Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Spring Training Photo Essay - Part Four

We attended two Yankees games this trip. They occurred back to back, one Tuesday evening and the next Wednesday afternoon. In game one, the Yankees took on the revamped Atlanta Braves. Atlanta looked loaded with the Upton brothers, Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman. New York...did not. I had not even heard of the players who were starting at third base and in right field for the Yankees this evening, had not even heard of them! This would not be a good sign for our offensive production.

We decided to stick it out anyway. After all, George M. Steinbrenner Field is as close a Spring Training stadium gets to feeling like the real thing. There are more seats, a legit second deck, the famous facade and beer vendors who know what they're doing.

When one vendor was questioned about his product: "If it ain't cold, I'll take it back and drink it myself!"

When another ventured into a section where a second foul ball just hit after the first made quite a dent in one gentleman's leg: "He's a man; he's not crying." 

And then there was the beer guy who looked like James Harden.

"No, his hair is like mine. I'm older."

As for the game itself, it was the right amount of ugly. Yankees starting catcher Chris Stewart came up two straight times with multiple runners on base. He ended both innings and stranded all five runners. At one point, Brett Gardner was on first with a man on third and stole second base only to have the Braves catcher fake a throw down to second and pick-off the runner at third base. Eduardo Nunez proved once again with some of his defensive adventures that he is probably not fit to play shortstop. And, of course, there was an inning where both the pitcher on the mound and the first baseman were wearing jersey number 94. 

The scene outside afterward was perfectly pleasant. After all, this game didn't count. Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky had the ultimate Spring Training performance at the plate. He reached base twice on errors, advanced to third on another error, scored on a balk and managed one hit: an infield single. 

The second Yankee game would be during the sunlight, against Robinson Cano and the Dominican Republic WBC team. After seeing what they did to the Phillies, confidence was not high in the Bronx Bombers. Although Cano was the enemy this afternoon, he got a huge cheer. This had plenty to do with the fact that he is the Yankees best player. This also had a lot to do with the large number of Dominican fans in the crowd. 

The Dominican players once again acknowledged the crowd like nothing I have seen. They were constantly tossing things back and forth. People would toss balls, shirts, flags, whatever into the dugout and they would get tossed back, signed. The players were just having a good time, like they should, especially knowing what type of offense they have at their disposal.

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda fared quite a bit better than Cole Hamels did against the Dominicans. He went 3.0 innings, allowing no runs and just two hits, while striking out four. Take that Cole! The DR in general were not nearly as explosive as the other day. But it would have been impossible to repeat that performance. Nevertheless, they collected 8 runs on 12 hits and put away the pitiful Yankees. 

Eduardo Nunez had another bad game in the field. He hopped one throw, alligator-armed a play and just seemed to have no confidence throwing the ball from short. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense didn't manage a hit until Zoilo Almonte knocked a home run out in the seventh inning. With just two hits, the Yankees bats sprung a leak and were hemorrhaging smoke faster than these stacks; a fate that has unfortunately continued into the beginning of the regular season.

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