New York Yankees: :Larry Rothschild

Pregame Notes: Mo needs Larry

August, 12, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera said he is not worried after having blown three saves in a row for the first time in his career.

Still, the greatest closer of all time will do what players of much lesser stature have done throughout baseball history. He will consult with his pitching coach.

"Oh, yeah, I will definitely talk to Larry," Mo said, referring to Larry Rothschild. "That's why we have coaches, to tell you what you're doing wrong. Maybe do a little extra work, too."

Mariano said that because his pitches to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, both of whom hit home runs in the ninth inning to tie Sunday afternoon's game with the Tigers, drifted up into the zone, he thought the problems were with his release point and follow-through.

"I finish some and I don't finish the others," he said. "The release point is not consistent. When you leave the ball up, the ball basically don't have nothing. There's nothing there. No life. And we can't afford that."

Mariano converted his first 18 opportunities of the season before blowing his first one against the Mets on May 28. But with the three blown saves over the last six days, Rivera has now blown five of his past 22 save opportunities. Thanks to the late-inning herpoics of Brett Gardner, however, the Yankees have managed to win two of those three games.

Rivera, who had surgery last June to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, said he is healthy and is having no problems with his arm or his knee. He likened what is happening to him now to a car that needs an occasional tune-up.

"It happens every year," he said. "It happens to everyone, pitchers, hitters, and I'm no exception. Baseball is something you have to keep working on. You can't stop. "You stop when you finish."

-- Derek Jeter is still with the Yankees and was supposed to take some "tee and toss," which means hitting off a tee and taking some swings at underhand servings in the cage, before the game. "Then tomorrow I'm going to do some dry swings," he joked. "In the pool."

Jeter is expected to go to Tampa to continue his rehab when the Yankees leave for Boston Thursday night. Asked if he expected Jeter to be reactivated on August 17, when he is eligible to come off the DL, Joe Girardi said, "I'm not sure."

-- Girardi is sure about Travis Hafner, who has been on the DL since July 27 and was eligible to come off today: He's not ready. "He feels better and he's continuing his rehab," Girardi said. "But he's not ready to do baseball activities yet." Hafner may not return to the team before rosters are expanded on Sept. 1.

-- Tonight's starter, Hiroki Kuroda, is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five career starts against the Angels. Since he became a Yankee, Kuroda has started twice vs. the Angels and is 1-0 with a 2.93, but the last time he faced them, on July 13, 2012, Kuroda gave up five runs in 7-1/3 innings and took a no-decision. Angels 1B Mark Trumbo is 3-for-9 vs. Kuroda, and two of those hits are home runs.

-- Angels starter Garrett Richards has faced the Yankees twice (one start) and is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA against them. He made his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium on August 10, 2011, and allowed six runs on six hits in five innings, two of them home runs by Curtis Granderson.

Rothschild: Summer of CC coming

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
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As summer gets underway, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild is expecting that team ace CC Sabathia will take off and get on one of his rolls.

"I don't think he's really hit his stride yet and he's still pitched well," Rothschild said at a HOPE Week event on Monday in the Bronx. "I think when he does, he'll go on a little run and really get things going."

He added: "I think as summer comes around, you'll really see him get going again."

While Sabathia has won nine games this year, his numbers are worse than his usual career marks. His ERA of 3.45 would be his highest as a Yankee and worst since 2005, while his WHIP of 1.271 is his highest mark since 2004. The lefty is also allowing nine hits per nine innings, which would set a new career-worst if it holds up.

Rothschild expressed no concern about Sabathia or his tendency this year to allow lots of base runners, believing that it will even itself out over the course of the season.

"Obviously you'd like to get him through a game where he limits base runners and has a nice clean game to get through, but I think that comes in time," Rothschild said. "I think you'll see it happen."

Before Sabathia beat Atlanta two starts ago, Rothschild said that the lefty had found a mechanical flaw during a video session and was working on correcting it. The pitching coach said the lefty is continuing to work on fixing that flaw and said it all usually comes around to work out for Sabathia, who is tied for the team lead in wins.

In evaluating Sabathia's outing against the Mets, when he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings, Rothschild said the lefty fell behind batters too often.

