I set out to watch today's spring training game against the Phillies to watch Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia warm up. Who can turn down a pitching matchup like that? But what'll stick in my mind is that Joe Girardi put Jesus Montero in to lead off the ninth inning. With the Yankees trailing by one Montero put the first pitch he saw into right field for a single. True to form, Girardi immediately took him out for a faster runner. Both moves worked. I didn't catch the name of the pinch runner, but he stole second and went on to score the tying run. The Yankees took the lead later that same inning.
True Yankees die-hards (say, for example, guys who watch spring training games in March and then blog about it later) were mistreated on this one. The Yankees played on the Phillies' training field so YES didn't carry the game. To watch it in NY you needed an mlb.tv subscription. As a result, many Yankee fans couldn't watch our ace make his first spring training appearance. For those who were watching, the Phillies' announcers knew nothing about the Yankees system. Michael Kay would've given us some kind of a warning before Montero would make his first appearance. Austin Romine followed Montero, and Boone Logan made an appearance as well.
On the Philadelphia side, I was stunned to see Cody Ransom at first and Jose Contreras on the mound. I'd assumed they were dead.
Philly's sports network inexplicably didn't have a radar gun on the screen during the game. This infuriated me because CC shows you a lot with his velocity. When he's on, he hits 94-96 mph on the gun like clockwork, often hitting the same speed again and again, with little variation. When he's off the velocity jumps around, and usually comes in around 92 mph.
CC was off, so I can only assume his velocity would've been off as well. He didn't give up any runs, but he walked 2 and gave up 2 hits over 2 innings. None of this matters, but for once in my adult life it'd be great for the bombers to get off to a solid April start. CC will play a big part if that's going to happen.
On Philadelphia's side, well, let's just say I'm glad Roy Halladay is in the Senior Circuit now. He threw 24 pitches, 21 of them for strikes, all of them moving. If you'd shown me this footage and said it was from a game in mid-June I'd have believed you. Halladay was so good that the Phillies had him throw a bullpen after the outing because he mowed the Yankees down so quickly. I can still see it when I close my eyes.
Otherwise, the game was uneventful. There is a leisurely feel to spring training games. Combine that with half the starters being no-name minor leaguers and the entire squad being turned over twice during the game and there isn't always much to watch. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead into the ninth, and the Yankees subsequently put 2 on the board. Philadelphia won in the bottom of the inning, but for me a Jesus Montero sighting made it all worthwhile -- a subtle reminder that you always need one eye open in baseball because you never know what you'll miss.