Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner scolded his club for losing its championship focus last season and took a hard-to-mistake jab at Derek Jeter.
“I think maybe they celebrated a little too much last year. And some of the players (were) too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning,” Steinbrenner said Monday at camp in Tampa, Fla.
“And I have no problem saying that.”
Construction was just completed on Jeter’s new 30,000-square-foot home on nearby Davis Islands.
The Yankees captain is coming off his worst offensive season, and his latest contract negotiations became prickly and public. But when asked about Jeter specifically, Steinbrenner said, “I’m not singling anybody out.
“Maybe they were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much. Psychologically, that happens sometimes,” Steinbrenner said of his club’s attitude after winning the 2009 World Series.
So far this spring, the late George Steinbrenner’s eldest son sees a difference. “They’re hungry again,” Steinbrenner said. “They remind me more of ’09 spring training than last year.”
WOMAN THROWS BP
Justine Siegal became the first woman to pitch batting practice in a major league spring training camp when she threw to the Cleveland Indians on Monday in Goodyear, Ariz.
Not only did she pass the test with flying colors, some people became a little envious along the way.
“She made me look bad,” said manager Manny Acta, who also throws batting practice.
Acta played catch with Siegal, a Cleveland native and a coach for the independent Brockton Rox in 2009, before she took the mound.
“She was pretty impressive,” he said. “She throws strikes. It was very good.”
He wasn’t alone.
“If you didn’t see the ponytails, she would have fit right in,” said catcher Paul Phillips, one of the players who took swings off Siegal’s pitches. “She did great.”
Justin Morneau says he is feeling better seven months after a concussion ended his season, but he likely will not play in the Minnesota Twins’ first few games of spring training. The 2006 AL MVP spoke in Fort Myers, Fla., a day before Twins position players are due to report. He said he is still not quite 100 percent from the injury that he suffered in Toronto in July.
Bryce Harper received a friendly greeting in Viera, Fla., from Stephen Strasburg, one No. 1 draft pick greeting another at spring training for the Washington Nationals. A day ahead of the first full-squad workout, Harper stretched with several other early arrivals, did some light throwing and moved to another field for batting practice. Harper, taken in last June’s draft and given a $9.9 million, five-year contract, was not allowed to speak with reporters.
Ryan Dempster was selected by Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade to start the season opener against Pittsburgh on April 1. Dempster was picked over right-hander Carlos Zambrano, who has started the past six openers for the Cubs. Zambrano will start the second game.
Adam Wainwright will pitch in the St. Louis Cardinals’ first spring training exhibition in one week against the Florida Marlins, putting the NL Cy Young Award runner-up in line to take the mound for the March 31 opener against the San Diego Padres.
After putting together a roster that returned the Braves to the playoffs, general manager Frank Wren was rewarded with a two-year contract extension that keeps him in Atlanta through the 2013 season.