I think one of my favorite parts of preparing for the preseason is getting regular Twitter updates from the “Sidewalk Six” (as they’ve dubbed themselves), the small group of sports reporters loitering outside the Yankees minor league complex’s outfield fence in hopes of getting a blurry phone picture of the guys in practice or by the parking lot for the random interview with anyone who will stop and talk to them. They are certainly making me smile with their pictures of the “reporter seating” (aka Port-a-Potties), random tweets about car alarms or crazy drivers yelling “Yankees suck”, and the occasional great quote from a player on their way home after practice.
If I still lived in the Tampa area, I’d drive over some Krispy Kremes as thanks for the entertainment; should anyone do this in the area, let me know (tell them it’s from me), and I’ll give you a Yankees gift. These guys are the low-men on the totem pole in the reporting world, on assignment until the big guys get there when the Yankees officially open their doors to the press. For now, the Sidewalk Six resort to portable step ladders, sneaking peeks at the nearby local circus tent (not kidding), and entertaining their followers with the mundane of their current situation (Jeter’s fielding baseballs again, Jeter’s doing BP in the cages, Jeter’s tossing the long ball in the outfield, Jeter’s…).
So following that train of thought, Derek Jeter stopped by the crowd today, dressed in an American Museum of Natural History sweatshirt (the museum in New York where the first Night at the Museum movie took place). Jeter answered questions relating to his sweatshirt (really creative, guys!), daily workouts, his expectations for the 2014 season (hint: it’s winning the World Series, just like every year), and his reaction to the whole Alex Rodriguez situation. In regards to that last one, Jeter said, “It is what it is. He’s not here for this season, so we’re going to have to find ways to win with the team that we have… For us, look, we show up and we do our job… It’s not something that’s weighing on our minds when we’re playing games. It’s a situation that he has to deal with. Now it’s over and it’s done with, and we’ll move on from there. But you’d have to ask him how he feels about that… It’s a situation that he has to deal with. It is what it is. He’s not going to be here this year, so we’ve got to find ways to get it done.”
Francisco Cervelli also stopped to chat with the Six today, discussing how he really looking forward to closing the door on 2013. He spent Spring and the early part of 2013 settling into the role he worked so hard to earn, the starting catcher, only to have it snatched away twice. First, he caught a foul ball off his hand, fracturing it in late April, which continued to cause him trouble through his rehab. Then in August, he accepted a 50-game suspension due to his connections with the Biogenesis matter. It wasn’t until December 14, just 2 months ago, that all his restrictions were finally lifted, and he was cleared to resume his off-season preparations for next season. He is the clear contender for back-up catcher to recent acquisition McCann. “I’ve just got to keep working, having fun and playing baseball,” Cervelli said. “Do what they ask me to do, and I know what’s my role now, but you never know.”
Michael Pineda is ready to compete for a rotation spot after two years on the DL and in rehab with a should injury. He’s been working the pitching coach Larry Rothschild this week to help him prepare for Spring. Pineda is expected to be competing for that fifth rotation spot against Phelps, Warren, and Nuno, all of whom have a great chance to prove their big league potential this Spring. “I want to pitch,” Pineda said. “I want to help my team… I’m here, I’m ready to compete and I want to help my team this year and help my team make the playoffs and play in the World Series. That’s what I want… I know I had injuries, but right now, I’m feeling stronger and my shoulder is feeling good. I’m the same Michael Pineda.”
And the news from Australia (though I don’t know why they picked up this story) is in regards to Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka’s move to the U.S. was done with a certain sense of style. He charted a 787 (one of the new models of the Boeing line of planes) to transport himself, his wife, 3 other people, and his pet poodle from Tokyo to the Bronx for his press conference tomorrow. Tokyo, like much of America recently, has been battling winter storms that have been affecting air travel, and many flights have been cancelled or delayed. However, this doesn’t affect charters that leave on the traveler’s schedule (within reason of nature’s wrath in the winter, of course). Tanaka will don his pinstripes tomorrow at Yankee Stadium before heading down for a much sunnier climate for Spring.
And to put things into perspective, it will be 27 in New York tomorrow, but 77 in Tampa. I’m guessing everyone is looking forward to that 50 degree increase. I know I am.