"A lot of the balls that were hits weren't squared up too well. It happens occasionally. He's going to have a game now and then when he doesn't get us through the seventh inning, which is rare, but he's human like anyone else," Rothschild said. "Had some of the balls not found a hole, he probably would have gotten us through the seventh or eighth."

HOPE Week: Yankees visit Flying Manes

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
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As Mark Teixeira guided a horse with 9-year-old Owen Atkins sitting in the saddle at the Riverdale Equestrian Centre, the slugger's new friend smiled from ear to ear.

Watching from close by, Atkins' father, Dan, shared in that happiness of seeing the Yankees reach out to his son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, and other members of the Flying Manes therapeutic riding program.

"It's great. This is wonderful. Owen is a huge Yankees fan," Dan said while donning a Yankees hat. "You just can't put this into words. He's extremely excited. We watch a lot of Yankees games on TV. This is something he'll have for his whole life and it's really inspiring."

The Yankees kicked off HOPE Week 2012 by helping those involved in the Flying Manes program and presenting the organization with a $10,000 check. Teixeira, infielders Eric Chavez and Jayson Nix, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal all attended the event in the Bronx.

"It's probably one of the best days in my life," said 8-year-old Michael Russo, a rider in the program who lives in the Bronx. "We got to meet baseball players and we got to be asked questions and be interviewed. This is like a dream come true."

Flying Manes is a nonprofit organization that helps those with physical and emotional disabilities by offering therapeutic horse riding instruction. It meets once a week and was started by Stefanie Dwyer and her husband Bricklin about four years ago.

On Monday, the Yankees surprised the young riders by bringing the horses down to an enclosed riding area and interacting with them. Some took laps around the track with the kids while walking next to the horses, while others helped groom the horses and clean their hooves. The players and young children even played games at times. For example, Atkins swung a miniature plastic bat and hit a ball out of Teixeira's hands.

"We really enjoying being with our fans and being with the community," Teixeira said. "Anytime you can put a smile on a kid's face, it makes it all worth it."

Dwyer hopes that the Yankees' kind act will help raise awareness of what small programs like Flying Manes can accomplish while raising the organization's profile. Parents who have children that ride in the program all praised Flying Manes.

Russo's mother, Lisa Higgins, was thrilled to see her son, who has autism, talking with reporters during the event, and she said Flying Manes has been very beneficial to him. Dan Atkins said the program helps Owen, who is bound to a wheelchair, with his physical and emotional development.

"[This was] absolutely amazing. We had no idea how big this was going to be. To have this opportunity for the kids in our program to meet these guys is absolutely priceless," Dwyer said. "This made everything. They're not going to forget this for the rest of their lives; this is all they're going to be talking about."

Matt EhaltYankees players and members of the Flying Manes Therapeutic Riding program are all smiles during the team's HOPE Week visit.

Sabathia registers first win

April, 17, 2012
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After CC Sabathia struggled out of the gate Tuesday against Minnesota, a pep talk from pitching coach Larry Rothschild proved to be a galvanizing message for the lefty.

"Larry came to me after the third and he just said make sure to stay on top of the fastball," Sabathia said after the Yankees won 8-3. "That was all I needed to hear. The command game and [Chris Stewart] called a good game and I got in the flow."

After yielding three runs over the first three innings, Sabathia rebounded and held the final 17 batters he faced hitless as he won for the first time this season. He is now undefeated in his last 10 starts against Minnesota, including the postseason, going 9-0.

"I felt a lot better today," said Sabathia, who threw 7 1/3 innings. "The velocity wasn't quite as good as the first two games, but I think it helped me staying in my delivery and not trying to overthrow and throw the ball where it needed to go."

Sabathia came into the game sporting a 6.75 ERA and the game did not start well for him, as he gave up a home run in the second and later gave up two runs in the third inning on three straight hits. Rothschild said that the southpaw has a tendency to hit his stride around the third inning, and that proved to be true on this night.

Minnesota did not have a hit against Sabathia after the third inning and he struck out five over his final 4 1/3 innings, using his slider and changeup effectively. Sabathia retired 13 straight spanning the third to the sixth before finally walking a batter. He gave up just four hits and struck out seven, leaving the mound to a standing ovation.

