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Get your Yankees Opening Day coverage fix

I'm not a big fan of ESPN's all-encompassing and self-promoting approach in a lot of areas. But in the credit-where-credit is due department,  I would say any fans of the Yankees or Mets should follow the teams' daily blogs on ESPNNY.com.

As for Thursday's Yankees opener in the Bronx, Andrew Marchand & Co. have all kinds of angles at this link from before, during and after the 6-3 win over the Tigers. Jeter stuck on 74 hits shy of 3,000, Jorge Posada's move to DH, the freezing fans, Mike Mussina's first pitch, Jeter and A.J. Burnett turning the page on tough 2010s. Great stuff.

Meanwhile, good friend of the blog Adam Rubin & Co. have every angle of the Mets covered and lots of them, of course, concern the Bisons. It will be even more interesting to follow the coverage this year in the wake of Terry Collins' promotion to manager. The big news from Thursday is that starter Pat Misch and infielder Luis Hernandez have both accepted assignments to the Bisons after clearing waivers. Two solid additions for the Herd.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Great tribute to Feller in Tribe press box

Feller IWhen Indians legend Bob Feller passed away in December, several of you responded or emailed me regarding my post about listening and chatting with Feller in the press box at Progressive Field. He was a regular there and seat 84, usually 5-6 to my right from my normal spot, was his and his alone.

The Baseball Writers Association of America (I am a member of the Cleveland chapter) and the Indians agreed Feller should be honored in the press box in perpetuity and his seat will remain vacant. The Tribe is there today having a workout on the day of Feller's public memorial in Cleveland and longtime great friend of the blog Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has tweeted some photos of the display case created to honor Feller in the press box.

Judging from the pictures, I can't wait to see this in person. Terrific job all around in honoring the greatest Indian of them all. The No. 19 patch with the trademark high leg kick, by the way, will be worn on the Tribe uniforms this year.

Feller II It's a very down time for the Indians. They're not expected to do much in the standings and the ballpark is going to be empty a lot of nights. But as someone who has covered every postseason game in Jacobs/Progressive Field history and covered every day of the Tribe's 14-year affiliation with the Bisons, I can vouch for the classy way they conduct their business almost without fail (OK, they should have never allowed our market to endure TV blackouts but that's a notable exception).

The Indians' baseball department never wanted to leave Buffalo. That was strictly a business decision with the advent of a new ballpark in the Ohio state capital in Columbus and a totally understandable one (although I got a good snicker at yesterday's Tribe-Clippers exhibition game getting snowed out there).

A night at Progressive Field is always fun. And the press box crew there features some longtime colleagues whom I respect greatly. Kudos to everyone involved in the Feller tribute.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Brrrrr...Welcome to Opening Day!

Brew snow Yes, the snow is flying here and elsewhere -- like during the Brewers' workout yesterday in Cincinnati (right) -- but it's Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season and we've got you covered. Get out to your newstand to read our 2011 preview section, featuring Jerry Sullivan's essay on the new Year of the Pitcher, my full-page look at the season's first power rankings, a fantasy report from Jay Skurski and Greg Connors' chat with SNY analyst Bob Ojeda and YES analyst Al Leiter.

The Yankees and Tigers get things going today at 1 in the Bronx, weather permitting. Same thing for the Braves and Nationals in DC as both sites look to dodge the rain and snow. The Reds and Brewers, in fact, dealt with the snow for their workouts and the Indians' exhibition game at Triple-A Columbus was called after two innings because of it.

The Indians will work out today to prepare for Friday's home opener against the White Sox but the workout in Progressive Field is pushed back until 3:30 because the team is staging a public memorial for Bob Feller in a Cleveland church at 10:30 a.m. Feller died on Dec. 15 and his service is being streamed live by Cleveland.com.

In New York, the Daily News preview asks two key questions: Are the Yankees really underdogs to the Red Sox? And, with 74 hits to go to 3,000, is Derek Jeter in the spotlight again or the twilight of his career? The paper also has a big look at whether or not new GM Sandy Alderson and old friend Terry Collins can fix the Mets.

I've got some questions of my own too. Like who's going to win this thing? Be sure to vote in our polls below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

No homecoming for Negrych as Pirates deal him to Marlins

St. Francis product Jim Negrych won't be able to have another great homecoming this summer at Coca-Cola Field while playing for Indianapolis. Negrych has been traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Florida Marlins for catcher Carlos Paulino.

The move is not that much of a surprise. On Monday, Negrych told the Altoona Mirror he would not accept another assignment back to Double-A by the Pirates and expected to be in Triple-A. He hit .295 for Indy last year -- including seven hits and a game-winning home run during a series in Buffalo -- but was sent back to Altoona in August and helped that team win the Eastern League title.

The Marlins will have to decide on Negrych's spot but it's likely they're interested in him for Triple-A and that would be New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Around the horn as spring training winds down

Lots of news coming out of Florida as camps are starting to break up today:

---Just as the Mets get Carlos Beltran back in their lineup, they have a new injury crisis to deal with. It looks like Jason Bay is going to start the season on the disabled list with a rib cage strain suffered in batting practice. That could have big impact on the Bisons, allowing the Mets to keep Lucas Duda on their Opening Day roster rather than sending him to Buffalo. The Amazins have Nick Evans on waivers and he could get back to the Herd if he clears today. Duda was expected to split time in Buffalo between first base and the outfield.

---Speaking of the Bisons, they hosted a media briefing yesterday on changes to Coca-Cola Field for this season and the highlight was when they turned on their new HD board. The thing is gigundus and you will be blown away.

