The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


What are we waiting for?

Jacoby Ellsbury

This is one of those days when the Yankees schedule isn’t writer friendly. Instead of going to the clubhouse in Tampa to get the lineup some usual pregame notes this morning, I’m on the road to Ft. Myers, taking a morning drive that should get me there in time for batting practice. Basically, posting the lineup and any sort of notes might take a little longer than usual, so consider this a heads up.

While we’re killing time, though, here’s a list of things we’re waiting to find out between now and the end of camp.

1. The fifth starter
We think we know, and anyone other than Adam Warren would be a significant surprise, but we’re still waiting for official word. Might get that today, actually.

2. The backup catcher
And as a side note to this one: We might also be waiting to find out what exactly the Yankees can get in return if they trade Austin Romine.

3. Two bullpen spots
The Yankees have basically cut their spring training roster so that there are four guys fighting for two spots. Does the team want a second long man? If so, Chase Whitley’s probably the guy. A third lefty? That’s Chasen Shreve. On a related note: Is there time for Andrew Bailey to pitch back-to-back before the end of camp?

4. Health confirmation
It’s been a few weeks since Jacoby Ellsbury played in a game. Didi Gregorius was hurt on Saturday, and Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch on Sunday. They should each get back into games these next two days, but we still need to see it happen to know they’re alright. Speaking of getting through the spring healthy: Masahiro Tanaka pitches today!

5. Role clarification
Most obviously, we’re waiting to find out who the closer will be (if the Yankees are actually going to name one). But I think we’re also waiting to have some sense of how often the Yankees will use their bench, and where a wild card like Alex Rodriguez might hit in the order.

6. Minor league assignments
These could tell us a little bit about the immediate organizational depth chart. Was Slade Heathcott’s big spring enough to put him on the verge? Is Gary Sanchez really going back to Double-A? How’s that Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bullpen going to shake out?

7. Outside opportunities
The market always changes this last week of spring training. Players opt out or get released. Trade partners become a little more desperate. We think we know who’s in the mix, but there could be a new name by Friday.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 at 8:30 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees down to four options for two open pitching jobs

Chase Whitley

The Yankees technically have 17 pitchers still in big league camp, but that includes three guys who are hurt and will inevitably open the season on the disabled list. In reality, they have 10 guys who seem locked into big league roles and four others to compete for two open spots.

Major league rotation: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren
Major league bullpen: Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers
Bullpen candidates: Chase Whitley, Chris Martin, Andrew Bailey, Chasen Shreve
Injured/rehab: Chris Capuano, Ivan Nova, Vicente Campos

A few issues to consider as the Yankees prepare to fill these last two spots on the pitching staff:

Chasen Shreve1. Is the 40-man roster an issue?
Whitley, Martin and Shreve are on the 40-man. Bailey is not. But that shouldn’t be an issue. With Nova surely heading for the 60-day disabled list, the Yankees can easily open at least one spot if they want to carry Bailey. If there’s some other injury and they need to open a second spot, they could do so by designating Austin Romine for assignment or perhaps by putting Capuano on the 60-day. The 40-man doesn’t seem to be a significant roadblock.

2. How many long relievers do the Yankees want?
This seems to be a worthwhile question. It seems relatively safe to assume Rogers will be one long man — I suppose he’s the least “locked in” of the projected big leaguers, but he still seems relatively safe — so the Yankees have to decide whether they want a second multi-inning guy. If they do, Whitley clearly has the advantage. He’s pitched well in camp and could be a long man or spot starter. If they don’t want a second long man, Whitley could go to Triple-A to be stretched out.

3. Does Bailey have time to go back to back?
Joe Girardi has made it clear that any middle reliever who wants to make the team has to prove he can pitch in back-to-back games. Bailey hasn’t done that yet, and there’s a chance he won’t be up for it — or allowed to do it — before the Yankees break camp. If Bailey can’t go back to back in spring training, the Yankees might have to send him to the minor leagues for at least a short stint so that he can cross that final item off the list.

4. Should the sixth starter factor into this decision?
We know the Yankees want to use a sixth starter sometime around the fourth turn through the rotation. For that to happen, the Yankees might want a little flexibility. For example: Perhaps they carry Martin out of spring training, option him down in favor of Bryan Mitchell when they need a spot starter, then bring up Shreve after Mitchell’s made his spot start. Would carrying Whitley in the big league bullpen rule him out for a spot start a few weeks into the season? If so, is that enough reason to send him to Triple-A?