"I felt a lot better after the third. My fastball command got a lot better. Larry told me to stay on top, everybody knows I throw everything about my fastball," Sabathia said. "Changeup got a lot better and the curveball was really good tonight too."

Sabathia's 7 1/3 innings were welcome relief for the Yankees as the team had been burning through its bullpen recently. Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes both had short outings in the last three days that forced the relievers into action early, and Sabathia was able to give most of the bullpen a breather as the team is in the middle of a 13-game stretch with no days off.

"One way or another, he had to give us some distance," manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees' rotation had struggled entering Tuesday, tossing just two quality starts in the first 10 games. Sabathia hopes his start could be the start of a good run.

"You always want to be the guy that starts the streak and you don't want to be the guy that messes it up," Sabathia said. "I feel we can get on a roll and we do have a really deep pitching staff, and a really good one, and it's up to us to make pitches and show our potential."

AP Photo/Bill KostrounIn some ways, A.J. Burnett's 2011 wasn't as awful as you remember. But can he be useful in 2012?
25 Questions, 25 Days: Day 13

The list of American League starting pitchers with the highest rate of strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 2011 is as follows: Brandon Morrow, Michael Pineda, Justin Verlander, Gio Gonzalez, David Price, CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, C.J. Wilson -- and Allan James Burnett.

In addition, there are only 11 starting pitchers in the AL who induced more ground balls last year than A.J. Burnett.

Of course, a strikeout or a ground ball are two of the best results a pitcher can hope for once he lets go of the baseball, and Burnett was among the league leaders in both. That combination usually means a sub-4.00 ERA and a W-L record to match.

And if you want to get all Saber-Geeky about it, Burnett's xFIP of 3.86 -- an advanced measurement of a pitcher's effectiveness on plays not involving fielders -- was comparable to that of Matt Cain (3.78) and Jered Weaver (3.80) to name two pitchers any Yankees fan would take over Burnett in a heartbeat.

So how is it that Burnett also found himself near the top of another list -- the list of starters with the highest ERAs in the league? Only Brad Penny and Fausto Carmona had worse ERAs than Burnett's 5.15, which only goes to remind you of the Jekyll and Hyde nature of his 2011 season, and much of his 13-year major-league career.

Every single pitcher who struck out batters at the rate Burnett did in 2011 had a sub-5.00 ERA. In fact, all but two were below 3.50.

So how is it that A.J. Burnett could be so unhittable and so beatable at the same time?

Lots of reasons. For one thing, he walked too many batters, nearly four for every nine innings pitched. For another, his fastball, which averaged over 95 mph just three years ago, now rarely brushes 93. As a result, on nights Burnett couldn't locate his curveball -- and they were many -- opposing hitters hammered his fastball for a .332 batting average, a .421 OBP and a .606 SLG.

But most of all, his home run percentage was, literally, through the roof. Better than one in every six fly balls hit off Burnett last year left the yard. He was the easiest starting pitcher to take out of the ballpark in all of Major League Baseball.

Part of the reason is the park he pitches in. Nineteen of the 31 home runs Burnett allowed last year came at Yankee Stadium. (It will be interesting to see what, if any, effect Yankee Stadium has on Pineda in 2012.)

And you can make the case that Burnett pitched in some bad luck.

But it is no secret that if Burnett throws 100 pitches in game, he might well use 100 different release points. As a result, his command is erratic, his control unreliable and his psyche fragile. (Whether his emotional state is the result of his mechanical struggles or vice versa is a matter for Larry Rothschild, Doctor of Pitching Psychology, to figure out.)

What it means is that by more than one yardstick, Burnett was among the elite pitchers in the AL last year. But by the ones that matter most, he was among the worst.

The question is, can he right himself in 2012? "Yeah, absolutely,'' Rothschild said to me on a phone call earlier this week. "He's into his offseason workout program and he knows what's expected of him this year. He needs to make the transition from pitcher to thrower, but one thing about A.J. is he's always trying to get better.''

And the indications are he still has the physical tools to do it, even at 35 years old. And with two years and $33 million left on his contract, the Yankees are probably stuck with him, and likely to give him every opportunity this spring to make the rotation as the No. 5 starter.

