Before separating to compete for their countries in the World Baseball Classic in Puerto Rico, Yankee starters made sure that they left on the highest of notes.
Derek Jeter (USA), Alex Rodriguez (DR), and Robinson Cano (DR) combined for an impressive 7 hits and 6 RBI.
Cano was 3-3 with 4 RBIs on his own, including a home run off of former Yankee reliever David Weathers. His dedicated winter work ethic appears to be paying large dividends.
The first five Yankee hitters went a combined 12-15 in a preview of the excitement that this potent lineup could bring to the Bronx.
Included in this success yet again was CF hopeful Brett Gardner. The gritty leadoff man collected two more extra-base hits, including his second homer of the spring.
Gardner has continued to push the gas pedal to the floor every chance he gets. Thus far, Melky Cabrera has been left at the starting line and surrounded by a cloud of dust.
The Yankees were able to rough up Aaron Harang, the Ace of a talented young Reds pitching staff. Harang surrendered six hits in just three innings of work.
This was an important showing for a Yankee team about to see seventy-five percent of its infield depart the continental United States.
However, the World Baseball Classic could prove to be a blessing in disguise for New York as they prepare for the upcoming season.
While their captain and leader by example is leaving camp, so is the team’s lightning rod of negativity.
The Yankees will be able to focus on their development and consistency without the distracting questions about A-Rod’s steroid use.
Although a good barometer for CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira on the media scrutiny New York can provide, all players will be glad for camp to return to ‘normalcy’.
The center of attention moving into next week will once again be fastballs and sliders as opposed to syringes and secrets.
Sabathia and Burnett will make their first starts in pinstripes, and will hope to wow the Florida crowds.
I’d like to wish the best of luck to Derek Jeter and Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
For many Yankee supporters, the WBC will be the first time that clapping for men named Youkilis and Pedroia will be both allowed and expected.