5. Is there a benefit to carrying a third lefty?
In recent years, the Yankees have rarely carried a second lefty, but now it seems they might carry a third. With Miller and Wilson guaranteed big league jobs, the Yankees still have to seriously consider Shreve, who made his big league debut last season with Atlanta. He’s actually been better against righties than against lefties this spring, but the Yankees could try Shreve as more of a situational lefty by Wilson and Miller play more universal late-inning roles.

6. Will the field change in the next week?
Let’s not forget, every team is on the lookout for marginal upgrades this time of year. An out-of-options reliever somewhere else might be a perfect fit for the Yankees. With a 40-man spot pretty easy to open, the Yankees could certainly put in a claim or make a small trade to fill one of their bullpen openings. They’re down to four options in camp, but there are plenty of other options outside of camp.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 9:01 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Injury report from Yankees camp: “There’s nothing major”

Don’t worry, this hotel desk is made of wood, and I knocked on it before publishing this post…

The Yankees have a roster overloaded with injury concerns, but with a week to go in spring training, they don’t necessarily have a roster overloaded with actual injuries. Their most significant injury of the spring cost them their fifth starter. Otherwise, they’ve dealt mostly with minor bumps and bruises at the major league level.

“There’s nothing major,” Brian Cashman said yesterday. “You’ve got the little stuff. Well, I guess (Jose) Pirela’s concussion, he could be a disabled list situation if it doesn’t resolve. But again, that’s a timing thing. That’s an unpredictable time frame.”

Here’s a quick injury report on where the Yankees stand on the medical front.

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka
Torn elbow ligament
He’s made every scheduled start this spring and reported no problems with his elbow. His offspeed pitches have looked sharp, and there’s little indication he’s holding back. His next start is tomorrow as a final tune-up for Opening Day.

CC Sabathia
Offseason knee surgery
Just like Tanaka, he’s made every scheduled start. The Yankees kept him on a slow-and-steady schedule early in spring, but now he’s been let loose, and despite rough statistics, his raw stuff has been pretty encouraging. His velocity is up, but consistency remains an issue.

Michael Pineda
Repeat shoulder issues
After missing much of the past three years with shoulder issues, Pineda has shown no signs of injury or weakness this spring. In fact, he just might be their most reliable high-end starter.

Chris Capuano
Grade 2 quad strain
The only issue currently expected to impact the Opening Day roster: Capuano came into camp as the heavy favorite for the fifth-starter role, but he’ll likely miss at least a month of the regular season after hurting himself while covering first base.

Ivan Nova
Tommy John Surgery
A little less than a year removed from surgery, Nova has been throwing full bullpens — including breaking balls — for about two weeks now. He’s still expected back sometime around the first of June.

Andrew Bailey
Shoulder rehab
Got into games later than most pitchers, but he’s pitched well since returning to the field. Bailey missed the past year and a half, but he’s said he feels strong again this spring. Question is whether he has time to go back-to-back and prove he’s capable of breaking camp with the big league team.

Vicente Campos
Tommy John surgery
On roughly the same schedule as Nova, Campos has also been throwing bullpens and continues his rehab in big league camp until his inevitable reassignment to the minor league complex.

Jared Burton
Strained lat
Released and re-signed, Burton came into camp on a minor league deal and got off to a strong start before hurting himself early in camp. The big league veteran began playing catch again this weekend and could become an option during the season.

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury
Strained oblique
Hasn’t played since March 15, but after a weekend of batting practice and other drills, Ellsbury is scheduled to get in a minor league game tomorrow. Fully expected to be healthy in time for Opening Day. Could even play in another Grapefruit League game or two.

Mark Teixeira
Knee contusion
Hit by a pitch at the minor league complex on Sunday, Teixeira was scheduled to have tomorrow off anyway. He’ll basically rest for two days before being expected back in the lineup on Wednesday.

Carlos Beltran
Offseason elbow surgery
Held back very slightly at the beginning of spring training, Beltran has since been on a fairly normal schedule getting most of his time in right field with only a handful of DH days. No sign the elbow is holding him back at all.