If the Yankees have run out of patience with Burnett, they are doing a very good job of concealing it. The question is, have you?

Are you willing to give A.J. one more shot? Or is the only release point you want to see the one where the Yankees release him from his contract? You know where and how to let us know.

Tomorrow: Caveman II -- Should the Yankees bring back Johnny Damon?

Rothschild headed back to Chicago

June, 17, 2011
6/17/11
9:00
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Don’t be surprised if Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild walks into the wrong dugout.

After spending nearly a decade in the home dugout, Rothschild realizes it’s going to be a little different taking in a game from across the way in Wrigley Field’s visiting team’s dugout.

“Nine years is a long time,” Rothschild said.

After joining the Yankees in the offseason to be their pitching coach following nine years in Chicago, Rothschild will head back to his old stomping grounds when the Yankees take on the Cubs starting Friday.

“I have a lot of good friends there and I was treated very well there,” Rothschild said. “It will be good to see some people.”

After serving as the Rays’ first manager before being fired in 2001, Rothschild latched on with the Cubs in 2002. He joined the Yankees after signing a three-year deal last offseason, largely because the Yankees’ spring training complex is close to his Tampa, Fla., home.

In his time with the Cubs, Rothschild helped develop pitchers like Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

Rothschild described Wrigley Field as a special place, calling it one of the two “dinosaur parks” left in baseball alongside Fenway Park. He likes long-standing traditions, like the old scoreboard, and labeled it a different environment.

His advice for his pitchers will be simple.

“It depends on which way the wind is blowing but keep the ball down mostly,” Rothschild said. “You might have to be aware of the conditions a little bit but you can’t change what you do.”

Rothschild said he no longer owns a house in Chicago, but hopes to catch up with his parents and family at some point. He said he expects a hectic weekend, which begins with Friday’s 2:20 p.m. game.

He’s also looking forward to catching up with the people he spent so much time with the past nine years, from the weight coaches to the clubhouse personnel.

“Wrigley Field is a special place but more than anything else it’s just being around the people,” Rothschild said. “The clubhouse guys and front office people, the players there. It was all good.”

Could Big Z be a fit in pinstripes?

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
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While Brian Gordon pitched well replacing the injured Bartolo Colon on Thursday, it’s no secret that the Yankees are keeping an eye open for pitchers that they can possibly acquire or sign to help bolster the staff for the long run.

With the Yankees headed into Chicago for interleague play this weekend, could one of those pitchers be Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano? ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine tackled the topic in a recent blog post, which you can read all of at this link: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/4932/with-n-y-in-town-let-big-z-speculation-begin.

According to Levine, several top advisers to Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently watched Zambrano on a recent 10-game road trip. While Zambrano has a full no-trade clause, Levine wonders if Zambrano would be willing to waive it to play for a contender like the Yankees. The Cubs are in fifth place in the NL Central and 12 games under .500.

Levine writes that the good relationship between Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who used to serve the same position for the Cubs, and Zambrano, can be considered a plus for the two teams. Zambrano is 5-4 with a 4.59 ERA.

The blog says that there are some Yankees personnel who have more interest in starter Ryan Dempster, but the Cubs are not interested in dealing him. Levine says if the Cubs were to trade Zambrano, who has $27 million left on his deal, they could shed salary and get back some cheap talent.

With regard to being traded, Levine talked to former Yankee Alfonso Soriano, whom the team dealt in 2003 for slugger Alex Rodriguez.

"It's not the worst thing," Soriano told Levine. "When I got traded from the Yankees [for Alex Rodriguez] to Texas, that was a difficult one. But when I got traded to Washington, that's just part of the game. We work for the team. They do what they want to."

So what do you think fans? Should the Yankees take a gamble on the Big Z? Or should they stay away? Is there another arm that you think the Yankees should trade for? Let us know in the comments section below.

Yanks to see Gordon live for first time

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
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If the Yankees and Brian Gordon were an item, consider Thursday’s game the first date of what began as an online romance. The Yankees have only seen tapes of Gordon pitching, never in person, and now they will finally get to watch Gordon in action when he takes the mound against the Texas Rangers.

