The Rites of Spring for New York Baseball • Latino Sports


The Rites of Spring for New York Baseball


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New York, NY – The seven week countdown has started to opening day in the Bronx when the first pitch is thrown at Yankee Stadium. But the defending NL champion New York Mets will get the head start with a ESPN Sunday Night Baseball premiere against the Kansas City Royals.

The Mets last saw the Royals at Citi Field 108 days ago at Citi Field, and of course the memories will linger as to how Kansas City clinched a world championship in a fifth game.

For the Mets that memory lingered the past few months with an incentive for a return to the big dance in October.

“The expectation here is get back there,” said the manager Terry Collins about October, as position players reported many days before the required start date. He said enthusiasm is the best in his sixth year at the helm.

And for the Yankees, of course it has to be this way with the Houston Astros visiting the Bronx for a first game on the schedule.  Memories linger also in the Bronx, because it was the Astros who rid the Yankees from the postseason with a one-game elimination wild card game.

But that is all in the past because as they say, these are the “Rites of Spring.”  This week full squads for the Mets and Yankees  get to work on both sides in the state of Florida with a mission to get back there in October.

For the Mets there is enthusiasm that carries over from that marvelous ride of 2015, while the Yankees trying to get younger also have that enthusiasm.

However for the first time in years, the Mets seem to be capturing the attention and no doubt that is attributed to possibly having the best pitching staff in baseball, and Yoenis Cespedes has returned.

When Cespedes arrived in camp down in Port St Lucie, enthusiasm was in the air. There is that aura about a player who propelled the Mets to have the best offense in the NL when he arrived at the trading deadline.  It is that type of excitement that has not been seen in a Mets spring training camp since that NL championship year of 2000.

There is Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz that add to the mix of this excitement, young arms that are expected to get the Mets back to playing deep into October.

Yes, these are the “Rites of Spring” where expectation and excitement begin towards the start of a new baseball season. The best part of the equation are decisions made by managers and the coaching staffs and who will make the cut to be a part of the 25-man roster that comes up north.

And for the Yankees, where expectations are always a part of the equation, the questions are the strength of a starting pitching rotation that was inconsistent and besieged with injuries.

Down In Tampa manager Joe Girardi is watching the progress of righthander Masahiro Tanaka who had a bone spur removed from the right elbow in October that goes back to his career in Japan.

“We watch his stuff all the time,” Girardi said about Tanaka after he threw his third bullpen session in camp. Tanaka is the projected starter for opening day but right now that is skeptical in the early days of camp.

CC Sabathia says he is ready to go after a stint in alcohol rehab, yet there are lingering issues as to how both knees will hold up.

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About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]

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