By Nick Hession,
Sports Business Writer
Even though there is snow on the ground and rarely a day warmer than 40 degrees, Major League Baseball’s spring training is in full swing.
The New York Yankees and Mets, both members of the Grapefruit Spring Training League in Florida, had their pitchers and catchers report in mid-February. The Mets were the first team in the league to have their pitchers and catchers report in on February 12, while the Yankees were one of the last teams to do so on February 14, according to Mike Axisa said in a report for CBSSports.
With the Grapefruit League in full swing, both teams are beginning to put their lineups together for the season. The Mets are focusing on their pitchers, which seemed to be their weak link last season. Four of the team’s five starting pitchers are recovering from off-season surgeries, prompting the Mets to change their training’s set up, according to nj.com writer Abbey Mastracco.
The new set up allows players more time in between sessions in the bullpen and made batting practice later than in previous years, according to Mastracco. The team’s players seem to think the new system is an improvement.“I would definitely say I feel stronger,” Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom said in an article for NJ.com. “You can have a throwing program and a set routine for rehab, and I definitely do think that I feel stronger this year. Last year at this time, I think the question was every day, ‘Why aren’t you throwing hard?’ And this year I just definitely feel stronger.” With the Mets’ new pitching set up, they are currently in 9th place in the Grapefruit League with a 10-11 record, according to ESPN.
The Yankees currently lead the Grapefruit League with a 15-5 record, better than any other team in Spring Training, according to ESPN. The team’s younger members have turned Spring Training into a platform to make their presences known.
“The kids start to get exposed and compete against players that they see on TV at the big-league level and they’re realizing, ‘Hey, you know what? Maybe I can compete with these guys,’” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman in a New York Post article.
First baseman Greg Bird, who missed all of last season following a shoulder surgery, is one of the team’s best batters with a .400 batting average, according to Mike Calendrillo’s article on Fansided.com. Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is also attributing to the team’s Spring Training success. In three starts, Tanaka had three shutout innings, no walks, and 13 strike outs, according to Calendrillo.
The Yankees finished last season at 84-78 and the Mets finished the season with an 87-75 record. The Yankees did not make the playoffs, and the Mets were eliminated in the Wild Card Game.
Spring Training is a time for teams to work out the kinks ahead of the regular season. The Yankees and Mets are taking full advantage. It will be interesting to see how these teams progress before the start of the regular season.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 print edition.
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