Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
March 11, 2006: New York Yankees 7, Atlanta Braves 3
Not much going on, what with the All-Star break. So I decided to watch a spring training game from 2006. I picked this one, more or less at random. Boy, did it bring back memories. It was only a year ago, but it seems like another lifetime.
March 11 was fairly early in spring training, but Andy Phillips was already guaranteed a spot on the team. Michael Kay said Andy had nothing more to prove in AAA, and he was out of options, so the Yanks had decided to make him their backup first baseman. Kay then started on the "Andy Phillips can't hit breaking balls" thing. Eh. I've never bought that. Breaking stuff is hard for anyone to hit. I think Andy hit breaking balls well enough. It was the high outside pitch from lefties he struggled with last season.
Aaron Small came in in relief in this game. His Cinderella story hadn't ended yet, and everyone assumed he would be on the team, either as a starter or out of the pen. He of course ended up on the DL, then outrighted to Columbus. (He signed a minor league contract with the Mariners early this year, and announced his retirement when they released him in May.)
They also had high hopes for Carl Pavano. He was on the DL (of course), but they were expecting him to be ready to play by April 15. Hah.
Then there were the interviews with the players talking about Torre. They all said how happy they were that he had been re-signed, and how he was a real player's manager. Even A-Rod. (Little did he know how the season would end.) Jeter said he expected Torre to still be managing the Yankees in 2016.
There was also an interview with Jorgie. He was talking about how he prefered Moose to Randy Johnson, because he's known Moose so much longer, and Moose had proven that he wants to win. Oh, the irony: Wil Nieves is Mussina's personal catcher this season. Moose and Jorgie apparently aren't getting along.
Bubba missed a lot of spring training that year. He smushed a finger taking bunting practice off a batting machine. He missed about a week; I think this was his first game after he got back. The finger seemed to be bothering him a little; he kept looking at it during the game.
He didn't start, but took over right field during the sixth inning.
He got one at-bat in the game. Cano was on 1B via a single. Kevin Barry was on the mound.
Bubba let the first strike go by, a fastball. Barry tried another fastball, and Bubba smacked it the other way. He laced it down the left field line - an RBI double.
He ended up stranded, alas.
When they were talking about Aaron Small, they said they were surprised Small agreed to sign with the Yankees, since the Yanks have a reputation for not giving their farmhands a chance. They quoted Cashman as saying that wasn't true: the Yankees will give their players a chance.
I guess that was certainly true with Small...but the Yanks were desperate for starting pitching at the time. And it's true for Andy now. But then there's players like Carlos Pena. He was in Columbus last year, playing very well. But they didn't even think about calling him up. He exercised his option, and signed with Boston. This year, he's a Devil Ray, and is the top-ranked first baseman in the league. And the Yanks basically gave him away for free.
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