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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Postgame notes: Captain struggling

By Wallace Matthews

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-0, today, in a split-squad game at The Boss behind strong pitching from Michael Pineda and five other pitchers, including David Robertson, who got one out, and Bruce Billings, who got eight. Zoilo Almonte had two more hits, and so did Brett Gardner.

But one Yankee hasn't had a hit in a while: Derek Jeter, who started off the spring hitless in his first 10 at-bats, then got four hits in his next five. Now, he is in an 0-9 slump after going 0-4 with three groundouts and a strikeout today. His spring training average is .167.

“I think his timing is messed up," Joe Girardi said. "We’ve seen him pull some balls, and that’s kind of unusual. Older guys you don’t worry so much about early on in spring training."

Girardi used the example of 40-year-old Raul Ibanez, who had a miserable spring in 2012, his only season as a Yankee, and wound up hitting 19 home runs as part of a DH platoon, as an example of why it is too early to worry about Jeter.

"I can remember Lou Piniella telling me, 'Don’t worry about Raul, you’ll see it about the last week of spring training is when he’ll start to hit.' And he was right. You didn’t really see much before that. It was the last week.”

On the positive side, Jeter showed some decent range crossing over the bag to field Alex Gonzalez' third-inning bouncer up the middle, and executed his patented jump throw for probably the first time since his broken ankle in 2012. Although he was unable to nail the speedy Gonzalez, Jeter showed he could make the play without aggravating the injury.

Jacoby Ellsbury, True Yankee: Ellsbury, who is having one of the quietest springs ever enjoyed by a high-profile free agent acquisition, hit his first home run as a Yankee in the 6-2 loss to the Phillies. It came in the seventh inning, when the Yankees scored both their runs. The other came on an RBI single by Francisco Cervelli, who is either hitting his way into the backup catcher's job -- or onto another team's roster.

Ivan Nova started and took the loss in Clearwater. Nova went five innings, allowing three runs on nine hits and striking out six.