With relatively little knowledge on Gordon, the Yankees aren’t burdening their newest starter with details, but instead letting him rely on what led him to a 5-0 record with a 1.14 ERA in the International League (AAA).

“I’ll go through hitters and make sure the catcher and him are on the same page as far as what he likes to do,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “Just let him pitch, he’s had a lot of success this year. We’ll let him pitch the way he has and make him aware of what he needs to be aware of.

“Just keep it simple, really.”

From what they Yankees have seen on film, Gordon, who opted-out of a contract to sign with the Yankees Thursday before the game, has good command and can mix his pitches well. He throws strikes, has four pitches and keeps the ball down in the zone to get ground balls. If that sounds like a very simple scouting report, it is.

“A lot of it falls on our catcher because they’ve never seen him and you’re not sure,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I’ll tell Brian go with what you believe in because we don’t know you, you know yourself better than we know you.”

Rothschild reiterated that the Yankees want to keep Gordon comfortable, not changing things for him because he’s suddenly in the major leagues and pitching in New York. Girardi believes Gordon’s experience, as he’s been in the minor leagues for 13 years and has pitched in the majors, will help him as he’s handled adversity.

“I have nothing to lose and everything to gain here,” Girardi said of how Gordon should be approaching this start. “(He should say) I have a tremendous opportunity here to make some starts for the New York Yankees.”

Phils get Cliff Lee, Yanks get Brian Gordon

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
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Yankees general manger Brian Cashman doesn’t think the Phillies should be concerned that the Yankees signed one of their former minor leaguers, pitcher Brian Gordon.

“They got Cliff Lee, I got Brian Gordon,” Cashman said. “I don’t think they have anything to worry about.”

While Cashman joked in reference to the Yankees failed attempt at signing Lee in the offseason, he also discussed the process of Gordon joining the Yankees before the righty took the mound Thursday against Texas.

Gordon had been with the Phillies AAA squad and had an opt-out in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent on June 15, provided a team wanted him.

About a week ago, the Phillies e-mailed the other 29 teams in baseball that Gordon would be available if there was any interest.

The Yankees had some interest in Gordon, but after Bartolo Colon strained his left hamstring and was placed on the disabled list, they took an even better look at Gordon, who was 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA in the International League. Super scout Gene Michael, manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild all watched video of Gordon, although the Yankees did not physically scout any of his games.

After Gordon opted out of his deal, the Yankees officially signed him right before Thursday’s game and Cashman said the team had to fax in the contract before the game started. In preparation for his start, Gordon played long-toss in a park near Yankee Stadium on Wednesday with assistant Brett Weber.

"Someone stopped him and said, 'Hey, you have a great arm,'" Cashman said.

There had been talk of AAA pitchers David Phelps and Adam Warren possibly getting the start, but Cashman said if the team didn’t need to bring one of those two pitchers up, there was no need to as it would allow them more time to develop in AAA.

“If I could avoid it, I would,” Cashman said of bringing the young hurlers up.

Reliever Hector Noesi had been in the mix as well, but his role in the bullpen secluded him from getting the start.

“You talk about Noesi, he’s kind of out of his turn in a sense because of what we’ve had to do with him and use him in the bullpen,” Girardi said. “Phelps and Warren, they haven’t been in AAA very long, while this kid you’re looking at his age and has been in the big leagues and I can’t tell you this is going to be what we do from here on out, but this is what we chose to do today.”

Nova goes deep with his curveball

May, 1, 2011
5/01/11
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As Ivan Nova walked off the field in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays, he glanced up at the scoreboard, taking notice of his pitch count. There, for the first time, he saw triple digits next to his pitch count indicator, having tossed a cool 100.

Seeing the century mark for his pitch count gave Nova some extra satisfaction on a day in which he picked up his second win of the season.

“When [the manager took] me out of the game I know I [threw] 100 pitches for the first time all year and I knew that’s good because you’re starting to get longer in your pitches,” Nova said. “When you throw 100 pitches you have more of a chance to go further in the game.”

For the second straight outing, Nova pitched into the seventh inning, matching a career-high with 6.1 innings of two-run ball in the Yankees' 5-2 win. While he struggled to find the plate, a sharp curveball proved to be the pitch that helped guide Nova through a tough start.