Didi Gregorius
Sprained wrist
Looked bad when Gregorius landed on his glove hand while trying to make a diving play on Saturday, but X-rays and an MRI came back negative. He’s now had two days off, and he’s scheduled to have another day off on Tuesday. Expected back in the lineup Wednesday.

Brendan Ryan
Strained back
Arrived in spring training with an injury and didn’t get into a game until March 20. Ryan has since played in seven games, and he’ll play again on Tuesday. He’s seen time at both second and short and is expected to break camp as the Yankees’ backup middle infielder.

Jose Pirela
Concussion
Slammed into the outfield wall while playing center field last Sunday. Hasn’t played since, and even regular baseball drills have been put on hold while he tries to move past all symptoms. Was having a great spring, but seemed unlikely to make the team even before the injury.

Slade Heathcott
Repeat knee issues
Had knee surgery yet again last season, but Heathcott arrived in big league camp talking about renewed health and confidence, all of which showed in a strong spring during which he seemed to be running well without pain. Sent to minor league camp yesterday.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 6:02 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman on Betances, Gregorius, Rodriguez and spring decisions

This morning I wrote about some of my thoughts and impressions heading into this final week of Yankees camp, but my opinions carry no weight around here. Brian Cashman’s opinions do, though. Here are some of the general manager’s thoughts with Opening Day coming up quickly.

Dellin Betances, Larry RothschildOn Dellin Betances having a rough spring
By letting Dave Robertson go to Chicago, the Yankees sent a clear message that they believe Betances can repeat last year’s success. Maybe not to that level — he could have a fine career and still have last season standout as his high point — but certainly the Yankees are banking on Betances being able to play a key role and get big outs. Problem is, he’s really struggled this spring with bad results and an underwhelming fastball.

“The Betances ‘Where has his velocity gone?’ story is not accurate,” Cashman said. “He’s actually averaging a mile (per hour) higher at this time this spring than last spring. If it’s apples to apples, then he’s right where he was last year. Obviously his performance in the spring is different than the arm strength, but the arm strength is not the issue. Just want to make sure everybody knows that.”

So what does the performance mean? Maybe nothing. Certainly it doesn’t mean enough that the Yankees are going to take Betances out of the mix in the late innings.

“You just want to make sure it doesn’t affect the confidence,” Cashman said. “I’ve been able to at least confirm for myself that he’s very confident, which is good. Spring Training is Spring Training and sample sizes are small. I thought he was much better (in a minor league game on Saturday).”

Travis d'Arnaud, Didi GregoriusOn whether Didi Gregorius needs a platoon partner
When the Yankees went shopping for a new shortstop, they found a marketplace that offered no perfect solutions. There were flawed free agents and expensive trade targets, and the most viable in-house option was all-glove, no-bat Brendan Ryan. Eventually, the Yankees settled on Gregorius, another glove-first shortstop, but one with both youth and offensive upside.

With Ryan still in the picture as a right-handed alternative, Gregorius has thrived this spring. He’s been outstanding in the field, and he’s been plenty productive at the plate. He’s even hit lefties in the past couple of weeks, adding some confidence that the Yankees might not have to use Ryan as a platoon partner.

“It’ll be more of a Joe decision right now,” Cashman said. “I’d just (say), it’s something we could consider, but Ryan’s also here for a reason. We have two left-handers in the middle infield in Drew and Didi, and we have Ryan as an alternative, so I trust that Joe — like he does all the time — he’ll dissect the matchups and try to put the best team on the field to win. If that means Ryan’s in there ahead of Didi on any given day, so be it. (Gregorius) has shown me a lot this spring, which I’m happy with. He’s an exciting personality, and really, clearly, we hope that it plays well for us.”

Mark Teixeira, Brian McCannOn the bounce-back potential of Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Stephen Drew
I suppose you could lump Brian McCann into this group, but at least McCann hit for decent power and had an impact behind the plate last season. The Yankees seem to have more offensive uncertainty from this trio of Teixeira, Beltran and Drew, all of whom dangerously underperformed last season. Teixeira fell apart in the second half, Beltran wasn’t the same after an elbow injury, and Drew had an unthinkably bad year at the plate.

Even so, the Yankees are clearly planning to use each one of them as a lineup regular this season.

