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Whenever I leave my seat inside George M. Steinbrenner Field’s press box, I smack directly into the plastic partition hanging from the ceiling and separating me from a colleague.
It’s huge and it never moves, doing its small part in keeping us safe from the coronavirus. Yet, I treat it the way a bull does a matador’s cape, except with way less drama and way more embarrassment.
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Aside from that, Yankees spring training has been pretty straightforward, especially for a massive operation trudging through a worldwide pandemic.
Here are five things I love and hate about it so far:
I love … watching these storylines: Everyone wondered whether Gary Sanchez would turn things around and he’s already hit a pair of bombs, thrown out three baserunners and blocked tough pitches in the dirt from Gerrit Cole, whom the Yankees stopped letting him catch last year. Gleyber Torres was out of shape last season, according to general manager Brian Cashman, and he responded by losing weight and looking quicker. Neither Jameson Taillon (Tommy John surgery) nor Corey Kluber (teres major muscle tear) pitched last year due to injuries and both looked great in short stints. Head strength and conditioning coach Eric Cressey said Aaron Judge ditched the weights and did more yoga this offseason. Not only was Cressey right, but Judge has looked especially locked in at the plate, perhaps poised for his first full healthy season since 2017.
I hate … seven-inning games: Yeah, I’m surprised I’m saying that, too. Because who comes to a spring training games for inning Nos. 8 and 9? Nobody, right? Wrong. Trimming the final two innings off these games steals innings from cusp players, guys who are hoping to impress the Yankees or get in front of other teams’ scouts and show what they can do. I’m totally cool with seven-inning doubleheaders during the regular season. Love the idea of a starter potentially throwing a complete game and his team having a full bullpen for the second game so that it doesn’t turn into a mess.
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I love … watching these prospects: Catcher Austin Wells’ bat has looked as advertised. The 2020 first-round pick has a hit and a walk in his two plate appearances and he’s hit batting practice bombs. Yoendrys Gomez’s fastball touched 98 mph and he’s so long and lanky that I don’t know how anybody sees it coming. Oswald Peraza has already caught the attention of manager Aaron Boone, who said he thinks he’ll be an everyday shortstop sooner than later.
I love … fans in the stands: Oh, even at quarter capacity, it’s so much better than the din of fake crowd noise. Now, it’s weird that individual fans can raise their voices pretty easily over the typical applause. If I can hear a guy screaming from the third-base seats that Luke Voit should play without sleeves, so can Voit. But it’s better than some poor stadium worker hitting a button that makes a fake crowd roar when there’s a weak ground ball.
— Beutee (@BeuteeS) March 10, 2021