“The first thing I do when I go outside is pitch one inning at a time, hitter by hitter, and when I get to the seventh inning, it feels really good,” Nova said. “I wish I can finish the game but [the] seventh inning I think is a really good start. I feel good about that.”

Nova struggled with his fastball, walking four batters during the game, but started relying more on his curveball as the game wore on and it proved to the pitch he needed to get out of innings.

Nova said he started using his curveball more in his last start, against Chicago on April 26, and with a lack of a fastball Sunday, he had to go to his secondary pitch. Over his final 90 pitches, Nova threw 27 curveballs, according to MLB.com. All of his five strikeouts came via the curveball as well.

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Nova has been throwing it early in the counts and establishing the pitch, while also attacking hitters with the pitch more.

“He’s been able to throw it for strikes and take guys out of the strike zone with it,” Rothschild said. “He needs to get better at locating his fastball, there’s no question, but he’s got enough movement and power there that he gets people out on some fastballs that aren’t well located just because of the power movement. He’s just getting his feet wet.”

Even with his improved curveball, Nova still had to grind to last 6.1 innings. Nova threw just one perfect inning in the game, in the first, but minimized damage and did an effective job pitching out of the stretch. Nova threw just 60 pitches for strikes, but stranded men on base in each of his final five full innings, for a total of six, and Toronto went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against Nova.

Toronto only made Nova pay for one mistake in the game, a 2-1 fastball to Adam Lind that Lind clanked off the left-field foul pole to tie the game at 1 in the second.

Manager Joe Girardi pulled Nova after walking Rajai Davis with one out in the seventh, the third straight time the speedster had reached base against Nova.

“It’s got to be a boost of confidence for him and a big step and it just tells you he’s making his pitches when he has to,” Girardi said. “You try not to get in those situations but it’s baseball, you’re going to get in them and you have to find ways to make pitches and he did.”

In his first 10 career starts, Nova had failed to pitch into the seventh inning in any of them, but he finally made it to that inning in his previous start against Chicago. Leading up to this start, Nova stressed the importance of building off that start and trying to get back to the seventh inning. Mission accomplished.

That proved to be enough reason for Nova to be in a joyful mood after the game.

“This is the second one that I have in a row and I feel really good about it,” Nova said. “I’m happy with what I’m doing right now.”

Soriano ends April on high note

April, 30, 2011
4/30/11
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Rafael Soriano's first full month as a Yankee didn't go as expected, but the eighth-inning man at least ended it on a high note.

Soriano bounced back from his first blown save of the season with a scoreless eighth inning in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Soriano heads into May with a 1-1 record and a 7.15 ERA.

"This month, it's over today," Soriano said. "So come back tomorrow and see what happens."

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal in the offseason to be the Yankees' setup man after serving as Tampa Bay's closer last season, and he has struggled out of the gate. He's given up a run in four of his 12 appearances, including multiple runs in three of those outings.

"It's not easy the first like couple weeks, like couple games," Soriano said. "But after that now I feel more comfortable in the situation I'm supposed to pitch."

In his previous appearance on April 26 against the White Sox, Soriano gave up the game-winning two-run homer to Paul Konerko in the eighth inning in a 3-2 Yankees loss. Soriano said he thought he had his best fastball of the season that day, but sometimes bad luck is involved.

Against the heart of the Blue Jays lineup on Saturday, Soriano responded and helped preserve the Yankees' lead. While he gave up a single to Adam Lind with two outs, he managed to retire Juan Rivera on a deep fly to right to end the inning and turn the ball over to Mariano Rivera, who recorded his ninth save.

"To me in this month it was one bad game and come back today and feel like everything is clear," Soriano said. "I tried to go there and do the best that I can."

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild believes that Soriano's arm strength is improving as the season progresses and expects Soriano's breaking ball to get sharper over time, too.

Rothschild also said that he and Soriano need to focus more in the future on preparing to pitch in cold weather. Soriano has admitted that he's had trouble warming up in the cold, and the weather this past month didn't exactly remind people that summertime is almost here. While the temperatures are likely to get warmer soon, if the Yankees play deep into the fall, Soriano will have to deal with those frigid temperatures again.