“There’s no reason to believe, for instance, Carlos Beltran’s not going to hit all of a sudden,” Cashman said. “And I have seen a lot of Stephen Drew in the last week to 10 days, and it’s encouraging. And then Tex, I haven’t had any worries about Tex coming back, or even Beltran. It’s more like, just stay healthy and we’ll be fine. Drew’s really, out of those three, the only question mark, what is he going to be? Those questions are fair to ask, and it doesn’t matter what gets said, only he‘ll answer them over time. But he’s looked really good at the plate.”

Alex RodriguezOn Alex Rodriguez’s return to the team
A wild card in every way, Rodriguez has returned from a year-long suspension and actually done a good job of settling into the clubhouse while also performing well on the field.

“He’s handled himself both on the field and in the clubhouse and in his interviews with you guys, extremely well,” Cashman said. “It’s been about baseball, and he’s done really well on that level too.”

Rodriguez has been one of the Yankees very best hitters this spring. Not sure anyone would have predicted that a month ago.

“I think I consistently told you guys, I don’t know what to expect,” Cashman said. “so in fairness, I can’t even say it surprises me because I didn’t know what to expect. It was like, let’s just let whatever’s going to be, be. Then we can talk about what’s happening rather than waste your time wrapping your mind around what it is or what it’s going to be or how it’s going to look when you have no idea, it’s just a guessing game. Camp’s gone really well for him.”

John Ryan MurphyOn choosing a backup catcher and final bullpen jobs
Assuming minor injuries to Gregorius, Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury don’t cause problems on Opening Day, the Yankees seem to have very few roster decisions to make between now and the end of camp. The most wide-open spots seem to be at backup catcher and for the final two spots in the bullpen.

“Well, we’re a week away from making (those decisions),” Cashman said. “So, if you define close as, a week, then I would say yeah, I think we’re close (to making a decision).”

It’s worth noting that yesterday the Yankees made one of their most significant cuts in sending Jacob Lindgren to minor league camp. As recently as Sunday morning Cashman talked about Lindgren as if he had a real shot of breaking camp on the roster. Now he’s clearly being looked at as a mid-season call-up at best.

“We’ve kept him this long for a reason because he’s continued to open people’s eyes,” Cashman said. “I’m not going to tell you what’s going to happen yet, but there’s a reason he was pitching in a game (Saturday) this late and hadn’t been assigned out yet. Some other guys I can’t say that about, but in his case, I can.”

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 3:21 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Down to 35: Who’s left in Yankees camp

Robert Refsnyder

After sending 11 players out of big league camp on Sunday, the Yankees now have 35 players in camp heading into the final week of spring training. That’s 10 more than they can carry on the Opening Day roster. Three of those are currently injured or rehabbing — plus another who might or might not open the season on the disabled list — which means the Yankees really have seven more cuts to make.

Here’s who’s still in camp.

STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren

The Yankees haven’t officially named Warren their fifth starter, but at this point it seems safest to list him as a member of the rotation. Choosing anyone else for the fifth starter role would be a significant surprise at this point. After Scott Baker was released, Bryan Mitchell was optioned and Kyle Davies was reassigned, the Yankees five starters seem pretty clear.

RELIEF PITCHERS (9)
Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley, Chris Martin, Chasen Shreve, Andrew Bailey

The Yankees have room for seven of these guys, and the only one who’s not on the 40-man is Bailey. At this point, my guess is that Whitley’s a favorite, but that’s largely because I expect the Yankees to carry a second long man (and because Whitley’s pitched well). Bailey’s chances probably depend on whether he’s able to go back-to-back this spring. Could really come down to who pitches best this last week.

CATCHERS (4)
Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine, Eddy Rodriguez

The Yankees still have to choose a backup, and it seems that competition could be a last-minute decision. Murphy’s been hitting lately, Romine has not. Murphy can be optioned to Triple-A, Romine can not. If I had to guess right now, I’d guess Murphy wins the job, but giving Romine a chance in April wouldn’t stun me. And the Yankees are clearly preparing Rodriguez to be their just-in-case third option if they lose Romine on waivers.

INFIELDERS (10)
Mark Teixeira, Stephen Drew, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, Nick Noonan

Brian Cashman said yesterday that Pirela could open the season on the disabled list because of his concussion, but that remains to be seen. He’s not a sure DL guy yet, so I’m not listing him with the injured guys. Ultimately, it seems the Yankees will carry seven of these players, with Refsnyder, Pirela and Noonan likely the odd men out as long as everyone else is healthy. I wonder if the Yankees are keeping Noonan around just in case this Gregorius wrist injury is more significant than expected, requiring a short DL stint.

