New on-field leadership for 2015, Spring Training in 50 days

Girardi finally has a full coaching staff, albeit a little altered and expanded. Returning are pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Gary Tuck in the bullpen, Rob Thomson is moving to the bench from his spot at 3rd base, and Tony Pena will move to 1st base from the bench. Newly minted Yankee coaches are hitting coach Jeff Pentland, assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell, and Joe Espada will be at 3rd base. Some chatter occurred over the hiring of two hitting coaches, but I can see the benefits of having more than one.

One of my favorite parts of any game is watching batting practice before the game, and that means that prior to many Spring Training games, I’ll find a spot on the bleachers of the practice field outside Steinbrenner Field to watch batting practice and the occasional hitting seminar. It brings me back to watching Little League BP of my brother’s, noticing little things and bad habits the guys pick up. Small adjustments to timing or angle of swing can alter an infield ground out to an outfield double. So while most of the Yankee-wearing fans crowd the fences to get an autograph or odd selfie with a favorite player, I’m watching the nuances and dynamics that actually make those men professional athletes — ability.

(By the way, Spring Training is a great time to get autographs, and those fences around the practice fields are by far the best places to hang out for your favorite athlete. But be prepared to come early and battle other like-minded fans, and come prepared with a sharpie and something for them to sign, and don’t get offended if they don’t stop. You are showing up at their jobs, after all.)

In less the happy news, Yankees’ pitching prospect and 2012 draft choice Ty Hensley was attacked at his friend’s home on December 28 by a mutual acquaintance. His attacker is currently charged with assault and battery after Hensley was beaten unconscious and sustained a broken jaw and facial fractures in the attack. Hensley is now recovering at his Oklahoma City area home, thankful for all his fans’ well-wishes and prayers. Our prayers and well-wishes are also with Hensley as he continues his recovery.

The Yankees finalized a 1-year deal with infielder Stephen Drew for $5 million. This makes Drew the front-runner for the starting 2nd baseman position, though there are a handful of utility and AAA players that could potentially platoon next to the newly signed Gregorius at shortstop. However, much like it usually does, Spring Training could alter everything.

And speaking of Spring Training (because on rainy days like this, it’s definitely on my mind), before a single game will be played this year, there are some important dates to know. Pitchers and catchers report to camp February 20, with their first workout on February 21. The rest of the team will report February 25, making the first official team workout day February 26. Their first game will be an away game in Clearwater against the Phillies on March 3, with Opening Day at Steinbrenner Field on March 4 against the Phillies. Their last home game will be April 3 against the Nationals, followed on April 4 by an exhibition game against the Nationals at Nationals Park in D.C. Two days later, the Bronx will be open for business on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.

If you’re headed to Tampa for Spring Training, single tickets went on sale last Friday. Some season tickets are still available. Tickets are available online through Yankees.com or at the Steinbrenner Field box office.

50 days until Spring Training…

Go Yankees!

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