"He hasn't been in a lot of cold weather the last few years," Rothschild said. "You could see the warmup process and all that stuff, it's a matter of getting used to it. But still, he's good enough to pitch in any weather and get people out."

When the Yankees signed Soriano, they envisioned a dominant bullpen that could shorten games to six innings. While the bullpen has done its job for the most part, Soriano has struggled to be that shutdown eighth-inning bridge to Rivera -- but perhaps a new month will bring him new fortunes.

As manager Joe Girardi said: "Sori's too talented to not play a big role for us."
As I documented here, A.J. Burnett doesn't think he needs to be fixed. New pitching coach Larry Rothschild seems to agree. It is a matter of getting Burnett's confidence back.

The question is does success breed confidence or does confidence come from success?

"It’s the chicken and egg question," Rothschild said. "Is the confidence there because of success or success there because he’s doing things right mechanically and gets confidence? I think we’ll attack it right now to get him in line and he’ll get the confidence and demeanor he should have and get ready to face some hitters in a game."

The whole Yankees' season might come down to Burnett's head. From listening to him this morning, I don't know if that is a good thing.

Wally Matthews will examine this in a column that will be up later today.
The beauty of the Internet, as you likely know, is that we can hear from you. So as we begin 2011, it is not a one-way street anymore.

We started our new Yankees Spring Training Center. Hopefully, it can become your one-stop shopping for everything Yankees. In the middle, we listed the three players who will be most watched this spring. I was the one who wrote it up, choosing A.J. Burnett, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Who would you have chosen? Why?

Burnett is going to have the most talk about him, but if there is one thing to learn about spring training is not to believe any talk. Invariably, especially before the games start, everyone has either a new body, a new pitch or, the Yankees' hope, in Burnett's case, a new head.

It is always about the head. Larry Rothschild is the man who will be asked to turn Burnett around. Norm Charlton, who was part of the Reds' Nasty Boys (was it Boyz, back in the '90s?) said that Rothschild is the man for the job. He was the pitching coach for the Reds back in the day.

Ben Shpigel in the Times, who spoke with Charlton, will give Yankee fans' confidence that Rothschild is the man for the job. A glowing feature on Rothschild. Of course, Burnett is the one who ultimately decides what type of chicken salad he will become this year.

Burnett is the story of the spring. That and whom the Yankees will trade for, which may not become before camp splits at the end of next month, but will happen.

We have already started Trade Watch, 2011 (beginning with Francisco Liriano) on the site so we will be keeping you updated whenever anyone is rumored to become a Yankee.

But my question to you is pretty simple: What are the stories you want to hear about this spring? I'm really interested if you have any below the radar thoughts.

Rothschild: A.J. can make it back

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
3:20
PM ET
Had a chat with new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild Monday afternoon. He told me he spent a few days earlier this month at A.J. Burnett's home in Maryland getting to know the number-one priorty on his to-do list for this season. Burnett worked out for him, including throwing off flat ground, and the two watched tape together and talked pitching. Rothschild came away with the impression that Burnett, who turned 34 on Jan. 3 --the same day I turned slightly older -- still has a lot of good basebal left in him.

"He's healthy, the stuff is still there, and his mind and heart are in the right place,'' Rothschild said. "He wants to do well, and I believe I can help him to do that.''

Rothschild said the memory of Burnett's miserable 2010 season --10-15, 5.26 ERA and two entire months, June and August, in which he did not win a single game while losing 10 times -- may be impetus enough for him to rebound with a good 2011. "Nobody wants to have a year like he had,'' Rothschild said. "Maybe that alone will be the boost he needs to get better.''

Rothschild said he has made has made contact with all 32 pitchers expected in camp beginning on Feb. 14 -- make that 33 with the addition today of Freddy Garcia -- and has been working with some of the young pitchers who are already in Tampa to get a jump on spring training. He seemed especially impressed with Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman, both of whom are expected to begin the season in Triple A.

"They're both big kids (betances is 6-8, Brackman 6-10) and it usually takes those types a while to harness their deliveries,'' he said. "But they both seem to be getting there and Brackman has done a really good job of repeating his delivery so far in the three or four times I've worked with him.''

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .293
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 59
OPSJ. Ellsbury .778
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135