OUTFIELDERS (4)
Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young 

This group is basically set. After sending Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott to minor league camp on Sunday, the Yankees left themselves with their four go-to outfielders. Pirela and Jones are infielders who could play the outfield — Jones in particular seems likely to see time in the corners this season — but for the most part, it’s these four the Yankees are expecting to get the bulk of the time in the outfield this season.

DISABLED LIST (3)
Ivan Nova, Vicente Campos, Chris Capuano

These three aren’t on the DL just yet, but it seems inevitable that they’ll open the season there. Capuano was hurt in camp, while both Nova and Campos are still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Pirela could fall to this list eventually, but for now it seems guys like Ellsbury, Teixeira and Gregorius — guys with relatively minor injuries at the moment — are not likely DL candidates.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 1:06 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Lohud Yankees chat begins at noon

If you cannot view the chat above, find it here.

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 11:45 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Thoughts and impressions one week before Opening Day

First, a reminder that we’re doing a chat today at noon. This is an off day in Yankees camp. For me, that means a day to sit in a hotel room and write a whole lot of season preview stuff for the newspaper. For the Yankees, it means a day to catch their breath before one last burst of exhibition games and decision making. Heading into this final week, here are a few thoughts and impressions from Tampa:

CC Sabathia• I actually think CC Sabathia looks pretty good. His numbers are awful, but I’m buying it when he says he’s encouraged. He’s clearly stronger than he was last year, and I think it’s good that he’s talking about his changeup a lot. He’s going to have to pitch smart and keep hitters off balance, and I think he’s able to do that. Scouts keep telling me what a “pitcher” he is; that Sabathia knows what he’s doing out there even with diminished stuff. The numbers are awful, but this is one of those situations in which I’m not sure spring training numbers mean much. He’s going to give up some home runs now — that’s just the way it goes — but I think he’ll be better than he was the past two seasons. Not a Cy Young candidate, but I think he’ll be a good No. 3 starter as long as he stays healthy.

• The middle of the order does not look very good. At this point, I think that’s a bigger problem than the rotation. Even if the lineup stays healthy, I’m still not sure what the heart of the order can provide. Carlos Beltran hasn’t looked great, Brian McCann has been so-so, and Mark Teixeira hasn’t hit for much power (though I do think Teixeira seems to be in much better shape than last spring, so maybe he can stay on the field and avoid a second-half decline). I just haven’t seen a lot that suggests the lineup is much better than it was last season. Veteran guys like that might be able to turn it on once they’re in real games, I just don’t think they’ve shown it down here.

• Whether Alex Rodriguez has a successful season might depend on your definition of success. If he carries his spring training slash line through the season he’ll be an MVP candidate, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. More likely, I think he’ll get on base at a decent clip, pounce on some bad pitches to hit home runs now and then, and generally provide what you’d expect from a No. 6-7 hitter. That’s honestly better than I was expecting. He’s not running well, but I think he’s running well enough. He’s not a good defender, but he’ll field balls that are hit right to him. He’s better than I thought he would be.

Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira• As a side note to the Rodriguez situation: He’s also handled all of the off-the-field stuff pretty well. Believe it or not, he actually makes some small talk and jokes with reporters in the clubhouse. Teammates seem to like him. Opposing players don’t seem to completely hate him. He’s heard his share of boos, but he’s heard plenty of cheers as well. I’m telling you, from every angle, this situation has been much better and easier than I expected. The Yankees seem to feel the same way. Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi said yesterday that they’re happy with the way Rodriguez has settled back into the clubhouse.

• I have no idea what the Yankees are going to do about those final two spots in the bullpen. I think Chase Whitley is a favorite for one of those spots, if only because I think they’ll want another long man other than Esmil Rogers (and all the other long relief candidates have been sent away). What I can’t figure out is who the favorites might be for that last spot in the pen. I do think it’s worth noting that Chris Martin and Chasen Shreve are on the 40-man and have options, and I think that final bullpen spot might be very flexible early in the season. For that reason — because the 12th reliever might have to go up and down to Triple-A a few times — I’m not surprised the Yankees steered away from Jacob Lindgren. He’s looked great, but I imagine that once he’s on the big league roster, the Yankees want him to stay there. Why not carry Martin or Shreve out of camp, send him down for a sixth starter in late April, and then think about adding either Lindgren or Andrew Bailey?

