Thursday, March 14, 2013
First Pitch: Is this town big enough for two Riveras?
By Wallace Matthews
TAMPA, Fla. -- This promises to be confusing for everyone, from reporters to headine writers to fans. But it certainly looks as if come Opening Day, there will be two Riveras on the Yankees roster. The one who pitches and the one who so far can't be pitched to.
This has happened before, of course. It occurred sporadically between 20021 and 2003, when Mariano Rivera and Juan Rivera shared the same clubhouse for a total of 88 games spread over those three seasons. But with Mark Teixeira out until May at the earliest, Juan Rivera is practically a mortal lock to make the team this year. And it doesn't hurt that he is hitting .375 this spring, with 12 hits in 32 at-bats, including four doubles.
And if he ever hits a home run -- he hasn't it one yet this spring although he had a career high of 25 in 2009 as an Angel -- he has a natural home run call: "It's Juan-derful, Juan-derful!'' sung to the tune of the Johnny Mathis oldie. I suggested it to John Sterling last night and he began rehearsing immediately. So there's that.
While he is a shaky outfielder at best, Rivera's play at first has been more than adequate so far; he made a good pick on Kevin Youkilis' bouncing throw in the third inning of the Yankees' 6-2 win over the Phillies last night to save a run.
So unless Brian Cashman pulls off a last minute deal for a first baseman, (or a third baseman and moves Youkilis to first), it's a good bet that Juan Rivera will be the Opening Day first baseman. Now, if we can just keep the two Riveras straight . . .
QUESTION: Yankees fans, can you live with Juan Rivera as the Opening Day first baseman, even as a temporary fix?
UP NOW: A newser on Derek Jeter's return to shortstop, as well as blogs about Andy Pettitte's return to the mound and Mo Rivera's return to covering first base.
ON DECK: Clubhouse opens at 8:30 a.m., lineups will be posted shortly thereafter, then it's off to Dunedin for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Toronto Blue Jays. RHP Jose Ramirez gets the start. No radio or TV, but you can get live in-game updates via my Twitter feed, @ESPNNYYankees. Check in often and as always, thanks for reading.