<
>

Pregame notes: Grandy, Youk and penguins

ST. PETERSBURG -- While Joe Maddon was creating havoc in his clubhouse by allowing a pair of penguins to run free among his players, the Yankees' clubhouse was like the reading room of the New York Public Library this afternoon. Quiet and virtually empty.

Here's what's going on:

-- Curtis Granderson took 15 batting practice swings in the indoor cage at the Yankees developmental complex in Tampa. According to Joe Girardi, Granderson will hit indoors for a couple more days and then move on to outdoor BP, followed by rehab games, either in extended spring training or with one of the Yankees minor-league affiliates. There is still no timetable for his planned return to the team.

-- Kevin Youkilis, still suffering from lower back pain, is not a player again today. As expected, Girardi left him off the lineup card versus the Rays RHP Alex Cobb, and although he was listed in one of the BP groups, did not come out to stretch with the team or appear in the batting cage before the game. Asked if Youkilis would play Thursday night when the Yankees return home for a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, Girardi said, "That's our hope."

-- As for Maddon and his penguins, the Rays manager said, "It's a continuation of our attempt to get our players to chill out." This week, Maddon has brought in a DJ to spin records in the clubhouse, a magician to perform card tricks for the players, and yesterday paraded through the room with a white cockatoo on his shoulder. Today, the guests were Cliff and Shelley, a couple of penguins who seemed quite at home roaming the clubhouse. Shelley posed for photos with here namesake, Shelley Duncan, and Cliff wandered into the vicinity of the locker of Kyle Farnsworth, an avid hunter. "Don't you poop in that locker," Maddon warned Cliff, "Or you'll be a dead penguin."

-- Tonight's Yankees starter, Andy Pettitte, who's 17-6 with a 3.95 ERA lifetime against the Rays, and 8-3 and 3.84 here at Tropicana. His most dangerous hitter seems to be Ben Zobrist, with a .368 batting average and 2 HRs in 19 career ABs. Evan Longoria has just two hits in 11 career at-bats against the 40-year-old lefty.

-- Alex Cobb, starting for the Rays, is 1-1 against the Yankees with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts. Collectively, the Yankees are just 6-for-35 against Cobb (.171) and Robinson Cano is 2-for-9, but both his hits are home runs.