• Backup catcher might be more wide-open than I expected when camp opened. Last season showed the Yankees clearly prefer John Ryan Murphy, but don’t think they’ve completely given up on Austin Romine. Ideally, I think — and this is just a gut feeling — the Yankees would prefer to trade Romine before the season starts, but I think they’d like to get real value for him. If they can’t, maybe he gets one month to prove himself one way or the other in the big leagues. If he can’t do it, Murphy comes up to take his place. That said, if the Yankees choose to DFA Romine in favor of Murphy, that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. I really think it could go either way. If I had to guess right now, I think I’d still pick Murphy.

Slade Heathcott• Slade Heathcott has looked so good this spring, I wonder if the Yankees might get aggressive and send him straight to Triple-A to play center field every day. That would free Jake Cave, Mason Williams and Aaron Judge to play the outfield every day in Trenton (and Williams had a good enough spring that I think he’s worth everyday at-bats as well). Put Heathcott in the Triple-A outfield with Ramon Flores and Tyler Austin and see what happens. This isn’t a typical development year for Heathcott. The Yankees really need to find out by the end of the season whether he’s a high-end asset again.

• At this point, I’m assuming Jose Pirela will end up in Triple-A, but where does he play regularly? Obviously he’ll have to bounce around a little bit — some time in the outfield corners, some time at second base — but it might make sense to see what he can do as a regular third baseman. If Chase Headley gets hurt, Rodriguez isn’t good enough in the field to play third every day, so the Yankees might want to get Pirela prepared just in case he has to play that role at some point. But he really can’t play any one spot every single day. He’s going to have to maintain some flexibility because the Yankees might want his bat at some point even without an injury at third.

• Sure, Sabathia says his knee feels fine and Masahiro Tanaka is pitching like his elbow is healthy, but the biggest reason to be optimistic about the Yankees’ rotation might be Michael Pineda. That guy looks fantastic. He’s still throwing hard, still throwing a ton of strikes, and his offspeed stuff is more effective than when the Yankees first acquired him. It’s amazing that, after missing much of three years with shoulder problems, Pineda just might be the most reliable piece of the Yankees rotation. I think Nathan Eovaldi could be pretty good, but Pineda could be great.

Adam Warren• Speaking of the rotation, what happens if everyone stays healthy and Adam Warren has a 3.00 ERA at the end of May. Would he move right back into the bullpen to make room for Chris Capuano? What about Ivan Nova? Granted, this is a pretty extreme hypothetical — it involves Warren having an all-star caliber first two months, and involves a rotation full of injury concerns staying healthy — but I really think Warren’s a nice pitcher who could thrive. Maybe not to the tune of 3.00, but what about a 3.20 or a even a 3.50? Would you take that out of the rotation in favor of a guy one year removed from Tommy John?

• Relief pitchers are notoriously inconsistent from year to year. Only a very few are able to truly get the job done season after season. For that reason, I think the Dellin Betances struggles should raise some red flags. Not white flags of surrender, but red flags of concern. He just hasn’t looked great, and it’s not just the fact he’s not throwing 98 mph. Some of that added velocity could very easily come with regular-season adrenalin. Right now, he’s also missing spots and looking fairly hitable. I think that should be a bit of a concern. The Yankees have banked on the idea of having a standout bullpen. What if they don’t?

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 8:58 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Postgame notes: “See the game from a totally different lens”

Jose Altuve, Alex Rodriguez

Bottom of the first, the Yankees first out of the game was a routine 5-3 grounder. Except this time, Alex Rodriguez was the 3, not the 5. Making his career debut at first base, Rodriguez looked perhaps awkward, but passable at the position. He had three chances — two throws and one ground ball — and made all the plays.

“It was quite interesting after 20 years in the league to see the game from a totally different lens,” Rodriguez said. “It was pretty cool. … Not relieved. It was fun. Any time I get to go out and play the field and play baseball, I have a good time. I do hope, in all seriousness, that I can be an asset for Joe at some point during the year. If Tex or Chase needs a blow at some point, hopefully I can be an asset for Joe at some point.”

