Torre has been impressed with some other youngsters as well:
Losing four stars to the WBC has irked Yankees management, but it has allowed Florham Park's [Eric] Duncan and a few other prospects to get playing time in Grapefruit League games that otherwise would have been tough to come by.
"That's the upside to it," manager Joe Torre said yesterday. "It's an upside for these guys because they're here in the big-league camp and they're actually getting at-bats and playing games. So it can do nothing but help them."
Duncan, 21, said he has carried over some confidence from the Arizona Fall League, where he was named Most Valuable Player (helping erase the disappointment of a .235 average last year at Double-A Trenton).
"His attitude is really good," Torre said. "He's got some thunder. He's going to be able to do some things."
A main focus of Duncan's this spring is working on defense and he makes the transition from playing third base to first. With Alex Rodriguez entrenched at third, the Yankees decided to slide Duncan across the diamond."
I talked to him early on because of the position switch," Torre said, "and he's very upbeat about it, which is good. Sometimes kids will take it as a little bit of a what's-wrong-with-me type of thing. But I think when you look up and see Alex playing third you realize it's no slap at you."
Torre has also been impressed with [Ramiro] Pena, a 20-year-old shortstop ("He's got some special tools"), and [Marcos] Vechionacci, a 19-year-old switch-hitter moving from second to third ("His moves at third base look very good").
Duncan probably speaks for all of them when he says, "I'm having a blast."