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On trying to make the club...

Former New York Assemblyman James Bacalles is in Florida, and as is his custom, he is working as an usher at New York Yankees spring training contests. His second report of the spring season follows.

By James Bacalles

TAMPA, Fla., March 23, 2015 -- Good pitching will always prevail over good hitting.

There are few position players who will displace a current first-stringer, but might make enough of an impression to be a bench player. But pitchers, visible through more frequent use in the bullpen, might move up.

A case in point: The Yankees' Ivan Nova will not be activated until June, so a pitcher will be moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation to replace him until then. Last season the bullpen was the Yankees' biggest strength, and it looks like it will be again this year.

The Yanks will have five starters and a bullpen of seven pitchers. The starting rotation is not firmed up yet, but there is time yet this spring. Pineda has looked good. Sabathia was hit in his first two starts, but velocity and location were good. Tanaka was getting first-pitch strikes when he pitched. Given the advanced age of some pitchers, injuries will play a major role again this year. Pitchers of note this spring: Nathan Eovaldi, acquired in a trade with Miami; and Justin Wilson, picked up in a trade with Pittsburgh. Both will probably make the club in the bullpen.

The Yankees have been playing starters for seven innings and then substituting non-roster players and minor league players in recent games, for the season is fast approaching.

Lately Major League Baseball has a new rule that a visiting team must bring at least three players from the forty-man roster, so there have been more Yankee regulars to see at away games. Players are starting to get their hitting zones locked in. Teixeira even hit an opposite-field home run and Steven Drew got a two-out hit to drive in a couple of runs to help win a game.

I have had a lot of hometown folks stop by to say hello. Midge and Dom Franzese made the trip from The Villages. Dom is in Rotary with me in Watkins-Montour. An old friend from my younger years on Keuka Lake, Joe Rolls and his wife Annette got to the game a little late but I had some time during a break. Joe retired from teaching in Corning, and his wife retired from Horseheads. Tom and Jill Palmer game to town to see a couple games. Jill is involved with Friends of the Library with my wife Mary. Mary and Bill Wilson said hello before one of the games. We went to Corning East together and they are still in the area. Alex and Kayla Goforth visited for a few minutes. Alex taught both of my sons, George and Joseph, at Northside-Blodgett.

Richard Gere was in the house the other night and saw the Yanks come back for a win. Celebrities often come down for a few games, but he was the first star this year.

The Corning area's Zack Sullivan is in Jupiter with the Marlins and is turning some heads. Ballplayers in the minor leagues do a lot of intrasquad games. Zack is currently on the Greensboro roster, which is a long season A squad. In a game against the Mets he hit leadoff and went two-for-three with a stolen base. Because of New York's late high school graduation he got his start in the Gulfcoast League. If he sticks with Greensboro, he will skip the NY-Penn League level. Although I don't get to see Zack play because he is on the east coast of Florida, my son George, who coached him in high school, said he has all the tools to make it. Best of luck to a local young man playing professional baseball.

Unfortunately I couldn't attend the recent Corning-Painted Post Sports Hall of Fame dinner because I'm down here, but my cngratulations to all of this year's inductees. Corning East fellow graduate Larry French does a great job every year. A special recognition to the high school student athletes who were named George Bacalles Memorial Award recipients this year. Sara Grapevine, Kyle Grimaldi, Madeline Taylor and Ryan Walker are all worthy of this award. My son George presented the award once again this year. It was special for him because he had coached all this year's winners.

Photo in text: Jim Bacalles at spring training. (File photo)




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Charles Haeffner
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