussina and praising Hughes for similar outings. But the Yanks need to exercise patience and understanding with the 19-year-old fireballer, and an outing like yesterday’s should be seen as a sign of encouragement.

Nary a run was scored after the fourth yesterday, and there were a few notable performances. Jeff Karstens, a distant shot to make the 25-man roster, hurled 1 2/3 scoreless innings, offsetting two hits with two strikeouts and zero walks. True, it was a late innings appearance, meaning he was facing mostly scrubs, but it inspires optimism nonetheless.

I was even more encouraged to see that Mike Myers threw a perfect inning and a third, especially after reading a little ditty about him in today’s Star Ledger:

Mike Myers worked in the bullpen yesterday on changes to his delivery to see if he can be more effective against right-handed hitters. In 2004-2005, Myers -- a lefty sidearmer -- held lefties to a .197 average but had right-handers hit .360 against him.

To try to combat that, Myers will experiment with moving from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side when facing righties, and also to make his stride shorter and less closed. The goal is more movement on his pitches.

"It's something the first couple of times felt uncomfortable, then it felt OK, then right at the end felt real comfortable," he said after about 20 test throws.

Myers will try the alterations today when he faces the Toronto Blue Jays.

Once again, he was relegated to late inning work, but what better way to get acclimated to a tinker in your delivery? A significant drop in that .360 BAA vs. righties will come as a huge relief, as it will help combat the common strategy of pinch-hitting a righty to face a LOOGY.

Matt DeSalvo also pitched two junk-time scoreless innings in Sunday’s affair.

Not a good sign from Randy Johnson in his first spring outing on Saturday. Forget the fact that he let youngster Edwin Encarnacion run amok; we’re once again hearing about his mechanical problems.

The Big Unit said he was opening his shoulder too early Saturday and dragging his arm, especially on his slider.

Posada visited to the mound to tell Johnson he was opening up when he pitched from the stretch and went another time to get the pitcher a breather.

"I think he saw a lot of things that sometimes you don't see when you're a pitcher out there, and that's mechanics," Johnson said.

Hopefully this is just an early spring problem that needs requires merely minor adjustments, but it certainly isn’t a positive omen coming on the heels of a season in which Randy constantly purported that his poor performances were due to sub par mechanics.

I said last week that Chein-Ming Wang was slated to start next Monday, but I think I stand corrected. I haven’t found a list of scheduled starters at the time of this posting, but it would make more sense that Wang starts against the Jays today. This is disappointing, since I won’t be around until 3ish, at which point Wang will certainly have showered. Though maybe I’ll catch an inning of Matt Smith.