Alex Rodriguez, Joe GirardiThat seems to be the plan for Rodriguez in the field. He’s not going to play defense very often, and when he does, the Yankees just want him to make the routine plays. Play a passable version of first and third and Rodriguez will do his job. There’s a solid chance he won’t even get a turn at first during the regular season, but the Yankees want him to get some experience there just in case.

“It’s not something we’re looking to do,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s if something happens to one of our other guys. I would feel comfortable throwing him out there. I think he can handle it just fine. … The toughest things are when you get into cuts, relays and bunts, and we didn’t get into any of that today. Fielding ground balls, I’m not worried about that. Really, I’m not. Catching the ball, I’m not worried about that. I’d think he’d be pretty good around the bag, even scooping, because you get a lot of those hot shots at (third) base.”

Rodriguez took throws from third base and second base, but his toughest play was on a ball to his right. He had to charge it and field on a kind of in-between hop. He bobbled briefly but made a good throw to Nathan Eovaldi covering the bag.

“I’ve never made that play,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like a quarterback hitting my tight end on the run. I’ve never done that before, I don’t think.”

More important is the fact Rodriguez went 1-for-1 with a walk. He’s still having a great spring at the plate, he’s been healthy enough to play regularly, and both Girardi and Brian Cashman today said they’ve been happy with the way he’s settled back into the clubhouse.

“I’m happy to be playing baseball,” Rodriguez said. “I’m here to play baseball, I’m here to do exactly what my bosses want me to do, and I just want to help the team win. I’ll tell you that I’m a lot more happy, fortunate, and grateful than I was 12 months ago.”

John Ryan Murphy• A quick heads up that we’re doing a chat tomorrow at noon. Stop by if you can. It’s the last off day before the Yankees get out of Tampa, and there’s obviously plenty to talk about. Chat. Here. Noon. Be there if you can.

• Girardi said there’s no real concern about Mark Teixeira after he was hit by a pitch to the knee in a minor league game this afternoon. Teixeira got some ice treatment and is expected to play again — as scheduled — on Wednesday. Didi Gregorius is also still on track for Wednesday, and Jacoby Ellsbury remains on track to play Tuesday.

• As the Yankees head into a Monday off day, Girardi said he hopes to set his roster — picking a backup catcher and deciding on the final two spots in the bullpen — before Saturday’s exhibition game in D.C. “I would hope we would have everything done before we go,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you don’t, because there might be other things involved that are out of my control.”

• Even with Esmil Rogers and Chase Whitley pitching out of the bullpen today — and seemingly every other rotation candidate shipped out of camp — Girardi is still not ready to name Adam Warren his fifth starter. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to some other players I need to talk to before I make any more announcements,” he said.

Nathan Eovaldi• While Girardi has said a few times that he’s not sure he’ll set a closer before the end of spring training, he said that if does make such a decision, he’ll make it known. The closer role won’t be a mystery heading into Opening Day. “Whatever we have the first game, there will be a plan in place on what we’re going to do,” Girardi said. “If I was to name a closer, I’d make it public.”

• Another good start for Nathan Eovaldi who went 4.2 scoreless innings with three hits, no walks and five strikeouts. It’s been a good and encouraging spring for him. “Just being able to use all four of my pitches (has been the best thing),” Eovaldi said. “Last year it was either fastball or slider. Now I’ve been able to mix in the curveball first pitch, using the split, and then being able to elevate with the fastball as well.”

• One downside to Eovaldi’s outing: it took him 89 pitches to get through 4.2 innings. Just not overly efficient considering he had so few base runners. He did have five strikeouts, but he had a lot more strikeout opportunities. “I felt like they were fouling off every pitch,” Eovaldi said. “I felt like I’d get ahead 1-2, 0-2 and then they’d work the count 3-2. I’d have to battle through it, but fortunately I didn’t walk anybody today and I was able to pitch out of it. … It’s important to me (to put guys away). I don’t want to get into those counts, those 3-2s. In my head, 0-2, 1-2, I need to be able to put them away with one or two pitches.”

• Girardi on Eovaldi: “He’s had a really good spring. I thought he pitched really well again today. He’s got a lot of life on his fastball. I think his split has developed, I think his curveball, he uses it effectively, his slider, I like what I see. He holds runners. We like him.”

