Notes: Pair of phenoms tested
Home runs mar Grapefruit outings by Kennedy, Chamberlain
TAMPA, Fla. -- If Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were to discuss their respective big league struggles, the conversation probably wouldn't last very long. But they would have found much to chat about on Wednesday.
Two of the brightest pitching prospects in the Yankees organization, Chamberlain and Kennedy were roughed up by the Minnesota Twins, each serving up long home runs in New York's 7-5 Grapefruit League loss at Legends Field.
"Neither one of them were extremely sharp today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Ian was frustrated on the home run that he gave up because he fell behind in the count, and Joba was missing with his breaking ball and getting behind in the count. It cost them some runs."
Both Chamberlain and Kennedy were making their spring debuts against Major League competition, having breezed through exhibition appearances against the University of South Florida. Kennedy served up a solo home run to Delmon Young in the first inning, and Chamberlain was victimized for a two-run bomb by Garrett Jones in the fifth.
"It's bound to happen," Chamberlain said. "The sun will come up tomorrow. I've got a lot of stuff to work on in Spring Training; that's what it's for. You're going to get your butt handed to you, and you know that. You learn more from these."
Chamberlain, who dominated to the tune of a 0.38 ERA down the stretch as a setup man last year, had allowed just one previous home run to a big leaguer. That mattered little to Jones, who launched an offering high and deep off the right-field party deck.
"I guess if you're going to give 'em up, give 'em up big," Chamberlain said.
Kennedy, who posted a 1.89 ERA in three big league starts last year, kicked himself after the game, but that had more to do with not getting his curveball over for strikes. The pitch to Young was a room-service fastball down the middle, which the slugger clanged off the black batter's eye in center field.
Having played with and against Young for years growing up in California, Kennedy joked that he would send Young a text message Wednesday reading, "You're welcome."
A little bit of gallows humor never hurts, especially when rough days are so foreign.
"We didn't really have that many outings that were real bad," Kennedy said. "I think especially in the big league season, you're going to lose sometimes. We're going to have some stepping stones to build upon those times. That's when you see the real player in us."
Back in the swing: Hideki Matsui returned to batting-practice drills on Wednesday, three days after his neck stiffened and forced him out of action. The 33-year-old outfielder hit soft-toss in the cages underneath the stadium before taking to the field, even popping one ball into the right-field seats.
Matsui has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in November. Saying that he believes he's close, Matsui hopes to play in about seven to 10 days, but he said on Wednesday it would more likely be closer to 10.
"I didn't place any expectations on [the knee]," Matsui said. "I sense it's not something that's going to be perfect right away. It's a step-by-step process."
He said two or three weeks of exhibition games should be sufficient to prepare him for Opening Day.
Can't slow him down: Johnny Damon was watching the Yankees' game on ESPN when Shelley Duncan crushed a ninth-inning homer off Minnesota reliever Oswaldo Sosa.
"What I want to know is, how do these guys keep getting pitches to hit?" Damon said.
Fat offerings have been the norm for the 28-year-old Duncan, who is fighting to win a spot on the Yankees' roster. Showing patience at the plate, Duncan puffed his spring batting average to .636 (7-for-11) with two homers and nine RBIs.
"He's done everything you can ask a man to do," Girardi said.
All in the family: When Jason Giambi chased down a victim of Andy Pettitte's pickoff on Sunday, he said, "I'm like a cat out there."
Apparently, he's upgraded. Giambi leapt and flagged down a Brian Buscher line drive in the second inning on Wednesday, robbing the Minnesota infielder of a hit.
"I'm a puma," Giambi said. "I'm peaking way too early."
Don't look back: Chase Wright learned a valuable lesson in the Yankees' intrasquad game on Wednesday morning. With a runner going on the pitch, catcher Kyle Anson drilled the left-hander in the back with a throw down to second base.
Girardi, watching from the bench on Field 2, went out and spoke to Wright, telling him never to turn his back like that. More importantly, Girardi said to get out of the way. As he later told Anson, Girardi once drilled a pitcher in the back of the head with a throw while catching at Northwestern.
"You're taught to throw it right through the mound," Girardi said. "We're not throwing hooks around the mound. You need to get out of the way."
Bombers bits: Chamberlain said that he was fine with the Yankees' renewal of his contract at $390,000. "I don't play the game to get paid. The paycheck is a bonus," he said. ... Girardi said that right-hander Alan Horne looked "great" in the intrasquad game. ... With 20 consecutive games in April, the Yankees are likely to carry 12 pitchers to start the season.
Coming up: The Yankees will hit the road on Thursday to take on the Reds in Sarasota, Fla. Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will make his second start of the spring, matching up with right-hander Aaron Harang. Darrell Rasner, Kyle Farnsworth, Sean Henn, Chris Britton and Jose Veras will also pitch for New York. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.