---The Blue Jays are moving 54-homer man Jose Bautista back to right field from third base because they're pleased with the improvement Edwin Encarnacion has made at third. Dangerous. The guy's initials are EE, not the best for a third baseman, and he often lived up to them last year with some shoddy glovework. But Encarnacion reportedly came to camp lighter and has shown improvement. We'll see.

---It looks like the Yankees are going to put Brett Gardner in the leadoff slot for Opening Day Thursday against the Tigers and move Derek Jeter to the No. 2 hole. This is definitely not the same Derek Jeter we've been used to seeing.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

No. 25 goes on trial today

Regular readers of the blog and our Sunday Inside Baseball know we don't normally refer by name the guy who wore No. 25 of the Giants because of the shame he brought to the sport. (OK, it's Barry Bonds. There, we said it.). But starting today in San Francisco, No. 25 might get his comeuppance as his federal perjury trial begins in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

No. 25 said in December, 2003 that he was using arthritis balm and flaxseed oil. The government, of course, claim they were anabolic steroids. Perjuring yourself against a federal grand jury is not the way to maintain a legacy.

ESPN.com has a full archive of stories and previews of the trial at its main No. 25 link

The San Francisco Chronicle did a full preview of the trial in Sunday's editions that you can read here.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Yankees going fourth with Nova

It's hard for anyone to feel comfortable with the Yankees' rotation once you get past CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. By default, A.J. Burnett is the No. 3 guy and that left plenty of spare parts and retreads battling for the other two spots. But one competition now looks like it's over. 

Ivan Nova all but wrapped up the No. 4 slot with six no-hit innings in Wednesday night's 10-0 blanking of the Orioles in Tampa. Nova, 24, made 10 appearances for the Yankees last season with middling results but they don't have many other options.

It looks like a pair of broken down ex-Bisons with good major-league resumes, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, are in the battle for No. 5. Sergio Mitre was also in that competition but has had soreness in his side and has been shut down.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Great read: Yaz shuns the spotlight at 71

Here's one of the neatest stories I've seen so far this spring coming out of Florida or Arizona: Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy caught up with Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski, who loves to work with kids at the club's drab minor-league camp in Fort Myers (I've been to the place and you'd be shocked. On a dead-end street a couple miles from the big-league park).

But Yaz doesn't like the big money, bright spotlight and packed crowds of fans at major league camp and he's a rare visitor to Fenway Park during the season. At age 71, he mostly just wants to fish and golf and not draw any attention to himself.

Writes Shaughnessy: "Carl Yastrzemski is our New England sports Salinger. Ava Gardner. Sandy Koufax. He just wants to be left alone. He knows you love him and you appreciate those glory days, but truthfully, it probably means more to you than it means to him."

Click the link above. Take a few minutes to read the story, whether you're a Red Sox fan or not. Fascinating stuff.

---MIke Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Braves coach, an ex-Bison star, loses eye

Tough news coming out of Orlando today that Atlanta Braves Single-A manager Luis Salazar has lost his left eye after he was struck in the dugout by a line drive off the bat of Brian McCann during a game last week at the team's Disney World complex. 

"As the doctor told us from the very beginning," said GM Frank Wren, "in the big picture – and that’s what we always have to keep in mind – in the big picture this is a really good outcome. He’s alive…. He’s alive."

Salazar is still expected to be ready in 4-6 weeks for his managerial gig at Class A Lynchburg (Va.), so that's certainly good news.

Salazar, 54, played 1,302 big-league games from 1980-1992 with San Diego, Detroit and the Chicago Cubs. He played with the Niagara Falls Pirates in 1976 (where one of his teammates was former Niagara University legend Phil Scaffidi), and had a big season for the 1979 Bisons in their first year back in Double-A as he batted .323 with 27 homers and 86 RBIs on a Buffalo team that also featured future big-leaguer Tony Pena.

Salazar, in fact, is the answer to a major Buffalo baseball trivia question. His walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Herd a 1-0 victory at War Memorial Stadium in its first game as a Double-A franchise after nearly nine years of no pro ball in town. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Play ball: Bisons open spring schedule tomorrow

The Bisons' season opener is less than a month away, as it's April 7 at Coca-Cola Field against Syracuse. And the 13-game spring training schedule in Florida opens Thursday when the Herd meets the New Orleans Zephyrs at the Florida Marlins' complex in Jupiter.

All games start at 1 p.m. and the opponents will be either New Orleans, Memphis (St. Louis) or Syracuse (Washington). Memphis shares the Jupiter complex with the Marlins while the Nationals' complex is in Viera, near the Kennedy Space Center. Seven games are at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie.

I get a lot of inquiries about this every year from folks heading to Florida. There is usually no admission charge to minor-league games. They're usually on back fields (e.g. maybe a couple rows of bleachers and no scoreboards, etc). Don't look for Bisons uniforms because the players are all wearing uniforms of the big-league clubs. Be wary of a game at the same time as a major-league game because that's when you can usually get hit with parking or admission charges to the complex.

It's awesome to get an up-close view of a game from behind a screen but stay alert for foul balls! And if you're looking for autographs, you can often get them as soon as a game is over. But don't go poking near the dugout trying to get them during a game. Major fan fail.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Bisons mark weekend with Open House, ticket sales

With just over a month to the home and season opener April 7 against Syracuse, the Bisons are gearing up activity for a big weekend in Coca-Cola Field.

Tickets go on sale for all 72 home games Saturday morning at 10 -- including Opening Day and the July 3 postgame concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. An online presale opened Thursday and continues today at Bisons.com. Ticket fees are waived on the Web site for the presale during those two days.

Saturday also marks the team's always-popular Family Day Open House. Doors open at 11 a.m. for season ticket-holders and noon for the public. The event runs until 3 p.m. It includes tours of restricted areas of the ballpark, kids games, prize giveaways and more.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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