George Christian Pappas, ESPN Radio
CC Sabathia notices something different about the Yankee clubhouse after the first two days of camp.
“Last year we came into camp and everybody was talking about the lack of pitching. This year we seem to have too much, and that’s a good problem to have,” the southpaw said to reporters at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
In some cases, it’s literally tough to overlook the organization’s influx of pitching.
See Michael Pineda, for example. The Yankees’ new 6-foot-7-inch Dominican fire-baller is hard to miss. Combined with Sabathia and Ivan Nova, the Pineda rounds out New York’s trio of pitchers towering in the rotation.
Pineda is a (slightly) slimmer mirror image of Sabathia, the staff’s ace. His fastball is clocked at 95 miles per hour, which puts him into a tie for the fifth-fastest average velocity among major-league pitchers. He stifled right-handed batters to a .184 average, the lowest for any pitcher in the big leagues with at least 200 appearances against righties. And he has almost the same unforgiving command of his slider, his strikeout pitch, to frustrate most hitters he faces.
New York acquired the 23-year-old right-hander via trade from Seattle via in exchange for the Yankees’ cornerstone prospect, catcher Jesus Montero. The Yankees also signed Hiroki Kuroda as a free agent in January, giving them added depth in the rotation. Kuroda, 37, is coming off back-to-back seasons with the Dodgers in which his record dipped underwater. Brian Cashman can only hope his $10-million, one-year investment in the Japanese right-hander will pay off.
The additions also gave New York license to deal A.J. Burnett to Pittsburg for a pair of minor leaguers. That deal was completed Monday and gave Cashman room to sign a left-handed designated hitter, Raul Ibanez.
The Yankees agreed to terms with Ibanez on a one-year deal worth $1.1 million Tuesday, according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. He can earn as much as $4 million based on incentives tied to plate appearances.
The 39-year-old hit a .245/20/84 clip in 2011 with the Philadelphia Phillies, when he played 134 of 144 total games in left field.
Other free agents who expressed an interest in the Yankees’ designated hitter role included Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero and Hideki Matsui.
Mariano’s Last Year?
Mariano Rivera might have implied to a group of reporters that the 2012 season could be his last.
“I won’t let you know now, but I know,” Rivera said to the media contingent at the Yankees’ complex.
He said his decision has been made for 2-3 weeks, and that his family already knows of his intentions. The Yankees would be the next to find out, but there’s no changing his mind.
“Even if I save 90 games, even if they want to pay as much money as they want to,” Rivera added.
Rivera has notched an MLB-record 603 saves during his 17-year career in pinstripes. He made 64 appearances in 2011 and posted a 1.91 E.R.A., slamming the door 44 times for the Yankees. Rivera is in the final year of his two-year, $30 million contract.
George Christian Pappas covers Major League Baseball and college football for ESPN Florida and ESPN Radios Gainesville/Ocala and St. Augustine/Jacksonville. He is finishing his degree in journalism and Spanish at the University of Florida. You can send him questions or comments at