In a season that is all about change, the new look New York Yankees started the introduction process on Saturday in Tampa. With Masahiro Tanaka and Brian McCann taking part in the first team workouts of the spring, the hand shakes and introductions began.
And in a few days Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kelly Johnson (to name a few) will follow. With the whole team reporting on Wednesday, there will be plenty of new faces in Tampa. The Yankee manager takes on one of his biggest challenges as Yankee skipper since taking over the reigns from Joe Torre in 2008. "I do believe, as far as a manager, this is the biggest transition I have ever been through. I think it's important that I get to know these guys and how they react in different situations," Girardi said. Brett Gardner will be the only starter from opening day 2013 who will be playing on opening day 2014. And even Gardner projects to be starting at a different position.
Girardi is aware that it will be a slow process, with so many new faces in camp battling for roster spots. With the Yankee pitchers taking part in the first team workouts of the season, Girardi wants them to pace themselves throughout the spring. He understands that everyone wants impress early, but he stressed to his team to take it slow and not to push too hard early on. "As I told the guys today, Look, today's the time to build arm strength. You're not going to make the team today or in five days or in 10 days. It's not going to happen. So that has been my message and I will continue to state that," Girardi said. He feels that patience is key and he doesn't want any one putting their season in danger with a spring training injury. Girardi added, "If they have a 10-day setback or have a 15 day setback, then they probably won't have a chance to secure a spot."
One pitcher who doesn't have to worry about securing a spot is Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka threw 35 pitches in the bullpen on Saturday. He was caught by Francisco Cervelli and he felt that the the early returns are very encouraging, "He showed a lot of control. He was relaxed, having fun," Cervelli said. Tanaka who has built his pitch count, threw 32 pitches on Saturday. Tanaka threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday and has slowly increased his total pitches. Cervelli feels that Tanaka is coming along well, but he did mention that his arm speed slowed when he attempted breaking pitches. "But that's ok because it's 70 percent. When we are going strong, that's when I can make suggestions," Cervelli added.
Tanaka's first impression of the media in Tampa was bit overwhelming, "Honestly, when I stepped out on the field today, I was very surprised as to how many media there were out there." That should change, "He's going to get used to that because when the whole team comes here, it's going to be the same for everybody. He's not the only guy making $100 million here, so there will be attention for a lot of people," Cervelli said.
Derek Jeter who has been dealing with a larger amount of attention himself, was once again surrounded by a large group of media and autograph seekers down in Tampa. Jeter will continue to workout at the minor league complex and will join his teammates on Wednesday when the rest of the team reports.
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