Notes: Bean sporting new attitude
Pratt feels improvement in foot; Abreu closer to dry swinging
TAMPA, Fla. -- Colter Bean has found himself fretting on the mound, gripping the seams of a baseball so tightly that he imagined his fingers might soon bleed. No more, he vowed this spring.
Bean, a 30-year-old right-handed reliever, has come into the Yankees' camp with a "What, me worry?" attitude. With his striking Minor League numbers having translated to just eight days of big-league service time to this point, Bean has vowed to simply let it rip and worry about the consequences later.
The adjustment has translated into results, as Bean fired two more scoreless innings against the Braves on Thursday at Disney World. Opponents are batting 1-for-13 with four strikeouts and no walks against Bean, stifled thus far by his sidearm style and mid-80s slider.
"That's my whole thing coming in," Bean said. "From now on, I'm going to go after guys and trust my stuff, and not worry about the outcome. It's worked out for me so far. I'm just going to try to use this momentum I've built and keep throwing."
It may be a bit of a stretch for Bean, who has just three Major League appearances to his credit over the past two seasons, to begin planning for New York.
More likely, he'll begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, a level he's seen for the last four years, leaving him to glean positives from the smallest gestures.
After Thursday's game, Yankees manager Joe Torre made special mention of Bean's pitching performance, saying, "Bean did a good job." Those five words wouldn't even fill a line in a reporter's notebook, but they translated to a pat on the back for Bean.
"Heck, yeah. That's the big man, the skipper," Bean said. "That's always a huge thing when the right people notice. That's what we're out here to do, impress the right people."
In 330 Minor League games since breaking in with Staten Island in 2000, Bean has compiled a 2.68 ERA. He has a winning record (36-20) and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 2-to-1, but thus far, his efforts have not translated into an extended opportunity at the big-league level.
"I'd like to think [the numbers] would help a little bit, but this game is funny," Bean said. "You're just as good as your last outing. Every year is a new slate, and you've got to prove yourself over and over again. That's the business of this game.
"If I had that attitude, those numbers would not be as good, because I'd be getting complacent. It's not, 'Poor me, somebody owes me something.' That's just not me and it never will be me. Everything you get, you've got to earn it. All I can do is pump strikes and get outs."
Having a ball: The last time Doug Mientkiewicz took a baseball home, it created national headlines. That won't happen with this one.
Mientkiewicz stroked his first hit as a Yankee on Friday, singling off Tampa Bay's Jae Kuk Ryu to end an 0-for-12 beginning to his spring season. Mientkiewicz said hitting coach Kevin Long inscribed the ball with the date and the words, "First hit -- single," which the first baseman stowed on the top shelf of his locker.
It's a long way from the final out of the 2004 World Series, which Mientkiewicz, then with Boston, caught from pitcher Keith Foulke, sparking a controversy over ownership of the ball. Mientkiewicz would eventually give that ball to the Red Sox, but it's unlikely anyone will come looking for his latest trophy case acquisition.
"I think this one is safe," Mientkiewicz said.
Pitching change: Darrell Rasner will start on Monday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., the Yankees announced Friday. The 26-year-old right-hander replaces prospect Ross Ohlendorf, who will pitch in relief against Boston instead.
Torre said earlier in the week that the Yankees would shuffle their rotation to keep Andy Pettitte from making the long trip for a night game, and also to avoid providing the Red Sox with an advance look at the left-hander. Pettitte will stay back in Tampa and could pitch in a simulated game instead.
Test run: Todd Pratt (left heel, plantar fascitis) tested his physical state in the outfield before Friday's game, reporting that he feels improvement.
Earlier in the week, Pratt told Torre that he felt as though there was a knife in his foot, and the manager ordered Pratt to shut down baseball activities for several days.
Pratt -- a non-roster invitee vying to win a job as Jorge Posada's backup -- has maintained his conditioning program and said he feels no pain when running. He caught a bullpen session Friday and said the final hurdle will come when he runs the bases, making tight cuts around the bags.
"I passed the test today, that's how I feel," Pratt said.
Swing town: Bobby Abreu (strained right oblique) is getting closer to the day when he will be cleared to take dry swings with a bat, possibly as soon as this weekend.
Projected as the Yankees' starting right fielder, Abreu has been sidelined since Feb. 26, when he was injured while taking batting practice at Legends Field.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Abreu said. "I'm just going to take it slow and make sure that part of me is strong."
Abreu said that, contrary to published reports, he has not taken swings with a broomstick. He said he has been working mostly on exercises that involve twisting the torso to build up his midsection, and is not worried about the possibility of missing Opening Day.
"I'll be ready for that," Abreu said.
Meeting of the minds: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was a guest Friday at Legends Field, meeting with Torre, who has enjoyed a fast friendship with the three-time Super Bowl winner.
Belichick observed batting practice from behind the cage with Torre, Yogi Berra and general manager Brian Cashman. Belichick and Torre have been friendly since a meeting at Boston's Fenway Park.
"It's nice," Torre said. "The sports are so different, and yet the stories are so similar."
Pollen watch: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera opted for a bullpen session Friday instead of pitching in exhibition action against the Devil Rays. Rivera said that allergies have been bothering him for several days.
"It's worse down here [in Tampa] than usual this year," Rivera said. "It's not good."
Tax time: Fans attending Friday's game at Legends Field were able to have their taxes done for free, courtesy of Gilman Ciocia, a leading provider of federal, state and local tax planning and preparation services.
Gilman Ciocia will return to Legends Field on March 23 and 28. They will also provide free services at select Marlins, Cardinals, Phillies, Twins and Orioles Spring Training home games this month.
Coming up: Left-hander Kei Igawa (0-0, 18.00 ERA) makes his second start of the spring on Saturday, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 1:05 p.m. ET start in Bradenton, Fla. The Bucs counter with left-hander Paul Maholm, who will be making his first spring appearance.
The Yankees will rest a number of their star players following Friday's night game against Tampa Bay. Position players not making the trip to Bradenton include Posada, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Doug Mientkiewicz and Hideki Matsui.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.