Chase Headley• After being stretched out most of the spring, Chase Whitley faced just one batter today. He entered in the middle of an inning and got a strikeout to end it. Now that he’s working with a windup, Whitley said it actually felt important to have a day like this when he didn’t know when he was coming into a game. He had to get ready fairly quickly, and he’ll have to do that if he has a bullpen role this season.

• Speaking of Whitley’s role, he’s not sure whether he’s going to be a major league reliever or a minor league starter, but he seems ready to roll with either decision. He said he’s literally just trying to think about each pitch, letting the eventual role take care of itself. “You can paint enough small pictures to get a big picture,” he said. Good line.

• Esmil Rogers went 1.2 hitless innings today, Chasen Shreve went 1.1 hitless, and Jose Ramirez allowed two hits in a scoreless ninth. Ramirez also struck out two.

• Chase Headley’s strong spring continued with a home run, his third of the year. That was part of a three-hit day. … Rob Refsnyder had two hits, both doubles. … John Ryan Murphy and Stephen Drew each doubled. For Murphy, that’s important. He’s started to hit, which might help him in the catcher competition. … Brendan Ryan had a hit today. He also struck out twice.

• Final word goes to Girardi talking about Rodriguez: “There was probably more intrigue around him from all of us and probably from himself. I’m sure he had confidence in what he could do, but when you sit out a year and you don’t play a lot for two years, you’re probably curious what it’s going to feel like, how I’m going to feel every day, how my body is going to respond. I think it’s responded pretty well. I think he’s handled it well and he’s played well, so we’re encouraged by it.”

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, March 29th, 2015 at 7:00 pm. InNotes with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees make more cuts, including Heathcott, Lindgren, Rumbelow

Heathcott

Today’s cuts in Yankees camp:

· Optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell and OF Ramon Flores to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

· Reassigned RHP Kyle Davies,  C Francisco Arcia, INF Cole Figueroa, INF Jonathan Galvez, OF Slade Heathcott, C Kyle Higashioka, LHP Jacob Lindgren and RHP Nick Rumbelow to minor league camp.

· Unconditionally released RHP Scott Baker.

“We’d like to re-sign Baker,” Brian Cashman said. “We told him we’d like to re-sign him and put him in Triple-A, but obviously he’s going to evaluate the marketplace. I thought he had a good camp. Obviously he took a run at putting himself in the conversation for, at worst, the long man situation that we’re still playing through, whether we take one or two long men. We’ve got more things to work out, but we had to make a call because we were contractually obligated to him.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, March 29th, 2015 at 5:18 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Refsnyder continues to hit; Cashman calls Drew “the smart play” at second

Stephen Drew

Rob Refsnyder had two more hits today, his fourth and fifth doubles of the spring. He also drew a walk, stole a base and raised his spring training slash line to .343/.452/.571.

Refsnyder and Jose Pirela have been two of the best hitters in Yankees camp, but general manager Brian Cashman said today that what he’s seen this spring has only reinforced his decision to bring back Stephen Drew to play second base.

RefsnyderPirela“I know there’s a lot of dialog wrapped around Refsnyder and Pirela,” Cashman said. “But I think also that those guys have shown they still have work to do on the defensive side still. It doesn’t mean if we have to go there we wouldn’t be comfortable doing so. I also think they’ve shown they have some development still to go, despite the bats. The bats are impressive, but you’ve seen the defensive stuff they’ve shown us in short sample sizes as well. So, like anything else, you’d love to pluck a guy from the minor leagues when they’re on a roll in all aspects of the game so they can kind of hit the ground running at the big-league level. So right now I’m pretty comfortable that Drew signing was the smart play for us on the front end.”

Refsnyder’s already made five errors at second base. Pirela has two errors, and while he’s played all over the field, he’s never had a strong defensive reputation anywhere.

Drew, meanwhile, got off to a slow start this spring but has started to hit a little more lately. He had a three-hit game on Friday, a home run on Saturday, and he doubled today. He’s now batting .244/.306/.444.

“He’s looked really good at the plate,” Cashman said. “He’s looked so much better than last year the last week to 10 days. That’s encouraging. I know it’s got to be building his confidence and having memories of what he was prior to last year, because that’s certainly what’s playing around in my head. I feel much better about the situation right now.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, March 29th, 2015 at 4:51 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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