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Oh Kei (I got a million of ’em!)

So I was looking forward to getting a look at Kei Igawa tonight; he’s the one potential Yankee starter I felt I had no real feel for. Unfortunately, having watched him pitch 3 innings, I still can’t tell how good he is. Part of that is just it being spring, but part of it his style, which is… how to put this… thrillingly unpredictable? He did hold the Braves lineup scoreless, giving up only one hit with five strikeouts – but four walks. And he threw around 60 pitches in just three innings. Long innings.

Joe Torre, diplomatic as always, put it much better than me: “all his pitches were quality, he just couldn’t locate them consistently.”

His stats in Japan were excellent -not all that far from Matsuzaka’s, in fact, though no one who knows anything about Japanese baseball (or American baseball, for that matter) expects him to be anywhere near as dominant.

This has got to be a huge adjustment for Igawa, and you can’t really blame him if it takes a bit longer than spring training for him to settle in. However, I would like to announce that I’m officially jumping on the Jeff Karstens bandwagon. All aboard…

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“Monk-Rod”! Okay, Maybe Not…

The Yankees made some cuts after the game tonight: Jackson, Kennard, Whelan, Duncan, Gonzalez, Miranda, Gardner, and 18-year-old outfield phenom Jose Tabata. Everyone knew they were coming, so there were a lot of twitchy, fidgeting minor leaguers clustered together around the locker room this afternoon.

Afterwards I watched Tabata pack up his stuff in the clubhouse and thought: in five or six years, when this guy is named to the All-Star team, wins the MVP, or hits a walk-off home run in the playoffs… I can say I watched him clean out his locker at his first big-league camp. Okay, okay, fine — he’s only 18 and who knows what the hell will become of him, but it’s spring training and I get to let my imagination run wild.

Mike Mussina didn’t pitch well again, and used the word “frustrated” a lot. But at the same time, I don’t think he doubts he’ll come around; it just seems to be harder than he’d hoped. “It’ll take some work,” he said several times, and “It’s a struggle right now.” He and Torre seemed to agree that it’s a least partly a matter of getting his arm strength up.

The Alex Rodriguez controversy du jour involves comments he made on Mike & the Mad Dog today, but really, I don’t think there’s much new in there. He didn’t say anything shocking; it’s just at a point where everything that comes out of his mouth is news.

I think he should take a vow of silence. Seriously: if he just completely stopped talking to everyone, how much cooler would he be? Fans would love him. Granted, it might hurt his endorsement deals for a while, but I say it’s worth it in the long run. And think of the fun nicknames and Hall of Fame inscription! This is the best idea I’ve had in ages. Probably I should get some sleep.

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Simulacra and Simulacrum

Andy Pettitte just threw a four-inning simulated game, which made for a distinctly surreal sight. For one thing, every third batter was Andy Phillips, who needed to get some work in — having missed a week to be with his mother, who was severely injured in a car accident, but is slowly recovering, he says. He was two for nine in four “innings” (some had three outs others two or four; Pettitte just sat for around 10 minutes in between).

The fielders were mostly minor leaguers — one wearing Bernie’s old #51, which was jarring, and another in Joe Torre’s #6; guess they don’t honor retired numbers in the minor league system — but they also included Jeter and A-Rod. Pettitte said afterwards that when Jeter kidded him about having to field the fake game, he replied “I don’t wanna hear no complaints, Cap’s coming out here for me.” Sure enough, there was Don Mattingly playing (er, “playing”) first base. Now there’s something you don’t see every day. He looked pretty good on a low throw by Jeter, actually.

Here’s something else you don’t see every day: Reggie Jackson walking the edge of the field in a grey t-shirt and shorts, picking up stray balls. I guess the regular bat boys were busy?

I don’t think I can go to Fort Myers, unfortunately — my back totally locked up a couple of days ago, and six hours in the car is just not looking like a good idea. But I’ll watch the game on MLB.tv. Pavano clearly had a legit reason for missing his last start, but still, at this point, everybody needs to see something out of him; Cano, Cabrera, Giambi and Matsui are the only other regulars along for the ride.